Thursday, August 28, 2008

Solo Travel Has Its Benefits

Many years ago today, I flew home from a solo trip to San Francisco.

The reason I'd gone in the first place was because I was in a job I hated and trying to get over a tortuous relationship that was going nowhere. On top of that, I'd fallen out with my best friend and roommate and had moved back home with my parents (yeah, I know it's sad).

But the four days I spent in San Francisco by myself gave me a new perspective on my life. I made some decisions. I came home, took a U-turn out of the dead-end relationship. I managed to get a decent promotion from my crappy job. I looked up some friends I'd been neglecting and concentrated on having fun. Shortly before I left for San Francisco, I made a vow not to date until I met someone worth dating. After I got home, I kept it.

Two months later, I met someone worth dating. We went out for three monhs, but he wasn't the person I wanted to marry. I broke up with him gently. A month after that, I started dating someone I thought I might want to marry.

And two years later, I married him.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Relationships Give Her Hives

Hi Terry,

Every time I date a man for more than a year I break out in hives. Not just a few, but enough to have the doctor put me on Valium and Hydroxzine. I do not know what causes this, but as soon as I break up with the guy I am fine.

What is causing this?

If any of your readers can help me, I would appreciate it.

-D.


Dear D.-

Well, my guess would be that you have a serious aversion to long-term relationships, but I'm just a girl who used to get freaked out by long-term relationships, so maybe I'm projecting.

Did the doctor who prescribed the medication offer any insight?

There are many therapies available to those of us who suffer from fears and phobias, ranging from psychotherapy to hypnosis to EFT (for more information about EFT, a technique that helped me overcome insomnia and anxiety attacks, click here). My best advice is to research them and invest in the services of a licensed practitioner who can help you resolve this problem.

Since you asked for readers' perspectives, I'll invite them to leave a comment here.

Thanks for writing and good luck.

Terry

Monday, August 25, 2008

Same Man, Different Body

Terry,

I love your advice and sensational blog and feel lucky to have attracted this site into my(almost)daily life.

Could you give your opinion on the man that is emotionally distant. I come across this guy a lot..and I was married to one for 15 years...great father & husband..things fantastic..until there was any sort of conflict...where he was unable to express how he was feeling..and stonewalled. I felt not listened to.

This can be the communication style of an introvert, and not necessarily an uncaring guy...but difficult to deal with constructively or to promote ongoing intimacy. I seem to attract these types of men.

How to deal.....?

-Sian


Hello, Sian-

Thanks for the kind words. I truly appreciate them.

I, too, used to attract the same kind of guy again and again, and I came to the conclusion there was one major payoff for this:

I knew exactly what to expect from these men.

This isn't to say that I liked attracting the same kind of guy over and over. In fact, it was really quite painful. But it was a pain I was used to, as opposed to risking some other pain I had no experience with. It was a matter of "the devil you know is better than the one you don't," I guess.

And you're right. Some men are introverted instead of uncaring, but being in a day-to-day situation with someone who can't -- or won't--express his feelings is a serious pain in the neck.

Attracting guys who stonewall or are emotionally distant seems to happen to those of us who grew up in homes where certain things were not discussed or were supposed to be taken for granted ("Of course I love you. I gave birth to you, didn't I?" or, "Of course I like the dinner. I'm eating it, aren't I?").

I'm not a psychologist, but I've heard psychologists say that women tend to attract men with similar traits to their father's. Same goes for men. They attract women like their mothers. More important, they're attracted to these people.

And I've seen it over and over again. I heard Pam Anderson, a woman who has suffered several tough marriages, say on TV recently that she attributes her relationship issues to "Daddy Drama," or something to that effect.

I changed my own pattern of attracting the same guy over and over by very consciously and methodically picturing and feeling myself with the type of man who was exactly the opposite: A man who communicated his likes and dislikes, who complimented me, who loved me and let me know it through his words and actions. A man who liked and respected women. A man who knew how to have a good laugh.

I did this by writing out very specifically on paper what I wanted and bringing it to life in my imagination. It was not easy at first, but each time I tried it did get easier. The details began to fill themselves in. It helped me to listen to music that got me going while I put myself in an imaginary scene with a man who embodied the qualities I wanted.

If you try this, you'll find you're reprogramming your subconscious, convincing it that not only are you capable of such a relationship, but that you're already in one. And then, when that person who shows up who "fits the bill," not only will he feel familiar to you, you'll find the relationship takes off without a lot of drama.

