Advice Column for Relationships | Solutions for healthy relationships at home & work.

Self Help Advice Column for Healing Relationships

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Self Help Advice Columnist on Healing Relationships

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Dear KRS,
I am tired of being
called fat by my boyfriend. I am about 5'2 and I weigh 125 pounds. What kind of exercise will give me a flat stomach and how much should I weigh?
Too Fat For Boyfriend

Dear NOT Too Fat,
Low self-esteem is often at the core of food and weight issues. Thinking negatively about yourself radiates a message to the world to think the same. This reinforces your own negative thoughts and perpetuates an ongoing low self-worth (and often eating) cycle. While eliminating your boyfriend from your life (and anyone else who doesn't treat you with respect or thinks you’re not good enough) is a good first step, you also need to work on respecting yourself. Once you do, the right people will appear in your life.

Start by being aware when you are giving yourself negative messages and replace them with the opposite, positive message such as, "I am healthy and happy and deserve respect from myself and those around me." Repeat your new positive phrase(s) throughout the day, write them down again and again, post them on your wall, write them in the sky... You get the idea. Make self-respect your new hobby. Read about it, learn about it and the shift will come.

According to the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, you are within the suggested weight guidelines for a medium-framed woman. Click the "Exercise" icon in the "Ask KRS" column for good stomach exercise ideas.

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Dear KRS,
I am a 33 year old male
who has never been married. My problem is that I have not had many dates or relationships. Since age 15 I have had 7 different relationships. The one I was just “dumped” from lasted 9 months. The relationship before that (10 years ago) lasted 3 years.

I am not a very outgoing person and have never initiated a relationship, but I want so badly to be loved and married, raising a family, working together, “till death do us part”. When I am in a relationship, if I am interested in the girl and find her qualities admirable I almost immediately fall head over heels in love and try to work towards a serious relationship.

But in this last relationship when I told her I loved her she immediately turned COLD. I don’t understand it because we shared quality time together. She took me to visit her home town, on a week’s vacation, and the “physical aspect” seemed to be very satisfying for us both.

Now I‘m depressed and feeling myself going back to a feeling of no self worth...... how can I be a more outgoing person and not fall so easily for love? How can I know when it’s the right person? Also, could ADD have something to do with this, and if so how?
Can’t Find a Wife

Dear Can’t Find Wife,
Thanks for having the courage to write. I’d like you to apply this same courage to practice initiating conversations with women. If this sounds too scary at first, just start by smiling and saying “hello” to women you pass (in the grocery store, on the street, everywhere). Some will reciprocate, others may not. It doesn’t matter. You are just practicing.

Say hello to at least one woman a day. Don’t have dating or anything else in mind. Just a friendly hello. When you feel you are ready, practice a follow-up line, such as “Isn’t a beautiful day?” or anything that may come naturally.

Realize that just because a relationship or an initiated conversation doesn’t work out, it does NOT mean something is wrong with you. Do not take it personally. You just need to find your right match. However, your eagerness/need for a “relationship and love and marriage” may be a bit overwhelming to some women. Slow down a little and get comfortable being with yourself. Happiness starts from within, and if you are discontent there, you will never find happiness in another person.

ADD could play a part in this with regards to not staying focused and patient during the beginnings of a relationship or jumping into them too fast.

Keep a diary of your progress and record your feelings as you go. Also write about your urgency to be married. Would you be so eager if you had lots of friends and a busy social life? It may be worthwhile developing a social life before you go racing down that aisle. Join groups, go to classes, focus on friends versus a wife for the time being. You will be a happier, more balanced person if you stay with this challenge. This, right now, is your life’s work.

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Dear KRS,
I want to change
the person I am. I want to change on the inside and be happier with who I am which will in turn help me with my relationship. I feel if I don’t do this I will lose the love of my life. I just am lost and don’t know where to start but am willing to do whatever it takes. Please help me.
- Want to Change Myself

Dear Change,
Your honesty is admirable and I know there are many people who have these same feelings. 

First, honor exactly who you are right now. You are a worthy person on this planet who deserves to find fulfillment in your life’s work, love and a stronger connection to your higher self.

The only tweak I’d make in your goals is the part about hoping that “changing yourself” will save your relationship.  Focus on nurturing your inner light for your OWN sake. This may in turn strengthen or release your relationship, depending on how the relationship aligns with your newfound self. The drive to save a relationship shouldn’t be the core reason for self discovery – and I know you already realize that as you are reading this.

