Category Archives: relationships

Rough Edges

On Loss

When it happens, there is never a pill strong enough, a sleep deep enough, or a distraction long enough to take away the pain and ache of loss. 
There is no completion to grief. After a while we learn to love it and embrace it because after awhile, it becomes part of who we are. Grief is a part of love, it is loves underbelly. It’s the jagged edges of our day and the dark part of town we are afraid to walk through at night. The deeper we love the more pain of loss. It is truly a testimonial to our own legacy that we have truly loved, and loved deeply. 

Signs your dating an unstable person.

She/He has no history of long term or significant lasting relationships. Most emotionally healthy individuals have a dating history of at least a few relationships that demonstrate some stability or consistency.  When they describe why things didn’t work out there is a sense of balance for both parties. If the person your dating seems to carry immense hostility with ALL their  X’s or if they refer to themselves as always being the “victim” of  prior relationship failures, it’s a big red flag. This is a sign that there is no or little insight into their own prior mistakes or failures. They are quick to blame everyone else for circumstances not working in their favor.

Her/His job history is unstable. And it’s never their fault. You may hear things like: “They don’t like me”, or “I had a horrible boss”. If someone has personality problems they rarely own their mistakes and are quick to blame everyone else. Healthy individuals are able to see areas of themselves that need improvement and they accept responsibility for their part of a problem, and hopefully learn from the experience.

She/He fights or is often rude to authority figures, friends, co-workers, or service staff. Of course everyone experiences a bump in the road now and then with other people. Yet his or her life seem to be filled with excessive drama including frequent interpersonal conflicts that seem petty. Chances are this person has a lot of trouble getting along with people.  They may lack social skills and view others in extremes. More specifically, they will vacillate between highly regarding a person one minute then devaluing them the next. If the person your dating  is struggling to get along with lots of other people then eventually, they are going to have trouble getting along with you. 

She/He irresponsible with money or has excessive debt. Enough said.

She/He has few or poor boundaries. Going through your personal things, checking your phone, going through your wallet or purse, frequently creeping your social media and overly questioning you about pictures or people. Emotionally healthy individuals are respectful of you, your time and your belongings. Your allowed to go at your pace with how, when, how much and if you share. Healthy individuals have enough self esteem and clear perspective to know that kind of behavior is inappropriate. If you feel your personal space is being infringed upon don’t second guess yourself. It’s happening. 

 She/He becomes overly attached too quickly. Emotionally healthy individuals  will remain consistent with seeing their own friends and continue to attend activities even after you begin to date. Their life doesn’t stop. That’s not to say that you aren’t excited to spend time together, or that adjustments aren’t made, by you mutually; there’s a difference. When dating begins a grounded person will maintain a balance between living their own life, maintaining their own interests and activities and sharing time with you. It’s all about balance. If the urge to merge happens too fast it’s a red flag. Remember decisions made together is one thing, being held to an expectation when your not ready is another. 

Nothing takes the place of using your own instincts and following your gut. When you begin dating someone and there are things that bother you, listen. Usually break ups occur over things you probably noticed early on but choose to ignore. It is a lot easier to start a relationship then to get out of one. 

