Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Can't Stop Snoopin'

Dear Edahn,

I have a problem. Over a year ago I overheard my ex boyfriend give out his email password to his brother because of an emergency. Like a psycho stalker, I logged in to his email account-- mostly just to read what he had written about and chatted about me to his friends (both during and after our relationship). Then I got carried away. I started reading all of his old emails with his ex. I felt like I developed a much deeper understanding of who he really was and where he was coming from. Months passed, and I continued to regularly log in to his account -- just to read, not to write or chat anybody or anything. He started dating someone else, and I started reading their emails to each other. It's like a soap opera that I'm addicted to. 

I'm totally over him in a romantic way. I have a serious boyfriend who[m] I love and am very happy with. I just cant stop myself from logging in to his email. I'm addicted to it the way I've become addicted to facebook and my own email account. Like I need the daily update. He and I are still acquaintances/friends, but have hung out a lot less since I no longer need to actually make plans with him to find out what's going on in his life. I don't even really like him that much. This has become much more of a voyeur thing for me at this point. HELP, I CAN'T STOP!!! I know its wrong. (Right?)

No, it's not wrong at all.

Of course it's fucking wrong! You're violating another person's privacy and concealing it from them. What's worse is that you've turned it into a habit and even started wondering if this is somehow okay. It's not that it's doing so much damage to him, but it's doing damage to you. By catering to your addiction, you're establishing a perilous precedent: you're ignoring your conscience.

Don't minimize the whole ordeal. This is some serious shit. Your conscience is your inner guide. It doesn't just guide you to good outer behavior; it guides you to inner peace and integrity. When you live in accordance with your conscience, you don't have to expend energy on hiding things or pretending to be someone you're not or dwelling on the past and feeling guilty. That frees you up to naturally be more present, more available, more at ease.

So what do you do? You can create a dummy Hotmail account and send him an email saying "Your Gmail account has been compromised, stupid! Change your password at least once every 6 months." Include his login and password for proof and sign the email "a loyal member of". On a deeper level, you can view this ordeal as as a wake up call from the existential front desk. Listen to your conscience, cherish it, and let it sing through you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How do I make my voice heard?

Dear Edahn,
I feel taken advantage by my girlfriend. Wait, not in the good way. I feel as though we are always doing what she wants to do and my needs get swept under the rug. I am somewhat responsible for this as I tend to be a people pleaser and I do want to do what she wants in an effort to make her happy, but I often wonder when my turn is going to come around. I often witness her playing the people pleaser with other relationships, but with me she asserts herself way too much.

THE TIME WILL COME when you go out on a limb and start speaking up when you feel like you're getting taken advantage of. Don't wait for her to change; don't wait for your confidence to build itself up; and don't see a psychologist to diagram your mother's toilet-training techniques. JUST DO IT. Assert yourself when the time is right. When you start feeling used, speak up immediately, and when your needs get swept under the rug, sweep 'em right-the-heck back out. If that means not making her happy, then so be it. This isn't just the [Your Girlfriend's Name Italicized] Show. You need to be happy too, and besides, in making yourself happy, you indirectly make her even more happy than if you continued placating her.

She'll probably be confused or resistant at first and you might fuck up here and there and blow little things out of proportion -- I said I didn't want pickles! Why must you always ignore my needs you Jezebel??? Those are all natural, healthy parts of the adjustment process. Once you make room for your voice to be heard and start to feel respected, the need to protect that voice will be less urgent and you'll have the option of scaling back some of your assertiveness. Then you'll find your balance between asserting yourself and letting things go. Harmony at last.

Everything will fall into place. I promise it will get easier over time to the point where it becomes natural and you start to wonder how you could have ever not stood up and made your presence felt. Have fun, Tiger!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Losing Independents

Dear Edahn,

I'm in a long distance relationship (LDR) at the moment, which I would hesitate to even call a "relationship" because of the long distance. I don't know if I'm deluding myself with the idea of being in a relationship.

As much as I like the sound of being in a good relationship, I really struggle with the idea of committing myself to a partnership. I tend to see relationships as requiring me to give up part of myself, putting another person's needs into consideration possibly at the expense of my independence. I've remained single for most of my life because I wanted to be comfortable with who I am on my own without relying on another person. I'm 30 now and in the past 2 or so years part of me has started wanting a romantic connection with someone. Out of the blue a fella has come into my life that I feel comfortable showing my true self to in a way that I never have before and yet even with that I still question if I'm someone who simply isn't made for relationships.

What things should I be asking myself in order to understand what is real and what is fantasy in my expectations of a partner and relationship? And how do I get over my fear of losing independence? I feel I'm at a loss here, like I should be happy and yet I can't stop thinking myself out of a potentially great thing.

There's a certain degree of compromise that's a natural part of being in a relationship. You find compromise in your friendships as well, but it's more subtle. In friendships, you don't unilaterally decide where you want to eat, or what to do on Saturday night, or what movie to see, but arrive at that decision through informal negotiation and discussion. Sometimes you don't get your way and you just say "fine." You might crack a joke or pout for a little while, but then you suck it up and move on. Next time you decide what shitty movie we see.

The same issues come up in a romantic relationship, with a few added ones: you can't hook up with other people, and are expected to avoid being too intimate with someone you could be attracted to. Just as with friendships, we make those compromises because there's something better to be gained: intimacy, fun, and sex. If it's really truly unbearable, then I would assume that the payoff isn't outweighing the costs. In other words, you need to find someone whose companionship you enjoy more or wait a little bit to see if this relationship matures into something more satisfying. If not, move on.

