Quest for Love: Following Taillights

[This blog entry is the 13th in my Quest for Love Series. If you’d like to start at the beginning, click here.]

I don’t know if it’s just me or if it happens to others, but the right people always come into my life at the right time. The exact mentors, friends, teachers and companions intersect my path to help me get through whatever it is I’m dealing with. They’re guides who help me navigate to my next destination.

It’s like being on a winding road on a dark, rainy night and seeing tail lights just ahead. What a relief it can be to have someone to follow!

When I’d first decided to get a divorce, but hadn’t even told my spouse or family, I had a business acquaintance come to mind.  We had exchanged services about six months earlier.  One day she was on my mind, so I sent her an email to ask how she was doing. She replied that my timing was impeccable. She’d had me on her mind as well. She’d even put my name on her to-do-list for contact, but hadn’t gotten to it yet.

We set up a time to talk, and she asked how my life and business were going. I admitted to her that I had decided to get a divorce. In response she revealed that she too was going through a divorce. I had no idea this was the case. She and her spouse had filed several months earlier and because of the state they lived in, there was a lengthy waiting period.

What’s more, her marriage had an extremely similar dynamic to my marriage. She began telling me how she and her husband-at-the-time had mapped out an amicable divorce that helped their children make the transition more smoothly.

At the time, it never occurred to me that a divorce could be as amicably as she described. She gave me tips and pointers for making it flow better. I ended the call by thanking her for letting me “follow her taillights.”

Over the last couple years, this woman and I have become wonderful friends. Soul sisters, if you will. Sometimes I’m following her taillights and sometimes she’s following mine. Our paths intersect in so many interesting ways. It’s as if we’re always learning similar life lessons. The opportunity to share our experiences lifts, encourages and gives each of us more insight into our own challenges.

I’m very grateful for those little nudges that have come over the last couple years that have prompted either she or me (often both of us simultaneously) to reach out to the other.

As you go through your journey of life, I hope you’ll open yourself up to receiving the people God places on your path to show you the way. It’s a huge blessing to have a shoulder to lean on, a sounding board, or a soul sister to share your heart’s concerns. It’s a priceless gift to have such friends.

PS: Want to hear something weird? The minute I saved this blog, my friend (who I haven’t talked to in several weeks), texted me to say she had a window to talk and wanted to know if I could. Yep, it’s fun having a soul sister!

friends are like taillights on a dark night

About Marnie Pehrson

Marnie Pehrson is a best-selling author and marketing and social media consultant specializing in digital content creation and Facebook Ad Management. Get a FREE 20-minute strategy session with Marnie here.

brain on dopamine

Quest for Love: Watch Out for Your Achilles Heel

I’ve known it for years. I’m a praise junkie. Twenty-five years ago when I started my business, I over-delivered to clients who praised me. In essence, I received part of my payment in praise. Then, I wised up (or thought I did). I raised my rates and began working on this tendency to take peanuts for work when someone praised me profusely.

The problem is, the need for acknowledgement never really went away. It’s been a driver throughout my life. If you think about it, more of us have an issue with the “need for acknowledgement” than we care to admit. Every time you make a Facebook post and wait around for someone to Like it, Share it, or Comment on it, you’re waiting for that little dopamine hit that comes from being acknowledged.

First let’s explain what dopamine is. According to Psychology Today,

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them.”

Dopamine isn’t a bad thing. We need it, but having an addiction to it can be dangerous.

brain on dopamineWhat I learned from dating is that if you have a core unmet need for acknowledgement in some area of your life and someone feeds that need through flattery, praise, or making you feel you matter in that area, you can form an addiction to that person and to the chemical dopamine that is secreted in your brain by having them around or engaging in the rewarded behavior.

This addiction is what makes people do stupid things for love. In essence, if the other person has a mind to do so (and you allow it to happen), they can seduce you down a path you might never otherwise go.

Dompane numbs your frontal lobe which controls logical thinking. You may easily be led like a child to the water’s edge by your Pied-Piper chemicals.

Yes, it’s scary to come out of a relationship, wake up, and realize you’ve been in the twilight zone and haven’t been yourself in months.

So what can you do about it?

You might have to experience this phenomenon and feel like you “messed up” to identify that you have an issue with a core unmet need. As Lisa Rae Preston says, “Until you had to nurse the blister from the burn” you may not really be able to look at your situation objectively.

Once burned, twice shy. Your awareness of the need and knowing what a dopamine addiction feels like strengthens your resolve. With a strengthened resolve, you have more objectivity to keep from making the same mistake again.

Energy therapy has been a big part of my journey. It’s a great way to let go of caring what other people think, release past trauma and break unhealthy patterns.

I told you in my last blog we were going to talk about how to distinguish inspiration from imagination. What does dopamine and crazy, stupid love have to do with discerning the source of inspiration for visionaries? A lot!

Click here to find out.