Now, if at any point you find yourself bored or turned off by this communicative individual you're bringing to life in your imagination, stop and ask yourself why. A good friend of mine, for example, found men who were capable of showing real emotion (i.e., crying) repellent.

If this is true of you, ask yourself what turns you off about a man who cries (or raves about the way you dress or grow vegetables or deliver a joke). Do you harbor the belief that real men should be strong and silent? What's the payoff for that belief? And what is the cost (maybe you're stuck with a man who can be hardhearted and oblivious to your feelings, as well as his own)?

If you face your fears about waking up every morning to a man who likes to talk and laugh with you, who is willing to resolve a disagreement by facing it head on, who isn't afraid to make you the center of his life, who wraps you in his arms when you come home to him at night, you can overcome those fears. Even better, you can attract that kind of man.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Are You Riding Someone Else's Rollercoaster?

Has this ever happened to you?

You became emotionally invested in somebody else's plan. They had an idea, got you excited about it, and then suddenly changed course and dropped it.

It's happened to me.

It happened with a man I dated ("Let's get married!" And then, a month later, "I'm not ready to get married.") It happened at work ("We're going to build a new department and make you head of it," and then two months later, "Um, we're sorry. It's not in the budget.")

Here's another scenario: You make your shoulder available to a friend whose husband mistreats her. You're angry about the situation. You think about it when you're in the shower. And then she announces she's leaving him. You're thrilled. You go out for a drink to celebrate.

You're glad you made time for her. You're delighted you're going to see her happy for a change.

And then she calls you to tell you she's back with the almost-ex. He's sorry. They've worked things out. As a matter of fact, they're going away for a romantic weekend. And besides, she doesn't want to be single again.

You hang up the phone, feeling like you've been slammed to the cement. And you have been. Because you have been riding someone else's roller coaster.

This expression, "riding someone else's rollercoaster," is not mine. It's what my friend, Ronnie Ann Ryan, dating coach and author of Manifesting Mr. Right, says you're doing when you allow your life to be taken over by someone else's emotional drama.

Now, it's important to be supportive and a good friend, employee, girlfriend. Definitely. If a friend is stuck in an abusive marriage, it's important to do what you can to help.

But once she indicates she won't be helped, it's time to back away. You can't make her leave her husband. It's time to focus on your life for a change.

Same with the yay-marriage/nay-marriage guy. At some point, you can't let his emotional struggle take over your life. You have to make yourself available for other people and other opportunities.

And when your boss pulls the rug from under you, it could be time to get your resume together and start looking for a better boss.

One of my biggest weaknesses used to be not recognizing when to walk away from an unwinnable situation and letting it shipwreck my happiness. I've gotten much better at it.

When you find yourself riding someone else's rollercoaster, disembark immediately. Then get on a better ride: Your own.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Guy's Take on Getting Married

And it's a good one. I especially like the bit about who's cleaning the toilets.

The guy may be a "Dumb Little Man," but he sure isn't stupid.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Does He Love Her?

Hi, Terry-

I need your advice. Do you think I'm desperate when I'm saying now I'm mature, and I want a steady relationship, have a child and get married?

The problem is I don't think my boyfriend is ready. He's always busy at work, doesn't call or calls only when he feels the need to do so. Do you think he loves me? Please help.

-Needing Clarification


Hello, Clarification-

Here's the good news: You know what you want, and it does not make you desperate.

Let's look at it this way: When you get up in the morning, you may say to yourself, "I want a cup of coffee."

You know what you want, and you get it. You probably don't go to the coffee counter and ask for a glass of tomato juice. So the first step in getting what you want is knowing what you want. Sounds simple, eh?

But here's where it gets complicated: You say you're ready to get married, but you're pinning your hopes on some guy who doesn't even call you half the time. The guy is a glass of tomato juice.

I don't know if he loves you, but it seems to me there are more attentive men in the world, and you would do well to set your sights on one of them. Getting married and being married is fun only if you're doing it with the right person. A person who is too busy at work or only calls when it suits him may very well not be that person.

Having a child will exact physical, emotional, and mental demands on you, and you deserve a hands-on partner who's not going to treat the kid as some sort of a hobby he gets around to in free moments.

