“My Husband is Addicted to Texting.”

"Fly By" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Fly By” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

“I am separated from my husband because I have reasons not to trust him. Also, despite my complaints, he is online texting with WhatsApp all the time, even when he wakes up in the middle of the night and while he’s driving. Yet he never texts me or lets me see who he’s chatting with, and he doesn’t have a job.”

Secrecy and social media

Clearly there are several issues at play here:

1. Your husband is addicted to WhatsApp.

2. He has lost interest in you.

3. Worst of all, you are losing your self-respect in this relationship.

1. He is addicted to texting.

Texting can become a real neurological addiction, which is pursued despite the harm it causes to yourself and those around you. Jeanene Swanson writes in “The Neurological Basis for Digital Addiction”:

“So what happens is, you hear a sound [alerting you to an incoming text message], and your brain says, ‘There might be something good there, I’m going to check it.’” At that point, the mesolimbic dopamine circuits are activated, and a small surge of the neurotransmitter is released in the brain. “What you’re getting addicted to is the dopaminergic hit. With texting addiction, there is an added element of waiting for a response,” Karter says. “It is the anticipation that hooks us.”

Your husband’s texting addiction is the number one preoccupation in his life. There may be others but he has not shared them with you. He is allowing this “addiction” to destroy his relationship with you, and endangering others by driving while texting. The time consumed while “chatting” is preventing him from otherwise honoring his relationship with you and getting a job

Given that he does not admit that he has a problem, I don’t think he will change any time soon.

2. He has lost respect and desire for you.

Your husband isn’t interested in texting and chatting with you much because he knows you are always available, and he is annoyed by your complaining about him. He is on the defensive with you. Even if you didn’t complain though, he would be more drawn to texting with others because of the anticipation of response from people who are more fun and not in constant pursuit of him.

I recommend that you stop complaining and that you stop or greatly limit your relationship with him. You should pull back from someone who treats you with much less interest than his ether-based paramours. He will not suddenly desire you if you simply complain and pursue him while he neglects you – what’s the fun in that?

3. Loss of self-respect.

A loving long-term relationship requires that two people cherish and nourish the relationship. Your husband is not nourishing this relationship and your love for him. Continuing to pursue him despite his indifference toward you is a turn-off to him and is causing you to lose self-respect.

You need to stop obsessing over his texting. Instead you need to invoke self-discipline to move beyond someone who is living for his addiction. Don’t let fear of being alone misguide you. As long as that fear persists, he has no need to accommodate you in any way.

Rather than focusing on him, focus on your own challenge, which is to avoid wasting your time hoping for an addict to change his ways. You could say something like, “I’m so sorry but I’ve lost respect for you and recognize that your online relationships are more important to you than ours. I know you’re better than this. But I want to be with someone who wants to do something with his life, and puts me and our relationship first. I wish you the best of luck.” I would then move on with your life.

If you stop all contact with him, he may start contacting you more, which might please you temporarily. But don’t expect too much because like most addicts, he will probably go right back to more “exciting” cyber interactions. But you will have regained your self respect and your life!

Good Luck!

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Pursuit vs. Distancing.”

Read “Does she like me? She doesn’t text me like she did at the beginning.”

Watch “Pursuing Connection with a Distancer?”

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“Angry people make me angry.”

"Serenity Buddha" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Serenity Buddha” by Mimi Stuart ©

Feeling anger vs. acting out of anger

Feeling anger and acting out anger are two very different things. When you feel anger it is usually a signal that some harm is being perpetrated against you or others. However, when you let anger take over, it is no longer an effective way to deal with the harm being done. In rare highly-dangerous situations, expressing rage can be an effective means of scaring a person or an animal away. Yet even when it is effective, you want to be able to consciously choose when and how to express anger.

When anger takes control

The problem with letting your anger take control, rather than viewing it as a signal, is that anger destroys the ability to think rationally, to get along with others, and to find solutions. A single moment of inappropriately expressed anger can destroy an evening, a relationship, or your job. You can undermine a lot of effort and history when you let it drive your actions.

If you’re bound up with dissatisfaction, frustration, or desire for revenge, acting out your anger will not help. It can lead to distraction, accidents, and destruction. It can lead to outbursts, hostility and regret. It can also lead to the loss of reputation, the ability to have positive relationships, and the ability to help others and to participate in the community. Alternatively, anger turned inward can lead to depression.

