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Feelings are the true F-word.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

No Way, Computer

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 26, 2017

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Very rational, even tempered guys can be attractive in their own way, particularly after you’ve been put through the ringer by emotional, indecisive man-boys who make impulsive, irrational decisions (like picking fights/cheating or breaking up with you). A rational style, however, does not necessarily guarantee that they’re better at managing their emotions or acting more decently than their less moody brethren. That’s why you need to learn to evaluate a rational guy’s ability to be a good guy before you decide whether he’s truly good for you.

-Dr. Lastname

My kid’s dad used to say that he wanted to be Data from Star Trek as a kid because Data didn’t have feelings, so he changed his personality to one that wasn’t “ruled by emotions.” Instead of becoming wise and patient, however, he’s morphed into a complete narcissist. He might not show emotion, but he seems fueled by anger and selfish impulses; he doesn’t get angry, just calmly denies he’s done anything wrong, which is less like Star Trek and more like Gaslight. He’s become a totally unempathetic, perpetual victim. My goal is to figure out if there’s a way to un-Data him or if he’s just beyond hope.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Ways To Like Being Alone

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 24, 2017

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If, like our reader from earlier, your best efforts to find someone to be friends with, let alone date, are constantly fruitless, it can be hard to deal with both loneliness and the desperation that comes with it. So, instead of letting loneliness push you to lower your standards and reach out to the wrong people, let yourself embrace being alone a bit more. While you keep searching for connections, here are five ways to like being alone so you can’t be spooked by being lonely in the meantime.

1) Seek Out Activities You Can Enjoy Solo…
Take up hobbies that you can enjoy alone or in groups, like crafting, gardening, or running. If it makes you stronger, wiser, or richer on Etsy, so much the better, but the main goal, after getting used to your new hobby, is to actually like it and look forward to it. What you’re after is not a Fortress of Solitude but a well-stocked zone in your house, well-tilled corner of the back-yard, and well-established running path where you look forward to spending time of your own and/or with some other people who enjoy the same yarn/plants/stride lengths that you do.

2) …While Soaking In Activities You Can Enjoy Solo
As smart as it is to find solo activities that can also be done in groups, it’s also worth pushing yourself to try things alone that you’re used to doing with others; from going to the movies alone to driving cross-country by yourself, take on tasks that you might be wary of doing without a partner in crime. By doing so, you’ll gain a sense of independence that will help you overcome the fear of loneliness and teach you to enjoy your own company. Plus, you will often find that people are more eager to chat with you when you’re by yourself and the best adventures are more likely to happen when you’re not part of a couple or crowd.

3) Volunteer Your Time
You may think that being alone is pathetic, but there’s nothing less pathetic than contributing your otherwise solo time to a good cause, like teaching or caring for others. Even if you don’t meet like-minded people, you’ll feel useful, not just social, and build meaningful relationships with those you help. If they happen to be people in your community, you can stay in touch over many years, but if they’re not you can learn about other cultures and widen your view of the world. In any case, you’ll start to see your non-working, not-friend-filled time as a gift, not a burden.

4) Get A Damn Dog
Cats may be fine pets (for some people, who aren’t the authors), but they tend to encourage anti-social, house-bound behavior; even if you force your cat to go out for walks, most people are keen to avoid someone with a pissed off cat on a leash. Dogs, on the other hand, aren’t just loyal in-house companions; walking them forces you to be active and, if you live near a dog park, even social, although they also allow you to talk to yourself in public without seeming crazy. Most importantly, they oblige you to think about the needs of others (particularly when it comes to their need to eat, poop, not eat something that will make them sick and poop way too much, etc.), which is really what having a family, or any loving relationship, is all about.

5) Never Stop Looking For A Better Match
Just because you’ve learned to love your own company doesn’t mean you should then give up on finding someone who appreciates it as much as you do. For many people, finding worthwhile friends doesn’t result from trying to be more friendly or sociable; in most cases, there was nothing wrong with their social approach in the first place, but, for lots of reasons beyond their control, there was something wrong with the ability of their personality to mesh well with the people who happened to be around them. If you can pursue your own path until you finally meet a person or group that is a good match for you, and then enjoy, then you won’t need to fear loneliness while finding your own kind of fulfillment.

5 Soothing Questions When You’re Consumed with Longing

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 27, 2017

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If, like our reader from earlier, you can’t get over a crush, even if you could prevent yourself from acting on it, it’s important to remind yourself why your brain told you it wasn’t worth it, even as your heart tries to convince you otherwise. As such, here are five soothing questions to consider when you’re consumed with longing you can’t get over.