Congratulations to you on discovering that you are ready for marriage and children. Please write out exactly what qualities you'd like in the man who decides to join you on this journey. This way, you'll recognize him when you see him.

Most important, don't tell yourself that convincing your current boyfriend to marry you is your only hope for love and happiness. Continue to see him if you must, but definitely keep your eyes peeled for much better opportunities.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Is This Guy for Real?

Dear Terry:

I've been seeing a 33-year-old man who has a demanding job on Wall Street. He's everything I ever wanted. He's tall and handsome, confident, makes a lot of money, makes me laugh, and says he is so attracted to me. (He says this a lot. Sometimes he says he can't believe how attracted he is to me.)

As for me, he's like my kryptonite. I lay eyes on him and go weak at the knees.

Once or twice a week when he isn't traveling (he travels for his job several times a month), he comes to my apartment for dinner. Says I'm a great cook, which thrills me to no end. I can put together a gourmet meal out of scraps from the refrigerator.

The problem is, we always spend time at my place. Even though he lives near me, I have never, ever been invited to his. Once, while I was cleaning up after dinner, I made a joke to see if he'd invite me to his house or at least indicate why I haven't been there.

(Just so you know: He is NOT married. I went to school with his sisters.)

He changed the subject immediately. A day or two later, he came back and asked me to accompany him on a business trip to Cincinnati. It sounded all very romantic, until I got there and found myself spending most of the day by myself (I walked around and discovered that Cincinnati is full of the same chain stores selling the same junk as the stores in New York. Oh, boy!)

Nights were spent waiting for him to get back from dinner with someone or other. I went out for Chinese by myself one night. I ordered room service the next and hung around all night in this little box of a room fiddling with a TV remote (that was tethered to the wall), only to end up watching Sex & the City reruns I've already seen 16 times.

I came close to crying, but I stopped myself. I didn't want to be a baby about it. After all, the guy was on a business trip and had to work.

Would like your perspective on this, Terry. I am crazy about this guy. I want to marry him. He seems crazy about me, but the thing that bothers me most is that he won't let me in his house.

Do you think I'm overreacting?

-On the Doorstep

-------------------------------

Dear Doorstep-

Overreacting? Not exactly.

I think a better question would be, "Why do you automatically assume you're overreacting when you're frustrated that your boyfriend won't let you near his house?"

If a man is in good emotional health and is truly interested in you, he tends to want you to see where he lives. Unless, of course, it's infested with killer bees.

Okay, he's handsome and works on Wall Street. I get the attraction. But how great is his job? Why does his company put him up in hotels that chain remote controls to the wall, for instance?

In my experience companies tend to put employees in hotels that cater to business travelers, not in $99/night family specials.

Something's not quite right here.

Now, about your cooking. Does this man ever take you out to dinner? If you're providing all the meals, he's taking advantage of you. Also, the adage "The way to a man's heart is through is stomach" is not always true.

Sometimes you just get a guy who wants a free meal and somebody to listen to his problems.

This bit in your letter really got me: "Once, while I was cleaning up after dinner..."

Forgive me while I go "all Terry" on you, but if you cook for the man, the least he can do is clean up, as in lift dish, bring to sink, turn on faucet, wash, rinse, dry, put away.

You cook. He cleans. He cooks. You clean.

A relationship is give and take, and I don't see this man doing anything other than taking. I wish I had the magic words to make you forget about him.

So far, you've provided everything for him, and he's doing precious little for you. He took you on a trip his company paid for. He won't let you into his house.

You deserve better than this.

The next time he calls, tell him you're busy but can meet him somewhere for an hour. Suggest a restaurant. See what he says. If he gives you a hard time, get rid of him.

If he meets you for the meal, let him pay, thank him and say goodnight (keep it to an hour; don't let all wobbly and take him back to your house).

Then, the next time he calls, tell him you'll meet him at HIS house.

If he gives you a hard time, tell him you've developed serious reservations about getting any more involved with a person who doesn't want you in his living space.

After all, this is your life we're talking about.

-Terry

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jon Stewart on John Edwards.

The Daily Show puts a formerly revered politician's "mistake" in perspective:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Busted Talking to the Old Girlfriend

Hi, Terry!

Each week I receive your emails, and I love to read them. They are full of great advice and great insight. I need some advice.

