Tuesday, November 16, 2021

HELPING TWEENS AND TEENS WITH CODEPENDENCY ISSUES

LEARN IN ORDER TO TEACH


 I was recently working with a couple who have concerns about their 13 year old daughter.  We talked about what codependency looks like in a teen and how to deal with it.  I told them I would look for books on recovery from codependency for teens and found nothing...hence this blogpost and maybe later a book. 

Dealing with teens can be very difficult as they are in a transitional stage from childhood into adulthood.  They have been bombarded with hormones and often deal with their changing bodies with discomfort.  Acne, braces, periods, crazy sex drive, nighttime emissions are all new things that can cause insecurities and mood changes.  

When my son was going through this time I just felt that he had started to hate me.  He was withdrawn and irritable.  I didn't realize at the time that this was a temporary condition.  It was very difficult for both of us and I made many mistakes along with many strides in terms of parenting a teen.  

The best preparation for helping a teen with codependency issues is teaching them from birth a few essential concepts which will prevent difficulties later on.  I always tell my clients with children that their children are substantially cooked by age 11 or 12 maybe earlier.  After 13 our approach as parents needs to differ considerably.  Mandates and direct advice are likely to be argued or rebelled against which is a normal and healthy reaction from a teen who needs to individuate from parents as they cross the divide into adulthood.  It is important to share and commiserate rather than to "parent" the teen.  Ask them questions and draw them into possible solutions for problems they are having.  This enables them to feel more comfortable thinking for themselves.  Reading books together or watching educational videos with discussion after is important as well. There are many dramatic shows and movies that are also thought provoking which can foster a more adult relationship between parent and teen.  

Keeping it simple in terms of interpersonal health is also important to teach our very young children.  I will illustrate a few of those here.

BOUNDARIES

Teaching young ones healthy boundaries is essential to interpersonal health.  Establishing rules of respect in the house such as always knocking and getting permission to enter a room.  Parents as well as children must respect this boundary.  Teaching our children that psychological abuse, violence and bullying are unacceptable is essential.  This means parents must refrain from violence to their children and each other as well.  Respect grows out of healthy boundaries.  Fear does not foster respect.  It fosters resentment in the developing teen.  We all have a right to be listened to and heard.  Teaching our children active empathetic listening is helpful for the whole family.  Many parents believe all couple conflicts must be done in private, away from the children.  I disagree.  It is helpful for children to witness conflict resolution so that they can take that skill into adulthood instead of becoming conflict averse or avoidant.  We all have rights as humans...these rights extend into our family as well.  Respectful communication must be insisted upon but parents need to hone this skill before they can teach it to their children.

FOCUSING ON SELF RATHER THAN OTHER

A prime symptom of codependency is the tendency to identify with the other rather than self.  My favorite oft repeated joke is "two codependents have sex and one says to the other, well it was good for you, how was it for me?"  The method for teaching healthy respect of self to our children is to teach them to acknowledge how they are feeling, to identify feelings and that their feelings are important.  As a Buddhist I teach that all feelings must be acknowledged and then transformed into compassion for self and other.  If these skills are not taught early the child becomes fused or enmeshed with others rather than individuated.  

THE KINDNESS DILEMMA

The boundary between compassion and codependency is very murky.  A rule of thumb to teach our children is that if kindness to another causes self harm....its codependent.  If kindness causes no self harm it is interdependent which is the healthy state of kindness.  This is a very nuanced distinction.  It demands that both personal boundaries and the ability to focus on self rather than other must be internalized.  It demands that parents must learn and adopt the same principles they are teaching to their children.  

SOLUTIONS

The bitter truth about helping our teens is that often it is too late and we have to let them learn their lessons the hard way.  Many codependent children will become addicted in one form or another.  I have found that while helping many addicts recover, the underlying issues are codependency.  Recovery is certainly possible but prevention is a much better form of recovery.

Prevention is an uphill battle because our culture is full of the mistakes that cause codependency.  Racism, violence, male privilege, social inequities, authoritarianism are all cultural symptoms that lead to codependency.  Religions often teach women to put up with abuse for the sake of the children.  Men who are abused by wives are seen as weak if they intervene or leave the relationship. Girls are taught that assertiveness must be hidden through manipulation and underhandedness hence the mean girl syndrome.  I could go on and on but that is a possible discussion for further blogs or even a book. 

