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Fail with pride.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Action Blues

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).
Dr. Lastname

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 »

Fake Yourself Comfortable

Posted by fxckfeelings on February 2, 2015

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We’ve said many times that it rarely feels right to do the right thing, and vice versa; that’s why making a smart commitment can feel horrifying while using heroin can feel super terrific. So when you have a tough decision to make, don’t pay too much attention to how comfortable your choice makes you, or those around you, feel. Consult your values and do what’s right, and prepare to live with discomfort if that’s what being smart/sober requires.
Dr. Lastname

I’m very happy with my marriage, and my wife isn’t pressuring me to have children, but I know she’d like them and time is running out. I have nothing against having kids—we’ve got enough money, and there’s nothing I think is more important in my life—but I’ve always been anxious, and I know that having kids will make me even more stressed out. I’ll always be worrying that we’re doing the wrong thing, because that’s the way my mind works. My wife thinks I’ll be OK, but I know that my self-doubts never stop. My goal is to figure out a way I can be comfortable having kids.

Very few people know with 100% clarity that it’s time to have kids, and most of those have an outside source, from a cult leader to a positive pregnancy test, making the call for them. Since very few anxious people are ever 100% sure about anything, however, not even a fetus or a Svengali is guaranteed to set your mind straight.

As you describe yourself, you’ve always been too stressed to think about what you’d like to do, focusing more on your worry about whether or not you’ll do things wrong. That may make it hard for you to get enthusiastic about starting a family (or anything else, for that matter). WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Icky Dumped

Posted by fxckfeelings on February 27, 2014

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Dating is one of those painful, hard-to-control activities, like losing weight and fighting cancer, where the only way not to feel like a total failure is not to have to do it at all. For daters, success means landing a good partner, but, until that happens, you will probably find yourself being too passive about letting go of a bad partner and/or feeling rejected when it doesn’t work out, or being too sensitive to hurting bad candidates, even with good reason. Instead of letting the dating process get you down, review your standards for dating honestly and safely. Then, when things don’t work out, you’ll do what’s best for you and your non-partner, and achieve a little success, even if the struggle continues.
Dr. Lastname

I’m almost 40 and I’ve never had a relationship. I’ve been in love three times, but none of these relationships were ‘real’ relationships. Love number 1 was when I was in my 20’s I was seeing a guy for 10 years, on and off, but our relationship never got off the ground (no real dates or romance, just drunken hook ups every weekend). He turned out to be gay, so no major surprise there I suppose. Number 2 was a close friend who asked me to wait for him while he got through the pressures of work and nursing a parent through a fatal illness. After waiting two years, and still hopelessly in love with him, he told me he changed his mind and didn’t want to get together with me. Finally, love number 3 is a childhood friend of mine who I reconnected with a few years ago and who has liked me for years. He wanted a relationship with me but I wanted to wait because I was still a bit burned from number 2. We remained friends however and over time our friendship deepened and grew and I started to see him as more than a good friend, but when I told him I was interested in more than just a casual hook up, he disappeared! I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I can’t seem to move past the casual into a real relationship with someone. I was sexually abused as a child and I’ve had psychotherapy to address that, then again after the gay ex-“boyfriend.” Basically I’ve been in therapy for about 12 years. I’m really at the end of my tether now because something must be causing me to choose men that cannot commit and I really want to be in love, married and with children and time is running away from me now. I don’t date lots of men and I’ve never been one for one night stands. The one thing all three “boyfriends” had in common was I was friends with them first and my feelings developed into a deeper love from there so I know it could be years before I meet someone and fall in love again seeing as I’m the type of girl that needs this basis of friendship to build on. I’ve tried dating agencies for the past year and I haven’t had any luck, plus I socialize every weekend and I have no problem meeting and chatting to guys, it’s just none of them interest me too much. My goal is to change this pattern.

Being unlucky, be it in love or business or the lottery, always feels personal, but never really is. Bad luck can happen to anyone, no matter how old you are, what you deserve, and how gay your ex might be.

You have lots to offer and, from what you’ve said, weren’t too far off the mark in the people you chose for love or how you behaved with them. Unfortunately, dating guys is always like playing musical chairs with a substantial chairs shortage. The sad news about the birds and bees is that human females often have to deal with the inverse suitable male-to-female ratio that bees have. Even then, it’s lonely being queen. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Sexual Mistakening

Posted by fxckfeelings on December 2, 2013

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There are millions of reasons that being an adolescent girl is absolutely the worst—their peers are monsters, their teachers are idiots, their crushes are never as cute as vampires—but all of these issues are made worse by the fact that nobody seems able to help them. After all, when you’re trying to help a young girl deal with hormones and bad habits, not only will a rescue attempt possibly alienate the person you’re trying to help, it may offend the people whose help you need or let them off the hook when you need them to take more responsibility. In any case, assume that, in addition to giving them love and understanding, you must also be prepared to accept limited resource and political realities. Good rescues require good management, especially when you’re helping someone during the worst time in their life.
Dr. Lastname

I’m worried about the kind of attention my granddaughter has been getting lately and how my son and his wife are handling it. She’s a terrific girl who has always done well in school, but she started going through puberty right before junior high. Now she has a gorgeous figure and is quite excited by all the attention she’s getting without quite understanding what it means. I know her parents have explained sex to her, as if there was anything they could tell her she hasn’t seen on TV, but I don’t think she gets what boys expect of her and just seems to like the romance and secret meetings with cool kids who wouldn’t look at her before. When I bring it up with her parents, they tell me they know they can trust her and they don’t believe in infantilizing her and ruining a good relationship. My goal is to help them be more appropriately protective.

When it comes to expressing concern to someone about their child, it’s nearly impossible not to imply that something’s wrong with that someone’s parenting, the child’s behavior, or their relationship. The line between concern and criticism isn’t just razor thin, but the criticism side is filled with angry wolverines, landmines, and open sewers.

Fortunately, your view isn’t blaming, but you’re still in a precarious position addressing your granddaughter’s sexuality and appearance. Frank talks about sex never seem to cover the unique burdens of being beautiful, and an adult trying to impart wisdom to a tween about image and perception is like trying to give your father advice on how to grill meats; you can’t educate someone who’s convinced of their own expertise. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Shame Difference

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 11, 2013

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Not being accepted is worse than just a terrible feeling, because it’s about who you are; it’s the reason people do everything from buy new faces to entire self-help libraries, to do whatever they can to become something or someone they don’t have to be ashamed of. Unfortunately, radically changing yourself (without the use of a scalpel, at least) is highly unlikely, so most people save their money and do everything they can to avoid non-acceptance and react negatively when it’s unavoidable. Whether you’re afraid of judgment if your true self is revealed, however, or suffer from it without hope of improvement, don’t let it define you. Build your own standards of behavior and measure your progress by how well you live up to them. Then you can accept the potential pain of non-acceptance as a sad part of life and the cost of being your own person and reject the cost of surgery and The Secret.
Dr. Lastname

I know I drink too much and I’d like to get it under control, but I don’t want anyone to know about my problem. I don’t know what my wife would say, even though she probably already knows something’s wrong with me, but I’m afraid of what she’d think of me if I came to her to talk about it. I can’t imagine going to meetings because I’m afraid of running into someone I know. I really want to cut back, but I can’t face anyone to ask for help.

It’s normal to feel ashamed of a drinking problem, and the shame, along with dishonesty and secrecy, is one of the main ingredients of alcoholism. Just add the booze itself, shake or stir, and serve in a salt-rimmed class.

That’s why waiting until the shame disappears before facing your wife and talking about your problem is a bad plan. The more shame you feel, the less help you get, the more you do to be ashamed of, and the less likely the conversation is going happen in your lifetime. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Love Savings

Posted by fxckfeelings on May 13, 2013

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While it’s said that you only hurt the ones you love, it would be more honest to say that you only hurt the ones who love you. What’s worse, that hurt usually comes from pushing them away when they’re trying too hard to help. Trying to redeem or heal someone, or yourself, through caring and communication usually does less rescuing and more repulsing. After all, if one or both people can’t consistently manage their own responsibilities, honest talk and helpfulness does little but make excuses and turn love into prolonged anguish. Develop a reasonable set of standards about what a person should do to take care of him/herself, before you offer or ask for help. Otherwise, you’ll earn all too well how true the “help until it hurts” saying is.
Dr. Lastname

My friend and I have feelings for each other, which are no secret to either of us—we had kissed and had even gotten close to having sex but when it came down to being completely honest about our feelings we couldn’t do it. I knew this was unhealthy but I was scared because not only are we both guys but we both had a lot of issues when it came to love. He would say things like, “I don’t know what I want,” and “Don’t fall in love with me.” It was confusing because before that he would be asking me to “make love to him” and had even said, “I love you” twice. I know that part of it was fear of being with another guy. Then, two months ago, I got into a car accident because I was drunk. He was there but, luckily, no one was hurt. Now he says he’s forgiven me, but he has also picked up a girlfriend, which was a shock to me and it hurt. In the beginning we had great chemistry but then we lost that when we stopped being honest with each other. I believe it happened when feelings started getting intense. I want for us to stop hurting each other and start being honest. I’m not sure how to do this and it is breaking my heart. I wouldn’t mind being his friend if he would just stop playing games or whatever this is with me. Is he just confused or being cruel? I can’t make up my mind.

Hollywood wisdom is that women don’t like Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but given how far-fetched your average romantic comedy is, that’s simply untrue. A movie about two people with great chemistry overcoming impossible circumstances by having a heart-to-heart and ending up happily ever after is built on a reality so false, it makes The Hobbit look plausible.

While that good, honest talk solves all romantic problems in TV/movie fantasyland, frustration like what you’re experiencing in real life is more often due to the other things that you’ve mentioned troubling you and your friend: confusion, fear, and uncertainty about who each of you wants to be with and who you want to be. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Balk Therapy

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 14, 2013

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Most of us feel driven to help someone who’s in pain, whether they want it or not, but as sitcoms, Jodie Foucault books, and alcoholics have tried to teach us over and over again, stepping in to relieve or prevent suffering isn’t always a good idea. The sad reality is that lots of pain can’t be helped, and the sufferer is the only one who can make the tough decisions required to manage that pain effectively. Helping, then, is often less a matter of providing relief and more of encouraging people to ignore pain that they can’t change and take credit for the good things they do about it. The outcome isn’t as dramatic as it is when you attempt to rescue someone, but it’s often a lot more meaningful for everyone involved.
Dr. Lastname

I’m a resident advisor in a college dorm (it’s free room and board, and I’m a psych grad student, so it’s training of sorts), but I’m stuck because I don’t know how to help one of the kids on my floor. He’s severely depressed and it’s complicated by the fact that his parents, who are Middle Eastern, don’t believe in mental illness and think he’s supposed to just get over it, so they won’t pay for treatment and would probably accuse him of shaming the family if they knew he got it. For a couple years, he was cutting his arms while keeping it a secret and not letting it affect his grades. Lately he says he’s stopped cutting but often thinks of suicide and sometimes gets into a strange, spacey state of mind where he’s caught himself standing on balconies and thinking about jumping. He’s a good kid and he denies being traumatized (I think he might be in the closet, and with his parents, I understand why he’s afraid to come out), but he obviously needs help. My goal is to find him the help he needs.

Before trying to help someone who’s suicidal and restricted by his own beliefs from getting help, you’ve got to remind yourself that your powers are sharply limited, and that, even under the best circumstances—if you had a practice and he was a willing patient—his case would be a challenge. This is the stuff they don’t teach you in school, or you’d switch your degree to finance.

You can coach him on his options, but the alternatives are all painful and there’s no guarantee of relief, so don’t expect to make him feel better; what you can do, however, is help him see his choices as meaningful and positive. In other words, if the desire to heal others is what’s driving your degree, it’s time to begin your coursework for Life is Unfair 101. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Suspect Sexuality

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 8, 2012

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On the pie chart of what goes into a healthy relationship, sex should never be the biggest slice; that’s putting the most emphasis on the one element of a relationship over which people have the least control. Besides, the fact that it can ignite all your circuits or trigger vast yearnings doesn’t mean it will find you, or make you, a good long-term partner. If your partner is loyal, caring, and reliable, then how frequently you get a piece shouldn’t take the biggest piece of the pie.
Dr. Lastname

My 34-year-old husband is a wonderful, sexy, kind, sensitive, clever man. Fourteen years ago, however, he had a severe meth addiction that got him in jail. After ten years sober, he started drinking a few years ago, but, having worked in the addiction field, I don’t think the drinking is an issue at all, though I do think the meth has really screwed with this head. What he does have an issue with is intimacy and sex. We have a wonderful relationship so we’ve talked extensively about the problems we have—erectile dysfunction. He says that the meth fucked with his head sexually, and that it made it very difficult for him to have “normal,” i.e., non-aggressive sex. Before me, he found sex fine with women he was not emotionally connected with, but as soon as feelings came in, the sex became more difficult. Early in our relationship, sex wasn’t an issue, but as soon as we got engaged, and then married—it became very difficult. He’s warm and loving, and doesn’t want to be ‘aggressive’ with me, which means he can rarely get it up. We kiss and touch a lot, but it’s getting harder and harder to deal with; I feel rejected, he doesn’t feel like a good husband or a ‘real’ man, though I tell him every day how much I love him. When we do manage to have sex, it’s beautiful, but he rarely comes, and is rarely hard all the way through, and it’s infrequent. I definitely think it’s a psychological issue, and so does he. He talks about feeling massive anxiety and pressure that he will lose me, and this makes the problem worse. It seems this combination of our (new) marriage, his lousy job, and his past is putting a huge psychological pressure on him. I’m not sure what to do—do we go to therapy together? Him alone? What kind of therapist? How do I deal with this? I’ve been endlessly patient, I’ve snapped and lost my temper, I’ve reassured him, I’ve cried. I love him so much and I want to help him and us, and also make sure that I deal with it right.

The trouble with trying to fix sexuality by understanding its psychological underpinnings is that it turns an inability to perform into a personal failure. As we always say, figuring why something’s wrong isn’t the same as figuring out how to make it right.

Sex aside, you get along well with your husband, who seems like a hardworking guy with the strength of character to stick with a job he doesn’t like and stay off drugs. You feel respect and affection for one another. So far, so good.

In other words, you have a good marriage, even if he doesn’t have a lot of orgasms. Your relationship has the important stuff, so don’t give sex any more importance than necessary. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Guilted Lovers

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 6, 2011

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The process most humans have for defining our sense of right and wrong develops with time; it starts with determining whether or not our parents are mad at us, goes to roommates, and then spouses (and after that, the law). One part of the process that should extend from cradle to grave (but often doesn’t) is consulting your conscience before you declare guilt or innocence. Sometimes it will protect you from false guilt; other times, it will tell you that, regardless of your rationalization, you’re guilty as hell (better to realize on your own without the law’s help).
Dr. Lastname

I always suspected that I was attracted to women more than to men, but I liked my husband, and we’ve been good companions for the past 20 years. It hurt him deeply, however, that I wasn’t interested in him sexually and finally, when he pressured me to tell him what was wrong, I told him I thought I might be gay. Now he feels I lied to him, that our marriage has been meaningless, and he wants a divorce. Our life together is over and I feel totally to blame, like I’ve let down my husband and betrayed our marriage. What can I say to make amends?

There’s one important step people sometimes forget to take before making amends– asking yourself what you’ve done wrong.

Obviously, your husband is hurt and he thinks you’re to blame, but, as we’ve said many times, that’s the whole point of marriage—having someone to blame. Real sin requires knowing that you have something to hide, and that doesn’t seem to be the case. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

This Charming Wo/Man

Posted by fxckfeelings on May 17, 2010

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Some of the more interesting personality traits a person can have push hard against the constraints of fidelity; for example, the truly gregarious can’t limit themselves to charming just one person for the rest of their lives. Then again, those traits don’t make being faithful impossible, so before you make assumptions about these traits, be they yours or your partners, give yourself a chance to see if they can be managed, and have been managed, and whether managing them is worth the trouble. The management effort may never be easy, but nobody ever said fidelity was a breeze, and if they did, they were just trying to be charming.
Dr. Lastname

I love how open-hearted and caring my girlfriend is, but I wish she’d be a little bit more selective with who she cares for. Specifically, she’s still in close contact with her ex-boyfriend, his friends, and even his family. I know she’s not interested in him anymore—he has a wife—but they have a large enough presence in her life that I’m jealous, just, well, creeped out. For example, this past winter we had to go to her ex’s parents’ anniversary dinner, which was limited to close family and us. What were we doing there besides feeling awkward (or really, was that just me)? I love this woman and want to marry her, but I don’t want to inherit her ex and his clan as in-laws. My goal is to get her to put up some fences in her personal life.

Remember Dr. Lastname’s first theory of relationships: your partner is who s/he is, and you are who you are. Then add up the pros and cons of partnership while not letting false hopes elbow reality aside.

Plug your situation into that model, and you get your goal. Don’t try to get your socially over-connected girlfriend to put up fences. Instead, figure out whether her style is likely to work for you.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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