Friday, January 29, 2010

Ask Everyone Else: What is Hope

It's been a while since I polled the studio audience (you) with an interesting question. We've about doubled our readership here in the past month, so it's time to give this another try.

What is hope? Is it a thought? A feeling? Does it require effort to develop? To uncover? Do you feel it consistently? How would you suggest someone find more of it?

Please leave a comment below. If you know someone who might be interested in offering their thoughts, you can share this post with them using the buttons below. I'll post my thoughts in a little bit. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Overwhelming Pressure from Dating

Dear Edahn,

Fresh out of a spoiled relationship, I've been starting to get asked out on dates by a few men. I've noticed my initial response to this all has been one of discomfort -- I'm afraid to commit to a date with any of these guys because I'm afraid of the expectations he may have about my agreeing to do so (like sex, hooking up, a follow up date, or simply that by showing up it means "I am more than platonically interested"). I know I'm ready to date, it's been a few months since my last relationship ended. But for some reason (and this mentality plagued me on a smaller scale when I dated prior), I can't help but feel overwhelmed with pressure and/or uncomfortable. How can I get over my mental block and start dating?

If I'm understanding you correctly, you're interested in sex, hooking up, and a follow-up date (not necessarily in that order) but don't want to feel like you're required to do those things, right?

There're a lot of reasons expectations can get in the way of you enjoying yourself. You might feel pressure to act in conformance with those expectations, abiding by all the formalities and unspoken "rules" of dating. You might be worried about letting the guy down after he's formed expectations. You might be worried about getting rejected and what that'll do to your sense of self-worth. Any and all of this stuff has a tendency to make people self-conscious about the impression their giving off. Not so fun, but there are some things you can do to help keep these expectations from seducing you. Here're a few ideas.

1. Acknowledge that expectations are just part of the dating process. You are putting yourself out there to be evaluated and to evaluate someone else, but remember that you're not being evaluated as a human being, just as a compatible mate. If you get rejected, fuck it. It might hurt a little, but really, it's not a reflection on your self worth. It's just a compatibility issue. The same goes if you reject him. He's not a bad person, he's just not your taste. You're all still fundamentally good, caring people. If you need any proof, just look for his and your inner child. The more you date and contemplate this, the less personal rejection will be and you won't be as worried about having expectations.
2. Prepare some good rejection lines. If having to let the guy down is worrying you, prepare a little strategy. If I'm not interested at the end of the date, I'll usually say "I had a really nice time, [and the sex was great]" and then send them a text or email after a few days saying that I thought they were very cool but not not a love match and wish them luck. It connects to the first point of not rejecting the person as a human being, just as a mating partner.
3. Acknowledge with expectations with some humor. He offers to buy you coffee, you say "sure, but this doesn't mean I'm having sex with you tonight, got it?" in a really serious tone, then crack a smile and tickle him. Bonus points if you add "unless you buy me a biscotti too." If he has any class, he'd buy you 10 biscotti and bring them back to the table without offering an explanation.
4. Add a disclaimer. You could say something like "I just got out of a relationship and I'm not the best dater. I'd like to get to know you a little without any expectations if that's alright with you." I personally would love to hear something like that. It's honest and refreshing, and I like the idea of building a relationship via an innocent friendship. 
5. Trust in yourself. If you still feel unsure of yourself, that's okay. Being unsure of yourself doesn't mean you won't be able to handle whatever happens. You can admit that there are expectations out there but still know that you can manage them and still be alright. It may not be spectacular, but it'll be pretty good.
6. Trust in your date. If you have good chemistry with a guy, the expectations won't seem like such a big deal. A good date feels more like playing than a super serial mating interview. If you still feel enormous, uncomfortable pressure at the end of the date, it's probably not a great match.

Read this stuff and think about it. Remember it's okay if you're hesitant; most people feel somewhat uncomfortable with the pressure of dating. You can feel a little hesitant and still go on a date and see what happens.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thank you, 7-11, for deeming me a worthy human being

On my way down to San Diego today, I stopped by 7-11 to pick up some nutrition (soda and candy). I really had to pee, so I looked around but couldn't find a restroom sign. I took my purchases to the register and asked the cashier if they had a bathroom.

She looks at me and pauses. Her eyes narrow. I look at her, suspiciously. It was like an old Western showdown but with oral hygiene. She takes another minute to survey my attire and says " the back," and motions to the "Employees Only" door. I thanked her, went into the backroom and peed everywhere.

Thank you, Annapoorna, for deeming me worthy enough to use your filthy restrooms. I am one step closer to being a complete person now.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Proper breakup etiquette


Here is my question: Recently I decided that the man I was dating was no longer right for me, so I broke it off. Nicely. The problem is that he seems to believe I will be coming back to him. He isn't being a pest and I think he is a great guy, just not for me. Would it have been better for him if I had been more abrupt and made a clean break instead of, what feels to me, like letting him drag his heart around feeling hopeful?

When I was 8 or 9 my family took a vacation in Palm Springs. I was socializing with some friends in a swimming pool when we noticed a bee squirming around. My friend killed it and explained how in Judaism, you're not supposed to let animals suffer.

The reason I'm telling you this is because I hate bees sometimes you need to inflict a little pain in order to act compassionately. If the person you're breaking up with doesn't seem capable of letting go after a direct but soft rejection, then yes, I think the right thing to do is to cut off contact, tell him it's nothing personal, just a policy you have, and wish him the best.

[Compassionate plea: Help share the site with friends by clicking on one of the share links below. Thank you guys.]

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Updated post

Hey kids,

Please take note, I felt uncomfortable with a recent post and decided to update it.

The post, now updated, is My boyfriend is using drugs to escape.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Getting Serious While Dating

Dear Edahn,

Why do girls get so serious so quickly while dating. I met a girl at a party and a few days later she always asked me if I'm serious about dating her. What the fuck? I haven't even gone out with you and you're already putting pressure on me? Any advice?

Some girls do it because they imagine all relationships are supposed to be intense and passionate. They say "are you serious?" expecting you to say "yes! I'm really into you and have been thinking about you" and everything is intense and on-track for them. These aren't good relationships because they lack intimacy, authenticity, and self-sufficiency. It's not that passion is necessarily bad, but it needs to come sparingly and AFTER the intimacy has developed to a healthy state. Otherwise you end up DEPENDING on the intensity (through professions of love or sex) to feel close. The relationship starts to feel empty and lonely. If you meet a girl like this, you can try using some humor, or point out what's going on and why you're uncomfortable, or just run for the hills.

Other girls just do it because they don't want to get used or waste their time. It's legitimate. I understand if you feel pressured by it because you want the early stages of a relationship to be light and friendly. The best solution is to just be honest and respectful and say "I can't give you any assurances, except to say that I'll do my best to be honest about the way I feel and won't use you." You're not committing yourself to anything and you're just being open and honest, as a friend would be. Don't get hung up on the conversation when it's over. Just let it go and move on to flirting and spending time together.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Reflecting on Your Life

“Every human has four endowments- self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom... The power to choose, to respond, to change.” Stephen R. Covey

Call me idealistic (you're idealistic!), but I’m a firm believer that we all know what we need to create deep peace and happiness in our lives. Often times our thinking clouds our intuition as we try approach our happiness like a puzzle to be solved or a cryptogram to be decoded. It’s easy to get lost in your thoughts and fixate on the stuff that seems missing in your life.

In my experience, over-thinking never produces the insight and satisfaction I’m looking for. That insight comes from slowing down and getting out of my thoughts. It comes from making contact with the voice that sometimes gets drowned out but never fully disappears, the voice that intuitively knows the meaning of happiness and the path to get there. It’s a humble voice, full of care and patience, and it’s eager to share that care and patience with others. I call it the conscience because it knows what’s right and speaks with an open heart.

Communication with our conscience helps steer our thoughts and actions towards peace. It tells us how to replace turmoil and chaos with quietness and gracefulness. It helps us live with clarity, meaning, and resolution.

Today’s Exercise
You’ve made a lot of decisions in your life that have brought you to where you are. You’ve accumulated and inherited certain habits and patterns of treating yourself and others. Which of these habits have served you the best? Which have brought you the most clarity, the most beauty, the most peace of mind? Which areas of your life are producing friction? Are you able to heal those areas? What is the inner voice telling you? What is it calling your attention to?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Using drugs to escape

Dear Edahn,

I've been in a relationship for several months now, and it's absolutely great. We both support each other and I feel fulfilled and at peace when I'm around him. My problem is that I worry about the way he handles major issues. We have similarly traumatic backgrounds (physical and sexual abuse). I did the therapy route and, along with the support of family and friends, I've been able to accept the things that have happened to me and move on with my life; but he's still in a great deal of pain. He has gotten into drugs because he feels that getting high is the only way he can be happy. I don't like that he relies on drugs in order to be happy.

I know that everyone deals with traumatic events in different ways, but I don't want him to have to be dependent on anything for his own personal happiness. Other than continuing to be a loving girlfriend, what can I do to help him? I don't really want to confront him about this, as I think he would be very uncomfortable discussing the topic. Although he has been opening up a little more lately, he doesn't share much about personal things like this. I'm not even sure if he's aware that I know this much about him, as this conversation took place after a night of drinking and I'm not sure how much he remembers. Above all, I want him to be happy, but I'm not sure how to help him.

Alright, alright. I'm trying this again because I didn't like the last answer. Here goes nothing.

The thing that worries me is that you're started to judge him for something. You're not comfortable with the way he's doing something. That can lead to a dynamic where you are the superior teacher and he's the student. I know you don't MEAN for that to happen, but I can see it developing down the line.

The other problem is that you can't really change that part of him, at least, not easily. If you try to put pressure on him to refuse drugs and confront his issues the way you did, or even some other way, he'll probably be keen on it for a while but eventually he'll start to take it personally and resent you for looking down upon him. When you do work on yourself it has to be personal or it doesn't stick. That's a big lesson I've learned. When you try to change for a non-personal reason, e.g., to please someone else, to meet some requirement, it doesn't really last because it's not meaningful.

There ARE ways to make self-improvement personally meaningful. Open up any self-help book and read the intro and first chapter or so. I guarantee it's focused on making the journey personal. It might ask some probing questions like "how do you picture your future?" or "what's meaningful to you?" or "what do you need to move forward?" or "what is your heart saying?" or "what's really going to make you happy in life?" The purpose of all these questions is to get the person in touch with their own needs, rather than your needs. It's to create a strong emotional reaction that invigorates the self-improvement campaign so it can be effective.

So what can you do? Well, you can try to use some of these techniques and questions. You can even buy him a book that has some of these techniques. But if he senses that the fate of his relationship depends on his changing his habits, it's going to be very hard for him to believe that he's changing FOR HIMSELF. That's what makes this situation tricky. That, and the fact that I don't see you giving up your position; I don't see you accepting his progress right now, and I don't blame you. I wouldn't date someone like him either. Not that he's a bad guy, but I want someone who's self-aware and emotionally responsible.

So, as I see it, your options are (1) inspire him to change without making him feel like he's changing for you, a very, very difficult task but not impossible or (2) cut your losses and move on before you get deeper into this relationship.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Losing My Religion


I've been struggling with my religion. I can't tell if I'm observant of my parents' tradition out of guilt or belief or familiarity. How can I teach myself the difference between the three?

I thought about this question for a while because something about it doesn't make sense. It assumes that everything we do is out of deliberate, conscious choice. One of the axioms of existential psychology is that awareness gives birth to choice, but how often are we really aware? Most of the time, we do things out of habit, practicality, or out of respect for authority.

My guess is that the reason you're observant is because you grew up that way. Your parents did it, and you assumed it was just a normal thing people do, like saying hello to greet people or throwing your trash away when you finish eating. You're now getting to a point where you have more awareness and that's making you wonder why you do the things you do. That's healthy. Your mind can make all sorts of connections and hypothesie, but I think the only way you're really going to know why you observe your religion is by continuing to wrestle with the justifications and experiment with different lifestyles. Try not being observant for 2 weeks. Completely let go of your religious identity. Maybe something will pull you back in eventually, perhaps in a way you didn't really expect. You may form a very different relationship to your religion even though it appears the same on the outside. The difference is that your relationship will be authentic and meaningful--conscious--rather than something you just inherited from your parents and society. That's kind of the process I went through: questioning, abandoning, rediscovering, abandoning, and then rediscovering again in a new way. Don't be afraid of suspending your religious identity. If you never come back to it, it couldn't have been worth that much.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Follow my heart, or follow the money?

Dear Edahn,

I'm at a turning point in my career-- I've essentially been given the option to follow my heart or follow the money. As a male in a long term relationship, I feel pressure to earn enough to support a family, but I know that my heart isn't in it. Should I take a risk of being poor and do what I enjoy doing, given that it might be at the expense of being able to support a wife and children?

That's a tough question that you're going to need to work through yourself. I can give you some of my thoughts on the issue. My main priority in life, when I really cut through all the shit and ask what's important to me, is being a good person, having a big heart, and filling my life with joy and beauty. Everything else is a tool to further those ends. Being close with my family is an important tool, helping people is an important tool, and having the right amount of money is yet another. The right amount is not too little where I have to be constantly worried, but not too much where it preempts my identity.

If I were you, I would take an inventory of the things that are important to you. Forget about what other people are doing and where they're going. Picture yourself happy in the future and try and imagine the person you are. Not just happy as in excited, but happy in the sense that you are proud of your life, feel content, feel connected and like yourself. In that scenario, what qualities have you developed as a person? What type of lifestyle have you chosen? What type of work do you have? If you're really honest with those answers, you'll choose a career that works for you and isn't too unrealistic and you'll know the answer to your question.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Should I get breast implants?

Dearest Edahn,

I have always been bothered by the size of my boobs-- they are not uneven, but they are really tiny titties and I feel like clothing never fits the way it is supposed to. I am thinking about getting fake boobies, but I have some questions before I commit to it...

1) is it really easy to tell when a girl has fakems if they aren't ridiculously large (by seeing and by touching)?

By seeing, it depends on the guy's training and ken. I think it's pretty obvious by the way they move (and don't move). By touch, the saline are harder while the silicone feel more like fat. I haven't felt any of the silicone implants, but if someone would like to show me, strictly for educational purposes of course...

2) do guys negatively judge a girl who has them?

What kinds of guys? It's not a yes or no question and a lot of the answer depends on how the girl carries herself and shows them off. There's a girl who frequents the gym I belong too who has ridiculously big boobs that pour out of what looks to be a training bra. The first things guys think is "yay4boobies!!!" but they also know that the girl is absorbed in her image, trying hard to get noticed, and probably has a wallet filled with $1 bills.

On the other hand, some women are modest with clothing. They might wear clothes that are flattering, but they don't advertise their breasts as obviously. Still, you might encounter some judgments from guys, but it wouldn't be as severe, especially if you exude a humble confidence.

3) is it better to have fake boobs or small boobs?

From a guy's perspective, again, it depends on the kind of guy you're trying to attract. More important is how you carry yourself. I don't think you need to have big breasts to be beautiful at all. Big breasts are fun in the beginning, but their luster wears off. A girl who feels sexy and doesn't apologize for the way she looks, boobs or not, is incredibly beautiful and attractive because she sends a signal that she's understanding and at ease. That invites guys to relax and not be so worried about being imperfect...and we're all imperfect.

So from the guy's perspective, it might help at first, but in the long run, the critical issue is how it affects your self esteem. I see girls who get plastic surgery who seem to have a temporary boost in their self-esteem but it doesn't really last. They revert back to their old self-critical patterns and pick a new "defect" to fixate upon until they get so much surgery that they start to look like an alien. NOT. SEXY. I think these women actually become more self-conscious after their surgery and more demanding of perfection. They get very tense about the way that they look and need everything to always be in order. In my mind, their self-esteem has taken a blow. Then again, I'm sure there women who get the implants and move on with their life without obsessing about the way they look. I haven't really met them, though.

Take a good look at yourself and ask what the result will be. Will having this surgery let you stop fixating on your breasts or will you just obsess about them in a new way, like the girl at my gym? After you answer that, consider the liabilities: pain, infection, autoimmune diseases, replacement within 20 years tops. If you think this is really a wise move--if you're doing this because you really want to be kind to yourself--do it. If you're not really sure or clear, then don't.

4) how big should I go, and should I go saline or silicone? when hooking up, do you notice the scars?

Silicone implants are filled prior to insertion and therefore leave a bigger scar. They're said to feel more realistic, like fat. The saline is inflated once it's in, so the scar is smaller and surgeons can actually make the incision in the armpit so there's nothing on the breast itself, (phew) but they say that the salines feel harder and less realistic. I've heard that some women are unhappy with the way it sloshes around when they move up and down, e.g., during sex. How big? I'd suggest making them proportional to your body to avoid becoming too obsessed with them.

5) should I mention that my boobs are fake before the guy even touches them so that he isn't surprised?

You mean so he doesn't get worried or turned off when squeezing and fondling your huge boobs? Yeah, I think he'll be okay without the warning.

[Know someone who's considering implants who might benefit from titillating article? Don't be such a boob! Share us with the buttons below!]

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Taking and sharing naked pics

Dear Edahn,

Why is it that guys will take naked pics of their girlfriends and share them with their other guy friends? What do you think is behind this? Is it normal?

I think they do it to show off to their friends. It's exactly like a girl showing her friends the new cellular* phone she got. These guys look at their girlfriend as novel possessions, not as partners or equals. When interest in impressing friends > respect for girlfriend and the general maturity level hangs lower than Hugh Hefner's beanbag, naked pictures shall be shared.

Is it normal? Yes. For juvenile douchers.

If people want to take scandalous photos of themselves, make sure you keep the originals and all copies in your possession or scratch out the face so it's unrecognizable...and spooky as shit.

* LOL, doesn't the word "cellular" sound like it came straight out of the Old Testament? It's so friggin' old. And thus Moses spake on his cellular phone to the Lord, who was running out of minutes...

Announcement: Most hits ever!

Thank you everyone for sharing my blog. We hit a milestone yesterday, getting 92 pageviews in a single day. The previous record for AskEdahn was in the 70s. It's not a lot for other sites, but I think it's just swell. I've added some share buttons that allow you to FB, Digg, Tweet, and email individual articles, and I've brought back the Follow Us box.

If you have any design suggestions or would like to see any topics discussed, you can leave a comment under this post.

Again, thanks so much for helping me spread the word. You kiss asses.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Finding Mr./Mrs. Right and still being myself

Dear Edahn,

It feels like the only time I am really able to let myself go in a relationship is when I know that it has an expiration date. This being the case, I have spent the last ten years in a string of in-the-meantime relationships. I am worried that I'll never be able to let myself fall for someone fully unless there is a major dealbreaker, and that I'll forever end up dating a series of Mr. Right Now instead of finding my Mr. Right. Got any advice?

Yes. This is an issue
I have dealt with for years and still deal with, though a bit more skillfully now than before.

I think what's happening is that in the relationships you don't care about, you're not so worried about losing something. When people worry about losing something, they start to micromanage their image and actions. They try really hard to build and maintain a connection and they do so by being the person they think they're supposed to be--funny, charming, intelligent, successful--and suppressing what they think they're not supposed to be--afraid, confused, nervous, and unfocused. Jung called this the Shadow. All that image management makes you feel disconnected from yourself. You lose the ability to feel, to be joyous, to be creative, spontaneous, and to have levity in your life. All of this usually happens quickly and quietly. I think you've started to feel that loss of self-connection and have been avoiding it, preferring to enter relationships where you're less invested and less worried about the way you come off to others.

Is there a solution? Certainly. It takes effort, honesty, and courage, but there's certainly a solution. First, get a basic understanding of what's going on. Are you, like I suggested, shrinking away from potentially meaningful relationships because your self-connection gets buried under fear and worrying? If yes, then you can move onto the next step, which is asking why you're worried. From what I gather, nearly all (95% of the people I've met) suffer with the same issues as you and I, married people included. Some of them are able to hide the problem. Others aren't even aware that they've lost their self-connection. The reason we're so worried, I believe, is because we all feel inferior on some level. We feel like we're defective and incomplete. Sometimes we might pin our feelings on something specific--inferior intelligence, confusion, social skills, a lack of financial success--but I think the root of it is a pervasive feeling, not a specific deficit. Don't take my word for. Look inside. How do you feel when you're with these guys?

The solution, in my opinion, lies in challenging that feeling. It is finding a place in your heart where you hold yourself as you are. You're not perfect, but that's okay, because you're human and you have a good heart. No one is perfect. We're all fragile, all confused, all sharing the same feeling of incompleteness and inferiority. That's okay. Practicing that understanding and self-compassion gives you space to stop the micro-management and it lets you be yourself with courage, flaws, defects, gifts, talents, all of it. When you let all of that be the way it is without apology, you forge a super-strong connection to yourself and you no longer feel inadequate. You feel like you're talking to an equal, and if it doesn't work out, the rejection isn't as devastating because you don't take it personally. Your self-esteem isn't so fragile anymore.

The "Right-Now" relationships are distracting you from this task you've been assigned of learning how to stand up to inferiority and see yourself as good enough. Cut them out of your life and get to work on the big stuff.

With love and care,

[I'd encourage you to browse this site, since I tend to discuss the same themes, since I think they're all interrelated. These articles are a good start.]
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Friday, January 8, 2010

How can you tell if someone's lying?

Dear Edahn,

Do you have any tips for telling when someone is lying to you? I often find myself wondering whether people are being honest with me.

Ask and ye shall receive. Based on a meta-analysis of studies on lying, there are numerous ways to detect deceptions reliably. Here's a summary of that article.

    1. Their pants are on fire. Their stories make less sense and are not logically structured.
    2. Liars make fewer spontaneous corrections to their stories because they're more rehearsed. >>>
    3. Liars are less likely to admit they don't remember something.
    <<< 4. They don't develop the context of an event and provide less detail in general.
    5. They have less "unusual detail" in their stories.
    6. Liars are more likely to mention peripheral events or relationships.
    7. Liars spend less time talking.
    8. They describe situations without discussing their personal feelings about them.
    9. The language they use creates distance between themselves and the listener.
    10. They press their lips together more often. Roger Clemens lying about not taking steroids, btw. >>>
    11. Their speech is more often in the passive voice.

    <<< 12. They raise their chin more often, possibly because they want to appear hostile and overly assertive.
    13. When motivated to lie, i.e., when they have something to gain, they make less eye-contact while they're lying. But they don't avert their gaze or stare down or up. That's just myth.

    14. Their pupils dilate more. >>>
    15. When they're some payoff, liars repeat words and phrases more often, called a non-ah disturbance, but don't use as many filled pauses: ah, er, hmm, uh and um. Non-ah disturbances like repeating words or starting a new sentence abruptly is said to indicate anxiety. When there's no payoff -- if they're just lying to fuck with you -- the reverse is true. (See any speech W. ever made, ever.)
    <<< 16. Their faces look uglier...I shit you not.
    <<< 17. The use more fake smiles (sans squinting) and smile less.
    18. They're more likely to make negative statements and complain.
    19. They're more likely to speak in a higher pitched voice.

    20. They fidget more with their face, but less with other objects and less with other parts of their body, e.g., they'd be more likely to rub their face, less likely to tap a pencil, and less likely to scratch their arm. >>>

    Politicians, athletes, and businessmen...and Puss 'n Boots. I'm not too surprised. OJ looks fucking crazy, no? LOL. Looks like he's about to knife the judge. Being accused of crimes makes me so mad, I just wanna kill someone! ARRRRGHGHGHGH!

    Anyhow, the study can be found here if you're interested. Trying to remember a whole list is impractical, but if it were me, I would probably pay attention to eye contact and breathing. If the person looks frozen -- not breathing fluidly and staring at you -- I would assume they were lying. I don't know of any recent studies that look at breathing style, but breathing changes helped inspire the creation of the polygraph.

    [Impassioned plea: share this site with your friends if you like it! There's a Facebook button in the corner. You make click for me? Yesyes?]

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    How do you end a friendship?

    Hi Edahn, (Hi!)

    I have a friend who I really don't feel that close to anymore. She is in a relationship, and I am single, and I feel like we don't hang out or talk like we used to. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I don't like her boyfriend because he's really annoying, and I don't think she really likes him either, but she is in the relationship because she is afraid to be alone. I've lost a lot of respect for her since she has entered the relationship, and don't think our friendship will ever recover. Is there such a thing as a friend break up? I don't really want to hang out with this girl anymore, but I don't want to have to have a whole conversation about how much I dislike her boyfriend. I don't want to make it an "it's him or me" conversation, I just want to stop being friends with her. Can I do this without making a big thing about it? I've stopped returning guys' calls before, but it seems like a weird thing to do with a friend.

    So your friend doesn't have the skills to overcome her fear of being alone. I'm betting that in her relationship, she's sacrificed a lot of her authenticity to placate this doucher, and consequently, has identified with her relationship role. That would make it hard for you to relate to the "real," "original" girl you used to hang out with and make your interactions seem meaningless and distant. Sound about right?

    If you want to end a friendship, you want to be sure to treat her with respect and care. Disappearing, like you intuited, is weird because it disrespects your past and she deserves more. Even if she's particularly weak when it comes to relationships, as her friend, you have the ability to remember who she is when she's strong,  what made her great and amusing. That stuff is still there is you can picture it, and I'd suggest you try to. Being kind and treating her with dignity is a way of honoring that inner goodness and being a true friend. That's what a true friend is: they pledge to see each other's inner goodness even when the shit gets stirred.

    Some type of explanation that avoids blame and accusations but is still honest would be appropriate. You could meet for coffee and tell her you have to get something off your chest. Tell her how you've felt distant and why you think it's happened, then hear her out. Maybe you come to an understanding, maybe you don't. But by communicating like that you're honoring your friendship, honoring her inner goodness, and honoring your own kindness and inner goodness. It might be uncomfortable, but you'll know that you did the right thing and acted in accordance with your conscience. You both benefit from it.

    [AskEdahn exists because of referrals. Really. I'm not just saying this to get famous. I have 3 questions or so on reserve. If you want to show your appreciations, please share this site with some of your friends who would find it interesting or could use a stranger's perspective on their issue. Thank yous.]

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    Feeling torn between my friends

    Hi Edahn,

    If two friends are dating and I know one friend is not as serious as the other, should I say something? I have a guy and girl friend. They know each other through me. I'm closer to Guy. Girl is kind of fragile because she has had a rough past. She hasn't dated in a long time and may have attachment issues. They started dating. They haven't formally committed to "boyfriend/girlfriend" status. Girl seems to be falling hard with the hope that it leads somewhere. Guy tells me he's just having fun. Do I just completely stay uninvolved? If I do, then how do I act when Girl tells me all the time about how happy and serious she is about him? I don't want to lose either friend. I want to be loyal to both.

    In general, people should stop dating once one person becomes much more invested than the other partner and the other partner recognizes that he's not that interested. Tell the guy ("Guy") that the girl ("Girl") seems really attached and hopeful. You can ask him to be honest with her and not lead her on if he senses that he's not as serious as she. You don't have to get into her history and all your observations, nor do you need any kind of assurance that he'll heed your advice. Putting him on notice is enough. I appreciate your hesitation to get involved, but as I see it, you're simply making sure your friends treat each other with dignity and respect. There's nothing controversial about that. Good looking out. You can leave an update in the "comments" section if you'd like.

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    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    Developing feeling for my close friend: what should I do?

    Dear Edahn,

    Over the last few months I've started developing feelings for one of my close girlfriends. I have known her for a long time, but we've never dated (we sometimes used to hook up after a night of drinking, but haven't done that in years). I consider her one of my closest friends, one of the people who knows me best in this world, and one of the few people that knows how to comfort me when I am restless. As I have gotten older, I now have a much better appreciation for what I really want in a life partner and I feel like she might be it. I am ready for a serious relationship, ready to find my lifelong partner, and I've started to love her in a whole new way, as I think about what a life with her might be like. As I've developed these feelings it has been hard for me to hear about her dating other guys, conversations that never used to bother me. I find myself getting jealous and sad when I hear that she is into somebody else and am admittedly relieved when it doesn't work out. I am afraid that I am going to lose her.

