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Thursday, December 28, 2023

How to Overcome Polarization in Your Relationship

It's not unusual to have differences of opinion in a relationship, but when polarization becomes a problem, each of you become stuck in your position and there's no negotiation or compromise.

What is Polarization in a Relationship?
Let's start by first defining what polarization means in a relationship.

Polarization is a word that's often used today in politics where two political parties are far apart ideologically and unable to talk to each other to reach a compromise.

Polarization in a Relationship

A similar phenomenon occurs in certain relationships where each person has such a divergent view from the other that they're unable to meet in the middle or, in some cases, to even get out of their respective corners (see my article: Overcoming All or Nothing Thinking).

Clinical Vignettes
The following clinical vignettes, which are composites of many cases with all identifying information removed, are examples of couples who are polarized but who find a way out of their dilemma by taking basic steps, which are identified below.

Vignette 1: Carol and Mike
When they were dating, Carol and Mike saw each other a few times a week and maintained their own Manhattan apartments for two years.

During the time they were dating, they rarely argued and, when they did, they would usually reconcile fairly easily.  But their problems with polarization developed once they moved in together.  

Polarization in a Relationship

When Mike's lease was up, he moved into Carol's apartment. They both agreed this was the most practical thing to do because his renewal lease on the Upper West Side would cost almost twice as much as Carol's rent stabilized apartment in Greenwich Village.

Initially, they were getting along well, but after a couple of months, they began arguing about how much time they were spending together (Relationships: Time Together vs Time Apart).

Mike wanted to spend more time together than Carol, who wanted to spend more of her free time with her friends.  

Mike saw his friends occasionally to go to sports events or to play racquetball, but Carol saw her friends a few times a week for brunch and dinner.  Mike couldn't understand why she would spend so much time with them.  

At first, when they began talking about this issue, they were both willing to make some compromises.  Mike was willing to spend a little less time than he really wanted with Carol and Carol was willing to spend a little more time with Mike.

But the more they talked about it, the more heated their discussions became.  And the more heated their discussions became, the more determined each of them was to get it his or her own way.  This resulted in a standoff where neither of them wanted to see the other's perspective.

Vignette 2: Jane and Dina
During the first six months of their relationship, Jane and Dina were head over heels about each other.

A year into their relationship, they got an apartment together and they felt blissful for the next six months.  But soon after that, Jane, who maintained friendships with all her exes, wanted to have dinner with her ex, Susan--someone she was in a relationship with before she met Dina.

Polarization in a Relationship

Even though Dina knew Jane maintained friendships with her exes, she didn't give it much thought until the Jane said she wanted to have dinner with Susan. From Dina's perspective, once a relationship ended, she no longer wanted to have contact with an ex.  So, when Jane told Dina she wanted to have dinner with Susan, Dina felt angry and jealous, and she told Jane she didn't feel comfortable with that.

Initially, when they began talking about it, Dina and Jane were both open to trying to find a compromise.  But as their discussions turned into arguments, they both became polarized in their views and neither of them wanted to compromise.  

How to Overcome Polarization in Your Relationship
The following tips can help if you're experiencing polarization in your relationship:
  • Stop Seeing the Problem as "Right" and "Wrong": One of the problems with polarization is that each person feels they are "right" and the other person is "wrong."  Instead, see the problem as a difference of opinion with neither side being "right" or "wrong." As long as you're both stuck in seeing the problem as being black or white or all or nothing, you'll probably remain stuck.
  • Wait to Talk About the Problem Until You're Both Calm: If the discussion becomes too heated, take a break and wait until you're both calm. If you try to talk about it when emotions are running high, it will be hard to find a compromise.
Finding a Compromise to Get Out of a Polarization Deadlock
In Vignette 1, once Carol and Mike calmed down, they stopped seeing the problem in such black and white terms.  After Mike explained to Carol that he missed her when she was out so much, she was able to reframe the problem in her mind.  Also, once Mike understood how important Carol's friendships were to her, he realized she relied on these friendships for emotional support and fun.  