Friday, September 25, 2009

AskEveryoneElse: Bad date protocol

Dear Everyone Else,

You've met someone off a dating website for a cup of coffee. The date turns out to be a dud. They call you after and leave a voicemail on your phone, saying they had a good time. Do you have any obligation to tell them you not interested? 

If someone doesn’t want to talk to me, then I get that they probably don’t want to hump me either. I don’t need any additional explanation about why they think I suck. I can make assumptions to preserve my ego about why it didn’t work out, rather than have her explain to me that she’s just not a fan of my man boobies. It’s a way bigger shot to the confidence when someone does call back, just to tell me that she doesn’t really like me or what it was, in particular, she found repulsive.

If I go out with a girl and don’t see anything happening between us, I won’t call her for the same reasons. If you do call, some girls will ask you why you don’t see things going anywhere with them. You can’t say, “You just look like the kind of girl who wouldn’t trim her pubic hair,” so you have to make up some lie, which doesn’t really help her in any way. It’s an unnecessary, awkward conversation for both parties that won’t make anybody feel any better.

Submitted by Cory H. All great answers, though! Hard call fo sho.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The guys I want don't want me, the guys that want me I don't want

Dear Edahn,

Why do all the guys I don't want want to be in relationships and or marry me, and the ones I do want just want to have sex and aren't interested in marrying me or starting a relationship? Will I ever get married and have a family? I've been dating since I'm 16, I'm exhausted...where is he already?

Will you ever get married and have a family? Who do you think I am? The Psychic Friends Network?

After much deliberation and consideration, this is what I've got. Men and women have certain value that establishes their "rank." The value I'm talking about isn't existential, philosophical, we-are-all-God's children value, but perceived value. When you walk into a bar and can identify who's at the top of the social pyramid, you're intuitively sorting rank. You can also think of it as perceived status.

So what's status based on? A woman's status depends on her physical attractiveness which includes what she looks like, how she carries yourself, her body language, self-confidence, voice, clothing, and even who she associates with. A man's status depends on his perceived power, which includes how much money he looks like he has, his body language, his clothing, accessories, voice, intelligence, self-confidence, and humor. All of these indicate power, which indicates access to resources like money, food, and shelter, which means security.

Status isn't fixed and a lot of people put effort into improving their perceived status. Diet fads, plastic surgery, and designer-label clothing are 3 industries that have developed around the desire to improve status. It's the same reason men are bombarded with advertisements for sports cars, gym memberships, and designer clothing. A lot of the Self-Improvement movement, part of which I belong to and part of which I denounce, has capitalized on this need -- literally.

When you meet a guy, he places you into one of 3 categories: Sex Only, Marriage/RelationshipNo Thanks (which includes the insufferable "Friend Zone"). For admission into the Sex Only show, you need some minimum status. Marriage/Relationship requires a higher level of status in addition to some homemaking skills like warmth, child-rearing skills, cooking skills, and neatness -- skills that his mother likely possesses. Hence the attraction to people that resemble his mother. The amount of status that you need depends on the amount of status the guy feels he has. While the Sex Only threshold can be pretty low, I'm convinced that when it comes to marriage, men look for women equal or slightly less status than they have, but I'm open to the possibility that many men seek women who have very high status who they want to acquire. Yes, acquire; in my opinion, this isn't love but a form of possession that either results in bad or empty marriages. Women, on the other hand, seldom have a Sex Only zone (unfortunately) and tend to place men in the Marriage/Relationship category, or the No Thanks category. I believe that women look for partners with equal or slightly more status than they have. Sometimes women look for partners with much higher status than they have.

And finally we get to you. I can't say the exact reason you're not falling into a certain guy's Married/Relationship zone, but it's either that they (a) don't feel you have enough status or (b) that they don't identify you as a potential homemaker. There are lots of reasons that can happen. First, you may just be totally out of your league, choosing someone with incomparable status. Don't take this personally, but it's the truth. I'm never going to marry Angelina Jolie, not just because she probably wouldn't convert to Judaism to appease my parents, but because I have nowhere near that status. Second, you might be doing things to sabotage your status: neediness, playing games, acting young, and not taking care of your presentation. Third, you might be low in the homemaking-skills department or even doing things to demonstrate that you're not ready for such a role. Too much partying, playing dating games, and excessive drinking will disqualify you in that category. And regarding the men you don't like who want to marry you, it's the same analysis, just switch the genders. They're wondering the same thing.

My advice would never be to just give in and be the kind of girl a guy would want you to be. I think that's an insult to your integrity and it's a shame so many magazines and pundits preach that message. My advice, instead, is to hold your head up high and do things that boost your sense of pride, not for any guy, but for yourself. You can also solicit some feedback from honest guy friends about any needy or annoying habits you might have picked up. Put the question of relationships on hold and go befriend as many people as you can, guys and girls. Friendship is the best way to show off your domestic skills, maintain your integrity and status, and avoid the biggest trap that all these dating "experts" unknowingly advocate: turning into someone else, thinking they're respect you afterwards. No one respects a person who seeks approval from them because by doing so, you sacrifice all your status which is the thing you're trying to get to begin with.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Not attracted to my husband anymore

Dear Edahn,
I've been married for nearly 9 years now. I got married right out of high school. We now have kids. We've both had affairs and been through plenty of bumps in the road. I no longer find myself attracted to this person I've married. In fact, it's been over 2 years or so since I've had any type of warm fuzzies for him.
I've come close to divorcing him 2 times. Now? I'm just sort of numb. Some time ago I resolved to just stick with it. I figured the grass may always be greener on the other side - but both sides have to be mowed. I'm still waiting to feel good about him again. Will that ever come? I keep thinking that if I stick it out, eventually I'll love him (romantically) again.
We don't fight anymore, we just are. He's a great father, and technically a good husband now. I just don't know how to make the good feelings come back. Do you think they ever will? I also can't help but wonder if there IS someone - that one person - out there that would be my perfect match. But again - does it matter? Could he be my perfect match? How do I let him?