5 Signs your relationship is in trouble.

  1. You find yourself feeling “indifferent” about things. It seems that the things that used to upset you, or that you put emotional energy thinking about has declined. If your the jealous type, maybe you find your much less concerned. Perhaps you aren’t as invested in “fighting” for the time you spent together before. Maybe it doesn’t matter if you spend more time alone or with other people then with your person. Did your birthday or anniversary go by and you didn’t get a card or a hug? This is the beginning of big problem. Feeling indifferent is not a good thing.
  2. Sex has gone down the drain.    Whether it be the frequency, the quality or maybe your overall interest. You just don’t find yourself caring about whether it happens or not. The looks you once gave one another, the flirtatious cute comments, maybe your attention to detail about how you look when you go to bed. 
  3. There is less “coupling”. You don’t do things together as a couple. Think of it like this: if you find you are spending more time alone or with friends then you do together, it’s a red flag. The time that you both carved out to go out to dinner alone, or go on a trip alone together (even a simple day trips), or spending time as a couple to enjoy one another’s company doesn’t happen often if at all. 
  4. Intimacy has become non existent. Don’t confuse intimacy with sex. Intimacy is emotional closeness and connectedness. Your discussions with one another rarely include words like ” I love you” or “I miss you”. There is a lack of emotional vulnerability and openess between you. A distance. When this happens over time; refer back to number one. You stop communicating with one another. Don’t confuse talking with communicating. Communication involves active listening, eye contact, being emotionally present (not folding clothes or staring at a phone while your interacting).
  5. You spend more time unhappy in the relationship then you do feeling happy. This doesn’t mean of course you should feel “happy” all the time. Life throws things at us that we have to manage. Our jobs, our families, money issues, issues with the kids, the washer & dryer on are the fritz. When I say happy, I mean do you feel a sense of being “emotionally fed” in your relationship. Are you receiving the emotional things you need? Are you getting something/anything positive from the relationship for you? Is there a sense of emotional reciprocity? It’s surprising when I ask this question to individuals who are part of a couple how often I receive a blank look. Do you feel loved? Do you feel valued & respected? Do you feel pretty or handsome to by him/her?  Do you feel understood?                     
  6. Do you find yourself frequently fantasizing about living a different life without your spouse? how much time? day dreaming one day or has it become the  secret place you go in your head to feel it’s possible? 

 Intimacy and emotional safety is the cornerstone of predicting longevity in any relationship. If you have intimacy that’s a good thing. if you don’t it may be time to get couples counseling to discuss why one or each of you is not feeling safe and why. This is how emotional and physical affairs happen. 

Marriage can be a precarious place for women in their 40’s…

When a married woman reaches 40, and often older, her life begins to change. The children she longed to have are growing older, her education has begun to pay off as she has developed her own career. She is earning her own money and is contributing to the household income, often significantly. She has developed a broad and strong support network of other women and co-workers who she trusts, and who provide her with emotional support in addition to social outlets. She has matured. She has developed a “net” for herself. She has reached a different place in her life, emotionally.

The decent, loving, stable, nice man she met 15 or 20 years ago, now her husband, is a good father and provider, and yet she discovers that she does not need him in the same ways that she once did.  So why are so many women at this life stage finding themselves questioning their own feelings and asking themselves “Am I crazy for thinking about leaving?” He doesn’t drink heavily, he’s loyal, he is smart, he loves me, he doesn’t run around at night, and we get along. Slowly, her life which use to feel very fullfiling suddenly feels vanilla. When she speaks to her family and friends about her feelings she hears “What is wrong with vanilla?” or “are you crazy? he’s such a good guy and father you should feel lucky! I think there something is wrong with YOU!” So, she tells herself that she just can’t leave. She can’t justify it. And she can’t hurt him. Her feelings are suddenly not as important as these things in the face of logic. She tells herself that she really has no good reason to leave. She just can’t get out. Marriage is a commitment and it has its ups and downs right? And besides things can’t always be exciting that’s unrealistic. There are dips in all relationships. So she waits, hoping things might feel better. She may ask her husband to go to counseling but he’s not really doing anything wrong. It’s her own emerging feelings that are driving her ambivalence. She says to herself “If I can only hang in there another few years until the kids are done with high school”. The safety, consistency, and love, she once felt, the children they have together  shouldn’t it all be enough? These things once gave her great joy. Yet SHE has changed inside. Her emotional needs have changed, she has grown, she finds herself feeling lonely in the marriage. These are some conditions that often create a dangerous and vulnerable environment and for an affair to be set in motion. Women having affairs isn’t talked about much in social media, but it happens quite frequently. Women simply aren’t as comfortable revealing or owning such behavior.

