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

Orlando: Coping with Trauma

  • Posted on June 13, 2016 at 10:11 am

The mass shooting in Orlando, killing at least 50 of our queer brothers and sisters, injuring 53 more is a horrible, unspeakable trauma for the GLBTQI… community.  I want to share some ways to cope with trauma and tragedy that I am doing. * Take care of yourself:  be alone, if that’s what you need, or be with loved ones.  Get hugs, kisses, cry together, hold each other.  Pride celebrations this month, and candle light vigils and prayer services offer community opportunities. *Grieve however you need to.  Be angry.  Be sad.  Withdraw.  Jump into action.  Cry.  Scream.  Sit quietly.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve. *Focus on what helps you.  Today, I am focusing on the individual people who were senselessly murdered, getting to know their names, who they were, what they were known for.  I am holding each one in my heart and mind.  Meditate on them, pray for them, their families and loved ones, for us. *Ignore those infuriating things you can’t do anything about:  the media, the glorification of the shooter, the  manipulations by politicians, the ignorant and cruel comments you may hear on social media or from people around you. *Breathe, deeply.  Focus…

Feeling the Spark in Saginaw

  • Posted on May 31, 2016 at 9:35 am

Dear Christine,

I’ve only been in love twice in my life.  Both times it was instant attraction and both times it turned into relationships that lasted over 15 years.  I thought love wouldn’t hit me again.  I meet people all the time and haven’t even felt a spark in years. Well, I feel the spark. I just recently met two lovely women and I’m head over heals for one of them.  I don’t know what to do.  The more time I spend with them, the stronger it gets. I have one friend that says all’s fair in love and war and another that says it’s just wrong to lust after a friend’s wife.  Thanks for any thoughts you have to share. 

Signed, Feeling the Spark in Saginaw

Dear Sparked,

You have a dilemma.  You are single, not looking for love, and then love presents itself!  But she’s not available!  Now you get to make some hard choices based on your values and being blunt and honest with yourself.  What do you really want?  Do you continue contact if that is fueling futile desires?  Do you tell her?  Is she already aware?  How about her wife?  Has she caught on to your attraction?  What do these two lovely women want?  Friendship?  More?

The story of your life, thus far, is when you fall in love, it is instant, with someone who is available and who also is attracted to you, and who also is interested in a long-term relationship.  OK, now, you have unexpectedly fallen in love with someone who doesn’t fit that whole pattern.  What do you do?  Your friends have differing opinions, but all that really matters is what you believe, who you are and how you can live with yourself.

Can you just be friends with these two, even as love for one is growing?  Can you be honest with them about the situation?  Do you want to woo the one away from her wife (all’s fair, etc)?  Do you respect their relationship and commitment?

The only person you have to live with through all this is you.  Search your heart, your soul, and decide what you must do to have peace with yourself now, but also in the future.  Communicate what you need to, to friends, to this couple, to this woman.  This could be a wonderful opportunity, or it could be a nightmare.  It all depends on your values, morals and needs.  If you choose to pursue this woman, then you become vulnerable to everyone else’s opinions and possible rejection, including from this woman herself.  Do some journaling, take some long walks and think about what could happen if you take one choice, then if you take the next, and so on.  Then go and do whatever is truly in integrity for you.  Good luck.
Christine C. Cantrell, PhD.


In Love in Livonia

  • Posted on February 14, 2016 at 6:45 pm

Dear Christine,

“When is a good time in a relationship to say ‘I love you’??”

In love in Livonia

Dear in love in Livonia,

It’s probably easier to tell you when it’s NOT a good time to say those three little words! Like the first date! Or the second! Which also means it’s probably better not to rent that U-Haul either of those occasions. But when is a good time? Hmmmm. I imagine everyone you ask will have a different answer. Usually we are quicker to fall in love when we are younger, less experienced in heartbreak and are trying to figure out what, exactly, love really is. Love can be an amazing, overwhelming feeling! It feels just the same, and yet so very different from one relationship to the next. It takes experience and practice to understand what you feel when you love someone, and when to say it and when to hold back a bit. I guess telling someone “I love you” is a bit like when to have sex? If you do either one too early, it’s easy to feel all alone and vulnerable and perhaps make it difficult to develop a strong relationship with your beloved. In every relationship I’ve had, I’ve told that person “I love you” at some point. Some, it was way too early, before I really knew that person, and later I realized it wasn’t a lasting love, maybe just a little love psychosis (as the Japanese call falling in love). Others, I waited till the person I was seeing said “I love you” first, as that felt more secure. So, enjoy those wonderful physical and emotional feelings of love, as you consider the “right time” to share those words.

Christine Cantrell, PhD, Psychologist

Weary in Westland

  • Posted on February 1, 2016 at 5:49 am

Dear Christine, 

I have a friend who has feelings for me that are unwanted by me.  I’m recently single but she even made it clear she “loved me” when I was with my last girlfriend.  She sent me her true confessions by email which my partner read and wasn’t thrilled with.  She also tried to kiss me once but I turned away just in time! I asked her to stop it then and she did sort of slow down but recently she’s been hinting at her feelings even though I’ve been bordering on cruel with my responses.  I’m getting really turned off by it.  I did value her friendship but I’m ready to tell her to just leave me alone.  Is it possible to have a friendship with someone who is in love with you when you don’t feel the same?  I don’t, and never will return her feelings but we have fun as friends and I’d like to keep that.  Is there a way to get her to stop or do I just need to end the friendship?

Thanks, Weary in Westland

Dear Weary,
How do you get anybody to do something they don’t want to do?  I haven’t figured that out.  I have 5 cats, so I get to experiment with this continuously.  If what I want happens to match  with what they want or need, it’s great!  If not, I’m usually the one disappointed.  Likewise for you.  You can’t get your friend to stop loving you.  Her feelings are there and are real and can’t be turned off like a light switch.  She didn’t hide her feelings when you were with your last girlfriend, and now that you’re single, she keeps hinting now.

She’s not getting is that you “aren’t that into her.” The more she tries to kiss you and make you fall in love with her, the further away you go.  She doesn’t get subtleties and is pushing you to be direct and blunt with her.  If there is a chance at a relationship, she’s ready and not waiting.  If there’s no chance on your part, then there’s no overlapping middle ground.  Remember the Venn Diagram?

If she wants a relationship and you don’t, there might be a friendship where there is overlap.  But since you want different things, there’s no common ground.  If she can’t be friends and you can’t be more, then you are a “disjoint” and there is no friendship.  You can only go to the lowest common denominator in a relationship, and she can’t limit herself to your lowest requirement:  friendship.
Remember what Maya Angelou said:  When people show us who they are, believe them.  This woman is NOT a friend.  She is not able to be a friend.  The kindest thing you can do is to be direct and clear and let her friendship go.

Take care,

Christine Cantrell, PhD



Stalling in Southfield

  • Posted on January 18, 2016 at 5:33 am

Dear Christine,

I am a 35 year old woman and I have been in a relationship with my girlfriend for about 5 years. We consider ourselves to be married but so far we have kept our finances separate. She has asked me several times to open a joint account with her and combine our money and assets. I have resisted and I’m not sure why. She makes considerably more money than I do, I believe she loves me and the income difference doesn’t seem to matter to her. I have always been very independent and a bit stubborn and feel like I just need to take care of myself. Right now I just pay her a monthly amount to cover my half of the household bills. The house is in her name and she has offered to add me, but like so many mortgages, it’s underwater so I don’t see the point. She says she really want us to be more like a “married couple” She really wants this!

So, why am I stalling? Stalling in Southfield

Dear Stalling,

Why are you stalling? Only you know the answer to that! Each of us are motivated by very different things, but usually we are looking to protect ourselves from further hurts. Two things that is fundamental in any relationship is that there be reciprocity and equality. Reciprocity means that I give as much as I get. Equality means that each of you are as worthy as the other. How you define what those mean is individual. This is often a problem with unequal incomes. If you earn double my income, I am not as worthy (as full of worth) as you. However, what we give to the relationship, and what we receive from it, isn’t only monetary. Time, energy, money and attention to the relationship, home and staying home to raise children would all be examples of what may contributed and received. There’s no right or wrong way to create an equal and reciprocal relationship. However, since we don’t have legal rights as married people do, we need to create legal documents to protect each other. So, if I buy a house, and I don’t put your name on it, and I don’t give you rights of survivorship, then you will be put out of the home we shared when I die. If I don’t have a will, the house will end up in probate and a judge will decide who should inherit it as my next of kin.

In a healthy relationship, we choose to be with each other and we choose to share ourselves with our partner. It takes trust and vulnerability to have an equal and reciprocal relationship. I have to trust that you will honor your commitment to me around money, family, house and shared belongings. I have had some people draw up elaborate legal documents stating who owned what before the relationship started, and who gets what that was jointly purchased during the relationship. Some detail this in a will, others make a long list and both sign it (probably not legal, but it clearly shows intent to be fair should the relationship end). Do you trust your partner? Do you feel worthy of her love and generosity, even though your incomes are not equal? Do you each give to and receive from the relationship of what you need? Do you each choose freely to be in this partnership. Do you really trust yourself, if something relationship ended? Do you trust your partner to be fair? These are some good questions to think about, journal on, and then to discuss with your partner, to find out what you both are thinking and feeling. And in this process you will learn about yourself and why you are stalling, and where you don’t feel equal or trusting or reciprocal in your relationship. Then you can choose to share that with your partner, to further the vulnerability, trust and emotional reciprocity, or you can choose to end a relationship that doesn’t feel equal or safe for you to truly be you.

Good luck!

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD.

Sneaking Around in Southfield

  • Posted on December 6, 2015 at 5:00 am

Dear Christine, 

I am a 37 year old lesbian who has only been deeply in love one time when I was 23.  She loved me too and it was so intense.  She had a lot of pressure from her family and religion and eventually broke my heart and hers and she left me and married a man.   I have tried to move on and I just haven’t been able to feel that strongly about anyone else.  Recently I met someone who I could see myself growing old with.  There is love and comfort although not the same deep passion I once felt.  I am on the verge of having a good life with a good person and then,  “the one” finds me out of the blue.  She is married, has 3 kids, super active in her Baptist church, and apparently has never stopped thinking about me either.   She will not leave her husband, tell her family or let on to anyone at all that she still loves me but wants to see me “privately”  We did spend one amazing afternoon together and the passion is still there.  Unlike her, I can’t keep the wife and have a mistress. I know this sounds nuts and in my mind I know the right answer is to not be tempted by empty promises.  Do I choose a life sneaking around to have the love of my life in bits and pieces, or do I choose safe and comfort even if I may never feel the intense kind of love again.   I seriously think I may make the wrong choice.  Thanks for listening and if you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear from you. 

Signed, Sneaking Around in Southfield


Dear Sneaking Around,
Wow! Look what you have created!  Yes, you are in charge of your life and you can make your life work for you the way you want, or you can drift from one happening to another, being victim to other people’s actions.  You didn’t expect your ex to reappear, but here she is, creating earthquakes in your otherwise calm life.

How wonderful that you have had that incredible passionate love experience at least once in your life.  That’s an amazing feeling, but you know by this point in your life, it never lasts.  It is hormones, chemistry, timing and is fleeting.  It’s also a lot of projection:  putting your hopes and dreams of the perfect relationship on a human being you don’t know well who is frail, contradictory and has faults that you are not seeing or acknowledging yet.  The Japanese call it “love psychosis” and if it lasts 3 years, that’s unusual.  During that passion, you have an opportunity to form a deeper emotional connection with that person from shared values, trust, honesty, openness and vulnerability and mutual goals.  Or the passion fades and the relationship cannot be sustained.
So, your choices at this point are:  What sort of relationship do you want?  Passion that is hidden?  Being someone else’s mistress? Cheat on your partner you are growing old with?   Trust your ex who broke your heart  and promises nothing of substance now?  Honesty with friends and family who care about your happiness?  Or sneaking around, taking whatever crumbs of passion your ex has for you, all the while keeping a huge secret from your partner, and everyone else you interact with?  And if you choose your ex, what happens when her husband or your partner learns the truth?

It’s all in your hands.  Who you choose reflects your values and your character.  Be fully yourself and be confident in your choices.  Write me again and let me know what you decide.
Christine Cantrell, PhD


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

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