Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Monday, April 4, 2016

RELATIONSHIPS: Can You Tame a “Bad Boy” to Settle Down?

Picture it: You’ve met a great guy but you can tell that he’s someone who isn’t yet settled and doesn’t seem to want settle down anytime soon. The problem? You want him to settle down with you! Is there something you can do to make him settle down? Keep reading and you’ll find that the answer is mostly no, with a touch of yes mixed in.

You can’t make a man settle down if he really doesn’t want to settle down yet.

You’ve probably met hundreds of guys like this at work, in your social circle, or when you’re out and about. You’ve seen Mr. Can’t Be Tamed hitting on multiple women, going from one date to another, and going out on the weekend with the energy of a bona fide human battery. Simply put, most guys who play the role of the “player” or the “bad boy” won’t be tamed for long by just one person. These men crave the stimulation and attention they get from playing the field, and giving up that sort of “drug” will take years – not weeks or months.

The few bad boys who can be tamed

In order for a bad boy to settle down, there has to be a part of him that has been thinking about and wanting to settle down. If there is a part of him that feels that he is outgrowing the player lifestyle, you have something to work with. The best way to figure out if a bad boy is ready for a long-term, monogamous relationship, simply ask. When you ask, ask him a few different ways, and don’t stop asking until you get a clear sense of what he wants.

A set of questions to ask to see if he is ready to settle down

“Are you interested in dating casually, or are you looking for someone you could potentially have a long-term relationship with? Do you and your friends still go out a lot on the weekends? If you settled down and got into a serious relationship, would you feel like you’re missing out a lot on things with your friends? Are most of your best friends single or settled down?” Granted, this may sound like a bit of an inquisition, but it’s actually only four questions, and this is an important issue! After all, you are trying to figure out if it is wise for you to invest your energy into this person. Once you have asked these few questions, you will have a much better sense of whether this is a man with whom you can settle down and start a serious relationship.

The reasons why some men don’t want to settle down now

The vast majority of men will settled down one day, meaning that they will choose a partner to set up house with and have a family. If a man does not want to settle down now but will settle down later, he doesn’t want to do it now because he still wants to celebrate his freedom and have fun while he can; his group of friends is still hanging out and he doesn’t want to miss out; or he is focused on developing his career and doesn’t want anything to get in the way of that at this point in time.

The reasons why some men don’t want to settle down ever

While the majority of men will one day settle down, some men never will choose the traditional, settled life. In other words, not every man will end up searching the car lot for that minivan. Most men who won’t settle down and choose a long-term relationship are single at heart, and they don’t want the attachment and intimacy that comes with married life. These men are really only turned on by having a spontaneous, indulgent lifestyle that would die a tragic death with a partner or kids. What’s more, many of these men have unresolved, major emotional issues that cause them to avoid settling down and committing.

The overall message

If you meet someone who hesitates about taking the relationship to the next level, ask yourself the following two questions: Does he want to settle down now? Will he ever settle down? You have to ask him these questions, too, but make sure that you don’t sound anxious, angry or judgmental when you ask. The truth is that most of us have an instinct that tells us whether someone is ready to settle down, so be extremely honest with yourself so that you can hear the answer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

PARENTING TIP: Always Be an Ally

Quick parenting tip:
No matter what you say or do with your child, always try to be an ally when you're doing it. Kids hate nothing more than being constantly told what to do by parents, teachers, coaches, and so on. When you tell your kids what to do, tell them to do things in a tone that is friendly and cool, not one that is domineering and authoritarian. The more you strive to be a parent and an ally whom they feel helps them, the smoother the relationship will be!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

RELATIONSHIPS: When You Can't Get Over Someone - Why You’re Stuck and Helpful Techniques

To begin, I feel your pain. Like most of you, I have someone in my past I couldn't quite get over, so I had to use several different techniques to nip the problem in the bud. If you are disciplined about it, you can get over anyone, no matter how great they are. The first step is the least expected one.

Understand that the reason why you can't get over this person is about your past, and not as much about that person. 

When you can't get over someone, you often question whether you're obsessed or whether something is wrong with you. You may have any of the following thoughts which all make you feel worse: What's wrong with me? Why can't I let go when my ex lets go see easily? At your lowest moments, you may feel silly or even pathetic, but you are not pathetic. Instead, there is another reason why you can't let go, and you need to search through your past to uncover the reason.

In most cases where a person can't let go of someone, they can't let go because they are still dealing with previous losses.

People who can't let go of someone usually experienced a major loss, rejection, or neglect by a parent when they were young. Later, as adults, these men and women are still searching for love but they don't know how to have a healthy relationship. No one has ever shown them how to do it. Deep down, men and women who can't let go are afraid that they will never meet someone else they could love, and they often fear that there is something unlovable about them. Because they feel flawed inside, they tell themselves that they have to hang onto whatever love they can get. 

