Monthly Archives: May 2016

Guide for Breakups On Your Relationship

Julie Spira isn’t just any writer. She bills herself as an expert on Internet dating, and wrote a book called The Perils of Cyber Dating. When, in 2005, she met The Doctor on an online dating site, Spira was positive she’d finally found The One.

“He seemed very solid and close to his family,” Spira recalls. He made it clear on their first date that, after the end of a lengthy marriage and a year of serial dating, he was looking for an enduring relationship. “That was very appealing to me.”

She took it as a sign of his integrity. It didn’t hurt that he was handsome, too. Eight months of exclusive dating later, The Doctor asked her to marry him.

They planned a simple wedding. But first, they put their individual homes up for sale so they could buy a place together. They went house-hunting together nearly every weekend. When her father got sick, The Doctor saved his life.

Fourteen months into their engagement, Spira received an email from her fiancé titled, simply, “Please Read This.” She put the message aside to savor after work and other commitments. When she finally clicked on it, she wished she hadn’t. “The email had an attached document. It said I was not the woman for him, that the relationship was over, and to please send back the ring. It said my belongings would be delivered tomorrow,” Spira says. “I sat there and my whole body started to shake.”

Spira had to plaster on a happy face for a few days her parents were renewing their marriage vows at a family party on the other side of the country and she wasn’t yet ready to tell anyone about the broken engagement. “I wore my ring. I pretended my fiancé had an emergency and couldn’t make it. Then I went to my room and sobbed in secret.” Once home, she cried every day for a month. Then another electronic communiqué arrived from The Doctor. It said, in its entirety,

“Are you OK?”

That was all she ever heard from him.

The breakup left her socially paralyzed. She didn’t, couldn’t, date, even after many months. She remains single today, three years later. Disappointment ignites anger when she thinks about what happened. “It was cowardly and cruel. Where’s the human side of it? Where’s the respect from someone who was devoted to you for two years?” It’s scant comfort when people tell her that Berger dumped Carrie by Post-it note on Sex and the City. “With email, you don’t even have a guarantee that the person got your message.”

Saying good-bye is heartbreaking, and most of us are total jerks about it. Bad dumping behavior is booming, especially among the young. In one recent survey, 24 percent of respondents aged 13 to 17 said it was completely OK to break up with someone by texting, and 26 percent of them admitted to doing so. “It’s always been hard to break up with someone face to face,” says Stanford University sociologist Clifford Nass, author ofThe Man Who Lied to His Laptop, “but lack of social skills makes it harder. And we’re learning fewer and fewer social skills.”

As a result, remote shortcuts like electronic endings look deceptively appealing although, at the very least, they chip away at the self-respect of the dumpers and deprive dumpees of a needed shot at closure. Little wonder that hypersensitivity to rejection is on the rise, and it’s contributing to large increases in stalking behavior, especially on college campuses. More than 3 million people report being stalking victims each year, the ultimate measure of collective cluelessness about ending love affairs well.

Destroy Loving Relationships

Most people think that poor communication is the reason why so many relationships end, but it’s actually the way we learn to think about our partners and our problems that kills trust, erodes intimacy, and cripples communication.

Being aware of the relationship crippling impact of toxic thoughts and how they destroy relationships is crucial for any relationship to survive and thrive!

Clients in my counseling practice have frequently shared with me how couples therapists encouraged them to build strong relationship skills. Usually this is done by the couple practicing reflective listening by “mirroring” what each partner is saying. While building these types of listening skills is crucial for healthy relationships, attention must also be given to the toxic thoughts that silently lurk in the minds of each partner. If relationship partners only learn how hear each other, without acknowledging their own, inner toxic thoughts, then tragically, the root of the problem is ignored.

Below are the nine toxic thought patterns, as featured in my book, Why Can’t You Read My Mind? that exist in virtually every relationship. Don’t  let these distorted, negative, exaggerated thoughts can poison your love and end your union.

How many of these do you or your partner struggle with?

The All-or-Nothing Trap: You see your partner as either always doing the wrong thing, or never doing the right thing. (“He always has to be right!”)

Catastrophic Conclusions: One partner exaggerates negative actions and events concerning the other partner. (“She bounced that check and now we are definitely heading to the poor house!”)