My boyfriend and I are back together after a heartbreaking separation, and I´m happy about it. We have a good relationship, however, some old patterns and issues have come to the scene again. I don´t like that he is not expressive and that he doesn´t tell me important things that could affect our relationship.

Yesterday, I was at his apartment sharing time with him, when the phone rang. He answered the phone and greeted someone. After the first call, he took a second call. After he hung up, I casually asked who it was and he told me it was his father. Then I asked him who called him first and he told me that it was a female friend from work who wanted some advice from him. And I said “oh, ok”.

I didn´t say anything afterwards and kept doing my business at the couch with my laptop. I felt a surge of energy in my body of anger and jealousy, but I kept that to myself as I didn´t want to express those emotions uncontrollably and wanted to give myself time to think a better way to approach the situation.

Today, he visited me, and we started talking casually about my need of having a better communication with him and bulding trust between the two of us. I told him that when that girl called him I felt insecure as I wondered if she was the girl which he had slept with for many months before coming back to me.

When I asked for the truth, he told me that I was correct. I felt extremely upset and disappointed. I felt cheated. I didn´t know that he was still in contact with her and that they were still “friends” according to him. If I hadn´t been at his apartment yesterday night, I would not have known that my boyfriend is still in contact with that girl in a friendly way as he would not have told me.

I love this man and I know in my heart that he loves me, but I don´t know what to do. I am very concerned about not telling me this kind of things. He is very secretive about these things, and if I don´t find out by myself, he probably won´t tell me. He tells me that he has been loyal to me since he is with me and I believe him, but I feel extremely upset of him being in contact with this girl who was his lover and hiding this truth for me. I know he has to see her as they work at the same place, but I´m concerned that it is not a work relationship. I feel cheated and not respected even if I know he is not sleeping with her.

I know you have great insights, Terry, and I would like with all my heart to give some advice about how to handle this situation and if I truly be concerned about him not telling me he is still in contact with an ex.. Please help me. Your advice would be great, Terry.

-A Reader in Mexico


Hello, Mexico-

You were right to give yourself time to figure out how to approach this situation. (Many people, had they been in your place, would just fly off the handle.)

The good news is that your boyfriend told you the truth: He was speaking to the ex-girlfriend.

The bad news is that he didn't tell you straight-out the first time you asked him.

I don't know your boyfriend, but I think you're wise to follow your instincts. You say that you know in your heart that he does love you. If this isn't enough, ask yourself, is he usually truthful with you and with other people? Liars lie all over the place: To bosses, coworkers, friends, and, especially, you. How easily does he lie? How often?

He may have told you at first that he was speaking to a "female friend" at work instead of the ex because he feared how you'd react. We may or may not be able to give him a pass here. It depends on the question I've already posed: How much of a liar is he?

If you determine that he's worthy of your trust, you can encourage him to open more by not overreacting when he says something (and you certainly didn't in this instance; you handled the whole thing very well). He may start to open up a bit, or he may not.

Some people feel a need to express every single thought out loud. Other people don't (because it's not their nature, or they're shy, or they're afraid of boring you or looking silly).

As long as misunderstandings don't result, you should be okay. You say that he sometimes doesn't express things that could affect your relationship. Well, in that case, it's certainly okay to ask him directly, as you did after he got on the phone with the ex.

As long as he gives you a straight answer, I wouldn't worry about it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

He Wasn't What I Thought He Was

I was a big fan of John Edwards, the former presidential candidate who last week admitted to cheating on his cancer-stricken wife. When the news broke about the affair, I was devastated.

I'd bought into the whole Edwards family story, the details they shared with us about how John and Elizabeth celebrated all their wedding anniversaries at Wendy's, how they leaned on each other after the tragedy of their son's death, how Elizabeth stoically kept the news of her breast cancer away from John until all the numbers came in after the 2004 election.

I really, really liked John Edwards. I voted for him in the primary in 2004. After he lost and was cast as John Kerry's running mate, I voted for him, too. I went to the primary in February of this year downhearted that I couldn't vote for Edwards in this election; he'd dropped out of the race a day or two earlier.

And now this...

It's bad enough he cheated on his wife, who I imagine after all her physical and emotional trials, could shatter like thin glass. But he also cheated on all of us who believed in him, who defended him when cynics called him "Breck Girl" and questioned the right of a former mill worker's son to indulge in pricey haircuts and live in an extravagant home. He cheated on the working class people who sent him money in the hopes of seeing him making good on his promise to restore the Land of Opportunity to the increasingly less fortunate.

