Question: In my daily life, there is a small handful of people whom I have come to hate. Perhaps the word “hate” is too strong, but I obsess on them even though we are not friends and we have nothing to do with each other directly. There’s the client, for example, who didn’t take my advice, and the woman who married a man with an insane amount of money. There’s the “friend” who dumped me after never having been much of a friend anyway, and the woman I gave lodging to, who now no longer even tells me when she’s coming back to the island (every 6 months or so) from her home country.
I stalk each of these people on Facebook and on other online social media sites, looking for any suggestion of evidence over which I can gloat that they are unhappy. Of course, most people post only good news and smiling images of themselves; so I drive myself crazy in fantasizing their demise. In truth, when one of them actually does get ill, suffer a breakup, or lose their social position, I feel sad and empathetic. But short of witnessing their downfall, I feel only betrayed.
I’ve read all the adages about focusing on people who appreciate you and forgetting those who don’t, but that’s easier said than done. Please give me a few helpful tips for disengaging myself from the obsession of stalking these people who have let me down over the years.
Dr. ZZ: If all the people who have let you down in your lifetime comprise only a small handful, you may want to consider yourself fortunate. Changing their minds and breaking promises is simply one of the things people do. Too afraid to tell the truth in a particular situation, they may make false promises. Or perhaps they give their word in one moment, according to the way they feel; then, circumstances change, and they act differently than they said they would.
Whatever the situation, the logical mind wants life to fit into a neatly wrapped box; yet at any given moment, you, people and situations in your life are exactly the way they are – whether you like it or not. You have certain expectation of folks, they fail to communicate fully, or they act in ways that do not live up to your expectations. Probably out of fear, they say they will behave a certain way; then they don’t.
Rather than create this into a sense of betrayal for yourself, you can strive instead to live a life with room for potential variables. Let others off the hook for being unconscious, allow for the inevitability of human fluctuations, and let yourself off the hook for being human. “Forgiveness is letting go of all hope for a better past.”
Question: There’s this woman who I almost dated, but after a three-night stand (we skipped dating), she was talking about having kids. I basically said, “Slow the f*ck down,” and she said she couldn’t date a man who doesn’t want kids; I didn’t have a good answer to that. Now, ever since then, she has been contacting me every few months to tell me how much she wants me, how perfect I am, and how it wouldn’t have to be right away, but if I would just want to have kids eventually, she’d be willing to move here to Bali to be with me.
I could probably just tell her “I might want kids, so let’s see what happens,” but that would be a lie because I don’t want kids. So I feel as if telling her anything differently would be misleading. Still, every time she calls, it drives me crazy because she’s all “I miss you, I want you, just tell me you’ll want to have kids.” It’s almost as if she just wants me to say I want kids in order to make her feel as if it’s okay to move here.
I’m thinking that I should maybe just tell her it’s a possibility, but I’d feel yucky about doing that – especially if I’m misreading her, and she actually thinks liking her a lot is going to make me want kids, which is not going to happen. Does any of this seem like a good idea to you? Or should I just wait for someone else with no issues?
Dr. ZZ: Let me get this straight: your plan is to tell her a lie in order to get her to come to Bali to live with you? Normally, this is just a bad idea and something that you should not do, but in your case the lie (“Yes, I want to have kids with you; come move to Bali to be with me”) is a horrible, terrible very bad lie with two possible outcomes:
- You eventually confess that you don’t want kids at some point before she gets pregnant. She will be extremely hurt and angry that you made her abandon her life to come to be with you, and that you strung her along for a significant portion of her fertile years. She will hate you and will be right to do so because you are a liar and a rat.
- Frustrated that things aren’t moving fast enough on the baby front, she will “forget” to take her birth control pills and surprise! She’ll be pregnant (and don’t give me any “I’ll just use condoms” crap.) Aren’t you happy? This is what you told each other you wanted – only she was telling the truth, and you were lying. Have fun with that unwanted child you now have to support. There is no cheese down this tunnel.
Dr. ZZ has a Ph.D. in Counseling and a doctorate in Natural Healing. Drawing on a background of over thirty years as a professional therapist, she offers self-help in the areas health, relationship and personal growth. All queries are answered by email and, if they appear in print, are subject to editing. Please email your questions : <firstname.lastname@example.org> All identifying information is kept strictly confidential.
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