Hi! I'll be glad to help you with this issue.
This is a fascinating question you're putting forth to me. Can you share with me what's going on a little more?
my bf and i have been dating for over a year. i'm 36 he's 35. we recently had a break up 2 months ago. ever since then, it seems like I'm finding reasons to not be with him, or things that annoy me are magnified
we got back together obviously.
You are focusing very much on the negatives here. Can I ask you:
what are the positives that keep you in this relationship with him?
he is very thoughtful, sweet.
he is kind, and funny, appreciates humor and has a good sense of humor. easy to get along with over all a good person
Wow! Those are quite impressive positives.
Why then do these annoyances bother you so much?
i don't know if he knows who he is. in other words he seems to conform to his environment. one friend put it like this, he's like tofu. whatever you put tofu with takes on that flavor.......
Is that what annoys you about him? That he's not a strong, opinionated personality?
Wow. I understand.
but its also what draws me to him, he's easy to get along with.
Yes, this is the dilemma. You know, there are ways to firm up one's strengths, though.
also i make more money than him, and get annoyed when i have to adjust my standards of living to meet his...... sounds incredibly selfish i know.
and he has herpes2. and hpv.
these are the negatives
and a horrible previous marriage that may have induced anxiety about getting married in the future, which he is now taking lexapro for....anxiety.
First, it is not selfish. It is very awkward when there is a significant difference in incomes.
It seems that he is not quite as simple as he seemed at frirst!
The Herpes 2 is a problem. Do you have Herpes 1?
yes, and this has been my experience dating him. no i did not have either. now i'm not sure
def dont have hsv 2, i could have one now.
Ooh, that could make someone angry, getting Herpes 2. If you have Herpes 1, then my understanding is that you are okay. Is his Herpes not a deal breaker for you?
i'm just tired of going back and forth in my mind. should it be this much of a mental conflict, if he's the person i'm suppose to be with for the rest of my life
it was not, because i thought about what a wonderful person he is and i thought i was going to marry him. but now there are all these other "issues" tht have come up....... so of course if we are not going to be together forever its a deal breaker
Your question, is it supposed to be like this? Yes and no. It's supposed to be a question that you resolve in a natural way. Let's try to help that along:
Take a couple of breaths and then consider and relate to me: what in your heart of hearts is really your feeling about yourself being with him? Let me continue:
What in your heart of hearts is your feeling about who you are as a person who is sharing your soul and life with him? Does that make you feel good? settled? Seren?
I'm sorry, serene?
yes....and no. i don't know if i want him in my life because i know he will be good to me. and even for me.....but i dont know where my love for him went, after we broke up and got back together.
So something has been lost?
i don't know if i'm emotionally guarding myself, or if i really don't love him
yes, after we got back together, its like i don't feel the same about him.
when we broke up i was devastated.
That's an important term to use: guarding yourself. Why might you be doing that?
because i'm not casually dating this guy, he's either going to marry me, or i'm wasting my time. so i feel like i'm puting pressure on myself to make the right decision.
Hold on, that's not why you're guarding yourself. I'm wondering if you're worried about another breakup and what it would do to you; you were devastated last time. Is the fear you have, the guarding, a keeping yourself safe from him leaving?
i don't feel like i'd be devastated if there was a next time.
So, then, share with me the fear: why are you feeling a need to guard yourself?
more than "guard" myself..... i want to be sure that he is the one i want to be with.
i told myself that when we first got back together. but that was back in july. but it doesnt feel guarded. it just feels like i've fallen out of love with him. or i'm telling myself that cuz i'm nervous of marrying the wrong person.
May I be open and honest now that I've heard you share what you feel?
You are not convinced he's your number one choice. You feel like you might very well be settling for good enough here. And you may be right.
i'm scared that at my age, i'm not going to find a better person. he has no kids, financially stable and responsible, and a good person.
You're right, you might not. I can tell you from my experience working with people in therapy and here: finding normal men when you get past early 30s is not as easy as finding normal women.
So you now have to ask about yourself:
Are you the type of woman/person who can make a decision that involves the heart in a calculated way? Or do you need to make it like a romantic person, in an emotional way, looking for Mr. Right?
i need both. my personality wants to romance/emotion, my age and mental state needs it to be calculated.
You're not yet mid 40s. You can take a risk on your romantic self to find Mr. Right who will make you feel 100% like it's right. Would you be more satisfied when you look back 30 years from now in your mid 60s if you did that? Or if you were with him?
id feel better if i felt 100%. do you think i need to give it more time?
I think you need to take a break and not be exclusive right now. You need to look for Mr. Right. Can I paste in for you what I wrote for people I work with in looking for Mr. Right?
yes. and also, how do i do that without losing my bf?
As I get my file open, the answer is you might lose him. Different men react differently: you said he's rather unassertive. So he may not realize that this is his call to arms, so to speak, to try to win your love.
honestly i don't want to have to sift through all the bullshit out there. too many liars and cheaters . 2 things i know he wont do to me. which is huge in my book.