CONCLUSION

If you are concerned for you teen the first step is get help for any codependency or addiction issues you may personally have.  Codependents anonymous and other 12 step programs are very helpful.  Have discussions with your teen when watching programs that show symptoms of codependency.  It is important to remember that the most common codependent diad is to hook up with a narcissist.  Please see my blog here about the Relationship between Codependency and Narcissism.  

Avoid avoidance.....start communication in the family with compassion, calm, and respect.  Interrupt boundary violations with veto power...what you say no to.  A common phrase I teach is "I can't allow you to treat me this way". 

I wish you hope as you progress on this journey of healing and growth.  It is a bumpy messy road which promises much reward.  Until then.....

Be well



I welcome comments, questions and suggestions. 

 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

My Experience with the Ketogenic Diet


After menopause I gained about 20 lbs.  I was eating about 1200 calories per day and still gaining.  My diet was very low carb.  I was desperate as my sister will later die of a heart attack at 54.  I know that in our family the road to health and longevity was very narrow.  I lost 30 lbs on Medifast and loved it but did not want to continue to eat packaged food.  I began to research.

I found information on the Ketogenic Diet which is similar to Atkins but not identical.  I am a geek so I looked for scholarly info and found a bunch of lectures by Jeff Volek and Steven Phinney who are medical doctors actively involved in scientific research on the effects of the diet.  After hours of watching videos and reading articles I decided to give it a try.

One of the things I loved about starting out was figuring out the proper proportions of what they called "macros".  It was a steep learning curve but since I am a geek I enjoyed the new technology involved in getting proper proportions of macros while keeping calories reasonable.

Within a week I felt wonderful.  I was full and satisfied all day, I enjoyed all the high qualities foods I was eating and my mind became so clear.  I had energy and found that my mood was so much more stable and I was content.  I have a long history of being a food obsesser.  I would plan after one meal what the next meal would immediately be.  All of that was gone.  The only time I get weird and cravey is when I get hidden sugar, especially in Thai food.  I never even consider eating grain related foods or high carb vegetables or fruit because I don't want to lose this wonderful feeling of non attachment to food.

I am planning on having my blood work done in November so I can do a comparison with last year before Keto.  I will let you know how it goes.

In the meantime,

Be Well

Friday, February 12, 2016

Aspie ish!

Aspie ish!
Michele Happe MA
February 12 2016

I have coached a number of people with Aspergers as well as a few parents with Aspergers kids.  When I approach a new issue in my practice I do a lot of research and learn from my clients.  When I had my radio show I did a long segment on Aspergers and autism as part of my research.  After the show a number of people approached me telling me that they took the test I provided and sure enough, they were on the spectrum.  I took the test and I was not even though I identified with a number of characteristics such a social uncomfortability and anxiety, hypersensitivity to certain types of stimulation and others.  

Then I started thinking about my dad.  He was a strange and interesting dude .  He was a materials engineer who worked at Jet Propulsion Lab where he had experiments on the voyager spacecraft.  His gig was manufacturing glass in zero gravity.  He was also an inventor and a musician.  He was super smart but spacey and neglectful as a father.  He was also lascivious and pervy.  I figured out after the fact that my dad was Aspie.  One of his favorite stories was how when he was 12 he got in trouble with his mom at the dinner table and she threw one of those large carving forks at him.  It embedded shallowly in his stomach and he refused to remove it, walking around all afternoon with a fork hanging out of his soft, obese belly.  THAT was my dad!  He was a very strange dude, a true eccentric.  I believe he was on the spectrum.  

Just to be clear let me include a list of characteristics for Aspergers:  

"Obviously, not all highly intelligent adults have Asperger. With no or few features from the list one does not have the condition. Even with a high score, one should realize a diagnosis can not be made on this basis, but requires interviews and observation in person next to psychological testing. Although GAIA was originally conceived to detect Aspergoid features, it may actually be measuring a more general disposition for psychiatric disorders without in itself being able to point to one specific disorder.

