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Monday, June 28, 2010

I Lost Twice to Mental Illness

By

DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.)

The familiar same love type draws us in, but it can also keep us down.


Courtesy of Match.com’s Happen Magazine 


http://www.happenmag.com/magazine/index.aspx?lid=396



Dear Dr. Gilda,

I am an intelligent, strong, 58-year-old woman. Seven years ago, I was widowed when my husband of 15 years committed suicide due to his depression. I thought the grief and pain would never ease, but with a strong commitment to move forward, I survived. Two years later, I met a wonderful man. We became great friends, eventually dated, and after a long courtship, got engaged. We purchased a home and renovated it in preparation for marriage and a shared life. But the marriage never happened.

My fiancé turned out to be a Jekyll and Hyde, suffering from bipolar disorder. I was lied to, cheated on and emotionally abused. Finally, we broke off the engagement. Now I am struggling with fear and a sense of loneliness. I am afraid that I will no longer be appealing to a mate, and therefore, not find one. Yes, this is my fear talking, and I know I am not my fear, but how do I calm it down?

I am Woman, Hear Me Roar

Dear Roaring Woman,

Ending a love bond hurts, and the pain is exacerbated by the shocking emptiness that accompanies a new single status. After my divorce was finalized, friends urged me to attend a glam media party. Despite the crowd of luminaries, most of whom I knew, I arrived feeling empty and I left feeling emptier, wondering why I even bothered.

It’s typical to be walking around in an out-of-body state after a breakup. But the blues need only be temporary if you accept comfort from a good therapist and great friends. Also, take all the time you need to review how you contributed to your last relationship’s launch as well as to its demise. Accept that both you and your fiancé remained engaged because of specific payoffs each of you derived from the union. While you can’t blame yourself for your former fiancé’s bipolar disorder, you can ask these significant questions:

1. Why did I choose this man in the first place? (Do you fancy yourself to be a “rescuer”?)

2. Why did I forge ahead with him, even though I sensed that the relationship was troubled? (Name your payoff[s].)

3. What similarities to my deceased husband did my fiancé exhibit? (This is a tough question, and one I personally know too well. I almost married a man whose traits resembled those of my ex-husband. Thankfully, I had an epiphany in the nick of time!) This question takes us all to task for repeating patterns that have historically proven to be self-sabotaging. Since we are easily seduced by familiarity, we must be vigilant in examining our attractions and determining where they begin.


Let’s size up your specific situation, warts and all. Your husband of 15 years committed suicide due to his depression. After your grieving, you took up with a man who suffered from depression AND mania. Do you see where I’m going with this? My concern now is that since you believe you’re ready to love again, what emotional shortcomings might you find familiar and therefore attractive? Before you respond, heed this Gilda-Gram: “The familiar draws us in, but it can also bring us down.”


You say you fear that you will no longer be “appealing” to another mate. If you mean another mate that’s depressed, that’s a protective fear meant to save you from subsequent poor choices. So YAY to that! But to be certain this fear is guarding you well, do the following:

1. List the traits in your last mates that proved untenable.

2. List the positive qualities you would like in a new mate.

3. List the ways you will filter out people who share familiar traits with your exes.

What did you discover from answering these questions? Did you establish which traits are now too cumbersome for you to endure? Did you replace them with positive qualities you will choose to seek out instead? Your new goal should be for you, Woman Who Roars, to become an aphrodisiac to a healthy man looking for healthy love. That’s the key to selecting a more sustainable romance next time you leave the gate.
Love,

Dr. Gilda



GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship educator, and management consultant. She is Match.com’s “Ask Dr. Gilda” advice columnist published on MSN.com. She is also known as the Country Music Doctor, with her “Country Cures.” She is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, the author of the well-known “Don’t Bet on the Prince!,” a test question on “Jeopardy,” 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity, How to Win When Your Mate Cheats, and many more. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. She is currently developing her own TV show. Visit her website and get Instant Advice!

Monday, June 21, 2010

I Broke My 3 Love Rules

By


DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.)



Even relationship experts make mistakes! Finally, it’s MY turn to be put on the couch! I broke my own 3 cardinal rules, and got a reminder that I’m still human!