The “Should” Bomb: One partner assumes the other will meet one or more of his or her needs—just because he or she should know that need. (“You should know how much I hate my job, even though I tell everyone what a great opportunity it is.”)

Label Slinging: You unfairly, and negatively, label your partner and lose sight of his or her positive qualities. (“You are so lazy!”)

The Blame Game: You unfairly, and irrationally, blame your partner for relationship issues, or bigger issues. (“My life only sucks because of you!”)

Emotional Short Circuits: Emotional short circuits occur when one partner becomes convinced that his or her partner’s emotions can’t be “handled. (“No one can possibly ever reason with her!”)

The reason of easy to hurt on your relationship

Everyone who loves another is susceptible to some form of emotional or verbal abuse, by virtue of the Mirror of Love.

Attachment relationship those held together by strong emotional bonds serve as mirrors of the inner self. We learn how lovable we are, and how valuable our love is to others, only by interacting with loved ones.

Young children never question the impressions of themselves they receive from theirparents. They do not understand that critical, stressed-out mothers or raging fathers may be having a bad time or trying to recover from their own difficult childhoods. Instead, when young children perceive themselves negatively because of their parents, they often attribute it to their own inadequacy and unworthiness.

Suppose you internalized your body image based on reflections from a fun house mirror, which made your hips look a mile wide. You would think you were in deep trouble, which no diet could help. Once that negative image is internalized, you could distrust even accurate mirrors; we know that people gaunt from eating disorders perceive themselves as fat when they look in a mirror that reflects little more than skin and bones. Even those who do not have eating disorders—but who were told repeatedly as children that they were too thin—are likely to see themselves as thin adults, despite mirror reflections portraying a few extra pounds.

When it comes to physical appearance, at least we have lots of other mirrors to compare to the distorted funhouse reflection; this gives us a good chance to overcome an internalized negative body image. But there are no reflections of love other than those we get from the people we love. If you judge how lovable you are based on reflections from someone who cannot love without hurt, you will have a distorted and inaccurate view of yourself as a loving and lovable person.

As we age, our instinct to believe the information about ourselves reflected by loved ones weakens somewhat, but it remains active throughout life. You would probably laugh at a stranger who implied that you had green hair; if your husband or wife said it, you might run to a mirror. We are more likely to believe the criticisms shared with us by our loved ones. The default assumption is that if your partner is displeased, there must be something wrong with you—and you need anger or resentment for protection.

Part of us accepts the “blemishes” reflected in the mirror of love, even if we intellectually know that our loved one is distorting who we are. We might not agree with the particular flaw pointed out, but on some deep level, we will perceive a defect that must be defended. This hidden pressure from the mirror of love is why successful and powerful people are just as vulnerable as anyone else to verbal abuse and to walking on eggshells in their love relationships.

But the mirror of love reflects good news, as well: If, as a child, compassionate caretakers taught you how lovable you are and how valuable your love is, you will naturally have a more realistic view of yourself in love relationships. You’ll be disappointed and saddened sometimes, but you will rarely feel inadequate, unworthy, or unlovable. Even when you feel sad or disappointed, you will know that you can do something to improve your emotional state, if not your situation. Your sadness will be short-lived; after a while, you will regroup and do something to help you feel valuable again. The mirror of lovegenerates energy when it reflects value, just as it depletes energy when it doesn’t.

In verbally abusive relationships, the mirror of love reflects mostly flaws and defects, in the form of criticism, sarcasm, resentment, and anger. Everyone in the family begins to confuse “function” with value and “task-performance” with love. The pain is never about the facts or specific behavior—no matter how your partner puts it, you hear: “If you don’t do what I want, I can’t value you. If I can’t value you; you are not worth loving.” This is the message the verbally abusive partner reflects back at you, no matter how much he or she claims to be talking about “facts,” “logic,” “fairness,” or “tasks.”

Why We Hurt the Ones We Love: Blaming the Mirror

A distressed or misbehaving child can make parents feel like they are inadequate and failing. A raging or rejecting parent can make a child feel powerless, inadequate, and unlovable. A distracted, demanding, or hostile lover can make us feel disregarded, devalued, and rejected.

After working for many thousands of hours with people trying to overcome painful relationship problems, I’m convinced that we use resentment and anger to punish loved ones, not so much for their behavior as for our own painful reflections in the mirror of love. We want to attack the mirror because we don’t like the reflection.

To improve this cycle, stop viewing emotional pain as a punishment inflicted by someone else. Instead, learn to act on it as an internal motivation to heal, correct, and improve. This leads to deeper self-compassion and puts you more in touch with your deepest values, which will inspire more compassion for one another. You can love without hurt, but only if you use pain as a signal to heal and improve, rather than punish.

What is The Factor in Sexual Orientation and Attraction

images-6When asked about sexual orientation, a person typically will respond with thegender of their preferred sexual partner. Is it a same-sex partner, an opposite-sex one, or both? In a paper published August 22, 2016, in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, Michael Seto writes that the age of one’s sexual partner may be as stable an element of sexual orientation as gender.

GLAAD defines sexual orientation as “the scientifically accurate term for an individual’s enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to members of the same and/or opposite sex, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual (straight) orientations.” In this definition, gender is the sole criterion to establish sexual orientation.  But Seto seeks to define sexual orientation more broadly, including “a stable tendency to preferentially orient—in terms of attention, interest, attraction, and genital arousal—to particular classes of sexual stimuli.” He emphasizes classes of stimuli that include age, rather than gender alone. He uses the term chronophilia to describe a preferential treatment of certain age categories.

Much of Seto’s previous work has been on the forensic study of pedophilia, but in this paper he broadens his discussion to other age preferences. His research focuses on men because, as he says, there is almost no research on chronophilias in women. In addressing age, he does not limit age to the chronological age but includes physical and sexual maturity. Sexual age, then, is reflected in body size and shape, secondary sexual characteristics, and other visible signs of age such as wrinkled skin and white hair. Seto also incorporates psychological features of maturity such as intelligence, kindness and an agreeable sense of humor.

Seto argues that “we have an incomplete understanding of how human sexuality is oriented if we focus only on gender as the important dimension.”

How often does age factor into sexual attraction? The default position when considering sexual attraction is typically two sexually mature, young adults, engaged is conventional sexual activities, the most common representation of sexual activities fed to audiences in movies and television, but a study ofpornography gives us a window into the hidden world of sexual desire and sexual fantasy.

Attraction to an older man or woman is common enough for the Urban Dictionary to have an entry for DILF (Dads I’d like to f***)–a crude but specific term–and a Google search for DILF turns up nearly 1.7 million hits. Sites included heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual references. If you wish to filter your search, Google recommends searching for naked DILF, gay DILF, black DILF and monster DILF. “Tumblr” has categories for dream daddies, hot daddies, and bear daddies. “Silver Daddies,” one of the largest chat sites for intergenerational gay relationships posts over 155,000 profiles from a wide variety of countries and cultures.

The most studied aspect of sexual orientation is gender with age being the second most studied, but age has been studied almost exclusively in the context of pedophilia, and most research on gay men has centered on young, urban men. Huge gaps exist in our knowledge of maturity as it relates to sexual orientation. Seto writes, “I am not aware of any empirical research on individuals attracted to middle-age [or older] persons.”

Seto focuses on four features of sexual orientation—age of onset, neurobiological correlates, association with romantic and sexual behavior, and stability over time.

In researching Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight, a Psychiatrist’s Own Story, I had the opportunity to interview a large number of younger gay men in intergenerational relationships, and I found some common themes:

  • A large majority–if not most–of them believed they have always been attracted to someone fifteen to twenty years older or more, and as they age, that age difference in their attraction persists.
  • Many were or had been in enduring relationships, and frequently as the older man has grown frail, the younger partner had become the primary care provider.
  • Demands are often made of the younger man to explain his attraction to an older man, even though he doesn’t understand it himself; older men were rarely asked to defend their choice.
  • The younger man often explains his attraction with words like wisdom, experience, sensitivity, a life well-lived, but the attraction was clearly very erotic as well.
  • Most resent any implication that their relationship is based on a wish to exploit the older partner, e.g. “a sugar daddy.”
  • Although these younger men often questioned if their relationship with their father was responsible for their attraction, they were about equally split between those who had a good relationship with their father and those with a bad or no relationship.