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Archive for the 'Advice' Category

Jun 09 2014

Internet Dating and Sociopaths.

Published by under Advice



(So, I’m taking a break from talking about really, really good relationships and I’m going to talk about really bad ones that usually don’t last.)

I saw a great TED talk. If you’re considering websites and online dating, as many are, this talk is very helpful.

However, the main reason I mention this talk is that she tells a very dark, funny-but-dark story of a first date, arranged on line, and the guy turns out to be a sociopath. Only a small surprise.  The internet dating scene is filled with such folks and my experience as a coach in these realms has included hearing many such stories.

I got close to this sociopath stuff with the most popular blog I ever wrote.  “Is your boyfriend a Werewolf?”  But the guys in that article were basically good guys with a dark side. When it comes to sociopaths, I’m not so sure. But maybe it’s the belief that he’s not so bad, really that tempts people.  There is a cartoon in the New Yorker that I love that shows a woman introducing her boyfriend to her parents and the boyfriend is obviously a vampire. He has those long teeth and his hair comes to a point and the woman is saying, “I know, but I think I can change him.”  Good joke.    Send article as PDF   

One response so far

Oct 20 2010

Creating the Wise Conversation: Rules for the Searching and Fearless Conversation (SFC): The Heart of Relationship Hygiene

By Philip Belove, Ed.D.

In a New Yorker cartoon by Leo Cullum, the elephant is on the psychoanalyst’s couch and saying with a pained expression, “I’m right there in the room, and no one even acknowledges me.”

Post to Twitter    Send article as PDF   

8 responses so far

Oct 02 2010

Hatred, Emotional Baggage, the Book of Jonah, and the Lessons of Yom Kippur in Dealing with an Ex.

Sometimes intimate relationships fail because the partners grow to hate each other’s company. “Hate.”  It’s a strong word.

Hatred is wild and strange.  I’ve counseled people who are dealing with an ex who is intoxicated by hatred.  Such people are willing to use children, the legal system, and vandalism to make a former partner’s life miserable. They do it in a gleeful frenzy. They are scary because they feed off their hatred and there’s no stopping them except by going to war against them and defeating them thoroughly.  Most of us don’t like going to war.

For most of us hatred is  uncomfortable.  For most of us, when we are angry we are angry about a principle, a value, something that seems bigger than the issue at hand.  But when anger shifts to hatred it’s because we’ve made the issue personal. Often people who like to hate are also proud of the fact that their values are so personally held.

Because hatred is a personal matter and because the pain associated with it is often so close to the surface, most folks shift from hatred to disgust.  Disgust is the way we put distance between our self and the thing we hate.  In disgust we don’t have to resolve the hatred. We can simply go past it and seek the more comfortable state of denial.  We resolve to simply never see, speak or think about the person we “used to” hate.  We do this for our protection, and sometimes for their protection. We cut them off.    Send article as PDF   

6 responses so far

Aug 17 2010

Physical attraction?

It’s not the only factor in choosing a mate. Probably you could sort all the reasons why you would want a relationship with someone into three categories.

First, there is just the animal connection. Every creature on earth, bugs, fish, birds, marsupials and mammals comes in two sexes. The animal connection is important and it is deep. But it’s not all.

We are also social animals and we live in tribes and families and communities and cultures, all with intricate demands which we honor. Any mating of two people has to answer to social realities.

And finally, we are spiritual animals. We each believe that our individual lives do matter and we care about how we use this gift of our life.

So in the great scheme of things, as important as physical chemistry is, it is not the whole taco. Even so, it is not to be ignored. Here is a quiz to help you think about some of the aspect of physical chemistry. All the answers are based on psychological research. Answer each question, true or false.

1. Physical Chemistry (PC) develops over time.
False. Relationships can develop over time. Social and spiritual considerations can outweigh matters of physical chemistry. But PC is immediate. It is an animal response. It is connected to immediate sense perception, and it is based on mechanisms which evolved over the million years when humans were just another kind of wild animal.    Send article as PDF   

4 responses so far

Aug 03 2010

Is Your Boyfriend a Werewolf?

by Philip Belove, Ed.D.
Remember “The Wolf Man”? It was old silver screen horror story that mayseem pretty tame by today’s standards, but lately I find myself thinking about it as I work with people struggling to create good, intimate relationships.
Here’s a plot summary: The lead character is warm and easy to be with — that is, except during full moons, when he grows long teeth and hair, gets angry and rips people apart. He can’t help it; he is a good person, but with a curse. But here’s the key part: He wants to be released from his curse and the only way that can happen is for someone who really loves him to shoot him through the heart with a silver bullet. He has to be in a relationship with someone he really loves and she has to see the darker side of who he is and then she has to destroy him.
Someone who approved this script said, “That’s right. That makes a certain kind of sense.”
How does this weird lesson apply to the successful creation of a long term relationship?    Send article as PDF   

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Feb 15 2010

How to Read Your Relationship Clearly, Find the Breakthrough Point You Need, And Take the Next Step.

Published by under Advice

People go into their professions for personal reasons. Whatever work we learn to do, it’s often work we’re drawn to. There’s something about it that fascinates us. I went into psychology because I was fascinated by relationships. One of my earliest memories is lying in bed and listening through the walls to one of my parent’s arguments and trying to figure out what was going on.  To be fair to them, I also remember lying in bed late at night and hearing my fathers low voice and then my mother’s laughter. But the fascination was the same: How did that relationship work?

