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Fair' is a 4-letter word.

Monday, September 25, 2017

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 Ways to Avoid Assholes

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 17, 2015

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Many people seek therapy after dealing with Assholes. They come into appointments racked with guilt and anger, thinking they did something wrong, or think they can change the Asshole in question if they could just understand.

Among the wishes people express when they write to us or come for post-Asshole treatment are:

  • To understand how a former best friend could become so mean and impossible to talk to
  • To get back the relationship they once had
  • To get through to someone who was once so close
  • To get her to stop

But the truth is that sometimes avoiding Assholes in the first place is the best path to peace of mind. Here are our five best tried and true tips for avoiding Assholes in the first place, and therefore completely bypassing the drama they would surely bring into your life.

5 Tips to Avoid Assholes:

1)    Learn Your Red Flags, Make Them Red Lights
Believe it or not, Assholes are very charismatic creatures; remember, they excel at selling cars, stocks, and all matter of bullshit. So if someone’s charming you but also mentions their horrible ex-wife (or wives), former friends, or evil family—and they’re not big on personal boundaries, so they will—politely excuse yourself and run for your life.

2)    Rehearse Your Lines
If you’re forced to work or live with an Asshole with whom you’re just trying to avoid conflict and confrontation, the best way to stay safe is to stick to a script. Practice makes perfect and, if you must interact with an Asshole, knowing what you’re going to say protects you from being bullied, intimidated, or worn down.

3)    Work Where Assholes Don’t
If possible, avoid working in fields like the arts, law, intensive volunteering or charity work, or really any job that’s highly competitive and punishing with huge personal reward for both the participant’s wallet and ego. Assholes like to feel like it’s them against the world, and if you enter their corner of the world, watch out.

4)    At The First Sign of Anger, Play Dead
If someone you considered a friend turns on you/turns out to be an Asshole, you can still minimize the damage if you resist the urge to reason or struggle. As much as you want to reason with your friend, you have to remind yourself that your friend is gone, an Asshole wears her face, and passive resistance is your best bet.

5)    Get Exposed and Inoculated Early
Since Assholes are an unavoidable part of life, try to learn as much as you can as early as you can. That way, you can just have the one Asshole girlfriend/boss/roommate who nearly ruins your life but also teaches you what to avoid in the future. You’ll never be free of Assholes, but, as we always say, you’ll be less likely to be shat upon.

Knowledge is Sour

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 2, 2015

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When faced with a seemingly insurmountable issue—an illness, personality flaw, really ugly feet—most people think that getting to the bottom of that issue and finding an answer of some kind is their ultimate goal, when in reality, it’s just the beginning. Too often, they’re actually looking for someone to blame or focusing on one small problem and ignoring the big picture. So don’t let helplessness guide your assumptions, your searches, or your choices in footwear. Ask yourself what answers you’re really looking for and whether you actually know more or less than you think you do and, given that knowledge, whether anything other than life is really to blame.
Dr. Lastname

I can’t stand seeing how depressed my husband is, and no medication seems to help. Several things he tried were very promising at first but then pooped out or quickly caused side effects that made him even more miserable. I can’t get a straight answer from his doctors as to why they’re not working or whether his symptoms are from his illness or being over-medicated. No one seems to know what they’re doing, or what to try, or why the medication isn’t working, or when to stop when they’re not working…I feel really lost. My goal is to find some way to get his treatment on track.

When treatment doesn’t work, it’s natural to feel helpless and look for an explanation. Both fortunately and unfortunately, for most psychiatric problems, the answer is simple– treatment often doesn’t work.

