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Nobody's ever died from bottling up their feelings, but plenty of people have died from unbottling them.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Choice Recognition

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 4, 2015

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Credit, be it personal or plastic, is often given too freely to people or things we’re desperate to hold onto in order to make ourselves feel better. Paradoxically, we also tend to deprive ourselves of that credit too easily, so we end up feeling miserable, anyway. Before letting fear or perfectionism or a the lure of Amazon one-click control your credit decisions, think hard about what you have a right to expect and what’s good enough by your standards. Then you’ll make better decisions about friendship, and have a better appreciation for yourself, others, and for appreciation itself.
Dr. Lastname

I’m a single mother in my late 30’s, two years out of an abusive marriage for which I did get some therapy, but probably not enough. I met a man six months out (way too soon, I know) and we agreed that we would “date” casually as friends. Of course I developed feelings for him and I’ve come to realize that I am not a “friends with benefits” kind of person. The problem is that we have been seeing each other for almost two years. Every couple of month or so he pulls back, but we always end up seeing each other again, and each time the relationship advances a little further. He also has his issues, mostly childhood drama due to losing his parents young. We’re currently on a break of his request, but he has texted me every day, says he wants me as part of his life but he needs space, etc. I want to be in his life, but as a committed partner. Sometimes I feel like he is stringing me along, and other times I think he is afraid to let himself love me. My goal is to figure out if I should I just walk away and try to forget him—which I don’t think I even know how do I do that—or wait for him to take another step forward.

As you know, one of the biggest obstacles to finding a good partner is not being able to lose a less-than-good one. In other words, as long as this guy keeps stringing you along, you’re keeping a better relationship away.

The first thing to decide is whether your feelings for Mr. Off-and-On can work to your benefit; ask yourself whether you enjoy the good times more than you suffer from his absences, and if, during the absences, you can put your pain aside and enjoy life or even dates with other prospective mates. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Censure Track

Posted by fxckfeelings on May 14, 2015

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The best way to test someone’s ability may be to put them in a high pressure situation—a mock trial, dinner with a spouse’s divorced parents, Kobayashi Maru, etc.—but the best way to test their character is to see how much responsibility they’re willing to take for things if they go horribly wrong. The ability to read and take criticism depends far more on personality traits and reflex than reason and judgment; that’s why Assholes are amazingly good at pinning responsibility on other people (which is why therapy usually has so little to offer) and nice people are good at figuring out how they caused it to rain. In any case, if you judge yourself as you would anyone else, you’re more likely to use logic rather than instinct. Then you can figure out whether you owe an apology or not, and to whom, and others can figure out whether you’re solid enough to grant a second chance.
Dr. Lastname

I’m usually OK with being single and childless—I’ve had some bad relationships that were far worse than being single, so being independent seems like a fine alternative, and kids will come when I’m ready. When I look at Facebook on Mother’s Day, however, and see pictures of my friends looking all happy with their kids and happy little families, I start to get depressed and hate myself. I’m sure that part of the problem is that my own mother died a couple years ago. My goal is to figure out why the happiness of others makes me feel like such a loser.

Mother’s Day, like weddings, birthdays (including that of Jesus Christ), and all other days that celebrate someone with gift giving, are usually doomed to cause as much pain as pleasure, and sometimes more.

The intention is to make someone feel appreciated and loved by giving them time, love, and shit they don’t need, but it often winds up making more people, including the honoree, feel worse by forcing them to consider all the time, love, and shit they don’t have. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Fixed Signals

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.
Dr. Lastname

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 »

Cause and Order

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 9, 2015

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Looking for insight into how your mind works is like giving your brain a colonic; it’s uncomfortable, and while it feels like it should be beneficial, it usually just creates an unnecessary mess. Skip the mental probe and instead assess the risks and benefits, which is an unavoidable and valuable part of every treatment decision. Be prepared to distinguish between the kind of analysis that makes problems worse and the kind that you can’t do without. Then you’ll be ready to use your head, not waste time getting it out of your ass.
Dr. Lastname

I can’t understand why I keep a friendship going with this rather self-centered woman at work. I’m always vaguely resentful about the one-sidedness of our relationship, but she doesn’t realize it and thinks she’s a wonderful friend and things are great between us. I know better than to make an issue of the inequality—everyone knows she’s self-centered and clueless—but what bothers me is why I keep on inviting her over for dinner and investing in a friendship that always leaves me unhappy and resentful. My goal is to understand my needs better so that I can finally let go of someone I know can’t really give me what I want.

Unfortunately, having a superior understanding of something doesn’t give you greater control over it; then meteorologists could have kept this past winter from being record-breaking-ly miserable in New England, Billy Beane would win every world series, and the “Grizzly Man” would still be alive.

