September 2013

Inside this Newsletter:

Message from Carolyn:

Well, we survived the floods and 9 straight days of rain a couple of weeks ago. Our little towns of Morrison and Evergreen were evacuated for awhile, but since we sit high on a hill, we were fine, and our creek didn’t overflow. I feel very bad for those in Boulder and northeastern Colorado who are still struggling to deal with the vast destruction up there.

Besides that, the summer has been a good one, though a little chilly up here in the mountains. The gardening has been great.

I finally got a picture of one of the baby deer frequenting my yard this summer (see photo). And we’ve recently had another bear sighting by our neighbors. But most importantly, we’ve enjoyed being able to see Alan’s daughter Alecia and our darling 15-month old grandson David Wayne. He’s so cute. I guess we’ll have to try Skype with him this winter.

Fall has definitely arrived. The temperatures are dropping rapidly (it was 38 degrees here two nights ago). And with the cold weather coming, that of course means that Alan and I will be headed back to Tucson for the winter. We’re leaving around the second week of October. Until then I still have office hours on Wednesdays for a couple more weeks, and then of course, like last winter, I will conduct phone counseling from Tucson.

The thing Alan and most guys love about fall, of course, is that it’s football season!! I’ll have to admit that it’s been pretty exciting this year with the Broncos doing so well. But many women don’t really like the game and dread the season because they consider themselves football widows (myself included). I’ve revived an old article of mine called “Football Widows” below.

As you probably know, I closed my main office at 360 S. Monroe in Cherry Creek last November because we were leaving for our first winter in Tucson, but also because they were tearing down the building to build condos. One of my clients sent me this picture (see below) of the old office building as it was being torn down, and he added, “Took this photo today as I was in a building next door … That is the Kill Dozer demolishing your old office building!!! Fond memories! Thought you should have it for your newsletter!!”

I subleased an office in Cherry Creek for the summer, which worked out very well, but the lease is up on this office as well at the end of the month, so I will be looking for temporary office space (a few days a week) again next May when I return to Denver. Just FYI.

Lots of friend and family birthdays this month. Happy Birthday to my 87-year-old mom who is doing great. Also, happy birthday to my nephew Brett, friend Mary Lynne, and brother-in-law Ron.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a coach with a group called Date Camp,, which is getting some great media attention over one of it’s video’s. Date Camp's video Advanced Kissing Techniques is featured in VH1's new broadcast special 40 Greatest Viral Videos. Watch it now at

Miley Cyrus certainly brought attention to herself at the VMA’s twerking to Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines.” People were shocked that this sweet Hannah Montana could become so gross and naughty. She said she did it to make history, but she’s screaming rebellion from the rooftops, and maybe she should be. Although I was never as wild as Miley, in my youth I lived a pretty selfish, and sometimes rebellious, life myself. See my article below “Live Selfishly.”

Please stay in touch with me this winter while I’m in Tucson. I’m only an email or Skype or phone call away. My email is the same:, and my regular business number 303-333-1888 will be transferred down there for the entire winter. Please email or call me for an appointment, just to update me, or to let me know if you’re visiting Tucson!


Why Did She End It?

I’ve been dating a woman for 3 months, and everything has been going great. We’ve been on several trips together, I’ve met and spent time with her kids, and she’s spent time with my family. In the last few weeks, she’s been very warm and loving, so I thought everything was great. Then last Saturday, out of the blue, she just broke up with me and won’t tell me why. She said that I’m a wonderful guy and she enjoys it when we’re together, but she feels ambivalent when we’re apart. She then insinuated that there’s another issue, but didn’t want to discuss it over the phone. She agreed to meet up and tell me and then cancelled and won’t reschedule. I know she has issues with her ex who cheated on her. She also said that she’s never able to tell anyone what annoys or bothers her. I’m having trouble letting go of this. Do you think this is fair? I feel I deserve to know why it ended, but when I pressed her again to tell me, she just texted, “You need to move on, I have.” What should I do?

It’s really awful when someone breaks up with you and gives you no information as to what the problem is. The only clues here are that she has personal problems herself. She obviously has a fear of being cheated on again, and that may explain her ambivalence when she’s away from you. Also, people who are afraid of intimacy end up scaring themselves away when they get too close, which may explain her going from being loving to ending it. Either way, this woman seems to have a lot of intimacy issues. And to make it worse, she admits she can’t speak up when there’s a problem. This means nothing could ever be resolved, so it would have always just been a matter of time until she bailed.

Of course you deserve to know why she ended it, but the most you can do now is hold her accountable. Let her know (in an email or text) just how frustrated and angry you are. Point the finger back at her and her issues regarding cheating and not being able to speak up. Let her know that most things can be resolved if two people communicate about them, and that she’ll never have a healthy relationship with anyone until she’s able to do that. Often holding someone accountable like this will get them to finally respond. Also, making her feel a little rejected by you often pushes a button that might make her even give you another chance – if you want it.

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Football Widows

Women never stop complaining that men are unemotional. But if you've watched your husband or boyfriend watch a football game, you know that he can be very emotional. His face can turn red, his muscles tighten, loud screams. In fact, sometimes it seems like he might have a heart attack if he doesn't calm down!

If you like football, that's great. You can watch the game with him and join your man being emotional over something other than you. However, if you don't enjoy football, like me, you dread the weekend.

Years ago when I was married, I was an angry football widow. It was one of the many reasons our marriage ended in divorce. I dreaded weekends and Monday nights. I was disgusted by the ugly sight of my husband in front of the TV drinking beer and yelling. I resented the hours he spent involved in this pastime, when he never had this kind of time or passion for me.

Maybe if my husband and I had spent the quality time together I longed for, I wouldn't have resented the games. Maybe, if he'd ever shown emotions with me, I wouldn't have felt so slighted. Maybe, if I'd gotten as involved in something I really enjoyed instead of trying to play the "good wife," it wouldn't have seemed so unfair.

In other words, the problem wasn't really football. It was that I sat through those games with him, sacrificing my needs for his, hoping that someday he would do the same for me. I hoped “justice would prevail,” and that he would be nice to me because I was nice to him. Then I realized that I had to make my own justice. Healthy relationships involve communication about compromises and trade-offs. But too often one person does most of the sacrificing. And no, it isn't always the woman. But often it is. I resented the games because I resented my husband. Football was just symbolic of the other relationship issues my husband and I hadn't resolved.

In my present relationship, I don't behave that way. I'm no longer a football widow. I don't sacrifice. I don't try to please him, hoping he'll some day please me. I don't hope he'll be emotional with me instead of the football game. I don't think, "If he loved me, he'd want to talk to me instead of watch the stupid football game." Instead, I make sure that I get my needs met -- some on my own, and some within the relationship. I tell him what I want, and we make deals.

Deals to Make with Him about Football

  • I'll watch football with you on Sunday if you'll go to the ballet with me Friday night.

  • You can watch the game uninterrupted and I'll go to the mall and shop uninterrupted.

  • Since you watch games every Monday night, I'm going to go out with my girlfriends every Monday night.

  • During the games, you can drink as much as you want to and scream as much as you want to, and I won't interrupt you because I know this is important to you. However, every Wednesday night I want us to go out to a romantic dinner. Deal?

Don't be a football widow. Instead take advantage of the fact that he likes football, and use that to pursue your own interests or to negotiate getting him to later do your favorite things with you!

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Live Selfishly -- the Key to Happiness

Live Selfishly -- the Key to Happiness

The idea of living selfishly will probably put some people off. After all, we all agree that it’s difficult to be around people who are self-involved or narcissistic. And of course, I’m not encouraging you to feel entitled, think only of yourself, act arrogant, or exploit others. This takes selfishness to the extreme. But most people aren’t selfish enough. They try too hard to be good and do the right thing – which holds them back from true happiness.

Most people believe they are “good” if they do what is expected of them. And if they don’t do what they “should” do, they are usually guilt-ridden, and possibly guilt-tripped by family and friends – especially those who are following what they themselves think they “should” do.

I believe the key to happiness is to live a selfish life instead of following “shoulds.” That means one where you do what you “want” to do instead of allowing other’s expectations to guide you. That does not mean that you shirk your responsibilities. You still need to pay your bills, keep promises, and follow through on commitments you’ve made. It does mean that you need to think carefully before you create responsibilities that will tie you down and possibly create resentment on your part, responsibilities and commitments that will keep you from living a selfish life.

My sister followed the rules. I did not. For years, my sister thought that I was a bad person because: I got a divorce, chose not to have children, moved far away from my parents, and dropped out in Aspen in my 20’s. I quit jobs I didn’t like, sometimes drank too much; I tried various drugs, and was promiscuous. In other words, I didn’t let others expectations or the understood rules of society guide my life. A lot of my behavior was simply rebellion from growing up in a Midwestern Baptist home. But rebellion is often necessary for us to figure out who we are.

Although I was as disgusted as everyone else at Miley Cyrus’s sexual display at the VMA’s, she is no doubt experimenting and rebelling. After having to grow up in front of everyone as sweet Hannah Montana, following all of the expectations set by Disney, her parents, and most of all her fans (or parents of her fans), she’s trying to figure out who she is. In an interview in the October, 2013 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, she opens up about her image and says, “I was an adult when I was supposed to be a kid. So now I’m an adult and I’m acting like a kid.” Most of us who did rebel didn’t have a camera following us, so our secrets were kept safe. An identity is made up of beliefs and morals from your past, but also includes a total of your vast experiences, along with your mistakes and successes. Obviously Miley’s identity isn’t completely formed yet.

I have many clients who come into my office that still don’t know who they are or who they want to be in their 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s. They don’t know because they’ve simply done what they thought they “should” do, became who others wanted them to be. They may have rebelled a time or two, but usually go back to following the expectations of others, never becoming who they want to be.

Following Society’s Expectations

We all want to be loved, and fear that not doing what others want will keep that from happening. And of course, even when you do what they want, it’s never enough, so you still end up feeling unloved. Growing up, becoming your own person, means choosing a path of your own regardless of what your parents, the church, your work, your friends tell you to do. Don’t follow others’ expectations unless you want a life just like theirs

Selfless Overgivers

Many people, women in particular, are overgivers – which is of course the opposite of selfish. They’re trying to be a “good” person by society’s standards, believing that this will make them happy. They think that helping others and doing what others want you to do somehow wins you gold stars in heaven and in other people’s eyes. And it sort of does. But it also causes you to lose yourself, and often even causes depression. When you overgive and follow the “shoulds” of others, you often feel good in the process, but not in the long run. First of all, whether it’s your husband or a friend, or your adult children, overgiving creates inequality in the relationship. In a somewhat positive way, you’re on top, being the strong one who has something to give. In a negative way, you are on the bottom, getting used again and again. And although you’ll probably claim you are altruistic and expect nothing back from the various people you overgive to, there is always an expectation of some sort, even if it’s just gratefulness or simple kindness toward you. But you seldom get it because you yourself have set up this unequal relationship. Most people you overgive to have two opposing feelings toward you: a little gratefulness but also a lot of resentment that you are superior enough to be able to help them.

So, although overgiving may get you into heaven or have your neighbors and churchgoers saying, “He/she’s such a good person,” that will be your only reward. Being selfless does not bring happiness or joy. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a good feeling when helping a homeless person or a friend out of a jam, but continual overgiving is simply enabling, which is actually a disservice to others, but especially to you and your happiness. I continually tell my overgiving clients to work at being more selfish.

How to Live Selfishly

  1. Start small. Instead of following every obligation or expectation put on you, ask yourself, “Do I want to do this or not?” Maybe you usually mow the lawn on Saturdays, but this Saturday you don’t want to. Don’t. You still have an obligation, so maybe you mow it Tuesday after work, pay someone to do it, or renegotiate (and trade a different chore) with your family.

  2. You become aware. You continually ask yourself, “Is this a ‘should’ or do I want to do this?” Then, like above, you find a way to deal with your answer. And some “shoulds,” you may decide, are okay, like brushing your teeth every day.

  3. You check in with who you are and who you want to be. If you aren’t living your life the way you want, you set some goals to make some changes. Maybe you just decide to buy a guitar, or take a walk in the park every day after work. Or maybe you want to make bigger changes like changing jobs or moving. It’s up to you – it’s your life.

  4. You set long-term and short-term goals. Be sure your goals are not what someone else set for you, but what you want. When my nephew decided to drop out of college and work on cruise ships so he could see the world, everyone thought he made the wrong decision and “should” prepare better for his future. Turns out, his decision helped his future. Now he works in Real Estate with buyers who sometimes look for properties in other countries, and he’s just the one to help them.

  5. You start your “bucket list” now. It’s great to make a bucket list at the end of your life so you feel you didn’t miss out. But what about trying to live your life according to what’s important to you now. How about putting on your bucket list: to bring as much joy to myself as is possible.

In living a selfishly, your focus needs to be on your own happiness. The focus is not to harm other people, but to stand your ground for things that are important to you. Many people still believe that it is your mate’s responsibility to make you happy and vice versa. Some believe that if two people both live a selfish life and no one in the marriage sacrifices, the relationship will die. But actually if both people focus on their own happiness, communicate this to each other, and compromise on the differences, you’ll both be happier as unhealthy behaviors usually caused by resentment should disappear. Make yourself happy by living selfishly and ask others in your life to do the same.

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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 more than15 years. She has been helping people like you improve your life and relationships for more than 30 years. Cosmo, US Weekly and other magazines quote her expert relationship advice, and McCall’s named her one of the “Top 6 Passion Doctors” in the country. 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 26 years.

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