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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Are the Two of You Ready for Intimacy??

Reprinted from MSN’s Home Page

By

Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

__________________________________________________________________________________

• DR. GiLDA’s GUIDES on “How to Win at Relationships” and “How to Win at Work” (http://www.drgilda.com/books.htm#guides)
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The romantic heat between you and your new love is on—and you’re in h-e-a-v-e-n! Your relationship is clearly heading toward the bedroom. But before you sway in that direction, slow down for a second. After awakening from your lust, will you ask, “What was I thinking??”

If you’re a person who isn’t comfortable with casual sex, and only wants to get naked with prospective long-term partners, here’s some advice. Prevent your heart from being trashed by thinking clearly before you do the deed. Ask yourself: Am I ready to get naked with this person? Am I sure? Consider these five reasons that reveal you’re really, truly, undoubtedly, and unequivocally ready to disrobe! If you can’t check any one of them, slow down, cool off, and decide what to do after the temperature becomes chillier.

REASON #1: You feel emotionally safe with your sweet thing.
Alice went out a few times with a guy who was bonkers over her. That in itself was an ego trip. He was brilliant and had a high-level job at a prestigious organization, which was the subject of enormously stimulating conversation. They also laughed a lot. In short, he was a pleasure to be with.

Although Alice and he were always clothed, he complimented her body often. Then he would criticize his former girlfriend, a rather famous lady, saying what an awful body she had. Alice was appalled that he would degrade someone he had once cared for. Although he was wonderful to Alice to her face, his nasty critiques of his ex were a turn-off. She stopped seeing him because she felt she would never feel safe from his denigrations should their relationship go the way his last one did.

Feeling emotionally safe is vital before getting naked. I doubt that Famous Lady would have felt safe with this guy had she known how he debased her once their coupledom was kaput. Remember my Gilda-Gram: “Feeling emotionally safe means feeling emotionally protected—which is necessary in love.”

REASON #2: You know your honey will still be your honey later, once you’re re-clothed.
In a Seinfeld episode, Elaine described how her sweetie-for-the-night ran out of her bed early in the morning. She likened guys who do this to being farmers who feel they must tend their land before sunrise. (Some women, too, exit early after a night of play!) Such a quick departure can erode even a sturdy self-image. When a night of passion is followed by what might seem like icy abandonment, the previous evening’s thrill becomes quite a let-down. No person deserves to think the passionate night before was really meaningless. So, take your time, get to know this person, and make sure your relationship has some pacing to it. You are most likely to end up with a gone-by-morning paramour if things proceeded too quickly from Date #1 to the bedroom.

REASON #3: Your sweetie really “gets” you.
Out-of-sight doesn’t necessarily have to mean out-of-mind. If you and your new love have something real, he or she will think of you even when you’re not together. During their early dating stages, Carol and Carl were window-shopping and passed a kitchen accessories shop. Carl had no interest in the shop’s contents, but Carol excitedly muttered, “Wow, I’d love to own that saucepan.” A few weeks later, Carl presented Carol with just the cookware she had admired. From that moment on, Carol knew she had found a guy who (a) was happy to listen and hear her and (b) wanted to please her with things she deemed important. She was able to move ahead with their romance, secure in the knowledge that there was real affection there, beyond the lust. As my Gilda-Gram puts it, “It’s easy to get naked with someone who cares, instead of hooking up with just anyone.” Today this couple is happily married—and Carl still listens to Carol and still tries to please her whenever he can. This is the kind of marriage that will last forever.

REASON #4: Your honey is willing to be inconvenienced to make you happy.
New daters Cathy and Mark developed a quick connection that seemed very tight. They had not yet been intimate. One day, Cathy’s car needed to be repaired. Mark was at home doing yard work when Cathy called to ask him to please drive her to the dealership. On this summer Saturday, Mark was not on any deadline, nor did he have pressing appointments to meet. But he outright said, “No.” He didn’t say, “No, I have to finish doing the lawn by 2 p.m. before my kids arrive,” or, “No, I am too tired,” or even, “No, I don’t want to drive to that part of town today.” He simply said, “No can do, sorry.” Mark did not want to inconvenience himself. Cathy began to notice other instances of his unwillingness to bend in her direction. A week later, she wisely ended the romance. Mark still can’t understand why! But this Gilda-Gram says it all: “Someone selfish in fully-clothed life will not turn into a sudden giver in bed!” Or, a more specific Gilda-Gram is, “Someone who withholds kindness also withholds love.” If you’re looking for real intimacy — sexually and emotionally — you won’t find it here.

REASON #5: The decision to be intimate is 100-percent mutual.
Paula and Charlie were platonic friends for three months, without the slightest hint of anything amorous. Then, just a few weeks ago, they casually kissed, and sparks flew. Neither could explain the change in their status, but they decided to officially re-name their get-togethers “dates.” Now the question was how to proceed. Neither of them wanted to destroy the wonderful bond they had established, yet both wanted to take the friendship to the next level. Yet, Paula was not quite ready to engage in naked romps. Charlie began to pressure her. Suddenly, the friendly comfort they shared was deteriorating.

Paula reasoned that if she abandoned her reticence, Charlie would feel happier. But she also knew that giving in to his desires was not where she wanted to be at this time. What was she to do?

They had a heart-to-heart talk. Charlie continued to push to move the affair up a notch. Paula suddenly perceived him as a self-involved baby who screamed, “I! Want! My! Sex!!” Sensing all that pressure, she ended both the friendship and the promise of more. If you’re not the kind of person who takes intimacy lightly, trying to do so for another person’s sake — “just this one time” — will undoubtedly backfire. You won’t wind up feeling closer. Instead, you will feel angry at yourself!

So, if you are interested in forging a long-term relationship and a lasting bond, consider these points before you get naked with someone new. When you treat yourself like a prize, your new love will, too!

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Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle is the founder of www.DrGilda.com. She is Match.com’s weekly Suddenly Single advice columnist, published on MSN’s Dating & Personals page. She has a private practice, is a motivational speaker, and is associate professor of business, psychology, and communications at New York’s Mercy College. Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince! How to Have the Man You Want by Betting On Yourself (a test question on JEOPARDY!) (https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr).
_________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

• DR. GiLDA’s GUIDES on “How to Win at Relationships” and “How to Win at Work” (http://www.drgilda.com/books.htm#guides)
• INSTANT ADVICE —BY PHONE OR E-MAIL for SAME-DAY advice in the privacy of your home or office (http://www.drgilda.com/instant-advice.htm)
• MENTORING PACKAGES to provide ongoing life and relationship support (http://www.drgilda.com/mentoring-packages.htm)
_________________________________________________________________________________

For free articles and announcements, please send your e-mail address to: Staff@DrGilda.com, and put Mailing List in the Subject line. We’ll take it from there!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Striking Yet Another Nerve!

Dear Readers,
Thanx so much for passionately commenting on my Match.com columns posted on MSN’s Dating and Personal Page: (http://msn.match.com/msn/article.aspx?articleid=8581&menuid=7&lid=428).

Whenever I respond to a reader’s question, my aim is to motivate that person to get out of his/her own way. My approach is definitely tough, but it’s also compassionate towards all sides involved in a dispute. The Gilda-Gram I use in my own life is: “May my next mistakes be NEW mistakes.” Of course, as we grow, we continue to take plenty of missteps. But it is vital for us to understand where we have gone and why,
to prevent falling into the same potholes again. (I know this lesson well. I almost married the same personality type TWICE—before I came to my senses and changed my life patterns.)

THE COLUMN

Hi, Dr. Gilda,
I began a relationship with a fantastic guy after my divorce 14 months ago. He lived about 100 miles away, and we spent the first four months of our relationship dating long-distance. I moved to his town to be with him, found a new and better job, and am adjusting to a more rural lifestyle. The problem is that he’s an alcoholic. It was easy for him to hide this from me when we lived in separate places, but now that we’re living together, the relationship is on the rocks (no pun intended) because of his constant drinking. We’re in counseling, and he admits he has a problem, but he has no intention of quitting, just “cutting back.” We’ve been through a lot together, and I really want this to work. He’s my perfect guy when he’s not drinking, but I don’t know how long I can keep dealing with this. Please help!
– What Did I Buy Into?

