August 17: Problem solved. I laid in bed and felt sick all day and then P came and brought me lunch, a huge chocolate chip cookie and Harper’s magazine. We talked some more and played. And then after he left, he called me to tell me something really wonderful, and I returned it with something mean. He said, “I really love the way you interact with Jackie. I think you’re a great influence on her. And I hope that if you ever decide to leave, you’d remain in her life and mine.” Read more…
Sometimes we lose sight of our priorities. Or maybe, we don’t exactly know what our priorities are. Especially when it comes to dating. We can often meet a really good looking guy who lavishes a mound of attention upon us and, poof! Just like that, we forget what we’re looking for, what we need and what will ultimately serve us well in the long run. Worse yet, we can easily get caught up in a fantasy of what we think we want and need. For the sake of immediate gratification, we forget all our values and fling ourselves into what we hope will be the relationship of our dreams.
For love addicts, we tend not to know our values. We tend to have a very immature, superficial idea of love that is not so much based on health, as it is on neediness, an urgency to fill a void, and a desperation to use people and relationships as a way to cope or worse, to avoid the reality of our lives.
But having a healthy relationship takes patience and the courage to say no to the wrong people. It takes a strong sense of self to be able to recognize good qualities in others, and not so good qualities. And above all, it takes the determination to love yourself to the point where you want healthy people, places and things in your life.
So, how do you know good qualities from bad? How do you recognize healthy people versus unhealthy? Well, you look for people who do this…and not that…
- DOES THIS: Asks you out on a date. NOT THIS: Waits around for you to ask him out on a date
- DOES THIS: Calls you and/or calls you back NOT THIS: Doesn’t call you or call you back, and if he does it’s five days later.
- DOES THIS: Makes time for you, wants to spend time with you. NOT THIS: barely has time for you and when he does it’s usually in the bedroom.
- DOES THIS: Lives a clean, healthy life. NOT THIS: smokes, drinks to excess, does drugs, doesn’t face or deal with his health issues, eats poorly, etc.
- DOES THIS: Takes care of himself financially. NOT THIS: Still lives with parents, borrows money, in debt, doesn’t work, or doesn’t have a stable job where he can pay his bills and pay for a roof over his head without depending on others.
- DOES THIS: Communicates well. NOT THIS: Bottles everything up and won’t talk, or communicates only minimally, refuses to face emotional discussion, poor listener.
- DOES THIS: Lives an honest, respectful life. NOT THIS: Cheats, lies, is evasive and deceptive, dishonest in business, in personal matters or with strangers.
- DOES THIS: Treats you (and others) with respect, care, kindness and dignity NOT THIS: treats you poorly, ignores you, avoids you, repeatedly unkind to you, controls you, etc.
- DOES THIS: Enjoys you and likes you for who you are, not what you could or should be NOT THIS: Expects you to be something or someone you are not.
- DOES THIS: Is a genuinely happy person NOT THIS: is a genuinely unhappy or angry person
- DOES THIS: Feels and acts passionate towards you NOT THIS: doesn’t feel or act passionate towards you, withholds sex, love or affection, cold or inappropriate behavior, fear of intimacy
- DOES THIS: Is a grown up and acts like one. NOT THIS: is immature and refuses to grow up.
Who hasn’t had this thought pop into her head: If only my boyfriend saw a therapist, everything would be different.
I can’t tell you how many times I wished this exact thing. And why did I wish it? Because I believed that after all the self-help books I’d read, therapy was the answer. Not to my problems, of course, but my boyfriend’s. And if my bf would just go to a therapist, said therapists would back me up and convince my guy that he needs to change, (just like I said he should) or he would risk losing a relationship with me.
Looking back over all the men I dated, only two were willing to go to therapy “for me,” my ex husband and G. Both therapy sessions went horribly wrong.