THERE ARE DIFFERENT KINDS of attraction in this world. There's the I-want-to-rip-your-clothes-off attraction ("passion"), and then there's the sacred attraction you feel when you're with someone you trust, care for, and love in a simple, pure way ("true love" or "platonic love"). I have the feeling that you're searching for passion, but I would ask you to be open to experiencing true love, even if you're not sure what it looks like. If you just read that and laughed, that's okay. Trust and care are probably not words you've come to associate with your marriage. So lets talk a little bit about how to build that.

The kind of trust I'm talking about isn't just trust that you won't cheat on each other (though that's a requirement) but trust that it's safe to be around that person and that you don't have to be someone else. It requires that you both suspend whatever expectations and requirements you cling to, expectations for each other and for yourselves. That includes your desire to be attracted to him, to repair this relationship, and to understand where to proceed. Just put it all on hold for a second. Instead, put your effort into just being with your husband, just cooperating, just doing simple things together like grocery shopping, getting coffee, and shaving each other's backs. Don't worry where it goes and if it's enough. Be brave and share some of your humor and playfulness with him, without any expectation that it'll turn into something, be reciprocated, or even be appreciated. If those old expectations and needs come up, just be cool and let them pass through. Think of them as natural interruptions in the one-on-one hockey game that is a relationship. Game on!

See where it goes. It might take a little experimentation and adjustment, and will certainly take courage to be open to creating a new relationship. And that's really what this is -- a new relationship. You're shedding the old patterns, the old mistakes, and the old method of relating and finding a new way to care for each other in a very simple and innocent way. This isn't a guarantee that you'll end up together, but it's a guarantee that you'll be stepping in the right direction which is peace. Where ever you go from there will feel right because it'll be carried out with genuine care and a good conscience.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Am I being too catty?

Dear Edahn,

I love what you've done with the blog and I am an avid reader. Anyways, I was wondering if you could maybe attempt to provide me with some insight. I feel as though as I am a negative person. I don't go out of my way to cut people down but I shit talk a lot. I make catty comments about people. And while I'd love to rid myself of this quality I often feel that my comments are well-deserved.

As an avid reader of AskEdahn, I will safely assume you are a being of superior intellect and that your observations of others are incisive and accurate.

I tend to see negative qualities around me too. Being in the legal field for about a year and a half has exposed me to an enormous amount of dishonesty and greed that I imagine characterizes most of corporate America and politics. In addition to deceiving others, many of these people engage in a healthy amount of self-deception, pretending they're doing the right thing and that their pet-philosophy somehow justifies their actions. It's spiritually disappointing. Those qualities also pervade everyday social interaction, some of which you're experiencing right now. It's very real.

One thing I wasn't quite clear about from your question is why you think this is a problem. Are you getting into fights with people? Having trouble sustaining friendships or relationships? Being too harsh on yourself? Addicted to gossiping? Have you lost your faith in others? Or, are you simply feeling guilty because as children, we're misled to believe that we're supposed to be nice and proper, even at the expense of being genuine?

Simply seeing faults in others isn't a bad thing; it's a good thing. Being able to recognize the difference between right and wrong, healthy and dysfunctional, and harmony and conflict is the basis of leading a virtuous life. It's also the basis of helping others, whether you start a shitty blog in some remote corner of the Internet or campaign for reform on the international front. The great humanitarians of our age -- Gandhi, Einstein, Huxley, MLK -- were also the great critics. They saw corruption, arrogance, and recklessness and spoke out against it. What they also saw, however, is how human illnesses stemmed from neurotic needs and fears -- fear of the future, fear of inferiority, fear of falling behind. These people were slaves to their fears and lacked the courage to stand up and talk shit to them. Blaming these people made no sense because blame never inspires courage. Instead they chose to model responsible living, empower others, and be damn sexy while doing so.

My advice to you isn't to stop looking for fault, but to use your insight to look even deeper into people to determine what lies behind those faults. Where does greed come from? Where does hatred and competition come from? Where does deceit come from? Read, look, and listen. If you can integrate that understanding with your current insight, I think you can unleash some tremendous wisdom and feel more at ease about your perspective.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cheated on my boyfriend of 3 years **REVISED**

Dear Edahn,

I don't know what to do. I cheated on my boyfriend of three years one night many months ago when we were going through a rough patch. We've since gotten very close and very serious, and I feel like marriage might be in our future. I'm haunted daily by my guilt over the situation and feel like I should be honest with him if we are going to be married. I know that if I tell him what I did he will leave me, as trust is a big issue for him. Please don't tell me that I shouldn't be with a guy who would leave me over that, and that I should be honest, because in truth I would probably leave him if I found out that he had cheated on me. I know this is a double standard. I dont know what to do. I think I'm really looking for a way to get rid of my guilt without actually confessing to him... any suggestions?

If you cheated on your boyfriend a few months ago, then you need to be honest and accept the consequences of your behavior. You can explain to him what it meant to you, why you did it, what you've learned, and beg for his forgiveness, but if he dumps you, that's life. That's what happens when you cheat. By telling him, you're showing him that you're the honest and trustworthy person you claim to be, and by concealing this from him, you're just reinforcing how untrustworthy you are. 

