Have You Been Naughty or Nice?

I recently had a little talk with Santa.

Santa, a few Elves, and I decided we’d give you a couple of weeks to rectify any naughty behaviors you’ve been engaging in this year. Below is an incomplete list of naughty behaviors (the kind of naughty I don’t want you to engage in:


You’ve tried to change your partner. You broke my first relationship principle and dated someone with ‘potential.’ Well, by now you know that you can’t change people – especially a partner.

You’ve criticized your partner more than you complimented him/her.

You’ve looked through your partner’s phone, computer, social media, etc., to see if they are trustworthy.

You’ve allowed your partner to control you, including telling you who you can hang out with, how to dress, what your makeup should look like, where you should go, etc.

You’ve behaved like a lesbian (even if you’re straight) by throwing yourself into your relationship and ignoring the other aspects of your life by abandoning your friends and family.

You’ve choked on your truth because you’re conflict-avoidant.

You’ve blamed your partner for your unhappiness.

You’ve cheated on your partner – and plan to continue (both parts are wrong).


You accept that your partner isn’t perfect - because no one is.

You catch your partner doing things right – and you make sure to tell them.

You’ve taken the time to learn your partner’s Love Links (aka, love languages), and you try to communicate express your feelings using their links – not your own.

You understand that trust isn’t about being able to predict your partner’s behaviors or whereabouts at any given moment. You get that it’s about having the ability to survive whatever your partner does (because we can’t control others).

You express yourself in your relationship.

You’re committed to your own personal growth and development as an individual, knowing that you’ll be a better partner as a result.

You manage your emotions in your relationship, which means that your partner generally feels safe speaking their truth.

You’re willing to have difficult or sensitive conversations.

You try to support your partner’s goals and dreams, wanting them to be their brightest self.

You communicate directly rather than dropping hints, speaking indirectly or expecting your partner to mind read.

The 2nd Biggest Relationship Myth – DEBUNKED

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My boyfriend says that he's confused because sometimes he wants me and only me but then his mood changes and he wants other people. He says he loves me and I know I love him. We've broken up before but it's like we're lost without each other. Can you help?


 Of course I can help.  Whether you’ll like my help once you hear it is another question.

People think that the hardest part of a relationship is finding a person to be in a relationship with.

Specifically, the right person.

I don’t think there are right and wrong partners (outside of abusive partners).

Just partners who:

a)     Haven’t done the work to determine whether or not their values are compatible, and/or, partners who:

b)     Haven’t learned the relationship skills needed to figure out the answer to “a.”

 People think that the only thing needed for a successful relationship is LOVE.

Your situation underscores exactly how naive that belief is.

Here’s the deal: Most people want to be with other people at some point during a committed relationship.

God knows I find other people attractive. And I just asked my wife, Steph, if she finds other women attractive, to which she responded, “Yes. Is that OK?”

Of course it’s OK. I’d find it weird (or more likely, bullshit) if she told me she never finds other people attractive. The thing that makes You, Steph, and me different from your boyfriend is that we’re not going to act on that attraction – because we’ve decided that being in a monogamous, committed relationship is more important than any momentary attraction that we might feel for another person.

The bottom line is that your boyfriend isn’t in the same place you’re in.

He doesn’t value the relationship over his desire to be with other people.

And you see his desire to be with other people as a conflict of interest.

So, one of you needs to consider adjusting your values. Otherwise, the relationship is over. 

Either he decides to prioritize a monogamous relationship over his desire to be with other people (as honorable adults do when they’re in a committed monogamous relationship), or (get ready for it)…

You decide that you value your boyfriend over your desire to be in a committed monogamous relationship – and have an open relationship.

The choice is yours.

Gender and Orientation: Female, Straight






You Attract What You Try to Avoid in Relationships


Amy is one of my favorite clients. I’ve changed her name of course.

She’s been dating her girlfriend for 2 years. Her primary complaint today is the same one she had in the first 3 months of her relationship:

Her girlfriend tries to avoid any discussions that involve potential conflict.

So basically, Amy’s girlfriend never wants to discuss anything serious – because just requesting a conversation makes The Girlfriend worry that the conversation will lead to a fight, otherwise, why would Amy want to talk about it?

Amy, who is the first to admit that her emotional needs would place her in a high maintenance category, feels forever silenced by the girlfriend.

The irony is that Amy is anything but silenced. She feels silenced, muted, unheard – particularly since she rarely gets to express her complaint du jour – but what she manages to convey (ad nauseam) is her frustration over her girlfriend’s avoidance of having discussions. 

This is the conversation she has almost daily:

AMY  “What do you expect me to do when I want to talk about something and it’s never the right time?”

THE GIRLFRIEND “We can make an appointment to talk about it another time.”

AMY “Every time we schedule an appointment, you cancel or tell me it’s not a good time!”

The paradox is that The Girlfriend gets exactly what she wants to avoid most: Conflict.

I used to wish I was conflict avoidant. Those couples always seem so content; their unexpressed gripes so well controlled, politely pasted into plastic smiles which most people mistake for happiness.

I never had that kind of self-control.

I come from fighters. A whole family of people who pride themselves on being real and honest and a go fuck yourself if you don’t like it mentality.

I didn’t think there was a problem with the way my family resolved conflict. By the time I left the nest and entered my first marriage, the only family problem I could see was that my mother had married a rageful guy who terrorized us all.  He’s been gone since I was a teenager, so between that, the fact that he and I weren’t biologically related (so I couldn’t have inherited his craziness), and everyone’s confirmation that my husband was as gentle as they come, I figured I dodged a bullet and wouldn’t have a repeat of my childhood in my new home.

The thing is, if you don’t heal it, you marry it. Or recreate it.

I’m too subjective to decide if my ex came to me with some wires crossed or if my fighting style could provoke a priest into madness. But the guy I married started to look a lot like the one my mother married.  

The thing is, I was a therapist.

A good one.

With a Ph.D.

How the hell could this have happened to me?

Because it turns out, you attract the very thing you want to avoid in life. Particularly in relationships.

Just like Amy’s girlfriend, I unconsciously recreated my worst fears in that relationship.

Then, hoping to 'pick better,’ I threw myself into dating rather than therapy.  I figured the problem was him.

Until it was her.

OK. This isn’t my memoir, or even a teaser thereof.

This is a cautionary tale.

The solution to your relationship problems isn’t outside of you.  It isn’t your ex, or your partner, or your life circumstances.

It’s you.

The good news is, you have complete control over how your story ends.

Just like I did.

Will you throw yourself into your own work like I did?