Dear What Did I Buy Into?,
You describe your “fantastic guy” as your “perfect guy when he’s not drinking!” But he is constantly drinking. So he can’t be that “fantastic” after all, nor is he “perfect”—at least for you. Ask yourself some questions now:
1. Am I more committed to this man because I moved 100 miles and rearranged my life for him? If this were the case, your commitment would be an understandable rationalization; it is tough to admit you were duped by your own shortsightedness.
2. Am I willing to accept this man “as is” with his drinking problem? It’s hard to love someone who is more emotionally present for his booze than he is for you.
You say, “I don’t know how long I can keep dealing with this.” Again, notice that he’s not so “fantastic” and he’s certainly not “perfect.” Who are you more upset with now—him for drinking and concealing it, or yourself for not seeing the relationship clearly before you changed your life for love?

The rate of relapse for alcoholism is high. But added to this problem is the fact that your guy doesn’t think he needs to quit. Girl, you have just seen a glimpse of your life as it is today—and how it will continue into the future. Relationships naturally become more complex as two people become closer. They amass family, friends, and possessions, all of which bolster their bond, but also require maintenance. If you’re upset now, and there’s no remedy in sight, the tension you feel currently will turn to anger and depression as time goes on. This situation is an impossible foundation on which to build love.

This man doesn’t believe his problem is grave enough for him to go cold turkey or otherwise work toward quitting—this is a huge red flag. He also won’t want to hear your nagging him about it. You already went the therapy route. So what is left to do? I’d say it is probably worth the 100-mile trip for you to return home. Don’t get caught up in delivering ultimatums; it is already clear where things stand. You’ve tried to support him in quitting, and there’s been little change.

However, don’t consider the end of this relationship a personal failure. As my Gilda-Gram says, “When something happens TO you, it really happens FOR you.” Discover what you learned from this experience. One thing you will have gained is a desire to look deeper into your next relationship before you commit your heart. Next time, instead of entering love with stars in your eyes, tread more tentatively at first—and that will serve you better in the long run.

XXX
Relationship expert Dr. Gilda (www.DrGilda.com) has a private practice, is a motivational speaker and associate professor of business, psychology, and communications at New York’s Mercy College. She is also the founder of the video blog, GildaVision, on her web site. Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince! How to Have the Man You Want by Betting On Yourself and He’s Not All That! How to Attract the Good Guys.

XXX
As always, some of your comments were supportive, some angry, and some surprising. Here is a sampling of a few of them:

--Dear Dr. Gilda,
In a recent column, you advised a woman who was dating an active alcoholic. As a recovering addict/alcoholic, now clean and sober for 18 years, I want to comment. If he doesn't think he has a problem, don't walk, RUN away. For years, I destroyed everyone around me, everyone who cared about me because I wasn't willing to change. I drank and used from the time I was 15 until I was 35—and it was everyone else's fault. Until the addict/alcoholic feels it is time to change, no one around him can do it for him. Interventions rarely work. Addicts rationalize with an "everyone is against me" attitude. I hope your reader survives this. Feel free to include my comments on your Blog. There is hope. I was able to go back to school, get an accounting degree, and start my own business. But the person in trouble has to be willing to change.

--Dear Dr. Gilda,
I think your response to “What Did I Buy Into,” should definitely have included finding and going to an Al-Anon meeting. If she moved 100 miles and took a new job to live with this guy she only knew for four months, leaving him and moving back will not do her any good unless she makes some changes herself – she most likely will end up hooking up with another alcoholic. Al-Anon can help her change herself.

--Hello Dr. Gilda,
I happened to read a column you wrote answering a lady’s question about her new relationship. It seems that her newfound romance is an alcoholic. Your response, though appropriate to some degree, failed to point out the only real alternative to such a problem. Alcoholics Anonymous. Maybe it is a "political correctness" issue or "taboo/career suicide issue" like talking about God over a medium like this for you to have neglected to mention AA, but I would think a "DR" whether a PhD or MD, would have known about the most successful avenue for an alcoholic to recover from, and be willing to share this information. By failing to do so, you left this person with no real hope, actually no hope at all for having a relationship with this man. I realize it is his problem, not hers, and that it is his responsibility to take action for his problem, however you didn't give her any solution that that she could pass on to her new "loved one" as a means of help. She didn't indicate that she was willing to leave the guy, so you should have opened the door to the idea of AA and its counterparts, like Al-Anon. Are you a real Dr. or just Dear Abby under another Pen Name?

--Dear Reader,
Thank you for your feedback. I have received so many e-mails from this Match.com column on MSN, I think I will include some of the comments in my next Blog. In the future, if you want to be heard, the wise thing to do is refrain from personal assaults. You only come off angry, far from helpful as you claim to be.
Dr. Gilda

--Dear Dr. Gilda,
Duly noted. Now I know you are for real. Thank you!

--Dr. Gilda,
I read a letter today on the suddenly Single page on MSN and I was hoping that maybe you could share this feedback with the person who wrote in. If not, it is helpful for me to be able to speak about this. The letter I read was from "What Did I Buy Into?" about her alcoholic boyfriend.

When I was about 9, my mom met "the perfect man". We both fell in love with him. It wasn’t until about a year into their relationship that we realized he was an alcoholic. He agreed to get help and began AA classes. This went on for several years and when I was about 13 he entered rehab. He was sober for about 4 years. They were the best years we could have imagined. No more fighting and he was the man we knew him to be. He did "fall off the wagon" and things got very bad again. He was sent to prison and my Mother and he divorced. I still remained by his side (He was my Dad). And we talked many times about when he came home, and he promised over and over that he would not drink. Well he is now home, and has been for a year now.

Unfortunately, he did not keep his promise to me. He continues to drink and it put such a strain on our relationship that we no longer speak. He is now remarried, and his wife is under the impression that she can "fix him" if she just sticks by him. I tried to make her understand that when he drinks, he is not the man she married, but she plans to try. Good for her, but I have been hurt by this man too many times in the last 14 years to continue trying.

Please don’t think that I am saying that no alcoholic can change. But if a person isn’t willing to stop drinking then no, they will not change. I have done so much research on this "illness" that I could probably talk about it until I was blue in the face. Unfortunately, most people think that a drink here and there won’t hurt, and one drink is nothing. But for an alcoholic that one drink is all it takes, and they are back where they started. So if her boyfriend thinks he can just cut back, he obviously isn’t willing to do everything he needs to. I hate to see someone else go through what my Mom did all those years.

I hope this can be of some help. Thank you!

--Hello Dr. Gilda, :)
I saw your column "Suddenly Single? Ask Dr. Gilda." I have the exact same problem as "What Did I Buy Into?," except my "perfect" woman drinks too much and hides it from me. I lived in Mississippi while going to school, and moved back to Arizona to be with my "perfect" woman. I know that she is not perfect for me and that she will continue to drink. It's causing problems for us. What a shame. I thought I had a good thing, too.

I don't drink, and have been a Certified Personal Trainer. Health is truly our greatest gift. Would it be possible to forward my e-mail address to "What Did I Buy Into?" I feel that if there were some other person in the same situation as I am, by support and correspondence, we might be able to help each other out of these situations.

Thank you soooo much for your column’s advice, your hard work, and for caring enough about people to help us though difficult times and decisions.
A New Fan

--Dear Dr. Gilda,
I recently read your advice to a woman who moved to another city for her man, who then found out her "perfect" man is an alcoholic. Your advice was way off course. The best thing you could have told her was to contact a local Al-Anon group and give that a try before she made any decision regarding her relationship with this man. You should have also suggested she educate herself on alcoholism to get a better understanding of what this person is going through. Alcoholics are not bad people, just sick.
A Woman Married To and Loving an Alcoholic

--Dear Dr. Gilda,
I once dated a female model who tried to hide a drinking problem from me. I issued her an ultimatum: either clean up her act or I was going to leave. Her personality would change drastically while under the influence. We quickly went our separate ways. I met an incredibly attractive single woman who is now my tennis partner. This woman has the same philosophical approach I do about good old-fashioned clean healthy living! This is the type of woman I would want to marry and raise a family with!
Regards

--Dear Dr. Gilda,
I just wanted to say that the advice you gave the woman who moved to be with her "perfect" alcoholic boyfriend was right on the money. How I wish I would have gotten the same advice when I was with mine...