Areas of focus for you:
1) Creativity
2) Spirituality
3) Volunteering

You may select one or all three of these areas. To begin, write a list of things that you might like to explore in each of the three focus areas.  For example, take classes in painting, yoga or meditation. You might consider teaching something you know (or just volunteering) at a youth center, assisted living center or animal shelter. Helping others seldom fails to “get people out of themselves” and feeling alive and connected again.

This is a fun list, not work, but you’ll still need to get organized (and make goals) about actually doing it. As you “come alive again” that energy will emanate out to others, including your relationship.  And, once you come alive again you may or may not feel the same connection or need for that relationship. It’s an exciting journey with good things in store for you.

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Dear KRS, 
Last week
my problems with a neighbor came to a head for me personally. We have lived in our house for five years with our young family and our older neighbors always seemed friendly, nothing more than a cheery hello, but friendly. This seemed to change some months ago when I had some building work done on the house. The neighbor complained about the noise and I apologized for not informing them there would be a morning of noisy work. 

Since then he has refused to acknowledge me when we pass in the street. This upset me a great deal and it has been pondering on my mind for months, I have found myself stopping the children from playing too loudly and have felt as if I am creeping about in my own house. 

Ironically last week my neighbor was playing their music so loud you could hear it in every room in our house. I didn't go around to complain as I felt it would achieve nothing. My wife says it should not worry me as the music only lasted thirty minutes, and as for friends we have many to rely upon. 

I feel at the heart of the matter though are the feelings I have personally as a man, I have avoided any confrontation and have felt weak emotionally. I have had irrational ideas about outcomes and have felt stressed over the whole situation. I have even expressed an interest of moving to my wife, which she is unhappy about but will support me in. 

Can you offer any support to combat the stress I am feeling? Any life advice for dealing with difficult people? Or do you feel I need to think about another area of the problem? 
- Neighbor Problems 

Hi Neighbor Problems – 
You are to be congratulated for wanting to resolve this issue. Most people stuff things like this and let it haunt them indefinitely. The reaction of your neighbors seems to be over-the-top. One morning of construction noise and months of not talking. Kind of sad for everyone involved.

Older people are often resistant to change (as are many younger people). You might just continue with taking the “higher road.”

Knock on their door (perhaps with a bottle of wine or basket of fruit?) and say: 1) you just wanted to acknowledge them as great neighbors and give them good wishes OR 2) nicely say that you have felt things have been a bit “off” and you’re not sure why, but that you’d like to get things back on track with them. Often people will turn around quite easily with a mild gesture. (If they don’t answer the door, leave the gift with a nice note saying the above).

They may feel that they have been owed an apology and have been subconsciously “wailing” for it all this time. If your goodwill gesture doesn’t turn things around, the negative behavior on their part may be about control or something similar. Then your best bet is to focus on the other friends you have and always wish the negative neighbors well – both in your heart and to their faces, whenever you may meet. 

It is a good exercise for you to not allow yourself to be judged by others and to free yourself of carrying THEIR baggage. If everything you put out to them is positive, they will likely come around eventually. In taking this gentle but assertive active role (vs mirroring their behavior, etc) your self-esteem will be recaptured along with any feelings of emasculation. 

This experience was given to you so that you can grow. Be grateful for the challenge and embrace it. You can do it.

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Dear KRS,
I am always stressed
and depressed because of my father. Whatever I do is never good enough and I can’t deal with him anymore. I am 18 years old and he acts like I am 12. He talks to me like he knows everything and I know nothing. 

I am included in a book that recognizes the best students in the United States but he still thinks that I am an idiot because I failed one of my finals (although I still have an 85 average). I just can’t take it anymore.
Not Good Enough for Dad

Dear Good Enough,
Parents often have a hard time letting go of their babies. They knew you when you were helpless and needed them for everything and it is hard for them to shift that emotional picture. A conflict between parent and child is common in the teen years and is part of the normal separation process. Unfortunately, the process can be hurtful with unkind words being said along the way. 

Be confident that you are growing up into a wonderful, talented person and that your father really does love you. Try to treat him with respect during the process, but you might also want to try talking with him as well. 

Ask him out to lunch (just the two of you) or a walk where you have privacy and can talk. Do it when neither of you are angry about a recent anger-provoking topic. Keep your tone relaxed and calm no matter what as you express yourself. Rather than criticize him, be open about the hurt you are feeling. Be vulnerable and perhaps he will be as well. 
Good luck & hang in there

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Dear KRS,
I am in love with a man I have been seeing for a year and we are thinking about marriage. The problem is my insecurity. When we’re not together I worry about what he is doing and if he has lost interest and so on. But my "fantasy worries" disappears when we are together and everything is fine. How can I let go of my worry and just trust love? I don’t want to tell him about my insecurities because it might drive him away.
Insecure About Love

Dear Insecure,
Insecurities and jealousy will ruin a relationship sooner or later. Your insecurities may stem from childhood – for example, being abandoned in some way by your parents. Low self-esteem can create a ton of problems where there are none, or heighten small incidences because you are essentially looking at the world and your relationship through "insecure-colored-glasses." No matter how much your higher self knows everything is fine and that these are just "fantasy worries," your insecure inner child will react from old programming unless you make a conscious effort to change it. I suggest some counseling so you can come to better understand this side of your personality and eventually clear it out. If you just focus on trying to hide this from your boyfriend you will run into trouble because he will see it one day, if he is not already aware of it. Discuss it with him and tell him you intend to work on it. Honesty is so freeing and much appreciated by everyone. It will also relieve you of the stress of containing this secret.

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Dear KRS,
Every year around Thanksgiving, conflicts seem to break out in our family and we are pulled apart rather than drawn together during the holiday season. Who will go where for the holidays? Who will do the cooking? What about Grandma...and so on. We are all grown and a few of us have our own families, but we don't act very adult during this time. By now I realize that the timing of these conflicts each year is not a coincidence. A few of my friends have mentioned that the same thing happens in their families. This year, with our nation all drawing together after September 11th, our disagreements seem all the more petty. Can you help us resurrect this holiday season before it's too late?
Family Conflicts During the Holidays

Dear Family,
Holidays can tend to set up a sense of expectation that echoes our childhood fantasies and sugar plum fairy dreams. Store window displays, street decorations and laughing Santas everywhere deluge us with visions of holiday perfection and how it is "supposed" to be. A part of us still longs for the way it was or the way it should have been and never was. Instead, unmet dreams along with extra responsibilities and bills to be paid collide with the unmet dreams of others around us and…the stage is set for conflict. Our old childhood buttons are sensitized and easily pushed by others. Over time, the habit of holiday unhappiness sets in and it can be a challenging cycle to break unless some consciousness of the big picture is attained. One way to experience a more accurate "big picture" is to simply declare it. Make a sign for yourself that says, "I give myself permission to be happy around the holidays." Feel free to decorate your sign and spend time on it, like a childhood coloring assignment. Post your sign in a prominent place and let the message of the sign sink in, down to all of your frustrated, hurt or unfulfilled subselves (inner selves from days gone by, such as your angry teen or your five-year-old). Your subselves will be relieved to hear this simple message; relieved to realize that happiness is an option; relieved to know that you can break the cycle of past holiday emotional states starting right now.

Another exercise that works well for many people is to focus on those things for which you are truly thankful. If gratitude is resistant, don’t force it and most importantly, don’t feel guilty that you are unable to induce it at this time. On the other hand, if this gratitude exercise sounds like it might be helpful, proceed to make a list of those things for which you are thankful. Sound corny? Try it anyway. You’ll be surprised at how your list will begin to shift your attention from your unmet needs and old story lines. Elaborate on any or all of the items on your list. You may find yourself writing a novel.

When you are generating positive energy and thoughts, it is likely to spread to those around you, even more powerfully than negative energy and thoughts. Enjoy the holidays!

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Dear KRS,
A new guy I've been dating is causing me more stress than my job ever has.  He is a perfect match in so many ways but never calls when he says he will.  At work I am good at solving problems, but this situation feels so frustrating and out of my control.   It's making me crazy.
Boyfriend is Causing Stress

Dear Boyfriend is Causing Stress,
You are not alone.  Matters of the heart affect us at our deepest emotional core and can arouse more emotions than just about anything else.  Recognizing this can help a lot since feelings of isolation and loneliness often follow perceived rejection (notice the word perceived).  Also remember that it's generally less about personal rejection and more about a whole list of his own psychological "stuff."

Another thing we should talk about is control.  You may control what goes on at your desk all day long, but you can't make a person be someone he isn't, no matter how much you want it or need it.  Letting go of him is a good opportunity to practice letting go of control.  Also, if a relationship is causing stress in what should be the honeymoon phase, you've probably got big trouble ahead.  Summon up all your will to survive and end it.  It only hurts for a while.

I'm not even going to bother launching into a lecture on communication skills and "working through it."  Save your energy for a relationship with a chance.  Let that great brain of yours help out your aching heart with a little logic.   Replace his picture with a notecard to keep by your phone that neatly lists his misdemeanors.  Then when the urge to call him seems overwhelming, you'll have "the right picture" on hand.  Just get some time behind you and realize that there is life after heartbreak. Incidentally, this "letting go of control" exercise may seem detestable now, but it will bring a sweet smile of self-knowledge to your face the next time a control issue (of any variety) comes knocking.


Dear KRS,
My husband and I both work long, hard days and when we get home we are drained.  We eat, watch some television and go to bed.  What conversation there is mostly revolves around household business.  We'd both like to exercise more which would probably give us more energy but then we'd spend even more time apart.  We made a conscious choice not to have children so we could be together and have the freedom to do what we want when we want.  That's not happening and I don't like where we're heading.
Drained Couple

Dear Drained Couple,
No surprises here.  Drained at the end of the day = drained, flat communication and potential drained, flat relationship.  For starters, how about setting a once a week "date" to exercise together?  If possible, make it on the weekend and be specific about the time and activity.  Walk or bike around town - or drive to a part of town (or the country) that is conducive to the activity.  I particularly like walking or hiking as a couple activity because it also serves as a natural, non-threatening and inexpensive therapy session.  My private clients love it when we do talking/walking sessions.  Psychologists should try it.  Exercise opens the mind and heart and stimulates healthy communication that is actually enjoyable (versus sitting across from each other and saying "Okay, now it's our time to communicate...").  Believe it or not, exercise in the form of yard work or cleaning the garage together can also be a bonding experience if both approach it with the right frame of mind.  A mission with rewards that extend beyond a nice looking yard.


Dear KRS,
How do you fall out of love?  I dated this man for 2 months and I fell in love with him.  We are no longer together but I can't stop thinking about him.
Trying to Fall Out of Love

Dear Trying to Fall,
The fastest way to fall out of love is to fall in love - with somebody else.Put yourself in social situations or activities that you enjoy (a hiking club, for example).  If love isn't a two-way street, I don't call it love.  I call it being in love with the idea of love; wanting to have SOMEone to love.  But this man obviously isn't the right "soul mate" match for you or he would share your feelings. You're trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  Tell your misdirected heart that you needn't take it as a rejection or personal failure, but as a simple mismatch. 


Dear Krs,
How do I get my husband to be more intimate? He is 32, good looking, and fit. I am 24, good looking and fit. (We are personal trainers). He very (and I mean very) rarely initiates sex. I have to beg for it. I know that he is not having an affair. He never even reacts if a great looking woman is near. Is this normal?
No Sex

Dear No Sex,
Relationships are perhaps one of our greatest hidden resources for personal growth. Where else can you get such demanding challenges that hit so deeply?

COMMUNICATION is always the first, middle and last step towards resolving relationship issues.  It's almost a cliché but couples have still not spent enough time honing this skill. Granted, it is difficult to control emotions like anger and frustration when resolving issues, but try to get inside your mate's head and grasp where he is "coming from" instead of taking a one-sided (lop-sided) view of it.  There are reasons for people's actions that make total sense if you could get behind their eyes.

Your husband may be feeling attacked or pressured by your approach, which only makes matters worse.  Plan a nice "date" with him and then start by telling him how much he means to you.  Be vulnerable versus defensive (even if he gets defensive).  Ask him if he's happy with the relationship and if he has any suggestions for you to help things run more smoothly.  Don't worry, you'll get your chance for equal input too, but this approach will help him feel safe and open up the lines of communication.  No issue is black or white.  Find the grey.  If he is not open to your communication attempts, consider consulting a therapist who specializes in this field.  Conflict, skillfully resolved, helps build a strong foundation for a healthy, lasting relationship.


Dear KRS,
My boyfriend of almost seven months lives about 40 minutes away from me.  This is my first serious relationship and I am having a real difficult time being away from him for any length of time.  I don't know how to handle it.  I am afraid I will push him away if I tell him how strong my feelings are.  I love him so much and I don't want to lose him.  How can I control how I feel or make it easier on myself?  This is really tearing me up inside. PLEASE HELP!! Thank you.
Love Struck

Dear Love Struck,
First love can often feel a little out of control.  Suddenly nothing matters but this person and everything revolves around him.  Chemical changes take place in your body which creates a "high" that feels very nice.  Your body essentially produces its own "drugs" which can be as addictive as street drugs.  If both parties feel the same strong attraction, there can be a nice "honeymoon" period for awhile.  However, if it hits one partner harder, it can easily scare off the other, who may feel a bit smothered.  It's important to separate this "chemical reaction" from true love.  Recognize when you have the urge to call him too much and put on some soft music instead.  Close your eyes and just "be" with the seemingly overpowering urges as you breath deeply.  Count your breaths up to 20 and back down again (a total of 40 breaths), keeping focused only on your breath.  When you are finished, notice a sense of calm and resist the urge to dive back into the "drug."  Stay involved in your old activities (or acquire new ones) that don't include him to maintain balance in your life.


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