One Fatal Flaw in Dating

Dating

Many years ago I was standing at the front counter of a dental office in Lawndale and the woman behind the desk was listening to Dr. Toni Grant, a radio psychologist. Dr. Grant was involved in a conversation with a young woman who was complaining about a relationship that she was in. “What’s wrong with him!” she whined. Dr. Grant was kind but firm:

“The problem is with you. You choose the wrong type of man. You are chasing excitement. Don’t you know that all good men are a little bit boring?”

This has stuck with me all these years because it is true – but I would say it applies to both men and women equally. Bad boys and bad girls. They are exciting, but you wouldn’t want to marry one, because they are relationally unstable. They are usually temporary and most often will hurt you eventually.

What are the indicators of these personality types?

  • Their lives are chaotic – financially, relationally, etc.
  • They take unnecessary or foolish risks – drugs, alcohol, sex, speeding, spending, gambling, etc.
  • They keep parts of their lives obscured and secretive.
  • When things go wrong they blame you, or others.
  • They advertise but often don’t deliver on their promises.
  • They leave a trail of broken relationships.
  • They control the relationship. You are always subject to their time schedule, desires and expectations.
  • They are selfish and always have an excuse for their behavior. They connect intensely and withdraw intensely.

If you have been, or are in a relationship with one of these people I am sure you can add to my list. It can be difficult to break this addiction to the wrong type. You may think the trade-off is worth it, but I guarantee you it is not. Eventually the buzz wears off and the pain and damage remains.

Is there hope for you or them? Of course. People can change, but it is very difficult. Often the question is “Do they (or you) really want to change?” or “Will they do the work that change requires?”. Going to counseling or recovery programs is not always an indication of either. It is a start, but not a finish.

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. (James 1:22 (NLT)

I am not equating the advice of a counselor to the word of God, but I am saying that hearing alone is not sufficient. We have had clients who have stayed for quite a long time, but never grew. They knew what to do, but never followed through. Sadly, they left counseling carrying the same weights they brought with them the first session. Happily, that is not usually the case.

If you find that you are attracted to the wrong type – take a break from dating until you make the necessary shifts. If you are the wrong type, the same advice stands. You have to become the kind of person that you want to attract – spiritually, mentally and physically.

It’s much easier to add some excitement to a relationship than it is to cleanup chaos in one. A little bit boring is healthy.

The Great (Parental) Dilemma

addicted

I was reading a report just out on social media usage across the generations and it’s pretty conclusive that most of us are dependent, if not addicted to electronic devices. I’m no exception. There are permanent imprints in my legs where my laptop usually rests. How Nan and I have managed to stay away from cell phones and texting is a mystery.

I feel for parents trying to get their kids to have some balance when it comes to this issue. How do you limit their usage of video games, cell phones, computers, etc. without feeling like a hypocrite? Do as I say, not as I do. We’ve all heard it. It’s hard holding the line.

Our generation, the Boomers, faced the same thing – coming and going. Some of us had parents that were out of control with alcohol or sex. And then we added new forms of addiction into our lives as well. More sex and a lot of drugs. Pass it on. And let’s face it, it’s hard to hold boundaries with kids when we may be feeling guilty of some of the same stuff. So how do we manage this dilemma?

A sacrifice for the kids’ sake (and maybe yours) may be in order.

There really only is one way. We have to model the behavior that we expect from our kids. We have to make good family rules and then keep them ourselves. A certain amount of “because I’m an adult” is appropriate. But as we know, that runs out pretty quickly when they are looking over your shoulder at Candy Crush. Or worse. Most, if not all social media is not educational. It might be informational, but it’s usually entertainment or (fabricated) image projection. And a lot of passive-aggressive assaults are done on social media – so kids aren’t the only ones misusing the platform. As Christians we really do need to clean up our act on that one.

So what rules are good rules for your family?
  • No cell phones on after a certain time?
  • No cell phones or IPads in the bedroom?
  • Time limits on gaming after homework is done?
  • No cell phones in church?
  • No cell phones present during meals?
  • Parents have the right to scrutinize all content? (Yes)
  • No text fighting?
  • What else?

It might sound hard to believe, but accidents caused by driving and texting is equal to driving under the influence. The addiction starts way before a driver’s license is ever issued. I know the use of electronic devices keeps kids quiet during driving time, but how much is too much? Growing up some of  you may have played “road games”. It kept you engaged with each other. It might seem outdated now, but is it really? Or perhaps you still do with your kids. Good for you! Making wise choices and taking responsibility is what adulting is all about.

Perhaps you might chime in here and tell me what you think.

Are You Living In Reality With Your Finances?

I have had several conversations lately that reminded me of a post I wrote about how our earlier experiences can impact our current life in a negative way. (http://davenan.com/have-your-feelings-caught-up-with-your-reality) In other words, I feel as though I’m living under a threat although none exists. It is a form of PTSD.

But there is an inverse of this as well – and it is another form of denial.

It is the first stage of grief (there I go talking about that again) where we have trouble accepting reality. In the first scenario it is not accepting the good changes that have occurred. In the second it is not embracing the tough truth of the situation we are experiencing.

For example, in the case of the death of a spouse or a divorce, bankruptcy or other financial or medical crisis, your income most likely is going to be critically impacted. You will have to make major adjustments to your lifestyle. You might have to go back to work, sell your house, move to a much more modest dwelling or even make a radical move. All the things you were used to are no longer possible. This loss can be considerable. I and others have great empathy for you.

When this happens it is not uncommon for anger to arise (second stage of gief). Who is to blame? Is it me, my spouse, God – who? The truth is, it doesn’t matter. It will not move you forward, and only promotes victim thinking.

Truth: Victim thinking keeps you stuck in pain.

Breaking denial and taking any and all action that is possible brings hope. When you are hemorrhaging, stop the bleeding. I know that sounds obvious, but grieving people often don’t do that. They may continue as if nothing has changed and engage in magical thinking: “Someone is going to bail me out of this mess.” Well, probably not long term, if at all. “Isn’t God supposed to rescue me or take care of me?” Probably not in the way we want Him to.

Often the solution comes in the form of opportunities that we had never considered before. Drastic downsizing. Several part-time jobs. Entrepreneurial endeavors. I call them “opportunities” because our attitude toward the changes will often determine the outcome. If I am downcast and depressed, it will leak out of me. But so will my energy and optimism. If you need to embrace a level of simplicity that you never expected, don’t reject it – choose it.

Assess your financial strategy

Over the years I have had the privilege to interact with a lot of immigrants from diverse  cultures. Some through counseling, some from my sales or music career. Many came to the USA with few resources. I have noticed that the successful ones treated government assistance as an insurance policy, not a financial plan. And it is the same with retirees regarding Social Security. We might say the same of credit cards. They are not your friends, or the enemy, or a financial plan. Sometimes they are the insurance that holds back disaster. But they should be viewed as a very temporary solution. When we know we can’t pay off the entire amount each month then they are extremely dangerous for our eventual financial recovery.

Grieve. Cry. Get angry. Get depressed. Then make a realistic plan. Do anything that moves you forward. Sell stuff. Take a job that feels beneath you until you can find something better. Live in a camper. Whatever. Draw close to God. Then rebuild your life.