Hello Carolyn! I recently bought several of your books: 10 Ways to Improve Your Relationships And Your Life! Loving Him Without Losing You and The 7 Dumbest Relationship Mistakes Smart People Make. I just want you to know that they have helped me a lot. I am now engaged to a wonderful man. I can say its a full time job being in a relationship (for both parties) but we are working on maintaining and improving our relationship daily. Thank you so much.
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.) From reading these newsletters I have learned how not to be so needy, nor to discuss too much during the first few meetings, and not to be so quick in desiring a relationship. I appreciate that you have given us the "permission" to say what we want in a relationship. The next time I'm in a dating dilemma, I'll be calling to set up an appointment with you.
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Hi, my name is Josh and I'm a guy in his late 30's in the bay area whose looking for dating coaching, mostly about keeping a conversation going with a non-talkative woman. I met a girl online named Susan who is an accountant, and says she likes to travel to San Diego, likes walking round San Francisco, and likes to dance. When I asked how she got into accounting, she said, "I'm good with numbers." What does she like about her job? She says, "The people around her." Like about San Diego? "Lying on the beach." What do you see when you walk around San Francisco? "Just people watching." Can you tell me interesting stories of people you've seen? "Not really." What about dancing? "I like Salsa!" This a composite question based on past experiences with several women. I'm interested to see what you suggest to get women talking more on these awkward dates since the women I meet seem to give short answers and the conversation ends up going nowhere.
Josh, I don't think it's the questions you're asking so much as it's that you're not following through, i.e. sharing back to keep the conversation going, as well as not taking the topics any deeper. The women probably feel like they're being interviewed instead of having a conversation with you. When she replies with, "I'm good with numbers," you need to respond like, "I'm pretty good with numbers too, but never thought of being an accountant, how did you choose your profession? Was it by accident or was it something you always wanted to do?" Then share something about your career and what made you choose it.
Also, there's no where for her to go with a question about interesting stories of people she's seen in San Francisco. It's too vague. I'm very talkative, yet can't imagine how I would answer that. You have to share personal information yourself to keep the conversation going like: "I see people in our city as being quite similar to each other, so what is it you see when you're people watching?" Also on the San Diego question, say, "Personally I love San Diego because there's so much to do at the beach and it's so much warmer there, especially when I was there last January. How often do you go and what do you do when you're there?" And on the dance question, tell her you've never tried Salsa (or when you did, how it went). Then where does she go dancing? Is it a good workout? Say that maybe you should try it, but you really prefer running or working with weights. Give her information on you that gives her a way to connect with you.
Also, all of the questions don't have to start out so personal. Most people feel more comfortable talking about other topics first. Bring up something topical, but not terribly controversial, such as "These political signs and ads on TV are driving me nuts. I'll be glad when these elections are over. I don't remember them being this bad before, do you?" If you just get a yes or no answer, go on, "When I was watching my favorite TV show, "How to Get Away with Murder," there seemed to be more ads than there was time for the show. Have you seen that show yet, it's really intriguing.......What's your favorite show?" Conversation needs to flow and you need to be prepared to carry it when necessary. In this situation everyone is nervous and interview-type questions make people more uncomfortable. You need to try to put her at ease. Start with something you read online about her where you have similar ideas or interests or something going on at the moment where you are, such as, "I wonder if it's always this hard to get waited on? Have you been here before? I have, but don't remember there being a problem. The last time I was here I had a great waitress," etc.
Again, be prepared to talk about any topic yourself that you question her about. Also be prepared to make small talk in between topics. Tie in stories of your own with every topic, let her get to know you and your personality and try to put her at ease.
Of course, this advice also works to keep a conversation going when women are trying to get men to talk more.
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Hi Carolyn, my name is Cindy and I am in my late 40s and have dated someone for seven months and I'm at the point that I want more in the relationship, and he doesn't. We fell very much in love and the fun and romance and friendship and intimacy never faltered. However, we ran into issues with him being very happy at arms distance (keeping our dates to two or three times a week, not much contact in between, not moving forward in general), and me feeling like that meant he wasn't into me. He often sent mixed messages, like making a dinner date then texting "did you eat yet?" or "how about a walk at 7:30?" without acknowledging that we had made a date for dinner. I think this was the hardest part for me, but worth managing my discomfort over, since our time together was always great. (P.S. He was married for 25 years and divorced for about a year, his wife left him and it was traumatic).
We played with various possibilities to meet both our needs like I could date other people and he couldn't. He always said he would happily stay with me forever at that level where he was comfortable and safe, and that eventually down the road, envisions wanting to live together (like in 10 years when the kids are grown).
I broke it off with a mutual understanding that it was causing too much anxiety for both of us. I asked if he would still like to go on a trip we had planned and initially he said yes, but a week later changed his mind saying we would run into old patterns.
Six weeks later, I emailed him to see if he would like to try again. He said no, we'd just go into the same patterns with me wondering where things were headed. But he did meet for coffee, where I showed up totally happy and looking great and feeling light. I said I wanted to try things again basically on his terms (exclusive but not "serious") since I might be single for a long time. Basically, we would go back to the one sided open relationship. He agreed to go on a date. However, I think what he might have heard is that I was proposing "friends with benefits."
We had a great time. We went on a walk, had fun, and had a wonderful and loving romantic interlude, including sex. Lots of tender gestures and appreciative comments for each other. We talked a lot about old times and he said he didn't want to hear about my dating stories
We said goodbye. The next day I noticed he was back on online dating sites. Help!!
How do I let him know that I want more, but certainly not to be "friends with benefits." I wanted to see if I could give him the lighter relationship he always wanted with me (with the possibility that time would help it grow; or that perhaps I would find love elsewhere along the way)? I need an action plan which will allow me the chance to show that I can be available in a non-anxiety way this time. I just don't want to scare him off too early by asking him again to be exclusive so soon. He always described himself as a scared little rabbit, and I don't want to send him back to the hole. Thank you!
Dear Cindy, You already know he is a self-proclaimed commitment-phobic. I'm pretty sure you want more than he's ever going to be willing to give you. Friends With Benefits seems to be all he's offering at this time. Since you broke up, he's probably changed his mind about letting you date while he doesn't. That would be a very uncomfortable situation for anyone. I'm sure he doesn't believe you can do the relationship his way, and I also wonder if you can. He knows you will eventually pressure him again so he's probably right that it will eventually just run into old patterns again.
I have a question: Did you call him out on it when he made plans and acted like he didn't? You should have so that he could have assured you that it wasn't intentional and maybe your feelings wouldn't have gotten hurt. In fact you could have joked, "Do I need to get you a calendar or send you a text when we have a date?" From everything you said but that, he seems like he was into you, and probably still is.
Having said all that, I realize that most women want a long-term relationship that moves forward, but there are advantages to the type of relationship he wants, especially if you don't want children together and each have your own kids that you don't want to try and mix. You can keep family conflict at a minimum and the spark usually lasts longer without all of the responsibility (& often resentments) of being married or living together. If you want to convince him that you can and want to do this, you have to convince yourself first. Then if you believe you can do it (without dating others and hoping to find a man to marry), you may try and negotiate a few more things like 1 more night together each week, holidays together, a few more phone calls when apart. Maybe there are even other things he could do to make you feel more secure and cared for in the relationship that you could ask for. But if that is clearly not enough for you and you really want more, i.e. marriage and/or living together, any time soon, you're just torturing yourself by trying to go back.
Cindy's Response back: Thank you Carolyn, I love your answer. And P.S. Since you asked - I definitely do not want living together or marriage! Tried the blended family and don't have the interest in trying again. So - maybe it could work!
Carolyn's Response back: Great! Convincingly discuss this with him and stop coming from the "hurt" position and I think you guys can do it! But if you do stay with him, I'm sure you know to stop pressuring him as it never works. Once in awhile (not too often) bringing up what happened in his marriage (besides cheating) that makes him "a scared little rabbit" can not only help you understand that this is his issue, not lack of caring for you. But also, his talking about it might even make his fear and pain from his marriage go away.