The Inventory

 Write complaint letters to authorities, professionals, companies etc.
 Read full manual before taking equipment into use
 Severely bullied at school
 Little or no facial expression
 Not well able to read another's facial expression
 Flat or monotonous voice
 Rigid day or week schedule (repetitive patterns)
 Strong interest in arcane subjects (either scientific, occult or trivial)
 Lack sensitivity to nonverbal cues and social codes
 Employed below ability level
 Poor work record
 Never had a steady job
 Social isolation
 Educated below ability level
 Never married
 Never had an amorous relationship
 Still virgin
 Fetishism
 Read reference works from A to Z
 Motor clumsiness
 "Talk too much"
 "Talk too little"
 Low "social skills"
 Little eye contact
 Shy
 One-sided eating habits
 Capable of sustained rigorous hard work
 Savant
 Not taken seriously or misunderstood in face-to-face situations
 Neurotic habits or tics
 Diagnosed Schizophrenia
 Diagnosed Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
 Diagnosed any Personality Disorder
 Very honest
 Peculiar or (for males) too high-pitched voice
 Not emotional
 Highly sensitive to criticism
 Lack "common sense"
 Bitten by dogs
 A-rhythmic speech or abnormal speech rhythm
 Teased by children in adulthood
 Clumsy or exaggerated gestures when talking
 Unrightfully punished at school
 Perfectionist
 Longing for death or suicidal thoughts
 Eating disorder (like anorexia)
 Depression or on anti-depressant
 Attached to animals or things rather than humans
 On tranquillizers
 Drug addict
 Homeless
 Sleeping problems
 Stilted and overformal in social interaction
 Oversensitive to particular sounds"
* http://paulcooijmans.com/personalitytests/asperger.html

So this is a very exhaustive list that is meant as a test to see if you have Aspergers.  One funny note:  My dad was famous for writing complaint letters.  He actually got toothpicks on one of the airlines by exhaustively writing letters.  He would also write letters to Chinese Restaurants complaining about the fact that they didn't serve coffee...he was not so successful there.  

So I guess I am a child of an Aspie or Aspie ish.  As I like to say.  I don't qualify but I do identify.  I think if you asked people who know me you would hear that I am unusual, or unique...not quite eccentric but close.  I have arranged my life so that I can be comfortable.  I work at home.  I need lots of alone time even though I love people...in very small doses.  This includes my husband who is also Aspie ish.  His dad qualifies and one of his brothers is most probably on the spectrum.  I hate parties unless I have a specific job like cutting carrots or if I can hide in a corner and have a deep philosophical conversation with someone one on one.  

I like who I am.  Aspie ish works for me.  As a friend who qualifies said to me..."I wear it as a badge of honor".  I was disappointed and remain so when the distinction Aspergers was subsumed into the Autism Spectrum Disorder classification.  I don't see Aspergers as a disorder at all.  We do have our challenges but we are a sweet eccentric tribe as far as I can tell.  We generally are verbally gifted and can cruise around in the world with only lifting a few eyebrows occasionally.  As an Aspie ish person, I have a deep understanding and compassion for those who are in the tribe as I was raised by one.  I get it even though I don't qualify as "one".  I want to be a member of the tribe as a supporter who is fortunate to have many of the "qualities" that high functioning Aspies share.  Call me a groupie if you want.  

I love working with Aspies.  It is fun to coach someone on how to be a bit more social, how to network and set priorities.  I enjoy empathizing and cheering them on toward self acceptance and ultimately self approval.  I advocate setting up a life that may not look the way other people's lives look but it is a life that works well.  I also believe this about relationships.  We must tailor our relationships to fit our personality and our proclivities.  This means that we need to quit comparing ourselves to "typicals".  Aspies are only typical to our own tribe which in my view includes Aspie ish types like me.  

My hope is that this little blog will touch others who might identify as Aspie or Aspie ish.  I also hope that whoever you unidentified tribal members are you might do a little work on honoring yourself as being a member of a very special tribe of people who are collectively responsible on many levels for making the world a better place.  It is the geeks and scientific types who are such contributors due to their exhaustive energy and brilliance.  Many of them are in our tribe.  I believe it is a tribe to be celebrated.


Until then, be well.  

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Maintaining Health During the Holidays: Coping with Food, Alcohol, Spending and more



Michele Happe MA

The holiday season is filled with expectations.  It is family time and a time for giving.  We are bombarded with ads showing happy healthy families together as well as pressure to buy expensive articles commencing with "black Friday" sales. 

Food is an  ever present focus of the holidays.  If you work in an office it is usually filled with sweets for the taking.  Parties and get togethers are expected.  This all can be very overwhelming for most of us and particularly for those suffering from issues like food and alcohol attachment.  I prefer the term attachment rather than addiction as I find it more accurately descriptive and less stigmatizing.

