Living at home

One thing about being a therapist is that I get to meet people from different walks of life and backgrounds. While everyone comes to see me for different reasons, sometimes I hear similar sentiments echoed my multiple people. I’ve met with a lot of people who are stressed out because of their adult children who are living in their home. Many times these are devoted parents who have attempted many times to help but they are at their wits end because they truly believe that their adult children in their 20s, 30s and 40s never intend to leave. As expected, there’s often a lot of clashing as the adult kids want to be respected and do what they want to do while the parents feel inconvenienced and many times feel obligated to make some sort of rules or give a move out date. Some of this is truly due to the economy as it can be harder to get a good paying job and the cost of housing continues to rise. Sometimes people have no other choice than to move in with family and save money. But there’s another group that doesn’t see the need to move out because it’s comfortable. In these situations the adult child usually refuses to get a job and the parent feels helpless because they don’t want their child to be homeless. In the cycle of life there’s a time ideally where the parent and the child switch roles as being the caregiver for each other. I’ve met many parents who desperately need help from their children but the switch has never been made and instead they are giving all their resources and money to their children who aren’t appreciative and it’s at the parents’ detriment. However the parents refuse to do anything because it’s their children and they feel obligated to care for their (adult) able-bodied children for as long as they are alive. The endless cycle continues because neither adult child or parent wants to make a different or a difficult decision. It’s definitely a phenomenon that I would love to do more research on at some point.

Adult children

The older I get, the more I realize that being a good parent requires copious amounts of patience. Day after day I meet parents with adult children who are literally sucking the life out of them. They live at home or close by and are constantly requesting more items and money. Yet, they can never make enough to move out of their parent’s house. I get that the economy isn’t typically kind to recent graduates and that it takes a lot more money than it used to in order to sustain a decent quality of life. The parents feel guilty because their child doesn’t have a decent job and can’t make it on their own therefore they open the doors of their house “for as long as needed.” Bad idea. While I know that everyone needs help at some point in their life and that hard times happen to everyone, there’s something detrimental about constantly acquiescing to the demands of your adult children because you want them to be happy with you. Living your life in perpetual sacrifice for your children HAS to stop at some point. It holds them back from becoming responsible adults and keeps you stuck in your life. You can’t continue to cater to the wants and needs of able-bodied adults who don’t feel like working and don’t want to move because they’re leaving their rent-free housing. I hear parents complaining about their children and how stressed that they are but refuse to put boundaries in place and enforce them. It’s not a pretty sight. These are people who won’t have a decent retirement because of their actions and the choices that their children have made. It’s quite unfortunate.

Commitment these days

I think that if you ask a millennial what their dealbreakers in a relationship are, the chances are high that you’ll get quite a list. The truth of the matter is that marriage isn’t what it used to be. More people are getting married and changing their minds about it afterwards. There’s also the trend of getting married later in life so marriage is not seen as the only avenue to financial stability. We see better examples of co-parenting and amicable splits. Our parents and grandparents may have stayed married because they felt that they had to but millennials don’t feel the same way. We know that life is too short to be with someone that you can’t stand and that you can’t put a price on peace. It’s one thing to be married but another thing entirely to be happily married. No relationship is worth keeping at your own detriment just to say that you “hung in there.” Lately, I’ve met quite a few middle-aged people who are staying in relationships where their partner is actively sabotaging their goals. Their sole reason for staying is because “Jesus hates divorce.” And at the end of the day they have to make a decision for themselves or for the relationship. I personally believe that being alone is better than being alone in a relationship ESPECIALLY when it’s not healthy.  Regardless of age, it’s important to put yourself first because no one else ever will.