Courtesy of Match.com’s Happen Magazine
http://www.happenmag.com/magazine/index.aspx?lid=396



Over the years, I’ve taken heat for my mandate that divorced and separated singles should wait before looking for love again. I’ve gotten, “Hey Doc, during my ‘wait’ period, should I just put myself on ice?” Well, it’s the freezing and thawing processes that prep us for relationships that last. And isn’t that what we want? To achieve that goal, I stand by 3 definitive love guidelines:


  1. Do not date married or recently separated people.
  2. Wait at least 9 months before dating someone just out of a relationship.
  3. Don’t enter into a lustful affair until you really know your partner.


Now single again myself, I am proud to affirm that I walk my own talk, so to speak. So why didn’t my talk resonate after meeting a certain man at a TV show’s reunion party? He warmly asked, “Dr. Gilda, how are you?” I did not know who he was. He said, “It’s Peter.” Although he wasn’t familiar to me, we exchanged a social hug and then moved on.



Two days later, Peter left a greeting on my Facebook wall. He described how he had been behind one of the many cameras, filming, which explained how I had appeared on this TV show for years but had never noticed him. He recounted my every move and expression, and I was shocked… and flattered. As we spent time reminiscing, he appeared to be a sensitive man with depth. We discovered that when we worked at the network, our hearts were tied to other people. That was not the case now.



I’ve dated many successful powerhouses who have shut off their emotions entirely, and this vulnerable guy seemed like a refreshing change. We spent hours going from wall postings to private messages to speaking on the phone. A psychic said that because Peter and I had been married in a past life (!), our attraction would be earth-shattering. No kidding!



We chatted about the TV show, the media business, and life in general. Much later, Peter said that he would be divorced in two weeks. What? That put him in what I call the “ING” position, as in, grievING the loss of his marriage. In this state of mind, no person is capable of real love. Besides, if I broke my own three love rules, that would make me a fraud to my clients and fans. I was in grave distress.



I called handsome heartthrob Dave Singleton, founder of www.davesingleton.com, author of two books and a fellow Match.com writer. He admitted, “There have been times I have broken my rules and not been quite as wise as I advise my readers to be.” He recounted meeting someone with whom he spent a few days before leaving town, and then returning home only to find they were incompatible. I asked how he could disavow his own counsel. “The fact that I’m human doesn’t take away from how I’m able to help others,” Singleton replied. “In fact, it makes me a more compassionate relationship expert.”



Ahhh, this was the advice I wanted. I’ll just follow my heart and be human. And become “a more compassionate relationship expert” because of it. Thanks, Dave!



Armed with this reassurance, I proceeded to ignore the red flags I saw with Peter and jumped wholly into long phone calls, lustful fantasies, and breathless togetherness. I counseled Peter about his ex, his love history, his spoiled kids and everything else wrong in his life. All the while, I assumed that we were making a connection. For my efforts, Peter predicted I would one day win a Humanitarian Award. Please! I wasn’t looking to be the next Mother Teresa; I just wanted this man’s love.



Peter’s problems dominated our interactions and my desire to heal him evolved into codependence. He often asked what I saw in him (another red flag, this one denoting shattered self-esteem, post-divorce). He was incapable of knowing me, because he barely knew himself. Also lacking healthy dating experience, he was unable to appreciate the value of our amazing rapport. For a change, my Gilda-Gram to Dr. Gilda was, “You can’t be more therapist than lover to the one you love.” I was still in deep trouble.



I consulted another fellow Match.com writer, dating/relationship coach, Kimberly Dawn Neumann, author of two books and founder of www.DatingDivaDaily.com. She commiserated, “I’ve broken my own rules, too. Once, in a new relationship, I let issues go just because we seemed so simpatico.” Neumann ignored the reddest of flags for a year. She regularly communicated online with this guy, who presented a host of excuses to avoid actually seeing this gorgeous woman in person. Pushed to her limit, Neumann concluded she wanted “a real boyfriend, not a cyber one.” But, she sighed, “The relationship expert can still have hope in fairy tales, can’t she?” I explained that it was that exact mentality that prompted me to write Don’t Bet on the Prince! As Singleton puts it, “we always teach what we need to learn.”



So that still left me with the question of what to do about my situation with Peter. Before I could bring it up myself, the decision got made for me, though. The very day after his divorce was finalized and we enjoyed a celebration dinner, Peter told me — over the phone — that he wanted to be free. Of course he did! A person in the “ING” position needs independence before he can love in a healthy way. Therapeutically, I knew this was the best choice for this aching man to make.



