Tag Archives: Trust

Listen Up, Ladies! Ten Reasons to Ditch a Guy

In general, people say you shouldn’t pass judgment on others.  Well actually, when it comes to dating, you should.  When you date, you’re supposed to discern what is good, bad, right, wrong, healthy, and unhealthy about a person.  You need to know when to pull the plug because if you don’t, you’re going to experience misery, anguish, and frustration, and waste a hell of a lot of time.

Although I could discuss the topic both ways, I’m going to focus on the ladies.  Here are 10 reasons to ditch a guy:

Reason #1: He’s base when talking about women
You know the music where the singer calls women “hos”?  That sort of thing.  If he leers, acts snotty, calls women “bitches,” or worse, it’s not a good plan to be dating him because his disrespect for women in general also includes you.

Reason #2: He’s a momma’s boy
Relationships are filled with enough decisions to be worked out between the two of you – it doesn’t need to be the three of you.  If his mom handpicks everything from his career path to his apartment, take caution.  I assure you my son’s apartment was definitely not selected or decorated by his mother (even if his taste is, as I like to say, “Eclectic”).

Reason #3: He’s primarily interested in himself
If everything is about his opinions, his concerns, and his dreams, or he likes to hear himself talk, then he’s not really interested in you to any great depth.  You’re just a window dressing on his life.

Reason #4: He has addiction issues
If he has had any trouble with drugs, gambling, or alcohol, don’t even bother.  That often requires a whole lifetime of management and counseling.  Instead of marrying into it, go to school and get a license to be a clinical social worker – that way at least you’ll get paid to do it.

Reason #5: He’s not honest and/or trustworthy
Now, I’m not talking about him saying, “Of course I enjoy your cooking,” and then going out to get a taco when he says he’s putting gas in the car.  That’s what we call telling a “white lie” in order to avoid hurting your feelings.  I’m talking about major things: He says he has never been convicted of a felony and you find out he’s got a rap sheet, or he swears he doesn’t have an STD and then you end up with a little surprise.  Big lies like, “I’ve never been married before,” or, “No, I don’t have kids,” set the foundation for a lack of trust, and if you can’t trust your man, you’re in store for a lifetime of anxiety, frustration, and big-time drama. 

Reason #6: He’s negative
You know the type: He doesn’t like his job, thinks everyone on the road is an idiot, and pouts about nothing ever going his way.  Everybody has bouts of negativity (I know I do), but dealing with a constantly negative person is draining.  It will eventually drag you – and the relationship – down.  If you’ve got a guy who is negative all the time, dump him.

Reason #7: He’s got Peter Pan Syndrome
Guys like this seem charming because they act like kids or perpetual teenagers.  However, unless a guy can take emotional and fiscal responsibility, you don’t have yourself a real man.

Reason #8: He lacks ambition
This funnels from reason #7.  He needs to have a goal – any type of goal.  Life is a challenge, and if you don’t want somebody who isn’t going to protect and provide for you, don’t stay with someone who has no passion or ambition.  A guy who gets fired and then sits back and doesn’t look for a job isn’t the kind of man you want.  If he’s got a “why bother” attitude about life, you should have a “why bother” attitude about him.

Reason #9: He’s a cheater
Life is short.  The last thing you want to do is spend your time worrying about who your guy is in bed with.  I think there should be a one-strike law: If you’ve made a promise to each other that you’re not going to date other people anymore and he strays, dump him.  Don’t accept any excuses.

Reason #10: He isn’t good boyfriend material
Though somebody may look good on paper, if they don’t mesh very well with your lifestyle, family, or friends, you don’t want to have a future with them.  Otherwise, it’s going to be a lifetime of dealing with them not bothering or caring, and making a mess when they can’t fit in.

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Your Spouse Has Cheated. Now What?

In the movie Closer, Clive Owen’s character grills Julie Roberts’ character about the nature of her infidelity.  He bombards her with a barrage of questions about the frequency, timing, whereabouts, type, quality and orgasmic nature of the sex she had with the interloper until she finally asks, “God, why is the sex so important?!”

Men and women react to infidelity differently. Women are more concerned with the emotional side while men care more about the sex. This is a result of hardwiring to a certain extent.  Females want to know if their male can still be a provider and protector for their young.  Males, on the other hand, are primarily invested in the preservation of their genes.  This is why, like Clive Owen’s character, men will ask about the sex and women will ask about the romantic feelings involved. 

Once you understand the differences in how men and women react to an infidelity, the next question becomes, “What should I do if I find out that my husband/wife has cheated on me?” 

First, you need to know that it’s possible for a marriage to survive an affair. In fact, the healing process can even improve the quality of the marriage. However, in order to improve the chances of your marriage staying together, you and your spouse need to seek professional help. 

Therapy helps you have adult conversations and develop skills to resolve your problems. When choosing a therapist, try to find one who has been in a long-term marriage. Be aware that therapists who have been recently divorced have a higher percentage of their patients and clients divorce.

I recommend high quality professional assistance because in order for you and your spouse to truly work through your challenges, you’re going to have to see and accept that both of you played some role in the infidelity. I am not saying that somebody had the right to cheat; I simply mean that if you decide to stay with each other, you have to figure out why things got so bad to the point that someone cheated. The success of your marriage pins on your ability to change the behaviors that alienated each other in the first place.  

If you truly think you did everything perfectly, then dump your spouse. You’re either right and this person is just a bad apple, or you’re not in touch with them enough to work it out. Either way, the relationship doesn’t have a chance of succeeding.  Don’t sit around playing the blame game for your unhappiness or their lack of a moral compass – it’s a recipe for disaster. 

However, if both of you are willing to work, there are some common mistakes you should try to avoid:

Don’t spend your time humiliating, debasing, challenging, and assaulting the cheater. Instead, try to get to the bottom of what hurt the relationship in the first place (e.g. lack of affection, being too busy to be sweet, etc.).

Contacting the person they had the affair with is usually futile. It rarely uncovers the whole truth, and oftentimes, the exposure alone will make them back off.

Naïvely taking your spouse’s word that he or she has ended the affair is one thing, but constantly following them around and checking their phone and email every five minutes is another. Yes, most people need help disengaging from an affair because there is a tremendous amount of physical and emotional investment.  However, hitting them with guilt nonstop isn’t going to help anything. 

Finally, realize that it’s going to take time. 

Ultimately, if your spouse has cheated, you need to ask yourself the following question: Is this a pattern of behavior (i.e. a reflection of their character), or is this a single event which indicates that something seriously wrong in the marriage wasn’t respectfully dealt with? Between work, the kids, and everything else going on, did one or both of you stop paying attention to the relationship? With better communication, better decisions can be made and priorities can be adjusted.  Hopefully, in the end, you can both look back at the affair as a slap on the back of the head reminding you that you weren’t paying attention to the relationship.

Getting the Most Out of Therapy

Once I started becoming more “known” from my radio program and books, I had to give up my private practice.  Folks would come in for sessions and expect me to work magic in three and a half minutes.  It became clear to me that I couldn’t be as effective one-on-one anymore.  So instead, I wrote books and did my show because I thought that those were the best ways I could help people.  

However, there are times on my program when I tell callers that they need to do a little more extensive work.  I can give them a jump-start, but they need to pick up where we left off in therapy.

Therapy can be a very complicated process, and there aren’t many therapists who do it well.  When looking for a therapist, there are a few things you need to do.  First, and most importantly, you have to form a relationship with your therapist.  When people call in to my program, they generally have listened to me for a while.  This means that they have already developed a kind of relationship with me in their minds.  When you go into somebody’s office for therapy, it usually takes a while to form that relationship. Without it, there isn’t going to be trust.  Although it seems like I receive instant trust from the people who call in to my show, that’s not really the case.  Most callers have been listening to me for a long time (sometimes 20 years or more), and therefore, the trust part is pretty much all squared away. 

Your clinician also needs to be a good fit for you.  Not every therapist makes the same choices or has the same personality and expertise. For example, when I was involved in private practice, I would not deal with anyone’s insurance companies.  They paid for their sessions, and I signed the insurance papers for them to submit.  I did this because I didn’t want my fights with an insurance company to interfere with our relationship.   

In addition, I believe that your first session should be free and on the phone.  It’s not really a session – it’s simply you asking a lot of questions.  You can always look up somebody’s license and credentials, but you still need to ask them about their expertise.  A lot of people get psychology licenses of various kinds and then claim that they can do anything.  However, there are specific areas of expertise.  Make sure you ask.  If you’re nervous about asking questions, first write them down on a piece of paper.  You may be less afraid to ask them if you put them in writing. 

This process may be uncomfortable, but if you don’t feel safe and comfortable with the therapist at first, you are not likely going to meet your goals with them later. 

Personally, I think that if you are seeking marital therapy, you should ask if the therapist is divorced.  Statistically speaking, when a therapist is divorced, he or she is more permissive of divorce.  And if they’re more permissive of divorce, it may impact how you perceive your marriage.  It’s the same old thing – if other people have done it, we feel like it’s more acceptable.  So, be sure to ask if they’re divorced and for how long.

Also ask about their ethics and how they’ve continued their education.  Once you’re done asking everything you want to ask, repeat this process with three to five more therapists.  See who gets defensive and who answers your questions openly. 

I know it can be intimidating or feel like you’re being impolite, but you must ask questions.  The truth is, your therapist is your hired help.  And if you do hire them, you’ll want to be able to ask them honest questions later, such as, “I don’t understand how this is helping; can you please explain it to me?” 

Nevertheless, you must also remember that the therapist does not assume the entire burden.  Therapy is hard work, and in order to improve, you have to do the work.  It’s the same principle as playing the piano – if you don’t practice, you’re not going to play very well.  You may notice that I often give assignments to callers on my program.   That’s because change doesn’t happen in one session – it happens outside of the session.  It’s an active process.  You can’t expect to go to therapy once a week and then not give it a moment’s thought until the next session.  The sessions are important but so is your effort to reflect on the content of those sessions and apply it on a daily basis. If you don’t make progress, it could very well be your own fault.  As I’ve said many times on the air, “Hey, I’m not going to work harder on your life than you are.” 

Finally, you need to expect that at some point during therapy, things could become extremely painful, uncomfortable, or unpleasant.  There are often blockages you have to work through.  You may start placing some of your past relationship issues on your therapist or treat them as if they were your mother, father, sister, etc.  Sometimes you’ll want to quit therapy or wonder why you’re bothering to spend money to be in pain.   You might even develop a habit of arriving late to sessions as a mechanism of avoidance.  However, when you start freaking out or getting defensive, you absolutely must go back and talk to your therapist about it.  Say, for example, “After opening up to you last time about ___, I became very vulnerable.”  Really good therapists are trained to understand and deal with your concerns.   

To bring it full circle, this is why establishing an initial relationship with your therapist is important – you need to be able to discuss anything and everything.  If you don’t trust your therapist or don’t feel like they believe in you, there will be no change.  You’ll simply reenact the same patterns with them and everybody else.

How to Not Lose a Friend

Friends are really important.  They make you feel anchored to the world, and without them, you feel lonely, isolated, and depressed.  They care about you and do things with you.  You can talk to different friends about different things – you can blow off steam, you can get feedback, or you might receive a badly needed dose of comeuppance and become a better person.  But most importantly, it feels good knowing it matters to other people that you exist.    

But even when people have great friends, they somehow still manage to screw it all up.  Here are some steps you can take to prevent losing a friend:

The best way to ruin a wonderful friendship is to make negative assumptions.  If a friend doesn’t call you for four days, you assume they don’t like you, they forgot you, or they are being rude and insensitive.  You lament that they should know you are going through stuff.  However, instead of making negative assumptions, you could just pick up the phone and say, “Hey, are you OK?  I haven’t heard from you, so I was concerned about you.” 

That’s a friend – the other is a parasite. 

Gossiping and betraying someone’s trust is another way to ruin a friendship.  Talking to anyone about your friend’s personal issues, feelings, and thoughts is a huge betrayal.

Failing to reciprocate.  One of my main definitions of a friendship is that it’s reciprocal.  Now, that doesn’t mean you have to do the same things back and forth, that’s sort of silly (i.e. you got me a piece of bread, so I need to get you one).  Reciprocating means making an effort to do something benevolent for the other person (e.g. getting your friend bread if they’re hungry, or helping them untangle their hair if their hair is tangled). 

Talking and not listening.  Somebody ruined a friendship with me by not listening and only talking.  She didn’t even listen when I tried to talk to her about not listening.  I took her hands in mine, sat really close to her so that we were almost nose to nose, and told her that I loved her and enjoyed doing things with her, but there was an issue.  I told her that I couldn’t talk to her about anything without her stopping me and talking about herself.  I talked about how it always got either intrusive or competitive (i.e. I couldn’t talk to her about a toe without her stopping me to tell me that she had 20 toes).  She said she was sorry and that things would change, but they never did.  So we took a break.  The break has lasted two years, and it has been good.  It’s not that she is a bad person, she’s just not a good friend.

You need to have an attitude in life that your problems are not more important than anyone else’s.  There are a lot of people who have a problem hither and thither, and they are just horrible to everybody.  We all are a little grumpier or more reserved when we are stressed out, but when that happens, just hold up a Post-it note that reads, “I’m stressed out beyond comprehension, don’t take anything I say seriously.”  Just communicate it any way you can, and make it fun.

Another way to ruin a friendship is failing to stay in touch.  With technology these days, there is almost no excuse for not staying in contact.  You can send a text or an email if you don’t want to lick a stamp, or you can video chat.

You also lose friends by only making use of them when you need them.  When you don’t need them, they get dismissed.  You have to do things to nurture the friendship.  Think of cute things to say to them and do with them.  Ask them how they are doing.  If they have a lot on their plate, tell them that you’re worried and ask if there is anything you can do to lighten the load.  Even if they say no, talking to you may be just what they needed. 

If you know your friend is having an exhausting time with a new baby or some other crisis, come over one night with a fully prepared dinner in Tupperware, hand it to them, and then turn around and leave.  Little things like that show you are thinking of him or her.  Don’t be stingy.  Give more than you get.

Don’t sneak around with your friend’s spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many people say that their husband or wife left them for their best friend.  Excuse me?  “Best friends” don’t become intimate with each other’s boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, or wives.  You just don’t do that.

Another tip: learn to compromise and don’t be competitive with their other friends and family.  Just because they don’t do A, B and C with you, appreciate that they do L, G and H with you.  Don’t make them feel stressed out to the point where they feel like they have to choose between you and the rest of the universe.  And if your friend wants to try something new, don’t say no.   People get a little compulsive about their comfort zones.  Both you and your friend should stretch out and try new things. 
 
Don’t make fun of their errors all the time.  I have a friend named Sam who I play tennis with.  One day he was eating dinner at our house after a game, and we started making jokes.  Because he had missed a shot, he sighed and said, “Does that mean I can’t have salad?”  It has become a running joke between the two of us.  Whenever we miss shots we should have made, we keep going back and forth with which parts of dinner we should and shouldn’t get.  You can have a good time poking fun, but don’t belittle each other.

Lastly, act like a friend, not a parent.  You can’t control how other people behave.  If you see your friend being self-destructive in any way, tell them, “It just kills me to see you hurting yourself like this because this is in your control.  It doesn’t feel like it, but it is.”  That’s not being a parent, that’s being a friend.  If their self-destructive behavior becomes more typical, then you have to draw a line.  You’re not telling them how to act – you’re telling them what your expectation of a friend is.  If they don’t fall into that category, then they’re not a friend and they’re not somebody you should put effort into. 

Let’s say, for example, that you have a friend who is married with little kids and is flagrantly having an affair.  I would discuss it with them several times, talk about the impact on the kids, their marriage, etc.  If that doesn’t work, I would ultimately say, “I don’t have friends who betray the people who love them and are willing to have fun at the expense of their kids’ well-being.  I am not interested in putting effort into somebody like that as a friend.”   If they respond by saying, “Oh, well you’re just being judgmental,” you just say back, “Damned straight I am, except I’m judging you as ‘friend’ material.  Whether you’re ‘mother’ or ‘wife’ material is certainly not in my venue.  All I’m judging is whether or not I want to call somebody who is doing this my friend.” 

That’s the kind of discussion you should be having and feel no guilt about.

Don’t Make These Marriage Mistakes

A marriage is a terrible thing to waste, especially when there are children involved.  People enter into marriages all the time with such optimism, but realize that perhaps they were overly optimistic.  Maybe you barely even knew the person, but you said you did because you had passion for them.  However, marriage is not about passion – that’s just part of it.  Marriage is about two healthy people learning to live together and take on struggles together.  They don’t turn on each other – they turn to each other. 

I want to talk about some of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to marriage:

1. Before you get married, the various things that make you “you” get exercised with a number of different people in your life.  For example, you’ve got a friend you play golf with, somebody else you go beading with, somebody you talk to about politics, and somebody you share your religion with.  Well, do you know what happens when you get married?  You have the expectation that your spouse is now supposed to be the whole package, having all the accessories in life.  Your spouse should definitely be your best friend – no question about that – but not your only friend.  Some other people might be better mentors, workout partners, antiquing buddies, etc.

2. Sabotaging trust.  Love brought you together, but lack of trust will terminate everything.  Trust is all about the small things – hiding store receipts, telling small lies, and casual flirting.  If your spouse sees that you’re dishonest with the small things, they make the assumption you’re a big risk for the big things.  Be open and honest about the small things, and that way, you won’t be doubted.

3. Breaching privacy.  How many times have you heard me yelling at people on my show because they told their mother/father/sister/uncle/cousin/friend or posted on Facebook about what their husband or wife did?  They humiliated their spouse in public, made others think less of them, and now they’re wondering why their relationship stinks.  Don’t put your spouse in the position of feeling exposed and betrayed.  Don’t talk to friends and family about private things.  Just don’t.

4. Throwing around the “divorce” word every time you get pissy.  In the beginning of people’s marriages, even little disappointments and slights can turn into big arguments.  It’s no wonder why so many people call my show saying, “We’ve only been married a short amount of time and we’re fighting all the time.”  It’s because they went into the marriage with certain expectations, and then reality hit.  Their illusions about “he’s perfect…she’s perfect…it’s perfect” get dented and bruised, and they become angry about feeling let down, trapped, frustrated, and betrayed.  However, you have to see this as just “real people time.”  Don’t be throwing around “divorce” every time you have a disagreement.  Emotions can run high if you’re not good at resolving conflicts together.  In your minds, you should both be saying, “Divorce is not an option.  We must work to find a way to work through this.”

5. Insisting on being right.  Some of you folks do this like you’re arguing about what’s the best Italian restaurant in town. Constantly insisting that you’re right, that your opinion is the correct one, or that your way is the best way is a quickie way to make your spouse feel undervalued and underestimated. If you find yourself in this situation, whether it’s during a heated argument or just a friendly debate, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather be right or happy?”

6. You don’t spend enough time slurping each other.  When I talk to people on the radio, I don’t ask them if they are their spouse’s husband or wife – I ask them if they are their “husband’s girlfriend” or their “wife’s boyfriend.”  What I’m implying is whether or not they do all the flirting, slurping, complementing touching, cuddling, tickling, and smiling people do when they’re somebody’s girlfriend or boyfriend.  These are things that people tend not to do with their wife or husband.  It’s probably the biggest thing people admit to after going through a divorce: they know they weren’t slurpy enough.

If you’re thinking about getting married or contemplating why the hell your marriage isn’t going well, read my book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage, in addition to these tips.  Trust me, it’s really worth it.