Category Archives: Relationships

Letting go of the bad things in my life has allowed the good things to come in

Letting go of the bad things lets the good things come in!

Letting go of the bad things lets the good things come in!

Until recently, I was dealing with a situation that was making me miserable. I wanted it to be a good situation and I felt like there was potential for it to be a really great place for me, but what I wanted was not what was. I realized I was being co-dependent with this situation! When you are in a toxic codependent relationship with a person, you often keep trying to “fix” them and get them to treat you better, but it’s a dead-end. Well, I was doing that with a situation with a group of people rather than a person. I had enjoyed many good times within the group but it was a situation that was destroying my ability to remain positive, and trying to fix the situation was sucking up a lot of my time. So I took the leap and said “no more.” Maybe this situation has potential, but it is not good for me now, and I’m driving myself crazy trying to fix it. I sadly said “goodbye” and realized I needed to move on.

Within a week, a better situation came up for me! It truly was a case of closing one door and having another open for me at the right time. This has caused me to remember various cliches about God closing a door but opening a window, removing the bad to let the good come in, etc…. How many of us are missing the good things that could happen for us because we are so busy trying to make the wrong things fit where they don’t belong? I’m not saying we should give up on everything that annoys us, but if you have a bad situation in your life that is doing you more harm than good, it may be time to move on. Remember, you can’t fix others; you can only fix yourself. Good things can be out there for you if you go find them!

Why didn’t he call after your date?

Why Hasn’t He Called?: How Guys Really Think and How to Get the Right One Interested by Matt Titus and Tamsen Fadal

Click here to purchase Why Hasn’t He Called?: New York’s Top Date Doctors Reveal How Guys Really Think and How to Get the Right One Interested

Oh look! Another dating book! I’m not trying to project or anything, don’t worry! 🙂 I’m just going through my self-help books and picking out the ones I enjoyed most. I’ve been re-reading them as I go along so I got to this one…. I don’t have cable, but the authors of this book are upscale matchmakers who had a TV show about their services called “Matched In Manhattan.” They’d better know what they are talking about, right? 😉

This book is fun and easy to read. The information is broken up into smaller sections and different formats so it catches your eye. The sections are relatively short, so they are breezy and to the point. Despite the title, it’s not totally about why a man hasn’t called. It’s an entire advice book about meeting men, dating and starting relationships. (Although it does gives some ideas on why he hasn’t called.)

Here are the chapter titles:
1. Secrets of the Boys Club
2. The Bond Girl
3. The Love Shack
4. Where the Boys Are
5. Getting Him to Ask You Out
6. The Date
7. Dating Disaster Survival Guide
8. Why Hasn’t He Called?
9. In the Bedroom…and the Morning After
10. Commitment and Other “C” Words

I do have two nit-picks with this book:
One–they do rely on some stereotypes. For example, one section suggests the type of lingerie a man wants to see you in based on his career or interests. I don’t know if this is realistic.
Two–I think they give too much hope as to why a man didn’t call. I personally think that if a man didn’t call, he’s not interested. This book gives some other options such as the idea that he’s too interested to call. Now, I know there are shy men in the world, but I’ve dated some of them and guess what? They call.

Other than this, there are lots of examples, ideas, scenarios, explanations and tips. It’s quick and easy to read and it’s always good to have a variety of viewpoints to consider!

How to know if a man isn’t interested

He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

Click here to purchase He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys

I know this book is a bit cliche. It was even made into a chick-flick! But, these are things that every single woman in the dating world needs to know in order to preserve her self respect! All of my life, I had dated guys who asked me out. We had a nice time and they asked me out again. Easy enough. Then, a few years ago, I met a guy online who really flattered me, told me how great I was, and really led me on. We talked for hours and hours and hours at a time for several months. I flew out to meet him, and other than a heavy makeout session he was rude from the night we met. I was so confused! It was such a huge difference, and I kept desperately trying to figure out what I did wrong. I pushed and got clingy and tried to get him to like me again, but he was downright rude. (FYI, from this paired with a bunch of other things including what he told me, I now realize he was a narcissist, but I didn’t get it then. This was the classic build-up and discard.) I made a real idiot out of myself over a guy who had treated me and dozens of other women like nothings. I read through a whole bunch of dating books at that time and this was one of them. I didn’t like the reality that Mr. Charming had *poofed* and disappeared, but I had to accept it and realize I was worth more than that. Why grovel for someone who doesn’t like me? Silly! Now when my girlfriends are having guy trouble, I tell them they need to read this book. Don’t sit up at night wondering what he’s doing. Don’t waste your time analyzing his words. Don’t call him over and over. The fact is…if he wants to find you, he will. The end. No more making a fool of yourself! One of my biggest qualifications that I want in a partner is that he likes me back, because that’s pretty crucial, isn’t it?