I know you want there to be an alternative -- a way to rationalize this, absolve yourself of responsibility, and get closure -- but there is no good way to do that short of resorting to some form of self-deception where you pretend concealing this is somehow justified. That's a terrible life to live. Disclose what you need to, accept the consequences, learn your lesson, and move on.

Why don't men like to cuddle?

Dear Edahn,

Why don't men like to cuddle? 

If we're talking about cuddling after sex, then the reason men don't like to cuddle is the same reason women are able to have multiple orgasms. After orgasm, men enter a "refractory period." Changes in blood distribution and hormones make it impossible for us to have another orgasm and we return to a pre-arousal state immediately. What's more, we couldn't even get aroused if we (you) wanted. We become totally uninterested in anything having to do with sex, desire, and courtship, which includes cuddling. We basically morph into your de facto gay companion. Without sex on our mind, we finally able to open up about ourselves and get to know you.

Us: "Oh, you're in graduate school? Since when?"
You: "Since April. Two years ago. When we met."
Us: "Really? Well that's just -- that's just great. Good for you. I mean it."

This phenomenon is so common that it's earned its own name: pillow talk. The whole process makes sense when you think about the big picture. By bonding with you we're encouraged to stay with you and invest in you and our budding offspring, giving little Edahn Jr. a better chance of survival. These behavioral patterns were coded in our ancestors' DNA which was passed onto us and now, onto into you. Since women don't enter a refractory period they're still aroused after sex and still interested in cuddling, kissing, etc. On the plus side, they're able to have multiple orgasms. Trade?

If we're talking about cuddling at other times, then the main reason is because we just want to get to the orgasm. Cuddling is like watching previews before the main attraction. FAST FWD PLS. THX. A secondary reason is that men don't like feeling vulnerable and dependent. It's not a position we're comfortable with. We prefer to be independent and self-sufficient. Cuddling usually involves some measure of mutual neediness, so we prefer to abstain.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Not attracted, should I keep dating her?

Dear Edahn, 
I've been dating a girl for about 4 months now, and I'm struggling with whether or not to continue the relationship. We have similar interests, have a great time together, and I really feel like in many ways she has the best matched personality to mine of anyone I've ever dated. The problem is that I know I'm just not that attracted to her. She is very athletic, tall and thin and flat, with strong facial features, and many guys would find her attractive. For me though, I think I just prefer someone who is a bit softer, who I want to be close to and want to kiss and cuddle. She's somehow just too bony to be feminine to me. 
I've talked about this with some of my friends (mostly girls) who say that I should just keep giving it time and that eventually I will either be attracted to her or it won't matter. I'm 30 and she's 31, and I really dont want to waste time (hers or mine) if this is not something I'm going to get over, and I can tell that with time she is getting more invested in the idea of "us" in the long run. How important is attraction, and how much time should I give before throwing in the towel? (Also, how honest should I be in my reason for breaking up with her if it does come to that?) 

PHYSICAL ATTRACTION IS NOT the most important factor in relationship quality. It tends to fade over time and isn't what makes relationships fulfilling. According to happy old couples, friendship is the most important factor. But sex is still important. You're going to be having sex with this woman as long as your penis works and you want to select someone you enjoy and look forward to sexing. You don't want to turn into one of those couples that never has sex and is perpetually miserable.

I'm of the opinion that sexual attraction can grow out of emotional connection and that whether you get over this or not is a decision that you consciously make, not a decision that is made for you. (It's called closure.) But in this case, I don't actually think that matters because I don't think you're really emotionally attracted to this person.

Emotional attraction is a feeling of closeness which is premised on trust -- not just trust that your partner won't cheat on you, but trust that who you are, defects included, is sufficient and okay. I know it may sound weird, but I think that trust develops naturally in response to the physical appearance and enthusiasm-level of your partner. That enthusiasm comes out in the intensity and tempo of speech as well as physical movement.

Based on what you said, I don't think you really feel close to this girl. I think you perceive this girl to be as emotionally angular as she is physically angular. Your ideal woman is someone who has a soft inner and outer landscape and this girl doesn't have either. There's nothing wrong with her and there's nothing wrong with you. It's just a mismatch. While she may compliment you in other (I'm guessing, intellectual) ways, it sounds like you're emotionally out of sync. If you were in sync, you would know it by now.

You don't have to justify your feelings and intuitions to anyone just as you don't have to invest time and effort into "repairing" them. Forget that. If you don't see yourself being cuddly with her, there's probably a reason: you're sensing that she's not that type of girl. I think that deep down you already know this. My advice: tell her that you think she's awesome, just not someone you see yourself marrying. You don't have to go into the details. Just say enough to get the point across. You don't have to crush her spirit in the process.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Concerned about your blog

Dear Edahn,

Will everything we talk about in private be converted into material for your stupid blog?

No. Absolutely not. You are my friend first, not a business prospect. You can rest assured that your trust will always triumph over my avarice.


How do I turn my wife into a dominatrix?

Dear Edahn,

How can I trick my wife into becoming a dominatrix? I want her to want this on her own, not just because she cares about my feelings. Is there some subliminal way I can make her want to dominate me?

Even if you managed to trick her she still won't be doing it because "she really wants to;" she'll be doing it because she was tricked. I'm afraid you've set yourself up for an impossible mission, trying to force someone to do something naturally. That can never happen.

By tricking her, you're also disrespecting her and your relationship. You're denying her right to make up her own mind, and by extension, her individuality and integrity. You're sacrificing your opportunity for deep intimacy which develops though respect and trust. That's not a good strategy for a relationship, even one with an S&M component. Besides, how intimidating and strong-willed can she really be if she can be easily tricked by a guy like you?