A Sad Reality

This month is Domestic Violence Awareness month and it is definitely needed and deserves attention. More recently I’ve had the opportunity to work with some women who have experienced it. While DV impacts both men and women, so far professionally I’ve primarily worked with women. People seem to be always quick to judge this population and I have to admit that women quite often catch the short end of the stick in the court of public opinion. There’s an opinion that women who stay with cheating spouses are just doing what is expected of them and in many situations men aren’t questioned when they leave a relationship if the tables are turned. The truth is that it’s not always easy to get out. Abusers often control finances and seek to isolate their victims from close family and friends. It’s even more complicated when children are involved and there are questions about next steps and potential custody battles. It’s also important to realize that abuse doesn’t always have to be physical. It can be emotional and verbal as well. In order to make a plan to leave the relationship, one has to come to the understanding that it’s an unhealthy/abusive situation. I’ve had women tell me that every marriage has ups and down and that they don’t want to be quitters by leaving when it gets tough. Many have been encouraged by pastors and faith leaders that they should just submit to their spouse and just bear their cross. It’s important to understand that most victims don’t leave their abusers on the first attempt AND that they are more at risk for increased violence when they try to leave. This is why it’s important to be a supportive friend because you don’t know what someone is going through. Many times women won’t open up to their friends or relatives because they feel ashamed and may feel like they have failed in the relationship and/or marriage. Be present, be aware, be supportive. Learn and recognize the signs of an abuser and don’t give second chances.

The end of things

Unsplash/ John Schnobrich1. You got your hopes up. This almost lover of yours seemed like a dreamboat at one point — they were kind, thoughtful, adorable, and funny. You couldn’t help but hope they’d stick around and stay in your life for a long time. Inevitable devastation set in when your hopes were smashed. 2.…

via 14 Heartbreaking Things That Happen When Your Almost Relationship Ends — Thought Catalog

Each and every one of these 14 things is accurate. As a therapist, I frequently process the breakups of romantic relationships with my clients and we discuss some of the feelings that come along with a dissolution of a relationship–or an almost relationship. The culture that we live in seems to be nonchalant and you aren’t ever supposed to act like you’re hurt or show vulnerability so that you don’t appear “needy” to the other person. The end of an almost relationship can hurt as much as a real one because you’re also mourning the loss of possibilities. It can be a really uncomfortable time. As someone who has had this experience countless times, I can say that it doesn’t get easier but time helps in moving past it and achieving some closure.

A good date

I realized that I’ve posted some bad date stories but to be fair and to also (maybe) inspire some sense of optimism in my seemingly string of endless romantic bad luck I’ll write about a good date that I’ve had. I moved to a new place and I updated one of my social media accounts to show my new location. But let me take a few steps back. I’m a big fan of not having public social media pages. I like to be able to choose who sees what I post. There was a guy that I added for the very simple reason that he was cute and what he posted had substance. So for the past few years we didn’t interact but followed each other on social media. Fast forward to me coming to the new place. He commented on my post that he lived nearby and that we should hang out sometime. So a few weeks later we messaged and decided on a time and location. I was excited but had no idea what to expect. It was a public place but honestly you never know when you’re meeting someone in person for the first time. He was a good looking guy but for some reason I imagined that he was shorter than average because of the angles of the pictures he posted. Nothing wrong with that. So I arrived at the restaurant early and proceeded to order food and a drink. I didn’t know if he would decide to show up and I didn’t want to wait forever, plus I was hungry. But I picked a seat that faced the door so I would see him if he decided to come through. I’m enjoying my food and I see him walk past the windows and into the front door. Up to this point I had only swooned over a guy twice or so. Once when I walked past Brian McKnight in college and once when I was in Paris. This was the third time. I saw him and felt the air leave my lungs. I immediately felt my ears getting warm and I think my jaw literally dropped. Dude was fine. Not regularly fine where you can glance, smile, and keep it moving. The kind where you stop in your tracks and and stare while trying to decide if it’s worth it to take a picture to document the moment. He spotted me and came over to say hi and give me a hug before we moved to a different part of the restaurant. He ordered drinks and we started chatting. Great conversation that didn’t have those awkward silences. Found out that we had some things in common. I’m also mentally checking off things on my unofficial checklist of what I’d ideally like. Dude is passing with FLYING colors. Corporate with a twinge of bad boy? Check. Well read and well spoken? Check. Has a passport and travels? Check. Goals and ambition? Check. So I’m just enjoying the moment and focusing on the present. Another unaccompanied woman comes into the restaurant and sits close to us. She orders a complicated drink and frustrates the already swamped bartender. Then she starts to low key flirt with my guy. I’ll admit that I started to feel some twinges of annoyance and possessiveness but he shuts her down effortlessly. Bonus points for him. It was a good evening. We chatted for about 5 hours about anything and everything under the sun. It was never officially stated as a date and I was fully prepared to pay for my food and drinks and as the evening went on he started ordering drinks as we continued to talk. The bill came and he paid for it without complaint despite me half heartedly offering to pay for my portion. I’ve heard that if a guy pays than it should be considered a date. The bill was close to $200 bucks so I guess it officially counted as a date. He walked me to my car and walked on the outside curb. Great guy, good time, no complaints. 