Remember, the scientific meaning for “effective” is “better than nothing,” not “usually works.” And when “better than nothing” translates to “maybe less terrible than normal,” it’s easy to feel effectively screwed. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Social Insecurity

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 6, 2014

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Much is made of the inextricable link between trust and love, but the assumption seems to be that you can’t love someone else unless you can trust them (to listen, keep it in their pants, rescue you from a sinking ship, etc.). Just as important, however, is the ability to trust yourself and your own judgment when entering into a relationship; if you have too little confidence, you can sabotage your relationships, and if you have too much, you’ll make commitments that won’t last and will hurt like hell when they break down. Learn to trust yourself by gathering facts, observing carefully, and using common sense to judge your friendships and make smart decisions. Then, regardless of over or under-confidence, you’ll be able to love someone you trust and have trust in whom you love.
Dr. Lastname

I am in a good relationship and have been now for a while (around 9 months). But none of my relationships seem to last more than a couple of years (I’m now in my 40s), and I worry that some of them I have sabotaged myself. I am at a point in this relationship where we have acknowledged that we love each other and have started making plans months into the future (nothing like moving in together, but definitely trips and such), and suddenly, I have this fear I’m going to lose him. But not just lose him—lose him to someone, and that someone is my friend. I had a friend when I was younger that flirted with my boyfriends, and even though nothing ever happened, it bothered me that she never understood these boundaries, didn’t have a sense of loyalty towards me, and used her looks and sexuality to get attention from those that should be considered off limits. Now I have a newer friend who is younger than me—she’s very pretty, smart, and single, and she has a tendency to try to connect with my boyfriend in ways that I am unable to by finding the gaps and honing in and I don’t like it. I am acting as though they have already run away together, or have a secret relationship. Is my own insecurity causing me to worry about this? My goal is to alleviate these fears of betrayal.

Having fun friends with fickle boundaries may damage your calm, but you do yourself more damage by letting them distract you from the real issues surrounding your boyfriend and your future together. Instead of worrying about whether your gal pals have good intentions, focus on doing the necessary homework to find out whether your boyfriend is a good match.

Assuming you’re not able to stop yourself from being insecure about your friends and boyfriends, use your insecurity to assess your boyfriend’s trustworthiness. Maybe you can also use it to get better at screening friends in the future, but for now, believe it or not, your best weapon against your paranoia is paranoia itself.

Instead of trying to feel better by talking about your fears and asking for reassurance, use them to review your boyfriend’s history with women and your girlfriend’s history as a femme fatale. Your anxiety will drive you to ask the right questions, and, with any luck, the right answers will allow you to tell that anxiety to shut up. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Age Against the Machine

Posted by fxckfeelings on September 4, 2014

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For something that’s both incredibly intangible and subjective, potential is remarkably admired. At least money can buy you lunch and loved ones can share dessert; potential is usually only valuable in absentia, when you’re either mourning it’s loss or praying for it’s arrival. Instead of pining for how you could have been, or used to be, a “contender,” stay focused on meeting your daily priorities with the things that have actual value, like work, friendships, and family. Whether your potential was really lost or was never there to lose, you can always respect what you’ve done if it’s worthwhile and ignore what could have been.
Dr. Lastname

I used to believe in seizing the day and not thinking too much about the future, but now that I’m in my sixties, I find the things that bother me just don’t go away— seizing the day is too hard, and thinking about the future too painful. I’ve got bad knees that make it very hard to climb stairs or get through an airport without a wheelchair and my monthly medications cost serious money. Feeling helpless is the first step to feeling hopeless, so I find myself thinking depressing thoughts and feeling depressed a lot of the time. My goal is to figure out a way to not let pain and negative thinking wear me down.

When you rely on a “seize the day” philosophy to get the most out of life, you often forget that many days have nothing much to seize. On other days, you may be forced to seize moments of eating shit and compromising in order to keep your promises or protect your future security. Crap-e Diem, indeed.

If seizing the day is what really matters, then yes, as you get older, there’s less that’s new and exciting, and your seizing opportunities are fewer. If, on the other hand, you also value the less glorious and not always enjoyable parts of life, like making a living, raising kids, and being a friend, then aging just means there’s less to seize and more to savor. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Family Plea

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 28, 2014

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Everybody knows that parenting is a tough job, but like any job, you do it because you have to, regardless of whether you feel like it (and when your children are toddlers and teens, you often feel like throwing them off a bridge). What fewer people know is that having parents is also a job, so no matter how much you feel like staying away or sticking permanently by their sides, you have to consult your basic principles and figure out what you need, not want, to do. Give weight to the time and energy a parent invested in the job of parenting you, even if they couldn’t do it well, and don’t make yourself responsible for pain you can’t ease. You may not be able to ration your time in a way that feels right, but you can always do it right by your standards, and do your job right, whether they did their job or not.
Dr. Lastname

