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Category Archives: Relationships
I grew up in an environment where everybody kept their feelings to themselves. I was a sensitive kid with very strong emotions that I didn't know how to express constructively. The people around me didn't seem to have emotions, because they never talked about them. Over time I developed a deep sense of shame about my feelings, and learned to suppress, suppress, suppress.
At the same time, strong feelings of emotional abandonment as a child led me to become terrified of rejection. I didn't know at the time that feelings are what build empathy and connection between people, and that the emotion-less communication strategies I had learned from the adult role models around me made the very thing I was most afraid of, rejection, more likely to happen to me.
As a young adult, I had panic attacks when strangers … Continue reading…
So you're sitting in a room by yourself at your computer/phone, searching the Internet for the umpteenth time to try and work out what the hell is wrong with you.
You have abandonment issues, obviously!
Here are thirteen other clues:
- You feel a deep inner sadness when the cute girl/guy sitting next to you on the bus gets off.
- You break out in a cold sweat at the mere thought of rejection.
- Your heart aches when nobody retweets your last hilarious tweet.
- You ended all your past relationships, but somehow it still feels like they left you.
- You've had years of therapy, but you're still angry with your mother.
- You begin all your sentences with the word “you”, even though you really mean “I”.
- You meditate/pray with your eyes open, to make sure the other people are still
I used to get tremendously anxious about what other people thought of me. Hang on a second; used to? Who am I kidding? I'm still as neurotic as the next person. But I have been making some inroads into this particular phobia lately.
It helps is knowing where it comes from, and it's partly an evolutionary thing: we evolved in tribes where individuals specialised in what they were good at, because that gave the tribe an evolutionary advantage over individuals living every-Neanderthal-for-themselves. Our ancestors were interdependent, and that meant they needed to get along with each other. Since the cook couldn't hunt and the hunter couldn't cook, rejection by the tribe meant certain death; so we learned to worry about what other people think of us.
Or I could just blame my mother. She used to say… Continue reading…
My previous work as a Confidence Coach helping men to relate better to women required me to keep my fingers abreast of the ever-changing world of the modern female psyche. With this in mind, I recently read the phenomenally successful Fifty Shades Of Grey.
Literary critics have been quite scathing about the quality of the writing in the book, but to me that's a bit like criticising the cinematography in Debbie Does Dallas.
While the depiction of the female anti-hero in the book may not represent or be typical of many modern women, it has clearly struck a nerve of some kind given it's legendary best-seller status amongst its mostly-female readership.
However, it is a bit of a tedious read if you happen to be a man. So, to save my fellow men from having to thumb their way through 514 pages of mommy … Continue reading…
I have a friend of mine whose relationship looks to me like the emotional rollercoaster from hell. When it's good, it's very very good; but when it's bad, it's horrid. From what I can tell, his girlfriend has a very high analytical intelligence but lacks emotional intelligence. Whenever she's upset, she treats him like crap and he has a tendency to let her walk all over him. He really likes her so he swings between being happy as Larry and anxious as all hell.
Recently he's started to man-up and tell her that it's not OK for her to treat him like trash. When he does this, she settles down and starts to take responsibility for her own feelings instead of just dumping on him. Then later on she blows up again.… Continue reading…
When I was young, my parents used to argue... a lot. They got really good at it, because they put so much time and effort into practising. Screaming, shouting and hurling painful insults at each other was the order of the day. The more cutting the insult, the more points they scored off each other as their mutual self-esteem gradually wore lower and lower while they verbally pummelled each other into the ground.
Winning the argument was more important than anything else. They had the ability to drag a single argument out for days, weeks, months... even years! It was like being on the sidelines of one of those long and boring tennis matches that just goes on and on and on long past your bedtime, swinging from advantage server to advantage receiver depending on who had just fired the most powerful volley at their opponent. They may have started … Continue reading…
I know a lot of people are struggling these days with the whole concept of rejection. An invitation to grab a coffee with a cute member of the opposite sex is rudely declined, and you're left feeling all alone in the world with nobody to console you. An offer to dance is declined because they're “too tired”; and yet suddenly have a mysterious burst of energy when the next potential suitor comes along straight after. You send an SMS or leave a voicemail, and your so-called “friend” never gets back to you. Some days it's just one rejection after another.
Rejection stings because it reminds you just how much you hate yourself. Someone else affirms the negative beliefs about yourself that you've got stashed away deep down in your unconscious, and suddenly you're flooded with all the feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy that you've been avoiding ever since your earliest … Continue reading…
Over the last few years, I've inadvertently adopted a strategy for dealing with troublesome neighbours based on the theme of the reality TV show Survivor: Outwit, Outplay, Outlast. Well, maybe not so much outwit and outplay, but outlast seems to be working for me with these people:
Cranky Old Men
First up was nasty neighbour Charles. I first met Charles while exploring the common property soon after buying my apartment. He a relatively short man around his mid 70s, with dark black hair, and a slight arch in his back which suggested that he was past his peak and was now growing shorter rather than taller. At first, Charles oozed charm and smarm: he was very friendly and welcoming in a rather disarming kind of way.
But things turned nasty only a couple of weeks later at the first body corporate meeting. The hot item on the agenda … Continue reading…
When I start hearing the same message coming at me from multiple independent sources, that usually gets my attention. This year I've had several sources giving me the message that women want men with backbone who they can “push up against”. They get tired and ultimately resentful of Nice Guys who always yield powerlessly to them, and everyone else.
I listened to an interview by David DeAngelo (of Double Your Dating fame) talking with Robert Glover described what is wrong with Nice Guys most succinctly by quoting a comment from his ex-wife, who said “How would I know that you could ever stand up for me, if you can't even stand up to me?”. Robert calls it Nice Guy Syndrome, and has even written a book titled No More Mr. Nice Guy! He points out that while Nice Guys think that what they are doing will please other people, … Continue reading…
I first encountered Blake Morrison when I heard him speak at the Sydney Writer's Festival last year on the rarely-deeply-discussed topic of the relationship between fathers and sons. I knew immediately that I was going to relate to his book And When Did You Last See Your Father.
The book is an autobiographical series of vignettes spanning Blake's life, each of which add a piece to the puzzle depicting his larger-than-life father as seen through the son's eyes. Interspersed between these snapshots is the background scene of Blake's aging father's gradual death due to cancer. But rather than just talk about the book itself, I also want to tell you what it reminded me of in my relationship with my own father.
Blake Morrison's father and mine share only superficial similarities: They are both in their early seventies. Both have a pacemaker; although my own father acquired his only mid … Continue reading…