That’s why understanding why we want something unhealthy is usually a huge waste of time; not only doesn’t it stop us from reaching for it, but the quest for further understanding becomes one more excuse for not stopping our pursuit in the first place.

So ask yourself whether you’ve been chasing one-sided relationships with self-centered people for many years. If the answer is yes, and you’ve been wondering why for almost as many years, then the answer is that you’ve got a bad habit that’s hard to break. It doesn’t matter why you do it, only that you stop doing it as soon as possible. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Reality Low

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 30, 2015

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The feeling that your life isn’t real—either because it’s not what you expected or wanted it to be, you live more in your head, or because you literally believe in The Matrix—can be disturbing or comforting. For some people, the disconnect comes from liking imaginary worlds more, while others start feeling their reality is false when it unexpectedly disappoints or traumatizes them. Whether life feels real or not, however, should not determine how you live it. Decide what’s important in terms of the value you place on your work or relationships, however real they feel. Then you’ll find meaning in what you do, no matter what color pill you decide to swallow.
Dr. Lastname

Reality, when it’s not rotten, is tedious. Since I was a kid, I’ve escaped into fantasy. This usually involves listening to loud music and playing the same film clip for hours while I pace and daydream about things that could not possibly happen. You might think I live in my parents’ basement, but no–I have a career in the one realistic endeavor I ever pursued successfully plus a nice home in a big city. I thought I would love my career, but I chose the wrong thing. I have never been able to pursue any goals for myself that I did not deem necessary for my continued existence. So, I can run my branch but I never learned martial arts, drawing, dancing, playing chess, or anything I do in my daydreams etc. It’s also difficult to make friends (surprise!) and as my life experience is so unlike theirs, it’s very hard for me to understand what my friends are feeling when they relate their woes. I just pretend to. I have not had a “boyfriend” in 20 years–I don’t tell them that. It’s a strange compulsion. Nothing makes me happier than to daydream in this repetitive way; however, I’m perfectly aware it has blighted my life. I never did drugs, got drunk, etc. I do this. My sister used to do it too but just grew out of it on her own. My goal is to stop this weird daydreaming and pursue the couple realistic goals I have in the second half of my life.

People talk about daydreaming as if it’s a way of discovering and connecting with what you really want to do, but for certain people it’s more of a way to disconnect with what your life really is. As escapes go, it’s less romantic, more witness protection program.

This is because of the way some minds work, namely by turning something creative into a compulsion. It’s possible that, for you, daydreaming about grand achievements while watching the same movie clip over and over is a kind of OCD/rumination that feels good and makes you feel less anxious. It relaxes you, but it also restricts your ability to function in a meaningful way. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Border of Protection

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 12, 2015

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Life is unavoidably dangerous, whether you’re working, dating, or going to a dog show. Instead of getting patriotic and building up your personal arsenal, learn to protect yourself with your mental ability to identify and manage risk. You may decide you can keep yourself safe by being more exacting or by being less obsessive; either way, respect the value of your own standards after weighing your responsibilities and resources. Danger is always there, but considering the risks, not trying to kill them, is your best defense.
Dr. Lastname

I’d like to find a committed partner, especially now that marriage is legal for me and mine, but I’ve just finished a period of intense dating that has left me with a strong desire to be alone. The guys I was dating weren’t bad, crazy, or nasty, they just weren’t that interesting, so even though I knew it wasn’t going to work, I always felt bad about hurting their feelings and cutting things off too quickly, and it all wore me out. My suspicion is that I really should be trying harder and meeting more guys instead of going on too many dates with guys I’m not that into, but I can’t find the energy. I’m not sure whether my goal is to do more dating or just resign myself to being a single guy.

Trying to fix an already busy search for a partner by asking yourself to spend more time dating seems like an odd fix; it’s like trying to make a tough struggle to lose weight easier by sampling more food so you can understand why you can’t eat it. It’s a good strategy for making you want to give up altogether.

The problem isn’t that you’re not putting yourself out there enough, but that you’re not putting your many dates under enough scrutiny; your goals have become reactive to other people’s feelings and not your own priorities. In an effort to protect your dates’ hearts, you’re punishing yourself. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Keep an Even Zeal

Posted by fxckfeelings on February 9, 2015

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Passion, love, and misery are like the rich foods of emotion; trying to banish them from your life altogether is as impossible (and saddening) as attempting to consume them non-stop. Passion especially, like a buttery steak, always gives apparent meaning to life, but too much can push you into taking dumb risks and too little can cause you to undervalue who you are. Ultimately, there are other values that matter more, like thoughtfulness, patience, and fiber, which is why moderation is key. If you can avoid pursuing heavy foods or feelings to excess, and remember the real basics, then they can enrich your life without weighing it down.
Dr. Lastname