1) Does your current partnership suffice when it comes to survival?
Unless you’ve got a big trust fund, invented an app of the gods, or have any in with the Russian government, financial survival isn’t something to take for granted in this world, particularly after starting a family. That’s why, as a good way to counter reveries about missed intimacy, it’s worth considering what your current partner has contributed to the important stuff, i.e., not to your emotional satisfaction, but to your shared ability to stay solvent. Think about total income, yearly savings, and having enough funds to safely support your family in terms of childcare and when someone’s out of work or sick. Knowing that your partner contributes financially may not make you feel fuzzy about him again, but it will make clear how important he is in your life, and how valuable your partnership is in your family’s life overall.

2) How does your current partnership help you reach higher goals?
As corny as it sounds, and no matter how many people tell you true meaning is found in being rich, thin, and/or YouTube famous, doing good in the world is the best way to make life meaningful, so finding a partnership that helps you to be a better person and parent is a major goal. Ask yourself then whether you have a partner who helps keep your dark side in check, encourages your better side, and gives you the freedom to realize your most significant ideals. Intimacy is nice, but feeling you’re making an important, positive difference matters a lot more overall.

3) Are you particularly vulnerable to falling for faulty partners?
Whenever you find yourself really enjoying someone’s company, it’s worthwhile doing a mental inventory and asking yourself what you really enjoy about this person and whether you tend to like spending time with/fall for people who aren’t good for you. It’s a common problem because the people who are best at connecting are often filterless; that means they can draw you in by saying everything, from the most revealing, kind things to the nastiest, empassioned words that you’re thinking but would be too embarrassed to ever say outloud. And while someone like that can be exciting to be around at first, they can also prove to be unreliable and hurtful in the long run. So go over prior relationships to see if this person reminds you of anyone you felt close to in the past, why you felt close to them, how long those relationships lasted, and whether you’d want to put yourself through something similar again.

4) How would changing partners at this stage change your life?
The most obvious way to talk yourself off the ledge of longing is to add up everything you’ve built together with your current partner, like the kids’ confidence in your ability to work as a team, your joint friendships, your shared memories, and positive connections with one another’s families. This is not an exercise in taking pride in what you’ve accomplished in your marriage, though it’s fine if you do; rather, it’s a way to prevent yourself from taking your partnership for granted by remembering the good things you’ve created and that you’d miss if you gave them up by giving into your longing for someone else.

5) Is your crush even up to snuff?
If your new prospect is still worth thinking about, then give him the full due diligence exam that you would apply to any possible partner, especially in terms of the standards your current partner has set. As such, begin by thinking through the present partnership job description, including all responsibilities that your current partner does well, as well as those that could use improvement. Then ask yourself how your possible partner meets these same standards and compare his score to your husband’s. Remember, this is not about the intensity of your feelings but  about his ability to work with you, be financially responsible, reliable, disciplined, and a good parent. Then you’re ready to make decisions that aren’t based on longing but on what’s good for you and your family in the long term.

The Slow Yearn

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 13, 2017

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Yearning is the bastard child of love and frustrated need; both emotions promise happiness if only you can spend more time with whomever or whatever it is you yearn for, but their emotional spawn is less a miracle than something that’s usually shameful, illegitimate, and not discussed in mixed company. That’s because most people you yearn for are out of reach for good reason; if a love is forbidden, then getting what you yearn for is rarely good for you, better than what you’ve got, or likely to make you a better person. So persistent yearning isn’t a sign of true love; it’s a sign that you’ve got the beginnings of an addiction and should use all your experience, wisdom, and proven techniques to evaluate whether it’s worth trying to satisfy or avoid in order to escape shame, social or otherwise.

-Dr. Lastname

I have a good life, especially from the outside. I have the most beautiful children and a husband, who, despite his incredibly high levels of anxiety and his sometimes ridiculous temper, loves me and cares for us. The problem is that after almost 20 years of marriage I met a man whom I fell into a meaningful relationship with (although nothing physical ever happened because I knew that was a slippery slope and I made sure not to go there). It’s now been a few years since I told this man that I wasn’t leaving my husband, and while we have occasional contact because of work requirements, we’ve remained professional. The issue is that I cannot truly get over it— I believe he is my soulmate and that this is all just a cruel joke that the world is playing on me. I was fine with never knowing what that kind of love felt like because it was better that way. My goal is to get over this man and to stop feeling sad and sorry for myself.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Reasons You THINK You Should Reach Out To Your Ex

Posted by fxckfeelings on May 4, 2017

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Sometimes our brains act like our parents, tricking us with white lies so we’ll do what’s best for us. Unfortunately, unlike our parents, our brains sometimes get the wrong idea about what the right is for us in the long run. Parents reason that it’s OK to bribe kids into eating broccoli or coax them out of inappropriate behavior with empty threats of brain damage or blindness (or both) if the benefit outweighs the crime, but brains often do the opposite, convincing us that we should do what feels best in the short term, consequences be damned. So, if like our reader from earlier this week, your heart is broken and your brain is giving you any of the following seemingly legitimate reasons to reach out the person who did the breaking (with the secret hope of putting everything back together again), push your brain to think twice.