Overcoming Polarization in a Relationship

The compromise they came up with was that instead of going out with her friends three times a week, she would go out with them twice a week and invite them over once a week and Mike would invite his friends too so they could all have dinner together. When they saw that everyone got along so well, they wished they had done this months before.

In Vignette 2, Jane and Dina talked it out once they were both calm. Dina assured Jane that she trusted her and, even though she didn't see why Jane would remain friends with her exes, she wasn't jealous of Susan.  

Overcoming Polarization in a Relationship

They reached a compromise where Jane invited Dina to have dinner with Susan and Susan's new girlfriend, Judy.  During dinner, Dina enjoyed herself and she realized that she genuinely liked Susan and Judy.  After meeting Susan, Dina could understand why Jane wanted to remain friends with her.  After that first dinner, the two couples went out together every few weeks. There were also times when Jane met Susan for dinner on their own and Dina no longer had a problem with that.

Conclusion
Polarization is a common problem in many relationships. 

If both people are willing to talk when they're calm, keep the lines of communication open, and move towards each other instead of away, they're more likely to reach a compromise.

Getting Help in Therapy
Some couples are unable to get out of their polarized positions.

A skilled couples therapist can help a couple to navigate this difficult terrain so they can learn the necessary relationship skills to make compromises and have a more fulfilling relationship.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples (see my article: What is Emotion Focused Therapy For Couples?).

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.






 



How to Build Trust and Connection in Your Relationship

As a psychotherapist in New York City who works with individual adults and couples, I see many clients who have lost trust and connection (see my article: Are You Able to Express Your Vulnerable Feelings to Your Partner?.  

Building Trust and Connection in Your Relationship

They're no longer emotionally vulnerable with each other and, over the years, disappointments and resentment have built up, so they come to therapy to try to rebuild trust and connection. 

In some cases, there has been betrayal and they come to find out whether their relationship can be repaired after affairs and other breaches of trust, like financial infidelity.

How to Build Trust and Connection in Your Relationship
According to relationship expert John Gottman, PhD., trust and connection can be built over time in a series of small moments throughout the relationship.

Through his 40+ years of research on relationships, he has discovered that small moments in a relationship can make a big difference.

Attunement
Being attuned to your partner is essential to building trust and connection, according to Dr. Gottman.

Building Trust and Connection in Your Relationship

Attunement means the ability to emotionally connect with your partner. It means you have the ability to emotionally enter into your partner's inner world.  

He describes the word "attune" as follows:
  • A = Awareness
  • T = Turning towards your partner emotionally
  • T = Tolerance for two different points of view
  • U = Understanding
  • N = Nondefensive responding
  • E = Empathy
Make a Choice: Turning Towards or Turning Away
There are many moments in a relationship when you can make a decision to either turn towards or turn away from your partner, according to Dr. Gottman.

Building Trust and Connection in Your Relationship


The decision you make in these moments can make a big difference in your relationship over time.

Clinical Vignettes
The following clinical vignettes, which are composites of many different cases with all identifying information changed, illustrate how making a choice to either turn towards or turn away can make a difference over time in building trust and connection or eroding trust and connection:

    An Example of Turning Away From a Partner

Vignette 1: Doug and Alice
After 10 years marriage, one night, Alice told Doug she wanted to talk to him about their relationship.  Inwardly, Doug groaned because the football game was about to begin and he wanted to watch it. So, he told her their conversation could wait until after the game. But after the game, Doug said he was too tired to talk and they could talk in the morning. Alice tried again and again, but each time she approached Doug to try to tell him she felt taken for granted by him, he turned away from her by putting off the talk or responding defensively and dismissively.  She asked him to attend couples therapy, but he refused. He said he didn't want to talk about their private life with a stranger. Two years later, Alice told Doug she wanted a divorce.  Even though Alice tried to tell him many times before this that there was a problem, Doug was surprised that Alice was so unhappy in the marriage that she wanted a divorce.  He tried to reconcile with her, but she told him it was too late.  When he received the divorce papers from Alice, Doug made one last ditch effort to save their marriage. He promised he would stop being so selfish and try to meet her emotional needs. He told her he was finally ready to attend couples therapy if this is what it would take to save the marriage because he didn't want to lose her.  In response, Alice wasn't hopeful that anything would change, but she felt she had invested 10 years in the marriage and she had nothing to lose by going to couples therapy with Doug. Soon after they began couples therapy, they learned how their relationship had fallen apart, and they both made a commitment to work hard and learn the necessary relationship skills that could save their marriage.

