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Monday, October 16, 2017

Shut Up! Week, Part 1

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 12, 2010

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Discovery Channel always does well with its sharks, so this week, we’re going to try cases that are variations of the theme of “Shut up!” In many ways, sharks and “shut up” have the same effect on people, be they swimming in actual water or metaphorical self-pity; it’s painful and humbling, but if you come through your confrontation intact, you feel indestructable. Now, if you please, shut up and read.
Dr. Lastname

I’m a 58-year-old gay man and it’s a long time since life has been any fun. I’ve been single for some time (with no real prospects of a relationship), my friends don’t seem to have time for me, and at the end of a hard day’s work running my own business, I’ve barely broken even and have nothing to look forward to but spending the evening alone. That’s when the depression closes in and I can’t stand living. I write all this because I know that I’m a miserable failure, and that facts, not depression or any other mental illness, are behind my reasoning. I mean, when I tell my few close friends how I feel, they tell me I’m being too hard on myself, but if you’re almost 60, alone, and a financial mess, doesn’t that mean you’re a loser? My goal is to be real about myself.

Sounds like your goal isn’t to be real about yourself, it’s to be mean to yourself because you’re in a bad mood. If you were to reread the above paragraph when your mood wasn’t so shitty, you’d see your treating “facts” with the same care as Bill O’Reilly.

So, to quote Bill, Shut up, I don’t want to hear it. You wouldn’t talk like that to a friend, or even probably your worst enemy, so don’t do it to yourself.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Everybody Flirts

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 22, 2010

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Just because flirting can come naturally to almost anyone and anything from people to dogs to penguins, that doesn’t mean we’re all naturally gifted at flirtational arts. Some of us freeze around people we want to thaw, while others flirt indiscriminately, spanning the dogs to penguin gamut. If you’re flirt-impaired, however, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to die alone. There are others ways to get to know someone (and we don’t mean sniffing your intended’s butt).
Dr. Lastname

I’m interested in a woman here at work, which automatically has two complications. First of all, we work together (although not directly, we’re just both teachers at the same elementary school). Second, despite being an educated guy in my 30s with hobbies and friends and all those good normal things, I am and have always been a completely incompetent flirt. I do not know how to be charming or cute, and I have no idea how I’ve gotten women interested in me in the past (and yes, I’m a math teacher). Do you have any flirting tips for the socially inept? My goal, simply, is to get the girl.

Thanks goodness flirting isn’t necessary, or many of us would never have gotten a first date, math teachers wouldn’t be able to propagate, and Poincaré would never have conjectured. Fortunately, there’s more than one kind of mating ritual for humans.

Ever if you were good at it, you’d find that flirting has its drawbacks. Because it’s fun and sexy, flirting tends to start something up before you really know where you want to go (see: the case that follows this one).

Particularly at work, getting attached and then getting to know someone is a risky way of dating that can turn a normally shitty day at the office into an endless trail of tears (and into good business for me).

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Do Know, Don’t Care

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 13, 2009

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Sometimes, knowing is indeed half the battle, at least if you’re talking about where you left your car keys or the answers to a math test. When it comes to tracing the origins of your behavior, however, pinning your temper on dad or your bad taste in men on bad boys isn’t going to lead you to a nicer, smarter you. Knowing why you’re a prick won’t make you better; not being a prick will, regardless of where the fault for your prickish genes lies.
Dr. Lastname

It’s been a tough year (surprise), and so I’ve been a little more quick to anger than I usually am, and I tend to have a few more beers after work than I would normally have. Things with my wife were kind of rough because of all of this, so she told me to see a therapist, and for the sake of my marriage, I agreed, because losing my wife would be the worst thing that could happen. Six months or so ago, my therapist started asking me about my childhood, and it finally clicked that my dad also had a really bad temper, and was also a pretty lousy drunk, but I’d never really thought of him that way, and I’d never really made the connection to my own behavior. My therapist was really pleased at my breakthrough, but here I am, six months later, and I don’t feel any better, and my wife is ready to leave if I don’t stop yelling at her. My goal is to use what I’ve learned in therapy to solve my problems, but what is it I haven’t figured out, why do I keep acting this way, and why am I spending money on therapy if I’m getting nowhere?

Once psychotherapy helps you figure out where your mean streak comes from, you can write an interesting book about it and, usually, blame it on a brutal ancestor and tell Oprah all about it.

What all that hard-earned knowledge probably won’t help you much with is keeping you in check the next time you get irritable and/or drunk. Bad daddy or no, what will help you a lot more is to get sober and learn how to shut the fuck up.

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Luck Is A Curse

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 10, 2009

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Some people find themselves suddenly, inexplicably cursed by a life of hardship and pain, while others cruise through a blessed existence of acclaim and luck. Truth is, of course, that the person in pain isn’t doomed to constant misery, and lucks brings its own peculiar, unavoidable hardship; thankfully, everyone of us, in one way or another, is fucked. It’s where we go from there that makes the difference.
Dr. Lastname

Just a few years ago, in my early 20s, I was a fun, outgoing law student at a top tier school, on the cusp of beginning a promising career in a competitive field that I loved. But then, out of no where, my health fell apart. Without getting into it, I was diagnosed with a rare, chronic disease that causes me so much pain and fatigue that even the simplest tasks have become arduous. I had to drop out of school, move back home, and learn to deal, not just with the physical pain of everyday life, but with feelings of failure and being a complete loser. All my old friends are moving upwards and onwards, like I was once set to do, and all I can do is take it slow and try to cope with this new, brutal reality. Plus, because my disease is rare and not physically obvious (I look healthy), several friends and even family members have decided that I’m not sick, but that I just buckled under the competitive pressure of my law career or that I’m just lazy, and am using a fake disease as an excuse. They say things like, “my joints hurt, but I go to work everyday,” and I just want to curl up and die. Between my own disappointment and their cruel judgment, I’ve withdrawn from social interaction almost completely for a year now. My goal is to not completely isolate myself from the world and maybe even start to enjoy some social interaction again despite feeling self-conscious and experiencing such dismissive attitudes from others.

It’s good that you want to get out of your self-imposed solitary confinement—living like that’s unhealthy, even for people who are physically healthy to begin with—but attaching the enjoyment of social interaction onto your goal is not so hot, especially when you’re suffering from a disease that seems to make enjoying anything nearly impossible and gives prospective friends a case of the repulsive willies.

Problem is, despite your best efforts, enjoyment is out of your control, and if you make a big effort to extend yourself socially and run into crap, you’ll feel like a stupid failure and personally rejected, when, really, it’s your standards that are the problem. Yours and everyone else’s.

A better goal is to work at not taking your pain and isolation personally while working out rational standards for what it means to cope with them.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Impervious to Advice, Addicted to Love

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 30, 2009

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When women are hooked on the wrong kind of love, they often want advice for the wrong reasons, which explains why sometimes good advice is worse than no advice at all. Oddly, giving romantic advice to friends is sort of like dating itself; if it doesn’t stick after a few attempts, then stop wasting your time.
Dr. Lastname

I’ve given my closest girlfriend the same advice a million times, and a million times, she’s passively ignored me, so I’ll say straight away that my goal is to give advice she’ll actually listen to. The problem she always comes to me with is this (and in her mind, it isn’t a problem, at least at first): said friend is in a band, and because of that, she’s always on the road, and in her travels she meets these guys (either randomly for one night or for a few weeks at a time if they’re touring with her band, that kind of thing), and every so often she falls for one of these guys and wants to find a way to have a real relationship with him, even though it’s logistically impossible in the long term due to the fact they live in one place and she lives in another (never mind that they’re usually too young, too drunk, too full of themselves, etc). I tell her those things, but she insists her feelings (which is what made me think I should write you!) can’t be ignored, that guy-of-the-moment gives her butterflies and she can’t remember being this excited about anyone. It’s only a matter of time before things go horribly wrong (he stops returning her texts/calls, starts being a jerk to her, take your pick), and then she’s sad, tells me she should have listened to me, and wonders why she’s so dumb about guys. I, too, wonder, but I’m sure you’ve got it all figured out.

Instead of asking yourself what’s wrong with your advice because it hasn’t got through to her after a million times, ask yourself whether there’s any hope of her hearing your advice. Ever. And not because she has tinnitus.

Because the sad thing is, when it comes to the thrill of romance, some people are addicted to those “butterflies” and want to embrace that sensation, no matter how many times they’ve been burned. They love love, whether it’s real or phony, and regardless of how long it takes them to recover, or what else they lose while recuperating. Love is blind, your friend is deaf and dumb.

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Making A Clean Break

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 14, 2009

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Nobody enjoys the break-up process, but there are ways, as either the dumped or the dumpee, to make that process even worse. Between a woman who thinks she’s permaturely ending things to a man who can’t let go, these two cases show how breaking-up is not just hard to do, but easy to fuck up royally.
Dr. Lastname

I just broke up with my boyfriend, and even though I thought I was doing the right thing in the long run, I think I’m now making a habit of ending relationships before they get too serious. This time I ended things because, after a year together, I had to face the fact that I wasn’t as excited about him as I should be, and certainly not as excited about him as he was about me (and never was—this wasn’t an issue of the spark being gone, but never really being there in the first place). I left the guy before him because he and his mother were very close—maybe too close, in that his mother seemed to boss him around—and that mother lived hundreds of miles away, which meant he’d want to move hundred miles away eventually, and I really didn’t (let alone raise a family there so close to his crazy mother). I’m not that old, but I’m definitely in the marriage window, and while I think I’m just being realistic when I make these decisions, I worry that I’m just panicking in the face of actually settling down. I hate how much I’ve hurt my exes by what I’ve done, my goal is, I don’t want to do it again.