About Marnie Pehrson

Marnie Pehrson is a best-selling author and marketing and social media consultant specializing in digital content creation and Facebook Ad Management. Get a FREE 20-minute strategy session with Marnie here.

building relationships

Quest for Love: Dumb Dating Mistakes Women Make

This entry is the 7th in a series. To start at the beginning, go here.

Being single I’ve studied a few programs created by dating gurus. Most of them have one common theme. Women tend to be needy and over-deliver, over-invest, and over-expect. Before you argue with me, let me explain why there’s a lot of truth in this.

building relationshipsOne program I bought compared building a relationship to building a multi-story building.  The woman shouldn’t come in and build all the floors or even two floors to his one. You should build the floors together. Or if you build a floor, he needs to build a floor.

As a woman you should be contributing less than or no more than equal to the man’s investment.

There are lots of warnings about “neediness.’’ You don’t need to be texting him all the time, calling him, etc. Let him initiate those things.

Another guru suggests that women shouldn’t be hanging out on a guy’s Facebook wall liking and commenting on all his posts. Another says, if he backs off, you should back off. Most women go into panicky chase mode if a man backs away.

My dad gave me some interesting advice. It confused me thoroughly when he said it, but it proved incredibly true.

He said, “You need to not care. It’s when you don’t really care that a man wants you.”

I questioned him, “What? Not care? How do I do that? Just not care at all? And why would I want a man that I don’t care about?”

He added, “Well, care, but don’t care.”

“Gee, Daddy, what the heck does that mean?”

“I can’t explain it to you, but you’ll figure it out.”

I don’t know if I can explain this to you any better than my dad could, but I sure hope I can. If someone had really been able to explain it to me earlier, it would have helped immensely. In the end, I’m sure the timing was all for the best.

In every serious relationship I was in, I cared. I cared a lot. When you care a lot, you go overboard to do things that you think will please the man. It’s not that you’re lying or faking anything. You honestly don’t even know you’re doing it! You’re just genuinely enthralled with the person.

If he burped you’d want to store it in a jar. (Okay, maybe that’s a little overboard!) But you get my drift.

When you’re enamored, and especially when dopamine is coursing through your veins, everything the other person says or does is wonderful. You’re incredibly blind to red flags that tell you otherwise.

You aren’t your every-day, normal self. What happens is you start constructing that multi-story building, predominantly by yourself. Much of it is largely in your mind. It’s amazing how what goes on in your mind and emotions gets emitted to another person without you even saying a word. It’s a vibe.

You also do extra things to please him. You accommodate your schedule to spend time with him. You let some of your own interests go to the wayside.

Not until I went through a major breakup and didn’t trust my instincts, heart, or inspiration anymore, did I learn what it meant to “care, but not care.” I came to this place in two steps.

Step 1: Looking Myself in the Mirror

Immediately after the breakup, I started a new relationship. This man was instantly taken with me and started talking about how he wanted to marry me. He was smitten, and I could see he was very much like I’d been in other relationships. He was moving like a freight train, but I was still incredibly jaded. I remember thinking, “Poor thing, he’s on dopamine.”

This man was not needy, but he was determined. He was convinced I was the one for him. He reminded me SO much of myself. I thought, “Oh, man, no wonder I scared the crap out of those men I dated! No wonder they wouldn’t commit!”

When the other person is so driven and determined, you begin to feel like you want your own choice in the matter. You start slowing things down and telling the person you need some time and space.  Honestly, I wouldn’t call it needy. I’d call it feeling like you know what you want and by dang, you’re gonna have it.

Step 2: Being so Burned, I Couldn’t Care

I don’t recommend everyone learn how to “care but not care” the way I did. Honestly, I was incapable of caring. I was so jaded, I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t trust chemistry or hormones for sure. They’d betrayed me. I also didn’t trust my ability to receive inspiration, because I completely misinterpreted it when love-struck.

I had to get to the point where all I really wanted was someone to hang out with and go places. Marriage wasn’t even on my radar. I let any expectation of commitment go. I resolved to be myself, enjoy my life and never, ever let dopamine (the brain chemical released when you’re in a new relationship) rule my life.

I wrapped up my heart in a nice suit of armor, and I went out into the dating world simply for something to do. Once I did this, once I didn’t care anymore, that’s when the man came along who was ready to commit and choose me.

Because I didn’t care, I didn’t over invest. I was completely  myself. I was honest. I let him know my heart was guarded and that I needed some time to learn to trust my heart again.

He gave me some space. He made it very clear that I was the type of woman he’d been looking for, but he didn’t push. He wasn’t needy, and he wasn’t so determined that I felt pressured. It was the perfect balance.

I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t sure I could even open my heart again. The thought occurred to me that I might be incapable of loving. But bit-by-bit, through a lot of prayer and energy therapy my heart began to trust again.

It was from this space of “caring, but not caring” that I found the man with whom I could create the love that I desired.

I don’t know if any of that makes sense, but I sure hope it helps someone. I hope it helps you find that space of “Caring, but not caring” without having to have your heart hammered to get there. It’s not the most pleasant route to travel.