For more information on this, see my YouTube video on a "Commitmentphobic Man" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VINx4AajTWA
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Suicidal Feelings Will Pass
What people don't understand about suicidal feelings is that those feelings will pass. The problems causing those feelings will not pass and should not be ignored. But suicidal feelings will pass. So give it another day.
It's still hard to believe that someone as funny, admired, successful and loved by his fans as Robin Williams could even contemplate suicide. If he had only known what to do to get past those feelings.
On the website for comedians, www.cracked.com, David Wong says in his article, "Robin Williams and Why Funny People Kill Themselves" at http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/robin-williams-why-funny-people-kill-themselves/: ".....comedy, of any sort, is usually a byproduct of a tumor that grows on the human soul..... Find a comedian, and you'll usually find somebody who had a shitty childhood." He goes on to say that at some point this rejected kid gets a laugh from his classmates and no longer feels invisible. The humor is then used anytime he feels unsafe. He builds an impenetrable wall around himself so no one will find out how much he sucks. But the more he does it, the more he hates himself, and believes he really does suck. At some point he develops a second persona of a clown that keeps anyone from really getting to know the "real" him. And if people hate the clown, who cares since it's not the "real" him. Besides, the topics he usually jokes about come deep from his own pain from his childhood -- being made fun of, addiction, being fat, feeling ugly. If you listen carefully to some of Robin William's jokes, you can hear some of his pain.
According to Wikipedia, he was a quiet, shy child who excelled in school and finally became more adjusted when he got into theatre in high school, even becoming class president. Yet even though he was voted "most humorous," he was also voted, "least likely to succeed."
But it seems that many of his problems came from not getting enough attention from his parents. He came from a decent family, his dad an executive for Ford Motor Company, his mom a model, and his grandfather a senator. But his dad was seldom home and his mother kept busy too, even though they did quite well financially. He was raised mostly by the family's maid who was his main companion. He was quoted as admitting that he tried to make his mom laugh to get her attention. These are simply clues as to what his childhood may have been, as we really didn't know him.
Famous people and many ordinary people consider suicide more than you would think. In fact, the October 13, 2014 (pp 36-37) Closer Weekly Magazine, reported that Jackie Kennedy was reportedly suicidal after JFK's death. In Barbara Leaming's new book, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story, she says that Jackie, raised as a devout Catholic, questioned her entire belief system and couldn't understand why God chose to take her husband away. She reportedly withdrew to her bedroom, seldom coming out, blaming herself for President Kennedy's death and feared she couldn't even be a good mother. She reportedly thought about taking her own life, asking, "Wouldn't God just understand?" I'm quoted in this article (see Jackie Kennedy quote in Closer Weekly Magazine, Oct 13, 2014, pp 36, 37 below): My quote: "According to psychotherapist, Carolyn Bushong, it was a natural response given the circumstances. 'It's often the people who put on the strongest face who are suicidal, because they have to pretend so much." We didn't really know Jackie Kennedy, anymore than we knew Robin Williams. Like Caroline Kennedy said (in the same article), "Everyone has an image of my mother, but really didn't know her at all."
People who are quiet and secretive, who hold their emotions in, who pretend like everything is fine all the time -- they are the most likely to be suicidal. Sharing with others and finding out they have similar problems can ground you and help you feel normal again.
Almost all suicidal people have terrible childhoods and rejection issues. They feel unloved and unworthy and not even good enough to try and fix their problems. They don't think they deserve it. And it's even worse for people who have money, a great job, and a loving spouse and children -- the things we all believe bring happiness. They then feel guilty that they have everything and still aren't happy. This makes them more convinced that something is definitely wrong with them that can't ever be fixed.
But they're wrong. Of course it doesn't have to do with money or being loved by others. It, of course, has to do with loving themselves. And Not loving themselves usually happened because of something in their childhoods. And no, we can't fix the childhood, but through therapy, we can UNDO THE DAMAGE.
Undo the Damage
Whether the suicidal person had a childhood where his parents treated him badly or he was ignored by them or bullied in school or had a sibling who was mean to him or had some other trauma doesn't matter. He needs to deal with what that issue was. For instance, an example is when I was doing dating coaching with a Denver client we'll call Joe. As a child he had a speech problem and was bullied because of it. His parents took him to a speech therapist, but never dealt with his being bullied or his emotional issues. In fact, like Robin Williams parents, both of his parents were seldom home, so Joe spent most of his time in his room with no one to talk to.
It wasn't until college that he began to develop normal connections with peers (once his speech problems were cleared up), several buddies. But he still had not had a relationship with a woman except female friends. Joe is a very attractive, very successful man who has had difficulty connecting because of his childhood. We did some work regarding dating coaching, and then we finally worked on his deeper issues from his childhood. I reviewed his school evaluations that definitely showed social and emotional problems but was not picked up by the school or his parents. We went over them together, and he began to get in touch with his anger that no one, including his parents ever picked up on or talked to him about how he was feeling. Of course that was a different time in those days, but he still had a right to be angry about it since it was affecting his love life right now. He began by confronting his parents about not only ignoring his emotional and social issues, but also because they were bad role models in that they were also unemotional and unsocial themselves. They were surprisingly receptive and admitted that they had issues in their own relationship and had shut down and been too involved in their own personal problems to notice his, and of course said, "We did the best that we could." He expressed the emotions that he felt then and now, and his parents apologized, but also defended by saying, "That's just the way we are." But that's all Joe needed. Now he knew that his feelings were valid and that nothing was wrong with him, people just failed to help him. This exercise helped him undo the damage because once you can speak up to the people who abused or ignored you, you can speak up to anyone, even women you're dating. Instead of worrying about what to say or trying to win women's approval, he began to find out who he really is and developing a personality that will now let women connect to him. Although Joe was not suicidal, he was depressed, thinking maybe something was wrong with him and he was ready to give up on the whole dating thing. Now that's not true anymore. Now he gets it "why he is the way he is," and that it has nothing to do with him except what he learned growing up. Now he can have control of his dating and his life.
Part of this process is to question your belief systems too like Jackie Kennedy began to do. Most people who feel depressed and suicidal believe that if they are good and nice to people that things in their life will work out on their own. That's why so many people who are depressed are philanthropists. They try to be nice and helpful, usually overgiving, hoping that others will treat them the same way. But it doesn't work that way. Instead, people will often treat you badly and take advantage of you if you try too hard. You have to make your own justice by holding people accountable who have harmed you in the past, even if they didn't mean to.
Depression is anger turned inward. Because we all want love and approval, we learn at an early age not to express our anger thinking people won't love us if we do. So the anger we should have expressed to kids who bullied us, parents or mates who have abused or ignored us, we turn onto ourselves, believing the bad treatment is our fault. With that as our premise, we lose all hope and want to give up.
Imagine if Robin Williams had gotten therapy and understood this. Imagine if all the suicidal people out there could be given hope again.
For more on this process, go to my book
Loving Him Without
Loving You, Chap 6: Confront Your Parents, pp 118-151.
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Phone counseling is set up the same as if you were coming to my office, except that you call in instead. Appointments must be booked in advance by calling 303-333-1888 303-333-1888, and be paid for with a credit card at the time of booking. Note that you pay the phone charges during the actual appointment.
Again, like regular in-office appointments, any cancellations must be made twenty-four (24) hours in advance or your credit card will be charged for the appointment.
My regular fees are $180/hour, but with a commitment for several sessions on your part, the sessions cost less. See below.
4 sessions at
$160 per hour = $640
(savings of $80),
8 sessions at
$140 per hour = $1,120 (savings of $320),
at $120 per hour = $1,440 (savings of $720),
at $110 per hour = $1,980 (savings of $1,260),
* This agreement does not apply to ½ hour sessions.
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 27 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.
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.