The first time my ex husband and I went to a therapist he lied about his cheating and had no real interest in changing his behavior. He merely did it to appease me, and probably because he felt bullied by me and just gave in. I was desperately trying to save my marriage, singlehandedly, and the only advice we left with was “You two need to date again.” This didn’t exactly resolve anything. But, it did delay the inevitable. And the inevitable came with a flip flop. It was now me who wanted out of the relationship. And so, the second time we went, it was on his instance to save the marriage. But, by the time I got to therapy, I was completely unable to be “convinced” to stay in the marriage and we divorced shortly after.
When I dated G, I was in therapy because I was unable to accept G’s “flaws” and I was trying to figure out why I was always so frustrated and depressed. He always said he loved me, and he called all the time. What was my problem? Well, my problem was he smoked pot and never wanted to have sex with me. So, I thought if I could get him to meet with a therapist, she would convince him these things were interfering in our relationship and he should change his ways to save the relationship.
This didn’t work. He liked smoking pot and he had an extremely low libido (most likely because of the pot), and he had no desire to change.
So what did these men learn from therapy? Probably nothing. What did I learn? That’s more important here. I learned that just because a well-educated relationship specialist understands what it takes to have a healthy relationship, they could not convince someone to love me or to BE what I wanted them to be. Just because my therapist and I agreed that my boyfriend’s behavior was not acceptable, it didn’t mean he also agreed or even cared. And therein lies the problem.
Therapy doesn’t convince anyone to love you, especially if they don’t want to be convinced. And believing in therapy as a way to “fix” a relationship that is founded on neglect, disrespect, avoidance or any other ingrained behavior is wishful, unrealistic thinking.
Therapy ONLY works when two people are committed to each other and when those two people share the same value in working on the relationship. More importantly, what we learn from therapy is often something we don’t particularly want to learn: that we cannot control or convince others to love us. And the “everything will be different” fantasy typically comes when you ditch the guy who clearly doesn’t love you and replace him for one who does. And, surprise! When that happens, you typically find yourself not needing therapy at all!
August 13: I have to say that yesterday was the closest I felt to P in a long while. He touched me all over, and massaged my neck, and took care of me, all because I had an excruciating headache. And I mean excruciating. He called me in the afternoon and asked if I could come down and eat with him since he didn’t have to be at work until 10:30pm. I said sure, but once I got there, the headache turned ugly and I felt horrible. And yet, it felt so nice to have his hands on me like that. He even insisted on driving. We ended up at Applebees eating bad food that we regretted eating. Before that, I…Read More
My life has been somewhat chaotic for the past several years. In 2013 I quit working with my brothers at our company because I felt I was being treated poorly, and so in July 2014, I started my own business (a smoothie bar inside a fitness center). But, after a year, I felt trapped and wanted to do more with my life. So, I sold the business in September 2015. From September to the beginning of November I had no job and so, my goal was to return to grad school to get my Master’s in Counseling. During that time of no work I was sick almost every day, fought with my husband, felt depressed and was bored out of my mind. But, on November 6, the president of our company died, which thrust me right back into having to work with my brothers. While I was once again in a situation where I was being bullied, mistreated, ignored and hated, I eventually felt as though I had a greater purpose–to save my company. All the whining I did in between jobs, all the panic attacks and anxiety and yelling at my husband, all vanished once I had a huge problem outside myself–once I had something to overcome.
I see my love addiction the same way, and you, as well, should consider the idea that your love addiction, or, at the least, your PoA (person of addiction) may fill a much needed purpose. He or she might be helping to distract you from yourself, so you no longer have to deal with JUST YOU. So often we create problems or hold on to problems as security. No matter how bad they get, they seem to offer a painful “thrill” to an often humdrum existence.
I don’t know how to resolve this need in me to have a “struggle” or a problem. And, I am not so sure it’s an entirely bad thing IF I work towards solving the problem and making the problem my life’s work. Despite the pain I must endure from my one brother who regularly attacks me, I am struggling to help rebuilt a company. And when I focus on that, I feel good about myself.