What is love? Some might say its a kaleidoscope of happiness, fun, visions coming together of two different personalities to settle for a better future. Love gives you a canvas to paint your future with colors of happiness and joy. For me it was a life changing experience because it happened with someone who was completely different from me. I first thought it could change us for the better¬—two people coming together to create a better future with a scope of mending oneself for the happiness of other, and it didn’t seem a hard task considering the happiness it involved—but I was shattered to learn that it was just a sham. My point of view didn’t matter, the pain didn’t matter, the agony didn’t matter, all that mattered was her nature, her attitude, her look out towards things. It took me four long years to come to this reality but it was too late…all it took was a whisker of a second to wake from that slumber of false hope. When it did it was all too late but for the better of both the individuals because four years of struggle were prevented from turning into a lifelong of pain. My goal is to remain outside the bubble of so-called stigma called LOVE.

To paraphrase the famous Homer Simpson quote about alcohol, love is the cure to and the source of all of life’s problems. It’s given us excellent pop songs, drunk wedding toasts, and, for most people, moments of true happiness. It’s also given us terrible pop songs, sober divorces, and, of course, lessons in true misery.

As such, it’s not unnatural to want to recreate lost love if you feel, as so many do, that it gave meaning and importance to everything you did and do. One way of holding onto it is just expounding on it with all the meaning and emotion the written word can allow, as you’ve done above.

The danger, as you point out, is that love can draw you to someone who has different values, wants different things, and is maybe just not a nice person. It blinds you to dangers and the risk of breakup while offering such a strong illusion of deep meaning. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Faux Self-Opinion

Posted by fxckfeelings on December 4, 2014

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Loserdom, like Asshole™-itis, bigotry, or lupus, is rarely a problem for those who’ve convinced themselves they have it, and often a problem for those who’d never consider themselves susceptible. When you’re lonely, it’s easy to see yourself as a loser, and if you’re living with an Asshole™, it’s easy to get won over by his belief that everybody’s a loser but him. So, if you feel like a loser, check to see if you’re being unfair to yourself or too fair to somebody else. Then rate yourself carefully, give yourself the respect you deserve, and lose your bullshit diagnosis for good.
Dr. Lastname

I escape into work, but really don’t have much of a life. I’ve worked in city government for 10 years and, since I’m really shy and not very attractive to girls, I haven’t had much success cultivating a social life, but I’m enthusiastic about my job. I enjoy mentoring younger co-workers, volunteering at city shelters, and coaching youth sports. My boss says she doesn’t know what she’d do without me, but it worries me that everyone else seems to have a personal life and I don’t. My goal is to live a more normal, balanced life and have a family.

Many of the expectations of a “normal” life are, generally speaking, sensible—going to college, getting married, and having a career are all smart things to pursue—but they’re also not possible or just desirable for everyone. Given that “normal” people also spend tens of thousands of dollars on weddings and line up overnight to buy new telephones, however, being “normal” is often overrated.

Very good people can have very real impediments to normalcy, like lacking some skill, or living in the wrong place with people who are on a different wavelength, so they don’t get the same social opportunities as others who may be much less talented or hardworking. They aren’t weird or inferior, just unlucky or unique. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Doubt on the Town

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 6, 2014

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The sad irony behind most stupid decisions is how much careful, intelligent thinking goes into convincing ourselves that the moronic, often-fearful choice we’re about to make is somehow the right thing to do. This is never truer than when it comes to relationships, when we can talk ourselves out of the game entirely or into a commitment that we’re bound to lose. So don’t waste needed brainpower to substantiate the feelings that tell you whether you should start going out or finish by tying the knot. Look at your basic abilities, decide to do what’s meaningful, and you’ll wind up making the smart choice.
Dr. Lastname

I’m pretty good at being an independent lady but I do get lonely sometimes. I’ve thought of making more of an effort to date, but I’m not in great shape right now—I messed up my foot last year, so I went from not-thin to just fat—and it really bothers me that I haven’t take good care of myself and lost the weight when it’s really my responsibility. I feel I can’t expect to get together with a healthy guy if I’m not healthy myself, because I can’t get someone to love me if I don’t love myself, and it’s visibly obvious that I don’t. My goal is to figure out a way to get healthy so I can start dating without shame.

If your main concern is showing the world you take care of yourself, then being an Asshole to yourself is not a great way to start.

Taking care of yourself means being a good friend to yourself, and right now, you’re being the kind of friend who’s in high school, evil, and telling you, for your own good, that you’re like The Even Biggest Loser. You could do better in high school, and you can do better by yourself now.

After all, your basic values about mutual respect don’t depend on health, but on character. So, unless you’re about to bungee jump or enter a crowded elevator, don’t pay attention to any so-called weight requirement. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Learning Swerve

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.
Dr. Lastname

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 »

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