If you’re a single woman or you have a lot of single female friends who come to you with their stories of men who don’t call…read this book.  I’m not going to type the chapter titles, because they basically give away the book. I’ll just end with: next time you are worrying about why a man didn’t call you, seems to be pulling away, is not leaving his wife as he promised to…read this book. Actually, maybe even read it beforehand so you can avoid some wasted worry time!

Lasting Lessons:

He knows where and how to find you. If he wanted to…he would.
If he only calls you at night when he’s lonely or drunk…don’t bother.

Why men marry some women and who is most likely to get married

Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others: The Fascinating Research That Can Land You the Husband of Your Dreams

Click here to purchase Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others: The Fascinating Research That Can Land You the Husband of Your Dreams

I wasn’t going to review this book because I’m not looking to get married any time soon, but I started flipping through it while I was going through my books and remembered that it’s very interesting. I ended up getting caught up in reading it. The author works in research and statistics and used his methods to study who gets married, why and how. He’s shared his findings in this book. So, it’s not a traditional relationship advice book; it’s based on patterns and research. He literally tells us what qualities are consistently more likely to lead to marriage. It’s a bit depressing if you realize those qualities do not match you, but at least you can get some idea of what you can change to better your chances of getting married…assuming that’s what you want. Use science to find love!

Here are the chapter titles:
1. The Marrying Kind
2. First Impressions
3. Women Men Marry
4. The Stages in a Relationship
5. Speaking of Marriage
6. Marrying After Forty
7. Widowed and Divorced Men: Handle With Care
8. Meeting Online

Lasting Lessons:

We are trained to believe that relationships are about personalities, but the statistics don’t lie–we do notice appearances and they do matter.
You don’t have to be a beauty queen, but a woman who cares about her appearance is more likely to get married.

What is verbal abuse?

The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond by Patricia Evans
Click here to purchase The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Expanded Third Edition: How to recognize it and how to respond

This book was a great help for me while coming out of an abusive relationship. I was miserable with my first husband who criticized and name-called, but when I tried to tell people how bad it was, I was told that it was not abuse. Yes. It is. Verbal abuse is abuse and it’s just as much abuse as physical abuse. It has proven, long-term consequences and can cause PTSD and Stockholm Syndrome. It’s not just about the yelling and mean words, it’s about how they work together to destroy a person until they begin to believe the abusive comments. It’s about how people get trapped. Therapists and professionals know this, but the general public often does not. I believe that we as a society do not take as good of care of our emotional and mental health as we should, but it is just as important as our physical health. A lot of times, we try to play strong and throw our emotional needs out the window for fear or embarrassment or maybe just ignorance, but verbal abuse takes its toll. And worse…children learn to do what they see at home, so the dysfunctional cycle of degradation continues.

When I was in the verbally abusive marriage, I lived in a state of fear–wondering what he was going to attack next. He would get mad over little things and berate me for not doing dishes correctly or not filling the cats’ food bowl properly. For example, I was an extreme cat lover and loved my cats like my children, (I didn’t have children then.) I pampered them and loved them, but I would let their food bowls run very low before I refilled them. The cats did not go without; I just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t pouring fresh food on top of old/stale food. It seemed reasonable to me. It didn’t seem like a reason for my husband to yell at me. These types of things happened daily. I lived on edge wondering if I was crazy or if he was since he kept throwing fits and giving me the silent treatment over things like that that didn’t seem like fighting over. After nearly two years of these things daily, I was a shell of my previous self and was frantic to keep him happy. That’s what verbal abuse does to a person. After I got out of that mind-numbing game, I was so grateful to find this book. I also joined the author’s online forums which were so helpful for me. (At that time, she personally called everyone who applied to join the private forums, so they should be very safe!) I really want people to understand that verbal and emotional abuse DO matter. They are insidious and eat away at you. And they leave you vulnerable to further abuse if you don’t fully heal. I had come from an abusive childhood, so when my husband started getting angry all the time, it seemed a bit normal to me, even though I was miserable and confused by his behavior. I had learned to accept such crazy-making as normal, but it is NOT normal or healthy. This book is excellent validation if you feel like something is wrong with the way your partner speaks to you.

