Friday, August 31, 2012

When your relationship is off to a rough start...

If you just started a relationship and it's already off to a rough start, I say ditch it. Here's the weird analogy I used today, while chatting with a friend.

Say you're on an island and you decided you need to get off. At the end of the beach is a speed boat with weird controls and a possibly fucked up motor. The speed boat is fast, but the ride is horrible. You'll fall off periodically. Also, sharks are in the water. Did I mention sharks?

If you were patient and scoured the island more thoroughly, you'd probably find something better, like a raft. The raft is less exciting than a speed boat, but it's a lot more comfortable and you won't fall off. You just sit back and relax and float in the right direction. The sharks aren't interested in your raft.

A lot of people opt for the speed boat. Sometimes they crave the excitement and get bored with the raft. Or, they don't realize there's another option. Or, they're just impatient or worried the raft doesn't exist. The raft may not exist for everyone, and it's possible that some people are quite happy living on the island. But for most people, the raft is there, and being a kind, decent person helps increase your odds.

So if you find yourself on the speedboat, circle back and find your raft. And if you're already in the middle of the ocean, then get started building one. Because in the long run, a smooth ride will help you cultivate peace inside, and that's what will matter more than anything.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

How do I get the momentum back in my relationship?

Hi Edahn,

I've been dating my boyfriend now for four months. In the beginning of our relationship, he would text me everyday! I would always wake up to a "good morning baby" and we would text throughout the day and no matter what, at the end of the day he would always say goodnight! He would always send me random i love yous, check up on me and tell me how much he missed me! This went on for about 2 months until he lost his job in July. After that, he would barely text me. If i didn't text him, we wouldn't talk that whole day! He told me that he was just stressed out and he didn't want to take it out on me and that he loved me so much. That gave me some closure i guess.

What i should mention is that my boyfriend is an EXTREME GAMER! After he lost his job, he finally had time for them so now he plays them NON-STOP. Now i know why he doesn't answer me a lot anymore and why he barely texts me during the day! Its the damn computer games. He'd rather sit home and play them than hang out or talk to me and this breaks my heart into pieces. I confronted him about it the other day and all he said was no and that he doesn't put video games before me and that he loves me!

My boyfriend is a big live streamer which means, anyone can go to the site and watch him play. The other night i went on caught him talking to a girl! Later, we were in the car and out of nowhere he brought up that a person that was trolling his friend trolled him but instead of saying 'her', he said 'him'. That's what got me upset because i knew that his friend was a girl! I love my boyfriend so much and i don't want to lose him but i don't want him to lie to me! I want him to stop putting video games before me!

HI THERE. YOU KNOW, sometimes when relationships begin really quickly and with lots of intensity, they go through a cooling off phase. It makes sense because it's hard to sustain strong, intense feelings for too long. During the cooling-off phase, one of two things can happen: 1) the partners grow distant and break up or 2) the partners find a new way to relate to one another in a more stable, sustainable way.

In the beginning of a relationship, the intense feelings of love and longing that each person feels forms the basis of their bond. They're both infatuated with one another. It's almost like an obsession. But eventually those feelings start to wear off a little. Sometimes partners will try and recapture that state of infatuation through sex or by professing their love to one another because it's where they feel safe and it helps hide the feelings of distance they start to feel as their hormones begin to settle. If they keep trying to conceal their true feelings, they're end up feeling more and more alienated from each other because they're not being true to themselves; they're not being authentic.

You're both in a very delicate space right now. You have to ask yourselves how you feel around one another when you're not having sex or not professing your love for one another. In other words, when you're missing the intensity you once had. Does it feel sad? Scary? I don't think your objective should be to reclaim the feelings you one had, but to own the feelings you're having RIGHT NOW. Face the feelings of discomfort and anxiety you're having with composure and quiet strength. Don't freak out. Just be there with it. There is nothing to be afraid of. If you can do this, you'll create space for you and your boyfriend to connect in that more sustainable way, and you can start an honest conversation about the things that concern you both. It'll happen naturally. It's not something you have to--or can--plan out. If you have any questions, just leave a comment.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dealing with a Disappointing Parent

Dear Edahn,

No one has ever been able to really give me any "great" advice on this matter, so I thought I'd see if you could. When I was six months old, my drunkard of a mother left. I had a very happy childhood nonetheless and because I had an amazing father and grandparents, I never really thought much of not having a mother or cared where she was (prison).

She has tried getting into contact with me several times these last few years and every time I even start to warm up to the idea, she falls off the wagon again. I find her pathetic not because of her addiction, but because of this sudden animosity I feel towards her. I am unsure how to come at peace with her, or how to really accept the fact that I don't have a mother figure to talk to anymore. I have a step mother but she is of no use, and often acts like a child. She can be fine at some points, but most of the time is just concerned with her children.

Any suggestions?

IT SOUNDS TO ME like the problem lies in trying to fill a hole that's already been filled. Let me explain.

Your mother keeps disappointing you. She comes into your life, shows signs of hope, and makes you believe that things might actually get better, and that you'll finally have the mother figure that you were deprived of. So you get excited, drop your guard, and let yourself feel safe with her. You start to depend on her, but ultimately she succumbs to her addiction, and you're left devastated, once again. It's sad.

But from what I'm hearing, you don't need a mother figure. You've already got one, even it your mother figure isn't in the form of a single woman. Think about it. You were raised and loved by your father, your grandparents, your family friends, and your community, and you grew up to be an intelligent, compassionate, emotionally sophisticated person. You were mothered by a network of caring human beings who all played some role in your maturation into the wonderful person you are today. 

When you see your mom, you don't need to get your hopes up that she'll finally play the part of the devoted mother because that part has been filled. She is who she is and that won't change, but that's okay because you're not missing anything. Who knows. Maybe you'll even end up playing that role for your mom. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Edahn's Formula for Choosing a Career

Dear Edahn,

I just graduated college with a degree in Economics, however, I can't help but feel like a helpless 22 year old, not knowing what to do with the rest of his life. I love playing sports and guitar, though not that good enough to become pro in either. I really don't know what the next step in my life would be, and I feel like I'm having a quarter-life crisis. Any advice? Thanks!

I THINK YOU'RE FEELING like a helpless 22 year old who doesn't know what to do with the rest of you're life because you're a helpless 22 year old who doesn't know what to do with the rest of you're life. Not to worry, it's a good sign. If you didn't, it would suggest that you never contemplated this very important question, so good on you.

I've done a lot of thinking (and worrying) about this subject, and here's the best advice I can offer you.

Ideal Career = Your Talents  World's Needs

In other words, your ideal career lies in the intersection between your personal talents and the needs of the world. If you follow this formula, it'll lead you to a satisfying, meaningful career...and life. It'll help you feel like you're making something beautiful.

Start by making an inventory of your talents. You don't have to be the best in your field, it just needs to be something you do best. You may be good at things you never considered yourself special at. Think broadly. You can be good at listening, at calculating, at analysis, at leading, organizing, defending, offending?, design, construction, writing, speaking, selling, buying, trying, lying, whatever. Talk to your friends, parents, and colleagues, but in the end listen to yourself. Make a list of your top talents. There can be more than one. Using your talents will give you automatic passion.

Next, think about the needs of the world. You don't have to be in Africa feeding hungry children to serve the world. You can do it in more subtle ways too. You can help your community by using your talents. You can help your clients. You can help educate children or adults. You can talk to people, help them get things done in their life, make them laugh, cry (in a good way), or think. There are a lot of options here. But the theme is doing things to help others who need help. For example, working in a bank to help rich people get richer would not qualify. Working at a printer to help people in your community make signs and banners would qualify.

Your ideal career lies in the intersection of these two variables. For me, this formula predicted a few different ideal career choices. Some of them very clear, some of them more conceptual. But they all felt correct, and that I could choose any one and be satisfied. It could change, as you grow and develop new skills, and learn more about the world. That's okay.

In the end, there are all sorts of heuristics and formulas for deciding on a career. You might end up inventing your own formula, and if you do, more power to you.

Got a question? Click here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Teaching Kids to Respect Animal Life

Hi, Edahn

I have a very important question: at what age do you think should we have our kids acquainted with the horrors of animal agriculture? Thank you.

I DON'T THINK KIDS should be exposed to any horrors. Once they reach their teens, it's a different story. But I do advocate teaching kids about compassion and respect for life.

Animal farming view animals as products or goods and I think it's our job to make sure that we humanize (funny word) animals as much as possible. We have to create relationships between animals and kids so they feel close to them and personalize them. That's why we don't eat dogs or cats or horses. We form attachments to them. It's also the reason why we have wars. We dehumanize each other (i.e., objectify), become estranged from one another (geographically, intellectually, emotionally), and then have no problem destroying each other. That's why Gordon Allport, a very famous social psychologist, thought the answer to reducing intergroup violence was simply contact. Contact makes people interact and get to know one another, forming relationships and intimacy. It's the reason having community centers (and the urban planners who design them) are so critical today. Urban planning and overcrowding is a major problem today, and I think the primary reason we have so many random shootings. (I'll get off my soapbox now.)

There's a wonderful book called Why We Don't Eat Animals that is really phenomenal and sends the right message for kids: that animals have emotions and inflicting harm is wrong. I support that message 100%.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Coming up this week

How do I accept my mother's flaws?

Quarter-life crisis

Being vulnerable

Got a question? Click here.