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.
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.”
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.
Posted by fxckfeelings on December 15, 2015
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Depression can make everything in your life seem worthless, so it’s shouldn’t be surprising if your negative thoughts infect those closest to you and convince them that your relationship is worthless as well. In reality, of course, depression doesn’t change the good things you’ve accomplished, just your perception of them; they’re just a set of bad feelings that will pass, but if the people around you are as convinced of your depressive thoughts as you are, then perception becomes reality. If, however, you can select friends who are relatively immune to the infection of depressive thoughts and good at remembering what they like about you, even when you don’t like yourself, you’ll have a better chance of coming through a bad depressive bout without losing the stuff that makes life worthwhile.
Everything feels pointless, from waking up to eating. My partner left me because, during a period when we were apart, I kind of shut down all emotions and capability for affection and she thought I didn’t love her anymore. Later, I realized it was the same behavior that my mother would display when she got her manic-depressive episodes and had to leave me for a few months at a time. And I didn’t see what had happened to me with my partner until it was too late. I didn’t realize I even did it as a kid. Now I have this insane pain in my chest all the time and I don’t see where I am going further in life and why to even bother with it…on top of that I think I have some problems with letting people come close to me to create a strong bond, given my history. My goal is to make sure that I never go back to shutting down my emotions like this when I have to be apart from any future partner, and also, to let go of the partner who left me, because I still want us to try again, but she will not. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on April 13, 2015
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As we often say when pontificating about Assholes™, the great paradox of self-awareness is that those who worry most about whether they’re bothering other people mainly bother themselves, and those who don’t worry at all are a huge bother to anyone unlucky enough to cross their path. You can find a happy medium, however, by using reasonable tools for managing your social behavior, like keeping things friendly and superficial and pursuing goals you’ve defined for yourself. Trust in your own rules of etiquette, pursue your social goals, and you will find the sweet spot between obsessive and oblivious.
I’m a divorced mother of three with a nice job who would like to get married again, so I was very interested when I got a message on Facebook from an old high school crush whom I hadn’t see in twenty years. He and I never dated, but we were good friends, and I was pleased to hear he was also divorced and happy living in a nearby city I often have cause to visit. So after we had a great time catching up, I suggested that we have dinner next month when I’ll be there, and he seemed eager but also a little unsure about whether or not he’d be free. We’re still messaging each other, but he hasn’t said yes or no to meeting up yet, so I find myself thinking a lot about what he’s thinking, and whether I’m reading his signals correctly or if I’m just nuts. My goal is to figure out what he’s really thinking and if he’s “just not that into me” or taking it slow because of where we are in life and what’s at stake.
Given that this guy is a teenaged crush, it makes sense that you’d revert to your younger self and worry about what people are thinking about you and whether the boy you like is going to ask you out or ignore you on Facebook or maybe even take you to the prom.
Equally juvenile, however, is this notion of writing him off simply because he’s “just not that into you.” He might not be—hell, he might be too tired after football practice—but as an adult woman and mother of three, you’re old enough to decide whether his wishy-washy flirtation means you shouldn’t be that into him. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on October 2, 2014
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Breaking up with someone is a lot like breaking a bone; if it doesn’t set properly, the bone won’t really heal, so you’ll end up with a nagging pain unless you break it and set it again. With relationships, the way to set the break is to learn from it, but sometimes the pain of lost love prevents people from learning lessons, or worse, teaches them the wrong ones. So don’t let negative feelings frame the lessons you learn, or fail to learn, from breakups. Instead of looking at how your relationship failed, look at the relationship between the character of your ex-partner and the way things turned out. Then, as long as you’re ready to take your time and live lonely as long as necessary, you won’t have to deal with the same pain again.
I’m in my mid-thirties and on my third serious relationship living with a man. I’m good at being single, but like anyone, I get lonely sometimes and enjoy the positive things about being in a relationship. The trouble is, I re-energize when I’m alone in a relaxed environment (like at home), and if I don’t get that occasional time to myself it almost acts as a depressant and I start to feel cagey, stressed and grumpy, as if I’m losing myself. The men I get involved with seem to start out very independent with lots of interests, but after a while, once we move in with each other, they become very reliant on the relationship/my company. They don’t really end up having anything else going on, i.e., few friends and outside interests and a non-demanding/or no job. In my current relationship it’s got to the stage where I can’t even get an evening to myself a week. The ideal scenario would be for me to always have my own place and for my partner to have his, but that’s not financially realistic or a fair thing to expect. Am I unusual/weird in this need to be alone? I need to figure out how to not lose myself when the initial exciting, independent phase of a relationship evolves into something more routine and constant.
Loneliness is a good reason to get many things—a gym membership, a dog, a regrettable haircut—but a terrible reason to get a partner. That may not seem logical, but there is no room for logic in courtship, because all the space is taken up by irony.
What you’ve discovered about yourself, after three serious live-in relationships, is that you require someone who is stimulating and independent; otherwise, you wind up feeling smothered by your partner’s passivity and neediness. Unfortunately, when you’re looking for someone to settle down with, the needy often cut to the front of the line. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on May 10, 2012
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Sometimes it hurts as much to win at love as it does to lose, and hurting always makes people wonder what they did wrong. In truth, hurt is a sign of growth, which is a good thing that just happens to feel bad; it’s worth it if it means finding a good partner in the end, and it can be a sign that you’ve made a tough choice or that you’re learning from a sad mistake. Do what’s necessary to learn and/or build a strong partnership, and if it hurts, just remember you’re doing something right.