For those of us with attachment issues this time of year can be full of triggers.  Many who have these issues come from families where similar issues are present.  This is a time to recall all of those bad times we had with our families when we were children.  Perhaps dad was an over worker and wasn't around and mom was overwhelmed and unhappy to be alone with the children or worse.  Unhappy families have a much higher occurrence of all types of abuse.  These memories are likely to get triggered during the holidays. 



Keys to health during the holidays

Our health is not just about what we consume.  It is also about stress and our emotional and spiritual life.  If we are stressed we are much more likely to have trouble with food, alcohol and other triggers.  Our thinking needs to be watched and we need to take care not to fall for all the hype. 

Remember that the holidays are not every day from Thanksgiving until January 1.  If you are going to indulge keep it to 3 or 4 times not every day of that period.  Keep up with your healthy routine between the actual holidays.  Regular exercise, eating 6 small meals a day, and enough sleep are good guidelines to follow.  If you drink, remember that over drinking causes suffering for self and others so it really isn't all that much fun.  If you find that you cannot moderate drinking during the holidays get some help. 

Food Consumption

Most of us wake up on the holiday and starve until it is time to eat the holiday meal.  Then we gorge thinking that the starving justifies the gorging.  Try to eat regular healthy meals before the holiday meal and then watch portion sizes and enjoy every bite of delicious food.  Make your meal a meditation eating slowly and admiring the deliciousness of the food.  If you have food issues talk to your coach, counselor, or sponsor and commit ahead of time to what you intend to eat and how much.  In this way your can avoid guilt and can fully enjoy the food you are eating.  Make sure that you stay in touch with your coach so you can get back on track the next day.  Most food attachment issues involve guilt shame and secrecy which can lead to more eating.  Working with another brings everything into the light enabling more sanity where food is concerned.

Regarding food, most of us gain 1-2  lbs during the holidays....and those generally aren't healthy calories we are eating.  The problem is that those pounds tend to remain after the holidays are over.  So the cumulative effect can be very harmful over time.    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/31/health/nutrition/31real.html?_r=0.  

Be willing to take the consequence of overindulgence if you lose control and report that to your coach as well.  We all make mistakes when it comes to food issues since we cannot abstain completely and we need to learn moderation. When we slip we admit it to ourselves and another, forgive ourselves and move on. 

Alcohol Consumption

The suggestions for food apply to alcohol consumption as well.  Use mindfulness with regard to alcohol and commit to yourself and another how much you intend to drink.  If you have an addiction and are abstaining it is best to avoid places where others over drink.  During the holidays Alcoholics Anonymous has sober get togethers for those who are uncomfortable with family or who have no family where you can be safe in a sober environment.  If you don't go to AA stick with people you are safe with and let them know that your desire is to stay sober.  Bring a bottle of sparkling fruit juice to drink or stick to soda water with lime if you feel you need a glass in your hand.  Often when you have a glass of something people will not pressure you to drink with them.  Others often don't understand sobriety and are uncomfortable with the concept if they are drinking, even when they don't have a problem.  If you have a glass of something in your hand they are less likely to take notice. 

Shopping, Spending and Gifts

This is an area where there is an abundance of pressure on the TV, radio, and everywhere you go.  Many are experiencing very tight budgets and buying gifts for others can mean not being able to afford gas for the car or food.  If this is the case it is a good idea to pick names with family so that only one gift needs to be purchased.  Another option is home made items such as hand done cards or other craft projects like ornaments.  Even if you have plenty of funds, try to keep the spending in check as the holidays are for togetherness primarily and it is important to be balanced in giving so as not to make others feel guilty. 

If you are a compulsive shopper it is very important to work with another around commitments as to how much you will be spending.  Don't shop alone.  Take a buddy with you to be a witness to your commitments.  Debtors anonymous is a wonderful program that gives specific help with budgeting and spending behaviors.  They can be found online as well as in person meetings.  http://www.debtorsanonymous.org/

Finding Ease within the Chaos of Family Time

If you come from a difficult family it is most important that you take care of yourself during the holidays.  Emotional pain around family issues is usually intensified over the holidays.  One of the hardest things to do is to detach from family when it is truly necessary during the holidays.  If you feel that you need to attend a family event, try to make it for a short period of time like just the meal rather than all day.  Have and obligation that can gracefully take you away especially if the disfunction worsens as the day goes on.  Above all take care of yourself with your family and friends.
 
Loneliness is  an issue for some who may not feel connected to anyone close by.  If this is the case there are always food banks that need volunteers and food buffets for the homeless that you can volunteer for.  Giving in this way can be very rewarding and stave off loneliness.

