What I Learned About Love from Two Different Yoga Retreats

What I Learned About Love from Two Different Yoga Retreats

I was royally burnt out in August 2018.  My interns were witnessing me act like a crazy person and I was just feeling exhausted.  I knew that I needed to get away and just write but the timing did not allow me to take more time to travel outside of the country.  So while speaking with a colleague and a friend, she told me that I needed to find something close by that combined my two favorite things: Yoga and Wine.

I didn’t think I would be able to find anything but I gave it a try.

I sat up late on a Wednesday and googled “yoga and wine retreats.”  Next thing you know, I found the link to Yoga Wine Party with a retreat in the Catskills starting in two days.  I was floored.  It was like the weekend was designed for me! I emailed them hoping that I would hear quickly that they still had room.  Sure enough, I got two emails from Yoga Wine Party and Dina Ivas, the amazing yoga teacher running the retreat.  There was room and all I had to do was pay.  The process was so easy and I went to work completely excited Thursday morning that I was going to do something both fun and healthy (well at least partly).  It was another experience of the Universe providing the perfect opportunity for growth.

I had no idea what to expect and quite frankly I was so exhausted that I simply threw some clothes in a bag and left NYC Thursday afternoon to relax before showing up for a retreat.  I’m glad I took a day of self-care before arriving but even with a massage and some sleep, I quickly realized I was exhausted and forgetful. Part of the last minute disorganization was forgetting to bring my vitamins and some wine.

yoga wine party dr. jennifer rhodesFear not, I found the best wine store I’ve ever been in on my drive to Heathen Hill Yoga. I literally made a wrong turn and there it was – a super cute small boutique in the middle of a small town in the Catskills.  Wild Common Wine was opened in December 2017 by a creative formerly in the film industry who used to live in Brooklyn.  Not only was the owner warm and welcoming, she was highly knowledgeable and helpful in the bottle selection process.  She and her husband live in their vacation home full time and opening Wild Common was a return to her original roots in the wine industry.  Like so many of us, she didn’t imagine that she would be living in the Mountains but is glad to call the Catskills her home.

Armed with some wine (mostly so I didn’t feel like an idiot), I arrived at Heathen Hill Yoga and was immediately greeted with warmth and lots of hospitality by both Dina and her partner Liz Howng.  Wine tasting commenced before dinner and I immediately knew that I was in front of a real wine educator – I actually learned more in that one tasting than I’ve ever have hanging out with a sommelier friend of mine.   Liz is a Level 3 WSET wine educator and a phenomenal teacher.  It was so much fun to actually get a real wine education – an added bonus I did not anticipate.

The real magic of the weekend was not just three amazing yoga classes or three different proper wine tastings, it was in the community that Dina, Liz, and the owners of Heathen Hill cultivated without trying.  Meals were set at a long communal dining table that encouraged connection, the blossoming of friendships, and real intimacy. Around the dining room table we learned more of how we were alike than different.  We learned that some of us were happily married, divorced or single.  We learned that some of us were parents and some of us never wanted children.  We learned some of us were in our twenties and some of us had children in their 40s.  We learned that we all loved good food and wine.   Yet, the biggest lesson for me was to watch how incredibly generous, caring, and loving everyone was toward each other.  People shared their gifts of massage, listened with a compassionate ear, and told heartfelt stories.  They bought bottles of wine for everyone and truly connected. This was a group of 12 strangers and it was a privilege and an honor to be a part of such an amazing experience.  It fueled the beginning of my recovery and I am grateful to each and every one of the people who I had the pleasure of interacting with. I left the weekend on a high and wished it had been one more night longer.

Following this weekend, I went to visit my family and to sit and work on my book.  While it is always a good time to see them, I felt that I needed to take some time for myself over the labor day weekend to really focus.  I knew I needed complete quiet in natue.  Still on my high from Yoga Wine Party, I found another yoga retreat center and booked a yoga vacation. Well actually, it was more of an ashram and I figured the structure and focus on just yoga would be good for me.  I arrived and immediately felt like something was off with the energy of the people, not necessarily the center itself.  Little did I know, I arrived on the day of a major Hindu holiday and the evening meditation sessions were scheduled to be four hours of chanting. I’m not opposed to kirtan or spirituality but I realized that this would not be a yoga vacation – it was going to be me avoiding a cult-like atmosphere just to find some peace to do my work.

