Here’s a letter from a reader:
“You said we can change people’s behaviors by holding higher images of them.
I am living with someone who considers us broken up and that he is my ex. He has fallen in love with someone who lives in Geneva. I am living with him because at the moment I do not have the money to move.
I love him, and we still have sex.
I want him back in love with me.
Suggestions? Thank you!”
This is an excellent letter because it opens up so many cans of worms at once. Fine situation to be in for an afternoon of fishing. Otherwise, the news is less auspicious.
First, allow me to clarify: yes, you can change people’s behaviors by holding them to higher images of themselves. It may be the only way you can do that. However, this only works in a consensual setting of an ongoing relationship of trust and mutual respect.
For example, if you walk up to some poorly-dressed person on the street and just start dispensing fashion advice, it’s not likely to go very far. Whereas the same advice to a friend, child or relative may have an effect.
The second zinger in this letter is the “I love him and we still have sex” part. All while the boy says he’s in love with someone else and considers the two of them broken up.
This is what I call Big Mac sex. Big Macs taste pretty good but are fantastically fattening (and maybe even poisonous). They also have minimal nutritional value and replace food that would be good for you. Also, you need both hands to eat a Big Mac, which means that you are in no position to accept the filet mignon that the world may be offering you.
The filet mignon in this case is the good guy who is into Mindy and would like to have a meaningful relationship with her. But what good guy would be dumb enough to date a girl who’s not only living with her ex but also having regular sex with him and professing to love him still and want him back?
This is the ultimate lose-lose situation.
Finally, there is the statement I want him back in love with me.
Do you? Really? I mean, it seems like this guy is giving you a pretty raw deal here. And yet, you want him back in love with you?
This exhibits two of the cardinal Tao of Dating sins. First, it’s forgetting that fulfillment is a feeling, not a person. Seems like Mindy here is assuming that somehow, Mr Ex is going to bring her fulfillment and no other man can. Is that true? Considering how there are 3 billion other men out there, it seems an unlikely proposition.
It’s also violating the principle of abundance (see 3 billion other men). Surely there’s someone out there with whom you can do better, Mindy.
It’s understandable that Mindy is in a bit of a quandary with her living arrangements. However, we’re never as stuck as we think we are, and Mindy’s got some homework to do. Once she starts disentangling herself from her ex and setting some boundaries that show respect for herself and him, then the door opens for further evolution in her life. That much is in her power.
Be sure to chime in with your comments regarding this matter — very curious what kind of experience others have had with this.
Great advice. Puts the situation in real perspective…3 billion other men and all! I have a friend who is living with a guy for the past 6 years. She wants to get married, but he is still married to his wife, although they have been separated for 7 years now. He also shows no signs of divorcing his wife, who happens to live in another country. What advice can you give her?
Hey Dr. Alex
I like it when you talk about this kind of situation. Big MAC sex is a great way to put it. I also feel that there is that addiction piece from that confusing oxytocin from sex ( which you’ve talked about) and the complete denial of reality that comes from “wanting things to be different.” I also feel that we get trapped in wanting what/who we can’t have. So, add some low self-esteem, a conviction that there is no one else + the belief that you’re in love with this DB and you’ve got love? Why do we do this to ourselves? Is there an evolutionary advantage to living in a self-created fantasy world? It’s like the Matrix…why wont we unplug and really see what’s in front of us?
And yet, people are not perfect. If he still wants to spend time with her, and be unfaithful to his new love, there must be something between them beyond mere convenience. Dating advice sometimes assumes that everyone is whole and has no baggage. Why shouldn’t, for example, a man who saw his parents fight through a bitter divorce, be hesitant about marraige. It doesn’t make him bad, or someone you should just leave. Things have to be considered wholistically. I would need *much* more ifnormation on the whole situation before judging that the person writing should just forget about this guy and have someone else. And also, it’s all very well to say there are 3 billion out there, but 10% are gay, many are married, depending on your age, still plenty of others are partnered, some are too old or too young. The abundance of which yous peak is a myth. I haven’t had a date in twenty years, despite being on 3 dating sites. I can understand why the woman writing is keen to stick with whatever she has, no matter how little. I would do the exact same thing
Excellent advice. I’ve met a few people that have gone through this situation. Mindy until you can afford to move out, stop sleeping in the same bed as him. Move into another room, sleep on the couch if you have to but set some clear physical boundaries.
Anonymous: fifty million, 3 billion, does the exact number really matter? Even if I met a new girl EVERY DAY for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t even break 50 thousand! And the truth is, there are WELL over 50 thousand women within acceptable age range in the United States, as well as most countries. In fact, in the US alone, there are 8 MILLION never-married women aged 20-24. There are 6.3 million never-married women aged 25-29, and another 3.2 million women aged 20-34 who have yet to marry (and don’t forget, this doesn’t count women who are divorced).
You could meet 100 new women every day, and still not meet all the available women in the US! Therefore, the words “not enough” are henceforth BANNED from your vocabulary.
And yes, hesitation is *sometimes* good. But there’s a major difference between “hesitating” and “stalling.”
My friend, listen up: 20 years without a single date? And you’ve joined 3 dating sites? I want to speak really, really clearly to you, in the most loving way possible:
You are not special. You haven’t been selected by fate to never have a date, and God hasn’t decided that you shall be forevermore celibate. The reason why you have gone 20 years without a date is because YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG. But that’s the good news. (yes, I said GOOD news. It is.) The good news is that because you are doing something wrong, you can FIX IT. You can start doing something right. That’s the point of evolution, isn’t it? We focus on our strengths, eliminate our weaknesses, find a tactic that works in life. Evolution. Maybe the reason WHY you have so few dates is because you “can understand why the woman writing is keen to stick with whatever she has, no matter how little. I would do the exact same thing.” Abundance is never a myth, unless you chose to limit yourself. Do you think that men like Alex achieved Nirvana through whining and clinging onto “whatever [they have], no matter how little?” Absolutely not. They took a chance. They responsibly looked at themselves, and took responsibility for where they were in life. They evolved, and grew. They didn’t take no for an answer, and they succeeded. The ONLY difference between them and you is a single choice. That’s it. It wasn’t fate, and it wasn’t destiny. It was a choice. They’re dudes like you and me who made a choice to evolve, and change, and become better men.
Love ya dude, but get some perspective. You CAN do it… but you have to allow yourself to. Don’t do this self-repressive bullshit and tell yourself that abundance is a myth. Life is out there. But you HAVE to take it. It won’t come to you. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to do a little better than you are now. And if you consistently do that, you’ll slowly become a more complete person. Good luck. You don’t have any excuses now.
@Jonathan: Great points on abundance and wealth-consciousness. Your post assumes that Anonymous (‘people are not perfect’) is a guy, but I’m pretty sure it’s a woman. Perhaps she’d like to clarify for us.
you rock! Are you single? Just kidding. Your statement is motivating and your words are well chosen. I think Anonymous is a woman clinging to a victim story…I only say that because I am a woman who used to cling to a different victim story!…but it’s very easy to get rid of that story/victimhood. I mean, it can really literally take moments and it’s gone. Sometimes, though getting to the place where we are ready to get rid of the story can take decades- even 2.