How individuals with higher self-esteem are different

This experience is very different from men and women who had loving, supportive, and emotionally available parents because these individuals have good self-esteem and they will detach from a relationship when the relationship starts hurting them. With men and women who had major losses, who were neglected, or whose feelings or needs weren’t attended to when they were young, they will hold on for dear life to whatever love they can get, even if that relationship wasn’t fulfilling.

Techniques that will help you 

Contact and communication: You cannot have any contact or communication with the person you can’t get over until far into the future, when you are happier, have a higher self-esteem, and there are years between you and that old relationship.

Stop idealizing: If you can't get over someone, odds are that you are still idealizing him or her, forgetting about the bad stuff in the relationship and remembering only the good stuff. Write down a list of five or ten hurtful things that person said or did to you, and read it like a cue card when you start to feel sad and idealize him or her. If you use this technique and pull that list out regularly, You Will Get Eventually Get Over That Person. I promise!

Visualizing your next partner: Before you meet someone new, spend a chunk of time visualizing what you'd like your next partner to be like. Think about the following questions and picture your new partner. What kind of sense of humor would I like him to have? How physically affectionate would I like her to be? How much do I want us to share the same friends versus having some of our own friends? Would I like him to be into sports or outdoor activities? Do I hope that she's a bit of a home body? Visualize these characteristics and you will start to find yourself thinking less and less about that ex.

Ultimately, we must all remember that the end of a relationship is painful but that also that relationships are just one part of your life. Love is not the only thing that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning; you also probably have a job, friends, and things you like to do. Invest in working on your own emotional issues before you jump back into another relationship, and your next relationship will be better because you will have done the work to make it better. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

RELATIONSHIPS: 4 Signs of an Insecure Man

Insecure men come in every size and age, and they all share the need for affirmation. What does this mean exactly? You’ll understand in a moment when I share the four behaviors insecure men engage in more than their secure and confident male peers. First, however, it is important to note that most insecure men don’t even consciously know they’re insecure. While a handful of insecure men will admit to you and themselves that they are insecure, most insecure men are too ashamed and embarrassed of their insecurities to admit that to themselves, let alone you. This point is important because, at the end of the article, we will discuss whether it’s a good idea for you to tell him just how insecure he is.

Frequently asking for reassurance

Insecure men need reassurance like a shopping mall needs customers. Deep down, insecure men don’t believe that they are good enough on their own, so they frequently ask others for validation to make them feel better. The problem is that they only feel better for the moment. Ten minutes later, for example, that feeling of being good enough will be gone and they are going to need more reassurance. Insecure men frequently ask for another person’s opinion. They also frequently ask “How do I look?” or ask for other reassurance about their appearance. Finally, they frequently recount stories of success and ask for confirmation that they did well.

Comparing themselves to others

Insecure men often use social comparison in daily life. They are bean counters, never missing a beat about who has what, and who has the better or worse version of this or that. Insecure men are keenly attuned to power hierarchies, and they desperately want more power and control than they currently have. Insecure men compare themselves to men at work, constantly noting who is more or less successful; they compare their appearance or attractiveness to other men; and they have a habit of putting down men in all walks of life, which makes them feel better for the moment. Some insecure men will also idealize men in successful positions or men who seem to “have it all” on the surface: the pretty younger girlfriend, the family man whose home life always seems happy and free of problems or tensions, or the bachelor who has freedom and social excitement in his life.

Carrying a “chip” on their shoulder or caring about trivial things

Insecure men are pretty transparent, even though many insecure men want to believe that no one can see through them. The truth, though, is that people can always smell anxiety a mile away, and insecure men are full of internal anxieties. Insecure men are often bubbling with anger under the surface, and their anger or bitterness is noticeable in situations at work and in their social lives. It’s sad for these men that most of them don’t see how much they carry a chip on their shoulder, so they won’t truly get it if you point it out to them. Insecure men protect themselves with a shell – that chip on their shoulder – but they don’t realize how much they put off others in everyday situations and how much they sabotage their own goals.

Getting defensive

One of the most frustrating behaviors for the loved ones of insecure men is their tendency to get defensive when you challenge them or suggest that they were wrong about something. With insecure men, their ego is shaky to begin with, so anything that suggests that they were wrong or inadequate is met with a hostile defense. Simply put, their ego can’t take a lot of blows. These men are more fragile than most people would believe; it’s only the romantic partners or families of these men who know just how insecure they really are. If you want to feel frustrated on a regular basis in your relationship, date someone who is insecure and defensive.