Despite my initial judgments, I encouraged myself to ride things out for a couple of days just to explore.  I made a deal with myself that if I could do work and write, I would stay.  During the days, that is exactly what I did but during the meals, the negativity of the people working at this ashram seeped into the experience.  Rather than being warm, welcoming and open, they were judgmental and closed off.  They fostered an “us” versus “them” climate and made several attempts to guilt trip people into helping them in the kitchen as “karma yoga”  when most of us were quietly doing karma yoga on our own.  For a center whose purpose is to promote love, kindness, and compassion, I found it completely devoid of all three. Connections need to be mindfully cultivated and they were not – a detriment to the entire community.

Yoga is as much fitness as it is a spiritual practice with a very long history.  Experiencing both of these retreats in such close proximity highlighted an immense learning lesson:  It will never just be the yoga that makes for an amazing experience alone.  It will be in the people your heart connects to during yoga that makes the difference.

I believe the founders of Yoga Wine Party have found a winning formula for making that possible for all of us.  They are amazing teachers and I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time with them.

Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Licensed Psychologist and Founder of Rapport Relationships

Dr. Jennifer Rhodes is a relationship expert and licensed psychologist.  She provides dating strategy, consultation, and date coaching services to clients all over the world.  Dr. Rhodes is a frequently sought media expert on the topics of seduction, sensuality,  dating, divorce, and relationships.  In addition to Rapport Relationships, Dr. Rhodes is the founder of Visual Arts Reimagined (VAR) where she provides services to visual artists interested in entrepreneurship and leadership.

Why you Attract Toxic People

Why you Attract Toxic People

You’ve heard it before – you attract what you are.  Yet, sometimes you have been working so hard on yourself that you believe there is something wrong with someone else!

Many women attract narcissistic men for a reason (and vice versa).  These individuals have charming persistence, drive, ambition, and can be a lot of fun in the beginning.  We are often attracted to them because they make us feel whole.  Their “confidence” makes us feel stronger and safe.  As the process of disillusionment starts, however, the tables turn and you find yourself in front of a man who blames you for waking up in the morning.

Yes, these people lack empathy and are challenging.  Yes, they have their own work to do.  The problem is that if we simply judge and blame the narcissist or the toxic person, we miss the bigger picture.

The Universe has sent them to you as an opportunity for you to learn to say no, set proper boundaries or to stop giving too much of yourself.

But we often don’t see it that way.  Instead, we blame ourselves, call ourselves a failure, believe the abuse and can’t see how messed up the other person may be.  Yet, the toxic person knows, perhaps unconciously, that if you ever figure out what was really going on, you would leave and demand more for yourself.

So in the meantime, they will feed off of your energy.  They start showing up at work, in your personal life, and even walking down the street.  You try to get rid of them one at a time but a new one finds you!

WTF is going on?!  It’s a sign to dig deeper and do some serious self-growth work.  At our core, those of us who attract these types of personalities may feel empty, lonely, and abandoned.  We may have childhood wounds that were never fully healed or we are simply looking for distractions to keep going.

In these moments, it is best to take a step back and commit to your own self-care.  It may mean you need to go to therapy, find an energy healer, or make some lifestyle changes.  Whatever it is, there is probably things from your past that are making you vulnerable.

Doing your healing work is not easy.  The journey may be a long one but warriors never had it easy.  A journey means over-coming adversary to be stronger.  If we start thinking about these toxic personalities as simply opportunities for growth, their behavior is less personal.  We can let go of judgment of our self and surrender to the lessons that need to be learned.

And yes, narcissists love empathic people.  Empaths often run away from anger but anger on their part is often a sign to you that you are not being controlled by them.  Let them be angry and you step away to heal.

You are not alone.  So many of us have worked through these challenges.  If you need support, reach out!

Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Licensed Psychologist and Founder of Rapport Relationships

Dr. Jennifer Rhodes is a relationship expert and licensed psychologist.  She provides dating strategy, consultation, and date coaching services to clients all over the world.  Dr. Rhodes is a frequently sought media expert on the topics of seduction, sensuality,  dating, divorce, and relationships.  In addition to Rapport Relationships, Dr. Rhodes is the founder of Visual Arts Reimagined (VAR) where she provides services to visual artists interested in entrepreneurship and leadership.

Why you Should Care about Core Values

Why you Should Care about Core Values

Healing is not an easy or inexpensive process.  It is the process of undoing one’s cultural conditioning and trusting that what is left, is worth the time and effort.  It truly is a leap of faith.  I believe that we are all here for a reason but we often don’t get to discover that reason without having our a$* handed to us and choosing to be brave enough to go through the pain and the darkness.  It is not a journey everyone wishes to embark.

How do you define your self-worth?

For the longest time, my self-worth was attached to academic achievements and the title of Doctor.   Or it was attached to my physical appearance or sexuality.  It took me years to discover who I really am, love who I am and own who I am.

My hope and dreams for the future are to either prevent the development of the false self through education and preventive interventions and in helping young adults step into a more mindful process of self-discovery at a younger age.  I don’t think we need to wait to 35 before we realize that we may be on the wrong path or a path that is not truly aligned with our true purpose.

What are core values?  What are yours?

Every experience we have creates our life story.  Our thoughts about those experiences make the difference between co-creating with the Universe and living in fear.

Years ago when I started my healing journey, my therapist asked me what my values were.  I was 31 and realized I wasn’t sure how to answer the question.  Our personal values are the guiding principles behind who we really are.  Knowing them and understanding we all have them will not only guide your life and decision making, it will clue you in to why people piss you off.

Fear of narcissists

Now more than ever we live in fear of being taken advantage of by narcissistic people.  Many women have had the experience of not being believed when the “amazing” man in front of them treats them like crap behind closed doors.  Like these women, it would take me a long time to realize that the man I thought I was going to marry at age 28 was indeed one of these dreaded narcissists.

What helped me through the beginning part of my healing process was to discover that one of my top values is love.  It has guided my career and helped with my decision making in my personal life.  When I look back on that relationship, I realized I could either blame him for not meeting my needs or come to terms that my core value of love was not something shared.  He was looking for a socialite and interested in his own status more than in being himself and creating a truly happy life.

Core values as life lessons and empowerment

I also have learned to not blame him.  We met at a time when I was deeply hurt and grieving the loss of my grandfather, moving across the country and facing an impending lawsuit related to my grandfather’s estate.  Everything was falling apart around me and my last memory of my grandfather was when he told me to marry a Jewish doctor. Six months after his death, that’s exactly who I found and boy would it be the wrong fit for me but I also was living my false self, trying to fit in and be what I was not born to be.

FInd out your core values

Today I live by my own values.  I learn from the lessons the Universe provides and I am happier than ever (even if I am single).  I encourage you to take the time to care about your values, learn about your core strengths, and sign up for a free mini consultation with me so we can help you figure out a path to your happiness.

Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Licensed Psychologist and Founder of Rapport Relationships

Dr. Jennifer Rhodes is a relationship expert and licensed psychologist.  She provides dating strategy, consultation, and date coaching services to clients all over the world.  Dr. Rhodes is a frequently sought media expert on the topics of seduction, sensuality,  dating, divorce, and relationships.  In addition to Rapport Relationships, Dr. Rhodes is the founder of Visual Arts Reimagined (VAR) where she provides services to visual artists interested in entrepreneurship and leadership.

Why Conforming on a First Date is a Bad Idea: A Jazz Date Gone Awry

Why Conforming on a First Date is a Bad Idea: A Jazz Date Gone Awry

Most of us have heard from experts and the internet to “be ourselves” when we meet new people. Professionally, personally, and, most of all, romantically, “conforming” has shown itself in constant, varying patterns. How many times have you been on a date and heard “I like jazz Music too!”?  It can be difficult to know whether people are being truthful or trying to please you.

What is Conforming?