1) “I’m genuinely concerned about her wellbeing.”

Unselfish love is a wonderful feeling and seems above approach reproach, but once you’ve learned that a specific love will likely lead to misery/not-wonderful feelings, you’re supposed to protect yourself and keep your own wellbeing in mind. You may genuinely believe that the act of checking in on your ex is truly altruistic and that no harm can come from wanting good things for another human being, but if that were true, then martyrs wouldn’t exist. Your job isn’t to sacrifice yourself to save your ex but to keep yourself out of troubled relationships, exhaustion, and pain. Your brain may tell you that you’re doing the right thing by making sure she’s OK, but experience tells you that the buzz you get from seeing and helping her is like that from any other heavy drug; short-lived with a nasty hangover and a high risk for longterm damage.

2) “I don’t want to get back together, I just want to get some closure.”

Closure, like true love or perfect New York apartments, is another of those good feelings we see Nora Ephron movies for (RIP) because real life seldom provides it. As long as you’re honest and fearless in sharing your true feelings, TV and movies generally tell you that you can end a relationship with both parties (or more) accepting that it’s over and that, regardless of sadness and loss, with no resentment, unfinished business or unanswered questions, or self-doubt. Unfortunately, experience and Woody Allen movies (his career and integrity, RIP) tell you otherwise. Yes, you should try to be honest and accepting, but when closure doesn’t happen, remind yourself that the irreparable conflict is why the relationship didn’t work in the first place; if you were able to feel closure, you probably wouldn’t have broken up. In real life, closure isn’t a possibility, just an excuse to see your ex for a momentary respite from the pain of being closed out of his life.

3) “We were friends before we dated so we should be able to be friends now.”

Most people weren’t really friends before dating, just friendly; most people go through a platonic, getting-to-know-you period before dating begins in earnest (unless they’re in an arranged marriage or lost a bet in Las Vegas).
As such, they don’t actually have a pre-existing relationship to fall back on if romance fails, because real friendship requires a kind of comfort and trust that no one controls or manufactures at will, even with the best of intentions. That’s why even good people can’t necessarily be friends with the people they used to date or even love, even if they wish them well and have the strength to apologize, forgive, and get over past grievances. So, if your feelings and chemistry permitit, friendship is great, but if it’s not working, don’t try to pretend the uncomfortable or negative feelings aren’t there or you’ll make them worse. Being friendly non-friends is better than trying to force a friendship you just can’t have, especially since you’ll probably ruin any possible friendship in the process.

4) “I just want to let her know I forgive her.”

We may watch Nora Ephron movies to experience things that rarely happen in real life, but we watch Larry David to see someone suffer the same humiliations that we do, mostly from trying to do the right thing, at a safe distance. Trying to offer forgiveness is one of those good deeds that usually backfires and makes for good comedy on TV but tragedy in real life. After all, if your ex did something wrong but doesn’t see things that way, then forgiveness feels like condescension or re-accusation and will just stir up her old resentments. If she acknowledges responsibility, then forgiveness may be acceptable but won’t change the fact that most kinds of bad behavior happen again unless someone really, really wants to change, and even then they can’t always do it. In other words, you’re forgiving something your ex may not be able to prevent herself from doing again. No matter how strong the urge to give your ex the gift of forgiveness, do the more difficult work of finding acceptance instead, both of her unfixable flaws and your own covert desire to reconnect. Then decide whether further contact will give you the protection you need from whatever you’re forgiving her for.

5) “I just want to tell him this story I know he’d find really funny—it’s not like I want to get back together again or anything.”

