Ask the LifeQuake Doctor – Sep/Oct 2014
Dear Dr. Toni:
I read your column at the home of a friend who works in the addiction field. I have never written to an advice columnist before. I graduated from an Ivy League college a month ago. I am twenty-two years old and I have never had a serious relationship. They all start out great but I get attached very quickly and then the guy distances himself and it pretty much ends.
I find myself questioning if I should continue dating guys. I fail miserably at understanding men. I get along much more easily with women and some of my girlfriends have chosen to give up men and are in happy relationships with women. Do you think I should give it a try? I come from a wealthy family and my parents would be mortified if I came out as a lesbian. They are still supporting me as I try and break into acting in New York. What should I do?
–Confused in the Big Apple
Before you give up on men, perhaps you might examine why you get attached so quickly. Do you have sex with them early on in the dating courtship? I use the word “courtship” because, although it is an old fashioned world for young people, if what you want is a committed relationship then you need to separate inspiring a guy to court you from sleeping with him. Having sex is best left to a time when you both decide you are ready to make your relationship monogamous. That is the second phase of a relationship. The bonding hormone oxytocin gets especially stimulated in women when we have sex, so we don’t necessarily make the best decisions as to whether the guy is relationship material when we’re drunk on sex hormones.
Another way to not get attached too quickly is to date more than one person at a time. Read the book, The Four Man Plan. You are young, and you probably have the energy to juggle more than one guy. It will also make you desirable in their eyes; men like a little competition.
Now, to address your inquiry about women. You don’t mention as to whether you have ever been attracted to a woman or experimented with being sexually intimate with women. If you have and enjoyed it, then perhaps there is another issue here. Maybe the heavy attachment to men right away is a compensation for trying to avoid facing any upheaval especially economic upheaval that would come from dating women. I posit both sides to this so you can do some soul-searching. Notice how you feel when you are around your women friends. Is there any sexual arousal or do you merely feel more comfortable than with men on dates?
If you merely feel safer around women, make a choice for going slow with guys. Insist on taking the time to develop a friendship first. Experiment with giving yourself a ten date rule with a minimum of one month before any sexual intimacy.
Dear Dr. Toni:
I have been in ACoA recovery for about twenty years. I am fifty years old, have two children, and have a thriving yoga business. My mother, however, is still a raging alcoholic and is now showing signs of dementia. She and my stepfather live in a nursing home; I have taken care of her estate. Mostly this consists of hiring people for upkeep of her home, which I do from long distance but occasionally have to fly across country to attend to her affairs. Recently, I asked my stepfather for reimbursement for some of my traveling expenses and the costs of some home repairs that I paid for.
He and my mother became enraged that I would ask for reimbursement. This has triggered so many old memories of me taking care of her when I was a child and feeling like she was a bottomless pit of need with no gratitude. I am not her guardian, but I don’t think she is capable of handling her estate on her own and I would like to have some kind of nest egg for my children.
Should I just drop the expectations of reimbursement and just be in service?
You say you have been in recovery for twenty years. First of all, I would urge you to go to a meeting and get a sponsor if you don’t already have one. Unless you are prepared to step into moving for guardianship, you have two choices: walk away and let go of any expectations of an inheritance or engage the yogic practice of seva (selfless service). In order to truly practice seva, you must know that you can truly let go of any expectation of any reward from your efforts. If you cannot do this, from a recovery point of view, it is unhealthy to continue to feel like a doormat to your mother’s narcissism. If you are a yoga teacher, I imagine you meditate. I would encourage you to meditate and ask your higher self for the dharmic answer that is in line with your true self.