In the dating world, conforming is when you act similarly to the person you are dating — in personality, interests, or experiences– even if it may not be how you typically act. Pick up artists, in particular, will increase their chances of “scoring” by conforming to the answers and moods of the person in question. It’s an understandable practice — when you’re nervous before a first date, you may find yourself accidentally blurting out, “Me? I also love death metal!” just to make a connection with the cutie sitting across from you at the table. I totally get it– you’re looking for things to talk about to make the conversation for the other person easy and enjoyable even if you are telling half-truths left and right. But while conforming may be the easiest way to go about your dinner date conversation in the moment, you run many risks when you offhandedly agree to everything your date says and does.

This Risks of Conforming

In the entire process of conforming, you lose the essence of a first date– the fun. While we lie and placate the other person, we stress ourselves in multiple ways. On the surface, when we conform, we are under pressure to know the subject we claim to love, and know it thoroughly. Moreover, we are constantly worried about anything blowing our covers.

Going beyond this stress, we also miss the chance to accurately determine our compatibility with the other person. Feigning interest in something that actually bores you will only jeopardize the chances of both of you getting to know each other well. Another embarrassing effect of conforming can be the chances of revealing your false interest several dates later; when your date invites you to the Dark Tranquility concert next week and you absentmindedly reply, “Who?”

Not only is a situation like this embarrassing, but it can also break the trust of the person you’re dating. As many people value trust in a relationship, showing a potential partner that you already aren’t being 100% truthful with them may be a breach in their trust. While of course this wasn’t your initial intention, your goal to please your date may backfire more severely than you would think.

My Experience with Conforming

I once dated a man who completely swept me off my feet with his interests in music and travel. I was intrigued by the fact that he had studied jazz history and traveled all over France just like I had. Moreover, the fact that he was older and more mature was another bonus. I indulged him for a couple more dates until I decided to take him to a jazz bar in New York. I was shocked that I had not noticed the fake ID he had been using to get into every bar we had been going to. To exacerbate the situation, the young gentleman did not seem to have any interest in any of the jazz numbers the live band was playing. After all that, I was not interested to have a look at his passport for his real name, age or even his Schengen Visa for Paris.

So the next time you are on a first date, don’t conform to every single thing your date says or does. Instead, express genuine interest in what they are talking about and ask them to tell you more about it. That way, you can still enjoy a lively conversation about something your date is passionate about while still being truthful to yourself. So if you want a genuine shot at a happily-ever-after in jazz world or Paris, be honest, be true and be you.

Baruni Sharma

Baruni Sharma

Rapport Intern

Baruni Sharma is a Senior studying psychology at Sarah Lawrence College.  She has interests in clinical research, child development, and relationship science.

Ghosting: Why Keeping it Classy is Good for your Business

Ghosting: Why Keeping it Classy is Good for your Business

Dating in my 20s…

Was not fun and learning about ghosting was a rude awakening.  I was in a relationship from the age of 18-23.  This man was a wonderful person and in so many ways, an amazing fit for me.  He was ambitious, attractive, emotionally secure and financially stable.  Yet, when  I was 23 and he was 27, he started to discuss marriage and suggested I forgo graduate school and get a job.  It was a conversation that angered me at the time.  Shortly after, I broke up with him and moved to Manhattan.  I simply could not see myself married with 4 children by the age of 30.

Up until this point, my relationship history was, for the most part, pretty drama free.  There was one exception of a high school boyfriend who was a hot mess but most of the young men I interacted with, including my long-term relationship were great guys.  I didn’t appreciate these great guys (aka emotionally secure) until many years later.  When I moved to NYC, I started dating again around the age of 25.  The crap my girlfriends and I dealt with at the dawn of the online dating age is not what I hear my clients talk about now.  We didn’t have terms for the “bad’ behavior but we all certainly experienced “ghosting.”

“The real magic in relationships is the absence of judgment in others” – Wayne Dyer

An Early Experience with “Ghosting”

When our dates simply seemed to vanish out of thin air, we just referred to them as an a**hole.  We didn’t have a term for their behavior but it didn’t mean we were any less pissed off than people are in the present moment.  I remember meeting a somewhat sexy international gentleman around this time who was traveling back and forth between NYC and another city.  I believe he was originally from Canada and was working in something related to luxury sales.  To this day, I honestly do not remember how many dates we had been on but it wasn’t more than 6 weeks worth of dating but he was one of the first to pull this ghosting nonsense.