    An Example of Turning Towards a Partner

Vignette 2:  Jane and Bill
Jane and Bill were married for seven years when, early one morning, Bill noticed that Jane looked uncharacteristically sad as she sat at the breakfast table having coffee.  He had just gathered up his golf clubs to meet his friends that morning for a long awaited golf game, but he didn't want to leave without finding out why Jane looked so unhappy.  So, he put down his golf clubs, sat next to Jane, put his arm around her shoulders and asked her why she looked so sad.  At first, Jane told him that they could wait to talk until after he got back from golf.  But Bill didn't want to leave Jane in this state, so he told her that golf could wait because she was more important to him than any game. Then, she told him she felt sad because she had just heard about her best friend's medical problems. After hearing this, Bill called one of his friends and told him that he couldn't make the golf game--even though Jane insisted that he go. They spent the rest of the day walking and talking in a wooded area close to their home. By the next day, Jane heard from her friend that her doctor said the prognosis for her condition was good, and Jane felt relieved. She was also grateful that Bill was attuned to her emotions and he was emotionally supportive. Over time, there were many instances where both Jane and Bill were able to turn towards each other for love and support, which helped to build trust and a strong emotional connection between them.

Discussion of Vignettes 1 and 2
Vignette 1 is an example of an ongoing pattern of turning away from a partner.  Instead of being attuned to Alice's emotions, Doug turned away repeatedly and he wouldn't listen to her.  It's no wonder Alice felt taken for granted by him.  

Over time, this kind of turning away over and over again will erode a relationship by sowing the seeds of mistrust and emotional disconnection because Alice sees she can't rely on Doug to be there for her.  

There can be many reasons why Doug lacks the ability to connect with Alice.  Maybe he grew up in a household where emotional vulnerability was considered a weakness and family members didn't communicate their feelings, so he never learned how to do it.  Or, maybe Doug was too self centered and lacked empathy for Alice because he grew up being emotionally neglected in his family, so he never learned to be empathetic.  Whatever the reason, the relationship fell apart even though Alice made numerous efforts to try to repair it.  

As a last ditch effort before signing divorce papers, they attended couples therapy to see if the marriage could be saved.

Vignette 1 is a good example of how couples often come for help in couples therapy.  Sometimes they are one step away from getting a divorce, but they decide to give their relationship one last chance before they give up.  

The best time to come for help in therapy is before a relationship has been so damaged.  Under Alice and Doug's circumstances, it can be challenging to repair a relationship that has been deteriorating for so many years, but it can be done if both people are willing to work at it.

Vignette 2 is an example of turning towards a partner.  Bill was looking forward to meeting his buddies for a golf game when he noticed that Jane looked unhappy. She wasn't complaining to him or even trying to get his attention.  Instead, Bill was attuned to Jane and he sensed something was wrong. 

In that moment, Bill had a choice: He could act like he didn't notice, go play golf with his friends and then come back later to talk to Jane or, he could respond to her with empathy and love.  Even though he knew Jane wouldn't try to stop him from going to play golf, he was concerned about her.  She was his priority, so he turned towards her and asked her what was wrong. 

Even when she insisted that he go play golf because she knew how much he was looking forward to it, he prioritized Jane and he made a personal sacrifice to stay to comfort her.  By doing that, he showed that he was emotionally attuned to her and she was the most important person in his life.  

If Jane was sad every time Bill wanted to meet his friends, this might be a different story and it would indicate there might other problems.  But Jane's sadness was uncharacteristic for her, so Bill knew it was unusual and important.

By turning towards Jane that morning, Bill was building trust and connection with Jane. He was letting Jane know, "I'm here for you."  

