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Friday, March 24, 2017

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 »

Crappily Ever After

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 6, 2016

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Surviving a bad break-up of a worse marriage to the worst partner can certainly makes a new, reasonably decent partnership candidate look like a good choice. A better idea than jumping into something new, however, is taking the chance to evaluate the possible pleasures of single life and shortcomings of your new situation. So don’t let well-intentioned advice or social convention convince you to ignore your fears and reservations; weigh your alternatives carefully and choose the path that is really best for you.

-Dr. Lastname

After a long, messy divorce, I have been dating a man who has primary custody of his primary school-aged kids (my own kids are almost out of school and great despite the messy divorce). Dating in midlife stinks, to put it mildly, but he is a great, independent, financially OK guy. We have dated over a year and he wants to relocate to my town so we can marry and I can help with kids— his constant compliment is how great a mother I am/my kids are. Bottom line, however, is that I have very mixed feelings how I feel about him, and when I have doubts or change my mind, it’s frustrating for him and me. I just would like a guarantee that life will be perfect if I decide to go forward, or at least that there will be no problems from addict crazy exes and I can still accomplish my independent dreams…that I can do that even if I become a hands-on mom to my step kids (coach one of their teams, chaperone their school dances, etc.) and have fun doing all that stuff AGAIN. It will be fun, right? Come on, give me the guarantee, because single life is really boring, I still can’t work the damn remote by myself, and I loved the family mom thing first round. My goal is to decide what is right for me.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Ways To Kill Those Brokenhearted Statements

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 17, 2016

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Sometimes, as with our reader from earlier this week, our brains can ruminate obsessively after a relationship, despite being told by our heart, gut, and feet that it’s time to move on. Here are five examples of the constant regrets your brain can shoot your way after a broken heart, and how to refute them.

1) “I’ll never find anyone else like him.”

“When I look at my list of requirements for a marital partnership—someone who’s dedicated, open, is accepting with accepting parents—I know that not being with him, or someone like him, is actually a good thing.”

2) “Sex will never be like that again.”

“As hot as the make-up sex was with my ex, it would be easier to be with someone I fought with and made-up with less, even without the passion-driven follow through. Better to be out of that hot-but-going-nowhere relationship and moving towards the future I always wanted.”

3) “If I didn’t ask for too much, we would still be together.”

“If I imagine what life would be like if we had married, I can see that he’d frequently be absent, unwilling to share tasks, and unable to explain how he spent his money. In other words, I’d always be asking for what I deserved, and still not getting it, or getting anything but angry.”

4) “If I knew how much I was going to miss him, I would never have let him go.”

“I also know that I can assign more value to relationships than they deserve, and can certainly get too invested in someone who isn’t as invested in me. So, even though I miss him a lot, that doesn’t mean that what I miss is worth trying to get back. It’s more important to get over missing him by moving forward and finding someone who’s better for me, not sinking backwards.”

5) “If I was a better person/more like the girl he now loves, we wouldn’t have split up.”

“I know my ex didn’t want a committed relationship with me or anyone else prior to our splitting up, so as much as losing him hurts, cutting him loose wasn’t personal. I left him because I knew what I wanted in life and he clearly wanted something different. I know it was the right thing to do even if it broke my heart, and even if I can’t stop feeling wrong about it.”

D’oh Regrets

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 15, 2016

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You can’t stop love from making old flames live in your memory and obsessions, and if you have the kind of brain that tends to make personal connections easily, your ex can feel like a phantom limb that you head and heart still feel long after he’s gone. Instead of waiting forever for the memories to fade before dating again, however, learn how to define the kind of future relationship that you think would be good for you, regardless of how much you long for your ex. There are ways to resume your search, even if your heart isn’t in it and your phantom feelings are.

-Dr. Lastname

Like so many people, I am struggling to get over a serious past relationship whose ghost just won’t go away. My ex-boyfriend and I had a five-year-long relationship that I confidently assumed would lead to a life together. We had a very pleasant daily life, enjoyed frequent activities with a circle of friends and shared values, important life events and love. Unfortunately, he was unable to move past the boyfriend/girlfriend stage, was never able to clearly communicate why to me (although I’m sure his parents’ snobbish disapproval of me had something to do with it), and a year ago we made the decision to end our relationship. This was an painful process that I am still not completely over— I feel rejected, insulted and strung along, not to mention robbed of my future with him for unfair and unfounded reasons. In the midst of and despite this grieving, a platonic friendship of mine transformed into more, and became serious rather quickly. This new person loves me in the way I always wanted my ex to love me— makes me a priority over his job and himself when needed, spends time on our relationship, spends time with me and his family together to make sure they understand who I am and enjoy being around me. It’s just … I pine for my old life with my ex daily. I know in my rational brain that there are very good reasons why I am not with my ex anymore. I just can’t seem to remember them. I actively dread the day when I will run into him in town with the new woman his parents finally approve of. I feel guilty when I have these thoughts, because I know I am very lucky to have found a new person who has an open heart that’s full of love for me, but I also can’t help but wonder if I was too hasty with my ex, if we could have compromised somehow. This conflict is distracting on multiple levels and keeping me from moving forward. My goal is to get over these feelings of rejection and resentment as soon as possible, and begin to fully appreciate the new person in my life the way he deserves.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Ways To Stay Positive While Going Through Hell