What I DO remember is that at the time, I really liked him.  Yet, I was naive and coming out of a 5.5-year relationship at such a young age did not prepare me to handle difficulties in communication.  One of the few things I do remember is talking to my roommate in my kitchen after making him dinner, indicating how much I liked him (we must have been on a number of dates if he met my roommate!)  He stayed over that night, and while it was not the first time we slept together, it was completely awkward and not super enjoyable for me.  I assumed that we would have a conversation about it sometime soon but instead, I simply never heard from him again…well until…

He Reappeared Multiple Times over a Span of Years

I remember moving to the west coast and receiving a LinkedIn message asking how I was doing. At that time, I don’t think I even remembered who he was and I ignored the request to re-connect.  This happened a couple of more times.  After the third time, I politely responded to the message.  He wished me luck and I thought nothing about it until I moved back to New York.

He Messaged Me For my Book Launch

As part of any book launch or getting a new project off the ground, you are always pooling your contacts.  I pooled my LinkedIn contacts and of course, an announcement message was sent to this man.   What I received back was nothing short of a warm, adult and polite email wishing me the best of luck.  Could it be that he feels bad all these years or that his memory of what happened was completely different than mine?  Or could it be with age we all mature and learn to communicate better?  Or is it now that I am achieving some success in my career he is interested again making his intentions less about me and more about him and his own business development?

What I’ve learned so far from this experience is that I am proud that I have rarely, if ever, retaliated against men who did stupid things or dropped off the face of the earth.  I am proud that I have always been able to walk away and NOT CHASE THEM.  I am pleased that the image or impression that I am projecting to the world is of a strong, successful woman.  Had I made the choice to enact my anger and send a crazy slew of text messages, we certainly wouldn’t be in a situation where it was possible to reconnect.

Why I Said Yes to a Glass of Wine

That’s right.  I made the choice to reconnect instead of telling him to f*ck off.  I’m choosing to be more Gabby Bernstein and see this situation as an opportunity to heal, to learn, and to listen.  It is also the RIGHT BUSINESS MOVE to always be connecting and reconnecting with people and see where they are in their own life, their own business, and to reassess what type of contact they are at this moment in time.  I’m not saying I would be so open if he did things back then to maliciously hurt me but I think I’ve learned from my own personal life and from my clients how much poor communication there is in the dating scene.  It is wise to reassess rather than avoid.  Does this mean that I ignore my intuition? NO.  If my gut told me to run the other way, I would listen but it told me to accept the offer to reconnect.

Lessons Learned: What to Do When you are Ghosted

You may follow up once but if the person is not communicating with you, move on as a classy person.  Do whatever you need to heal yourself but do not expect others to give you closure.  You are in control of how to respond to negative events and I do believe that the Universe forces situations (often over and over again if you’re stubborn) to force you to grow and heal.  Sometimes the person is blowing hot and cold and driving you crazy, but this could be a sign most ignore that a ghosting is coming.  People who ghost can range from simply being anxious and stuck in their head to being rampant narcissist’s who are simply looking to use your contacts.  Or sometimes that person is not in a place to give you what you want and they think the classy thing to do is disappear.  It is often a gift that you are not ready to receive.

Many men default to ghosting because they realize they cannot make you happy and simply do not know how to handle those emotions.  

If you take care of yourself and do not retaliate, you have the opportunity years later to reconnect and grow your business.  In this situation I was able to sell a book but who knows what other opportunities there may be if it is a good time for us to be in touch.  Forgiveness and your self-healing will help you assess all of these situations in a healthier manner and possibly help you grow your brand or your business faster with more support.

What Happens Next?

When you are the one who has remained classy, you are in control.  I’ll update you on what happens after we reconnect.  I am guessing that this gentleman is married or in a relationship and is simply reaching out in a business context – but according to John Gray, you never know what you’re old dates are up to and who may help you find the person you are meant to be with.  It is also a wonderful way to keep your seductive energy going while you are building a business or your love life.

