Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dear Maria - Should I Feel Guilty about my Boyfriend?

Dear Maria-

I can't help but feel that I am superficial because I don't like that my boyfriend has not been successful financially. He is in debt and barely making it. I don't respect his decisions anymore(he procrastinates ) and he always seems to have an excuse for why his business is failing. After 5 years together, I am tired of waiting for him to pull ahead. He makes excuses which sound good and I think "Am I unreasonable?, Why am I not more supportive?" Sometimes I pay for things that I just don't want to. It really makes me feel used. And then I feel like I am being superficial and unsupportive, but I am tired of carrying the weight AND keeping my life on hold while he gets it together. Maria, I am a single mom and he is in his 40's. I feel terrible, can you help? Kate

Dear Kate-

ARE you being superficial? What it really sounds like is that your warning lights are going off. Let's look at the facts. He is 40, has an unsuccessful business, is in debt, barely "making it," is a procrastinator and you feel used. Hmm. This is what I think is happening. Your pragmatic side is meeting up with some ghosts. You sound practical, realistic and analytical regarding your concerns. If you think of a traffic light, many of these concerns are "yellows." They might not be deal breakers, like a "red light," but they tell you to be cautious. Just like a yellow traffic light, they give you that little knot in your stomach, which is just your brain doing its job by sending you a warning.

And then along comes your all too familiar ghost. This voice in your head is most likely someone from your past, like a parent, for instance, who taught you that your instincts, intuition, even analytical thinking were unreliable, flawed, or just plain wrong. Because those thoughts are like ghosts, they are hard to understand and pin down. So, we simplify. "I am probably being superficial." "I am just paranoid."

Are you? Probably not. Most likely, your unease is just an indicator that something is wrong. Am I suggesting you run away from this guy? Nah. Well, at least not yet. But I am suggesting you STOP beating up your Pragmatic Self. That part of you is good for you, always gathering information and looking out for your welfare. When you stop beating yourself up for being observant you can go with the flow of what is coming next instead of fighting it.

Plus, if this guy is a dud, how will you ever know if all you do is question that smart brain of yours? When those thoughts come, see them for the ghosts that they are. Self-doubt messages given to you a long time ago. They are harmless IF you decide not to let them bother you. Instead, congratulate yourself on noticing things that don't feel right.

To answer your question, Kate, before you take on your boyfriend, I suggest you start with battling your ghosts. Refuse to let them cloud your good judgment. Kate, most of us have trouble with self doubt now and then. If you can understand it, you can get on top of it, so it doesn't dictate your life.

Oh, and in psychology, we have a term we call "secondary gains." These are perks we get from unhealthy behaviors. In your case, as long as you continue to battle your good judgment, you don't have to make any decisions you want to avoid. So, maybe those ghosts have a purpose. Avoiding the tough stuff.

But, Kate, you seem pretty bright and balanced to me. Work on sweeping away those ghosts of self doubt, even if you don't have any answers right now, get comfortable with your good sense, and send me a note on how it is going. Start trusting your judgment and keep me posted.


Remember to make the moment happen!



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