The overall lesson

As frustrating as insecure men can be when you date them, please remember to view the problem through a lens of empathy. In other words, remember that no one wants to feel the way that insecure man feels, and that the poor guy hasn’t quite figured out how to “be” yet in his life. If you start dating an insecure man, don’t play therapist and psychoanalyze him: “I think these are your insecurities.”  Instead of turning him into your patient, say this instead: “I think you’re awesome, and I think you’re fine as is. But if you don’t feel like that, you could always go talk to someone for a few sessions.” What he does with that suggestion is something that only he can control.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Social Media Use Linked to Sleep Disturbance

Check out this new study which shows that social media use is linked to sleep disturbance in young adults: bit.ly/1PQSG3h. The article is available at Science Daily. As an adult, I also find that mindless surfing of the internet at night can also disturb your sleep. Before you know it, you've been online for an hour or two. If you ever get stuck on social media or surfing the net at night, set an alarm for a half-hour or hour so that you don't waste too much time online.

Monday, January 25, 2016

RELATIONSHIPS: Dating a Psychopath - 5 Clues and Signs

Have you ever been on a date with a psychopath? It would be hard to answer this question accurately because psychopaths are experts in disguise, and it can take a long time – months or even years – to see the full extent of the individual’s pathology. Psychopaths can be male or female, though research shows that more men are psychopaths than women. Check out a few of the primary traits of the psychopath so that you can be educated about what they look like and how they act, and you can detect them as early as possible in the dating process. Keep in mind that there is no loving romantic relationship to be had with a psychopath.

While most people believe that the psychopath lacks the capacity to form an attachment with anyone, this isn’t exactly true. Actually, some psychopaths do have an attachment to at least one person, and that person is often a mother or a grandparent who was loving and kind. Yet when it comes to romantic relationships, there is little to no hope of having a decent relationship with a psychopath. If someone displays only two or three psychopathic traits (e.g., some of the ones described below), there is room for mental health treatment and potentially a romantic relationship in the future.

Superficial charm

Yes, many people are charming, but the psychopath is charming in a way that doesn’t quite add up. He is a story teller and tells stories that always place him in a good light, and the stories don’t feel totally believable. The most important point about the charm of the psychopath is that he often seems too smooth to be entirely real.

Grandiose sense of self worth

There is a significant overlap between narcissism and psychopathy. Every psychopath is narcissistic, but not every narcissist is psychopathic. While narcissists are oriented around establishing themselves as superior in every situation, the psychopath is focused on having power over others and exploiting others to get their needs met. In general, the psychopath is far more dangerous than the narcissist because the psychopath doesn't form true attachments and he feels no remorse, even for the most heinous, injurious behaviors.

Pathological lying

The frequency and depth of lies with the psychopath is mind-blowing. The psychopath can manufacture a lie out of thin air, so quickly that you almost automatically believe him. The psychopath manufactures lies with extreme details, and you feel like he must be telling the truth because he goes to such lengths to defend his lies. If you challenge the psychopath on a lie, watch out: He will not be happy, and he will find a way – direct or subtle – to punish you.

Lack of remorse or guilt

Not feeling guilty or remorseful for doing something hurtful is part and parcel of the psychopathic package. The psychopath does what he wants, regardless of the effect of on others. It’s important to note that not all psychopaths are the same, meaning that there is a spectrum of psychopathic traits. Many people have some psychopathic traits – say, one or two of the characteristics listed here. These individuals have personalities that are disordered to the point that they relate to people and have expectations that are out of sync with the rest of the world. They are frustrating and confusing to interact with, and it is extremely challenging to have a romantic relationship with them. At the most severe end of the psychopathic spectrum, the psychopath has no conscience at all. These individuals will engage in the most vicious behaviors imaginable and they won't think twice about their behavior.

No empathy

Lacking empathy is another issue you will see clearly and early on with the psychopath, regardless of where they fall on the spectrum. For example, if you tell a psychopath a story that upset you or seriously hurt your feelings, the psychopath won’t have much of an emotional reaction. He may try to say or do something that sounds empathetic, but it feels shallow and false. Psychopaths often study the emotional reactions of characters on TV or men and women in everyday life, trying to master how to convey emotions because psychopaths don't feel a range and depth of emotions naturally.

An overall cautious approach

The odds aren’t great that you will encounter a severe psychopath in your dating life, but they definitely live and socialize in some of the same areas as you. Knowing the signs of a psychopath can help you detect these red flags quickly so that you never get to the point where you develop a real emotional attachment to a psychopath. In the best case, the attachment will not be reciprocated; in the worst case, you could end up broke, depressed, physically hurt or even dead.