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 7, 2016

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If life puts you through the ringer, as described by our reader from earlier this week, it can leave you feeling like every last ounce of hope and joy have been wrung out of you forever. Here are five ways to get through hell with some of your positivity intact.

1) Less Reaction, More Distraction

Keep busy—the more time you spend working, volunteering, cleaning the garage, etc., the less time you have to think, remember, or have any serious talks you aren’t ready for. You’re not running from your feelings or avoiding facing the truth; you’re just working hard to keep these things from taking over.

2) Busy Body, Busy Mind

Exercise isn’t just a distraction, it’s a sort of healthy meditation; it gives you a chance to focus, but it’s active enough so that you can’t just sit and sulk. Running on the treadmill while watching Bravo will give you distraction, fitness, and endorphins all at once.

3) Dare (Not) to Compare

While it’s natural to want to gage your progress, never compare yourself to others, be they non-hell dwellers or hell-ions like yourself, because there’s always someone who’s happier and luckier. Think instead about what you’re doing to cope with hell, including surviving the pain and unusual heat.

4) Count Out A Cure

Don’t expect relief to come until it comes; assuming that a good talk with an old friend or therapist, a long vacation, or just a new pair of jeans will provide all you need to ease your ache will probably disappoint and then discourage. One day, the pain will be bearable, but all you can do is wait and focus on other things in the meantime.

5) Shelf Self-Blame

Never ask yourself what you did wrong to wind up in a feelings hell, or berate yourself for all the mistakes you made; sometimes things hurt even when you did everything right and nothing wrong. Remind yourself about the good things you were doing when everything went bad and the good things you continue to do in spite of the way you feel. It’s hard to be a good person when pain doesn’t stop, but if that’s what you’re doing, be proud of the way you’re surviving life at its worst.

5 Things Preventing Your Successful Romantic Future

Posted by fxckfeelings on December 31, 2015

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Whether you’re dating for fun or to build a future—or, like our reader from earlier this week, torn between the two—everybody has certain qualities they feel are crucial in any romantic partner. Problems arise, however, when the less important qualities are given priority over the better ones, like reliability, intelligence, and having such bad credit you can’t even rent a paddleboat. Here are five overvalued traits that people look for when looking for love.

1) Looking for Lookers

Dating someone with good looks is like having an emotional bodyguard; no matter how self-critical your brain is, you feel successful when you notice the envious looks you’re drawing from those who wish they were in your shoes. Unfortunately, good looks don’t necessarily come with a good personality, good values, or any of the things a good partner needs to have.

2) Finding Someone with Funds

Taking your future partner’s financial security into account isn’t totally unwise; money can make it possible to raise a family in a safe neighborhood, provide for your kids, and generally avoid the stress that comes with stretching a paycheck. On the other hand, focusing too much on money can also attract you to someone who can’t be a good partner, and the divorce will leave you broke forever.

3) Craving Charm

Charisma seems like a meaningful reason to be attracted to someone and a good trait to search for; it’s a part of his personality and won’t necessarily fade with age, so you’ll always be charmed and keep the flame burning. Unfortunately, it’s also often accompanied by restlessness and a need for exciting new relationships, which is why to be extra careful.

4) Eying Empathy

Empathy is always a worthy human quality, and an empathetic partner can make you feel like you’ve got wonderful communication and are well understood. Empathy often has a limited shelf life, however, as the truly empathetic can’t always limit their sympathies and attention to any one person, so you may wind up wondering where it’s gone and why you don’t get it anymore.

5) Envying Excitement

When dating has been tiresome and getting to know someone has taken on all the thrill and joy of a TSA screening, encountering exciting chemistry feels like an especially meaningful event that heralds the arrival of “the one.” Unfortunately, exciting people are often driven by intense emotion that has its downs as well as its ups, so make sure you check out steadiness, perspective, and all those other, more boring and important qualities before you start to relax.

Cut The Bored

Posted by fxckfeelings on December 29, 2015

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When you lose interest in the person you’re dating, it always feels like a failure, like you’ve actually misplaced your interest and if you could just find it under the couch or in your coat pocket, everything would be better. You feel like a disappointment because you’re rejecting someone who trusted you and now cares more than you do, even though such feelings are largely beyond your control. You then wonder whether you’ll ever be able to find and form a stable relationship, but examining your feelings often does little but make them more volatile. Instead, return to basics and consider what you want from a close relationship, other than magic and romance, and refrain from intimacy until you’re confident that you have found what you want. You can’t recover your lost interest, but if you can find your lost confidence, you’ll have few false starts and a better chance of finding something that lasts.

-Dr. Lastname

Along the road I’ve spotted a behavior that seems to ruin all my romantic relationships right before they start. Many times in my life (I’m in my 30s), I’ve met girls I found funny, high spirited, sharing my values and attractive. And I just liked spending time with them. But each time the relationship comes to the edge of being a proper date, or right after we actually date, I start being really cold. I make lists about all the details I don’t like in her, I start to think that she’s not so pretty, and I don’t like to receive her affection because I feel I can’t give her the same and don’t want to anymore. I think about the future and can’t see anything for us. I used to think it was because a few times in my life I came across some girls I was mad about at first sight, and that those other girls couldn’t compete with these feeling. But it seems there is a real pattern with me, and I start to think my mind is fooling me. I understand that I should not think too much about this and go for it, but it stops me from being happy. My goal is to break the pattern and make a relationship last. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Let It Need

Posted by fxckfeelings on December 22, 2015

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As hard as it often is to take no for an answer from someone you’re attracted to, it can be even harder to accept no answer at all; that’s when you find yourself talking to friends and therapists so that they can translate the silence into “no” and help you get the strength to and move on. While we’re all vulnerable to such one-sided, intense attachments, many people don’t realize that mental illness, like OCD and bipolar disorder, can interfere with your ability to let go and protect yourself from such relationships. Knowing what symptoms to look for can help you decide whether pursuing treatment and managing symptoms will also strengthen your relationship self-control, so you can tell yourself “no” without having to hear it from anyone else.

-Dr. Lastname

My problem is that I’m in love with a man who doesn’t feel as strongly about me as I do about him, and I can’t just do the smart thing and give up. He’s not subtle about it— he takes forever to text me back, and I know I write too much and push too far, but I can’t help myself, and I can’t just take his silent response as a clear hint that he’s not interested and let it go. I have OCD and I’m bipolar, which I know is perpetuating this situation, because I always believe that a “new” text message will maybe change things, or change his mind, and, again, I just can’t stop myself. My goal is to figure out how to leave him alone, because even I know this is so ridiculous and needs to end.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Ways To Prevent Depression From Driving Your Friends Away

Posted by fxckfeelings on December 17, 2015

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Part of what makes depression so powerful is that it doesn’t just wipe out your will to live internally, but pushes you to drive away the friends and partners that would help you fight back. If, like our reader from earlier this week, you feel like your depression is causing you to lose loved ones, here are five ways to keep your safety net intact and prevent a depressive period from damaging close relationships.

1) Nix the Needy

Select friends who aren’t overly sensitive or reactive, because somebody who always takes your random bad moods personally isn’t someone who’s going to stick around for very long (and will make you nuts with guilt in the process). Instead of straining your face (and brain) with a fake happy face, find friends who are comfortable with depressive symptoms and know how to roll with it.

2) Fly Your Sad Flag

Educate friends and family about depressive symptoms, particularly social withdrawal, sadness, and irritability, so they’ll know that what you’re going through is due to your disease and not their actions. Your message to them is, I’m not angry with you, I haven’t stopped caring, and I haven’t lost my appreciation for your jokes. What I have done is get stuck with this disease that occasionally makes me miserable and unpleasant.

3) Help them Help you

After outing yourself as a depressive, tell your loved ones what they can do to help when you feel down, so they don’t try too hard to cheer you up, get you to share your feelings, and generally make things worse (with the best of intentions). For instance, let them know not to take it personally when you cancel during dark times, but also that it’s helpful if they push you a little harder to get out of the house, despite your grouchiness.

4) Enforced Fun

Make it easier for your friends by preparing a list of those social activities that you believe are healthy and good for you to try doing when you’re depressed, even if you won’t feel at all like doing them and might not be at your most fun self while they’re happening. Then share it with your friends and ask them to help you create a social schedule when you’re down and hold you to it.

5) Emphasize Effort

Resist the depressive urge to find fault in yourself by comparing your social interactions while you’re depressed with what they are normally. Instead of noting how badly you’ve shut down, focus on the many steps you’ve taken to manage your depressive symptoms, including social withdrawal. Then give yourself credit for all the extra work they require and respect yourself and your friends for the value they place on your relationship, even when it’s no fun. You can’t control your dark moods, but with the right friends and approach, you can survive them intact.

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