About Marnie Pehrson

Marnie Pehrson is a best-selling author and marketing and social media consultant specializing in digital content creation and Facebook Ad Management. Get a FREE 20-minute strategy session with Marnie here.

Quest for Love: 10 Ingredients to a Lasting Loving Relationship

When I was in Utah, I was with some friends who were building a fire. They used some newspaper, a few sticks and a log. The fire started out blazing, but it quickly burned out because they didn’t know to create a teepee of smaller kindling and gradually add larger and larger pieces of kindling and wood until the fire was prepared to handle a big log.

campfireWhen their attempt failed, I said, “Here, let me help.”  I instructed everyone to gather small twigs, and we built a small tee pee and started the fire in the center of it. The fire took hold, and we gradually added larger and larger pieces until it was time to add a bigger log.

There’s a point at which you know a fire is going to last. It’s well before you’ve put the big log on the fire. It’s way back at the beginning when the teepee catches fire and you’re adding more fuel.

I believe creating loving relationships is like building a fire. It doesn’t take much longer to create a lasting fire than one that will fizzle fast. You just have to have certain elements in place and put them on the fire in the right order.

Through trial and error, I have identified the following elements to a long-lasting intimate relationship. While the first 8 can come in any order, one should never risk flipping the order on 9 and 10. Think of #10 as the larger fuel that will smother your fire if you put it on before the other elements have given your fire a good start.

  1. Respect
  2. Shared Values
  3. Communication
  4. Caring and Kindness
  5. Connection
  6. Chemistry
  7. Love & Affection
  8. Trust
  9. Commitment / Investment
  10. Intimacy

A great relationship comes when two people are willing to invest in each other and in the relationship.

I love this quote by David A. Bednar:

“The word love is both a verb and a noun. I think sometimes we think, ‘Well, I have to have the feeling (the noun) before I can start doing love (the verb).’ It works both ways. Now, I don’t want this to sound unromantic, but love (the feeling) follows love (the verb).

We find young people all over the world who think, ‘I have to find the one, the true, the only; and more correctly, you have to become the one, the true and the only through what you do and what you become. You don’t just sit around and wait to fall in love. You engage in love (the verb) and then love (the noun – the emotion and the feeling) is just remarkable. So I think you create it. You don’t find it.”

This principle applies not only to dating, but also to life and business. Taking your time to build solid foundations and systems, allows for future growth and expansion that is sustainable.

About Marnie Pehrson

Marnie Pehrson is a best-selling author and marketing and social media consultant specializing in digital content creation and Facebook Ad Management. Get a FREE 20-minute strategy session with Marnie here.

Quest for Love: Where Does Change Begin?

Many people have heard me tell about the drive back from the beach in August of 2011 that changed my life. On that drive I realized my personal life had to change. I wasn’t happy in my marriage, but I caught the vision of what was possible for me in a loving relationship.

I envisioned a fully connected, communicative relationship with a mate who loved life, people and nature as much as I did. I envisioned someone with whom I could co-create an amazing life.

Something’s Got to Change, And It’s Me

I wasn’t sure if the relationship I was in would change or whether someone new would enter my life, but I determined that in two years’ time my life would be different. This stale, unconnected relationship would be a thing of the past, and I’d be in a great relationship. How would this happen? I knew I couldn’t change anyone else. So I started with myself. I had to BE someone different, better, more in shape and more inspiring.

The next two years were spent working on me and trying to love and accept the man I was with. I shed 52 pounds along the way and became certified in SimplyHealedTM so I could better process my emotions and improve myself.

Finally, I admitted my marriage simply couldn’t be revived. My divorce was final in August of 2013. Over the course of those two years, I fine-tuned what I call my SAM list. SAM stands for Spot A Mercy. I made a list of the ways I wanted to be treated and the interactions I’d like to have in my life. I started looking for ways core needs and desires were met each day. I journaled anytime anyone or anything came through for me in SAM ways.

SAM-Part1-TenderMerciesFor example, my list included things like:

  • Gives me a hug when I need one
  • Makes me laugh
  • Comes to my rescue
  • Engages in a deep, meaningful conversation with me.

The list is quite lengthy. At the end of a day, I’d make a note of SAM moments. For example, it might be my son who gave me the hug, the dog who made me laugh, an older man at the landfill who came to my rescue and helped me unload my trash, or it might be a girlfriend who engaged in a deep meaningful conversation with me.

I began to see that God was taking care of me through the people in my life. As John and Stasi Eldredge said in their book, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, “God was romancing me.”

This was the beginning of my quest for love.

In the meantime, let me ask you, are you taking time to identify what makes you happy and are you making a daily note of God’s tender mercies in your life? I challenge you to make your own SAM list and start spotting those mercies!

About Marnie Pehrson

Marnie Pehrson is a best-selling author and marketing and social media consultant specializing in digital content creation and Facebook Ad Management. Get a FREE 20-minute strategy session with Marnie here.