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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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Abandoned in Adrian

  • Posted on June 27, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Dear Christine, I was with my partner for 7 years. We had a child together with her as the birth mother in our 2nd year together by a Donor we choose together.  The plan was to have another child with the same donor and me as the birth mother.  I’m devastated  that two years ago the love of my life cheated on me and left me. What has become even harder is the fact that now she won’t let me see our son. At first she agreed to shared parenting.  I haven’t seen my son in a year now and she doesn’t seem to care that it’s killing me. I’m hoping to convince her that allowing our son to continue to see me is in his best interest.  I don’t want him to think I abandoned him but I’m afraid by now he is forgetting me. Can you speak to the effects it may have on a child when one parent denies another visitation. Also, should I let go or continue to fight?  As much as it hurts, I want to do what’s best for my child. Thanks, Abandoned in Adrian PS my next question is, how can I ever…

Angry in Ann Arbor

  • Posted on March 6, 2016 at 6:28 pm

Dear Christine,

I’ve had a roommate for the past 3 years.  My best friend for the last 20 years and I decided to share expenses as neither one of us has had any success in a relationship.  But that’s a question for another day!

Tuesday was Super Tuesday, but not so super at our house.  I’m for Hillary, she’s for Bernie.  She’s angry, I wasn’t, but now I’m starting to get really annoyed.  Seems to me by the way she’s talking and the other Bernie fans on Facebook that they actually hate Hillary.  OK, I could go on forever but let me get to the point.  How can I convince her that we need to elect a democrat.  I’ll vote for Bernie if he is the nominee but she and many others are saying they won’t vote at all if Hillary is the nominee.  We are both lesbians, both democrats.  The second question is how can we get past the anger going on between us.  It’s been an ugly election year and my relationship with my best friend is strained at best.  Thanks so much,

Angry in Ann Arbor

Dear Angry,
Welcome to election season!  You probably have heard that it’s best not to talk about certain topics:  religion or politics.  Now you know the reason.  Friends and spouses and family members do not always agree about these issues, and there’s a lot of emotional energy and meaning give to either side of the equation.

During election season, there’s a lot of campaigning, which means every candidate and their followers and surrogates are trying to make the case for your vote.  Sometimes they take the high road and give potential policies they back and sometimes it’s all mud slinging and smearing each other.  When the stakes are high, it usually gets ugly.

If you want to live in peace, it probably would be best to avoid politics and the election.  However, that’s hard, as you have known each other so long.  So, if you are going to talk politics and try to persuade one another, set up some boundaries.  When is it OK?  When do you need a break?  You can suggest articles or videos for each other to read/see, trying to inform each other of facts or beliefs you each think are most the most important.  If you can, try to listen to each other, not just shout over each other.  Perhaps she has an important piece for you to consider.  It may not change your mind, but being open with her will start a dialogue rather than a war of words.  If you listen to her, hopefully she will listen to you in return.  Trying to force your views on her or vice versa, usually kicks up a lot of resistance and stops communication.  I don’t find yelling matches helpful in making up my mind about politics.  Fox 2’s “Let It Rip” and some of the Sunday morning TV political talk shows are good examples.  No one wins and everyone gets high blood pressure!
So, the reality is, you can’t change her mind about anything.  And she can’t change yours.  The worst case scenario is that you each vote in the primary and your votes cancel each other out.  The most critical thing here is to vote!  This is your right and your responsibility as a US citizen.  I would love to see what happens if we got a 75 or 80% turnout!  I think our elected officials would look v ery different from most elections, where we have closer to a 25% turnout.

Tues, March 8, is the Democratic Primary, and there are two candidates, so you may feel “why bother?”  By abstaining, you are giving up your voice.  Which candidate turns out the most supporters to vote is who wins.  (Bernie won one election by 10 votes!)  If there’s a 3rd candidate, then there is the possibility of splitting the vote and no candidate gets a majority.  If In the general election, if that 3rd candidate gets enough votes, one of you may lose the candidate of your party.  These are high stakes fights.

If you can’t agree to disagree and still be friends, this election may cost you your friendship.  A lot of people lose FaceBook friends during elections as intense divisions crop up where before was only a pleasant connection.  Perhaps after the Michigan Primary on 3/8/16, you and your friend can give it a rest for a few weeks and then regroup as we learn who the nominees will be for the general election.  Then, maybe you will be able to discuss the pros and cons of the 2 (or 3, wait and see!) main candidates of different parties.  It’s painful.  That’s why we say it’s best not to discuss religion and politics.

The most important thing I can say is get informed and VOTE on Tuesday, March 8!
Christine Cantrell, PhD.