#RelationshipsMatterMost

“I am willing to see things differently. I am willing to see love.” – Gabby Bernstein

The Aftermath

I have to say that making the choice to listen to my intuition and meet with this man was a good one.  Not only did he want to reconnect, we discussed what happened and he apologized for not being more available.  We discussed our lives and overall it was a pleasant experience.  It was also interesting simply seeing how one’s body reacts when it remembers a connection with someone in the past.  It was a wonderful reminder of why we all need to pay attention more to our intuition and our bodies.  He’s an overall great man who did some ridiculous things when he was younger and took responsibility for them.  I am grateful that I allowed myself to have such a wonderful opportunity.

Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Licensed Psychologist and Founder of Rapport Relationships

Dr. Jennifer Rhodes is a relationship expert and licensed psychologist.  She provides dating strategy, consultation, and date coaching services to clients all over the world.  Dr. Rhodes is a frequently sought media expert on the topics of seduction, sensuality,  dating, divorce, and relationships.  In addition to Rapport Relationships, Dr. Rhodes is the founder of Visual Arts Reimagined (VAR) where she provides services to visual artists interested in entrepreneurship and leadership.

#MeToo, Now What? How to Move the Conversation about Sexual Harassment Toward Concrete Action

#MeToo, Now What? How to Move the Conversation about Sexual Harassment Toward Concrete Action

There are many women across America who are celebrating that men are finally seeing repercussions for their sexually inappropriate behavior.  It surely is a time to sit back and thank all women for their sacrifices in getting to this point and shared their #MeToo stories.  From Minakshi Jafa-Bodden who was brave enough to file suit against Bikram Choudhury for sexual harassment and won to Ann Curry whose career was derailed simply because she set appropriate professional boundaries with Matt Lauer, women are standing up and finally receiving the recognition for their reports of unprofessional and inappropriate behavior .  All over the country, men whom we perceived to have a great deal of power are being told that at the end of the day, they abused that power and now, for the first time, must face the consequences.

It is unclear how long this trend of bestowing consequences for, unfortunately, very common behavior will last.  Human resources managers and attorneys are likely to be kept very busy for a long time.  Yet, as a professional with forensic psychology training and expertise in domestic violence and sexual abuse, I can tell you that while we may get excited by the progress that is happening now, it would be foolish to think that this battle is over.

In fact, smart women know that the war has just begun.  Smart women know that not every organization will support them, even with these changes.  Smart women know that white women may be safer to report sexual harassment than women of color.  Smart women know that just because you report sexual harassment does not mean it stops. Smart women know that startups or companies without actual human resources departments likely do not have the staffing to handle these reports appropriately.  Smart women know that our world is quickly turning into a freelance dominated culture where human resources simply will not exist to help a solopreneur.

A problem that will not go away

Sexual harassment is a problem that will not easily disappear.  Power and control are intoxicating feelings and are often heightened in high stress situations.  If we as women are to have any true impact on the future of the workplace environment, we must come to terms and LEARN how best to manage power dynamics in the workplace.  Mimicking the perpetrator in the office is likely not a good long term strategy but education about power and control is.  Learning to identify the dynamics well before a line is crossed is good prevention.  Knowing how to protect yourself and build alliances in the workplace will continue to be necessary.  Gaining an understanding of why our culture rewards narcissists and other antisocial individuals will help build resilience. These are all skills that traditionally men have been better at than women and we can no longer afford to let these aspects of the game slide.

Young women are at highest risk for thinking that this does not matter.  In her book, Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office, Dr. Frankel’s statistics indicate that women still have a long way to go to earn the money and the power that men have. Over the past few years, I have helped numerous clients transform his or her own image to deal with a multitude of environments.  I continue to convey that having a strategy that aligns your personal and professional goals is as necessary for your career as it is for your personal life. Women are the first to say they don’t want to play games.  Unfortunately, in both areas, if you do not play, you likely do not get what you really want and if you are a solopreneur or in a freelance/creative industry, isolation can quickly kill your career.