Sixty years later I’m still listening to relationships and thinking about how they work. I became a psychologist in 1978 with a focus on marriage and family. Since the mid-1990’s I’ve focused on how people create relationships after divorce and since 2000 or so I’ve been online as Dr. Belove (my real family name).  By 2010, I’d worked with over 3500  people answering questions and collecting their stories.

Sometimes I’ve wondered  how best to explain what I did.  I wasn’t promising to help someone create the love for all eternity. I don’t think that’s a promise anyone can deliver on.  All I wanted to do was to show them how to keep the relationship on track. A relationship is like a child. It has a life and soul of its own. All you can do is help it stay true to itself and be what it wants to be, and this has to be done one step at a time.  It seemed to me that the secret to successful relationship coaching was to help the partners figure out how to help the relationship take that next step, just one more step in the right direction, whatever that was.  To do that you had to be able to see where the relationship was standing already.    Send article as PDF   

4 responses so far

Sep 24 2009

What you want to think about if you are Dating Online

Published by under Advice

(This is an article by the late and brilliant Sue Price.)

Dating Online

by Susan Price, M.A.
Ask more questions, or let us know whether you personal experiences with dating online have been good or bad. we will publish interesting answers! Write me here! – Sue Price

Hi Sue,

I noticed you mentioned once about online personals. I have tried this before with some, shall I say, discomfort. Still, I feel it’s time to make more of an effort to make friends. It appears a lot of dating in the 90’s-2000’s is based online. I am wondering how to write an effective profile and also if you have any site recommendations.

Thanks, Sheila

Dear Sheila,

Thanks for your question! It’s one I am happy to answer in detail. I think the two best sites are and is probably the best. I think it’s very important to put a picture up, because far more men answer profiles with pictures, even if they’re not just looking for very good looking women. A picture sort of “personalizes” your profile!

Make it an attractive one that is recent, and close enough to what you look like now that a man could recognize you from it when he meets you. If you don’t have any recent pictures, buy one of those cheap disposable cameras they sell in all the drugstores, preferably one with a flash, and have a friend fill it up with a variety of pictures of you. Then, when you take it in to be developed, ask the store to put the results “on disk”. That makes it easy to put up on your chosen singles dating website.    Send article as PDF   

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Sep 24 2009

Single at Midlife and What That Means

By Philip Belove, Ed.D.

This is a site for midlife single adults. Their needs are different than those of younger people. Here is a short overview of the unique situation of the midlife single. If you are under 25 and single, you are single simply. If you are over 40 and single, you are single with an explanation. You have a story to tell about it.

There are two important points here. First, maturing means learning to live with your own story. Second, reconciling yourself to your story is easier when you see how it is also the story of your times. You are not alone, even in how you construct your private relationships you follow the social rules of your time – and those social rules are changing. I want to expand on both these points starting with the connection between your story and the story of your times.

We live in unusual times as far as intimate relationships are concerned. We live in a culture that supports leaving them.

According to 1995 census figures, of the adults between 45 and 65, roughly 30% are not married. Most are not married because of divorce. A significant portion has been divorced more than once.    Send article as PDF   

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Jul 04 2009

A Relationship has a Mind of Its Own

Published by under Advice,Miscellaneous

  • A relationship is a shared mental process.
  • A relationship has a presence, a personality and an emotional impact.  It can and will make demands on both partners. It shapes how partners see each other.  It is a lens through which partners understand each other.
  • It has a mind and a heart of its own but it doesn’t have a body. Instead of flesh and blood, a relationship is formed by the constant flow of the ten thousand messages, and reactions to those messages, that flow constantly between the two minds of the two partners.
  • In other words, a relationship is a spiritual entity.  Like an Angel?  Maybe Except its presence can be seen with scientific instruments. Brain imaging can observe how the neural activity in one partner is mirrored by similar neural activity in the same brain areas in the other partner, a visible marker of empathetic resonance. If it’s an angel, it is one that you can see on a computer monitor.
  • Despite the hard science evidence, a relationship doesn’t live in the concrete world. A relationship lives in the world of stories. Stories register in our brains and make us think and feel in various ways.  We humans are, maybe more than anything else, creatures who tell stories. We live stories and will even die for stories. The deeper, more intimate the relationship, further it sends its roots into both partners’ stories – into the heart of their lives.    Send article as PDF   

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Apr 29 2009

What can possibly go wrong?

Published by under Advice,Miscellaneous

They started the session so pleased with each other and the promise of their relationship. They’d been through a lot and now it looked like they were in for a patch of fair weather. However, thanks to my careful questioning and comments I’d managed to bring her to the point of seething resentment and in response, he was on the cliff edge of committing himself to some way of expressing some kind of punitive and spiteful payback: He was suddenly more than willing to do exactly those very the things she feared, just make her eat her damn words and stew in her own fears until she choked. Based on that I figured the session was a success.

Perhaps you are wondering why? Let me give you some background and also let me see if I can persuade that this was a good exercise for both them. And also, perhaps I can persuade you that this exercise might be a good idea for you and your partner.

They’d had a hard ride, these two. It had been a difficult on-again-off-again relationship. Honeymoon became hell became break-up became make-up became honeymoon became hell and round and round. It had happened enough times that they knew and feared their routine. This in itself was great progress. Before this realization they seemed surprised to find themselves again and again in the same place.    Send article as PDF   

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