So, ask yourself, if your problem or struggle is a dead end or has a worthy purpose. What parts of it are you in control of? What is out of your control? If you are struggling to convince your PoA that he should love you but you continuously find yourself being ignored or neglected, this may not be a “healthy” problem to solve, but rather a toxic one that could be draining you.
If my only problem was to fight with my brothers, I would say this problem of mine was a toxic one. In fact, that’s how I felt in 2013. I was unable to make any changes in the company (because the president was still alive), and so, the problem of dealing with my brothers was mostly beyond my control. This time around, my brothers are still beyond my control, but I now see a PURPOSE hidden within the problem. I only see this purpose because I am able to see REAL AND POSITIVE RESULTS from the work I am doing. So, for now, I will take on this problem as a healthy one. Yes, it is distracting me from myself, but it is also giving my life purpose.
Is your love addiction giving your life purpose? Or is it sucking the life out of you? Choose your problems wisely.
Here’s the year in review, folks!
Here’s an excerpt:
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 110,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.
Long day yesterday. Spent the morning on the computer. Got the boys lunch and then my sister-in-law was over by 1:30. We were at the airport by 2:30. We waited two hours until they finally cleared customs at 4:30. We didn’t get home until almost 7 due to traffic. We had a quick dinner while Abuelo and Abuela played with the kids. They left by 7:30!
I talked to P a bit at night. We laughed. I tried to just keep things light. He so resists help though. He’s cutting back on cable and I said, “Well, you can always come here and watch TV.” He said, “Or just go down to the bar and watch.” Dear Lord.
I feel like telling him that he is so out of touch with himself. And almost completely incapable of handling a relationship [Irony?!]. It’s sad. It’s sad when a man holds on to…Read More
Let’s start here: rejection scares the hell out of most of us. Agreed? It’s what keeps us from going up to strangers and asking them out on a date. It’s what keeps us from going on stage and speaking publicly, for fear we’ll be boo’ed. And it keeps some of us from doing the things we love, for fear that we will be rejected by others who might be doing them better. But the worst kind of rejection is when we are rejected by whom we consider to be the most important person in our lives–our spouse, our partner, our love interest, our crush. Rejection from this person is the absolute worst, because let’s be honest, he or she is the one who defines and validates us and gives us our worth. When he reject us, we feel worthless. And this is where things go wrong. No one defines us. And no one validates our worth, except us.
But, back to rejection. It happens. And there’s virtually no way on earth to avoid it. So…how do we handle it?
For starters, we need to change our perception of what rejection logically, actually is, not what we “feel” it is. So, take the gut-wrenching, terrible, awful, dreadful, unbearable feelings you feel about rejection and switch over to using your brain. Are you in brain mode now? OK, read on…
1. Rejection is neither good nor bad. It’s neutral. And yet we typically assign it as something negative. But, just for argument’s sake, let’s start to look at it as a positive force in your life. First off, it won’t kill you. It’s not a disease which can make you ill. It doesn’t take any money, clothing, shelter or food away from you. It doesn’t physically beat you up. And it doesn’t change you in any way shape or form other than help redirect you towards a new life. It’s often disguised as a loss, only to, later down the road, be a gain, as most people will tell you. So, no matter how you “feel” about rejection’s evil powers, try to keep things a bit more clear. Rejection, is neutral. At best, it’s a positive force that pushes us to redefine our lives and move on. The more we stay focused on the neutrality or positivity of rejection, the better.
2. Rejection isn’t personal. This concept is tricky, and one that people have the hardest time understanding. Let me say it again: rejection is NOT PERSONAL. I’m sure you believe that if you were personally rejected on the grounds that your boyfriend doesn’t like you anymore and even left you for someone else, then this is personal. But it’s not! He’s not rejecting you as much as he is opting to choose another life for himself. She’s not rejecting you as much as she is selecting a different path to walk down. And while that may seem like rejection from your end, there’s actually a much deeper issue at hand. People come together, and ultimately move apart based on their set of Values. A value is a thing (a principle, a belief, a standard of behavior) that we regard as essential to our being, so essential, in fact, that without it, we feel lacking or wrong or worthless. It’s a MUST HAVE, not a want or a wish. And when you reject someone, or they reject you, it’s typically based on values, and not much else. When people’s values are not aligned, the healthy response is rejection of the relationship. This of course, doesn’t happen in unhealthy relationship for love addicts. Why? Because love addicts tend not to know their values, and because the idea of holding onto the relationship is far greater than any personal values. So, even if someone is completely wrong for a love addict, they will still stay–out of fear, desperation, loneliness, whatever. So, start to see rejection as a healthy thing, a gift the other person is giving you by setting you free to make another choice for yourself. Remember, no one validates you or defines who you are. Only you do. So, get cracking! Figure out who you are. The more you know you, the more you can find others like you, who are less likely to reject you, based on shared values.
3. Rejection is a huge part of nature. Animals select one mate over another based on instinct to help perpetuate their species. Animals don’t take rejection personally or cry if they weren’t selected by one over another. Instinctually, they know that rejection from one frees them up to make more natural selections with another. They don’t feel the pain of rejection because rejection is not painful. Remember number one? It’s neutral! To animals, it’s a signal to start looking elsewhere for a more appropriate mate.
When we think of our own bodies, think of all the things it rejects on its own. If you drink too much alcohol, say, or eat contaminated food, the body rejects these things by vomitting or getting sick. If we catch a virus or a bacterial infection, the body rejects these “bugs” by getting a fever. If we have a foreign object inside our bodies (like a cancerous tumor), the body uses all its resources to either get rid of it or protect against it by building a calcium encasement around it. A miscarriage is also nature’s way of rejecting a fetus that may not be able to sustain life outside the womb. Even when an apparent good thing enters our bodies– a flower, a diamond, a particularly beautiful object, a heart transplant, our bodies will have an extreme reaction to it and reject it because it doesn’t belong in our system.
When we think of rejection in this way, and remove the emotional, negative feelings we associate with rejection, it helps us to understand that rejection is not personal. It is simply nature’s way of redirecting you and letting you know that you do not fit in this particular person’s world–not because you are bad, no good, worthless, ugly or unlovable. It simply means you fit somewhere else. And that’s a good thing. Rejection is a gift that allows you to consider new options– a more natural, organic path that you are currently denying yourself, if you hang on.
Case in point: I dated a pretty nice guy. He was attracted to me; I was attracted to him. So, we tried to have a relationship, as is the natural course of attraction. But soon enough, after the initial high of us being together started to wear off, I started to notice his avoidance of me. Why was he rejecting me? I’m a great catch! 😉 To make a long story short, he started to feel uncomfortable with me. He was into smoking pot, and listening to the Dead, and I was so not into that stuff. He felt I had little respect for his lifestyle and in a way he was right. When he mentioned this, I actually tried to change, to be more open and understanding of his likes. I so desperately wanted the relationship to work that I was willing to become someone else! But it was only a matter of time before I started to feel uncomfortable and untrue to my nature. Even though we both wished it would work between us; even though we were both highly attracted to each other, our lifestyles and personalities, in the end, didn’t really mesh. No one did anything wrong. No one was worthless or unlovable. We simply were not meant for each other. Period. And yet, I still felt rejected until I was willing to accept that that’s what dating is all about. It’s a risk we take to decide whether we should remain with a person or move on. And it was clearly time to move on in this case.
You can think about it like this too: how many of you have had multiple relationships? How many times have you said, “This is the one!” only to find that someone better has come along? If you or your ex had not rejected the relationship, it would not have freed you up to be where you are today. Rejction is natural! Try to imagine yourself as a salesman. Even if you had the greatest product in the world, you still can’t convince every person on the planet to buy your product. No matter how great it is, not everyone will think so!
We don’t have that much control over who will like us and who won’t. We might find someone attractive, but they might not share the same feelings. We can’t take this personally! How many times has someone shown interest in you and you’ve turned them down? Maybe you didn’t find them attractive. Maybe you didn’t like their style or their personality. Just because you rejected them doesn’t mean they are unlovable or unattractive or worthless. The same logic applies to your situation.
Rejection is not something you can control. So, you might as well stop sweating the natural selection that is happening. What you can control, however, is how you perceive your self worth and whether or not you are selecting a mate who is more in line with who you are and what your values are. Are you kind, friendly, honest, loving? Are you family-oriented, or do you prefer hanging out in clubs every night? Do you believe in loyalty? Are you religious? What are your values? Now is the time to get to know yourself . The more you do, the better chance you have of finding someone less likely to reject you.
You know I’m always preaching about availability right? And my most important point is that if you get into a relationship with an unavailable person, you’re the one who is really unavailable. I can’t remember where, but I read a really fabulous article on how we make ourselves available. And one of the best “feng shui” things we can do is get rid of all the guy “friends,” and the “friends with benefits” and the ambivalent ones who haven’t made their move in two years. It turns out we tend to keep characters in our lives like this merely to pass the time and help us wait out the loneliness and boredom until someone real comes along. Trouble is, these types of guys do two detrimental things: they keep you from being 100% available by driving off potential suitors, and they don’t allow you to experience the true sense of aloneness that we all must, if we are to appreciate living a more authentic life.
What would happen if you got rid of these hangers on? What are you afraid of? Let go…
The other big move you can make to be more available is to stop dating or investing your time in unavailable partners. They waste your time, they keep you at a constant “safe” distance and they are unable to commit to a healthy relationship by holding up their end of the commitment. When you date a person like this, it leaves you unavailable for someone who is truly willing to love you and be committed to you.
I’ve had a few conversations this week with readers who find themselves in the common and oftentimes unavoidable trap of believing that “all men are unavailable.” I too thought ALL men were unavailable. I thought that all my life, and no, I never dated one healthy person prior to D. Not one (and I dated many!)
When you live in poverty, you see the world through the eyes of a hungry person. When you live in a crime-infested world, you see the world through the eyes of a criminal. And when you are a love addict, you see the world through the eyes of a person who has a very narrow, desperate sense of who people are.
This is a false belief. And when you have this false belief it gives you the freedom to continue to settle for unavailable avoidant partners. If you believe no one is available, then you will settle for unavailable.
My suggestion: surround yourself with healthy people, healthy couples. Familiarize yourself with what a healthy man looks like. I know that for many years I tried to avoid being in situations where I was in the presence of a healthy couple. They kinda made me want to gag! They made me jealous and feel like my own life was lacking. But the truth is, I needed to learn what to look for in a healthy partner because I had no clue.
Last night was pitiful and divine. I read my journal from September 2000 when Liam was born up until we moved into this house. It was triggered by Marie and I talking about New Orleans, so I went back to research my 24-hours there and my rather brief affair with Randy the male nurse when I was separated from R. I had met Randy online playing one of those ridiculous roleplay games that R wanted me to get involved in, but then, basically moved out and dumped me. I was left playing alone until I met Randy.
Reading through those days sickens me. I was a loser. I was married to a loser, and I was dating a loser. The only flowers rising up out of that ugly evil bad world of darkness were my two beautiful sons.
After hours of reading through those pages, I realized I’m sick of men. Of trying to please them, of not being treated with dignity and respect. I’m not sure I will ever get over the trauma that R caused. No one should have to put up with that shit, ever. There is no where to turn for consolation from that sad life, and yet, here am. I am still standing.
But am I? The more I thought about it the more I realized …Read More