I know my current boyfriend understands me much better than my old boyfriend did, and I value that tremendously. We have a great relationship and we’ll probably get married. What bothers me is that my old boyfriend was a terrific person, my family loved him, and we got along very well for 2 years, and then I broke his heart. I loved him; it just bothered me that he couldn’t quite understand me. And now, the happier I am with my new relationship, the guiltier I feel for my old boyfriend’s unhappiness and the more I wonder whether I had the right to dump such a nice person.
Feeling someone really understands you is a powerful force for sustaining friendship and partnership. That’s why some people, in order to justify dating someone too young or dumb, often convince themselves such connections exist.
You may be more attracted to someone from a different background who seems exotic and interesting, or someone with whom you constantly, passionately spar. In the end, feeling understood is part of what make you feel at home which, if you’re thinking of starting a home together, is a big deal. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on January 12, 2012
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People say that the most important factor in relationships is timing or chemistry, but you can’t have a relationship to begin with without luck, and you can’t be a loser in love if you don’t take your bad luck personally. A good match is hard to find and a not-good-enough match is hard to leave, but as long as you do a good job searching and, when necessary, leaving, you’ll never be a loser, regardless of whether you get “lucky.”
I am in the fourth year of a partnership with a great guy—smart, athletic, caring, fair, trustworthy, all of it—but I am bored out of my mind. Although he loves outdoor activities like biking and skiing by day, his only hobby in the evenings is watching TV. I am a musician, artist, craftsperson, not an outdoor whiz, and I feel like I am completely uninspired in this situation. I have talked with him about at least not watching TV every night, and we try for a while, but it always ends up back where we started, with him watching TV, and me in another room reading or doing something somewhat productive, or just giving in and watching with him (I hate TV, wish we didn’t have one). I want to do things together but he is not interested in any of the things that I am interested in. Maybe this is just the most a person can hope for in life and I’m spoiled for wanting more than loyalty and love from someone, but I feel guilty all the time for hiding these thoughts from him. Maybe he would be better off without me, too, you know? Maybe I should let him go so he can find a girl who is really IN LOVE with him.
How much you love someone depends, in part, on the effect of partnership on the necessities of your life, as well as your interests. In your case, however, you don’t seem to see partnership as necessary for the necessities, so the difference between what you two want may be be more than television.
If you’ve been struggling to make ends meet and/or raise kids and someone enters your life who’s decent and willing to share the load, you’re probably going to wind up loving him, even if you don’t love everything you do together.
On the other hand, if you’re a fairly self-sufficient person who doesn’t need a partner in order to have a decent standard of living and raise kids, then there’s no reason to live with anyone who doesn’t ring your bells or leave the couch. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on May 2, 2011
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As feelings go, love isn’t so problematic—you feel good, you act nicer to others, and if all goes well, it is truly “all you need.” Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, love can easily triggers negative thoughts and actions that lead to a whole heap of trouble and turn love from something fuzzy into “a battlefield.” If you can remember who you are and what you believe in, however, you can take risks on love without losing your sanity, and find something more compatible with reality than pop songs.
You’ve probably had a disgusting amount of questions like the ones I’m about to put towards you, and that’s another thing that annoys me—I’m a cliché. 17 months ago my boyfriend broke up with me, explaining that he was too young to be in a serious relationship. I know this is perfectly logical but I have never been able to get over it, even though I do understand his point of view. I am still very much in love with him. I know perfectly well that realistically no one really marries their first love, that realistically it wasn’t even a proper adult relationship but I feel as raw today as I did the day it happened. I’ve been diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. I have regular nightmares about him. Last Easter I attempted suicide yet it failed. I’ve been sent to counseling, but I didn’t like it. I dropped out of university as I was too distracted and there is nothing I can throw myself into to make me forget it. The idea of him with someone else would kill me. I keep thinking to myself, I’m only 21 and I shouldn’t take this so personally and seriously but I do and I have no idea why. I know I need to wise up but I can’t.
Some say love’s like a drug, but we think it’s more like a (sometimes) innocuous mental illness; it doesn’t make you “crazy”—at least not necessarily—but it does give you weird thoughts, sometimes long after the relationship is over.
While those thoughts are hard to stop and easy to believe in, at least they’re not true. Like anxiety and depression, love has a weird way of keeping itself alive by changing the way you think and act, until it changes your beliefs. That’s when you’re in trouble.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on May 31, 2010
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Most good people find themselves doing the same old bad things over and over. For some of us, said bad habits don’t go beyond excessive chocolate or videogame usage, but for others, “bad things” result in horrible consequences. Understanding why people are like that seldom helps, but recognizing when people are like that (whether it’s you or the other guy) can be very helpful if you accept the fact that the problem won’t go away and take responsibility for managing it as it is. You can’t change urges, but you can sure try to change results.
I love my work, my kids, and my wife, but I have bipolar mood swings (and I’ve taken medication for years) that lead me to do things that get me into trouble. Recently, in spite of the medication, I felt a surge of energy and started to stay up late, sneak into my studio and paint. I’ve also started to drink again. I don’t want to change meds or let people know what’s happening because I want to keep my options open. I love the highs and the freedom, and I hate being told what to do, but I’ve got a demanding day job that doesn’t involve painting, and a wife who doesn’t like it, to say the least, when I’m not honest. So my goal is to get myself under control before people catch on to what’s really happening.
There are few fathers and husbands who can’t identify with the goal of wanting to feel special, have time to themselves, and avoid humiliating comments about eating, drinking, toileting or sleeping habits from their next of kin.
The fraction of these fathers who are dealing with mental illness and addiction to alcohol don’t want to be asked if they’ve been taking their medication or started drinking.
So, if your goal is to avoid immediate disrespect and hang on to your secret Van Gogh identity a little longer, then keep doing just what you’re doing.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »