Friday, July 30, 2010

Show me the money!

Hi Edahn,

[tl;dr: old perv wants to pay for her education]

I am in a loving and faithful relationship that is genuine, and I am completely happy. Recently, I've had to make some serious career decisions like to go back to school with the goal of eventually leading a comfortable life and not have to struggle for money.

The man I'm dating is struggling financially as well. While he is loving and giving, if I want to live the lifestyle I do, I will have to be the primary bread winner. I'm fine with that and so is he.

Here is where the predicament comes in. Going back to school is a huge undertaking. I have no support from family and his income is unreliable. However, there is an old man I know who is extremely wealthy and wants to finance my education, give me a place to live and pay for all my expenses in school. He claims it's because he is my friend, he wants to help me and there are no strings attached. He also wants to "get together" with me a couple of times a month. He has an open marriage such that he and his wife are leading completely separate lives. He claims he would help me even if we didn't fool around, and insists that if we were, it's not cheating because of the agreement he has with his wife and the fact that I'm not married. He tells me it's also not cheating because he can't get an erection. Still, the fact is he wants a sexual relationship. I've told him I don't want to cheat on my boyfriend, but I that I really need the financial help. He's already bought me a car.

Even though he claims that there are no strings attached and he wants to help me out of the goodness of his heart, my better sense tells me that nobody does anything for free and my unwillingness to cheat will severely impact the help I receive.

I just have a sinking feeling in my stomach lately because the impoverished girl in me is saying "do it!" but I would be devastated if I hurt my boyfriend or lost him. He would never go for it if he knew. Old man and I get together for dinner once and a while (my boyfriend knows but sees the relationship as father and daughter than old horny man and hot young chick). What he doesn't know is that he keeps putting my hand on his crotch and initiating a hookup. I resist, but he keeps trying.

I don't know what to do at this point. I want a secure future, but scared that it will come with a devastating price if I continue being friends with Old man. Any suggestions?

This is simpler than you think. Even if you didn't have a boyfriend, this is a very bad idea. Your funding, and by extension, your peace of mind, is going to be subject to this old perv's whims. There are lots of ways he can continue to manipulate you even after he promises to cover the costs: stop payments, asking for money back, making you feel guilty, etc. I have seen very similar things happen.

On top of that, you're putting yourself in a very uncomfortable position, subjecting yourself to a glorified version of prostitution. Your integrity is more important than any amount of money and will take you further.

Tell the old guy you're not interested in any kind of romantic relationship and do what everyone else has to do: look into scholarships and loans or find a state school to go to. The tuition is much cheaper. Stop entertaining this possibility, it's bad, bad news.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How to overcome neediness

Hey Edahn,

I think I have a serious problem. Earlier I was ok with my boyfriend. I used to be happy with the attention I got but a little insecure that he did not need me as much as I needed him. But recently I have changed I seem to be touchy about everything. I am scared to hang up the phone thinking that he would not want me later. Scared that he will sleep and not think of me. I get edgy when he does not give me attention for 2 minutes. I want him to be passionate and charming all the time. And after having sex I want him to be dreamy. I think I am suffocating him and not giving him any space. I am not sure what issues I have that I don’t believe he misses me or wants me. I am not sure why I don’t want to let him go. I am scared he will not want me. All this is happening recently. I was never the one who does not give space to her partner. Please let me know how I can overcome this. Because of my issues we fight even though he is sweet. I am super touchy. I stopped being cute and sexy with him. Do let me know.

Well that sounds fun, lol.

You're worried that he's going to forget you and walk away, leaving you alone. That happens when you get too attached to a person and forget that you're actually okay without them. Sure, a break up will hurt and being alone may not sound too great, but you'll manage and adjust and figure something out. You'll cry, but then, inevitably, you'll be calm and start to feel complete again when you see that the only love you really need is your own. If you've been in a relationship before or lost something you were afraid of losing, you've probably experienced this transition from loss to calmness

So your goal is to realize that you really don't need anything from anyone to be really happy and okay. As you start to realize this, things in your relationship are going to shift around. You aren't going to be as worried all the time if he likes you because you're not going to be as afraid of what happens if he lets go one day. The way you feel and the way you interact might change too as you move from being needy to being authentic and secure. It'll feel natural, but you have to be open to something new forming...a new type of interaction, a new way of being in a relationship. It doesn't matter if you're not clear what that new relationship will look like because it'll feel natural. There's no way to fake it anyway.

So how to you realize all this? Really, you just need to slow down and think about it. Your mind and emotions have lured you into this state of confusion, but the only thing you need to remember is that you were okay before you met him. Being alone is okay. It can even be pretty great. Play the break up scene in your head right now. What would happen? What would he say? What would you say? What would happen to your feelings? How would you leave? How would you eventually heal? How would you feel at the end of your healing process? Take 4 minutes and play out the whole scenario in your head before reading on. Really, do it. Hold the feeling you would have at the end of the healing process for a full minute.

You would be fine.

And even better, you're fine right now. Underneath everything, you're still fine. You were always okay.

See? Let that knowledge guide you. Let it integrate into your being deeply. Anytime you're confused and feeling needy or uncentered, stop, take a second, and remember that underneath the confusion, you are okay.  You are already complete.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Why men will always hate your stupid cat, by Edahn

Not LOLing anymore, are you fucker?
Dear Edahn,

Seriously though, how come guys don't like cats? It's like they tolerate them to hang out in your house, but generally can't stand 'em. Maybe its just been my luck. Thanks for pondering this over.

You don't have to thank me. Pondering nonsense is my forte. *adjusts tie* Let me try to illustrate the answer with an analogy:

Cats : Owners : : Unattainable hot chicks : Guys

You see, cats represent everything we men hate about women. Cats are soft and attractive and they know it. They waltz around the room, purring and making suggestive, almost choreographed movements, but they're not interested in getting to know you. They don't care what you're thinking or feeling. They don't care what you want to do. Cats just care about what they want to do, when they want to do it. Once in a while they give you a little hint that they're interested in you. They might rub their body or tail against you or even lick you with their little sandpaper tongues, and you think omg this is so awesome, this is what I've been waiting for! But guess what. The cat is just playing a manipulative game with you, because a few seconds later it's going to walk away not giving a shit again, and you're going to be left thinking damn, what did I do wrong? The whole process turns into an sick and subtle game of affection and withdrawal. The worst part? The cat knows exactly what it's doing.

Dominant women play the same twisted game as le cat (that's French) and manage to manipulate our emotions the same way. But eventually we wisen up and realize that we didn't really care that much to begin with and find someone who's less egotistical and maybe a little more needy (Cf. the dog). Since the sexual element is (mostly) absent with cats, we just figure it out much faster, hence our antipathy.

If any cats happen to be reading this, please do us all a favor and drop your fucking ego. You're not God's gift to the world, so shut up and stop walking around like you own the place. Lose the narcissism and then we'll talk. P.S. Call me.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How do I make a relationship work?

For today's question, I'm going to post a few different answers I wrote. They're all essentially the same, but I thought it'd be fun to post the whole thing and give you a little peek at the back-end of AskEdahn. I usually write between 3-4 complete answers before submitting the final one in a hurry which ends up being the one I like best. I actually had a few more answers written (2 or 3 more) but I deleted them because it was just overkill. (As if 4 answers isn't, heh.) I'd love to hear which answer you think is the best. Click the "see more" button to read them all. Enjoy.
Dear Edahn,

My last serious relationship was 3 years ago and ended with heartbreak and disappointment. Since then, I have had several boyfriends and monogamous, relationship-like ordeals. They were all with men who loved me and wanted to continue, but I just didn't feel it after a while. I am not hung up on my ex, it's just that after that breakup I haven't been able to completely give myself over to someone, to fall in love. I noticed I tend to date more comforting, sensitive and less marriage-worthy men. I used to really be into this relationship thing, but now, it's like I have forgotten how to do it right. My question is, how do I get back into real love and relationship land which will ultimately lead to a fulfilling marriage? Am I sabotaging myself on purpose? 

I think you're doing everything right. From what I'm hearing, you want to get into a relationship but feel like you've forgotten how to "do the relationship thing right." I'd argue that there is no such thing.

To see why, you just have to examine the best relationships around you very carefully. I'm talking about the relationships where both partners are really at ease, able to talk to one another, able to cooperate, and able to care about one another. Those are the relationships that in my mind, truly work and truly have something special. What I've noticed about these couples is that they never really try to make some ideal relationship appear. They don't have an image in their mind and say "that's what I have to make" and then set to it. They date because they enjoy one another and continue dating until they don't. When problems come up, they address them and move on. Because they don't have that ideal, they aren't constantly measuring their relationship against some standard with the use of books, gurus, and magazine quizzes. In other words, they don't try to do a relationship right.

But precisely because they aren't trying to make a certain relationship materialize, they're actually really open to one another, to connect, to laugh, to share, to be natural. All the good stuff you and I identify as healthy is really a byproduct of naturalness, compatibility, and time. It doesn't come from control, which is why most self-professed relationship gurus don't know what the fuck they're doing. Instead of teaching people to be natural, they teach them how to become self conscious and to strive for some ideal "out there." That makes relationships suffocate and die. The point I am making is that by trying to do the relationship thing right, by trying to shift into relationship mode, you actually end up frustrating yourself and preventing a sweet relationship from growing.

So what should you do? Nothing really. Just contemplate some of the themes in this post. If you've been thinking that you need to shift into relationship mode to do the relationship thing right, then I'd urge you to reconsider. Try to picture yourself meeting someone just the way you are and building a relationship with them slowly and organically, rather than through any type of active monitoring or surrender or shifting. You might not really know what that relationship is going to end up looking like, but that's okay. You can use your instincts to guide you. If you're enjoying it and interested in continuing, then keep at it; if not, move on without the guilt.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Meaning In Life

It's not a typo. I don't know if there's a meaning of life. I don't even know what that really means. If it means "what's the point?" then I think the question doesn't really make sense. Look at the universe objectively. Does it look like there's a point that it's all driving at? I don't think so and I've never heard a really convincing argument to the contrary. But, I don't think it's that big of a problem. Why not?

I think there are ways to generate a feeling we call "meaning" without having to resort to philosophy. I grew up, probably like most of you, thinking that meaning could only occur if there was a purpose to our lives, a destination. But watching my mind and playing with my experience has taught me that the feeling of meaning--of purpose and determination--comes when you dedicate yourself to caring about and helping others. If it sounds cliche, it's because it's true.

It goes like this:
Step 1: Face your problems and fears. The mind is habitually in a state of driving forward, making progress, seeking more pleasure and trying to minimize pain. You've got all these things in your life you're trying to solve or fix. Meanwhile, you have other things you're chasing. STOP. Stop driving forward. Stop the car, turn off the engine and wait. All the things you've been avoiding rush forward as you're left staring at all the ways you're deficient. Feel vulnerable? Fine. Don't start driving yet. Just wait there. Sit there with the feelings you've been running from.
Step 2: You realize you're okay. You don't have to force this. It just happens.
Step 3: Your heart is tender. You see people, see their suffering, and spontaneously want to help them out. Not be their savior, just help em out with whatever is bothering them. What you're really doing is making harmony. Meaning arises and flourishes by itself.

It takes guts and a shit ton of honesty to stop the incessant driving to no where, and you have to be ready to not know who you'll become when you let go. It's funny, really, because it's the only time you actually become your true self.


Helping the Suicidal

It's the same thing.
Dearly beloved Edahn, ;D

I have a friend who drinks to bury his psychological torment over his life and the death of him alcoholic mom years ago. He complains about how no one loves him and no one ever will. The moment he finds a girl, he puts all his eggs in one basket, scares her away, and feels rejected. I think they can't take his constant negativity. He wrote this note after getting out of the hospital for surgery. Earlier this year he was in an alcohol-related accident and was in the ICU for days. It seems like he's suicidal. But sometimes I don't know if he's just crying wolf. When he finds someone it's as if the Red Sea has parted, the sun is now shining and the squirrels and butterflies are frolicking. 

His Facebook note written yesterday at 10pm:

Back home again. Another near death. Yet, nothing changes. 8 days to wonder about everything. Is it really worth going on? Is there really something out there waiting for me? Part of me believes that. There a larger part of me that doesn't. It seems like every time I hear someone tell me that, I feel like shooting myself. It's been nearly 5 years now in which I've been hearing that over and over again. I'm losing patience. I just can't see the light to this at all. This was all I could think about during my 2nd hospital stay. I tried to see what I had. What could get me through this. There really isn't anything. Even with what it already mine. Family can only lift me so far. They're so far away. I'm so stuck here in this place. Maybe this wasn't the place I wanted to escape to. Was it really my home where I wanted to be? Or does it go beyond that? I don't know. I have so many questions. So many why's and why not's. The biggest two would be "Why me?" or "Why not me". I feel like I just want to throw in the towel. I'm sick and tired of waiting for something that might not even come. I'm pushing myself really hard to do anything. I don't know whether it's outta fear of something or that I really just don't have it in me anymore. Feel's like all I know is pain and disappointment. Two of my best friends. The only other things I can count on. We all know what the other is.

What should I do?

Tell him to cut it the fuck out (lovingly) and go get frozen yogurt with him. Teach him a new way to see the world and live without thinking about misery all the time, without needing other people to pity him or approve him. Don't dig into his issues too much but demonstrate how to live less awkwardly. You know how. A new way of living will give him hope and heal him.

There'll probably come a point in time where you begin talking about his problems. No problem. Stay authentic and don't pity him if you sense that he's looking for that. You can be kind and still honest. 

Pace yourself so you don't burn out, but if you do or feel like you need more help, talk to him about checking into a psychiatric hospital and tell him you'll go with him. Worse comes to worse, be prepared to call the police. If/when he becomes dependent on you, don't give up. You can either point it out or explain that you need your solitude. 

Here're some of the suicide warning signs you can use to familiarize yourself. Trust your intuition. You're a good friend, you know that? Not to me, of course, but to him, lol. ;) I keed, I keed!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Obsessed with Her Ex

At least it's not Jennifer Aniston
Dear Edahn,

I have a friend who still obsesses about her ex. He broke up with her 7 months ago and she has yet to accept one date because she compares every candidate to her ex-boy. She posts facebook statuses intended to make him jealous (which we all know he doesn't care about), she gets drunk and starts crying and texts him and he isn't very responsive, and best of all she hangs out with his friends and then posts pictures online.

He was the first real boyfriend she ever had so I can sort of tolerate her behaving like an irrational 16-year-old, but what worries me more is that they had a sort of movie-relationship that I don't think exists in real life and I think that experience had deluded her into expecting every future relationship to be the kind where you go ice skating together, the guy buys you dinner every night and new clothes all the time, you basically move into his house, take over his friends, and the rest of the time you bake muffins together. As far as every man I know (even the sweet, sensitive ones... even to me, in fact) this seems like a nightmare.

I'm worried that she'll drive every guy away because he doesn't compare to her ex, but importantly, if she ever does give someone a chance (which seems totally unlikely at this point), she'll be disappointed that he isn't Martha Stewart/her gay bestfriend/boyfriend. What do I do to make her open back up?

I think your best bet is to just tell her what you see and what you think and be prepared to offer her a solution. That conversation won't be easy, especially because she has so many walls protecting her desire for that idealized relationship as well as her disappointment, but it probably won't be as hard as you imagine either. Make it clear from the outset that you care about her and can see that she seems stuck. (Better yet, let her volunteer that information first.) Tell her that you want to give her an outsider's perspective, that you're going to be fully honest, and that you want to be able to speak without being interrupted because you don't want this speech discussion to turn into a debate.

Once you have her attention, explain to her everything you told me: that she's idealized her relationship; that her relationship was unstable and probably doomed from the start; that there are other types of relationships people can form that are more satisfying and realistic, albeit less intense; that he's moved on and that she's not going to get him back with any of her gimmicks; that she's unfairly judging her new suitors; and that you're worried about her passing up great opportunities because she's still stuck in the romanticized past. Make sure you end on a confident note, highlighting some of her best qualities and explaining how those qualities will attract a new great guy and great relationship.

Likely outcome: She begins to argue, you begin to want to punch her face off, and you realize after 5 or 10 minutes that whatever you say will get rejected. Try and listen to what she says without trying to convince her of anything. You're just offering your take on her situation. Even if she rejects it, that's okay. You did your job and planted the seeds of skepticism.

Unlikely outcome: In the remote chance that she breaks down and starts crying, tell her you'd like to help her and that you know how. She'll get back on track when she sees what you see, and that she'll see it when her thoughts and feelings relax. Because she's still so engaged and obsessive, her thoughts and feelings keep getting activated, so she has to stop all that: texting, checking his Facebook, talking about it with desperation and even thinking about it. She has to suspend the relationship for at least 5 or 6 months and do whatever she needs to do to accomplish that. When she starts talking about it again, it'll be more to understand it that to revive it, and that's cool. That's healing. If she gets confused, I'd recommend that you recommend that she take a break from all the obsessing as a sort of temporary experiment.

Thanks for writing in!