What is troubling me today is the naïve idea that if we simply tell our stories that the world will change. While building a community is helpful, statistically we have known for years that between 40% – 60% of women in the workplace have experienced behavior that is classified as sexual harassment.  These numbers do not highlight the additional smaller percentage of men who are experiencing it as well.  What the #metoo campaign did well was show men how close to home the problem was but in lacking a further goal, the #metoo campaign also scared a lot of the men that are capable of supporting women.

#MeToo is just a start.  We need a new definition of masculinity.

For a problem that is so common and widespread, the underlying issues will need to be addressed over the long run.  In my opinion, the biggest reason why such behavior is so frequent and common is related to the fundamental lack of respect for relationships in general and a complete lack of communication skill across the board.  Further, we have a culture that teaches men that masculinity is related to how many women you sleep with.  If you want to better understand what is wrong in our workplace, look at the dating industry where young men still pay obscene amounts of money to pick up artists to learn how to sleep with women.  Or visit a high school and listen to the stories of dating violence and bullying.  The behavior starts at a young age and we are doing very little to circumvent it.

Where are All the Good Men?

Over the past five years, I have heard stories from women about why they left their firm to start their own practice or set out to become an entrepreneur.  Most of the time the story highlights a man who made them feel uncomfortable at work and didn’t want to deal with the drama anymore.  Yet, I have also worked with amazing men who are now living with high levels of anxiety about NOT sexually harassing women and are scared that women will misinterpret their behavior if they are friendly towards them.  These men have experienced women in their personal life who have given them feedback that their behavior is in some way inappropriate when they were in no way intending to harm them.  While they take the feedback seriously, they find themselves confused and hurt choosing to avoid contact rather than risking offending another woman.

These men are hiding themselves both personally and professionally at a time when we really need them to step up beside us not behind us.

There has been story after story of fathers who do not know how to address this topic with their daughters or whom think, because they are not a woman, that what they should say does not count.  Silence now sends the message to all the women that their experiences have been trivial.  If you are one of these good guys, it is imperative now that you figure out why you are staying silent.  Women need you more than ever.  Daughters need you to lead and these perpetrators need to know what masculinity really is.

To move the #MeToo conversation forward, these are recommendations we all should consider.