He's starting to look better, then, right?
yes. so how do i shake this 'focus on the negative" habit.....
I want you to print out my answer and take it and him to a Starbucks or other quiet place and discuss it and commit to the program to try to make your marriage a success. You're going to start with a book. You'll get 2 copies, one for each of you. Each night you're both going to read a few pages or a chapter and do the exercise there if there is one in those pages. Every other night, or at most, every third night sometimes, you will get together, either at home or at the Starbucks and talk about what you read. What you think of it, what it inspired in you. Make notes in the margins. And each one talk about the subject of the pages and what you think. That's your assignment and dates. You are busy, but this is your marriage. If your spouse had a life threatening illness, you'd find the time. Your marriage has a life threatening illness.
The book: It's by the foremost researcher into relationships in our day, John Gottman. He's famous for being interviewed on TV and being able to tell when a couple will get divorced within 5 minutes and having 90% accuracy. I've studied his therapy and use his therapy in my practice and that's why I'm concerned that you two do this. So the book is the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. You can get it cheaply online or see if you can get it locally to save time. That you're not married yet is okay.
Now, a secret: the magic is not in the book. The exercises and Gottman's insights will be very useful and important for the two of you. But the magic is in the act of working together on your relationship more focused. And paying more attention to the positives.
ok i'll check out the book.
I think you have answered your question: you have jitters that maybe there is someone more "right" but you know that this is not a likelihood. And that you two need to communicate now in deeper and more substantial ways. To be able to talk to each other more about what bothers you and what is write and good.
I'm sorry: right and good
ok. one more thing.
is it true that i should "know" that he's the one. vs. decide and choose that he will be the one. i feel like i will never "know" anything. especially my personality.
It is not true that you should know he's the one.
This is the movie version that has plagued our country and has led to many divorces.
That ideal: he sees her through the crowd at the party, she looks up, their eyes meet, and then all the rest of the crowd fades away...
This is not how love works.
That's fire. And we know that fire dies down after a while.
but after spending a year plus with someone....should you "know"?
No, you should be committed, not know.
thats what i thought. its a choice.
This is the difference. Love is a commitment. That's what Gottman will help with.
You are so right!
Exactly: committing oneself is making a choice.
ok thank u i think i just have commitment issues. i'm talking myself out of my relationship.
You are an intelligent and competent person. You're also a loving and caring person. Allow yourself to use your wisdom to guide you: you understand that you have to make a choice and that choice is a commitment. That's a wonderful thing. To stray from that is indeed taking yourself out of your relationship.
Okay, I wish you the very best!
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ok thankyou very much. i appreciate your help.
hello dr. mark,
earlier in our chat you were going to paste something that you tell people who are "looking for mr. right". could i please have that information. Thank you.
Now for your life. Why do I say your life? Because you are not going to find Mr. Right by just looking for "a guy" who happens to look great and is good in bed and enjoys you on the side. You've got to treat finding Mr. Right as part of living YOUR life. You are clearly a woman with values. You are not looking simply for sexual gratification. You are looking for a human being who wants to share his life with you and who values who you are.
That's why we're going to focus on goals, strategies, and plans. I want you to take a sheet of paper or on the computer if you prefer and on that paper write your Healthy Relationship Goals. Examples: make 3 close friends in the next 3 months; or go on dates with interesting men at least 4 times in the next 3 months, etc. So you see they don't need to even be goals for just relationships with men, but can be social relationships. Because the more social you are, the more you build your ability to express yourself socially instead of just career wise, the more you will feel comfortable expressing yourself to Mr. Right on a date. You need to feel comfortable sharing your inner self with other people on lots of different levels: acquaintances, friends, confidantes, and dates.
Next, I need you to take another sheet or underneath the goals in the same sheet write Strategies for my Healthy Relationship Goals. For each of the Goals, I want you to write strategies. For example, if your goal is to go out 4 times in 3 months, strategies might be: I want to identify the type of interests men you'd be interested in would have. Then I want to ask yourself where would they go to fulfill those interests. For example, if an interesting man needs to be someone who is into fitness, then he would be a member of a fitness club. If he needs to like art, then he would be a member of the Art Museum and go to gallery openings. If he needs to be spiritually oriented, then he might need to be attending church or a meditation class.
Then, you need to write on a separate piece of paper or underneath each Goal and Strategy: Plans for how to succeed with your strategies. So to continue the example above, you might write: my plan is to go to the 6 most popular fitness studios and check them out to see what their membership looks like and what kind of activities are there. Or for art, I plan to join the Art Museum and to go to an art opening at a gallery at least twice per month and maybe 3 times. Or if you are interested in religion, checking out 3 congregations for active ones that have social events.
These are examples of strategies and plans. I'm trying to focus you on your life interests. What do you want to do to further your having a meaningful life? Remember, Mr. Right needs to fit into what's meaningful to you, so look for him in activities that bring out what's meaningful in your life.