November 11, 2008

Inside this Newsletter:

Thank God the election is over!! But I must admit that I had fun on Halloween dressing as Sarah Palin (see pix below). I darkened my hair, wore it up, put on my little red and black suit and high heels, re-wrote the song North to Alaska to fit Sarah, and sang the song at karaoke. In fact, you can see the video on YouTube. (Go to YouTube to videos and type in my name or follow this link ). Just a warning that the video is not great quality (no lighting, so a friend held a flashlight so I could see the words) and I also had a cold (so not my best singing), but it was so fun!! Hope you all had a great Halloween too!

Carolyn as Sarah Palin and
Jennifer Wilde as Biker Chick Singing "Shake It"

Carolyn as Sarah Palin

Carolyn as Sarah Palin

Carolyn as Sarah Palin

Jennifer Wilde as Biker Chick Singing "Shake It"

A few weeks ago I got a call from the morning show at Alice 105.9FM when Howie and his wife were having marital problems and I counseled them on the air for 3 days. To hear the radio counseling clips, go to or to my website at and click on "Listen to Therapy Session".

Alan and I will be headed to Charlotte, NC to stay with my sister and her husband for Thanksgiving. My 83-year-old mother is flying in from IL, I'll get to visit my 85-year-old father in the nursing home again while there, and I'll see my nephew Brett, and 7-year-old great nephew Cameron!

I want to take a moment to say that I appreciate your support in subscribing to my newsletter. I always have you in mind as I write each article and try to come up with ideas that will interest you. Please let me know of topics or questions you would like to see answered.

Met Your Deductible?

It's near the end of the year and you've probably met your insurance deductible, so remember to schedule any doctor appointments, including therapy, before your deductible starts all over again in January. Note that even though I am an "out-of-network" provider for most insurance companies, most will pay a portion of my services after you've met your deductible.

How My Therapy Practice Differs from Others

I am a pro-active action-oriented therapist who also believes that your past affects your present and future. However, instead of muddling in the old issues, I help you clean them up and move on. I promote "holding people accountable" for their actions. I help couples get past their resentments toward each other. I help divorcees confront their exes and work through issues with their children. I help stepfamilies solve their differences. I help singles find out why their relationships don't work and/or how to be happier (and less needy) as a single. I help victims of abuse confront their perpetrators. I help disgruntled employees confront their bosses. I help parents set boundaries with their school-age children. I help parents confront their adult children who won't grow up. I help adult children handle their aging parents. I help those in 12-step programs move on to become self-reliant individuals. I specialize in handling conflicts and confrontations.

The 5 major goals of my program are for you to:

  1. Gain self-reliance via strengthened identity.

  2. Learn to se boundaries.

  3. Gain emotional intimacy (and be yourself) in all relationships.

  4. Have better control over your life.

  5. Handle future problems in a healthier way.


Overgiving is Not Love

Overgiving is Not Love
By Carolyn Bushong

Many people believe that "loving" someone means "giving" to that person. Of course "giving" is a part of love, but a loving relationship must involve mutual giving. Many of my clients are "overgivers" with the people they love, thinking "if I give more to him or her, he or she will finally feel more love for me -- eventually showing me more love by giving more to me." Traditionally for men, giving often involves giving of "things," a big house, jewelry, dinners, and sometimes actual money. Traditionally for women, giving often involves cooking, cleaning, and picking up after him. These ways of showing love seldom work for men or women, but instead set up expectations from your mate that you will always "overgive," allowing you to be taken for granted.

But the main way people - both men and women - overgive in a relationship (to try and get the love they want) - is by overgiving emotionally. They try too hard to please their mate by doing what he or she wants, letting the person have his way most of the time, catering to his or her needs. Instead of gaining the other person's love, all it does is throw the relationship out-of- balance, giving the other person all the power. In fact, it creates a monster, in that your mate often becomes a self-absorbed spoiled ego-maniac who thinks it's all about him (or her).

