(What if, The Best was yet to come?)
Shari, after raising my son (alone) and making certain he has
a solid foundation, I've decided it's time for me
now, and have been exploring these online dating sites. My preliminary
experiences have been pretty disappointing, and I'm starting to
wonder if I'll ever meet someone sound enough.
Almost as soon as I think I've made a connection, it evaporates.
Usually, the woman doesn't write/call back, and I'm left wondering
what went wrong. I must tell you, this is pretty disconcerting!
You'd think these people are looking for a relationship, but I'm
now questioning it! I guess I'm wanting to know what to do, when
my emails or phone calls go unreturned. Advice, please?
Dear Sir, online dating can (unfortunately) be like fishing in contaminated
ponds. When you encounter a non-response after a reasonable
period, remember this four letter word; "NEXT!"
Singles venues might be useful for meeting people, but can yield
more quantity than quality. A lot of these folks seem ambivalent
about closeness; they may be licking their wounds from a recent
failed attempt, but be craving the interaction, stimulation and
ego refueling this "safe" contact offers, while never
leaving their bathrobes! With so many options just a click away,
a sort of kid-in-a-candy-store fickleness is tough to compete with
or surmount. Some people have a strong sense of what they need in
a partner, and won't respond if you don't fit their criteria--but
mostly, I view dating sites as relationship pergatory
for people not yet ready to bond; some have unfinished business
from a prior romance that makes them afraid to re-engage, and others
have avoided intimacy their whole lives. Often, what humans say
they want, is different from what they're ready to create, and the
subconscious mind always gets its way (our behaviors reflect
our true desires). Try getting involved in new activities or taking
classes in your areas of interest, and you'll likely meet women
with whom you're compatible.
I am a man "caught in the clutches of a borderline
This is my second relationship like this. I had gotten over a marriage,
and fell right back into the same type of relationship. Your description;
"He'll come to think of her like a drug he can't live
without, because he feels alive and buoyant when she's loving, attentive
and available, and empty and tortured when she's cruel and detached"
fits me perfectly. How can I seek help with this situation? I am
50 years old, she is 40. I've become emotionally dependent on her,
and have realized that I'm being used financially.
A. Dear Sir, 'dependency' on someone means they're supplying something
that you don't already have, or cannot supply for yourself. When
this woman comes closer, you're able to feel lovable/worthy--but
when she retreats, you virtually cease to exist; no connection to
your Self, no way to access joy or pleasure, and no self-esteem.
This serious matter is left over from your childhood and requires
solid professional help, as underneath your pattern of
attraction, are abandonment
and self-worth issues. To understand the depth of this
problem and resolve it, find a therapist who works with
core issues. This female you're involved with is
not the source of your pain, she just
keeps pulling the scabs off some very old, deep wounds that have
never had opportunity to heal. [More letters like this are archived
A friend of mine always hounds me about not being in a relationship.
She thinks that everyone should be coupled, and that there's something
wrong with people who aren't. I have absolutely no regrets about
my life, and have had wonderfully satisfying relationships along
my way. I've often explained that my priorities are different nowadays,
and that I'm happy and content--but she keeps initiating this same
conversation each time we talk, and it's infuriating! How do I get
her to stop doing this?
Your friend's inability to relate to your needs/feelings, or see
this issue from your perspective speaks to her narcissism
(lack of development). She sounds considerably younger than you
(emotionally), and could be projecting her own needs/desires
onto you. She might feel inadequate or think she has little that's
important/compelling to share, so this has become her default
conversation. Let her know how annoying/distancing this has felt,
and that you may have to limit your contact if it continues. People
with whom you have more in common, will likely make more gratifying
I've been a CPA for many years. I'm turning 52 soon, and feel
like I need something more, but haven't got a clue what that is.
I'm feeling burned out, uninspired and kind of dead inside. Even
after getting away from it all with vacations, these feelings remain.
I've got a very successful tax practice, and my wife keeps saying
I'm crazy not to be satisfied with that--but for
some reason, I'm not. Is there something wrong with me?
What you're describing is mid-life crisis, which is uncomfortable,
but very natural/normal. These feelings can assert themselves at
various ages (mine came up at 39), but they're generally
experienced in our mid-forties to sixties. You may have already
been putting these sensations aside for a few years, in hopes you
could avoid making changes that felt uncertain. Mid-life
crisis is a developmental issue that's somewhat unavoidable;
nobody's designed to do the same work for several
decades, and stay challenged and stimulated by it! The "crisis"
part of this, is that you've mastered the tasks at your present
stage of growth, and need to move on to something more rewarding/fulfilling--but
you "haven't a clue" about what that looks like, or what's
involved in the next endeavor (scary!). If you've struggled most
of your life for financial security, it's unsettling to
feel no passion for a career you've successfully
built (this happens to lots of doctors and attorneys, incidentally).
