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 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.
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 »
Posted by fxckfeelings on October 19, 2015
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The anger people feel when a relationship makes them feel helpless, whether it’s from disappointment or abuse, is often so painful letting the feels out seems like the only form of relief. Unfortunately, angrily releasing those feelings doesn’t make them go away; instead, it gives them life outside of your head, where they can do even more damage. So don’t vent anger before first thinking carefully about the impact it’s likely to have on relationships you may continue to need and/or value. Then, if you decide it’s worth taking a stand, compose a positive way to negotiate for what you want (elaborated upon later this week). The relief won’t be as immediate, but the possible fall-out won’t make the pain worse.
I guess you’d tell me I shouldn’t focus on the sexlessness of my nine years of marriage and instead focus on the positive experiences we have had and learn to keep my mouth shut—not release the “verbal farts” you talk about—but if letting people get away with mistreating me is what you think I’m supposed to do, then I’d rather have chronic verbal gas. I tell my friends when they are fake and shallow, my husband that our sexless marriage is emotionally corrosive and my parents that I will despise them for physically abusing me when I was a child. In other words, I tell the truth, but according to you, I should “man up” and move on and keep my feelings to myself. I don’t see how that’s better or fair. My goal is to see your point.
If your marriage turns out to be sexless, you’ve been the victim of child abuse, or you’ve generally had and unlucky and unhappy life, then you certainly have the right to feelings of resentment. There’s no benefit from telling yourself that you should feel good about experiencing so many bad things.
On the other hand, as you’ve already guessed, we wouldn’t tell you to express those angry feelings unless they can do you some good in the long run, and, usually, they can’t. As we say in our fart metaphor, beyond the immediate relief, venting ugly feelings then poisons the air for you and everyone around you.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on August 3, 2015
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Most of the time, you don’t want to try to pay attention to two things at once—the TV and the oven, the road and your texts, your kid and your moody pet alligator, etc.—but other times, it’s more dangerous not to. It’s a problem for those people who pay too much attention to the reaction they have to other people and ignore their own actions, as well as those who pay too much attention to their own actions and ignore how it impacts others. If you’re a single-minded person and want to avoid being blind-sided, learn how to divide your attention and pay it at the same time. That’s the only way to be mindful of relationships and your own priorities (and hopefully oncoming traffic).
I like to be close to people and I tend to fall in love really easily, so, while my relationships are often intense and fulfilling, they never last very long and never end well. Anyway, my life has been going reasonably well, and I’ve been dating a girl I really like who I think would be a good wife, but my roommate is also my best friend and, since he’s started dating someone, he’s stopped being around very much. Neither one of us is gay, and we’ve never technically hooked up, but we’ve always been really comfortable with each other physically, and our bond is really close. Maybe that’s why I really resent his relationship and find myself being very angry at him for no reason and jealous that someone else has his attention. I really don’t think I’m gay, and I love my girlfriend, but I’m freaked out about my feelings. My goal is to figure them out and get back to having a happy relationship with my best friend.
For those who are prone to powerful emotional reactions, having strong feelings can be a lot like getting blackout drunk; you’re very certain where you are now and what you think about it, but can’t seem to remember how you got there. You lose the part where you keep falling into intense relationships and only focus on the fallout when they come apart.
The intensity of your post-entanglement emotions not only blinds you to the pattern of needy behavior and faulty decision-making that repeatedly puts you in these situations, but to the more important reality of how he or your current girlfriend fits into your future partnership plans.
So, instead of focusing on your anger and jealousy, give serious consideration to what you really want from your roommate; better to take a moment to assess your priorities than follow your feelings to another destructive conclusion. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on December 8, 2014
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Making an emotional argument might convince other people that you care a lot about your cause, but it often won’t do very much to actually help you get what you’re arguing for. This is especially true in bad relationships, where emotion often exacerbates conflict or drives you to decisions that will make everyone miserable in the long run. If you back up your choices with evidence, not emotion, you’ll get further, get what you need, and likely get out of the bad relationship all together.
