You are currently browsing all posts tagged with 'dating'.

Pushed in Pontiac

  • Posted on October 2, 2016 at 10:02 pm

Dear Christine,

The woman that I just met 6 weeks ago is possibly the best thing that’s happened to me in a very long time. However, she seems way too concerned about the future. She constantly wants to discuss, Where will we live? When we should move in together?  Basically, she talks a lot about what our future will look like together.

I on the other hand am more concerned about really getting to know each other and protecting my heart. She’s ready this early to go all in and I am just a little scared and cautious.  Our histories are similar though. We’ve both been hurt and abandoned by those we were closest to in our lives.  I want to assure her that I’m excited about where this could go and I’ve tried but it’s never enough and it’s exhausting.  Reassuring her is getting in the way with the fun of dating and falling in love. I’m not going anywhere but how can I convince her without actually marrying her, which in no way would guarantee forever based on both of our pasts.

Thanks, Pushed in Pontiac

Dear Pushed,

It sounds like a lot is going very well for such a new relationship.  But, it’s also WAY too soon to be talking about marriage to reassure her of your commitment.  Neither of you is knows the other well enough to take that step yet!  That’s what dating is for!

A healthy relationship will allow each of you the space you need to explore the possibilities of what might become as you get to know each other.  Each of you needs to accept where the other one is without pressuring the other to be different.  If you think about some habit you’ve tried to change about yourself (flossing daily, losing weight, for example) you know how hard it is to change yourself when you are motivated and see the value of that change.  It’s almost impossible to change someone else, particularly if that person doesn’t see any need for change.

So, what that means is that you can’t change her neediness for you to make a life-long commitment after only 6 weeks together, and she can’t change your need to take your time and protect your heart until you are more certain that she is “the one.”  Talk to her to help her understand that her pushing you for a premature commitment or marriage could spell disaster for this fun relationship.  The best rule I’ve found is that of the lowest common denominator.  Whoever needs to move slowly, safely, must receive that space and time to feel safe in the relationship.  Just because one is ready to move in with the other doesn’t mean the other is ready to lose her own sacred space.

Keep talking to each other.  Help to her understand what you are feeling and where it is coming from.  If she just can’t hear you and insists on marriage now or never, then take care of yourself first.  You HAVE to live with yourself.  You choose to live with others.  If you aren’t comfortable with being pushed to make a choice you aren’t 100% sure about, then speak that truth.  If that ends the fun dating relationship, then so be it.

It’s ok to have boundaries.  Boundaries are what make it emotionally safe for emotional, social, sexual and physical vulnerability.  When you both have enough experience to validate trusting each other, then the love can blossom.  And you both will figure out what the next step is in this fun dating relationship.

Take care,
Christine Cantrell, PhD

Psychologist

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Deal Breakers and Dating in Dexter

  • Posted on September 25, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Dear Christine,

I am recently dating someone that I really like.  I have a list of deal breakers that she actually got annoyed with me when I listed them to her on our first date.

Deal Breakers = No Smokers, No Drug Users and No Alcoholics. Those are the big ones.

On a lesser scale, must have a decent job, be fairly intelligent, no fussy eaters and must want kids in the future.

We have two little glitches. One, she doesn’t think I should have voiced my deal breakers so early in a relationship. Two, she doesn’t want kids and I really do. I always have hoped to have at least one child, perhaps two.

So the following questions are, is it ok to let people know what I want and expect in a relationship?  Can you change another persons expectations for the future?  Can I get her to change her mind about kids when she seems pretty firm?

Deal Breaking and Dating in Dexter

 

Dear Deal Breakers and Dating,
Keep dating!  It may seem too early to bring up deal breakers early on, but it sure saves you time and heart ache!  Now you know that this woman is definitely not a keeper for a committed relationship including children!  Time to move on.

One of the advantages I found of dating once I reached my early 30s is that I no longer wanted to play “the game.”  I didn’t want to try to change anyone else, but instead, I wanted to let dates know who I know I am and what I need to make a relationship work.  For me!  The might have been fun in teens and twenties, but it grows old.  You may have offended her by getting serious too quickly, but you also learned that she’s really not into kids.  And you are.  You both now know that about each other and you haven’t wasted 3 years living together and fighting all the time.

Have you ever tried to change something about yourself?  Like lose weight? Quit a bad habit?  How did it go for you?  Was it quick and easy?  Did it just take a couple of reminders to yourself, a couple of changes to your routine and the weight was gone or you gave up the bad habit?  Hmmm.  I didn’t think so.  And this was a change YOU wanted for you!