Do you remember activities that intrigued or fascinated you as a
child? Did you have talents or abilities that were pleasurable
or made you feel alive/inspired--even if they weren't nurtured or
encouraged by your parents? Passion can reside in our innate
capabilities; hobbies or avocations that allow for expression of
these, can nourish/replenish you in ways an existing occupation
may not. Try taking classes in areas of interest, and play
more. A career transition could be a viable option--but
instituting changes to your existing practice may prove
just as satisfying, and help you regain vitality and enthusiasm.
I have been taking lithium, wellbutrin, and zoloft for Bipolar
Disorder. After 25 years of medication, I seem to be getting worse.
Is this a disease that can get worse as one ages?
As your body ages, you may require adjustments
to your existing meds, or need to switch to others. Your physician's
careful/diligent monitoring of your medications (and how you're
feeling on them) is essential for the treatment of bipolar
issues. Solid therapeutic intervention/support (talk therapy) can
be extremely useful in helping you heal emotional material
that has contributed to this picture--and tends to get worse over
time, if not addressed. [More letters like this are archived
It seems like no matter what I do, I'm not able to get ahead
financially. This has been a life-long struggle. It has even cost
me relationships, as women always want to be with a guy who's well-off.
For years, I've thought this problem could be related to some sort
of Karmic retribution (if such a thing exists). I'd sure like to
get to the bottom of this! Any advice is welcome.
It seems as if you're getting involved with the wrong women, or
this 'deal breaker' you assign to them, may be
masking your commitment/attachment
concerns. Your beliefs surrounding "Karmic retribution"
can block abundance, and give you convenient justification
for not achieving your goals. This self-defeating mentality presumes
you're a victim of something beyond your
control, and undermines your capacity to visualize/construct a more
plentiful reality! There's no such thing as an overnight
success. Prosperity in any arena (personal or professional),
takes methodical and tenacious pursuit that entails setting achievable
goals; this often means taking 'baby steps' daily/weekly that bring
you a bit closer to your aspirations. Surviving and thriving
are mutually exclusive; they're two distinctly separate
energies that cannot be held at once. Make up your mind to thrive.
Decide what steps may help you toward this aim, and commit yourself
to these endeavors. Do not give up at the first sign of
failure; implement a specific plan at least three
times before abandoning it. Engage others (friends
or professionals) to help you accomplish your goals. Not one individual
is adept at everything, and nobody's successful without
Dear Shari; I've recently been diagnosed with Anxiety
Disorder, and find this very troubling. Nothing like this
has ever happened before (I'm in my mid-fifties) and it's a mystery
to me that it's happening NOW. I sent away for some tapes on how
to get rid of this problem, but I don't seem to have the patience
to listen to them, and I'm not convinced they'll help even if I
do! I'm really wanting some insight as to why this
condition suddenly manifested, and is there an actual cure--or do
I have to take these pills for the rest of my life? RJ
Dear RJ; it seems that everyone diagnosed with this disorder
regards it as mysterious, because it appears to "come out of
and Panic Disorders are prompted by strong feelings
that are trying to break through any/all emotional
controls we've erected throughout our
lifetime. Anxiety impacts the autonomic nervous system of your body,
prompting sweating, heart racing, dizziness, chest pain, a sense
of going crazy, etc., and it's impossible to ignore these
feelings! Anti-anxiety medications help your brain quiet these responses,
and the tapes might give you useful tools to work through panic
episodes, but in my experience, chemical and/or behavioral
methods don't eliminate this issue. Effective treatment
involves reclaiming feelings that you've abandoned. As you grow
more comfortable experiencing a variety of emotions, your
anxiety will diminish, as should your dependence on these drugs.
Shari, I have heard or read somewhere, that when faced with a dramatic
abandoment in their 40's, borderlines usually realize that there's
something wrong with them, and seek treatment--or does some kind
of latent ego maturity wake them up? Is there any hope for these
sad people, or do we really have to give up?? I'm currently going
out with one who has tried to tell me (in a roundabout way) that
she's not "all there." She's very intelligent, but I wonder.
I'd appreciate your views on this.
carry significant abandonment wounds from infancy and early childhood
that undermined their sense of Self, and they've built powerful
defenses that have helped them survive those early traumas.
These defenses generally become more entrenched with age. Any "dramatic"
event in adulthood might motivate a Borderline or Narcissist
to seek therapeutic assistance--but once the crisis
has passed, they seldom remain for the work that involves growth
or healing. Their terror surrounding dependency and closeness, keeps
them from engaging a therapist who can help them gain authentic
ego strength and form healthy adult attachments. It's always a good
rule of thumb to pay close attention to what people say
(about themselves), as well as trusting your own perceptions and
letters like this are archived here.]
Shari, I'm in my fifties, have been unattached for years and
I've recently met a man I'm extremely attracted
to. Due to his out of town business trips and our respective schedules,
we've spoken on the phone several times and have had just one date
over the course of a few months. I'm wanting more than just a sexual
relationship, but I'm so turned on to this guy I think my judgement's
clouded. He says he's a "monogamous type," hasn't been
with anyone since he met me, and keeps stating that we've "known
each other three months" when I say I need more time (to get
to know him) before getting closer! I don't want to screw this up
and I'm not sure if it can be more than sexual, but I (also) know
how easily I attach (and want more) when I'm strongly drawn to someone.
How should I handle this? "Conflicted"
A. Dear Conflicted, I think you already have a sense about
this guy, and your ambivalence is probably warranted--still, there's
no reason to deny yourself physical pleasure. Since you know yourself
well enough to realize how easily you attach to someone when you're
sexually involved, let that be your guide in how you proceed:
Exercise SAFE sex; when you have unprotected
sex with a man, you're automatically setting up an implicit trust
that he won't be sexual with anyone else while he's sleeping with
you, and that's premature and unrealistic (no
matter what he says) at the onset of a relationship!
The two of you haven't yet built a foundation for emotional
trust, so you're putting the cart before the horse in trusting him
physically. Also, naked (skin to skin) sex facilitates an emotional
bond for women far easier than if you have a barrier in-between,
partly because you're choosing to ignore premature trust issues,
and partly because you are opening yourself to someone
you barely know. An element of 'danger' can make
this situation more exciting, but his lack of availability is not
likely to change once you sexualize the relationship. Be sure to
factor this into your decision, or you might be trapped in yearning
for contact that can only be satisfied when it's convenient
for him. If you decide to pursue this, frequently
remind yourself to listen to your intuitions and instincts (they'll
never lie to you) and try and remain CLEAR about whether
this relationship has a chance to develop into something more meaningful,
or not. Remember; you can't make a fruit salad out of
a banana! Just because a man makes you happy in bed,
it doesn't mean he can be responsive to your other needs.
Finally, condoms take the worry out of being close, and
keep you safe from acquiring sexual souvenirs like
genital warts, herpes and bacterial or parasitic infections (that
don't show up on an AID's test). Enjoy your sexuality and this
sensual connection, but be smart about it! [More
letters like this are archived here.]
My mom's in her mid 70's, and really shouldn't be driving.
She's had several 'fender benders' this past year or so, and my
sister and I are terrified it'll get worse! The awful guilt we'd
feel if she harmed someone would be unbearable for us. In addition,
if she injures or (God forbid) kills someone, we're
afraid we could be at risk for a law suit. Mom's lived in a retirement
community for a couple of years now, but she's still pretty feisty,
and won't listen to our concerns--or much less, consider relinquishing
her car. Please advise, if you can.
Surrendering our freedoms is never easy, but if we're endangering
others, something needs to be done. Call the Department of Health
and Safety; speak to a representative and explain your concerns
in detail. Let him/her know that whatever measures are taken, your
involvement in this situation must remain anonymous.
Ask if they'll issue a letter through the DMV (Department of Motor
Vehicles) requiring that your mother come in for a "routine
driving test," due to her advanced age. Either you or
your sister must drive her to the DMV
for this test in her car, and hold onto the keys! Once
there, she'll be asked to take the standard written test,
before being allowed to take her road test. She probably won't feel
prepared/equipped to pass this, and they'll send her home
with a study pamphlet. Your mother will be encouraged to return
when she feels ready to take her written driver's test.
As this may not occur for quite some time (if ever), she'll
stay safe, and so will the rest of us! Anticipate that she may have
some depression in response to losing her driving privileges, and
seek medical attention for her if needed. If 2 or 3 months go by
and she's not making efforts to study, sell the car. Thank you for
being a responsible citizen!