Will I ever break my own 3 love rules again? Of course not--unless I find someone to whom I had been married in another past life!! All kidding aside, if I didn't occasionally test my rules, how would I know they work? Like Singleton and Neumann, I'm just another human being who dispenses better advice because I've lived it, suffered, and learned from my mistakes. Yes, I walk my talk . . . but once in a great while, I may love imperfectly--just like everyone else.


XXX

GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship educator, and management consultant. She is Match.com’s “Ask Dr. Gilda” advice columnist published on MSN.com. She is also known as the Country Music Doctor, with her “Country Cures.” She is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, the author of the well-known “Don’t Bet on the Prince!,” a test question on “Jeopardy,” 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity, How to Win When Your Mate Cheats, and many more. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. She is currently developing her own TV show. Visit her website and get Instant Advice!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

4 Date Traits to Avoid

by


DR. GILDA CARLE (PH.D.)




If you’re feeling desperate and lonely, you might fall for the wrong person.



Courtesy of Match.com’s Happen Magazine

http://www.happenmag.com/magazine/index.aspx?lid=396








OK, you dread those bummer dates. Who doesn’t? But after your last heartache, you’re loopy and lonely, and you mindlessly forfeit naked feelings for the lure of being loved. Silly romantic saps, the lot of us! Face it: from time to time we all allow the wish to be adored to upstage the truth about an interaction. Then, when reality hits, we’re even more bummed out!


Fret not! Now you can have your epiphany before your meltdown! Review this list of 4 date traits to avoid, and glide through the journey of meeting and greeting without fallout. Wish I had compiled this list sooner, if just for myself!



#1 Date Trait to Avoid: Cheap-&-Chintzy
While “Studly” was courting me, he seduced my heart by cooing that if we ever lived together, upon my arrival home from a tough day, he would draw me a bath. “Ahhh,” I thought. “What a delicious guy!” As he and I progressed, we often visited his country home on weekends with his kids. The first time we were all together, I noticed his reluctance to turn on the hot water when we entered his freezing house. It was the dead of winter and we needed hot water if only to wash our hands. Despite my pleading, Studly insisted we wait until tomorrow. I wondered where this apparent chintzy trait would go. My answer came the next morning.


Stud’s little daughter had been playing in mud from the time she awoke. Now my man had no choice but to heat some bath water to clean her up. I was jubilant. By this time, I craved a nice hot soak. While the little girl used the tub, I patiently waited my turn. As Studly toweled her dry, he called out to let me know the bathroom was becoming vacant. I excitedly entered the steamy cubicle only to find that the child’s dirty bath water remained, already making a scummy ring. As he was leaving, LoverBoy directed me to get into the grimy tub. “YUK!,” I gagged. But he defended, “The water is fine to use. She’s only a little girl.” I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried! “Ahh,” I conceded, “so Stud’s courting promise was really to draw me a “used” bath.” Boyfriend was souffléd that day! Gilda-Gram: “Cheap with money, cheap with love.” I had no intention of settling for this dude’s cheap love!



#2 Date Trait to Avoid: Poor-Me Victim
When Kristin met Robbie, she was delighted to meet his two sons, 20 and 21, who lived with him in his expensive apartment. Both boys were bright, strapping young men, and the older one was a computer genius. But neither of them worked or attended school. Instead, they ate like vacuum cleaners, partied till dawn, slept all day, and enjoyed recreational drugs. Robbie enabled their lifestyle by passively accepting it. When Kristin asked why, he explained that the boys had a tough childhood with a drunken mother who abandoned them, and he wanted to provide better. Kristin said that this lifestyle was hardly “better”!


As the couple became closer, her beau complained daily of financial and emotional stress. Some days, he cried, fearing his inability to meet his rent. He even asked her to loan him money. But he never asked anything of his sons. Then Robbie revealed he had never lived alone. Kristin concluded this grown “victim” was terrified of being on his own, and he was more dependent on his freeloaders than they were on him! She also concluded she wanted a whole man. Sayonara, victim! Gilda-Gram: “The test of a worthy mate is his/her ability to be happy alone.” When someone loves himself, he can live with himself . . . and love another.



#3 Date Trait to Avoid: Married . . . or Otherwise Involved

Oh, the rationalizations people use when they meet someone already taken! “He’s not happy,” “She’s almost out of the house,” “They’re separated, although not yet legally,” and on and on. Truth is, someone still involved with someone else on any level is EMOTIONALLY. CONNECTED. ELSEWHERE.


Margie didn’t heed my words, and she ended up as the “bridge relationship” for her new lover. After she licked Boyfriend’s wounds from his allegedly nasty fiancé, he found his wings, and off he flew—right back into his ex’s arms! Margie was devastated. Someone who is Married . . . or Otherwise Involved IS involved with someone, BUT IT’S NOT YOU. Still wanna hang out at the occupied address? If so, you’re the one who will get moved out. Gilda-Gram: “Beware the date who projects, ‘Desperate looking for temporary lodging.’” Someone in transition is capable only of transitioning.


#4 Date Trait to Avoid: Loll-Around Lazy

Before he and Kara were married, Bill didn’t know which career he wanted, so he tended bar. His massage therapist wife also noticed he had problems getting along with many people. But she married him anyway, believing he would change if SHE were successful. Who was she kidding??


Kara’s business was taking off. But Bartender Bill bounced from one pub to another, always blaming others for being fired. Finally, he stopped looking for any work altogether, and chose to play golf all day instead. Kara kept building her business, and made excuses for Hubby’s laziness—until she finally had enough. After their divorce, she had to pay him so much alimony, she ended up declaring bankruptcy. Girlfriend subsequently moved to another lazy loser she supported, and another, and another. I asked if these loll-around lazies made her feel like their power savior. She cried, and admitted her insecurities. That was the breakthrough she needed to bump up her self-esteem! Gilda-Gram: “Giving without receiving is a power trip to nowhere.” Healthy love always starts HERE!


If you’ve been ignoring troublesome date traits, step outside your crayon box and select colors you never chose before. Exploring a new pallet will reflect the limitations that have strapped you. If you heed the warnings of heartache BEFORE plunging into purgatory, you’ll be able to avoid seeking my relationship advice later!



XXX

GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship educator, and management consultant. She is Match.com’s “Ask Dr. Gilda” advice columnist published on MSN.com. She is also known as the Country Music Doctor, with her “Country Cures.” She is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, the author of the well-known “Don’t Bet on the Prince!,” a test question on “Jeopardy,99 Prescriptions for Fidelity, How to Win When Your Mate Cheats, and many more. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. She is currently developing her own TV show. Visit her website and get Instant Advice!


Monday, June 7, 2010

Quick Love is Quick to End!

By

Dr. Gilda Carle

Looking for love should not be so pressing!

Courtesy of Match.com’s Happen Magazine 


http://www.happenmag.com/magazine/index.aspx?lid=396

During Christie Brinkley’s divorce, the model admitted she hadn’t really, truly known her fourth husband, Peter Cook, in their 12-year marriage. She said that if she had known about his past, she doubted she would have tied the knot. Can you recognize red flags on a date when you see them? Do you dare ask vital questions about someone’s past? Brinkley’s very public divorce has led many of my clients to wonder, “How well should I know my date — before s/he becomes my mate?”

It’s sad to think this gorgeous model could be married for more than a decade and feel as though she was living with a stranger. You can avoid heartache like this, but you have to ask the right questions early on. In their search for love, however, many singles dodge this exploration. The reasons vary but show as much about the one doing the questioning as the responses reveal about the one giving the answers.

Why do singles refrain from questioning?

1. They don’t want to disturb the seemingly calm relationship waters.

2. They want to continue their fantasy of who and what they’d LIKE their date to be.

3. They’re mistakenly trying to match someone to what they believe is their type, regardless of the truth.

4. They are lonely for ANYBODY to show them attention, so they’ll convince themselves that this is the SOMEBODY for them.

5. They have lowered the bar so much, they only care that their date is breathing.

6. They just want to be entertained; they don’t want to invest personal effort.

7. They’re stuck on superficial looks, ignoring whether their date offers substance.

8. They fear discovering what someone has to offer, because ultimately they don’t believe they deserve a committed merger.

9. They’re afraid to cross the invisible barrier of being invasive.

10. They just want a partner — at any cost — so they can prove they are desirable.

Do any of these categories ring even a distant bell? Consider this: Strategically placed questions show that you care, and also that you dare to step beyond the usual boundaries of first impressions. A healthy mate will appreciate your interest. So the real question is for YOU: “Do you want a healthy mate?” Let’s move the possibilities forward! After going out with Robert, Krista remarked to one of his tennis partners that he had two children. “How did you find that out?” was the tennis partner’s response, to which Krista replied, “I asked.” Duh!

Rules for asking questions

1. No question should be off-limits. Before you write me angry emails about this statement, remember you’re investing your precious self in this interaction, and you are mighty valuable currency! The information you glean will affect YOUR life.

2. BUT — and this is a biggie — the timing of your query must match the mood for openness that you and your date share. The art of asking questions should not be a matter of if but of when. While enjoying some laughs, a good meal or a moment of epiphany, ask a question to forge a relationship that will keep you off an eventual battleship.

3. Mirror the tiger: It has striped SKIN, not just striped fur. People, too, have markings that are hidden from public view. As my Gilda-Gram advises, “Ask for more — you deserve to know!”


Ginger had been dating Tom for a year. She naively fantasized that he could be The One, but she did not hear from him regularly; she hardly knew him. One day, after innocently asking him how he spent the two previous weeks they’d been apart, he caustically criticized, “Hey, are you writing a book?” Ginger was shocked at his defensive recoil.

Tom’s response blared that he didn’t want to get close. During our counseling sessions, Ginger accepted that this man was too emotionally distant for love and she threw in the towel. Although she felt heartache from duping herself into believing they had more going than they actually did, she finally acknowledged that the truth had always been evident. She sighed, “If only I had asked Tom that irritating question before spending a year of my life foolishly waiting for someone who would never be!”

The power behind your questions

Surprisingly, it’s not the answers to your questions that tell the full story. What really counts is the reaction they invite. Body language accounts for 55 percent of a person’s impression; vocal intonation accounts for 38 percent. That means that before anyone offers a meaningful muttering, 93 percent of the communication will be NONVERBAL! Talk is cheap, and most grown-ups know how to skillfully use cover-ups. That’s why words make up only 7 percent of determining what’s really up with the person whose seductive eyes have a stronghold on your heartstrings! So trust body language and voice over chatter. Then, of course, trust behavior above all else!

Question etiquette

To get the answers you want, consider HOW you frame your queries. If you sound like an investigative reporter, don’t bother. Further, if you ask for specifics before the two of you establish a good rapport, your date may clam up. Here’s what to do: Share some insight about yourself and then inquire, “How about you?”

As you begin to get interesting responses, follow this Gilda-Gram: “Use your two ears to your one mouth.” Listening twice as often as you speak will offer compatibility clues of observation over conversation.

Listening panache can turn a touchy topic into an experience that leads to love. How?

1. Have fun with your questions. Possibly say, “I’d like us to get to know each other. Can we each ask the other the same questions and see how well matched we are?” Remember, the questions themselves are meaningless compared with the way in which your date responds. For example, if someone is humorless, that may be a harbinger of things to come. This person may eventually open up, but do you want to be a can opener until then?

2. Keep your initial questions simple. Try: “What’s your favorite color?” “What do you daydream about?” “When would you feel justified to stretch the truth?” Encourage more than one-word answers so you BOTH can discuss your responses.

3. Avoid questions that are too intimidating, like “Have you ever had a felony drug arrest?” If that’s what you really want to know, gracefully ask instead, “What was the worst thing you ever did, and how was it resolved?” If it makes your date visibly uncomfortable, then you know to pay particularly close attention to any further information your date gives you on the subject.

It’s well worth finding out about the person you’re interested in loving — and letting that person find out about you. Dump the protective camouflage. The law of attraction says that if you’re open with your responses, your partner will be as well. Best of all, relationships founded on honesty have a better shot at longevity. Invest in questions early on so you don’t end up in a bad entanglement later, when the stakes are much higher.

XXX


GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship educator, and management consultant. She is Match.com’s “Ask Dr. Gilda” advice columnist published on MSN.com. Also, she is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, the author of the well-known “Don’t Bet on the Prince!,” a test question on “Jeopardy,” 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity, How to Win When Your Mate Cheats, and many more. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. She is currently developing her own TV show. Visit her website and get Instant Advice!