So, if you try to change someone else who is OK with how they are (she doesn’t want kids) and now you make it your mission to convince her to be a loving mom to only 1 or 2 children, how will that go?  Smoothly?  Easily?  What will that do to the children that you want her to help you raise?  Will they feel loved and cared for by her?  Or might she feel resentful towards them and you?

Be glad you know yourself so well.  It’s not romantic to tell your date all your non-negotiables the first or second date, but it does move the process of finding a life partner along well.  Be who you are, with no apologies!  Keep dating!
And keep me posted, OK?

Christine Cantrell, PhD

Psychologist

 

 

Heated in Hell, MI

  • Posted on March 13, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Dear Christine, 

I work at a professional office where there’s a strict no dating policy.  It’s a really good job and I need it but I have a problem that’s making it hard to go to work.  A co-worker started flirting with me big time and though I knew the policy, I figured what the hell, we could be discrete.  We went out several times and I thought he really liked me.  I was falling!   Suddenly he just started ignoring me.  He won’t take my calls and acts at work like nothing happened.  I can’t talk to anyone at work about it but I did find out, he has a husband!  I’m so damn angry and there’s nothing I can do without serious risk of affecting my position at work.  Part of me wants to tell our manager just to get him in trouble and hell with the consequences.  If he would at least talk to me I might have some understanding but he has totally cut me off and I’m frustrated and confused.  How do I let this go before I blow!? 

Thanks, Heated in Hell, MI

Dear Heated,

Now you know why there’s a no-dating policy in most workplaces.  Even if you two hit it off, your dating can be very difficult on your colleagues who have to endure your drama once they realize what’s going on.

So, at work you met a flirt who is married.  Here’s the result of your decision to see  “what the hell.”  You took a big risk.  Welcome to hell!  You might be discrete, but  who is he really is?  Is he capable of discretion?  Healthy relationship are when both partners are equals to communicate what they feel and need and want.  That’s really hard to do in the workplace.

You can’t make someone else take your calls, like you or talk to you.  You can’t make a relationship work all by yourself.  A good relationship is when both parties are giving 100%, not even just 50/50.  You are putting your job at serious risk.   If you truly need and want this job, you’ll find a way to take a deep breath whenever you see him/think of him, and remind yourself that you need this job.

Welcome to a life lesson.  When you truly get a lesson from the School of Hard Knocks, you will never need a refresher course!  Consider yourself lucky that you still have your job and focus on that.  Count to 10 when you see him, use self-talk to talk yourself down when you get riled up.  Anger is a normal reaction, but after about 90 seconds of feeling anger surge, you have to feed it to keep it going.

Remind yourself that you put yourself in this position.  If you tell yourself you were the victim and you just want him punished, whatever the cost to you, that’s nurturing the anger.  For every 5 minutes that you are angry, you increase your blood pressure, decrease your digestion, your breathing gets shallow and your immune system goes off line for the next 6 hours!  That’s not including losing your job.  It’s not fun to be an adult:  bills, responsibilities, jobs, boundaries, communication and most important, self-care.   Good luck as you practice good self-care in the coming weeks, modulating your anger rather than feeding it!

Christine Cantrell, PhD

Licensed Psychologist

Pity Party in Plymouth

  • Posted on February 24, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Dear Christine,

Hi, I have been reading your advice and it all sounds good. I decided to write for some myself. I am getting older and I feel completely out of the scene I am overweight and feel unattractive. I have been single for six years now and miss having a relationship. I also live in the burbs and feel so disconnected. so I am feeling kinda disenfranchised, pathetic and lonely. Okay enough of the pity party but seriously how do you get back in the game with out looking too much like a goof (although I kinda like that look) I don’t want to be 80 and alone! not that I am that old yet but it could happen.

Pity Party in Plymouth

 

Dear Pity Party in Plymouth,

The best way to get back in the scene is to start liking yourself. Find things you like to do with you, and then find friends who can do those things with you, sharing in the fun you’re having with yourself. Meet new friends through activities and events that bring people together. Check out the listings of what to do on GOAL, and other gay/lesbian websites. Drop by Affirmations in Ferndale, join a softball league or golf outing. Do things that you enjoy and you are bound to find people that also enjoy these events and will find you easy and fun to be around. Look for friends first, not a relationship first. Once you’ve asked a friend enough questions to find out if they fit your needs, your non-negotiables, perhaps a relationship will follow. Don’t force it, don’t be desperate, but instead come to enjoy your own company and find interests in the community that will get you out and mingling with other people with similar interests and values.

Christine Cantrell, PhD, LP

Dateless in Detroit

  • Posted on November 8, 2015 at 5:22 pm

Dear Christine, 

I am 28 years old and have never had a date.  There have been a few women I’ve been interested in and when I’ve tried to show my interest, I get rejected.  There is a woman in my office that I’ve been getting close to lately.  I feel like there might be something there but I’m so afraid to let her know how I feel.  I don’t think I could take another rejection and we work for the same company and I don’t want to have to see her every day if I make a fool of myself.

Dateless in Detroit

Dear Dateless,

I’d advise against dating anyone at work.  Why?  It complicates work and relationships and possibly productivity when the relationship succeeds and also when you feel rejected or there’s a break up.  We are around neighbors and colleagues so much of our waking life that we often become interested in people we work with. Whatever happens, it can be negative to others in the office, even when you and she are doing fine. So, if you are truly close to this colleague, take it very, very slowly.

It’s always best to date people who you don’t live with or work with, so there is room to get to know each other and discover if you are truly compatible before expectations begin to develop. Get away from work and find some hobbies and interests that other people share:  skiing (winter is coming), softball, bowling, biking, hiking, helping at a soup kitchen, helping with set design in a local theater:  the list is endless.  If you are participating in something that is meaningful to you that you enjoy whether or not you are single or coupled up, you will meet like-minded folks who may become friends.  If they aren’t dating material, they know lots of people you don’t know and they might be able to help you meet more eligible singles.

The ironic thing with dating is that if you seem desperate, people will reject you and avoid you.  If you are comfortable in your own skin and being with yourself for company, you are more likely to attract others who are interested in getting to know you better.  Make friends with yourself, find things to do that you enjoy that cross your path with others and go out and meet them.  Not everyone you’re attracted to will be a good fit for a relationship with you.  You will have to kiss a lot of frogs, so to speak!  But if you can be comfortable in your own company, with you, that will make you much more attractive to a potential date and it will make the dating process, replete with rejection, more bearable.  Good luck.

Christine Cantrell, PhD,

Psychologist

christineccantrellphd@gmail.com

Not Sure in Novi

  • Posted on November 1, 2015 at 10:58 pm

Dear Christine, 

I met someone new through Match and I have a question  I’m going really slow with her because on our second date, she told me about her childhood, which was horrific!  I don’t want to share the details of that but she told me she was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder.   I’m not sure I believe that really exists and fortunately, I’ve seen no sign of it in her.  I know she is damaged and that I do see.  I’m concerned about going forward in a relationship and considering steering us towards just friendship.  Is there any advice you can give me about dealing with someone who is still recovering from a horrible past… and does MPD really exist?   Thanks for your thoughts on this. 

Signed, Not Sure in Novi

Dear Not Sure,

It is wise to move slowly in this friendship or relationship or whatever it develops into.  All of us emerge from our childhoods and families with scars and wounds and part of our responsibility in adulthood is to work on healing from those traumas that befell us as children through no fault of our own.  Dating is a time to learn about each other and find out who each other is and if you are compatible, if you share the same values, needs, goals and approach to life.  It takes time to get to know each other well enough to find all this out.  Don’t rush it!

Multiple Personality Disorder diagnosis does exist, though it is currently called Dissociative Identity Disorder, (DID) which is one of several Dissociative Disorders.  DID involves the person experiencing two or more distinct personality states and gaps in recall that is more serious than could be attributed to ordinary forgetfulness and are not induced by medical issues or substances.

Everyone dissociates to some degree.  Marathon runners and other athletes will separate themselves from their physical pain to complete their goal, for example.  You might “get lost” in a book, or find that 3 hours have passed without notice while playing a game on the Internet.  Most people don’t feel like they are two or more distinct personality states, though most of us will talk of our “inner child” or “inner parent”.  We all wear different hats in our life, depending on whether we are at work, with family of origin or with friends, for example.  But most of us are completely aware of their personal history or feel a sense of self and of agency even as we switch one hat for another.

People with DID creatively figured out how to dissociate, even to the point of having different personalities, in order to survive great horror, chaos, trauma or abuse in the first 5 years of life. Try not to be skeptical  or judgmental, but instead have compassion.  You heard her story on the second date, and I’m sure that was pretty rough for you to hear, and for her to tell.  Perhaps she told you early on so if you couldn’t handle what she is about, neither of you would be too deeply invested.

I hope that she is in therapy and working on her own healing and integration of the fragments of her self.  I hope you can be honest with yourself, as well as her, to  supportive of her chosen path for healing.   Ask her questions in a non-judgmental way.  Find out if she has got a handle on her particular constellation of issues, personalities, needs and ways to cope with all of this.  Does she have a therapist and a supportive network of friends that she can call in a crisis?  You should not set yourself up to be her one and only support.

There’s several excellent books you could read for your own understanding.  Robert B. Oxnam wrote his autobiography:  A Fractured Mind.  My Life with Multiple Personality Disorder, 2006.  He was a successful man, scholar, world traveler and sought after expert on Asia appearing on television.  His story is of his treatment and recovery from MPD.

A couple of other helpful books are:
*The Stranger in the Mirror, Dissociation–The Hidden Epidemic, by Marlene Steinberg and Maxine Schnall, 2001.

*The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel Van Der Kolk,  2015.  Dr. Van Der Kolk is one of the leading experts in trauma and dissociation diagnosis and treatment since the 1970s.  This book is filled with neuroscientific research findings as well as stories of resilience of his patients.

*Amongst Ourselves:  A Self-Help Guide to Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder, by Tracy Alderman, Karen Marshall, 1998

*Coping with Trauma Related Dissociation, Skills Training for Patients and Therapists by Suzette Boon, Kathy Steel, Onno Van Der Hart. This is a manual for patients with trauma related dissociation disorders, including exercises and homework sheets.

Movies such as The Three Faces of Eve and Sybil are dramatic and not helpful to understanding what DID is or how to be in a relationship with someone with DID.

This is an opportunity for you to learn about yourself and what you can handle and where your limits are.  Take your time.  Enjoy this friendship and whatever else it might become.
Christine Cantrell, PhD,
christineccantrellphd@gmail.com

Red Flag in Roseville

  • Posted on September 21, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Dear Christine,

I am newly dating someone I met through Match and I must say, I am falling hard.  I am a romantic and have been deeply in love twice in my life.  In getting to know one another, we have talked about our past relationships and I have told her about mine and she has shared hers. The troubling part for me is that she is 47 years old and says she has never been in love even though she has had several relationships.  How can that be?  It makes me question whether she can fall in love and will she with me.  We have already talked about a future together and she seems excited about it.  I wonder if she just settles for less than.  I can’t and will not just settle and if we move forward, I want to believe she will be in love with me and not just settle.  Is this a red flag?

Signed, Red Flag in Roseville

 

Dear Red Flag,

Red flags are those things which warn you to move slowly and check out whether or not they are non-negotiables or whether you can be in the relationship without them.  Non negotiables are like water and air, or food.  You can go a month or more without food, but you can only go a few minutes without air, so some of these non-negotiables will weigh differently for you.  But they are those things you MUST have or CANNOT have in a relationship for it to work for you.

I met a 47 year old man several years ago who claimed to have never fallen in love, despite several relationships.  He recognized that he never really let himself feel vulnerable and seemed to keep 2 or 3 possible lovers on the side, so as to never be too deeply disappointed if one backed away.  Finally, he was forced with a choice.  “Choose me and me only or I’m leaving. ”  He thought long and hard, but finally chose that person, cutting off his back ups.  He reported feeling much more love than he’d felt before.  I speculate, however, that no one at 47 falls in love like someone who is 17.

First love is something ultra romantic, where we project everything we want on someone else, and since we don’t know ourselves very well, much less the one we fall in love with, the relationship is intense, highly emotional and when it ends can feel like the end of the world.  Through these love relationships and break ups, and just from living more years, we gain experience and self awareness.  And we learn to choose partners who tend not to be quite so completely opposite to our own personality.  Young relationships tend to be opposites:  one is extroverted, the other introverted, and so forth.  In older relationships, we tend to find someone who fits us more closely, recognizing that we have to each take care of our own needs and our own self.  The relationship works when we take care of each other only after meeting our own needs.   It sounds less romantic and more practical, but it goes deeper emotionally and intimately and has the more solid foundation to last the ups and downs of life.

So, you may be seeing red flags.  Do you need your partner to be as romantic as you?  fall as hard as you?  Or do you need a partner who can accept that you are like that even if she is not quite the same?  Remember that you can’t change someone else, and to change yourself is very hard work when you truly are committed to changing whatever you find flawed in yourself.  Trust her to reveal her true self to you, and if you don’t like what you see, pay attention!  That would be where the red flags wave!

Keep talking to her, as you are getting to know each other through words, which are symbols.  We all use words like “love” differently.  Ancient Greek had 6 words for love, and English has only one.  In Greek:  philia or deep friendship (Philadelphia), eros or sexual passion (erotic), agape or love for everyone, universal loving kindness or charity, often used in spiritual groups from Christianity to Buddhism), ludus, or playful love, laughing with friends,  pragma, (pragmatic) or longstanding love or the compromises made with patience and tolerance overtime, as in a marriage, and finally  philautia, which is love of the self.  There are two types of philautia:  the healthy self-compassion and narcissism.

Hopefully, both of you have philia and ludus and will be looking for eros, and agape, as well as creating pragma from both of you having healthy philautia.

I wish you both the best, where ever this shared journey takes you and however long or short it lasts.
Take care,
Christine Cantrell, PhD

To read more on these 6 worlds of love:http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/the-ancient-greeks-6-words-for-love-and-why-knowing-them-can-change-your-life

 

 

Missing Him In Metamora

  • Posted on July 30, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Dear Christine,

I never thought I’d be in this situation and can’t believe I’m writing to you for advice on this matter.
My husband and I were high school sweethearts, graduated in 92 and have been together ever since. We’ve been raising 2 children that we first fostered, then adopted. Life has been pretty good for two gay men. In the last 5 years, my sweetheart started drinking more than usual and acting totally out of character. Last month he lost his job due to his drinking and because he is a mean and verbally abusive drunk, I have asked him to move out. He is living in his parents basement now and they are at their wits end too and don’t know what to do or how to help him. They want him to leave but fear what will happen to him if he has no one. He refuses help or to admit he even needs help. I still love him.Is there something I or his parents could do to get him the help he needs? I want my old love back.

Missing him in Metamora

P.S. Second question. How could something like this come on when he was never like this before? I never saw it coming.

Dear Missing Him,

I am sorry to hear of the difficulties you and your sweetheart are going through right now.  It sounds like your partner has developed alcoholism later in life than many.  Two thirds of alcoholics begin drinking at an early age, say starting at age 14 compared to 21.  However, that leaves one third who are older adults when they become alcoholic.  These are called “late onset drinkers.”  Having alcoholism in the family can be a predictor of a higher prevalence of lifetime alcohol dependence, but it can happen to anyone.  There are all sorts of triggers and no single answer, but major life-changes often precede social drinking becoming alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence.  The high stress events of divorce, being fired from a job, death of a parent, death of a spouse, retirement, a major change in health status or other perceived losses (income, mobility, social, social network losses) all can contribute to Late Onset Alcoholism.  People who had substance abuse problems early in life are at higher risk of developing drinking problems even after decades of abstinence. (http://www.choosehelp.com/topics/rehab-older-adults/late-onset-alcoholism-treatment-needs)
The hardest fact for you as the partner of a late onset alcoholic is that there is very little you can do.  You are doing the right things:  Set clear boundaries.  Make sure there are consequences for his drinking, abuse and unwillingness to get help for this problem.  Something happened five years ago when he began to drink more heavily and whatever it is has developed into a huge loss for the entire family and his job.  I understand that his parents are fed up with his behavior too.  It is excruciating to watch someone you love destroy his life and refuse to do anything to slow or reverse that process.
Try as you might, you, nor his parents, cannot make him do anything!  You can continue to be clear about the consequences of choices and behaviors, meanwhile suggesting, encouraging and urging him to get treatment for this disease.  It is very hard for parents to throw their middle age son out of the house for continuing to drink and not get treatment, but that may be necessary. He may need to “hit bottom” before he is willing to change. There are treatment programs, from individual counseling to inpatient treatment to make sure that he does not die from a sudden withdrawal of alcohol by the delirium tremens (DTs).  Someone I know recently turned her life around by entering the Salvation Army program, and by avoiding the people who trigger her drinking and working while living in a half-way house, is managing to be employed and sober.  This person seemed ready to live under a bridge rather than get help, and the family is grateful it didn’t come to that.
I wish I could encourage you to believe your old sweetheart will come back, but there are no guarantees.  There is a saying by Heraclitus “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”  The relationship you had, the family you and your partner and kids were is irretrievably changed.  Hopefully, there can be growth, healing and reconciliation, but each of you will be marked by what has occurred in this time, and all of you will be different.
I wish you and him and your family the best.  May he see the light and enter treatment with an open and willing heart.  Christine Cantrell, PhD, Psychologist