--Dear Dr. Gilda,
Thank you so much for giving the advice you did to the girl who moved 100 miles to be with her man, then found he was an alcoholic. You told her to cut her losses and run. How I wish someone had told me that 21 years ago.

I married my best friend. I knew he liked to drink, but never realized how hooked he was. When I was pregnant with our second child, he admitted he was an alcoholic but did not intend to do anything about it. I should have run then. Instead, I stuck it out so that our children could have somewhat of a normal childhood, although their father was not a part of it. He was too busy drinking with friends, or was too uncomfortable being around normal families to participate in all the things involved with raising children: ball games, school functions, proms.

His daughter was on the homecoming court her senior year and refused to ask him to escort her across the field at the game. She said he would probably show up drunk and make an ass of himself. How sad. I wonder what will happen when she marries some day.

Now the children are gone: thank God they managed to grow into strong, independent people (the son is in the Marines, the daughter is in college). I am now alone in one part of the house while he treats "his" part of the house as a flophouse. It is indescribably filthy, but he only uses it as a pit stop to shower and change clothes occasionally.

Divorce? I can't afford it. I am putting the daughter through school alone as well as paying off all the bills that amassed during the times he wasn't working. I am also the sole person responsible for the upkeep on the house. Kick him out? I would, but he has a temper and an arsenal of over 20 guns and I don't want to look over my shoulder for the rest of my life.

So thank you for telling that girl to run. She will avoid what I am living, and will probably find her true love someday. Good for her!!

XXX
This is just a sampling of the hundreds of e-mails I received regarding this column. As you can see, the world is comprised of many different people with many different views. What works for one person won’t work for another.

The most compelling drive we have is to live our best life. If we choose a partner, it should be with someone who is the best for us. To remain in an unsatisfying arrangement is to accept what I call “Less Than” treatment. Is it worth denying your happiness? Is it worth modeling “Less Than” treatment to your kids? You are the only one who can answer that. Do what’s right—and GOOD—for you and for your children! Thank you for all your e-mails!
Love,
Dr. Gilda

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A HOT!, HOT!, HOT! Topic

As most of you know, every Monday, MSN.com publishes another one of my Suddenly Single Match.com columns. These can always be found at:

http://msn.match.com/msn/article.aspx?articleid=8581&menuid=7&lid=428

Many of these columns hit a nerve! A recent one generated tons of orders for my book, “Don’t Bet on the Prince!,” Dr. Gilda’s Guides, and my Personal PHONE and Personal E-MAIL Dialogues. In addition, hundreds of you sent me your comments. Because these comments might benefit others in the same situation, I am reprinting
the question and my answer, along with a few valuable insights from you, my readers. Of course, I am keeping all names confidential. I look forward to your comments on this Blog.

THE COLUMN--AND MY RESPONSE

Dear Dr. Gilda,
My divorce is almost final. My husband had an affair and has been living with the woman, but he has been calling and asking me if there is any hope for us. We have a three-year-old son. His girlfriend recently discovered he’s been calling me. He told her he is still in love with me and that he wants to make our family work. I’m scared to jump back in because I don’t feel I can trust him after he cheated on me. Our final divorce hearing is only a month away. Do I give him a second chance, or do I go ahead with the divorce and see what happens after that?
- Wanting to Do the Right Thing

Dear Wanting to Do the Right Thing,
It’s natural to distrust your husband after he betrayed you. And to make the situation more painful, he’s been living with the woman he left you for. This is bad enough, but there are a few other concerns I have about your future with this dude:
1. This guy is unable to be alone. He left you, moved in with the other woman, and as soon as the passion wore off, he decided his new fantasy-land wasn’t what he thought it would be. (No kidding, fool!) So now he wants to return to someone he knows is a sure bet.
2. Why are you considering taking him back? Is it because you’re lonely, or do you really love the sucker? Are you afraid of being single again, or are you convinced the two of you have a real chance at making the marriage work this time?
3. What will make things different the second time around? He left you once and saw few consequences for his actions. He might repeat his little vacation from you, convinced you will take him back again.
I don’t believe you should consider a makeup from your breakup before you get counseling. This is your life—and a three-year-old child is watching! I suggest you proceed with the following:
1. If, and only if, you begin counseling at once, try to postpone your final divorce hearing for six months. By then you’ll have a better idea about your own motives, and you’ll have a sense of whether you want to be with this man again.
2. Begin socializing with girlfriends. See more of the world than you’ve been accustomed to. The more you expand your horizons, the easier it will be for you to make a wise decision about your future.
3. Have some deeper conversations with your husband than you’ve ever had before. Hear his explanations for his bad behavior. Listen as though you were an outsider. Do you buy his excuses?
You have the power now because he’s begging. Don’t rush! As my Gilda-Gram says, “Take time to breathe. The tortoise in you can always catch up with the hare.” Besides, the more you mull over the consequences either of single life or of a re-commitment, the more anxious to return to you your husband will be. That’s just human nature! But it doesn’t mean his hopes and pleas should sway you. This is a crucial decision—take your time and make it the right one.

A FEW COMMENTS FROM READERS

Dear Dr. Gilda,
Another reason to hold off from renewing the physical side of the relationship with the straying husband is that doing so starts the waiting time for filing for a divorce all over again. This means that under most conditions the wife would have to wait the entire period of time before even filing for divorce again. I know this is the case in Maryland, where the waiting period is a year, I believe there would be a similar result in some other states as well.
An attorney practicing family law in Maryland
I did not know this aspect of the divorce law. I asked the attorney whether this was the case in all States. This was his response:

Dear Dr. Gilda:
Yes, I think the same does hold true in MOST other states. However, the only way to be certain would be to look in every State's Family Law statute and applicable Court decisions to see if a reconciliation resets the divorce waiting time back to the beginning (aka "destroying the status of an existing voluntary separation").

It used to be worse in Maryland. Prior to 1972, merely an offer of reconciliation could reset the divorce waiting time back to the beginning. In 1972, the Legislature amended the Family Law statue in Maryland to prevent the making of a reconciliation offer from resetting the divorce waiting time. It is possible some of the more conservative States still observe this Neanderthal theory.
Regards!

Another reader wrote how the same law hurt her friend:

Dear Dr. Gilda,
I read your column today. In many States, if a woman is divorcing her husband on the grounds of infidelity, she must not have any sexual contact with him or there will be serious financial consequences to her settlement. One of my friends had a moment of weakness and allowed her "soon-to-be-ex" to spend one night with her. This turned out to be an event that had been planned well in advance by the husband and his attorney to change the playing field on the divorce settlement. The judge decided that his infidelity did not bother my friend enough to give anywhere near the alimony she was asking for because she was willing to allow him back in her bed, no matter how brief it was. This may not be what the husband in your column is up to, but it may well be the case.
Thank you for listening.

Another reader offered her own experience to the reader who sent me the question:

Dear Dr. Gilda,
In your Suddenly Single column your reader wanted to know if she should give her cheating husband a second chance. I have some advice for her. I have been there. If this couple is fighting and bickering on a steady basis, then they really do need time apart. My husband figured out that life wasn't so “green" on the other side. If this guy is calling her, then he's having second thoughts, and that's good.

We started out being really hateful to each other at first, and then as time passed, our conversations got nicer. We always told each other we loved each other. You can't just cut off your feelings. After a few months of talking regularly, we actually became friends, probably better friends than before. It felt like the "stress" was off, and we could communicate much better. Like your reader, I had also filed for divorce, and we were a month away from mediation. As our friendship grew and we were able to talk without the hurt feelings, we would meet at open public places and chat. He wanted to reconcile, but I was skittish. We finally made an adult decision that we hoped would help our family. We will be celebrating our 17th year wedding anniversary this month.

It's not easy to forgive and forget, and YES, there are times you wonder, but that's the chance you take. I wish your reader all the best in her very tough decision.
A Woman in Her Shoes.