On the other hand you might be an introvert like me and feel quite uncomfortable at parties and get togethers that involve lots of small talk.  It is ok to avoid these as long as you make polite apologies and thank them for the invite.  All of my friends know that I am an introvert so they are not hurt when I don't accept these invitations.   

If you come from a healthy happy family spread the love and make sure you let each of them know how much you appreciate them. Gratitude for this kind of good fortune is a huge contributor to overall happiness.   Hugs are very healing and small kindnesses go such a long way.  Tell those you love that you love and appreciate them.  That can be the best gift of all. 

Until next time.....be well

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

People of the Lie or why people so tenaciously hang on to dis-information…A Buddhist perspective



Michele Happe MA
September 14 2015

I was on the radio recently talking about the work of Brendan Nyhan who is conducting research at Yale Law school.  His experiments indicate that when people have a partisan stance about certain issues like Gun Control, Climate Change, and WMD’s in Iraq that they are very tenacious to their views even when presented with evidence that contradicts these views.  In fact he points out that at times there is a “back fire phenomenon” which causes people to become even more further entrenched in their views.  He says that this is true about both liberals and conservatives when they are partisans.  He says that it is folly to try to convince these individuals using facts and that using this tactic  is generally a waste of time.  

There are many psychological issues that prop up this research.  For one the concept of cognitive dissonance makes it very difficult to change our minds when a paradigm shift is required to accept the contrary evidence.  A book by Thomas Kuhn called the Structure of Scientific Revolution is about how difficult it is for paradigms to be shifted when it necessitates a change in world view.  There is a critical amount of discomfort required for these kinds of fundamental paradigm shifts to occur and before that point, humans will go literally to war and resort to violence to prop up their ill informed views.  

John Dean, former legal adviser to Richard Nixon wrote a book about another psychological tendency around issues.  He talked about the authoritarian type.  This is a type of person who needs to be lead (follower) by another authoritarian (leader).  This psychological condition amounts to being childish and fearful.  Just tell me what to do and I will be ok.  Fox news is full of authoritarian leaders but John Dean used Dick Cheney as a perfect example.  

  I don’t think it is any mistake that a common reaction after 911 was mass fear and many on the right used that fear to prop up their plans to make the conservative agenda popular in order for the Republicans to win into perpetuity.  Of course the supreme court helped out by stopping the vote count  in Florida in the election between George Bush and Al Gore who by the way would have won the popular vote.  Fox news started spreading fear with the imminent possibility of a “mushroom cloud”,  another attack and lack of safety in our “homeland” and they used many other wedge issues such as abortion and immigration to increase peoples fear of xenophobia.  The conservatives also capitalized on nationalism after the attack on the twin towers which also stokes xenophobia and fear of the future.  Jeb Bush, not George bush was a signatory to the Product for a New American Century or PENAC which knew that an attack on our country would sufficiently foment fear so that the conservatives could gain and keep power.  When it happened they were ready.

 I cannot tell you how many women have complained in my private practice that their husbands are obsessed with Fox News and that since listening 24/7, they have become angry and hateful in other words terrified and attached to the lie.  It has even broken up a few relationships due to excessive anger in the partner and attachment to hateful right wing policies.  Fox news has been proven to be very inaccurate in their reporting but the disinformation used by them causes more fear and hatred which in turn causes people to be ultra opinionated and even more attached to their world view(backfire effect)  

We do see this in some on the left as well such as liberal Jews supporting right wing political leaders in Israel, Also extreme attachment to Obama and also to Hilary Clinton even though both support neolibral policies which the supporter might be against.  This is due to partisanship. Here is a definition of partisanship: an  inclination to favor one group or view or opinion over alternatives

  In Buddhism we look at the primary causes of suffering.  Basically they are attachment to opinion, hatred, fear, anger and selfishness.  We are taught over and over that we are instructed to abandon  all views in order to created joy and happiness.  We are instructed to have a neutral mindset regarding all concepts that are the result of the egos beliefs.  This is a very tall order because most of us have fear about so many things from fear of death to fear of another attack like that which happened on September 11, 2001.  When we train our mind suffiiently we are able to better disengage from the emotional attachment that leads to partisanship in the first place.  We are more able to enjoy the ride and be humble about not knowing.  