If you compare Bill's response in Vignette 2 to Doug's response in Vignette 1, you can see how these dynamics either build trust and connection or erode those qualities over time.

One or two instances of turning away won't ruin a relationship, but if this is an ongoing dynamic, it can lead to the demise of a relationship.

Note: Even though the examples given were of two heterosexual couples, these issues occur in LGBTQ relationships as well.

Getting Help in Therapy
Many people don't learn relationship skills because it isn't modeled for them by the adults in their family.

If you're having problems with trust and connection in your relationship, you could benefit from working with a licensed mental health professional who works with couples.

A skilled couples therapist can help you to develop and maintain the relationship skills you and your partner need to have a healthy relationship and live a meaningful life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples (see my article: What is Emotion Focused Therapy For Couples?).

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.



















Wednesday, December 27, 2023

The Problem With Comparative Suffering

During the early days of the pandemic, Dr. Brene Brown, researcher, social worker and author, discussed the topic of comparative suffering and why it's harmful to everyone involved.

The Problem With Comparative Suffering

During that time, many people were suffering with sadness, fear, anger and a mixture of emotions, and many also had physical symptoms from the virus as well.  Unfortuntely, many others died.

People were engaging in comparative suffering by either dismissing their own feelings or dismissing the feelings of others, which wasn't helpful to anyone.

Aside from the pandemic, comparative suffering is common, so it's worth taking a moment to understand it.

What is Comparative Suffering?
Let's start by defining comparative suffering.

Comparative suffering is comparing your emotional pain to others--either favorably or unfavorably.

I often hear clients compare their suffering to others by invalidating their own feelings, "I have no right to feel bad about what I'm going through. Look at Mary. She has it much worse than me."

Other clients feel resentful when they hear other people talking about their suffering because these clients believe they have it much worse than those people, so they invalidate other people's feelings, "They have it so much better than me. They should stop complaining."

As you can see, these types of comparisons either invalidate your own suffering or the suffering of others--as if there exists a scarcity of compassion to go around.

Suffering is suffering.  

There's no hierarchy of suffering that invalidates anyone's experience.

Examples of Comparative Suffering
The following fictional examples illustrate comparative suffering.

    Invalidating Your Own Experience

Mary 
While talking about how sad and helpless she felt watching her mother suffer from a serious illness, Mary sighed and said, "I shouldn't complain. My neighbor, Betty, lost her husband and younger child in a car accident. At least my mother is alive and still with me."

John
As he was discussing how good he felt about reaching his goal of losing 15 pounds in five months, John's tone changed when he said, "My accomplishment is nothing compared to my friend, Bill, who lost 20 pounds in two months."

Alice
Alice was talking about how frightened she felt after she heard the police were looking for a burglar in her neighborhood. Then, she looked embarrassed and said, "I don't know why I'm afraid because the woman across the street was robbed, and I haven't been robbed. I should be grateful instead of being scared."

    Invalidating Other People's Experiences

Bill
Bill was feeling resentful towards his friend, Joe, who told Bill he would have to take a 10% pay cut because business was bad at Joe's company.  During their conversation, Bill was silent, but later on when he got home, he said to his wife, "I wanted to tell Joe, 'Stop complaining!' Even with a 10% pay cut, he's still making a lot more money than I do.  He has nothing to complain about!

Sara
While she was talking to her friends, Sara recounted a conversation she had with her friend, Janet, "I can't believe she was complaining she didn't get the part she wanted on Broadway! Imagine her feeling sorry for herself about that when I can't even get a part as an extra. She has nothing to complain about!"

Richard
After he got home from work and his wife, Jane, toldl him she was exhausted from a full day at work and trying to put their six month old child to sleep, Richard responded to her by saying, "My mother worked two jobs and raised my brothers and me by herself. You have it easy compared to her."