Many of the reasons that woman marry when they are younger are fulfilled by their 40’s. By that time they are much more comfortable in their own skin and more emotionally mature. Later in life they can  provide for themselves, and the emotional needs they had in their 20’s have been realized. They have also become more comfortable and secure with themselves and the world. Emotionally, they have a built a network of friends and support, financially, they have begun to make their own money, martial sex has become flat as the emotional connectedness has diminished. Conversations have become dry and routine. It is often described to me as an ” unexplained emptiness” never felt before. The desire remains to have a partner yet she doesn’t NEED to be with anyone. She is filled with guilt, angst and confusion.

Of course all relationships go through ups and downs. Especially those that span a decade or more. The stress of raising children, financial changes, job changes, experiencing loss through death, and tragedy that is just life. Couples therapy can significantly help with recapturing the intimacy and connectedness lost over time. It cannot however, change an individual’s  sense of who they have become or how they feel. If one person in the marriage is not “all in”, no matter how wonderful their husband or wife may be, it might be time to change direction. Feelings are feelings, needs change, what you have to offer now may not necessarily be enough 15 years from now for your spouse.  Women are emotionally dynamic and organic creatures. Sometimes it may be about the relationship. Sometimes though it may just be about us. 

Toss the Mask..

Do you wear a mask? What do you not want others to know about you? This gets to the center of your fears and insecurities. Everyone, yes everyone has baggage. Things they struggle with or things that make them feel poorly about themselves. Some are better at hiding then others, some ignore it and their issues end up “leaking” out in other ways in their behavior or through an addiction. It takes a tremendous amount of emotional energy to hide parts of oneself. Especially the things that bring us shame. It keeps us isolated, afraid and often left to feel very alone. Our perceptions can become distorted about how we see others and ourselves. It really becomes a lot of work and makes life so much harder on us.
When we hide who we really are, it keeps others from truly loving us. It keeps us at a distance from others and that prevents us from having and developing closeness and intimacy. When you do something you feel was an error in judgement or a mistake acknowledge it, talk about it, be open about it, but don’t hide it. Own it.
You will feel “cleaner” emotionally, not only because you were honest with yourself but you addressed it and you took the step to share it with someone. Those who truly belong in your life and love you will see the mistake you made but more importantly they will see you, more then the mistake itself. Everyone has problems everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has things to work on its just part of being human. Acknowledging it and working on it separates the wheat from the chaff. Be who you are. Let people you care about see you.
Toss the mask, your worth it.

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Hot for Teacher…

If your an adolescent or a young man under the age of 16, there may be a hot teacher at a school near you and if she hits on you, chances are she’s serious. And these women most of them are quite attractive. I mean like some are hot. What’s up with that?
Almost weekly in the paper and/or online news I am reading about another adult female professional teacher who had sex, with teens or a teen at the school where they work.
In a the closet, in a car, In the parking lot, near a bar at her house, at the beach, in the classroom or where she’s going to teach.

Brianne Altice, 34, was arrested in October 2013 after one of her former students approached Utah police and told them that he had a sexual relationship with the English teacher beginning when he was 15 years old. He was able to describe tattoos on the teacher’s body, and told police that they had sex at least seven times, including once in a public park.

Summer Michelle Hansen, 31, was charged in August 2014 with sex crimes involving 5 students at the California high school where she taught special education. Hansen allegedly sent sexually suggestive texts to at least one student, who claimed she had sex with him as a “prize” for doing well in a baseball game.

Diana Leigh Farnell
Diana Leigh Farnell, 28, turned herself in to North Carolina police on Sept. 12 following accusations that she’d had sex with one student at the high school where she taught English.
One student told WCCB that he noticed flirting between Farnell and certain student in his English class

Rachelle Gendron
Rachelle Gendron, 27, was charged with five counts of rape stemming from her alleged affair with a
14-year-old student. The former sexual education teacher allegedly sent the boy photos of herself in “various stages of undress, with breasts and genitals exposed,” according to an indictment.