A male reader, however, thought my question-writer ought to show her husband she means business, and go through with her decision to divorce after all:

Hi, Dr. Gilda,
I just finished reading Suddenly Single. And I liked most of your suggestions. The one thing I think that you're dead wrong on is in the postponement of the divorce, which is a month away. And for six months yet!

I'm a guy, and it’s rare that I'll take the girl’s side of the story. In this case, however, she should go through the divorce to its absolute finality. He needs to know that she can make a decision. Guys don't respect woman who can't decide. I can tell you that I don't. Make the decision, and the situation is clear in his mind. He screwed up. Pure and simple. The consequences have to be clear in his mind. Divorce. I lost her.

Now it’s clear he has to earn back her trust. Whether he gets her back or not is irrelevant. It’s about earning, and if he has to earn it, he'll appreciate it more.

The divorce has to be final.
Thank you.

This is just a small sampling of comments I received. For sure, it is challenging to dissect love from your other emotions. To simplify your situation, and clarify your decision-making, follow this Gilda-Gram, a new Commandment for you: "Thou shalt not fornicate whilst thou litigates." From the legal advice we received, and from other comments above, make whatever decision you make out of strength. Consider the reasons you’re leaving. Consider therapy and mediation. But while you’re considering, sleep alone!
Love,
Dr. Gilda

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Not Your Mother's Mothballs!

As Spokesperson for Match.com, I recently attended the annual AARP convention in Boston, where I participated in a panel titled “Love at First Click.” To be precise, love at first click is impossible, just as is love at first sight. However, LUST from the get-go is a definite maybe—and it could pave the way for more to come—if you keep your head in reality.

When some of my friends heard I would be speaking to AARP-ers, they teased me about seeing a bunch of old people. For those who think this organization consists of mothballed seniors biding their time until the inevitable, think again. There were 30,000 participants on site, and those I saw were distinctly vital and thirsty for ways to increase their longevity. Of course, those I actually addressed also had a determined desire for love.

Our room had every one of its 200 seats filled, with bouncers outside to prevent fire code violations by love-anxious trespassers. When it was announced that there were a few vacant seats still left, a woman called out, “Fill them with men.” Another chimed in, “And be sure they are willing to drive at night!” These folks were hardly what anyone would call “old”!

Online dating has become the best way to meet folks with whom you would not ordinarily make contact. The moderator met her husband on JDate, and the Black couple on the dais with me connected on Yahoo, while they only lived a few blocks from each other. I discuss the ups and downs of Baby Boomer love on my weekly Match.com Suddenly Single column, posted on MSN’s Dating & Personals page (http://msn.match.com/msn/suddenlysingle.aspx?lid=413). For this group, the one thing that stands out is their concern, not about aging per se, but about the stereotypes placed on them because of their age.

The participants in the room shared some of their Online dating horror stories, along with their love connections. Of course, the lure of the anonymous behind a computer screen can camouflage many sins. One of the funniest, yet unfortunately true, cautionary tales of Online romance is the country music video by Brad Paisley, called “Online.” Jason Alexander from Seinfeld directed the video, and also enacts a geeky social outcast, who mouths these lyrics:

I work down at the pizza pit,
And I drive an old Hundai.
I still live with my mom and dad.
I’m 5’3 and overweight.

I’m a Sci-fi fanatic,
Mild asthmatic,
Never been to 2nd base.
But there’s a whole ‘nother me
That you need to see.
Go check out MySpace.

‘Cause Online I’m down in Hollywood.
I’m 6’5, and I look damn good.
I drive a Maserati,
I’m a black belt in Karate,
And I love a good glass of wine.

It turns girls on that I’m mysterious.
I tell ‘em I don’t want nothing serious,
‘Cause even on a slow day, I can have a three-way
Chat with two women at one time.

I’m so much cooler Online . . .

I get home, I kiss my mom
And she fixes me a snack.
I head down to my basement bedroom
And fire up the Mac.

In real life, the only time I
Ever even been to LA
Was when I got the chance with the marching band
To play tuba in the Rose Parade.

Online I live in Malibu.
I posed for Calvin Klein, I’ve been in GQ.
I’m single and I’m rich.
I got a set of six pack abs that’ll blow your mind.

When you got my kinda stacks, it’s hard to get a date,
Let alone a real girlfriend.
But I grow another foot,
And I lose a bunch of weight,
Every time I log in . . .

I’m so much cooler Online . . .

This song is funny, but the video is a scream because of its honesty. Since most people would like to think they are “so much cooler Online…,” there is a lot of truth bending in tender e-notes. Much of it concerns pre-meeting self-descriptions, where men are conditioned to boast about their success, and women feel compelled to brag about their looks. To prevent the continuation of prefabrications, I recommend that people meet in person as soon as they believe there is a connection to explore.

Back to reality, a man in our audience said he chose to meet a psychologist he conversed with Online. When they were face-to-face, she volunteered that she was really 3 years older than the age she had posted. He said he’d never see her again because she had lied to him initially. After I asked him, he said he would still have chosen to meet her, even if she had posted her true age. But now her lying was something that would stand in his way—forever. Participants complained that every Online site requires they post an actual number for their age. If they lie, they are dishonest, which they know is a romance derailer. But if they tell the truth, they fear being passed over. At the end of the discussion, a good-looking man in a baseball cap approached me. He, too, had a grievance about this age business. He said he would like to go Online, but couldn’t because of the necessity of revealing that number. He shocked me when he said he was 80! He was in great shape! He said, “You see, your reaction matches that of everyone else. I date 60-year-olds. But if I want to meet new people Online, once they hear my age, they steer clear.”

What is this thing we call “age”? I myself question this all the time, especially being in the business I’m in. One night at New York’s Elaine’s, some drop-dead gorgeous male model walked in, as people turned their heads at break-neck speed. He looked twenty-something. He took his seat with a bunch of guys, and everyone returned to their private conversations at their tables. Before I knew it, baseball great Keith Hernandez came over to me and whispered in my ear, “Doc, my friend wants to meet you.” I said, “Who’s your friend?” He said, “That guy over there,” pointing to his young pal, the same male model who made women swoon. I said, “Keith, the guy’s a little young for me.” But Keith said, “Oh, don’t worry, he loves older women.” I had never thought of myself as an “older woman” before. I didn’t know whether to thank Keith or slap him. But I invited the guy to my table, and we flirted all night. I told the story on the Fox News Channel a few nights later, and explained that I had recently been out with someone 60. I guess that makes me a loose woman when it comes to age! But the truth is that I enjoy men with whom I have a deep spiritual connection—into which age does not enter.

At a time when 60 is the new 40, why are we all still hung up on stereotypes? Plenty of people may be missing out because of their pre-conceived notions. For centuries, it’s been okay for men to date much younger women. These days, years after Cher and her twenty-something “bagel boy,” Demi Moore and countless others have thumbed their nose at convention by being with younger men. A fifty-something friend of mine with a 3-year-old grandchild is dating a man with a 3-year-old toddler! When Mary Tyler Moore married her physician husband 18 years her junior, she attributed it to a meeting of their souls that surpassed all else. Coincidentally, I observed this couple’s interaction while I was waiting for a plane in a private airline lounge. Amid the quietness of the room, I was taken aback by a loving man asking his wife, “Honey, would you like me to get you some coffee?” She said she didn’t want any, and they took their seats. When I looked up, I saw who it was, and I watched them. They had already been married for years, and their interaction was tremendously respectful and loving. Age never entered into that equation.

Singles are forever complaining about the difficulty of meeting someone wonderful. I told this AARP group, “Everyone who wants to be married gets married.” A lot of folks took issue with that proposition. Out came my Gilda-Gram: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always go where you’ve always gone.” I exemplified one of my clients who left a marriage to an abusive, alcoholic, who was also a wealthy man. Now on the prowl again, she would only date guys with money. The problem was that some of her castaways were terrific, far nicer than her ex, and good future marriage material. As I told her, and I told my audience, “She had some reassessing to do.” The Black woman on the dais chimed in, “During my search for Mr. Right, I even experimented with men outside my race.”