Try, instead, to be honest and forthcoming with her about your wish to be dominated and see how she responds. You can propose something modest and simple (talking dirty? spanking? mean-spirited pinching?) and gradually escalate if she's open to it. It'll probably be weird the first few times until you both get comfortable in that role. If she agrees, then great. If she doesn't, then you need to get serious and decide whether this is just a fantasy or a deep psychological need for humiliation. There are people with clinical paraphilias who need this stuff to get aroused who can end up having difficulties in their relationships for various reasons. Then there are guys who have glimpsed some of this stuff on porn sites and think it would be hot. Knowing which category you fall into will help you decide how important this is and how far you want to take it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I give, He takes

Dear Edahn,

I've been dating my boyfriend for about a year. We started off our relationship strong, but have been drifting apart and fighting more often. I like to buy him stuff -- clothing, food, gifts -- but he doesn't reciprocate. I just want to be taken out one in a while but he says he doesn't have money. When he does have money, though, he spend it on car accessories, TVs, and other stuff like that. I'm also bugged by the fact that he only works 2 days a week and still lives with his parents. What can I do to help my relationship?

This guy is immature. He wants people to finance him while he plays around with his toys. He's very focused on himself and not at the point where he is willing to treat others with dignity and fairness and be responsible for his behavior and future. He'll continue to use you by accepting gifts from you knowing he won't end up giving you the same in return as long as you keep supplying him.

The basis of compromise is that people can make small changes to their routine as needed, but that's different from making changes to a person's character. Maturity, responsibility, and considerateness are personality traits that speak to character. Character has to change from within. The most you can do is help him see what's happening and cut some of his supply chains that enable him. For you, that would mean you should take a stand and stop buying him things. Even with that, I don't think he's going to transform into the independent, considerate boyfriend you're seeking anytime soon. My vote: dump him and find someone more like-minded.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How do I stop being so angry?

Dear Edahn,

What is wrong with me? I'm always irritable and short-tempered. I'm constantly snapping at people. I'm anxious throughout my day. Lately, I've been having trouble getting out of bed too. I wish I was less angry but I don't know what to do. Everything gets me so worked up.

First, you will want to buy a book on anger management. If it's really destructive in your life, then you should consider visiting a therapist, or even joining an anger management group in your area, which sounds like oodles of fun. You may also want to buy a book on anxiety management. I'd suggest How To Control Anxiety Before It Controls You by Ellis, the founder of REBT.

Second, I think you would benefit by a little insight and empowerment. Your thinking and worrying are putting you on edge. In order to take that edge off, you're lashing out at people. Maybe you're doing it out of confusion, but I suspect that lashing out gives you some comfort. It could be that it gives you a sense of control and power, but my guess is that the feeling of anger replaces the feeling of worrying. Anger can be empowering like that. Unfortunately, it also has drawbacks: it makes you tense; robs you of your silliness and spirit; and slowly constricts your social network.

Your reaction to anxiety (and to anything that presents conflict) is still in automatic/unconscious mode. But now that you are aware of what's going on, you can't remain unconscious anymore. You can choose how you will respond to your anxiety. You can choose anger if you want to, but it will end up hurting you and will never produce any real results in terms of combating your anxiety or fixing a situation. Instead of anger, you can start experimenting with other ways of addressing your anxiety. Maybe you have a calm conversation, make a difficult decision, take a walk, try and relax, breathe, do nothing, talk to yourself, or study how it feels and works like a scientist. If you're open to finding alternatives, you'll figure something out that create less drama and chaos and actually reduces your anxiety, rather than just postponing it. This is what I call living your life with wisdom. 

Take a look at the way anger has created chaos in your life. If it's not really solving things, or creating new problems along the way, then make a commitment to forbid yourself to use anger anymore and find alternative solutions. Say it out loud when you're ready.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Missing: Boyfriend's Libido

Dear Edahn,

I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for about a year and a half. We see a lot of each other, pretty much everyday, yet we don't have sex very often. When we do have sex, he has to be in the mood. On the other hand, when I am in the mood, he claims that he is tired and not horny. We end up arguing over this every so often, probably once every 2 weeks. Because we do not have sex that often, I think that he would jump at the chance to have sex with me if I wanted it, yet I fear that because he is so "comfortable", I may not turn him on like I used to. Usually I feel like I want sex a lot more often then he does, and this has posed a problem for me. What am I to make of all of this?

There isn't much to make of this yet because it sounds like you don't really know what's going on. When the opportunity to discuss what's going on with him comes up, you both end up arguing instead of communicating objectively and openly. I'm not blaming you; I can fully understand why someone would react to a situation like this defensively. Besides not getting what you want, it's easy to take these rejections personally and start thinking that there's either something wrong with you or something wrong with your relationship. Both thoughts can be distressing, but in order to actually diagnose what's going on, you have to restrain yourself (and him) from fighting or blaming. You can try saying something like "you know it's really tough for me to get rejected by you, but I'm going to put that aside for now. I just want to talk to you about what's going on and understand why you're not in the mood."

So what's happening with him? I believe him when he says he's not in the mood, but why? Does he have a weak sex drive or is something else going on? I can think of a bunch of possible issues that are crippling his sex drive: internet porn interfering with his arousal threshold, depression, existential/direction issues, performance anxiety, and other things. Most of these can be resolved with a good, caring talk and some patience. Joining a gym and working out together can also help with mood and anxiety issues.

If you've been spending every day together, then I can't help but wonder if you guys have turned into desexualized roommates. I also wonder what your conversation is like. Has it turned cliche and routine? Are you covering the same topics over and over? Does it seem kind of mechanical? Dinner, work, plans, complaining? Routines by themselves are normal, but they can also be a sign that you both are too dependent on your relationship roles. When you interact exclusively through a role, you sacrifice authenticity and intimacy. That, in turn, can impact your sex life.

If you think you've become desexualized, then reclaim your sexiness and sensuality. Do it for yourself, rather than for him. Why? Because it's fun. There's no right and wrong way to be sexy. Well-fitted clothing, good posture, sensual movements, a little flirtatiousness, some hipster accessories, and a little make up will work wonders for your inner sexicaciousness. If you feel like you've become too dependent on your roles, then shake things up a bit. Have a conversation about something meaningful (without being whiney, which is just part of the role). Talk about your goals in life, your direction, your big fears, your passions, the obstacles you face in relationships, etc. Introduce more humor into your relationship. Try some new things. Have fun! Punch him in the balls occasionally. Whatever. Spontaneity and risk are the antithesis of routine role-clinging.

The point of all of this is for you to determine what your boyfriend's baseline sex-drive is, i.e., what's normal for him in the absence of any major issues. It could be that this is his baseline and that nothing's really wrong. Maybe he's just not that interested in sex. On the other maybe there is something dampening his sex drive. Once you diagnose and resolve those issues, you'll have a better idea of what to expect from him, sexually. If that's something you can live with, then cool. If that's absolutely not enough and you foresee yourself dwelling on this issue in the future, then cut your losses and move on. You don't want to get trapped in a marriage where you're constantly dissatisfied with and forced to rationalize your sex life.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Virgin at 28

Dear Edahn,

I am a 28 year old virgin. I'm not religious, and it's not that I don’t want to have sex, because I do, very badly. I think that for whatever reason it didn't happen when I was younger (family issues and schoolwork prevented me from having a long term relationship in high school and college, and I'm not the kind of girl who has one night stands).

My problem is that I feel like as I date as an adult, sex is expected either very quickly or held off until two people are in an exclusive relationship. When I date, I find myself self-conscious about having not done it. If I tell the guy early on, he inevitably gets freaked out and runs away. Sex is a conversation that tends to come up in dating, and I feel like I need to be honest about the fact that I haven't done it.

This has been an issue for me for a long time now, and as I get older it only gets worse. Please help me before I become a thirty year old virgin. I'm starting to get desperate here, but really don't want to just jump into bed with the next guy who buys me a drink. I should add that while I'm no supermodel, I'm attractive enough that I usually have no trouble attracting comparable men.

Okay, so the question is “why is the guy running away?” You’re probably thinking it’s because he hears you’re a virgin. The way he interprets that information depends on the way you interpret it and feel about it. If you’re self-conscious and serious about your virgin-ness, then he’s probably going to assume that the decision to deflower you will have serious consequences and that sex with you is going to be emotionally complicated. Serious, complicated sex is like libido-kryptonite. It not the fact that you're a virgin, but how that gets interpreted.

I get that you’re self-conscious about being a virgin, and about what sex will finally shape up to be. Let me offer you 2 things to consider. First off, you can spin your lack of experience as a plus. Short of starting a fire or throwing up on your cat, you have no idea whether your guy’s performance was dismal or spectacular. There’s less pressure on him to perform. Him: “Yeah, it’s actually normal for a guy to cum really fast and on your leg.” You: “Oh, okay. Awesome.” Second, everyone is self-conscious when it comes to sex because sex is fucking awkward. Or awkward fucking. It doesn’t matter how many partners you’ve had. It always involves some degree of vulnerability and performance anxiety. So if you’re uncomfortable, it’s fine. Nothing’s wrong.

Try and be less serious and more playful about your virginhood. When the topic comes up, immediately accuse the guy of being a sex fiend, then offer a smile. When you’re forced to talk about it, get all serious all of a sudden, lean in, and tell him you have a secret. Tell him you’re a former gangbang queen. Have a laugh and then tell him the truth – that you never had sex because you were looking for a relationship but were too busy masturbating to take interest in anyone else. You get the drift, right? Just have fun with it and don’t be embarrassed about the truth. It’s really not the biggest deal. The guy will see that you have a good attitude and he’ll see that having sex with you might be some awkward fun.

The last thing you want to consider is what you’re expecting. If you’re waiting for a long-term relationship, well, those are rare in general, so it’s going to be harder to lose your virginity under that condition. It’s a choice you’re entitled to make and I wouldn’t tell you to compromise something you feel strongly about. If you’re willing to be flexible and, say, sleep with someone you’ve been dating for a month with whom you’ve developed a decent amount of trust and intimacy and with whom you can see yourselves dating through the following month, then your chances of finding someone to sex you will statistically improve. It’s a good idea to let the guy know what you’re expecting, especially since he’ll automatically assume you will want a long-term relationship.

Finally, if you haven’t sexed by your 29th birthday, then I’d suggest calling up a liberal-minded friend, sparking a conversation about sex over some drinks, and proposing that you both have sex once. Tell him that he won’t have to get you a present if he does. If you want to have more sex later, you can discuss it openly afterwards.

Are my feet too small?

Dear Edahn,

I feel like sometimes my feet are too small for my body. Any advice for this girl?

There are worse things than having small feet. You could have enormously offensive Shaq feet or leathery Frodo Baggins feet. I recommend you start referring to your feet as "cute" even if you don't see them that way yet. If after a week you're not starting to feel a bit better about your cute midget feet, then I'd suggest using a fail-proof method I developed through years of research, consulting, and experimentation. Warning: you should only use this method if you really, really desperate. It's not the faint of heart. Ready? Okay --

-- wait. Remember, take at least a week before trying Plan B. Okay. Here it goes:


Good God. I just did it myself. There is absolutely no way you could ever feel anything but overflowing gratitude after witnessing the unspeakable horror that is It's like being trapped in a Rob Zombie nightmare. Sheer terror.

The good news is that you'll never have to be ashamed of your feet again. The bad news is that you probably now have PTSD.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Why Does He Criticize the Way I Look?

Dear Edahn,

After I had my baby, my husband started to criticize my body. I got into shape, but he still puts me down. He constantly tells me that I am not his perfect girl, and describes what his perfect girl is like. I've become very jealous and insecure. I can't put this behind me. How do I forget what he said and put myself back together? How do I forgive him?

What he's doing is a form of abuse and torture. By reminding you of your deficiencies, your husband is teasing you and repeatedly subjecting you to feelings of worthlessness and inferiority. That's his way of keeping you dependent on him while he grabs all the power in your relationship.

If you want to repair this situation, your husband needs to take responsibility for what he's doing and see that “I’m just being honest” is not a justification for hurting someone. Ideally, he should see how his actions are motivated by his own fears of being powerless, confused, and abandoned. In the meantime, it's enough that he cuts this out permanently.

As far as you're concerned, you also need to make a few changes. You're approaching this situation from the mindset of someone who is terrified of standing up for herself and afraid of what will happen. That's not going to work because (1) you'll always be needy and afraid and (2) your husband will never listen to you or respect you. If you want respect, don't ask for it politely. Demand it. Why the fuck not? Regardless of whether he's afraid or needy or jerky or even not attracted to you, he still needs to respect you and not treat you like a possession.

It's scary to ask for respect, to be upset, and to vocalize your disappointments when you're not used to it because you risk losing someone you've become dependent on. But even assuming that happens, wouldn't you rather live alone with dignity and honor than be in a relationship with someone who treats you as an accessory?

Get up, get angry, and start drawing some boundaries. You could try saying something along the lines of: "Yeah, well guess what. Your penis isn't that big, but I still love you and I don't remind you of it everyday. How does that make you feel knowing that? How do you think I feel? Stop saying that to me because I feel unwanted and inferior. I don’t care if it’s true or not. I respect you and your feelings and demand that you respect me in return. I will not put up with this anymore. Wake up." Give him a little time to feel a little healthy guilt. If he’s truly remorseful, you can show him that you still care for him and go do something nice together. If he feels bad about your comment, then you can tell him that you said it to prove a point and not to hurt him, and that you really do love him just the way he is.

If it happens again or something else close to that happens, speak up! Be firm and tell him to knock it the hell off. Speak with conviction and confidence, even if it doesn't feel natural yet. It will. Don't put up with any more nonsense. You should never compromise your dignity and honor and you should never put up with abuse.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Welcome to the site!

This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. Though the advice I offer is genuine, is it not intended to be "professional advice." I am not a licensed therapist. If you have a serious problem, please consult a therapist or doctor.

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Am I bi?

Dear Edahn,

I've always known that I was attracted to girls and have even been in love before, but lately I've been having feelings for guys. Though I have lots of friends, I've only been attracted to a handful of guys in my life. I think about what it would be like to be with a guy, but I'm worried that I'd be totally clueless about what I'm supposed to do and feel. I don't feel that confusion with woman. I'm really confused.

Sex and romance are always tricky. There is an entire industry of self-help authors and speakers who, like me, make a living by counseling people with relationship dilemmas.

Part of the reason this area of life is so rife with confusion is because the desire for it is so strong. When you crave something and hang part of your self-worth and happiness on it, you become self-conscious about losing it. To tie that into romance, people start to believe that they need something to make them complete, and then hang their self-worth and happiness on its outcome. If they are able to attract someone, they are happy and see themselves as valuable, but if they fail, they are sad and feel that they are not good enough. So, they become self-conscious about their "performance" during courtship. Maybe you're feeling some of the awkwardness and discomfort that is a natural part of craving.

What I'd suggest is that you put aside the question of romance and sexual identity and just be open to making friends with either sex. You may find that one of these friendships is something special and you may find that you have feelings for that person. The question of sexual identity doesn't have to be decided just now, and it doesn't have to be something that never changes either. My hunch is that your preferences and attraction will follow your feelings of intimacy and care, which happens through the course of a simple but deep friendship.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fearful and Fickle

Dear Edahn,

My BF and I sometimes have these really ephemeral and transcendent moments when I feel fulfilled and placid. But then he doesn't call me and I'm so over it. Sometimes he crushes on my BFF! I also have severe commitment issues. Also I think I may have extreme catagelophobia, so don't make fun of me!

It's hard to tell exactly what's going on from such a short question, but here's my best guess. You've associated people with some type of painful or worrisome experience. Maybe you fear that they'll ridicule you, subordinate you, reject you, make you feel lost, sad -- whatever. The particulars don't matter, nor do you have to know where it all started. The point is, you've got this automatic association that makes you worried even when the situation is actually safe. I assume it's a pretty prevalent theme in your relationships that makes you appear sensitive to others.

When your BF hasn't called in a while, your worrying grows and you get more and more agitated, vulnerable, and uncomfortable. You premeptively reject him by shutting off your feelings and being "over him." You're numbing yourself to the discomfort and vulnerability and at the same time, reducing your dependency on him. Less investment = less risk = less worrying. When you avoid commitment, you similarly reduce your dependency on him. It's analogous to driving a car with insurance: even if you fuck up, you have a backup, so you're not so worried.

You say he's crushing on your BFF. Are you reading into it? Is it a serious danger or just some flippant remark he makes? If it's the latter, suggest he build a shrine on a lake and dedicate it to her, or maybe cut off his ear and email it to her -- better yet, cut off yours so you don't have to hear him tirelessly fawning over her. Use some humor; he'll get the drift.

Good relationships are built on trust. Not just trust that he won't cheat, but trust that you can have flaws and still be okay. The transcendent moments might come and go, but the value comes out of the friendship and dialogue which is sometimes trivial, sometimes silly, sometimes interesting. But transcendence is not the norm. I don't even think I'd want something like that.The transcendent moments you share might be real, but I would ask you to consider whether they're just others ways you've found to numb yourself to the background discomfort and apprehension.

If my analysis rings true, then start addressing the automatic associations you've inherited that are making you uncomfortable. Don't beat yourself up for it, but pay attention to it. Watch your automatic associations with your BF. When your BF doesn't call, what kinds of thoughts run through your head? What kinds of feelings? Get familiar with it. You don't have to stop it, just get familiar. Example: images of him not being interested or feelings of being forgotten and alone. You can watch your automatic associations with your friends, family, and coworkers. If you've taken something too personally or misinterpreted something they've said for the worst, make a note of it for next time. Example: someone says they didn't like some food you made you take offense to it. You examine it and see that it wasn't personal and make a note of it.

Resist the impulse to "shut off." Try talking instead. If this is just your fear hijacking your perception and making you misinterpret what's happening, then just sit back, notice how "off" you feel and wait for the feeling to dissolve on its own (5-15 minutes). You can even have a little laugh at the whole experience. You could also ponder taking a stand against your fear and telling it to fuck off. I think this'll happen naturally over time.

As you contemplate and practice this stuff, your fear will start to play less of a role in your relationships. If you still feel disconnected from him, or like you're hoping and forcing this to be something it's not, you'll know that it's not just you freaking out but that he's just not the right guy for you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How do I find meaning in my life?

Dear Edahn,

I've had an experience of working years towards something and having it become somewhat of who you are, only to realize that career might not be realistic. How do you switch to something that will give you meaning?

If you already know what it is that'll provide you with meaning, then you just need to be smart and persistent about developing it. Make good decisions, stay involved, and dedicate time and effort to it. If you're having difficulty determining what direction will offer meaning and purpose, take the next 5 days to reflect on these questions:

  • What can I offer to others?
  • Who needs my assistance?
  • Where can I brighten the world?
  • When am I most content?
  • When I picture myself smiling and being truly happy around others, what is it I see myself doing?
In the end, living with meaning isn't something that has to be limited to your job. It's a lifestyle -- an approach to living in harmony with your environment. The Japanese understood this and hid it in their lifestyle and art, where the transition between nature and humans is seamless. Compare that to the modern approach of dominating the environment and you can see the difference. The Japanese appreciated harmony.

No Motivation to Help Others

Dear Edahn,

I constantly feel guilty about not doing "my part" to help society. I do absolutely nothing proactive in that respect and I can't seem to turn that around. My first question is a philosophical one - do you think that's why we're here - to help those in need - or do you think it's one of those things that "will happen when it happens..." and in the meantime as long as we are following ethical routes and help when the opportunity presents itself, things will work out. Second question is do have any advice about how to start doing something? Basically I need a boot camp motivator to get me going.

Dear Lazy Jerkoff,

I think people have an innate drive to create harmony in the world. Harmony is what happens when you help bring joy to the world. It merges you with others, with the environment, and with the universe. The innate drive gets frustrated when we fixate excessively on our worries.

Warning: weird analogy ahead. It's like we have all have this pipeline that runs through us carrying urges to live in harmony with our surroundings, but the pipeline gets clogged up by all the shit we think we have to do to secure our future and our individual social status. Wait. It gets weirder. We are the pipeline! Helping others by offering them some joy, levity, humor, or rest unclogs the pipeline and helps things run smoothly. You know you're on the right track because it feels right. Don't ask me to define "right" because I can't.

Is this a philosophical argument? No, but I don't think philosophy will ever shed any insight on healthy living, morality, and priority. The more we look at the universe, the more we see that it lacks inherent design and intended direction. From a traditional philosophical point of view, there is no purpose to anything. So instead of calling this an argument, lets call it a hunch.

If you want to get started, just go and do something. Don't dwell on it too long, just do it. Set up something right now. Go to and search for something to do this weeken that seems slightly interesting. Call a friend and tell him or her that you signed them up took the liberty of signing them up as well. Don't worry if it's not perfect or seems boring.

I don't feel like he cares about me

Dear Edahn,

I am in a relationship where I constantly feel emotionally unsatisfied and unsure of how important I am to my partner. I love my boyfriend and want it to work but at the same time, I don't want to waste years on something that isn't going anywhere. What should I do?

Lets say you're not important to him. Then what? Stop fighting the thought and just accept it as a fact. How does that feel? Worried? Sad? Agitated? Relieved? Numb? Confused? Good. Be that.

You'll eventually discover something incredibly obvious and incredibly important: you're okay. You're actually okay without his support. You're still an individual with uniqueness and the capacity to experience joy and freedom. You have values, style, and interests (remember those?). You no longer have to labor under the illusion that securing his affection is the key to your happiness; it never was the key and never will be. Your happiness was always there. It just got partially covered up.

Try living like this for a while without worrying about the health and outcome of your relationship. Just let it be however damaged and confusing it is while you rediscover your capacity to feel joy despite the quality of your relationship. You are starting to cure neediness with self-reliance. When you remove neediness from the equation, you're better equipped to evaluate your relationship and decide what to do.