Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Finding Love

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Finding Love

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Japan

How many relationships have you been in? Were they all happy, or did you just have moments of happiness? What caused the relationship to end?

I enjoyed all my relationships and marriages, while they lasted. But something always got in the way. The main stumbling block was me, or, maybe partly me?

Relationships are like a dance. When I was younger, I had to explore the emotional knots that I had and the problems I encountered with the “relationship dance.” I admit, I was stuck in the “social trenches,” so I had my work cut out for me. My biggest knot was related to self-improvement and my resistance to change. I eventually realized how sad it was when a relationship ends, and how sad I felt, and how sad she felt. Women and men get emotionally hurt, that’s not fun. Is it possible to love again?

Relationships require effort and hard work to be successful. We all struggle with one of life’s most difficult issues – finding a suitable mate.

When you are in a relationship, communication goes from simple to complex. The difficult part of this process is honestly assessing what you have offer as a man while taking a serious inventory of your behavior in a relationship. For me, I had to evaluate how to improve my interpersonal skills, my conduct, increase my sense of self and enhance my romantic value.

So, how did I become a better mate, a better man and what did I have to do? Change my attitude.

I finally figured it out - after a friendly talk with a psychologist - that one-third of the population likes me, one-third of the population dislikes me, and one-third of the population is indifferent to me. My job was to find out who’s who and stick with the people who liked me. So, when I was TDY/TAD and I received a “Dear John” e-mail letter from my “warrior-mate,” I got “miffed” when she needed a change in her life. I got angry, and terribly sad. But people change their minds and commitments, there was no need to go crazy setting the house on fire because I got my feelings hurt.

Every day we make choices. Choosing to be in a relationship means mutual choice making, followed by sacrifice and consideration of the other person. Accept the fact that each person can be loveable and is capable of love. However, you have to like yourself first, and then accept who and what you are.

You are a unique person, worthy of having a mate. Are you ready to love and be loved? What are you willing to do? What are you not willing to do?

I had to spend time alone to re-construct myself. I got tired of transient relationships and had reached a point where I wanted a long-lasting relationship and kids. That was a big mature choice for me. I had to remove my car bumper sticker proclaiming, “Happiness is Being Single.” I scraped it off slowly, asking myself: “Am I really ready to change?”

Many of my guy friends get depressed because it’s tough work being a guy. Loosen up! De-brief yourself. Being strong, silent, competitive, emotionally restrictive and choking back your feelings can give you a heart attack, especially guys who are narrowly defined with traditional ideas about masculinity. Maintain a hobby and keep yourself busy when your mate wants to be alone for a few hours. Meet her needs her way, don’t hassle her if she wants to go shopping or go out with her friends. Ultimately, women get fed-up with guys who are afraid of expressing their feelings because they think it’s manly to be quiet. Women get tired of talking to themselves while carrying the emotional load of the relationship. The old days and ways of how grandpa treated women are gone. This is a new day with new ways. Time to re-boot your thinking.

I started staying away from de-motivating people, I recycled some friends. I was confused at first, then I met a few male role models who were positive and handled life in a positive manner. Since men look to other men for identification, I observed how those guys kept a positive attitude, and then tried that behavior. This type of thinking takes practice.

It is important to be agreeable and cordial with your mate. If you are out of sync with yourself, you will be out of sync with your relationship. Ironically, I started asking guys what they say to their girlfriend or wife when they are trying to wiggle out of trouble. Here’s a handy script of one-liners you can use with your mate to help ease the tension or turn the corner on potentially explosive domestic moments. If you don’t mean what you’re saying, say it anyway. Psychologists call it “As If”-behavior.” You’re saying it as if you mean it. The more you say it, the more it will become you, and you’ll find yourself meaning what you say, leading to what we call “attitude shifting.”

Below are real “Notes From The Field” of hard-fought relationships:

1. Honey, I’ll do it.  
2. Please let me help. 
3. Let’s do it your way. 
4. What can I do to help? 
5. What else can I do? 
6. Let’s do it together. 
7. I like your idea. 
8. That makes good sense. 
9. That’s okay, I don’t mind waiting. 
10. Take your time.
11. Why don’t you choose?
12. I’d love to. 
13. How can I meet your needs your way? 
14. I prefer to do it your way. 
15. No problem.
16. I’m on my way. 
17. I’ll be right there.
18. Consider yourself hugged / kissed.
19. You go first. 
20. Of course! 
21. I agree with that.  
22. A brilliant idea! 
23. Okay. 
24. Sure, it makes sense. 
25. If that’s what you need. 
26. I know it’s important to you. 
27. You lead and I’ll follow. 
28. Don’t feel guilty. 
29. I accept you.
30. That sounds rational.  
31. I love you

Diplomacy. Diplomacy. Diplomacy. All relationships require diplomacy.


Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at or at

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