Many daters are still stuck in old habits and tastes. No matter what our age, no matter what our goal—dating or otherwise—if we get out of the box that we ourselves constructed, we get out of our own way. We can all take a page from the AARP participants who traveled to Boston from across the country, all in quest of MORE. If you’re one of those people stuck in your past habits, mindsets, and preconceptions, ask yourself, “Who’s really donning the mothballs?”

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Big WOW!! for Kenny Chesney & Sugarland

It was just a few days before Labor Day. New York City had pretty much emptied out for the holiday. But Madison Square Garden was filled to the brim for the Kenny Chesney Flip Flop Summer Tour! I was a guest of Country Music Television, my favorite channel in the world for music. In fact, some mornings, I choose to “dance” to CMT on my home treadmill instead of work out at my gym that doesn’t carry the network.

As an expert on relationships of all kinds, Country Music has become my chosen tool for therapy in my work. I quote the words of the artists in my books, columns, speeches, and on air because we can all identify with their life struggles of misery and mourning, and we all want to learn better survival mechanisms. I’m probably the only pop culture shrink who incorporates this music into her work. Moreover, since I’m a New Yorker, many of my friends think I’m especially strange for loving these down-home messages. But to me, they are raw and real. And as an educator, I know that this sort of rich honesty helps souls heal.

For the disbelievers, there’s a tune called “Songs About Me,” by Trace Adkins, one of my favorite artists. It’s a story about how he meets some guy on the red eye. Spotting his guitar, the guy asks him what he does for a living. When Trace replies that he sings Country Music, the man says, “I’ve never been crazy ‘bout that twang and trains and hillbilly thing.” Trace gives him tickets to hear his concert. After the performance is over, the guy shouts to him, “Man you were right. It was like you sang those songs about me and who I am, songs about loving and living and good hearted women and family and God…” That’s why I love Country Music—and why I use it in my work.

The Chesney concert was especially moving because the Garden was filled, despite New Yorkers’ resistance to this genre. With all the hooting and hollering beneath the cowboy hats, I could have imagined I was in Nashville. Kenny was wonderful, sensitive, a genuine showman, and HOT.

Opening for Kenny was Sugarland, whose song, “Settlin’” is one I have quoted a lot to people who “drift” through life. The lyrics open with, “I ain’t settling for just getting by…” and concludes, “I ain’t settling for anything less than everything.” As writer, Somerset Maugham, said, “If you expect only the best, you very often get it.” Sugarland’s words help me remind people to goal high. I use this message in my work with teens, adults, and even corporate leaders.

This group’s music was always fun for me to listen to, but seeing lead singer, Jennifer Nettles, perform wowed me! That woman has more energy than an electric current. She jumped and jived across the huge stage, a sight her videos have not captured, and her performance was magnetic and overwhelming.

I had to leave the concert a bit early, to board the chariot waiting for me outside (I wish I could say it was a horse!) As I exited, I walked smack into Sean Hannity, who had just finished his TV show on the Fox News Network. I told him that Kenny was fabulous as expected, but Jennifer Nettles surprisingly blew the audience away. I said I was sorry he had missed that—because he’s such a big Country Music fan, and I think he would have gotten a charge out of the Sugarland surprise. I hope he’ll include this group in his next Freedom Concert!

It was a starlit summer night, and the ride home was quiet and peaceful. I was feeling effervescent from the evening’s excitement. In bed, when I finally pulled the blanket to my neck, it was midnight. My voice was hoarse from my own singing and shaking, and I hoped it would mend before my TV appearance the next day. I remained silent for a while, breathing deeply, grateful to have had this magnificent experience. Thank you, CMT!!—with a special shout-out to Neil Holt, Senior Vice President of Ad Sales for CMT and TV Land, who really knows his audience and what they want, Denise (Dee) Mendoza, Executive Assistant to Neil Holt, who has officially become my Dee-vine Intervention, and Molly O’Connor, Manager, Integrated Marketing, CMT.com, beautiful redhead, with whom I shared the spirit of the music as we danced out of our seats.

Country Music gives me the gift of gratitude, gratitude that I am alive to soak in extraordinary experiences and special people like this. I am also grateful to have found this medium, which adds so significantly to my work. Thank you, Country, thank you, CMT!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Perils of Powerful Women

A-list Oscar winner Hilary Swank and her C-list spouse, Chad Lowe, divorced after 8 years of marriage. Pop star Britney Spears married pizza delivery boy, Kevin Federline, and the marriage derailed after 3 years. Jessica Simpson made $35 million to Nick Lachey’s measly $5 million, and the marriage ended after 3 years. After 4 years, Tony-winner Christina Applegate, star of Broadway’s “Sweet Charity,” divorced hubby Jonathon Schaech, whose acting career was sputtering. Clearly, there is a problem with women who out-perform the men they love.

Ten years ago, business guru, Tom Peters, called women “the most powerful economic force on the planet.” More years ago than that, Goldie Hawn announced that she was looking for a man who was more successful than she; when she met Kurt Russell, she bragged about how much more accomplished than she he was. Today, successful women are optimistically named Alpha Women. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 5.3 million wives earned more than their husbands in 1987, but by 2004, that number had grown to 8.4 million, and is ever expanding. Neither these Alpha Women (nor their male counterparts) deal gracefully with their partner's less-glowing assignment to Beta Man. Glenn Close's character of the aggressive lawyer in the TV series, Damages, tells her young associate, "It's biology. A man should want to be in charge. The trick is making him feel that he really is... Most men can't handle an ambitious woman. It may take you a few tries, but make sure you find one who can."

The Glenn Close lawyer has a point. As a result of Alpha Female Phenomenon (AFP), relationships and marriages often derail—or, in the case of many high-powered Singles, they never even get off the ground.

A 2003 global study of 10,000 people found that when women are more successful than their husbands, they are twice as likely to leave them. Today, women’s out-earning capacity has hit 1/3 of all married, working women. A report published last week showed that 20-something women in such large cities as New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Boston, and Minneapolis, are already topping the earnings of men. Moreover, this trend is a global one. Reuters in London reported that within a decade, more women than men will make financial decisions in the home. So what does this mean to the shelf life of our relationships?

When I discussed this issue on NBC’s iVillage, the two beautiful, successful show hosts revealed how difficult it was for them in their marriages to men who financially contributed less. When I discussed this issue on the Fox News Channel, the three hosts, two males and one female, had already been heatedly discussing it. Eleanor Mondale interviewed me on her radio show in Minneapolis, one of the cities where young women out-earn their male colleagues, and we spoke of hope for the future.

Why should a woman’s proud professional achievements be accompanied by her man’s feelings of emasculation? If they are to survive, couples must learn to cope with being honestly TWOgether.

How can we accomplish that? A relationship must embrace truthful communication about real feelings and fears. When a guy feels financially inferior, his self-esteem crumbles, and he morphs into child-mode. One of my clients, humorously, he thought, signed his anniversary card to his wife and mother of his two daughters, “Your third child.” The wife had already lost respect for her man-child, while he felt unneeded and worthless.

No one person in a pair should feel s/he is doing the heavy emotional lifting. If someone feels too put upon, sex will abruptly end. After all, you can’t have sex with your child! My Gilda-Gram warns, “A parental relationship is an asexual relationship.” This can be a rusty nail in the marital coffin.

Successful relationships boast respect and admiration, no matter what each partner's earnings are. As important as it is for Beta Man to feel “manly,” Alpha Woman still craves reassurance she’s desirable. My Gilda-Gram asserts, “The goal at home must be toward partnership, not power brokering.” The husband of Meryl Streep’s character in “The Devil Wears Prada” asked for divorce because her work out-ranked him on her to-do list. Successful working women were never taught to role-flex at home. Many women feel that turning their power on and off is phony. Yet every hard-driving Type A personality must do that to conserve her health.

Last week, I had dinner with two Single, high-powered Baby-Boomer women. One was suddenly getting the cold shoulder from a man she had been dating for two months. They had recently compared their earnings. At a party, his family had commented that she far out-classed him. Now he was withdrawing. Both women said a man’s smaller wallet didn’t mean anything to them. But it sure meant a lot to this woman’s boyfriend, and now there was nothing she could do.