It’s understandable to feel bad when you’ve made someone else feel bad, but feelings aren’t that important when you’re looking at the bottom line. Before you start criticizing yourself for the painful outcome of these two relationships, considering the obstacles that make it difficult to find a good partner.

Ultimately, your goal isn’t to avoid painful breakups; it’s to deal with prospective partners honestly while you try to find a good match, knowing that it’s entirely possible to begin a relationship with someone you like and respect and then discover problems that would doom a long-term future.

That’s what you can’t control here: the unsolvability of two of those problems and the need to break the relationship sooner rather than later, regardless of the pain you might cause.

We both know couples who broke up because one of them is over-responsive to another priority in their lives, like a mother or job or college basketball. So when you’re considering settling down with someone, you need to ask yourself how this guy is likely to respond if the demands of our family conflict with his other loyalties.

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Sinking Relationships

Posted by fxckfeelings on May 24, 2009

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Love is at its most dangerous not when its bonds are most intense, but when its status between two people is muddled and ambiguous. Here are two cases where the feelings are unclear but the stakes remain high.
-Dr. Lastname

I don’t know if my husband is cheating on me, but I admit that I’m convinced enough that I’m wondering what to say to him. He’s always looking for an excuse to get out of the house—suddenly every single game, no matter what sport, deserves a trip to the bar with his buddies. It may just be that he doesn’t like to hang out with the kids, or that I annoy him, but that seems to extreme. We’ve never had a screaming fight about the whole thing, mostly because we’re both too tired from work and life and whatever. When I do joke about it, he just swears up and down he’s not cheating, and that he’s going alone out because I hate going out with him, and that I’m letting my insecurities get the best of me. And I guess he’s right in some ways, because I am kind of shy and, when I’m busy, I forget about going out. But he knows how much it drives me crazy, and that I need help with our kids, so you’d think he’d cut back out of consideration for my needs. I’m tired and lonely, too, so now I wonder where I’m supposed to turn. So that’s it. My goal is to keep anyone from cheating on anyone.

Just the fact that confrontations over infidelity are the climax of choice for most tabloid TV programs should tell you that they seldom work out positively. Instead, they lead to mutual accusations, just-stop-attacking-me apologies, ineffective denials, and/or resolutions to do better followed by the same old behavior.

The problem is that, if he tends to lie or fool around, then that’s the way he is. As much as it feels personal, it usually isn’t, and if you looked at his past under a fidelity microscope, you’d probably find microbes of secret flings everywhere, and those microbes will keep chugging along until the Cialis stops working.

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I want to e-find someone / I hate life / I broke my ex

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 5, 2009

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For our inaugural posting, we thought we’d start slow with a few 101 cases;  one person who’s lonely, one who’s miserable, and one who feels responsible for someone else’s misery.  You know, simple stuff.

You’ll notice that at the end of every response, we provide a simple statement, either for yourself or for problematic third parties, that we think will simply put our advice into action.  It’s less “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough,” and more, “I’m in a sea of shit, but I’m swimming as hard as I can.”

We’ll have more cases coming on Thursday, and remember, if you have problems of your own, we’re here to help.  That said, read on to see what our vision of help is.  –Dr. Lastname

I’ve gone on my last internet date.  All my friends are married at this point, and when they set me up on blind dates, the fall-out is usually so dramatic that I’ve resorted to the internet instead.  Now I’m finding out that blind blind dates are even worse.  Most of the responses I get are creepy, and the few dates I like suddenly drop me, or just want something short-term, which isn’t what I’m looking for.  I’m lonely, I’m sick of being single, and the whole process is making me more depressed because it’s so mechanical and devoid of romance, which is supposed to be the fun part, right?  I’d say I’m a normal person, good job, have all my limbs…why am I still alone?  Is this the best I’m going to get?  My goal is to find a partner who will make me happy, but I’m ready to give up.  –desperate.com

Finding a happy partnership is always a dangerous goal because it makes you dependent on something you can’t control but still have strong feelings about.  If you don’t find someone—and there’s no guarantee you will—you’ll feel like a loser, rather than just plain lonely.  If your goal is to feel less lonely, or satisfy other strong feelings that drive people into relationships and ignite excitement, you’re more likely to fall for the wrong person and/or forget about the other important things in your life.  Don’t make it your goal to find someone or be happy (or, God forbid, both).  Your job is to conduct a good search for a partner while remaining lonely for as long as it takes to protect your heart and everything of value in the life you have as a single person/human being.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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