A date to remember (or not)

Earlier today I told someone that I would blog about my experience with Speed Dating. So far I’ve tried it out twice. Once was in Colorado where I was one of the youngest and the only person of color at the event. It was cool but I didn’t make any connections. My more recent attempt came around a Valentine’s day event that focused on young professionals. I got off work and rushed downtown where the event was being held. I was somewhat nervous going by myself but had decided that this would be my social event for the week in my intentional effort to get out there more instead of being at home all the time. So I got into the venue and it was pretty chill. There was a panel discussion scheduled before the speed dating and it hadn’t started yet so everyone was mingling and/or looking as lost as me because they were alone too. So in true introvert fashion I ordered a drink and found a quiet space to people-watch. I don’t know how it happened but soon I found myself chatting with a guy standing next to me. He seemed pretty cool and he also had a pretty decent government job (bonus points). We chatted through the panel and then split up for the actual speed dating event. The speed dating process was fun but very abbreviated. I met an eye doctor, several lawyers, a personal trainer, teacher, and financial analyst among others. I liked the fact that everyone was around my age. Speed dating ended and the guy and I started chatting again. We seemed to be vibing pretty well. He left for a second to catch up with one of his work colleagues that had come to the event. While he was gone one of the bar’s waiters came up to me to inform me that it appeared that the guy was feeling me. I was admonished to not miss out on my blessing. The funny thing was that the waiter was convinced that this guy was “the one” and that I would regret it if I didn’t make some type of move on him. On paper the guy sounded pretty good. Worked in IT, planning to get a masters, had a pre-teen kid that lived out of state, etc. We exchanged numbers and he graciously offered to walk me to my car which I appreciated because there were all kinds of characters (literally) lurking around. A few days later he texted me and asked me if I wanted to “hang out” over the weekend. I suggested going to lunch and he agreed. Great plan. The only thing was that this was all done over text message and it took him a minimum of 6 hours to reply to any text message from me. I tried to be understanding as we were both working professionals and he was also working full time nights in addition to his day job. I told him that he could pick the restaurant and he picked one that was about 5 minutes away from his house. This was fine but it also meant that I had to make the twenty-something mile drive down to his area of the city. I got to the place on time and let him know that I was there. He said he was “right around the corner.” Twenty minutes later he pulls into the parking lot. I was pretty annoyed at this point considering that I was the one who had driven the farthest and he (self admittedly) had nothing to do at home but was still late. We order the food (he paid) and went to find a place to sit. During this whole time dude stays on his phone returning text messages. It was bordering on obnoxious but he was still able to carry on a conversation without it being too bad. Observing the effort that he was putting into returning my text message I figured that the writing was on the wall. He gave the typical guy speech of “I’m ready for something serious but I’m not in a hurry.” But then he immediately jumped to asking when he could come over to hang out. He said that his place wouldn’t work because it was under renovation. Thankfully I caught the “coming over and hanging out” clue because it’s literally code for “I only want one thing.” I was admittedly a bit disappointed because he actually seemed cool and I gave vague answers on the timeline of him coming over to the house. I mentioned the delay in responses to text messages and he blew it off saying that he was busy at work most of the time and couldn’t read them. But he promised he would do better. The next week came and it became obvious he wasn’t serious as it was taking him days to return texts. I figured that it was better to cut my losses and told him that coming over was off the table for the foreseeable future until I had more evidence that there was a potential for something serious. I never heard from him again. Crisis averted.