I'm sure you've dealt with individuals who have caused
you to be so frustrated that afterwards you scratch your
head asking "Am I crazy?" Most likely you just had an
encounter with a passive-aggressive person. Such
encounters may include sarcasm, shifting blame, saying
one thing while meaning another to name a few. For
instance, I used to know a co-worker who was very
skilled at giving back-handed compliments such as "You
look great! You must be doing something different" as
well as sarcasm disguised as a compliment "Oh, I hear
you've managed to pull off another miracle." The problem
with these kinds of comments is that if you try to
confront them about the insult, you will be accused of
not understanding, "I didn't mean it that way" or of
misinterpreting, "You must have a problem to think that.
I was just trying to compliment you. Sorry I didn't word
it right to suit you." As a result, you end up looking
like the bad guy, feeling frustrated, and asking
yourself, "Am I crazy?" And the other person walks away
blameless. Read more...
is probably the most devastating loss a person can
experience. To be betrayed, the person must first
experiencetrust in the betrayer. It is fairly
impossible for you to be betrayed if you did not trust
the individual in the first place. Therefore, the
definition of betrayal involves the act of someone
violating your trust in them. The betrayal I am
discussing in this article refers to a variety of forms
of betrayal. For instance, a child is betrayed
when he or she is abused by the parents who are supposed
to love, support, and protect the child. A spouse
is betrayed when their partner has an affair.
Betrayal is when someone you trust lies to you, cheats
on you, abuses you, or hurts you by putting their own
self-interest first. Read more...
Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Ending a Bad Relationship
Frequently over the years of my practice I've had new clients who recently left bad relationships and want to prevent a recurrence of the same scenario. However, two common obstacles too often occur, both of which are related to difficulty handling grief and loss.
The first obstacle is related to finalizing the relationship. Often, although the relationship is over, there is a period of returning to the former partner and leaving the relationship again and again until they are finally convinced that the partner won't change.
The second obstacle is when meeting a new person and seeing the "red flags" they are in denial of the message of those red flags. They ignore the warning signals due to a desperate need to be in a relationship. More important to them is the need to be wanted that the need to be in a healthy relationship.
How Are These Obstacles Related to Problems in the Grief Process?
As I see it, both of these situations are due to an avoidance of the pain of grief. Grief feels horrible! It is NOT something anyone WANTS to experience. However, it is a necessary process for healing, learning, and making better choices in life. The avoidance of the pain of grief thwarts this process and interferes with becoming involved in healthier relationships in the future.
Emotions contain important information about the world and our experience with it. Paying attention to emotions allows us to process an experience and make better decisions in the future. Avoidance of those emotions prevents us from learning from the event. For instance, what is a "red flag" anyway? Typically, it is an emotional warning system. When a person ignores the emotional warning and creates excuses, this blocks awareness of the message and prevents healthy and accurate decision-making.. Read more...
For Women Only: How to Have the Relationship of Your Dreams
If women could just change one thing, they would find that they could have almost everything they
want in a relationship. Of course, I'm talking about women who are married to the average decent
non-abusive man. I don't know how often I've heard a woman say, "But I shouldn't have to ask."
Frequently, they have all sorts of expectations of their partner and become resentful and angry
when he doesn't fulfill those expectations. However, when I ask what he said when they asked for
what they wanted, they either respond with "I shouldn't have to ask" or with "I told him once.
I shouldn't have to keep telling him."
These attitudes are self-defeating and often destructive to a relationship. If women could
learn to ask for what they want and ask often, many women could have the relationship of their
dreams. When I tell women this, then they typically respond, "But he'll think I'm nagging him."
The problem with this thinking is that women don't understand how men communicate.
Men are usually very direct in their communication. When they talk with one another they say
exactly what they want. A man would say to a friend, "I'm going to be near your office today.
Let's meet for lunch." A woman is more likely to say especially when talking to a man," I have
an appointment near your office today," hoping that the man will get the hint and suggest lunch.
This may be a reasonable approach if the woman doesn't know the man very well and wants to test
his interest without making a full commitment. However, the problem is women use the same
approach with their husbands! "But I shouldn't have to ask." Read more...