My estranged husband and I are about to begin mediation sessions to see if we can agree on how to divide our assets without spending a fortune on lawyers and court fees. We are on civil terms and have let things drift regarding our divorce, but it needs to be finalized so we can both move on with our lives. I am in a vulnerable position and need to get as good a settlement as I can; I want to get the most out of this expensive process without reacting in my old way if he presses my buttons, which he will. I felt angry recently when he told me that he resented any inference that he is less than honest, when he knows very well that he lied a great deal in the marriage. I do not wish to rehash old rows, score points or get sidetracked, and worry that I will get emotional and upset which will not help my position. How do I find a coping strategy in what has the potential to be a minefield and make the most of our time with the mediator? My goal is to stay focused and calm while doing my best to protect my security and to be assertive when necessary.
If your ex wants to be a dishonest, prickly asshole, you know there’s nothing you can do to stop him; if you could, you wouldn’t be getting divorced in the first place.
Fortunately, there is a sort of emotional kryptonite you can use to protect yourself (and your buttons) that will keep you from reacting in kind. If you want to neutralize emotional, provocative behavior, expose it to facts and cool confidence. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on June 30, 2014
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Unless your sexual relationship began with a matchmaker, a bet, or a promise to a dead sibling, it probably started out with the spark of mutual attraction. Being wanted by someone you love is part of the high, but when lust becomes love and love becomes the boring reality of commitment—i.e., when people are too tired and/or comfortable to lie about being in the mood—the high turns into a new kind of emotional low. Sexual frustration feels like love is over, and encountering sexual resentment feels like your prince is a whiny brat. If, however, you can put sex into perspective and value what you’ve found in someone beyond the spark, then you can manage those feelings, which is the true test of love.
I hate the way my husband isn’t interested in sex as much as I am, and doesn’t want to talk about it; it’s as if he has no respect for my needs, doesn’t appreciate all the hard work I’m doing to support the family, and doesn’t find me attractive anymore. I feel like he got me to marry him by pretending to love me and be interested in me but then just changed his mind. I thought he was cheating on me, because what gay man isn’t interested in sex, but even now that I believe him when he says he’s just stressed about a million things right now (he even cries about it sometimes), I still feel like he should put me first once in a while. Of course, sulking doesn’t exactly make me sexy, so I’m aware I’m being stupid, but having an affair seems like justified payback. My goal is to find a constructive way of responding, getting laid, or at least not having to get a divorce.
Nothing lasts forever, but it’s not clear which eventual loss will pain you more: the end of your marriage, or the decrease in your now-rabid sexual desire. Just because your husband is first to lose his sexual appetite doesn’t mean you should be so quick to sacrifice your partnership for your boner.
No matter who you are, libido is fragile and easily affected by a million factors, from age to illness to humidity level. If, like many men, you’re sexually needy, then you can’t allow yourself to think that true love and a marital commitment guarantee sexual availability. People and circumstances change, which is the only thing you can count on. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
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.
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 »
Posted by fxckfeelings on October 24, 2013
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No matter how pretty, thin, and/or rich you are, or how hard this may be to believe if you are none of the above, finding a solid partner always carries a risk of heartache that can make the process of dating feel like a series of debilitating defeats. So instead of expecting that increasing your attractiveness will reduce the pain, toughen up and become more selective, using your experience of rejection and near-misses to improve your skills and dodge the heartbreakers. In the end, believe it or not, you’ll give yourself the match-making, if not the wealth and looks, you deserve.
I don’t see why I always seem to have the same problems with the guys I fall in love with. I’ve got a job I like in sales—I wouldn’t be good at it if I wasn’t reasonably self-confident and attractive—and I’m comfortable with my identity as a gay guy who would like a real relationship. The problem isn’t in meeting men, because I don’t have a lot of trouble attracting very nice, good-looking men who are really interested in me, and I fall for them. Then, after about three months, they seem to change their minds and pull back, and I’m left wondering what I did wrong. Which is why I’m writing you.
Being good-looking and attractive always feels like a gift, and it’s hard to convince the average-looking it has any real drawbacks beyond getting too many compliments and having a hard time finding clothes that aren’t flattering.
You’re attractive enough to elicit positive responses from attractive guys, which feels like they really, really like you, but they’re responding to your attractiveness, not to you. Unfortunately, being beautiful imposes real, ugly burdens, and this looks like one of them. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on October 21, 2013
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It’s easy for your individual sense of right and wrong to be at odds with the customs and attitudes of your community, workplace, and/or message board chums, and you may well experience guilt when there’s a difference between the two, regardless of whether you did anything wrong. As a result, it may be hard to find your own way when you first go solo, or to re-discover your own way when pressured by an absorbing new community. In any case, ignore guilty feelings and get back to basics. Judge your actions in the light of your own experience and values and stand by them, regardless of what others think, say, and put into FAIL-related .gif form.
I grew up in a very Christian family where we all went to religious school and attended church several times a week, and kids weren’t allowed to date or talk to members of the opposite sex on the phone (or even consider sex before marriage). Now that I’m in my second year of college and away from home, however, I’m not sure I want to live my life this way. The school is Christian, but there are other, secular universities nearby, and I like hanging out in the college bars in town and dating. Of course, doing so makes me feel like I’m sliding into sin and would catch all kinds of criticism if my parents and home community knew what I was doing. I feel like I can’t feel like a good person in either world; I haven’t really been a bad person, but my faith in my parents’ rules has lessened. My goal is to stop swinging up and down like a yo-yo.
When you’re young, your main way of knowing whether you’re doing right or wrong is by perceiving whether others, particularly grown-ups, are angry at you; sometimes it’s through a subtle reward, and other times it’s via a very blunt spanking.
This sensation usually persists, even when you know, as an adult, that you’ve done nothing wrong or everything right. If you belong to a religious community with many conventions and rules, those feelings are also tied to doing what everyone else defines as good behavior, like going to church, praying, and not dating, all of which are tied to what they believe God wants. And God hasn’t handed out personal wrath in at least a millennium or so. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by fxckfeelings on September 26, 2013
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Sometimes it’s as hard to save a marriage from the false suspicion of infidelity as it is to save it from infidelity itself. That’s because people respond to marital hurt by trying to prove their love, which, after all, is what started the whole thing going, makes the world go round and supports the diamond and edible underpants industries. Unfortunately, you often can’t manufacture romance in an old marriage, even with jewels, Viagra, and clothes that double as meals, so rating your relationships by their emotional flame is a good way to generate additional marital doubt, conflict, and defeat. So, when expressions of love are not enough, try rating your marriage as a functioning partnership and source of acceptance. Then, when your romantically-deprived or -injured side goes looking for drama, you’ll know the real value of what you’ve got, and have nothing to fear.
I’ve never had an affair before, but after 20 years of marriage and an only child in college, I started to feel like my life was over, and I needed an adventure. The problem is that I love my husband, who is a good guy and a terrific father, and when he found my email messages to the guy I had a (fairly regrettable) one night stand with, it broke his heart. Now he’s depressed and goes back and forth between wanting to be with me and asking me what it was like to be sleeping with someone else. I’ve told him I love him, and I really do, but he can’t seem to get over it and, even though I’m the guilty party, I lose patience and feel even worse. My goal is to get him to see I love him, because I really don’t want to lose my marriage.
As the old saying goes, everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die, and that’s especially true for most people who consider infidelity; everybody wants excitement, but nobody wants to kill their marriage.
Now that you’ve discovered that love alone won’t undo the hurt and stop him from agonizing for some time to come, it’s a good time to consider why he, and you, should stay married, apart from the sincerity of your feelings, given the fact that, at least for a moment, you’re capable of fucking up.
In other words, now that you’ve attempted to murder your marriage, is it worth saving or just pulling the plug. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »