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Goals, not wishes-- I'm a doctor, not a genie.

Monday, October 16, 2017

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.

Depressive Compulsive

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.

-Dr. Lastname

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 »

5 Tips for Overcoming Love Addiction

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 12, 2015

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Breaking the cycle of addiction may be a boon to reality television producers, fancy rehab centers, and the makers of terrible coffee in church basements, but for the addicts themselves, the rewards are a lot more hard won. Whether you’re hooked on a drug or, in the case of our reader earlier this week, a bad relationship, getting clean is always a difficult process. While 12 Step programs have a lot to offer anyone trying to get clean, we humbly offer these five steps specifically for those trying to move on from a bad relationship.

Five tips for overcoming love addiction:

Step 1: Step Back For Perspective

Without allowing yourself to mention your current partner, describe the qualities a prospective partner must have before a relationship has any chance, not of starting, feeling good, or being exciting, but of lasting and bringing more to your life than it takes away. If your list is more about how a guy smells or what a girl’s legs should look like than whether s/he can pay bills on time or be trusted with a car, then you’re doing it wrong.

Step 2: Stick To Your Guidelines

In the presence of a trusted friend or therapist, honestly and carefully assess your current partner’s ability to meet the requirements listed above. Give yourself credit for every time you can admit they don’t have what it takes, but take away that credit (and then some) for each time you attempt to re-open the discussion by imagining something you could do to change them. This isn’t about changing them, but changing your priorities and ability to tolerate too much BS.

Step 3: Find Support

Since the worst partners are often the hardest to leave, strengthen your partnerships with friends and family, because their support is invaluable. Talk to them about your helplessness with your addiction, which is, of course, the first of the actual 12 steps. Give them permission to stop you by any means necessary if you want to change the subject from what you should do next to what you could say or do to get him to see that he’s done wrong.

Step 4: Stick to the Script

Once you’ve become certain that you need to move on, and you’ve lined up allies to help you, you might still need a little reinforcement when it comes to delivering the news to your ex-to-be. Write a paragraph that describes your requirements in a partner and states, with regret but without anger, the requirements you believe he’s unable to meet. If you sound like you’re trying to persuade him to meet your requirements, or that you’re open to argument about whether he is or isn’t eligible, then enlist one of your friends to edit that garbage right out.

Step 5: Step Away

If at all possible, go on vacation with friends, because the best way to put distance between yourself and a bad relationship, at least at first, is to literally go far away. While you block him from your phone and drop him from social media, give yourself a chance to go through withdrawal in pleasant, nurturing circumstances. It’s a quick trip to relationship rehab with lots of distraction and a built in support group who will help you come up with a strategy if you’re ever tempted to slip. Getting over someone is hard, but if you can get your priorities together, get reinforcements, and then get away, you can get on with your life.

Pattern Demolition

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 10, 2015

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Louis CK once said that no good marriage ends in divorce, but it’s also true that really bad relationships seem to go on forever; those connections built on intense neediness and over-responsiveness tend to get stuck in a death spiral as both parties endlessly circle the emotional toilet, never quite flushing their connection away. That’s because, once you care deeply about someone, it’s hard not to become over-attached and treat his or her commitment problems as if they were misunderstandings that might be your fault, even if that someone doesn’t treat you well and isn’t great partnership material. All of this can be avoided if you learn how to withhold commitment until you’re sure a prospective partner has the right qualities, regardless of how intense your need and attraction. Later this week, we’ll explore the five steps of bad relationship recovery, but you can’t recover until you know why it’s good to walk away from your bad relationship in the first place.

-Dr. Lastname

I’ve been in a relationship off and on for almost a year, and the reason for the “offs” is his fear of everything— three times he’s done the same thing and broken up with me for “a possible problem,” or “fear of ___,” or whatever stupid reason, but in the end I always find him and we get back together. I know this is a bad pattern. I mean, it’s pathetic to keep wanting to be with him after how he’s been such an asshole to me for no apparent reason. He chooses to treat me as if I were shit, as if he wants to hurt me badly while pretending it’s nothing. I know I should be mad and write him off as an asshole, but I can’t. I keep justifying his actions, because I know what he’s been through. Anyway, I love him and I hate that I can’t love myself enough to stop looking for him despite all the mean things he’s said and done to me, how he’s treated me like a toy. When I finally did stand up for myself recently and say some really mean things, he didn’t react at all, won’t respond to my apology…I don’t want to keep waiting for him to talk to me and my head knows that it’s stupid, but my heart keeps wanting to reach him. I’m not trying to be a victim—I believe that everything that happens to us is the consequence of our choices—but I need to know how to choose better for myself. My goal is to figure out how to get over this guy and the rut of our unhappy relationship.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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