The Problem With Comparative Suffering
Regardless of which way you use comparative suffering, it can lead to:
  • Denial of your own emotions or others' emotions, which can cause shame, fear, loneliness or resentment
  • Feelings of guilt and shame when you invalidate your feelings or resentment when you invalidate or dismiss other people's suffering
  • Acting like suffering is a contest where you compare yourself to others
  • Feeling there is a scarcity of compassion to go around
  • Making assumptions about how much better or worse others have it compared to you
  • Feeling isolated and lonely because you think no one can understand what you're going through
  • Difficulty feeling proud of your accomplishments when you compare yourself unfavorably to others
Tips on How to Overcome Comparative Suffering
Overcoming comparative suffering can be challenging, especially if you have been in the habit of doing it for a long time.  

Here are some tips that might be helpful:
  • Pay attention to how often you compare yourself, either favorably or unfavorably, to others. Challenge your thought patterns. Then, replace your thoughts with: There's enough compassion to go around--including self compassion.
  • Practice self compassion when you're tempted to put yourself down or invalidate your own experience. Remember: Suffering is suffering.
  • Practice compassion for others by trying to see their suffering from their perspective instead of seeing it only from your own limited perspective
  • Remember: It's not a competition between you and others
  • Be aware that over the course of a long friendship or other close relationship you and your loved ones will probably need emotional support from each other. So, if you have been emotionally supportive of others, allow them to be emotionally supportive of you.  And, if others have been emotionally supportive of you, extend your emotional support and compassion to them as well.
Get Help in Therapy
As I mentioned earlier, comparative suffering can be a hard habit to break.

Whether you tend to lack compassion for yourself or others, you could benefit from getting help from a licensed mental health professional.

A skilled psychotherapist can help you to overcome the underlying issues keeping you stuck in comparative suffering so you can lead a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples (see my article: WHAT IS A TRAUMA SPEC?)

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.
















The Five Flirting Styles: The Polite Flirting Style

This is a continuation of my prior articles about flirting styles as described in Dr. Jeffrey Hall's research and his book, The Five Flirting Styles.  

The Polite Flirting Style

Prior Articles





Please Note: Some people aren't receptive to flirting, especially if it involves touching. So, it's important to be aware of this and respect it. You need to pick up on social cues from the person you're with and remember that consent and context are important factors in your interactions with others.

Summary of the Five Flirting Styles
  • Playful: Playful flirts like to flirt for fun. They often have a particular goal of making a  sexual conquest, a date or a getting into a relationship. They enjoy flirting for the sake of flirting, so sometimes they don't have any goal except to enjoying being flirty and playful. It can be hard to understand what they want from you because they like to be playful and tease, but they're not especially intimate.
  • Traditional: Traditional flirts adhere to traditional, heteronormative ways of flirting where women wait for men to initiate flirting. Women in this category often use eye contact to show interest but men usually make the first move to talk to women. Traditional flirts tend to be introverted, so they often wait a while before they ask someone out. 
  • Physical: Physical flirts use nonverbal touch and open body language to flirt. This flirting style is especially sexually charged. Physical flirts tend to touch you. Aside from touching you, they might lean in close to you. They're usually confident and forward. Often, physical flirters look for a sexual conquest as opposed to a relationship, but this isn't always the case.
  • Sincere: Sincere flirts are the most common type. They will try to form a bond with you by making you comfortable and creating a rapport. They tend to be direct and honest in their approach. A relationship with them might start as a friendship first before it becomes romantic. 
  • Polite: Polite flirts can be difficult to understand because they're so subtle. They tend to be focused on being polite, moral, cautious and reserved. They want to avoid embarrassment, so, for instance, they tend to speak in cautious tones. 
As I mentioned in the prior articles, Dr. Hall's flirting styles are heteronormative, so they don't include the LGBTQ population; however, some aspects of these styles might be applicable.

The Polite Flirting Style
In the current article, I'm discussing the Polite Flirting Style.

What Are Common Characteristics of the Polite Flirting Style?
Traditional flirters tend to:
  • Know you for a while before they ask you out
  • Start flirting with you as if it's out of the blue after you have been friends for a while, which can be confusing--especially if you didn't realize they were interested in you before they started flirting
  • Pay attention to what you say while they're getting to know you--before they ask you out 
  • Be less assertive and aggressive, as a polite man, than some of the other men who have one of the four other flirting styles because they're being respectful
  • Refrain, as a man or a woman, to become sexual when they're getting to know you
  • Not comment on a woman's appearance, as a man, out of a sense of politeness
  • Find direct flirting annoying
  • Talk about their long term goals
  • Follow traditional courtship rules 
  • Be honest about their prior relationships
  • Call or send a text after a date to say thank you or to say they had fun
  • Be reliable and there for you when you need them
Men and Women
Women tend to be polite flirters much more than men.

The Polite Flirting Style

Both men and women tend to be cautious when they're interested in someone, which can lead to misunderstandings if they're too cautious because you might think they only see you as a friend.

Polite flirters can know you a long time before they think about letting you know they're interested and, even then, they might struggle to find the words to tell you.  Sometimes they need the assistance of a mutual friend to intervene to get things started.

The Polite Flirting Style: Dating, Sex and Love
Polite flirters tend to take things slowly when it comes to dating, sex and love.

Both men and women often want to be in love before having sex because sex is important to them and not to be taken lightly.  They want to feel they have an emotional connection with you first.

If a polite flirter is flirting with you, it's more than likely they're interested in forming a connection with you rather than trying to get you into bed.

Relationships
Similar to the Traditional and Sincere Flirting Styles, once they get into a relationship with you, the polite flirter tends to be loyal. 

Age
According to Dr. Hall, the Polite Flirting Style tends to be more common among people 40 and over.

The Polite Flirting Style

Dr. Hall indicates that this is probably due to people 40 and over developing a more mature ways of flirting, dating and being in a relationship.

Complementary Flirting Styles
The complementary flirting styles for the Polite Flirting Style are the 
  • Traditional Flirting Style
  • Sincere Flirting Style
The polite flirter has a lot in common with traditional and sincere flirters because their characteristics overlap in many ways.

What all three have in common is that--not only do they want to go slowly--they want to avoid the carefree sexual aspects of dating before you know each other.

It's not that they don't like sex.  It's more a matter that they tend to think it's crass to be sexual right away before you know each other.

Conclusion
This is the last in this series about flirting styles based on the research of Dr. Jeffrey Hall.

In reality, when it comes to flirting styles, people don't usually fit neatly into a particular box.  Most people are a combination of flirting styles.

Being aware of your particular constellation of flirting styles can help you in meeting people, dating or entering into a relationship.  

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I am a sex-positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.























 

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

The Five Flirting Styles: The Traditional Flirting Style

In the last several articles I've been focusing on flirting styles as described in Dr. Jeffrey Hall's book, The Five Flirting Styles.

The current article focuses on the Traditional Flirting Style.

The Traditional Flirting Style


See my prior articles:




Please Note: Some people aren't receptive to flirting, especially if it involves touching. So, it's important to be aware of this and respect it. You need to pick up on social cues from the person you're with and remember that consent and context are important factors in your interactions with others.

Summary of the Five Flirting Styles
  • Playful: Playful flirts like to flirt for fun. They often have a particular goal of making a  sexual conquest, a date or a getting into a relationship. They enjoy flirting for the sake of flirting, so sometimes they don't have any goal except to enjoying being flirty and playful. It can be hard to understand what they want from you because they like to be playful and tease, but they're not especially intimate.
  • Traditional: Traditional flirts adhere to traditional, heteronormative ways of flirting where women wait for men to initiate flirting. Women in this category often use eye contact to show interest but men usually make the first move to talk to women. Traditional flirts tend to be introverted, so they often wait a while before they ask someone out. 
  • Physical: Physical flirts use nonverbal touch and open body language to flirt. This flirting style is especially sexually charged. Physical flirts tend to touch you. Aside from touching you, they might lean in close to you. They're usually confident and forward. Often, physical flirters look for a sexual conquest as opposed to a relationship, but this isn't always the case.
  • Sincere: Sincere flirts are the most common type. They will try to form a bond with you by making you comfortable and creating a rapport. They tend to be direct and honest in their approach. A relationship with them might start as a friendship first before it becomes romantic. 
  • Polite: Polite flirts can be difficult to understand because they're so subtle. They tend to be focused on being polite, moral, cautious and reserved. They want to avoid embarrassment, so, for instance, they tend to speak in cautious tones. 
As I mentioned in the prior articles, Dr. Hall's flirting styles are heteronormative, so they exclude the LGBTQ population; however, some aspects of these styles might be applicable.

What Are Common Characteristics of the Traditional Flirting Style?
Traditional flirters tend to:
  • Believe in traditional ways when it comes to romance
  • Be polite
  • Follow traditional rules when it comes to romance as well as in other areas of their life
  • Rarely become romantically involved with their friends
  • Make their dates or partners feel like they're in a fairytale romance
  • Believe in traditional male and female gender roles 
  • Hold open doors, pay for the check and pull out a woman's chair (if they are men)
  • Hold back, behave reserved and want the man to be in the lead (if they are women)
  • Believe that a little jealousy keeps chemistry alive
  • Be predictable in terms of their courtship style
  • Not to like change in general
Men and Women
According to Dr. Hall, women are much more likely to have the Traditional Flirting Style than men.

In terms of the prevalence of the Traditional Flirting Style among men, men are much more likely to be one of the other flirting styles. For men, the Traditional Flirting Style is in last place after the other four.

The Traditional Flirting Style: Dating, Sex and Love
For many men who are traditional flirters, it's a "man's world." They expect to be the ones who take the initiative to ask a woman out, initiate sex and declare their love.  

Compared to men who are part of the four other flirting styles, these men would be uncomfortable if a woman took the initiative.  

The Traditional Flirting Style

Generally speaking, according to Dr. Hall, men who are traditional flirters value beauty in a woman, and women who are traditional flirters value success in men.

Traditional women tend to hang back, as opposed to taking the lead, when it comes to flirting because they're waiting for the man to take the lead. However, a traditional woman who is even more reserved wouldn't like the man to flirt with her, according to Dr. Hall.

Since, as a group, traditional women don't feel comfortable flirting, they can find it difficult to get a man's attention.  This can make it challenging for these women to meet men--unless they're thrown together in college or at a social event with friends.

Dr. Hall says that traditional men are generally looking for women who are demur, passive and subtle.

Many traditional men will wait a long time before they approach a woman.  They usually want to establish a respectful and cordial relationship with a woman first.  

This can make it difficult for a woman to know whether or not he's interested.  Then, these men often assume they have to work to get a woman interested in them.

A traditional man often waits until a relationship is established before he flirts with a woman.  

Traditional men and women might rely on friends to help them to meet and get started in their courtship.

Traditional men and women often have conservative ideas about sex.  Many of them believe that sex should take place within a committed relationship, preferably a marriage.  They also tend to have fewer sexual partners.

It's not unusual for there to be a double standard with regard to men and women and sex: Men are allowed to have casual sex with women they don't want to be in a committed relationship with, and women would be demeaned if they did the same thing.

However, Dr. Hall also indicates that about 20% of women who responded to his survey said they had sex with a man they were interested in to try to get a relationship going.  This is likely due to the fact that they consider sex and relationships to go together, so if they are having sex with a man, they feel it means the relationship is progressing.

Relationships
According to Dr. Hall, traditional men and women tend to be committed partners when they're part of a relationship.

Devoted Traditional Partners in a Committed Relationship


Based on his research, Dr. Hall indicates that traditional men and women are 20% less likely to flirt with someone else when they're in a committed relationship.

Complementary Flirting Style
The Traditional and the Polite Flirting Styles are complementary to each other (more about the Polite Flirting Style in a future article).

Dr. Hall indicates that these two styles are often confused for each other because the traditional flirt is polite and the polite flirt is traditional.

Conclusion
The traditional flirts tend to have definite ideas about traditional gender roles.

Their way of flirting often appeals to other people who are also traditional. It works for them, but it can be off-putting to others (just like any of the other flirting styles).

Traditional men might be slower to approach a woman they're attracted to, but if it works out, they're less likely to stray, according to Dr. Jeffrey Hall.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, Somatic Experiencing and a Sex Therapist.

I am a sex-positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.