My friend tells me it's only Americans who get hung up on the sex lives of politicians, and I know she's right. I mean, Clinton didn't bother me. I knew what I was getting when I voted for him. I just wanted a president who could get the job done.

But this guy, Edwards, is different. He sold us a fairy story. I don't know whether I'm madder at him or at myself that I bought it.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Single Women Rule

I'm very excited to announce that Keysha Whitaker, founder of Eve's Society, the international organization for unmarried women of all ages, has asked me to come on board to promote the message that 'single is good.' (I strive to instill it in my two young daughters!)

Eve's Society's mission is to help make single women's personal and professional lives successful.

Membership is free and entitles you to:

-Take advantage of a growing list of store and service discounts

-Post your personal and professional accomplishments (and include
the link to your website)

-Access Eve's Society's international member network.

I'm most excited about the growing international member list. You've heard the maxim: "It's not WHAT you know; it's WHO you know."

Who knows what opportunities will arise -- and who you'll meet -- when you have access to other bright, success-oriented, self-respecting single women like yourself?

Check out Eve's Society here:

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Is It Just Me? Or Is This Article Really Offensive?

The tone of this article published in The New York Daily News the other day really bugged me.

I particularly object to the use of the phrases, "nab a guy," "landing a guy," "competition is heavy," "better your odds," and, "Keep your chin up, Ladies" (which really should be "Keep your chins up, Ladies," don't you think?).

I hate this media b.s. designed to cause unnecessary desperation among women. Desperation leads to bad decisions, and I hate to see any woman "landing" the wrong freaking man.

Better single and happy than married and miserable, I always say.

Friday, August 01, 2008

She Thinks She's Ready to Meet a Man

Dear Terry,

I have been receiving emails from you and have learned a lot. I would be happier, though, if I could finally apply them to my life. I have stopped dating for almost four years already since I broke up with my ex-boyfriend. I've already forgotten all about my ex and have forgiven him. I guess I'm just too busy to go out and meet new male friends.

About two weeks ago, I decided to join an international dating site. It was fun at first--sending interests to men who I found attractive and receiving interests and mails from men 50 years old and above (I have included in my profile that I prefer men between the age of 30 and 41). By the way, I'm turning 32 two days from now. Only 3 or 4 of those interested in me are within my age preference, the rest (15 or more) are almost my mother's age.

How can I attract men on that website within my preferred age bracket? Could you also help me or give some tips on how to sustain the interest of those who have expressed their interest in me? I have received a couple of mails from men who I also find attractive. They said that they liked my profile and they find me cute, as I have posted 3 photos there. And then I replied to their mails and have not heard from them since.

Any help from you will be appreciated.

Thanks for reading this. Good luck and God bless.

Regards,
P.


Hello, P.

Happy 32nd birthday! I hope you did something fun.

Okay, you say you haven't dated in four years (after a breakup with a guy you've already "forgotten" and "forgiven"). Did it take you four years to get over that relationship? It's possible you're truly over the ex, but are you really over the pain of the breakup?

I ask because I wonder if you're avoiding relationships altogether on a subconscious level. You mentioned you've been "too busy" to make new male friends.

And now, when you do get around to meeting new men, you choose to do it on an international dating site. Not a local dating site. An international dating site. This implies that the men you connect with would live very far away. It would take some doing to fit them into your already busy life. You might not have to ever see them at all!

A lot of women who can't ever manage to meet the right guy suffer from mighty fears about relationships. They are attracted to -- and they attract--men with similar fears (men who won't commit). Or they don't attract anyone at all.

Ask yourself what scares you about relationships. Write a list. I imagine getting hurt again would be number one, and this is perfectly natural. Ask yourself what's the worst thing that would happen your fears came true. Could you handle it?

If so, stop making excuses and get out of the house. Get out of the office. Go where men your age go: Baseball games, restaurants, bookstores, open mic nights in coffee shops, sports bars. Volunteer for an organization where men tend to volunteer, like Habitat for Humanity.

To keep a man's interest, be yourself. Don't sit by the phone waiting for his call. Stay focused on your own life. See your friends. Be available but not overly available.

Just as we women like to think we're getting a prize in the men we date, men like to think they're getting a prize in us, too. Be a prize.

Good luck, P. I wish you every happiness in the world.

Terry