The chapter titles are:
1. Evaluating Your Own Experience
2. Two Kinds of Power: A Broad Perspective
3. Personal Power: A Look at Reality II
4. The Abuser and the Abusive Relationship: A Look at Reality I
5. The Consequences of Verbal Abuse
6. The Partner’s Feelings
7. Obstacles and Indicators
8. Characteristics and Categories of Verbal Abse
9. The Anger Addict
10. Conditioning and the Partner
11. The Recognition of Verbal Abuse and Asking For a Change
12. Responding with Impact to Verbal Abuse
13. Recovery
14. Looking Back
15. The Underlying Dynamics: Some Reasons Why

Lasting Lessons:

Verbal abuse IS abuse.
Verbal abuse includes blocks to communication like the “cold shoulder” or refusing to let someone respond.
Verbal abuse is sometimes disguised as a joke.

Curing codependency

Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring For Yourself by Melody Beattie
Click here to purchase Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

If you look at the topics of the books I read and review, you’ll probably notice a pattern of abuse recovery books as well as personal growth books. That’s no coincidence. I grew up in an abusive/neglectful home with a father who disappeared for years at a time and an addict mother. I tried for many years, (as a child,) to get my parents to act like parents, but I couldn’t get them to meet their responsibilities and do what I knew parents were supposed to do. As an adult, I’ve entered a handful of similar relationships with people who had severe problems. Every time, I knew that the other person had issues they needed to resolve, but I kept trying and trying to get them to see that. For example, for many years, I dated a man who wasted all of his money on frivolous things then couldn’t pay his bills. Every time I bailed him out, I was frustrated and annoyed! Is it any wonder that therapists have labeled me codependent?

At first I was not happy to be told I was codependent. I think of codependents as controlling people and I’m not a controlling person. If anything, I’m too laid back and get run over all the time. But, I have also had this impossible goal of getting others to do the things they are supposed to do…like pay their bills, stop verbally abusing me, keep a job, etc…. But as I’ve finally learned, I can’t make people do the things they are supposed to be doing, so maybe I’m a recovering codependent? Anyway, I read this book because it’s supposed to be *the* classic book for codependency and I can see that I match many of the characteristics. At one point, I finally had to tell the man who wouldn’t pay his bills that I couldn’t be his keeper anymore. I was tired of having an adult child! So, apparently, I have learned some things from this book, (and living in general 🙂 )

Here are the chapter titles:
Part I–What’s Codependency, and Who’s Got It?
1. Jessica’s Story
2. Other Stories
3. Codependency
4. Codependent Characteristics

Part II–The Basics of Self-Care
5. Detachment
6. Don’t Be Blown About by Every Wind
7. Set Yourself Free
8. Remove the Victim
9. Undependence
10. Live Your Own Life
11. Have a Love Affair With Yourself
12. Learn the Art of Acceptance
13. Feel Your Own Feelings
14. Anger
15. Yes, You Can Think
16. Set Your Own Goals
17. Communication
18. Work a Twelve Step Program
19. Pieces and Bits:
20. Learning to Live and Love Again

The author starts by giving examples of codependency and characteristics. There are a LOT of characteristics and many ways to be codependent even if you don’t fit every “symptom.” Then, the rest of the book focuses on how you can learn to stop being a caregiver for others and can learn to focus on yourself. (And I don’t mean stop being a caregiver for truly needy people; stop being a caregiver for people who can or need to take care of themselves.) Many codependents give and give and give in an attempt to get people to like them, (or behave themselves,) and find themselves frustrated that they get nothing in return. The reality is, you can’t make that decision to give and then blame the other person for not reciprocating. Sure, ideally they would, but it’s still a decision you’ve made. You need to accept that reality but also realize that you can end your frustration by stopping that enabling behavior. In many ways, this book is about fixing yourself since you can’t fix the other person. These are important life lessons, especially for those of us who find that we always put ourselves last. I think this is a good book for anyone who realizes that they are living someone else’s life for them, (or at least trying to,) or someone who feels upset that they aren’t getting anything in return.

Dealing with a difficult mother daughter relationship

When You and Your Mother Can’t Be Friends: Resolving the Most Complicated Relationship of Your Life by Victoria Secunda

Click here to purchase When You and Your Mother Can’t Be Friends: Resolving the Most Complicated Relationship of Your Life

I have always had a difficult mother whose cruel behavior and hateful comments confused and frustrated me. From the time I was a child, I wanted her to act like a mother, but she was not capable. I have since learned that you cannot make people do the things they should do or that you want them to do, and have given up. However, when I was in the midst of dealing with her hate letters and hateful messages from her sisters and other such behaviors that no normal person should have to deal with, I read this book. It was an eye-opening book for me! The author said many things I’d been feeling and recognized many horrible behaviors I was seeing from my mother. And…she let me know that it was okay for me to acknowledge the bad and and that it was okay for me to want it to stop.

As the author recognizes, ending your relationship with your mother or questioning even her cruelest behaviors is taboo in society. No one wants to accept that a mother cannot love her child, and adults who part ways from abusive mothers are often questioned, shunned or scolded. However, after reading this book, I realized for the first time that I did not have to continue putting up with my mother’s behavior that was making me miserable! No more guilt for choosing to cut contact and protect myself. The validation was wonderful! But, as the author acknowledges, a step like this isn’t taken lightly. Everyone wants a mother. I tried for a very long time before realizing my mother enjoyed hurting me more than she enjoyed being a mother and she had made herself my worst enemy and bully pitting herself against me in a competition that I didn’t wish to join.

Now that’s just MY situation. This book was a turning point for me because it was the first book I read that validated all my frustrations. But the author doesn’t necessarily recommend ending a bad relationship. She just points out that it is a valid decision that should be respected. The author categorizes the types of difficult mothers and the ways daughters might react. She devotes a section to healing difficult relationships. She gives many ideas before she addresses the reality that some relationships cannot be fixed. So don’t expect that his is an anti-mother book; it is just a realistic book. She addresses the reality that one’s relationship with their mother effects future romantic relationships, (for example, as the daughter of a narcissist mother, I have been a real doormat and have married two different abusive men before I had my light-bulb moment and realized I was following a pattern,) and she describes healthy vs. toxic relationships, manipulation, and more. I think this book is an excellent resource for women who have rocky relationships with their mothers–not just every day the occasional, normal arguments but real toxicity that repeats time and time again. The author gives validation, information and advice. I think if your relationship with your mother is bad enough that you are looking for a book like this, you will find a lot of relief in learning that you are not alone.

The chapter titles are:
Part One–Ghosts in the Nursery
1. Natural Allies, Natural Enemies
2. Good Mommy/Bad Mommy
3. The Bad Mommy Taboo

Part Two–Behind the Curtain
4. The Evolution of the Unpleasable Mother
5. The Doormat
6. The Critic
7. The Smotherer
8. The Avenger
9. The Deserter

Part Three–Rebellions
10. Balancing Acts
11. The Angel
12. The Superachiever
13. The Ciper
14. The Troublemaker
15. The Defector

Part Four–A Separate Peace
16. Breaking the Cycle
17. Redefining the Mother-Daughter Relationship
18. Friendship
19. Truce
20. Divorce

Part Five–Closing the Circle

Lasting Lessons:
It is okay to “divorce” a mother that consistently hurts you and is not willing to work on the problem
We develop unhealthy coping mechanisms when our mothers are not emotionally available or are abusive
Abuse is not just physical

The Rules dating advice

All the Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right

Click here to purchase All the Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right

Whenever one of my female friends tells me about a guy she’s dating, (or dated,) who seems to have lost interest, I recommend this book–especially if she’s going overboard trying to get the guy’s attention! I always say you do NOT want someone who doesn’t want you! I believe the number one thing you should first look for in a relationship is their ability to like you back. If they can’t like you back, then clearly they are lacking an important part of your “relationship,” so it’s time to move on. But it never fails, so many of my friends continue thinking they are going to charm the guy or convince him that he is crazy about them. Nope. Not going to happen. So if you are single and dating, you might as well save some time and read “The Rules” first.

Now, when I recommend this book, I get mixed reactions. Some women seem hesitant to read it because they think it’s about game-playing. I say it’s not. I think it’s about maintaining your wisdom and dignity and not getting so caught up in a boyfriend that you lose yourself. I think the “techniques” the authors recommend are things that come naturally to a healthy and fulfilled woman–and that’s the woman you should be! Plus, there’s the hard fact of life that humans often, if not usually, initially react to each other based on appearance. I think we all want to feel attracted to our partners. For some of us, that attraction comes in time, but for others, if it isn’t there to begin with, it never will be. In fact, that’s the reasoning behind the “rule” that a woman should never approach a man first. If the man isn’t interested enough to want to know more, then he’s always just going to go along with the woman without ever feeling excited about her. But what about shy men? Quite honestly, in my own experience, even a shy man will get up enough nerve to talk to a woman. And every time I’ve decided not to follow the rules? I end up feeling more desperate than desired. How many times do I need to learn this lesson? 😉

Here are the chapter titles for the original “The Rules” book:
1. The History of The Rules
2. What are The Rules?
3. Meet a Rules Girl
4. But First the Product–You!
Then the book goes on to list the 35 “rules,” but I won’t give them all away here 🙂

I have a theory…okay it’s a lesson I’ve learned and I’ve read many other theories about it: People treat you the way you teach them to treat you. If you belittle yourself and act like a doormat, guess what value you’ve just given yourself? Yep. You’ve set a precedent. While it may not seem nice, women who demand more, often get more. I think you need to find a moderation point where you value yourself and ask others to value you without being a selfish and narcissistic person. And I think that is exactly what The Rules teach you to do.

Lasting Lessons:

Value yourself
Don’t obsess about your date and contact them more than they do you
Don’t give up your life or drop everything when someone asks you out
Don’t get stuck waiting for a man to change his mind

Recovering after a break up

It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken: The Smart Girl’s Breakup Buddy by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt

Click here to purchase It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken: The Smart Girl’s Break-Up Buddy

I think just the title of this book says so much. I’ve quoted it to many of my female friends who are missing their exes or going through on-and-off relationships. I remind them that if it was broken enough for them to break up, then they need to stay broken up. That simple! No need to repeat the misery! That said, I think this book is a must-have for someone who is having trouble accepting a break up. It’s straight-forward and it tells you exactly what the facts are. The advice is excellent and the tips for moving on are great. Plus, the book is fun and easy-to-read. The authors are married and they give their real-life examples of bad break-ups but also give you hope, because hey, they are married and cute and happy. Throughout the book, there are lots of little side-trips like examples, confessionals, lists, games, and more. If you aren’t someone who really enjoys reading, this book keeps moving to catch your attention.

The chapter titles are:
Part One–The Breakup
1. It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken
2. There Are No New Messages
3. He’s Not Hiding at the Bottom of That Pint of Ice Cream
4. If You Mention His Name One More Time…
5. Stop Calling In Sick
6. If He Was So Great, You’d Still Be Together
7. Fancy Meeting You Here!
8. What’s He Thinking?

Part Two–The Breakover
1. Don’t See Him or Talk to Him for Sixty Days
2. Get Yourself a Breakup Buddy
3. Get Rid of His Stuff and the Things That Remind You of Him
4. Get Your Ass In Motion Every Day
5. Don’t Wear Your Breakup Out Into the World
6. No Backsliding!
7. It Won’t Work Unless You Are Number One!
and a bonus chapter:
Dude, Get Off Her Lawn

This book is really a “tough love” type of book. Unlike our sometimes well-meaning friends, these authors do not try to give you hope that you can mend your break up. Instead, they get real with you and remind you that, if someone dumps you, they’ve already given up on you and it’s not worth your time to cling to them. Nor is it worth your dignity! They remind you not to sit around waiting and being miserable, not to give up your life and not to get stuck thinking about your ex all the time. The truth is, the person who dumps you probably isn’t thinking of you at all.

In the second part of the book, the chapters are listed as commandments–rules about what you should or shouldn’t do to move on in a healthy manner. This includes things such as cutting contact for at least sixty days which allows you to get past your most vulnerable moments and avoid making a fool of yourself. While this book is mostly aimed at women, there is a chapter for men who are stuck on an ex. I highly recommend this book if you are having a hard time with a breakup and I guarantee if you follow their advice, you will learn to respect yourself and come out the other side a happier person. It’s good advice! I read this book maybe six years ago when I was leaving a bad relationship, yet still wanted to keep trying with that ex. It was hard to accept the authors’ advice then, but I remembered it the next time I went through a breakup because I knew it had all proven true before. It definitely makes things easier as you learn these life lessons.

Finding real, unconditional love

Real Love: The Truth About Finding Unconditional Love & Fulfilling Relationships by Greg Baer, M.D.

Click here to purchase Real Love: The Truth About Finding Unconditional Love & Fulfilling Relationships

This book is excellent and mind-opening! The ideas you can learn from the author are very helpful in a mutually loving relationship and I think this book that would be beneficial for so many people. It focuses on truly loving people as a gift rather than as an expectation, (with the theory that giving love without conditions will help you receive love as well.) I’m going to quote the author, (from page 4 of my copy,) because he says it better than I can:

When we give Real Love, we’re not disappointed, hurt, or angry, even when people are thoughtless or inconsiderate or give us nothing in return–including gratitude–because our concern is for their happiness, not our own. Real Love is unconditional.

I think this is a wonderful point! Think how much happier we would be if we loved joyfully rather than waiting to be acknowledged and ending up disappointed. I will add a disclaimer though: you have to be careful to love healthfully rather than co-dependently. If you are in an abusive or one-sided relationship, all the love in the world can’t fix the other person and you might still have to walk away for your own good. Assuming that most people are capable of love, though, this book is just filled with great ideas and quotes that will really get you thinking. I can’t say enough good things about it!

Here are the chapter titles:
1. The Missing Ingredient: What Relationships Really Need
2. Getting and Protecting: The Many Faces of Imitation Love
3. Being Seen and Getting Loved: The Tale of the Wart King and the Wise Man
4. Taking the Leap of Faith: Everyday Wise Men and How to Find Them
5. The Effect of Real Love: Like Money in the Bank
6. Sharing Your Fortune: The Power of Loving Others
7. Playing a Beautiful Duet: The Joys of Mutually Loving Relationships
8. Real Love in All Our Relationships: Spouses, Children, Friends and Co-workers
9. Dealing With Obstacles on the Path to Real Love: Disappointment, Anger and Getting and Protecting Behaviors

Baer believes that relationships fail due to a lack of unconditional love and tells us that when people feel loved, they lose their fears and anger and become more honest–which in turn strengthens the relationship. He explains that people who don’t feel loved are often so busy trying to get love that they can’t love others and they turn to “imitation” love in an attempt to get anything at all. He warns us to avoid expectations and trying to change others or force them to love us, and gives some ideas about how to deal with our partners’ behaviors that annoy us. He encourages us to have faith in the goodness of others and to realize that when they hurt us, they are usually acting on their own fears rather than anything personal. He promotes honesty and states that if you are always open and honest about yourself, you will find the people who are capable of loving you for who you are rather than those who love you for what they think you are. He also suggests we look around for mentors or “Wise Men and Women,” for examples of mature love. The book is just filled with more good points and all kinds of examples for improving one’s relationships. I can’t even begin to touch on everything, but I will say I think this is a book that could do all of us some good!

Lasting Lessons:
Real love from one person outweighs attacks and judgements from others
Be yourself so you meet the right people

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