When Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist, joined me on Mondays With Marlo, she gave advice on how to escape a manipulative relationship. If you're in a situation like this, you need a strong support system. Surround yourself with friends and family who know about what's going on, and can remind you to back away when the manipulative person tries to drag you back in.
And for more wonderful advice on handling life's everyday dilemmas, see Gail's tips:
Take Control of Holiday Family Drama
When it comes to holidays and those relatives we don't get along with, rather than forcing something that "should be," limit the time that you're under the same roof together. Plan some activities that you can be distracted by, but still do as a group. This will help avoid intense conversation, which often leads to conflict. Also, get outstanding conflicts with individual family members out of the way, perhaps by phone, before you're all together in a situation where it's bound to blow up.
Don't Jump Into Bed Right Away
People, especially women, feel vulnerable after having sex. Be sure there's an emotional connection before being intimate with a partner for the first time. This means going on a few dates first, and letting some time go by. Find out if you really care about this person before sleeping with them to avoid getting hurt.
Talk To The Boss Who Screams
You cannot make people change. So, you can't change your boss, but you can change yourself and the dynamic of what's going on. Sit with your boss when he or she isn't yelling. Explain that you are really open to constructive criticism and that you respond best to a calm explanation of what isn't working. Don't be defensive. Don't fight fire with the same fire. Let them know you'd like them to stop it.
Realign That Mismatched Sex Drive With Your Partner
A mismatch of sexual drives is one of the most common problems couples have. Sometimes it's the woman who doesn't want sex all the time, sometimes it's the man. The best advice is to address it up front, but do NOT address it during a sexual moment. Remember that saying 'no' can feel to your partner like you're saying 'I don’t want you,' which is not the case. It is very important that you explain, "I do want you, I do desire you -- but just not all the time. Maybe we can meet somewhere in the middle that will work for both of us." Compromise is key, so both parties may need to adjust, but you can avoid hurt feelings by talking things out.
Recognize Those Red Flags For Mr. Unavailable
When we speak of "Mr. Unavailable," we are usually talking about someone who is commitment-phobic, a serial dater and most likely scared of intimacy. Yet we often miss the signs. Look at their history. Do they have patterns of jumping ship when things get too serious? Do they exhibit hot-and-cold patterns? When you start to get close, do they pull away? But then when you pull away they suddenly become available again? These are indications that, for whatever reason, this person is just not ready to commit. It is not about you, it is about him, and sometimes it's just best to move on.
Don't Be A Helicopter Parent
We really have become a generation of helicopter parents. The best way to think of it is that in order for your child to build resilience, you have to let them fail, fall down. That is a crucial part of them developing the skills they'll need to navigate their way through life. We are not doing our children any favors by micro-managing their lives. Hyper-competitiveness on the part of the parents does not help the child.
Learn To Identify A Psychopath
A psychopath is someone with intense narcissistic personality disorder - they are focused on themselves, they break rules and they don't feel guilty. They pride themselves on their deceptive skills and they are also usually quite intelligent, so they don't break rules that land them in jail. A psychopoath is somebody who seems to be in it for themselves, self-focused and they often display grandiose thinking. They tend to overblow their accomplishments, say they're terrific at many things and can't admit they are terrible at anything.
The Truth About Caregiver Burnout
Caregiving is one of the hardest things to be doing. We have heard the term caregiver burnout and it's not uncommon. The truth is, you should not be there 24/7. You need to call in other troops. It's very important to ask for help because caregiver burnout makes you depressed, and if you're depressed, you're no longer good to yourself. It is very important that you get sleep and tend to your own life as well as the one you are caring for. You need to maintain your own friends so that you do not get completely consumed.
Make New Friends After 50
It's true that it is hard to make new friends later in life. You have to be more conscious about making the effort. Think about shared activities through which you might find or meet new people – it might be at church, a synagogue, a book club or a bridge club. Take up a new activity or volunteer somewhere. Join a new exercise class or sign up for a wine tasting class. A similar interest is at the very least a starting point for a new friendship. And remember that the friends you do have -- they have other friends too. Let them know you would like to branch out a little.
Protect the Kids During a Divorce
As a general rule, when it comes to a divorce, the more shared custody, the better. If you can handle negotiations through a mediator and avoid going through a court, that is also better. Additionally, there are psychotherapists who specialize in divorce. They will help you to work together as a family to protect the children's best interests. What's at risk here is the child's mental health, the child's physical health, the possibility of them having sex too early or even teen pregnancy. So don' t just leave things to chance.
Watch Your Words With Dysfunctional Family Members
When it comes to dysfunctional family members who are unaware of their own situations or are unwilling to seek help, the way you communicate is key. You have to use the word "I," and not the word "you." By discussing your own feelings, thoughts and concerns in the first person without saying "you," you will be less likely to offend that person or sound accusatory when discussing the problem. And a less defensive person is more likely to hear what you are saying.
If there is something you need to do and you are not doing it, you probably have some kind of conflict about doing it. You have to figure out why you don't want to do this thing so you can evaluate how valid those reasons may be. Then make a list -- what is the plan for week one? When you make those things conscious by writing them out on a piece of paper, you have to start moving in the right direction.
Adjust To Change When Living Together
When you are adjusting to a new live-in partnership, it can sometimes be the little things that make you nuts. They may sound small and unimportant, but if you're being quiet about everything it's probably because you're angry. So rather than just simmering, say, 'Would it bother you if I made the bed?" He won't make the bed -- you can't have everything – but he will see that that is important to you and may become more aware of his habits. Remember, when you make a commitment to somebody, you may have to change too. Some things won't go your way, but others will. It's all a matter of balance.
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