    I want to know if she would be open to dating, but I'm afraid that if I make a move or if I tell her, it will ruin our relationship. I know that we will still be friends if she doesn't want to date me, but I also know our friendship will change once she hears that I have started developing deeper feelings for her. I know that she will be more guarded and less free in our friendship. It feels so risky to try to explore these feelings I've been having, and I'm even worried that I'm only having them because it is holiday season, I have entered my 30s, and I am going through a period of life-crisis anyway. How can I explore my own emotions to tell if my feelings for her are genuine or just an idealized projection or hope? Should I gamble with and risk losing or changing our friendship and tell her how I feel, or should I play it safe, put my feelings away and guarantee that our friendship remains intact?

    This might sound weird, but I think you have idealized her and fallen in erotic love with that image, but at the same time, I think you truly love the person she is without that idealization. The best way to tell is to examine how you see her. Has your relationship with her changed recently? Have you boxed her into a certain persona? Is it harder to relate to her now? Do you find yourself more self-conscious around her? If so, I think what's happened is that your life situation and crisis (which is a good thing, IMO) has caused you to think about the qualities you want in a partner (also good), and to attribute those qualities to her very strongly. The qualities that agree with that projection you embrace, and the qualities that conflict with that projection -- e.g., her dating others -- you resist. I think most people do this when they get into relationships. I see it as a form of erotic/possessive/needy love, but not true love. Erotic love is "grabby." It seeks to acquire something. True love is much simpler and much lighter and really just involves kindness. True love is something you shared with this girl for years. You cared for each other, were supportive, had fun, messed (around) with each other, and let your shadow come out -- the part of ourselves that we routinely hide out of shame. True love is something you share with your friends and family. Romantic partners are no exception.

    So now what. My advice is to put all this aside for a moment. Just hang out with her like old times. Let the innocent care you shared with her for years come back out and just have fun without internally condemning her and without totally falling for her. Just be cool and be open to having fun and sharing yourselves with each other like you have for years. In other words, go back to being friends. If you notice that your care for her grows and seems like something special and beautiful rather than something confusing and obsessive, then let your intuition guide your decisions: maybe you decide that friendship feels right; maybe you just make a move one day without explanation; maybe you share your feelings and ping hers; maybe you get drunk together and have sex. You'll know what to do because it will feel natural and feel right.

    Most importantly, remember to have fun with it and see the humor in your situation, even especially if it seems like a hopelessly confusing mess. ;) Good luck, friend!

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    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Is it ever okay to lie?

    I'm having a hard time dealing with guilt. I used to lie all of the time to everyone about everything as long as it was beneficial to me. This life got started wearing me down as I was constantly overwhelmed by guilt and found that I was losing my sense of who I really was. I decided not to lie anymore about a year ago. This has forced me to live a life where I act in accordance with my conscience, as I usually don't do things that I will want to lie about later. My problem is that every so often, I find myself lying to someone to save them from pain or sadness-- is this acting in harmony with my conscience? I can't tell whether there are situations in which it is okay to lie. Are there shades of grey when it comes to lying or is it a black and white issue? is it possible to lead a life without having to lie ever?

    I'm not a moral authority
    , but I do believe it's okay to lie in certain situations. In some cases you need to withhold the truth to do the right thing and help people. In other cases, you can avoid having to lie by posing a question, choosing your words carefully, or making a joke. For instance, if my friend asks me if I like her dress and I really don't, I might say "it's not my favorite, but I like the [color] [design] [animals its made of]." I usually say I don't have a strong opinion either way which is the truth. Other times my friends might ask how a certain guy or girl feels about them. In that case I might say "who cares?" or "I'm pretty sure they hate you." With that said, I think there are times where honesty is appropriate even if it hurts someone's feelings. Example, your friend is humiliating or abusing someone else (a kid, a spouse, another family member). In those situations, the right thing to do is to confront the person, gently but assertively.

    So which do you use? Honesty? Lying? Redirection? I say do whatever it is you're already doing. Guide yourself using your sense of compassion and wisdom. If your intentions are pure your actions will be pure even if you occasionally fuck up here and there. I commend you for making that big change in your life; that shows a lot of class.

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    Friday, January 1, 2010

    Will she marry me?

    I want to approach is to give her the following...what do you think?

    Sure, as long as your girlfriend looks like this: