Insight is the Booby Prize

A character in the novel Today Will be Different, by Maria Semple, said about psychotherapy: Change is the goal. Insight is the booby prize. It reminded me of what I tell people when they ask, “Why isn’t my wife romantic?” or “Why is my sister always mean to me?” or “Why can’t my husband stop demanding that the house be spotless?” Will answering these questions make … Continue reading Insight is the Booby Prize

I Want it Now!

My mother asked me how my internet search for a relationship was going. “Terrible,” I told her. “I’ve been doing this for years and it’s a complete failure.” “Years?” she asked. “10 years! No, 15!” I said. 15 years was a nice round number and added just the right amount of dramatic spice to my pessimism. But I knew I was lying to my mother (and myself). Here’s what … Continue reading I Want it Now!

Self-Esteem is Overrated

I was so terrified about speaking up in school that if I had to give a presentation, I’d spend the whole class thinking of what I had to say. I’d become deaf to what everyone else was saying. After I spoke, my deafness persisted. My heart pounded as I numbly replayed my mistakes, and I shuddered at the memory of my faltering voice. People sometimes say, “I have low self-esteem.” Does that mean they don’t like … Continue reading Self-Esteem is Overrated

When You Lose Faith in Yourself

I met a man, I’ll call him Martin, who was devastated about how his marriage had ended. “After 30 years and 2 kids,” he said, looking baffled, “my wife left me for another woman. How could I not know she was gay?” “What’s the worst thing about this loss for you?” I asked. “It’s bad enough that my marriage is over. We never had a close physical relationship anyway. I … Continue reading When You Lose Faith in Yourself

Manufacturing Romantic Chemistry

I once dated a guy, I’ll call him Mark, who said that he chose to never fall in love. “You choose that?” I asked. “But haven’t you ever met someone you couldn’t help but fall in love with?” I was asking, of course, because I was quickly falling for him and wanted to test the waters. “I don’t permit myself,” Mark insisted. When he saw my incredulous … Continue reading Manufacturing Romantic Chemistry

How to Change Someone Else, Pt. 2

Think of a relationship as dancing cheek-to-cheek with your partner. You’re both doing the same steps, moving in sync. Then mid-dance, one of you changes the steps completely. At first, the other person resists. They’re confused. They stumble. They struggle to get you back to the old dance routine. At this point, one of two things happens: Your partner stops dancing with you, OR They catch … Continue reading How to Change Someone Else, Pt. 2

How to Change Someone Else, Pt. 1

It’s more fun, and a lot easier, to change someone else than to change ourselves. But is it possible? It makes sense that we want to transform someone into the person we thought they used to be, many years ago, such as a spouse who was once loving and attentive. They can certainly be that person again, can’t they? Have you ever tried rewinding your own history clock and … Continue reading How to Change Someone Else, Pt. 1