I was getting coffee with a friend recently and when it hit me—and it hits me quite often—that I am going to have to see my father in the very near future, and whenever it hits me, I have an anxiety attack. My relationship with my father is basically nonexistent…I don’t like him, how he behaves, or what he says because he always makes me feel bad about myself and always has, but I don’t hate him, I think? I don’t know if it’s my fault that I feel this way, because I’ve tried to have a good relationship (my parents split when I was very young), but maybe not hard enough. I just don’t like being around him or talking to him. Anyway, when I was getting coffee with my friend I was complaining about the fact that my dad is coming to visit me and she said I shouldn’t feel that way. She told me how one of her friend’s parents committed suicide and that I should feel lucky to have him, even though I don’t like him. When she told me this, I didn’t actually feel anything, and if he died, I don’t know if I would feel anything, either. I don’t know if I should try to make a better relationship with him and try to numb myself to his manipulative victimization or if I should just maintain this distance and feel like a jerk when I don’t reply to his texts.

Since you and your father seem to have unfinished (maybe unfinishable) business, try seeing your relationship through a business lens. It’s like a family lens in that it enhances positive engagement, but with extra filters to block out all the messy emotional stuff.

When you strip away the crazy feelings, you get to use the same approach as customer service; positive interactions that promote business-like behavior, within defined boundaries, no negatives allowed. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Back in the Lame

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 17, 2014

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Timing isn’t just a crucial factor in comedy and decent microwaved popcorn, but also in finding relationships, especially when you’re reentering the dating scene after a long absence. Some people decide they shouldn’t try again because they got hurt, and some that they should just to relieve loneliness. In truth, however, some hurt people have good reasons to keep dating and some lonely people are likely to get into trouble if they try it. So don’t let feelings guide your dating decisions. The most important thing to consider when timing your return is whether dating is worth doing and whether you have the skills to manage the risks. Then, whether it works out or not, you’ll know you made the right decision, and you’ll know when the time is right.
Dr. Lastname

I’m in my early 50s, and newly widowed after my husband’s extended illness. I’ve been lonely for a long time, he had Alzheimer’s and was like a child for many years. Recently, I joined a dating site and met a number of men. In the last three months, I’ve had eight sexual partners. I decided to get testing done for STDs and found out that I have hepatitis B. I ‘m not really sure whom I contracted it from, and not sure if that matters. I have advised all of my partners of my diagnosis. My question is, how do I go on from here? I’m scared of what this diagnosis means, and embarrassed to be in this situation. I can’t tell my family or friends because they would be appalled that I was having casual sex, and a couple of my partners have been nasty and threatening. I had hoped to eventually pursue a healthy long-term relationship, but now I feel dirty and like damaged goods.

To endure a husband’s suffering and early death from Alzheimer’s is a major achievement, at least to anyone who knows how hard it is to watch someone slip away bit by bit and not be able to mourn him or move on because he’s not yet gone. It’s a harrowing experience that would leave anyone struggling to find her footing.

Whatever other feelings your brain may throw your way, or however you explore your post-married life, you deserve to feel pride. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Dismissed Connections

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 24, 2013

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The search for sex and love is almost always put in a competitive context—it’s a game, a hunt, or some “Hunger Games”-like combination of the two—but unlike other competitions, there aren’t many reliable measurements of your dating success. Sure, it always feels like you can tell how you’re doing by whether you feel sought after or dumped, but those feelings really have nothing to do with success; feeling sought after can be arbitrary, distracting, and over-stimulating, and feeling dumped when you’ve merely been dismissed can make you lose your confidence and will to keep looking. So instead of paying too much attention to how dating makes you feel, keep your eye on the real trophy—contacting a large pool of candidates and using solid search criteria to screen out the out-of-control, the unacceptable, and the time-wasters. If you stay focused and work hard, you’ve got a fighting chance to win, especially if you know how to actually keep score.
Dr. Lastname

I rarely meet men who are interesting, make me laugh and when I kiss them find I have a sexual chemistry with. So when this happened and he took my number, said he wanted to meet up again and texted me the next day (I replied and we had a bit of text banter), I thought, great. Only thing is, he never arranged a date (having said he was a traditional guy), and I just don’t get it. I’m trying to think that I wouldn’t want to be with a man like that anyway but why text the next day if you don’t want to see me? To validate himself by getting confirmation that I like him? I know I shouldn’t analyze this but I find it weird and annoying. How do I let it go and move on?

If you considered how doubly rare it is to find a guy who both triggers the right chemistry and is a decent human being, accepting the long odds would make for a shorter sting. Getting brushed off by a potential partner in the game of love is as personal as a quarterback getting sacked in a game of football, and just as routine.

Since most women have ended up with a copy of “He’s Just Not That Into You,” either because they had a long lay-over, or because their secret Santa phoned it in, most ladies are familiar with the notion of not-quite-connections.

The problem with the title/thesis of that book, however, is that it makes the problem seem personal, when it isn’t. Most of us just aren’t that in to most people, and guys, with their sexual preoccupations, are even less so. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Asshole Assault

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 30, 2012

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If you life has been touched by an Asshole™, your ideas of right and wrong, as well as those of other people who know the two of you, have probably been distorted. It’s your job to set things right, but not by doubting yourself when you’re threatened with conflict, or by attacking those who treat you badly, because both make you look even crazier than the Asshole in question. Instead, re-establish your credibility with yourself and others by staying calm, being patient, and finding good (legal) support. Then everyone can see the Asshole’s true colors—brown—and your work is done for you.
Dr. Lastname

I think my girlfriend is basically committed to me (after 4 years of our having a steady relationship, despite living in different cities). After much backing-and-filling and hemming-and-hawing, she introduced me to her 3 kids and her ex. The problem, I think, is that her ex-husband is an evil drama-monster who bludgeoned her with tantrums, legal threats, and ultimatums until she would do anything to appease him. It makes her a total wuss with the kids and interferes with her availability for our relationship. That makes me push her sometimes, which makes her jump like she’s been scalded and trapped between two powerful, demanding masters. I don’t think she’s into dominant men any more (at least, I don’t see myself as one), but my goal is to help her resist her evil ex without making her feel she’s doing it to appease me.

No matter how nice your girlfriend is, if she’s over-reactive to an evil ex, you can find yourself getting irritated, worried, and sometimes outraged. You’re sorry she has trouble setting limits with the guy, but you sure don’t want him to control your life.

If she doesn’t learn how to manage him and the feelings he stirs up in her, however, that’s what will happen, and your relationship will be riddled with the drama you’re both trying to avoid (and also become very crowded). WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Relative Silence

Posted by fxckfeelings on December 8, 2011

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When people you love act like jerks, you can’t help feeling responsible for doing the impossible and setting things straight (if it was possible, you wouldn’t be writing me). So whether you’re driven by worry or guilt-trips, stop making yourself responsible for easing their pain. Use your own ideas about right, wrong, and actual impossibilities to protect yourself and others as much as you can, and go about your business with a clear conscience while they go about being impossible and clearing the room.
Dr. Lastname

My brother is really an upbeat, cheerful, friendly guy, but he turns into a viper whenever someone tells him what to do, even when it’s sure to get him into lots of trouble, and afterwards he’s convinced he’s been calm and diplomatic. When he and his wife got divorced, he was so argumentative with the judge that he lost custody of his kid. When his boss asked him to do something stupid, my brother fired off emails to Human Resources declaring he was being unfairly attacked. The funny thing is, he doesn’t mind when I tell him he’s being stupid, and the next time something happens he’s sure he’s done better; but he hasn’t. He’s not nearly as difficult as he seems to be, so my goal is to keep him out of trouble.

God bless the antagonists, for they know not what bile they speak.

Whenever someone is particularly quick to resist being pushed, we assume there’s an emotional reason for his actions, and that understanding why will help him to control himself, or help us shut him up and make him more tolerable.

Truth is, we often can’t explain or control oppositional behavior, which suggests there’s a basic force of nature driving some people to be reflexively, unthinkingly oppositional. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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