I believe I’ve made it clear how I feel about relationship advice. Mostly, I find it utterly unhelpful. I think that relationships are so complicated and personal, that advice is not one person fits all. I especially hate gimmicky, quick-fix relationship advice that’s like “The Magic Thing That Will Get You Married In 364 Days!” WORST! The only brand of dating advice I can stomach is the kind that’s empowering. And when I stumble upon it, I share it with you.
Last week, I had coffee with a good friend. We both started dating new guys we met online on the exact same day. (Weird, right?) That was a few months ago, and both relationships are still on and popping. During our coffee session, one of the things we talked about was how we both were having persistent, irrational anxiety about our relationships suddenly ending. Our shades of anxiety were a bit different. Mine has been taking the form of a recurring fear of being dumped out-of-the-blue.
The script in my head goes like this:
He didn’t text me back. That must mean he’s going to dump me. He said he wants to tell me about something. Is he going to dump me? He told me he needs to push back our meeting time for tonight. He must be thinking about dumping me.
OK. Now, you know my shameful self-script. I know it’s ridiculous. It’s not based in reality. It has nothing to do with my guy or his behavior. He didn’t text me back because he was sleeping. He wanted to tell me about something that happened at work. He pushed back our meeting time because he wanted to clean his apartment before I came over.
My fears are based on things that have happened to me in the past. Specifically, the several times I got dumped out-of-the-blue, twice by people I was in unabashedly in love with. My way of dealing with the past hurt was to be hyper-vigilant in all future relationships. I’m constantly afraid I’m missing a sign or a cue like I might have in the past.
I’ve diagnosed myself with Post Traumatic Dating Disorder. Not to make light in any way of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and it’s severe and often debilitating symptoms, but years of relationship disappointments can create their own emotionally traumatic side-effects. This particular brand of insanity, I blame on my PTDD.
Pursuant to our conversation, my friend sent me a relationship advice column, unearthed from the deep recesses of the internet, entitled Dr. Rob’s Simple Advice To Ladies So You Don’t Get Dumped.
When asked for some advice to help women in their relationships Dr. Rob Dobrenski, Ph.D. says:
“A few years ago a large portion of my clientele was women, aged 21-35 or so. Most of them had what seemed to be potentially great relationships with their boyfriends. However, all the women had a common feature: a need … for constant reassurance of the relationship’s stability … The women would come to me seeking ways to lower their anxiety levels, feel less jealous about ex-girlfriends, develop ways to not freak out that their partner didn’t say ‘I love you’ often enough. I will tell you exactly what I told each of them …There are no magic words, no breathing or muscle relaxation techniques, no amount of drugs (recreational or medicinal) that can take away all of the angst and distress if you insist on making a small number of erroneous and perhaps not entirely conscious assumptions.”
So what are these erroneous assumptions that are preventing women from enjoying our potentially great relationships? According to Dr. Rob the main one is that there is such a thing as a “guarantee” in relationships or life in general.
NAIL ON HEAD. It’s fucking scary to think about losing someone you’ve really started to like. Instead of coming to terms with this, I’ve been putting all my energy into micro-monitoring every single word exchanged between me and the boy instead of dealing with the real issue: the terrifying truth that there are no guarantees in life. I’ve been wasting my time. I need to stop.
But there is hope for me. Dr. Rob goes on to say:
“The good news is that once you’ve eliminated the aforementioned assumptions from your mind set, all the ‘symptoms’ will go away. No more worry … finally some fucking inner peace. Why? Because you’ll know that while it’s painful to lose someone important to you, loss is a part of life and that you can be okay with that fact. You can and will move forward, as hard as it may be.”
Dr. Rob, I don’t know you, but can I hug you?
Hey Ami, YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THE FUTURE OF THIS RELATIONSHIP, NOW GET OVER YOUR DAMN SELF AND GET ON WITH IT!
Thanks, Dr. Rob! I’m working on it.
Fucking inner peace sounds nice.