  1. Encouraging people to simply report sexual harassment may put them at risk if they are reporting in an environment that does not value relationships or a healthy work culture. Workshops to train men and women about how to navigate their own work culture prior to making a report will give men and women the tools they need to take a step forward with confidence.
  1. Immediately respond to sexual harassment by saying no and asking for it to stop. This can be verbal or written.  Do not feel ashamed if you realize that certain behavior was sexual harassment at a later point in time.  Simply ask it to stop when you realize what is going on.
  1. Men need to take a hard look at themselves and commit to ongoing personal growth and development. This may mean learning more about relationships and communication at a young age and making the conscious choice to stop using women in their personal lives as validation for their masculinity.  Our culture needs to help men redefine what masculinity is and give our young men choices to find themselves.
  1. Women need to take a hard look at why they often give up their power in both their personal lives and their work lives while trying to find “the one.” Women are so willing to give their power to someone else that it is little wonder why we think men have all the power – they do because we gave it to them.  Books like The Rules are basically manuals on how to be assertive and know your worth.  We have a self-esteem crisis among women in this country and it needs to be addressed now.
  1. Most women feel ashamed that they did not say no right away especially if they have been victims in the past. We have an epidemic of sexual assault and domestic violence in this country and we need to start paying attention and funding the programs that we know work to stop the violence.
  1. Women need to consciously build relationships and create a support team to call upon in times of crisis. Women in relationships are more likely to have no support team outside of her spouse. We need to support everyone in building their team.  Women always do better when they seek legal counsel immediately. Hire a therapist or a coach for a few sessions.  Sometimes even the right career coach can help you navigate this situation.  DO NOT GO IT ALONE.
  1. We are in a dangerous place if we simply focus our attention on the men that commit horrendous behavior and do not validate the men that do the right thing. Individuals and organizations should start to find ways to highlight those people who embody the values and the ideals of company culture.  When we focus on the positive and ignore the negative, everyone’s behavior changes for the best.
  1. We need to focus on social skills and assertiveness training of our for both young men and women starting in middle or high school. Training young women to just get your education without giving attention to the social skills they need to handle future difficult situations will mean that women will stay at the bottom and be scared to assert themselves when needed later in their career. Training men to “be a man” does nothing to give them the skills they need to communicate with women.
  1. Organizations need to start getting smart about using holiday parties and corporate retreats to begin to train men and women about appropriate conversation and respect – and no I don’t mean more of those horrible sexual harassment videos. The biggest issue I see is in the inability of men and women to read nonverbal body language.  The easiest way to teach these skills is to hire a well-trained social dance instructor with psychology training to come and give a lesson.  You may be surprised how easy it is to spot problematic people by watching them lead in a dance lesson and having them experience what it is like to be a follower.
  1. Women need to mentor other women and encourage them to participate in the office politics and help them strategize their career from day one.
  1. Women in their 20s need to realize that dating is a wonderful opportunity to practice boundary setting, negotiation, and relationship skill building Avoiding all dating because you are focusing on your career means less opportunity for practice and a decreased opportunity in better understand men in general. Mindfully cultivate a group of people in your personal life who are supportive and be quick to eliminate anyone who does not meet your standards.
  1. Women need to hire mental health experts to help them deal with their emotions and learn skills to manage their anxiety. Anxiety and fear is often what hold women back whereas men are more likely to simply move forward even if they are scared.
  1. Women need to learn how to think like a detective. Documentation, keeping a journal, knowing how to write emails to collect data etc… go a long way to making a woman feel empowered to take ownership of how she responds to sexual harassment.  Most women do not know how to write effective emails or understand that emails can form the basis of documentation.
  1. Women need to monitor their social media profiles and be active in their industry. Relationships make it easier to find other work if you really need to make a change.  Do not get complacent in your current job.  Always be interviewing.  You will feel more powerful always knowing you have options.
  1. Women need to learn to waste a little time and learn to work smarter, not harder. I can’t tell you the number of women who sacrificed their entire life for a project only for that project to be taken over simply because her boss did not respect her as a colleague.  Boundaries make you more powerful and respected.  Men do not give up their poker game for a date or a business meeting.  You shouldn’t give up your exercise or hobbies.
  1. Money gives women credibility and power.  Be assertive with negotiations and with what you are worth.  If you are in a helping profession or a creative field, do not think that you must be poor to help people.  Money is the tool that will help you help more than a handful of people.  It is why it is the Time’s Up campaign is so powerful.
  1. Invest in learning how to manage your personal image with your hair, makeup, and clothes. I recently gave feedback to a 35-year-old man that he should be wearing a blazer to meetings since he was not the engineer on the project but rather than an attorney. A few weeks later he did it and was shocked with how much more respect he received. Women need to do the same and invest in their appearance as an assertiveness tool.  Men are inherently visual – if you want to give them something to look at, make sure it is your face so they listen to what you say!  In fact, men often dress this way to convey their power.  If you do not match it, you leave yourself vulnerable in some industries.  Learning how to use your dress for different environments is also a powerful tool.
  1. Build your personal life around your core values and value your personal time.  You will need these outlets to cope with difficult work situations.  Life should exist outside your work.  Take the time to focus on your passions – you never know when you will need them or who you will meet participating in them.

So much of what I see in my clinical practice is being experienced in the work environment.  Both men and women need assistance in navigating the new realities of their work and personal lives.  If we all begin to focus on the research that indicates that healthy relationships are vital for our wellbeing and happiness more and more men and women will act more assertively to make change in line with the research. If we also actively reward the women and men who are treating everyone with respect, we can finally change our culture.

Relationships simply make or break our lives.  It’s time to treat them with the respect they deserve.

Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Licensed Psychologist | Founder of Rapport Relationships | Founder of VAR

Dr. Jennifer Rhodes is a relationship expert and licensed psychologist.  She provides dating strategy, consultation, and date coaching services to clients all over the world.  Dr. Rhodes is a frequently sought media expert on the topics of seduction, sensuality,  dating, divorce, and relationships.  In addition to Rapport Relationships, Dr. Rhodes is the founder of Visual Arts Reimagined (VAR) where she provides services to visual artists interested in entrepreneurship and leadership.