Most importantly we need to divest ourselves of the need to change other peoples minds.  They have a right to their delusions just as do we.  As the Dali Lama was asked his opinion after meeting president Bush, His response was, “he had very good cookies”.  


Until next time be well

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Brief Guide to Effective Communication

A Brief Guide to Effective Communication
Michele Happe MA
September 8 2015

Being trained in effective communication can be the booby prize.  This means that in everyday life my training separates me from most people.  I must modify my standards and understand that most have not had this training.  I love teaching these principles to my clients but in all other arenas I am an outsider.  This little blog is my attempt to spread the word in the hopes that these principles may catch fire and ultimately change the world.


My Buddhist perspective demands that we must understand that we are all Buddhas, and that our shortcomings are just obstacles and obscurations which don’t allow us to express our clear Buddha-hood.  We all have the potential for clear and clean communication.   The task is to clear away the obstacles of poor training and egocentric desire to be right rather that to be clear.  Here are some of the principles I teach.


Speak clearly with enough volume

Many of us learn that we should not have a voice in childhood.  When we carry this into adulthood we may speak with low volume or we might slur our words together in order to not fully commit to what we are saying.  It is a way of avoiding getting into trouble.  This includes speaking under ones breath while walking away which is a form of passive aggressive attack. 


Make sure you are answering the question that was asked


When we don’t listen attentively and are more invested in being right we often muddle the message while formulating our response.  It is important to let go of all agendas and compassionately participate in empathetic listening.  My mom was famous for jumping ahead in the conversation and answering a question that she thought might be coming, completely ignoring the actual question or statement.  The ego will do this to us so when sitting down for a discussion meditate first on eliminating all ego from the conversation. 

Respond rather than react 

Avoid defensiveness while listening to the other.  Remember that there is nothing to defend.  We are adults, not children who are afraid of getting into trouble.  If you are aware of your own shortcomings you don't have to defend yourself over something you are already aware of.  When my husband points out my fussiness over detail I am generally able to respond by affirming his statement thus defusing a potential argument.

Use I statements and active listening


When having a discussion, state your case with I statements.  This eliminates the potential for blaming and labeling.  So you don't say “I feel that you are an idiot who never listens”.  You would rather say “I don’t feel heard or understood”.  This allows the other to actively and empathetically listen.  It is best for the responder to rephrase the statement such as “you are saying that when I don’t have eye contact with you and when I interrupt you, you don’t feel that I am listening to you”.  This is a very high level communication skill that whole books have been written about.  I suggest Getting the Love You Want by Harvel Hendricks for a deeper discussion on the subject. 



Refrain from tit for tat tactics

When the other has a problem with you, just let that be the problem that is discussed.  It is combative to respond with “well you do this or that”.  Pick another time to air your grievances in a direct and compassionate way, which brings us to the next principle.
   

Be direct with kindness:  eliminate hinting and loaded communication

Hints and innuendo are the death knell of effective communication.  A hint leaves us to our own imagination and if you are like me, I imagine the worst.  This can also fuel an angry response from the other because when one is passive the other can become aggressive.  Loaded communication also is passive aggressive.  Unpack everything you need to say and unload it with clarity and kindness. 

If you have an ultimatum be sure you are willing to follow through otherwise don’t make them


Never make a threat you have no intention of carrying out.  If you do this the other will learn to not take you seriously and will discount even a clear and heartfelt request.  Ultimatums will then be ignored. 

When entering any kind of  relationship communicate bottom line issues.

Essentially discuss the basic ground rules of the relationship such as monogamy, honesty, and the like.  If you never want children it might be a good idea to put this out early in the relationship so the other can exit gracefully before falling in love.  Many of these boundaries can be spelled out in the first weeks of dating just as you would get the  policies and procedures at the outset of a new job.

Use time outs effectively

Time outs are a wonderful tool when things get heated or you are in a stalemate with the other.  When calling a time out it is very important to negotiate the length of the time out.  This reassures the other that you are not exiting to avoid resolution.  When the time out is over it is equally important to readdress the issue at hand in a more calm manner.  Sometimes it is important to remember that it is ok to agree to disagree. 

In Summary:

Remember that relationships are born out of our innate need to connect.  This connection creates a synergy which renders that partnership so much more powerful.  We always must remember that we are on the same side, that it is you and me facing the rest of the world.  All of our relationships are opportunities to learn more about ourselves.  As we learn more we become better people and better partners.  This is how the world can be changed into a more peaceful welcoming place.