Frequently, I am asked how to handle
irrational jealous feelings. Usually, the individual recognizes that her
feelings are unreasonable with no valid evidence but feels incapable of
controlling the jealousy. In addition, the person usually recognizes the
destructive nature of indulging in the feelings and the resulting
behavior. Such behavior typically involves excessive questioning of her
spouse, suspiciousness, and accusations. Many spouses become extremely
with this behavior because they have no way of proving their
faithfulness. This leads to an escalating cycle of anger which is used as
further evidence by the jealous spouse that her suspicions are correct.
jealous spouse often desperately wants to stop the behavior but finds that he
can't control the thoughts which makes him feel miserable. He believes
that if he can just prove his suspicions one way or another, he will feel
better. The unfortunate fallacy in this thinking, is that trust can never
be proven; it can only be disproved. The definition of trust is the belief
that something is true. Therefore, without evidence to the contrary, if we
want a satisfying relationship, we have to choose
to trust the person we
love. Read more...
As a child Cynthia's hyperactive behavior often annoyed others. Her teachers
frequently reprimanded her in school. The other students called her "stupid"
and refused to let her join them in activities. At home, her father criticized
her and beat her with a belt whenever her parents received a negative report from
school. Due to depression, her mother tended to ignore Cynthia's needs for emotional
support and attention. As a result, she grew up expecting rejection from others.
It seemed that no matter how hard she tried, all she experienced was rejection.
As an adult she had numerous unsuccessful relationships. She desperately wanted the
acceptance to be found in a relationship; however, she perceived her partner's behavior
negatively often thinking about how he wasn't as committed to the relationship and that
she was just good enough until someone else came along. These thoughts led to hostility
toward him and accusations "You don't care about me!" Due to her focus on her worries
about losing him she did not focus on his needs and provide him with emotional support.
Her partner tried to reassure her and comfort her at first but the constant negativity
and hostility drained his ability to respond to her needs. Read more...
I had some good questions on
my website regarding handling a partner's irrational jealousy. The
reason I wrote the article
What to Do When Your
Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage
for the individual with the
problem jealousy is because until that person decides to make changes nothing
can be done to eliminate their jealousy. That article has been very popular and
many people have indicated to me that they are trying to change their behavior
after reading it. However, there are many other people who are not recognizing
their jealous behavior and so their partners are writing to me asking what to
Just because the person
with the jealousy problem is the only one who can change it doesn't mean that
there is nothing that you, as the partner, can do about your partner's
jealousy. However, the steps you can take may be very challenging and don't
come without risk. If you truly want a chance for your partner to change, the
best place to start is with yourself. By changing how you respond to your
partner's jealousy you will develop a greater understanding of how difficult it
is to make changes. This increases your empathy for your partner especially if
he/she is trying to make changes. However, it may also make you less tolerant
of someone refusing to recognize their problem or do anything about it. This
could be a healthy thing for you because you are less likely to remain in a
destructive relationship. Read more...
An internet reader, "Mike," wrote about a jealousy situation that he has begun to recognize but that has already caused extensive
damage to his relationship: "Now, my spouse is hiding everything and refuses to discuss the topic. My gut feeling is that my spouse
is out to get revenge, lying and is maybe now really cheating." He indicates that his wife has informed him she has the right to
hide the cell phone bills, change e-mail passwords, and erase internet history because of his past behavior. He states,"I tried to
explain what is causing my jealousy, yet I feel I'm not being heard or understood. Now, I feel like the one being "abused" because
my spouse acts hostile to me and defensive whenever this subject...is brought up."
Frequently, I see this scenario all too often in my practice. By the time the jealous spouse recognizes his/her problem considerable
damage to the relationship has already occurred. Attempts to change mean not only resolving the jealousy problems but also healing
To understand the damage to the relationship, try taking the other person's perspective: Imagine day after day being questioned about
your whereabouts, your behavior, and accused of being unfaithful or being attracted to someone else. Imagine someone checking your
cell phone records, checking your e-mail, and/or calling you frequently under the pretense of something else but really just wanting
to know what you're doing. Imagine your helplessness because no matter how much you reassure your spouse, no matter how many
questions you answer, no matter how open you are with your daily itinerary or your e-mail, you can never "prove" your love or
faithfulness. Imagine waiting for the next accusation, the next argument, knowing that it will occur but not knowing when. For
some, imagine being fearful of physical violence because you can't reassure your spouse enough. Imagine the hopelessness, the hurt,
and the pain beginning to turn to anger and resentment. Imagine what this does to love. Read more..