My client Joe (no, not Joe the plumber) tries to do everything his wife wants him to do. He works all day, comes home at night to his "Honey Do" list and completes his chores, and hopes for a little kindness from her and maybe some sex once in awhile. Instead, he usually gets told how he screwed up --he didn't do something right on the list and/or is berated by her as being lazy or inept. He asks me, "Why would she do this?" My answer -- to use a Clinton phrase - "because she can." In other words, because Joe will take it and keep coming back for more, she not only treats him badly, but she escalates as she tests to see how far she can go. Oh sure, Joe has threatened to leave from time to time over their ten year relationship, but he never follows through, and she knows he never will. When my mother finally left my dominating father after 39 years, my dad asked me why she left. I told him it was because he berated her, hit her, and cheated on her, etc. My dad turned to me and said, "I know, but I always did that and she never left before! So why now?!"

When you overgive to someone (or allow their bad behavior), it does not make them feel loved by you like you think. Instead, your loss of pride comes across as pathetic and they learn to take advantage of your "good nature." And all of my overgiver clients say, "But if he/she really loved me, he wouldn't treat me this way." Not true. My dad really loved my mom, I know he did. But he had no respect for her. Mutual respect is what keeps a relationship healthy and "not dysfunctional." When you overgive, you expose your low self-esteem and teach your mate not to respect you. You send the message that your needs and wants don't matter. Yes, in a perfect world (or idealistic one), your mate would respect you for being so nice. But that's not reality. Reality is that people - being good and bad - will get away with whatever you allow them to get away with. I guarantee it. Does it make him or her a bad person? Maybe, but not necessarily since it is a human trait that most of us have. And I know you will say (if you're an overgiver), "but I'm not that way!" There are givers and takers in this world and maybe you are presently a giver, but if you look back at your life and your past relationships, there's probably a time when you were more of a taker. And if not, it's because you're so idealistic that you won't give up your belief that "justice will prevail" -- even when this belief fails you time and time again.

What makes my client Joe or my mom or you keep overgiving? Believing that someday you'll get your justice from being so nice. Your low self-esteem also causes you to chase the approval of others because of your previous criticism and bad treatment from others. The more we are abused, the more we believe we deserve it. Joe's dad was a rigid, mean man who verbally abused him daily. Joe thinks criticism is a part of love. My mother had 3 older brothers who dominated her and made her feel bad about herself on a daily basis. My dad simply stepped in and took their place and mom felt right at home.

If you're n overgiver, ask yourself (like Dr. Phil asks), "How's this working for me so far?" To change it, you need to reverse the Golden Rule. Instead of "Do unto others as you want them to do unto you," think, "Don't give more than you're getting back." Yes, I am saying to keep score. I know it sounds sacrilegious. And I don't mean that you shouldn't be a good warm person with morals and kindness to others. It's just that you shouldn't be a "sitting duck" for abuse - and overgivers usually are.

Real love involves giving to a point - and that point is where you lose self-respect (and your mate loses respect for you). Even with low self-esteem, you know it when you've been overgiving. You know when something's gone too far, when you've been taken advantage of, when someone's not being fair with you, when a relationship is out-of-balance. The problem is that overgivers think that the answer is to give more instead of stop giving. Yet your clue is that you start to feel resentment. It's not always a husband or a wife, it may be a boss, co-worker, friend, or family member that you allow to use and abuse you. Change your behavior this time. Say no. Focus on you. Learn to be selfish. Set boundaries on how you will and won't be treated. Before you give, make deals where you'll get something back. Fake it until you make it. Faking it often actually increases your self-esteem. Obviously, not taking abuse from others makes you proud and you'll feel better about yourself.

You may need therapy to actually raise your self-esteem. In therapy, we'll deal with the people who've abused you in your past. Confronting those issues will make you strong enough that you instinctively no longer allow others to take advantage of you, and you'll be more likely to develop "give and take" relationships automatically.

Return to top >>>

What People Are Saying

"I just wanted to call you and thank you for everything you've done for us as a couple and let you know I really appreciate you!!"

~ A.B., Parker, CO

Return to top >>>

Q & A: Internet Love Around the World


I am 35-years-old, divorced for 5 years, and live in Brasil. Since my divorce, I've been with only one man who lives in Germany. I came back to Brasil yesterday after 5 days in Europe with my boyfriend who I love, but I'm back 7 days earlier than I hoped because things didn't go so well. I don't even know anymore if he's my boyfriend. We have had a relationship by computer for 3 years, and spent only a few times together. We talk about living together and having children. But now I feel completely confused and lost. He works traveling around the world and I had hoped I could go with him, but it never seems to work out. I really love this man, so please help me. I don't know how I can have therapy from you from here, but I bought your book, "Como manter acesa a chama do seu relacionamento" (the Portuguese title). Perhaps we can have sessions by msn or by phone (my English is not so good but I try to improve). Please help me to keep my relationship and get married with this man, or at least tell me how to stop suffering.

Maria in Brazil


I'm sending the info necessary if you want to do email or phone counseling, along with the pricing. And I hate to tell you this, but I think this man is stringing you along. Only seeing each other a few times in 3 years makes me think that he wants you to believe there is a future when there probably really isn't. He may be telling other women the same thing. The only way to know for sure is to give him and ultimatum and say, "We have start living together in the next 2 months (& give a date) or I can't do this anymore." I know you're probably afraid to do this for fear he'll walk aw ay if you say it, but unless he'll move forward, he is hurting you and holding you back. Then if he doesn't agree, you need to move on and start dating. I think you've been conned by this man, and there are many men out there who will tell you what you want to hear, and not mean it. But it is your responsibility not to let him keep hurting you. Stop wasting your time and get on with your life! You're young and need more experience dating a variety of men, and then you'll find the man of your dreams! I'm sure of it!

Return to top >>>

Marriage Counseling on the Air

Marriage Counseling on the Air

To listen, go to

Howie and Wendy's On-Air Therapy

Howie from Alice 105.9 and his wife Wendy have been married for four years and still love each other, but each blames the other for the problems in their relationship (which is common). They each think that everything would be fine if the other person would just change. They asked me for advice on how to put their marriage back on the right path. I first told them that they have to stop pointing the finger at each other (like most couples do). We start with the top issues each has against the other, I show them how to really listen to the other, then we look for solutions.

All in all, the few on-air therapy sessions were successful in helping Howie and Wendy start turning their relationship around! Can you believe it - even BJ was impressed!

Thurs. Show (Session #1)

In the first session I laugh when Howie's top issue about Wendy is how she makes his sandwiches each day for lunch. I accuse her of passively/aggressively messing with his sandwiches, and she agrees. Wendy tells us how self-righteous Howie is - which is, of course, obvious. We find solutions for both issues.

Fri. Show (Session #2)

In our second session, Howie complains that Wendy eats with her mouth open. Wendy tells us how Howie leaves his stuff all around, expecting her to pick up after him. Some solutions involved Wendy "fining" Howie for each item he leaves around. And I told Howie that when Wendy is grossing him out with her eating habits, he should ask her to eat with manners, and if she doesn't, Howie should tell her first, and then go eat in another room.

Mon. Show (Session #3)

Our third session is a recap of the therapy so far, as well as finding out about Howie and Wendy's infamous date night. Saturday night Howie and Wendy went to dinner and dancing , which sounds great, but wait until you hear about their mishaps.

Howie and Wendy plan to continue negotiating their list of complaints on their own for now, and of course they'll keep their weekly date night - maybe with a little less alcohol next time!

Return to top >>>

Reply to a Previous Newsletter


Your article "Psychological Traps of Attraction" in your Sept. 5 newsletter was a very interesting concept, though when I think about it, defining a person being "good enough" by financial/career success is a pretty small part of the whole picture. In the old days people used to get married in their 20's (as I did). When I was in my 20's, I didn't really think about a girl's potential earning power or really what kind of self-esteem she might have. The main things guys my age were looking at were (in order of importance), 1) Was she really beautiful? 2) Did it look like she would stay skinny (by checking out her mom). 3) Would she be too demanding to live with? We never considered if they could be a "soul mate?" {W hat the heck is that anyway?!} We never considered their childhood or their hurts or their strengths. We never even really considered if they liked doing the same things that young men do (of course they don't!). We would have laughed at the concept of rescuing a girl (even though that's what I did). We were just happy to find a girl that would put up with us.

So now I have sons in their 20's and I ask them all the time what they look for in girlfriends or potential spouses. They pretty much say the same 3 things I did. So how do we solve the problem long term? How do we train 20-year-old's to accurately evaluate potential earning power and long-term emotional health in their selections of mates? Don't let them get married until they are t least 40?

Perhaps understanding that no two people are really equal in every way, teaching them to vastly broaden the definition of "good enough," mostly by recognizing that no one is truly better than anyone else ...we are all very fallible, very, very hurt human beings just trying to survive 80 years on this earth.

~ K. in Denver


Response by Carolyn: Keep Your Kids From Repeating Your Mistakes

Those are good honest points about what men used to look for in a woman - and still do. And yes, broadening the definition of "good enough" is a great idea, but the issue of whether or not your son's feel "good enough" about themselves to not make bad choices comes from their self-esteem. Being attracted to someone who doesn't think you're "good enough" taps into deep-seated emotions, not intellect. Intellectual ideas can't change how your children will choose their partners.

Understanding the concept of chasing those who don't want us because of low self-esteem does help people change some behavior. Also, knowing that you are rescuing someone instead of having an equal healthy relationship can help once you are already rescuing. But most people have to experience these bad relationship set-ups and feel the pain before they are willing to listen to the information.

The only way a 20-year-old listens to his parents help (without experiencing the problem first) is when a parent is being honest about their own life, and is not being hypocritical. So, being a better role model for true happiness and explaining to your sons what you've learned about relationships (and how you would look for different things today than you did when you were 20, and what those things would be) can help. Also, tell them how you see them repeating the same patterns you did at that age. Give them specific information about you and your life and your relationships, and I guarantee they will listen. Openly sharing your personal information is the only thing that has a possibility of saving them from your mistakes and repeating the dysfunctional relationships you have indirectly

Return to top >>>

About Carolyn

Carolyn Bushong, L.P.C, is an expert on relationships and a licensed therapist. She is known for being one of the top relationship therapists in the country and the author of 3 relationship books. She has appeared on Oprah, the View, and many other TV shows, and she has been giving relationship advice on Denver radio for 10 years. She has been helping people like you improve your life and relationships for more than 25 years. Cosmo, US Weekly and other magazines quote her expert relationship advice, and she writes articles for on-line article banks. Carolyn Bushong always has fresh, up-to-date, hot information on topics that will inspire you and change your life and improve your relationships. She has clients all over the country, some who come into her office and others who receive Carolyn's expert advice through phone counseling. Carolyn Bushong is an excellent psychotherapist, but she also lives what she teaches, as she is in a happy, healthy relationship with Alan, her mate of 21 years.

Email me your Topics & Ideas for the newsletter at

How to get Carolyn Bushong's Relationship Advice:
Individual Counseling:
l hour or ˝hr sessions in office or phone, Health Insurance covers a portion. Couples Counseling: 1 ˝ hr. sessions, Health Ins. covers a portion.
Group Counseling: Tuesday night group meets 5:30 - 7:30 pm, 8 members, less expensive.
Purchase Carolyn Bushong's books: for sale in her office, on her website or B&
Subscribe to free email newsletter:

Phone Counseling is a great way to do therapy, especially for the really busy person who's constantly on the go, or the person who is shy or hesitant to talk about their problem, or when the weather is bad and you don't want to drive to a therapist's office. It just makes sense in this day and age to be able to call and discuss a problem and get advice on a situation with having to leave work and drive to my office.

Email Advice: Visit Carolyn's website for more information.

 Carolyn's Relationship Books

You are receiving this message because you signed up to receive The Relationship Newsletter, are a client, or purchased something from Carolyn Bushong. If you'd like to be removed, click the opt-out link below.

Copyright 2009 Carolyn Bushong. All rights reserved.

Note: Please add to your address book so you have no trouble receiving future issues!

Tell a Friend: Please forward this message to your colleagues, clients and friends.

Carolyn Bushong, L.P.C.
360 So. Monroe St.
Suite 290
Denver, CO 80209

Contact Carolyn Bushong at