And of course the most publicized:
Debra Lafave
Plead Guilty Former middle school teacher Debra Lafave found guilty to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery. Lafave, now 31, whose sexual liaisons with a 14-year-old middle school student made tabloid headlines, avoided prison as part of a plea agreement. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara/FILE)
* all sources Huff Post

Recent psychological discussions in
my community on this topic are circulating that these woman who commit this boundary crossing with young men seem to have very different motives then their male teacher perpetrators. Not that it makes their behavior any less psychologically damaging or inappropriate of course. Many of these woman were said to be “lonely” and were seeking to perhaps care for a male who seemed to have had a turbulent or difficult home life, and the emotional nurturing the teacher offered soon developed into the teacher wanting to feel sexually attracted, or wanted by, the adolescent. So she made a move. Clearly she’s not getting what she needs in her own world so she chooses vulnerable young men most, I’m sure, who have never had a sexual experience. Maybe she thinks that’s a gift she’s giving. It is of course just the opposite. It’s a shining albatross.
Here in the USA all teachers are warned from the time they get into their degree programs to the time they are hired that any physical or sexual relationships with students is prohibited and emotionally destructive to the student. And it is. Very.
Although many teens in our
culture often boast it as ” hot” if you get a hook up with an amazingly pretty teacher, it has lasting damaging effects on the student in more ways then I can begin say. Into adulthood.
I treated a man of 39 who told me his first sexual experience was with an older woman (he was 14 she was 28) who was his summer school teacher.
He carried so much shame and guilt for so many years and not only struggled socially with girls and woman after this, he stated that throughout his life with women he had severe trust and intimacy issues. And he never really did well relating to girls his own age. No shock there folks.
His first sexual experience was with an adult who used her power in her position as a teacher to seduce him for her own needs. This is not mutual or equal, at least not initially. These kids who brag about having sex with a smokin’ teacher are not as well received by their bro peers as you think. One kid videoed the teacher giving him oral sex in a school closet. He then showed his friends and one of them went home to tell his parents he was so effected by it.
Most kids know it’s just not ok. And most do tell. Although it can of course feel appealing as well.

The recent retired Baltimore Ravens Cheerleader who was married to a very wealthy CEO in Baltimore, MD tried to pay the family of the young man she seduced 10 Million dollars to keep the incident off the radar. The family looked out for their son and decided it was not in his emotional best interest to do so. She was just a mom who seemed to be oddly obsessed with her sons friend.
I guess throwing money at a problem doesn’t always make it go away. The now accused rapist Molly Shattuck, 47, once made history as the oldest woman to become an NFL cheerleader. On November 6, 2014 she was indicted in Delaware on nine counts, including two counts of third-degree rape, four counts of unlawful sexual contact and three counts of providing alcohol to minors. She brought underage boys to a beach house, gave them beer and blowjobs and her marriage was over in 3 weeks.
As I always say, everyone has an emotional breaking point. Talk to your kids about boundaries even when they are teens. The more mental health funding that gets cut, the more of this acting out we will see. I’m very interested in everyone’s thoughts about this. In particular from other countries.

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Loves Imperfections

There is little perfection in love
For as much joy and happiness that fills us there is as much equal despair and disappointment. The magnetic pull that keeps us safe and warm equally drags us into a grief of cold loneliness.

The perfection of love is only marked by moments we have to cherish that infuse our hearts with memories and feelings that keep us moving forward with our hearts bursting. It is what drives us to keep going day after day.
Our education, our children and families, our cultures, our hard work in our jobs, all the sacrifices we make, the letting go of things we wanted, the compromises we make, the changes we want to make in ourselves.
And all the things we tell ourselves that keep us in a state of bliss or denial.
Nothing is anything without love.
Happiness is ephemeral.
Success is gratifying.
Wealth brings safety and freedom.

Without having love our existence is only grazing the surface of life.
It is the only thing there is that can fill the holes in our soul left by things we never had or never knew we missed.
It is the only thing that arrives and departs on its own accord.
Hard work doesn’t bring it to us
Money does not summon it’s call
Nothing is anything without it.
Love is fragile. Treat it and others you love as your best art. Put it in its best light, and hold it close.

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