Next to the aforementioned “I just want to ask him for my favorite T-shirt/mug/broken umbrella” excuse, “I just want to tell him (X unimportant fun thing)” is one of the flimsiest pretenses there is. As innocuous as it may seem to share stories that you used to enjoy together, it’s risky to share anything together until the not-enjoyable negative feelings left over from most normal breakups have truly cooled. Yes, you might like to see him again and remember the good times (and to possibly remind him or you of your friendship—see #3), but doing so won’t really help you and your ex move on to the next stage of life. Again, most of the painful feelings caused by breakups can’t be smoothed away by good talks, conjoint crying, or wacky anecdotes. It’s best not to reach out to your ex until you can be sure you’re truly over each other, but paradoxically, being over it means that you can hear a funny story (or do almost anything) without thinking of your ex or wanting to reach out to him at all.

Words with Amends

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 20, 2017

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If someone breaks up with you for what you perceive to be unfair or unfounded reasons, one of the ironic effects of of the unjust uncoupling is that you can become so filled with confusion, pain and resentment that you can become the very kind of negative person your ex accused you of being in the first place. While there’s no reason to like the negative person you’ve become, there’s every reason to fear the results of sharing your feelings with your ex, even if you’re desperate to share something with her to win her back. Finding something sweet, giving and positive to think about and say may then seem like a good, positive solution that could restore your self-esteem and do some good. If being with her makes you become such a bad version of yourself, however, there are reasons to think twice about offering to help your ex feel better and instead use a different approach that will make you the better person you used to be.

-Dr. Lastname

I have an ex-girlfriend that suffers from depression and also has Aspergers. When she broke up with me, she accused me of being a liar and becoming a different, uncaring person over the course of the relationship. I don’t think any of those accusations are true, or that she even believes them, and I haven’t been able to get over her. Even though she said harsh words to me, I do not think she meant them and it was just the depression and Aspergers talking, especially since she told me she’s been depressed her entire life. I know that this might sound selfish and dumb, but I want to write something that could express that to her and maybe help her in the future. I will admit that I still like her and that’s why I’m writing, but I also really want her to be happier overall. My goal is to be able to get her out of her misery and be able to have a better life. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Red Flags of A Bad Friendship

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 20, 2017

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It’s easy to tell that someone’s a bad friend when, as with our reader from earlier this week, they make you feel lonely and bad about yourself. If you’re ever unsure about whether a friend is worth keeping or is actually a friend to begin with, here are five red flags of bad friendship to look for.

1) They Only Call In Case Of Personal Calamity

Unless your friend is in crisis and needs to talk, it’s up to you to reach out to them to try to make plans, often in vain. They do you the favor of giving you their best, cheeriest small talk as a prelude to their anguished confidences and wonder what else you could possibly want. If you’re friends with someone who thinks the conversation’s over when they’ve finished talking, then your friendship should probably be over as well.

2) They Share Feelings And Not Much Else

Between the two of you, you wind up doing more than your share of cooking, listening, and paying in the friendship. That may make you feel like a good, giving person almost all the time, but there’s a fine line between being a saint and a martyr, and either way, you don’t need a flock, you need a friend who will give as much to you as you give to them. Because if you need something for yourself from this person, you’ll just find yourself angry, not just at them but at yourself for feeling needy, frustrated, and more human than holy.

3) Your Pain Is Not Their Problem

If you’re low, unhappy and irritable, they don’t want to know, because, while their pain is a big problem, yours is merely an unwelcome distraction. If you assert your right to be heard, they wonder why you’re childish and ungrateful for the attention they’ve been giving you and the time you’ve spent together (even though you spent most of that time doing their bidding). If you can give this friend your time but not a piece of your mind, you’re getting screwed.

4) Your Complaints are Your Problem

As we’ve often said, love only means never having to say you’re sorry when one party dies of cancer before they get the chance. Bad friends, however, often operate under that assumption despite not having a fatal disease. So, while you believe in giving serious attention to a friend’s criticism and apologizing if you’ve caused pain, these guys have the confidence to know that they couldn’t possibly deserve your criticism and they’re helping you by letting you know that, if you have a complaint, you’re just humiliating yourself. Friendship, like love, means always being willing to say you’re sorry, and if they can’t offer that, you should be willing to walk away.

5) They Get Close As Quickly As They Move On

Lots of bad friendships get off the fast start; their openness is so appealing and flattering, and their problems so interesting, that it’s easy to get sucked in before you even have a chance to see this person isn’t so much a potential friend as a potential headache. So you didn’t notice that they don’t have old friends, just current play-buddies and people they once knew and were disappointed by. Unfortunately for them, once you can finally recognize that they’re not worthy of your friendship, you’ll soon be one of them.

Makeshift Friendship

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 6, 2017

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It’s hard to knock the idea that being helpful to your friends is good for everyone, but when you’re always there to help and they only come to you in a crisis, that’s a good recipe for being used and becoming resentful. Even if being helpful will make you feel good about yourself in the short run and win you gratitude, it’s only worth it if you’re also mindful of your own needs and the character of the so-called friend requiring your assistance. Otherwise, your giving instincts can expose you to harm, exhaustion, and a whole bunch of other not-good stuff.

-Dr. Lastname

I’m a women in my 20s with a good tech job, but I feel like I’m always ignored by everybody, almost like I don’t exist. I do have many friends, but even they aren’t real with me— I feel that they don’t really care about me and are only good to me when they need something or need a shoulder to cry on. Then, when they feel better or have happy news to share, they find someone else to take it to, which doesn’t make any sense to me. I feel like everybody throws their problems onto me so they can go off and be happy, but I’m left here all alone to deal with the sadness on my own. My goal is to feel acknowledged and loved, not ignored and used. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Ways To Determine If Your Spouse Is Worth It

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 4, 2016

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As illustrated by our reader from earlier this week, it’s hard to trust a partner who leaves you out of the loop sometimes, even if, in almost every other way, you love him or her very much. Before letting either suspicion or your special emotional connection be the key factor in whether or not to stay together, ask yourself these five questions to determine whether or not your spouse is telling the truth and worth taking a chance on.

1) Examine His Honesty Experience

Think back on whether or not he has a solid record of truth-telling, not just by looking at your own history but by seeking out the opinion of family, friends, and, depending on the level of commitment at stake, his exes and even his possible- court records. Ignore anger or hurt in favor of the facts, and give extra weight to crimes, credit card debt, and infidelity. Don’t pay much attention to white lies unless they seem indicative of worse offenses.

2) Assess His Lies’ True Effect

After getting a complete history of his truths and falsehoods, consider whether you’re bothered more by his lies because of the way they impact your life, finances, or future, or by the way they affect your feelings and inspire paranoia. Look at his worst lies to you and their impact on your relationship, paying more attention to how they damage your security, wealth, and family relationships than how much they piss you off. Define for yourself the kinds of impact you can’t afford to tolerate, even from someone you love.

3) Determine His Ability To Divulge Honest Answers to Direct Questions

One good way to distinguish the liar from the truth-evader is to see how he responds to questions about his hidden dealings, because if he makes up lies to cover up previous lies of omission, you’ve got a problem. If he doesn’t and easily tells the whole truth, then develop your own system for reminding yourself to pin him down on a regular basis. Your system must protect you from any real danger to your security or that of your family in order to be effective.

4) Figure Out His Ability to Own His Dishonesty

If he agrees that his lying is a serious problem, you still have to figure out whether he genuinely agrees or if he’s just going along with you in order to make you happy. If he truly owns his lying, he will take the same steps as an addict in recovery; he’ll talk about it, own up to his slips, and examine triggers that get him into trouble by working with a support group or therapist. What you’re seeing then isn’t just apology, but an honest effort at improvement and reparation and, hopefully, a good result.

5) Given His Dishonesty, Make A Choice

If your safety and security are endangered by staying with your less-than- forthcoming partner, then your only choice is to end it, but if they aren’t, then make your decision by listing whatever you value about the relationship. As we always say, think less about what you like about this relationship than what you want a relationship for in general, i.e., how much you require from a partner for companionship, co-parenting, sex, etc. Then ask yourself whether your current partner’s contribution to those goals outweighs the impact of his truth-impairment, taking into account what you can and can’t expect to change about his behavior. If it is worth it, then learn to ask a lot of questions and become better at forgiveness. If it isn’t, then learn a valuable lesson in what your relationship standards are and you’ll be better at finding someone new who meets them.

Trust Protection

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 19, 2016

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Because trust between people who know one another well usually depends on how well they treat one another (and their cars, pets, and fancy coffee makers) over time, we tend to assume that mistrust would not flare up in a close relationship without good reason. Unfortunately, some apparently normal people are sometimes prone to limited bursts of paranoia, so mistrust can also arise spontaneously for reasons that we don’t understand. That’s why it’s important to develop objective methods for assessing the causes of mistrust, whether it’s your own or others’, and whether it’s broken-espresso- machine-related or not.

-Dr. Lastname

I love my partner very much— he makes me very happy, and I feel very cherished. Despite that, however, I cannot trust him because there have been a few times that he has neglected to tell me very important things that affected us. He will keep me informed for a week or so, and then neglect it again. If I cannot trust him, can this relationship work? Can someone who behaves like this change? My goal is to figure out whether I can stay with someone I love, even if I can’t take his word. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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