Just as sad are the twenty-something women who tell me they worry about out-earning their men. In the dressing room of a fine boutique, I heard one young woman say, “For now, it’s okay that he’s struggling as a musician. But I know this will be a problem for us once I finish law school.” What happens to these women—and their relationships? Do they put their career aspirations on the back burner—only to fall off the stove? Do they unconsciously put forth less effort in their jobs to appease their partner?

Clearly, much must change. Couples must play to each other’s strengths, not attack each other’s differences. Since women believe they are the Relationship Police, here are some guidelines the feminine force can follow to better their odds for relationship longevity.

The New Rules for Women:
1) No matter what you are earning, if you really mean it, boast to the world, “Bob is much better with finances...or golf...or cooking...or, whatever... than I am.” Also tell him!
2) Recognize it’s impossible to be a power broker by day and a femme fatale by night. If you need reassurance that you’re still feminine, embrace your feminine side—even on the job. Your femininity makes you shine, rather than detracts from your power.
3) Give up the Prince Charming myth. My book, “Don’t Bet on the Prince!” advises, “If you don’t expect your man to be your savior, you won’t get angry when he’s not.”
4) Incorporate play into your dialogue. There is bottom-line Male Talk and more detailed Female Talk. Laugh about how you want your information exchanged. Real power reflects your ability to lighten up and laugh.
5) Remember this Gilda-Gram: “Communication is the heart of relationship salvation.” Be honest, be truthful, and be forthright, even though the topic of earning inequity might be scary to discuss.
6) Make your guy feel SAFE enough to express his true feelings and fears. If he won’t open up, it’s because he doesn’t feel protected. Offer him a safe haven without judgment or criticism.

These 6 points are only a start. But they are, at least, a beginning. It is obvious that women are becoming more powerful in the workplace. Let’s deal with the realities and ramifications now, so our daughters won’t feel they must apologize for their success as it becomes even bolder.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Book Me a Room at Rehab!!

Lindsay, Britney, Colin Farrell, Joaquin Phoenix, Mel Gibson, Daniel Baldwin, Billy Joel, Robert Downey, Jr., Boy George, Jesse Metcalfe, Whitney Houston, Pete Doherty, Robbin Williams . . . and the list goes on for celebs who chose the rehab route—to get clean, to improve their image, to atone for bigoted comments, or to just have a vacation in a place with a peaceful name, like “Crossroads,” “Promises,” or “Wonderland.”

Britney Spears checked into rehab for the third time in a week after shearing her hair. A 30-day-stay away from a habitual life of excesses can do nothing, especially when a person returns to that life, the very one addicts are advised to avoid. So this brand of rehab couldn’t have helped her.

Lindsay Lohan cycled in and out of rehab, the last time sporting ankle gear to accessorize a faux Victoria’s Secret ensemble, more a fashion statement than a serious accountability guide. Her “treatment” allowed exit whenever she choose to shop, eat out, party, or just breathe free. This kind of rehab couldn’t have helped her, either.

We are told it takes 21 days to change a habit. But that’s when someone is serious that her habit needs changing. Anna David, ex-drug addict, alcoholic, and author of “Party Girl,” says that rehab works for desperate people, and the trouble is that celebs are not desperate enough. Well put! Nobody can change unless she wants to, unless she is, indeed, “desperate” to get better. Britney says she never needed rehab, and is now angry at those who put her there, so obviously, she wasn’t desperate for any sort of salvation. For her, for Lindsay, and for too many other celebs, rehab visits are simply image control mechanisms, not self-directed necessities to get healthy. Even if there is buy-in, with relapse rates ranging from 50 to 90 percent, many rounds of treatment are often necessary. Daniel Baldwin rehabbed 9 times! How fortunate he had the funds to finance all his re-visits.

In order for healing to occur: 1) The effort behind the rehab entrance must be more than just a cliché. A celeb must break through his/her denial barrier, and admit s/he has a true problem; 2) s/he needs a controlled environment, not a cushy spa, and not one in which s/he can waltz in and out at whim depending on which enabler is partying where. In the Betty Ford days of celebrity check-in, no one heard from a star until s/he was better; 3) a rehab facility must be more than just a place to lay low. It must provide tools to get to the core of why the person is addicted in the first place.

Getting healthy is a tough, continuing goal. For real healing to occur, there must be commitment and accountability not only before, but also, long after the rehab retreat is over. That means avoiding the parties, people, and places that enabled the addiction from the start. It requires a total change of life style. Unfortunately, the decision-making part of the brain, the pre-frontal cortex, doesn’t fully mature until a person is in his/her mid-twenties. So, in addition to drastically changing the only life these child stars have known, there is also need for a support system of mature thinkers. Although Britney is 26, she had rebelled against her mother before, and now she has totally disowned her. Lindsay is just 21, but her mom appears to be more friend than maternal influence. Both these girls are very talented. How sad that as rich as they are financially, they are so impoverished of mature, loving adults to guide them.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

7 Signs Your Honey May Cheat

By Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

Reprinted from MSN Dating & Personals – with Match.com

Most of us — even the not-so-jealous types — know that feeling of, “Is my sweetheart really working late… or could this person be two-timing me?” I’ve counseled many individuals dealing with this concern, so let me share my knowledge with you about the signs that someone is cheating (or seriously contemplating it). Use this information and insight—and either stop worrying or have a serious talk with your partner!

Sign #1: Your sweetie keeps you a secret from his/her family & friends
Cheaters keep you in the dark while they play in the light. Your relationship won’t work if you’re getting what I call the Shadow Treatment. The Shadow Treatment means that you are often kept waiting in the wings while your mate is out socializing. Think about it: Are there gatherings of friends, family reunions or workplace parties that you are not invited to? Do you only meet some of your honey’s network of friends? If you are kept on the sidelines, there’s probably a good reason. Maybe your sweetie is on the prowl for someone else. Or perhaps there is already someone else and so your role in his or her life can’t be made public. Anytime you are kept on the fringes once you believe you are an exclusive couple, be suspicious. And know that the only way to end Shadow Treatment is to stop accepting it. Once you challenge it, you will either be fully accepted in your sweetheart’s life… or know it’s time to leave.

Sign #2: Your sweetie is emotionally absent
Cheaters conceal their emotional whereabouts so they can be evasive about their physical whereabouts. Love is exhausting when you have to pry the truth out of a partner.

Consider this story: After enjoying a platonic friendship for a decade, Margaret and Roy began dating. Roy was a traveling sales manager. While he was on the road, Margaret heard from him only occasionally. But he continued to say he wanted to spend more time with her—which he never did. Margaret was obviously a low priority for him. She was shocked to learn he had another girlfriend across the country.

An emotionally absent partner may say what you want to hear, but will not change his or her actions—unless he or she wants to. Saying the right thing and doing the right thing are very different. If your honey talks a good game about spending more time with you and paying more attention to you but never delivers—look out! This person may be juggling multiple relationships.

Sign #3: Your sweetie says he or she wants a no-strings-attached romance
If someone says, “I don’t want a commitment,” take the sucker at his or her word. Don’t fall into that “I’ll be the one to change all that!” trap. Cheaters rebel against control and might even have an affair to spite a partner who wants to rein him or her in.

Too often, people ignore the clear message a potential date sends. If someone tells you, “I’m not into serious relationships,” “I won’t give up my freedom,” “I’m not ready to settle down,” or anything resembling that, take a giant step back! He or she is clearly telling you, “I want to play the field.” If you pursue the person anyway, hoping for an exclusive relationship, you may find yourself two-timed and broken-hearted. Never push a person into a situation he or she doesn’t want to be in. Never pursue a committed relationship with someone who tells you he or she doesn’t want one.

Sign # 4: Your sweetie admits to cheating on exes—and justifies the betrayals
Cheaters rationalize their behavior to let themselves off the hook. The way they justify their actions tells much about their character.

Listen to the excuses for past cheating your sweetie uses. Here are a couple I’ve heard from clients in my therapy practice over the years:

* “My ex was abusive because of a drinking problem, so I deserved to see someone kinder on the side.”
* “My father cheated on my mom, so cheating on my girlfriend is how I’m working through my past.”

Everyone has a tale to tell. But are these rationalizations — or any rationalizations — acceptable to you? A person who admits to infidelities in the past and explains them away has a good chance of straying again. He or she has not taken responsibility for past actions, nor worked through the issues involved.

Sign #5: Your sweetie has never been without a mate
Cheaters won’t ride solo... ever! Leaving one romance and hopping into a new one — or having simultaneous affairs at once — doesn’t leave time for assessing whatever went wrong. They don’t bother with introspection; their focus is squarely set on pulling new people into their orbit. If you are dating a person who shares a romantic history that always involves finding a new partner before breaking up with the current partner, take heed. This person may think of his or her mate only as void-fillers. Filling a void is never a basis for lasting love.

Sign #6: Your sweetie tells lies about little things
Cheaters lie about everything, which leads you to question their truth from their fiction. When the need to embroider overshadows the desire to be honest, the relationship becomes a sham.

Craig’s friend set him up on a blind date with divorcée, Alice, who was a top attorney in town with no children. Each time they were together, Alice described her interesting caseload. Craig was fascinated—and falling hard. He was so caught up in her charismatic personality that he chose not to focus on the fact that some of her stories contradicted themselves, and that Alice seemed to change certain details as she got further into her story sharing. One day, the local newspaper featured someone who had been indicted for impersonating an attorney. He was shocked to find that it was Alice, and that she was a wife and mother as well! Alice had lied to both Craig and his friend.

If you are dating someone who seems to be untruthful about mundane topics — where he or she had lunch, what he or she is doing on Sunday morning — take note. The lies probably run deep. As my Gilda-Gram warns, “Without truth, there is no love.”

Sign # 7: Your sweetie brags about his or her sex appeal
Cheaters are insecure, and need to attract constant attention on the side. They flaunt their popularity in attempts to boost their own low self-esteem. Let me give you an example: Marilyn met a “hot guy” on a singles cruise, and the pair became inseparable for the week. When they returned home, they spoke to each other constantly. He sent her a plane ticket to visit him. While together, Hot Guy boasted that he was his town’s “go-to” guy for all the lonely women. Instead of Marilyn reading that as a sign to stay away, she interpreted his description of himself as “cute.”

Visiting her two weeks later, he said he was available throughout the week—except for a lunch date he had with a woman he had just met. Marilyn found that peculiar, but said nothing. After a dinner party, he detailed how many women had come on to him. Marilyn began feeling disrespected and put down. Finally, after crying herself to sleep, she told Hot Guy he was too hot for her.

If a partner boasts how in demand he or she is, recognize how insecure he or she really is—and steer clear. This person probably needs more ego-stroking than any one person can provide... and will look where he or she has to in order to find it.

So now you know the signs that indicate that maybe your sweetie isn’t such a sweetie after all. Life and love are all about learning. Remember this Gilda-Gram: “Everyone who touches you, teaches you.” Instead of getting bummed out about a cheater who stole your heart, think of what you learned, and how your experience got you to grow. Your new insight will arm you to attract someone more trustworthy in the future.
_____

Relationship expert Dr. Gilda (www.DrGilda.com) has a private practice, is a motivational speaker, and is associate professor of business, psychology, and communications at New York’s Mercy College. She is also the founder of the video blog, GildaVision, on her web site. Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince! How to Have the Man You Want by Betting On Yourself and He’s Not All That! How to Attract the Good Guys.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Should Friends Tell Friends Their Lovers Are Cheaters??

Marilyn and I are casual friends who have been bumping into each other for years at the same veterinarian. After not seeing each other for a long time, we finally met again at the supermarket—and decided to have lunch to catch up. Marilyn has been divorced for 5 years, and while her breakup was going on, I had lent her my ear a few times on the telephone when she needed it. During one of our conversations, she confessed that she had been having an affair for 7 years with a married man. I asked if that was the reason her marriage was breaking up. She insisted, “No, my marriage was dead years before that.” I just listened, since that’s what I sensed my friend needed most.

Now 5 years later, Marilyn has dumped her married lover, has had a few relationships, and is alone and fairly lonely. During our lunch, she said she recently connected with a former crush from her seventh grade class! He’s a highly paid attorney, working for a large law firm. At this point, they have seen each other a few times and have enjoyed each other’s company. He told her he’s in the midst of a divorce.

I know people at this company, so I asked around. The buzz on this guy from more than one very reliable source is that he’s a player. For all I know he’s “seeing” lots of women while he’s courting my friend. Rumor is that he’s been “going through a divorce” for the past 10 years, he’s had multiple affairs with women, single and married, at the firm, he’s got 6 kids, he’s a very devout Catholic who doesn’t believe in divorce, and besides all that, he’ll never leave his wife because alimony and child support would financially wipe him out. But I note that he sees Marilyn on Saturday nights, so there certainly must be some bona fide breakdown in his communications at home.

What do I do? Do I tell Marilyn about my findings? If so, I could be implicating my own sources, and also, there are laws about libeling someone’s reputation. Would Marilyn even want to hear about what I know, or would she want to "kill the messenger"? I also secretly wonder if this is Marilyn’s spirit-world retribution for cheating on her own husband years earlier. After all, what goes around comes around. Marilyn has said she’s keeping this relationship purely platonic until this guy decides what he truly wants to do at home. So obviously, there has been discussion between the two of them that he is uncertain of his next steps. Is she fooling herself into believing that anything will EVER change with this guy’s home life? Marilyn is not one of my clients who has commissioned me to ask significant questions. What do I do?

Clients often ask me what they should do after they find a friend's lover cheating. Often, they are burning to do something—anything—to save their friend. My best advice is to speak directly to the cheater and let him/her know s/he’s been spotted on the make. Sometimes this is the impetus that gets him/her to clean up his/her act, and the person who caught him/her in the act is off the hook as a troublemaker. But I don’t even know this guy. Although I’d like to protect my friend, is it really my business to do that?

So many people are faced with this dilemma, I thought I’d open it up to your comments. For the first time in all my psychotherapeutic years, I am asking YOU, my readers and loyal fans, for HELP!
Love,
Dr. Gilda

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Why Giving Back Is Feeling Good

The other day, one of my long-time friends, Mary, and I were catching up on the telephone. Her wonderful and devoted husband had been diagnosed with two forms of cancer within the year, one after the other. She literally nursed him back to health during each scary episode. Now her 85-year-old mother has dementia, and is quickly fading. Just days before, Mary had to take her mom’s car away from her because she was increasingly becoming a hazard on the road. Without the independence to get around on her own, her mother was feeling like a caged animal, and was calling Mary non-stop, every 5 minutes, at home and at her work place. My poor friend was at her wit’s end.

Meanwhile, Mary’s next door neighbor, who is in a wheel chair, had recently been widowed. As random kindness, Mary would routinely pick up her newspaper from the front of her house, and run errands for the elderly lady. But on this day, when the neighbor asked where her paper was, my friend lost it. She told me irately, “This woman has a son. Let him take care of her.” Mary was drained and she simply had nothing more to give. She had been taking care of others from the basic core of the stuff she needed to sustain her own well-being. As Chapter 5 in “Don’t Bet on the Prince!” is titled, “Give from the Overflow, Not from the Core.” We need our core energies to nurture ourselves before we nurture others. That’s why one of my Gilda-Grams insists that we “Live the Capital ‘I’ Life.”

I advised Mary to do something terrific for herself NOW. With everyone grabbing for her attention, she didn’t know how to do that. She filled a low-dose prescription for a psychotropic drug to calm her nerves, as a short-term remedy.

It has happened to all of us. The rubberband gets stretched, and then it suddenly snaps. Usually, the snapping event occurs at the wrong time, at the wrong place, with the wrong person. But it’s usually the result of all the stress we chose not to deal with earlier. Mary and her husband have a great marriage, and with no children, they have only each other on whom to lavish love. With each of her husband’s diagnoses, Mary had acted on autopilot. She was familiar with this kind of caretaking. Over the years, before her husband had gotten ill, she became the official caretaker for his mother, then his father, then her father, and now her mom. Mary is overweight, obviously skilled at stuffing her anguish into her body. For as long as I know her, she has never taken the time to love Mary.

I shared my own week with my friend. My elderly neighbor needed a colonoscopy and asked me to pick her up from the hospital. One of my close friends needed her car repaired, and asked me to pick her up from the auto mechanic. And a close girlfriend was going on a job interview, and I volunteered to watch her infant while she dazzled a prospective employer. Despite all my media interviews, appearances, speeches, columns, coaching, and personal commitments, I offered my support to the people I love who needed me during that week because it made me feel good! I admit that doing things for people I love is purely self-driven. But the reason I was able to do it with aplomb that week was because, unlike Mary, my basic core felt solid; I had already siphoned off what I needed for me. I’m not always in such a secure place.

Most people don’t perfect self-care because it doesn’t always make them the most popular person on the block. For example, while having a business lunch with a colleague in an elegant restaurant, the young waiter interrupted our intense conversation with a recitation of the menu. I said, “Excuse me. I was just in the middle of my sentence.” My colleague, who is boundary-challenged herself, gasped at my outspokenness. The waiter quickly about-faced, and replaced himself with another server. While communicating your boundaries may have its drawbacks, it will protect you from energy drainers by letting them know your needs. Without enunciating your needs, like my friend, Mary, you will barely be able to give to yourself, much less give to others.

Giving back is a great feel-good therapy. American Idol’s Give-Back Night, and Bono’s ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History are examples of give-backs from the surplus of what these folks possess in their core. If we all optimized our time management, we could surely squeeze out a little something extra for those in need. But we must first provide for OURSELVES.

Just one caveat: While you're stealing precious me-time, people may call you “selfish.” Assertively correct them with the more accurate term, “self-caring.” And continue doing what you’re doing. This way, those you love will truly benefit from a stronger you!

Love,
Dr. Gilda

Friday, April 20, 2007

Why People Love Carrie Underwood’s Cheating Song!

I just returned from covering the Country Music Television Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. Maybelline was one of the major sponsors of this gig, and what a fabulous job they did! AND CMT ROCKS! I even extended my cable service at a higher fee to include this network on my subscription. The awards show has been playing repeatedly on CMT, and, although I was there live and in person, I continue to watch it again and again. (By now y’all know what a devoted country music fan I am!)

"Before He Cheats" is certainly a revenge song, and I promote just the opposite, that the best revenge is doing well—and then watching the cheater SUFFER when s/he sees your success! Ahhh, what power that exudes! But it's also a lesson in assertiveness and resolve. Her video shows her committing destructive acts against her cheater’s car. And she boasts about them as she sings, “I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped-up four wheel drive, carved my name into his leather seats…” Certainly not a model for anger management! But after she gets her knocks, she comes out of her rage with, “Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats. So, for the sake of all sisters, it might be argued that Underwood is teaching this guy how not to behave with the women who come after her! And then she asserts, “…because the
next time that he cheats, you know it won’t be on me.” Emerging from her rage, she resolves that she won’t ever find herself in this situation with this dude again! Good for you, girl!! Naturally, the song has become every cuckolded partner’s anthem to get out of Dodge!

Yet, I receive thousands of e-mails from people who were cheated on, and who return to their partners, to the same scene, to the same misery. Their rationalizations range from, “I don’t want to lose my standard of living, my life style, the house, having someone to care about me…” to “But I love him/her.” Oh, puleeeze! What can you possibly love about a cheater? As my Gilda-Gram says, “We attract not who we want, but who we ARE.” If you find yourself with a cheater, and you remain and complain, it’s ONLY because you feel you deserve no better. While them’s fightin’ words, the truth is the truth.

So what should you do if you discover you haven't been your partner’s one and only? Follow this other Gilda-Gram: “To change a cheater, change yourself.” You need not go to Carrie Underwood extremes to set boundaries. Simply say, “Sorry, bud, I’m not taking this treatment any more.” As soon as you lay down your limitations, you, too, will sing, “…because the next time that he cheats, you know it won’t be on me.” Ahhh, what a great feeling to know that YOU, not your cheating mate, now hold the reins to your life and future. Watch the sucker crawl!! Then decide to do whatever it is you want to do, but this time, out of STRENGTH, not anger or weakness. Let me know how it goes.

Love,
Dr. Gilda

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"The Secret" of Relationships

For years, I have been teaching college courses in an accelerated business leadership program for adults completing their degrees. For as many years, I have also been conducting corporate workshops to increase the bottom line through enhanced business relationships. The required reading for all I do is my book, “Don’t Bet on the Prince! How to Have the Man You Want by Betting on Yourself,” published in 1999. While the title suggests a women’s self-help book (and it was written with that in mind), in reality, it is a guide to uncovering who you are, where you want to go, and how to get there. And happily, it has changed the lives of both women and men. (See http://www.drgilda.com/testimonials.htm).

This year, something boosted my outreach to my audiences. “The Secret” took the world by storm. It pinpoints the Law of Attraction. This past week, as my students and audiences were reading my book, they were highlighting the similarities between my tenets and those of “The Secret.” Synchronistically, John Gray, renowned author of "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus," is a contributor to "The Secret," and he also gave my book a glowing testimonial on its front cover: "...Good advice, as provocative as it is sensible."

Just some of my Gilda-Grams in the book include, “We attract not who we want, but who we are.” And, “Amp up your attitude of gratitude,” And, “Instead of saying, ‘This is my problem,’ say, ‘This is my power.’” While my now-renowned Gilda-Grams are not the precise words of “The Secret,” their concepts are derived from the same credo of responsibility, respect, and living the Capital ‘I’ life, as I name it. Oprah said she was surprised to learn this was a “Secret” because she’s been living her life by these principles all along. As I walk my talk myself, that’s precisely how I feel.

I am so grateful “The Secret” is out. With this as a backdrop, now when I say that “Don’t Bet on the Prince!” is “The Secret” for relationships, everyone on the planet understands. My Gilda-Gram for having the relationship you want is, “Live the Capital ‘I’ Life, otherwise in lower case “i” you’ll attract lower case losers.” And that is because “We attract not who we want, but WHO WE ARE.” If you really, really, really want to enhance your relationships, complete the Self-Assessments in the book. (I originally developed them for myself when I was down and out!) They truly guide you to boost your life!

I just returned to New York from L.A. Whenever I’m there, I visit the Agape Spiritual Center, run by Reverend Michael Beckwith. Because he had been one of the featured speakers on “The Secret” and on “Oprah,” the Center was more mobbed than ever. But hearing him is worth it; he is an amazingly gifted orator. If you can’t get to Agape, buy some tapes or CD’s of his sermons. You will be enlightened and moved!

“The Secret” is out. Now it’s up to you to act on it! Don’t bet on the “prince”—whether it’s a partner, a job, a family member, a company, or a friend. Bet on yourself—and show the world you shine.

Watch my free live GildaVision responses to some of your e-mail questions (See http://www.drgilda.com/video.html) Also, read some of my Bonus Columns--Free of Charge (See http://www.drgilda.com/books.htm)

For more personalized guidance, check out Dr. Gilda’s Guides (See http://www.drgilda.com/books.htm#guides) and my Personal E-Mail or Phone Dialogues (See http://www.drgilda.com/Form.htm). These personalized services are usually same-day, created so you can solve a pressing problem, and feel better immediately, as soon as you register.

Help is just a click away to achieving relationship fulfillment. Enjoying a healthy relationship is really not such a "Secret" after all. Don’t you believe you deserve more?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What's the REAL Tragedy?

What a month of news! The public has been glued to the Hollywood sagas of the drugged up personalities and their assorted (and sordid) mates and so-called "friends." While we can all acknowledge Anna Nicole and Britney as needing help, let's also recognize that every single person with whom they cavorted was of the same ilk. As my Gilda-Gram says, "We attract not whom we want, but WHO WE ARE." If you want to discover the truth behind the person you call "friend," check out his/her mate. If you want to know your boss better, meet his/her significant other. While Anna Nicole and Britney, no doubt, demonstrated lives out of control, who were those characters oh-so-willing to put their own values on the back burner just to lap up some of the (tarnished) spotlight? These hangers-on are co-dependents to the addicted. But the real tragedy here involves the babies who these women spawned. What is going to be done to change their future??