Andrew Byrne is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) with over 10 years of experience in helping people get connected to their preferred selves and relationships. Through his compassionate and caring approach, he aims to assist those who are interested in getting connected to their preferred ways of being and disconnecting from the conditioned ways of being that stop them from achieving the life they desire. While we cannot control the way life shows up to us, we can choose how we show up to life. Balance is not necessarily a consistent state of being, it takes work and attention, using our human awareness to recognize when we are feeling unbalanced so that we may take the necessary steps to readjust. I believe wholeheartedly in every human being’s ability and right to find peace in their lives and in my conversations with those who choose to join me, I work to help them understand how they can create the kind of peace they are looking for in life.
What are some defining traits of femininity, especially in the context of a relationship?
I think this question needs to be broken down a bit in order to answer it completely. For me, it is not clear if the question is asking about the differences between men and women, and to discuss generalized traits of women, or if we are looking at the generalization of masculine and feminine traits, which can be found in both men and women. It is more widely understood now that men and women are not simply one dimensional and, therefore, to define a woman, or a man, based purely on the antiquated notions of femininity and masculinity would be missing the complexity and diversity of each human. With all of this being said, to answer the question more directly, I would say that femininity within the context of relationships is going to be more associated with caretaking, emotional availability, and empathy. Of course, it is clear that these traits are not found only in women, and, as relationships evolve and gender and sexual fluidity become more embraced, we are likely going to want to move away from the dichotomy of thinking purely about males and females, and more towards an understanding of the masculine and feminine traits that each partner brings to the relationship. If we can move out of the rigid dualism, perhaps we can begin to see each other more for each person is, rather than be judging each other based on preconceived notions of male and female.
Should a woman call back a man who said he’d call her but didn’t? Why or why not?
This question may be more complex than it appears as I can see gendered and cultural implications and undertones, which can influence one’s perspective on this. Perhaps there are unspoken agreements about the nature and process of dating based on one’s cultural background, which may want to be considered in answering this question. But for the purposes of this question, and in the interest of breaking down some of these potentially toxic and rigid ideas about dating, I would say simply that if it matches your integrity, whether you are a man or a woman, feel free to be the one who takes the lead. Increasingly, men are appreciating women who take charge and take the risk of making the first move. Whether you call him or not, you will be guided by the information that you have. If you don’t call, you can only be informed by the information, and insecurities, in your head, not on any objective fact. However, if you do call him, at the very least you will get confirmation of his interest, or lack thereof, of wanting to pursue any further relationship. If the behavior of not calling when he says he will is a consistent part of your ongoing interactions, you may want to ask a different question and evaluate whether this person actually respects you, and I think we have to be careful of acting without adequate information.
What are some of the best ways to convey affection to your significant other?
In order to answer this question, it would be important to get to know how your partner wants to be loved and shown affection. I find that communication is the best source of affection because it conveys that you are interested in getting to know your partner for who they are and not just assuming that you know what they want. How you want to be loved may be different than how your partner wants to receive love and affection and it is important to have these conversations explicitly so as to avoid potential potholes. That being said, you may find that anything that shows you are thinking of that person and putting effort into loving them or conveying affection is a step in the right direction and will likely be received well. We all want to know that we matter and are being seen, so paying attention is the best way to let your partner know they are important to you.
How can a man give space to his girlfriend without losing her?
The part of the question that I believe needs to be attended to is “without losing her” as this denotes that she was his to begin with and thus there is an immediate fear that breeds a desire to control the outcome. What is important to remember is that we are all our own individual people, capable of making our own choices, and relationships cannot thrive in a space where personal agency is not honored. To give space to either partner is an act of trust and love, an acknowledgment that the other must make their own choice in order for the relationship itself to grow and benefit both partners. If your partner asks for space, remember that you do not have control over the outcome, but by smothering your partner or refusing to provide breathing space, the flame of the relationship is much more likely to be snuffed out.
What should a man know about attracting and dating an independent-minded woman?
The universal truth of relationships is that we must respect and honor the autonomy of our partners while also paying attention to the needs of the relationship itself. If your partner, or potential partner, is independent-minded, it is important that you be introspective and ask yourself if you are comfortable enough with yourself that you are not going to require your partner to always be your emotional support. This does not mean that you both cannot develop your own patterns and ability to support each other emotionally and otherwise, but it will likely be important that you accept her for who she is and know what you are inviting into your life. Like with any relationship, it would be wise to have very upfront conversations about what each of you are wanting, so you can go into the next phase of the relationship with open eyes.
How can you tell whether you actually have feelings for someone, or are just lonely?
If this is a question you are asking yourself, it may be a good idea to pause your dating life and spend some time with yourself, to learn how to enjoy being with yourself. Loneliness is a state of mind and has nothing to do with whether we are or are not in proximity with others. Loneliness comes from a sense that we need others in order to be happy, and thus it is important to teach ourselves that we can be okay outside of a relationship, so that when we choose to be in a relationship, we are more prepared to receive love and not fall into the trap of looking for a partner to “complete” us. Only you can know when the feelings you have for another person are authentic feelings leading you into a relationship, and as a general rule of thumb, I find it is important to love yourself before you can really know if the desire to be with a potential partner is authentic.
What are some tips for dealing with a spouse with anger and anxiety issues?
Before I discuss possible tips of how to show up for a partner who may be guided more strongly by his/her emotions, I feel it is important to first acknowledge the potential safety issues for you as the partner of this person. It is important to draw a distinction between an appropriate, or even slightly elevated, emotional response and a reaction which may be dangerous. If you notice that your partner is often or always reacting from anger or anxiety, pay attention if the behavior appears controlling or even violent as this is not okay and you may need to protect yourself or insist this person gets support from a therapist as this behavior can quickly escalate and consume the relationship. Whether this is the case, or your partner simply seems to react and struggle to manage his/her emotions, it is always important that you maintain healthy and effective boundaries and convey that those emotions will not be in charge of the relationship. It is then important that your partner’s emotions be heard and understood by you, conveying to the emotions that they are valid and have a space to be expressed in a healthy way. It is important to note that anger is often an emotion that comes to the rescue of fear or other emotions, so it is important that you try to remain in a state of compassion and support your partner in expressing any hurt or anxiety they may be experiencing. But remember, compassion does not equate to being complacent to behaviors. We can hold firm to boundaries and love the human at the same time.
What relationship issues do men with mother abandonment issues tend to experience, and what can help?
Anytime there is a sense of being abandoned by a primary attachment figure, such as a mother, there is likely to be a deeply imbedded fear of being abandoned again and a lack of trust in the adult relationship. This can manifest as jealousy or an extreme neediness or can look more like an emotional distancing, anything that is aimed at controlling the situation and trying to protect the hurt child that lies within. For those who have experienced abandonment, it is very difficult for them to risk vulnerability and to allow themselves to fully trust a partner as it can feel like they are not protecting themselves from the inevitability of being hurt again.
What are some common reasons that a man stands up a woman, and what can help to get over it?
There may be many reasons that someone would not follow through on a commitment to go on a date, fear of commitment or dishonesty with themselves about their level of interest or availability to date or something came up that required their attention. Whatever the reason, it is important that the person who was stood up realize that this has nothing to do with them; it is not personal. To move beyond the hurt or disappointment of this happening, it is important to first feel that hurt and then to give attention to the truth that this is not personal and remind themselves that they are worthy of being treated with respect. To “get over” that pain, it is less about attending to why someone would behave that way and more about having compassion for oneself.
Why would a man behave towards a woman as if he is interested in a relationship, but tell her he isn’t?
Sometimes this behavior may be coming from the duality between the part of the person that is interested in a relationship and the part that is afraid to commit. Otherwise, it may be a tactic of that person to try to manipulate the situation in order to keep things surface level and sexual in nature, so be aware and know that you ultimately cannot convince anyone to love you or want to be with you, so know what you are worth and what you want out of the relationship.