Amber Grubenmann

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Exclusivity - The Fork In The Road

There’s a really important moment when you’re dating someone when it’s time to have the exclusivity conversation.

The way I like to describe it, it’s like you're going on a hike. Sometimes you run into somebody nice and you start doing the hike together for a little while.

You turn around a bend and you notice that off in the distance, there's a fork in the road. You start to feel this little bit of tension.

You really like this person and want to keep walking with them. You know you have to go right, but you don’t know if they’re going right or left.

When we feel that nervousness about that impending decision of potentially parting ways, we start to slow down.

Maybe we stop walking and sit on a park bench for a while because we're avoiding that fork in the road.

In dating that can look like not acknowledging that we do want to be exclusive and pretending casual is cool.

We avoid acknowledging that we really do want commitment.

The other way this...

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Prioritizing Dating

In one of my group coaching sessions, a client of mine told me that she feels like she’s actually the 40% guy in her dating connections.

She’s a single mom and has other priorities. On top of that, there are other things like hobbies and hanging out with friends that are more fun to do than dating.

The way that I explained it to her is that our life is kind of like a company.

We have different departments, like work, family, friends, health, hobbies, and dating.

We pump our energy into these different departments, and then that produces a certain outcome.

Our priorities are clearest when it comes to how we choose to invest our energy.

When there’s a budget problem, dating is one of the departments where it’s the easiest to justify a layoff.

As I was explaining this, my client responded that she has always thought of dating as kind of a frivolous thing, rather than something that's essential or necessary.

Do you have a similar belief around the Department of...

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It's Never Perfect, and That's Okay

Often in dating, we have a perfectionistic idea about what it's supposed to be like when we finally meet our person.

We create these fantasies  where we meet them and there is an instant connection with great chemistry. Then, one thing leads to another and we end up in an perfect relationship.

This is an issue because when we meet somebody that we have amazing potential with but things aren’t totally perfect, we start to wonder if we are with the right person.

We start to sabotage the connection that we're in because we're comparing it to some sort of ideal.

If you’re experiencing this, the first thing I want you to consider is the five elements: friendship connection, physical chemistry, growth mindedness, respect, and similar vision and values.

For each of the five elements, you tune in to see is it an A+, is it just passing, or is it completely failing?

A lot of people get tripped up by thinking that each of the elements needs to be an A+, but in most...

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Ruminating and Fantasizing

When we first start dating somebody that we're really excited about, a lot of us can get into the habit of fantasizing or ruminating about them.

We find ourselves thinking about them for hours and hours, and our main activity will be creating fantasies in our mind.

It’s very pleasurable, like indulging in eating an entire chocolate cake.

And this kind of visualization is very powerful because there's a little bit of truth in it. We get to experience the feelings of excitement, joy, love, and chemistry when creating these fantasies.

However, it’s really easy to overindulge, and it can begin to affect our physical and mental health.

We can lose sleep while rolling around in bed, marrying them, having fights with them, and building a life with them in our fantasies.  

It can get in the way of work and time with friends when we aren’t fully present in our daily activities.

And we also can start to develop feelings based on who this person could be instead of based...

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Is He Breadcrumbing You?

If I could go back and share one lesson about love with my younger self, it would be that 10% feels worse than 0%.  

A breadcrumbing guy, or as I call him “the 10% guy,” is a guy who is basically stringing you along.

And we usually have some thoughts that keep us clinging to that 10% and trying to get more.

The first thought is that “something is better than nothing.”

We think having him in our life a little bit feels better than not having him at all.  

It’s important to recognize how that is not true and how torturous that 10% feels.

It’s 10% good, and then it's 90% awful.

When you get to just be with yourself and be more open to connections with greater potential, it feels so much better than clinging onto that 10%.

The second thought that keeps us in a breadcrumbing situation is, “Maybe he still cares.”

When I had a connection that ended, I let the person know I needed space and I needed to not be in contact with him.


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Don't Work On Your Relationship, Maintain It

Couples therapy has helped a lot of people, but it won’t fix a relationship that was broken from the beginning.

We always hear advice about working on our relationship, and we think that that means building pieces that weren't there to begin with

If you got together for the wrong reasons or if one of the five elements is missing, you can't work on a relationship enough to make it work.

That’s an important shift to make because even in early dating, we think we can be patient enough, stick around long enough, or communicate enough in order to build up a relationship when things aren’t where we need them to be.

It will save you a lot of time in dating to look longer for a connection that has all of the foundational things you need, and then to do the work of maintaining the connection over time.

The real work of a relationship is maintaining something great and not getting lazy.

It’s about continuing to do the things that were already working in the beginning,...

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Relief, Confusion, and Hope In Dating

When we are dating, there are some common emotions that can lead us to making decisions that aren't in service to the kind of connection that we want to create.

These emotions might even feel good in a way, but we should pay attention to them because they are a sign that something isn't quite right.

The first is relief.

If somebody isn’t showing up fully or consistently, it might feel like the most extraordinary thing ever when you finally get to spend time with them.

The relief feels good, but part of the reason why it feels that way is because you felt so deprived earlier on.

We want it to feel like you went on a long hike, and then got to sit down and drink a cold beer afterwards. It really hits the spot and it’s the perfect thing in that moment.

It's so good, and it's even better because you were thirsty from the hike.

But you don’t feel like you needed it to survive.

Another emotion that can be tricky is confusion.

When somebody is giving us really mixed...

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How to Handle "I'm Not Good Enough" Thoughts

In one of my group coaching sessions, a client told me she was having a lot of anxiety about getting back into dating after years of just focusing on other aspects of her life.

She was worried about putting herself out there and getting hurt again.

We talked about her last relationship, and one of the things that we uncovered was that part of what was so painful about the breakup was how she treated herself during it.

In dating, we can basically be our own worst enemy.

We fear dating because we don't want to meet somebody who's going to hurt us, but we are also afraid of how incredibly unkind we can be toward ourselves when we get hurt.

For my client, a big part of overcoming the fear of putting herself out there again was starting to rebuild trust with herself.

The first step is learning how to handle the voice in our head that is always telling us how we are "not good enough."

Because the voice is in our mind and it's saying specific things about us, it feels very...

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Do You Like Who You Are Being?

We can’t control how other people choose to show up or how they view us, but we can choose to date people based on who we are able to be around them.

That's why I like asking the question, do you like who you are being in your connection?

In one way, this question guides you toward practicing embodying the traits of the woman that you want to be.

If you think about the future version of yourself who has created the relationship that you want, what are her qualities?

What does she think about herself?

What does she think about men?

And how can you bring more of that woman into your experience of dating today?

When you like who you are being in dating, it doesn’t really matter how the other person shows up.

When I asked somebody to be exclusive and they didn’t say yes, I was able to walk away from that situation.

I have no regrets about asking. I was so glad that I spoke up for myself and asked for what I needed, even though it was uncomfortable.

It didn’t go...

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When He Wants to Keep Dating But Doesn't Want to Be Exclusive

As a dating coach, I help my clients take the baby step from dating to exclusive.

The way I recommend bringing up the topic of exclusivity is just by saying, “Hey, I'd be more comfortable if we were just dating each other. What do you think about that?”

Sometimes when you're trying to move the relationship towards exclusivity, the other person might seem resistant to that, confused, or unsure.

At the same time, their actions seem to be showing you that they do want to connect. They're texting you all the time, they’re making time to be with you, they want to be emotionally and physically intimate.

You just don't understand why they don't want to take that next step when they obviously like being in a relationship with you.

The first thing to clarify here is that it's okay if you have an exclusivity conversation with someone and they want to reflect on it and come back to it the next time you see each other.

However, that's about the extent of it. It should not be...

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Copy & Paste Texts For When He Is Pulling Away Or Acting Flaky

Everything you need to know.