March 31, 2009

Inside this Newsletter:

We had all that wonderful 70 degree weather and I started digging in my yard and it was so great, and then of course, the 2 feet of snow hit! That’s spring in Colorado! At the end of February, Alan and I spent a long weekend in Phoenix with friends who have retired there and Denver weather was almost as warm as theirs. I got a start on spring tho when I brought back baskets of petunias on the plane!

I’m still working on the internet TV/radio show in L.A., and working with reporters on a ton of ideas. If you ever want to share your ideas with the media, you can too by subscribing to You subscribe (at no charge) and they send you info on what reporters are looking for, sometimes it’s experts they want, and sometimes it’s just normal people with opinions. It’s kind of fun!

I’m also revamping my website, and working with some other author’s in the Colorado Authors League group. If you’re in a midlife crisis, you might want to go to my new author friend Laura Lee’s blog She’s the author of Midlife Magic and part of her claim to fame is that she was able to meet a new man at the age of 48 (after divorcing her husband of many years) and married him!

I’m still singing every week – doing “girls nite out” – and singing all the newest pop songs. If you ever want to join us, let me know – and you don’t have to be a girl!

With a little bit of a recovery in the stock market, Alan (who is a stock broker of course) is doing better. Maybe there’s hope for the economy yet!


Choose Friends Like Us or Different?

In my last newsletter article “10 Ways to Improve Your Relationships and Your Life,” Nanci says that Number 4: Find more people who are like you and spend lots of time with them, seems contradictory to Number 6: Stop trying to get your mate or friends or family to think like you. And stop thinking that to be compatible with a mate or friend, you must enjoy all the same things in life.”

I realize that Numbers 4 and 6 sound like they are saying two different things, but they really aren’t. Let me explain. If we spend most of our time with people different than us, it can damage our self-esteem as crowd mentality can make us feel not only different, but wrong about who we are. So, it’s important that you find your peers, i.e. people who think like you and have your same values – especially if you are in a job or family where you feel different than them. So Number 4 means that you need to find people like you to be your “base” friends to help keep your self-esteem strong.

But that’s different than trying to get those people at work or in your family or friends to think like you do. You need to be respectful of “others” differences (and be sure they are respectful of yours) and enjoy them for who they are. You may have a friend you enjoy going out dancing with, but she may be someone you should not discuss politics with. Number 6 means that you need to be tolerant of others. Even in a relationship, happy couples do not agree on everything. If they did, there would be no spark. I find that many single people have a false belief that they need to find someone that meets their checklist, and this not only severely limits their choices for mates, but almost makes it impossible to find someone to “spark” with. When Alan and I first met (21 years ago), we had a lot of disagreements, his smoking and politics being two major ones, but working through our differences helped bond our relationship. We still have differences, but have great respect for each other.

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Women Who Sabotage Their Relationships

Women Who Sabotage Their Relationships
(Independent Women Who Behave Dependent)*
By Carolyn Bushong

(*Some men behave this way too)

Last week I had 3 female clients, Susie, Terry, and Mary, who all came in with the same problem. They all appear to be strong, independent women, but they are in new relationships where they aren’t behaving like strong, independent women. They are sabotaging their relationships and don’t really know what they’re doing wrong.

The first thing we think of when we use the word “independent” is someone who is “financially independent.” All three of these women are “financially independent” in the sense that they make good money and pay their own bills, which is way more than our mothers did. However, all three of these women are dating men who make more money than they do and who usually pick up the tab for dinners, and sometimes trips. These women say they feel equal, but don’t truly pay their half, which keeps them more financially dependent than they want to admit.

But the real issue here is their emotional dependence on their new boyfriends. All three try to present themselves to their boyfriends (as well as their friends) as very “independent,” but in their “trying so hard” to prove it, they are really just chasing the approval of their boyfriends – which is dependent behavior. And these men see through it, i.e. the key is that as the women try to prove how strong they are, they continually complain about their lives. They tell their boyfriends how hard it is to keep up and how difficult their jobs are, and how exhausted they are. They indirectly tell him, “I need you to rescue me and then I’ll be happy!” The men hear, “If you married me and we had children and I didn’t have to work, we would have the perfect life, and I would be happy!”

But men are smarter than they used to be. I have several male clients who are like their boyfriends with women who pretend to be independent, but want the man to make them happy. One of these men told his fiancé, “I can’t imagine committing to you for the rest of my life when you’re this unhappy.” The women get angry and accuse their men of being commitmentphobics, which is sometimes true. But more often, these men are being smart in that they have often already been down this road with an ex and know that they don’t have the power to make anyone happy. One male client gave in (before he saw me), even though he knew it didn’t feel right. He married her, they had a child, and she still isn’t happy – and now they’re in the process of a divorce.

Ladies, let’s admit to ourselves that the “Cinderella Complex” is still alive and well. Our mothers taught us that if we are pretty and sweet that we will be rescued from our “awful, stressful, financially overdrawn” lives by a Prince Charming! And in the back of our minds, the hope is still there. Sure we work hard and pay our bills, but wish we didn’t have to.

Holding on to this fantasy ends up destroying our relationships with men. Not just because we scare them away, which we do. But because we don’t allow a relationship to develop properly because we become too focused on the end goal. Instead of enjoying the ride and letting the relationship develop, we keep asking him where we’re going.

Sure, all our relationship failures aren’t our fault. Many men are truly commitmentphobic and unemotional and just in it for sex. And when you meet a man like this, you need to confront him on his behavior, and possibly move on. But you don’t. Instead, you focus on the fact that you have a “live” one who could become your husband and father of your children and you nag and whine and talk about the future, and stay in the relationship when you know you shouldn’t, trying to coerce him into becoming the man in your fantasy/your Prince Charming. That is NOT strong and independent, it’s extremely dependent and childlike! And this behavior will not get you the long-term loving relationship you say you truly want.

When there is a “real” issue in the relationship (which everyone has), all three of these women do not address it. Instead, they get scared he’ll go away and react by begging him not to leave or trying to prove they are not what he says they are by stating how strong and happy they are again and again, trying to win back his approval. This is not what a strong, independent woman does or says. Instead, she stands her ground on the issue at hand.

Instead of going into “fear” mode, where she is worried about losing her fantasy of marriage and children, all three need to confront the issue at hand. When a woman does this, she gains respect from him (as he trusts she can handle her own life and be strong enough to handle him). It also moves the relationship on in that the couple learns to “fight” and resolve issues, which creates deeper bonding.

Susie’s boyfriend said, “I don’t trust you. You didn’t call when you said you would, and when you did, I could tell you had been drinking.” Susie responded with an apology and said she’d try to do better the next time she left town. Instead, as a strong, independent woman, she needed to tell him, “Stop guilt-tripping me for not being available. You knew I was on a business trip and in a ton of meetings, and yes, out to dinner & drinks with clients. I want support from you, not to be held constantly accountable. When I’m out of town on business, I will call you when I can!”

Terri’s boyfriend said, “I can’t deal with your problems and my stress too!” after she brought up the fact that she’s 39 and is depressed about the fact that she doesn’t know if she’ll ever get to have children. He told her, “I think you should go to your brother’s this weekend and work on your problems and let me have time alone with my dad!” She immediately felt rejected and tried to convince him that she’s not unhappy and doesn’t have a lot of problems. She called him a commitmentphobic and pleaded that he not end the relationship. What she needed to say as a strong, independent woman was, “All you had to do was tell me that you feel pressured and want some time alone with your dad instead of trying to tell me what to do, i.e. go to my brother’s and work on my problems. Besides, I am exhausted from work and a girlfriend and I are going to take a trip for Easter. We probably both need some space!”

Mary’s out-of-town boyfriend behaved in a self-centered way when she went to visit him recently, constantly talking about his ex, his life, and was inconsiderate of her needs. Mary sent him an email that said, “I’m confused about our future and what’s happening with us.” He never responded. Instead, Mary needed to deal with the issue at hand, i.e. how he treated her when she was there visiting. As a strong, independent woman, she needed to tell him, “After my visit there, I’m not sure that you are the man I thought you were. I was upset that you …….. and am wondering if that is really who you are or if you were just not thinking about my feelings, etc.”

What Keeps Us Weak

  1. Allowing your identity to mesh with his.

  2. Holding on to the fantasy that your life will be better if you get married and have children. It will be worse if the issues aren’t resolved before marriage.

  3. Looking to him for answers to your problems.

  4. Trying to please him or win his approval.

  5. Holding in and storing your issues and complaints and criticisms of him.

  6. Complaining to all your friends about him and then to him about your life.

  7. Not solving your own problems.

  8. Questioning whether you’re good enough for him.

What Can Make You Strong

  1. Standing up for your own values and beliefs.

  2. Not allowing guilt-tripping by anyone.

  3. When you share your problems, always end the complaint with how you are fixing the problem.

  4. Trying to please yourself and doing what’s best for you.

  5. Speaking up when you don’t like something.

  6. Never telling someone else about an issue you have with him without telling him first.

  7. Working on your own life without hoping for a bail-out.

  8. Questioning whether he’s good enough for you.

From a Client:

Carolyn – the Gardener! Carolyn helps her clients grow new eyes so that they can see the world in healthier ways!

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Kitty Korner

All 6 cats (the 3 I’ve chosen and the 3 ferals/strays I rescued) are all adjusting to each other, with only a few fights. I named the new baby feral kitty, Tiger, because of his stripes, and he is the most loving and appreciative kitty I’ve every rescued! Alan is even bonding with him!

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Response to “Mr. Big” story

I want you to know that your newsletters have helped encourage me to start dating again. I’ve been divorced for 5 years and am in my forties. I’m learning how not to be so needy, nor to discuss too much during the first few meeting times, and not be so quick in desiring a relationship. I really enjoyed the advice you gave Sandy regarding her “Mr. Big.” There is so much for me to learn in this dating game. I appreciate that you have given us the permission to say what we want or need in a relationship before it goes on too long or without winning or expecting them to know what we want! And just because there’s a recession, it does not push me towards wanting or needing a man. And moreso, I would not take back my ex for all the money in the world!!

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It has been over 20 years since we first met and I joined your group. I was trying to adjust to single life after a 35-year marriage. Relating to the other women in the group was vital to me and the journaling was the final solution. I woke up one night at 1am and began writing furiously, page after page, and finally felt strong enough to leave group. For some time after that, I revisited the journals to give me strength. One day I realized I had no need to read them anymore so I called my sister-in-law and we went to a campground in the foothills. It was a beautiful fall day with just a bit of ice on the edges of the little stream to give us notice that winter was on his way. Page by page we burned the journals and with the smoke released them to the universe. I felt a profound sense of peace and I could go forward to embrace the rest of my life – and now I’m 81-years-old! Thank you Carolyn!

~ NK

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What’s New in Therapy?

It is now widely accepted that your behaviors and choices in life come directly from your past, i.e. childhood and your parents’ teachings. You are probably dating or married to someone like your mom or dad. Even your boss may have one or the other of your parents’ characteristics. Instead of divorce or quitting your job to end this pattern, understanding the pattern and working on the issues from your past for a few months (not years) can change how you handle those people, which will ultimately change those relationships.

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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.

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How to get Carolyn Bushong's Relationship Advice:
Individual Counseling:
l hour or ½hr sessions in office or phone, Health Insurance covers a portion. Couples Counseling: 1 ½ 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&
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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.

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