Cultivate patience

The best way to learn to deal with angry people and your own anger is to cultivate patience. To communicate effectively with another person, you need to wait until neither of you is consumed by anger. Take time to find out why someone else is behaving poorly or treating you unfairly. Take time to understand what underlying values you seek to re-establish in your life and your relationship. Only then can you figure out the most effective way of dealing with a bad situation.

Anger can be overwhelming. So it requires a lot of effort to develop self-restraint and composure. When someone is angry with you, it is important to respond with compassion or at least neutrality, rather than piling your own irrational behavior onto theirs. Patience does not mean accommodation. It means taking the time to understand the situation and the people involved before taking appropriate action from a place of inner strength and calm.

Ask questions and listen until the angry person calms down. If you can’t take being around someone who’s angry, tell the other person you need some time to calm down and think about the situation. Then go for a walk, breathe deeply, and take the time you need until you can gain a wider perspective about the situation.

Cultivate patience with yourself as well as others. The result will be a feeling of equanimity and core strength, which allow for the most effective problem solving and the least pain in your life and in your relationships.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Anger: ‘I have a right to be angry.’”

Read “Displaced Anger: ‘All you think about is your career!’”

Watch “Dealing with Angry People.”

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Mind reading:
“You just don’t like spending time with me!”

"Convergence" by Mimi Stuart

“Convergence” by Mimi Stuart ©

People often assume that they know what another person is thinking — and most often those assumptions are negative and wrong. “Mind-reading” causes people to become defensive and avoid sharing their thoughts. It pushes people away because it feels intrusive to be told what they’re thinking.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy

Mind-reading is usually a result of your own fears. When you allow your insecurity to take over, you’re likely to scare people away, which is not a good way to promote dialogue. Moreover, when you project your fears onto another person, those fears are more likely to become realized – a self-fulfilling prophecy! If you repeatedly proclaim your worry that another person doesn’t like spending time with you, you create the very situation you fear, because you become less enjoyable to be with. Our perceptions have a tendency to materialize.


While part of you may feel worried and insecure, there is probably another part of you that wants to have an honest dialogue and is hopeful and curious about what the truth might be. Mind-reading assumes that you have all the information, which is rarely the case. To have a real dialogue, you need to focus on the other person and find out where they are coming from. Only when the goal is to gain understanding and not to assign blame can you find out what’s really going on.

To get truthful, relevant information, you have to engage others so that they won’t get defensive. Otherwise they’ll attack back, withdraw, or twist the truth to avoid your negative judgments. You have to ask questions in a way to get them to talk openly. This requires being able to actively listen without being reactive.


If you lose your connection, the other person is likely to go into a protective mode, which puts a stop to openness. You need to keep a connection to convey your desire to be understanding.

1. To avoid implying blame or self-pity, it helps to use a tone of voice that implies honest curiosity.

2. The best way to get information is to ask open-ended questions that get the other person to describe his or her side of the story. Open-ended questions include where, who, how, what happened. Beware of “But why did you do that?” because it sounds accusatory. When people feel blamed, they’re likely to skew the information to boost their self-esteem and avoid incrimination. It’s better to ask how something happened, followed by, “what happened then?”

3. Avoid leading questions, such as, “You’d rather work than spend time with me, right?”

4. Avoid “yes or no” prosecuting-attorney-type questions, such as, “Just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ — did you even think about calling me?” Even police investigators have moved from methods of cross-examination to open-ended questioning.

We are more likely to discover the motivation of the other person when we use compassionate curiosity rather than aggressive interrogation. Also, we are likely to find that others’ actions usually don’t stem from intent to harm us. From a position of compassionate understanding, we can then continue the dialogue and express our own desires or intent to change the situation.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Compassionate Confrontation: ‘He said he’d spend more time with me, but has not followed through.’”

Read “Negative Projection: ‘I never had children, because my husband didn’t want to, and now it’s too late.’”

Read “Five Keys to a Great Relationship: ‘There’s nothing we can do to stay in love.’”

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Guest Author Sam Vaknin: “I Can’t Get Into My Abuser’s Mind: It’s Almost as If He is Not Human, But an Alien!”

"Glissiando" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Glissiando” by Mimi Stuart ©

GUEST AUTHOR Sam Vaknin writes:

Abusers appear to be suffering from dissociation (multiple personality). At home, they are intimidating and suffocating monsters; outdoors, they are wonderful, caring, giving, and much-admired pillars of the community. Why this duplicity?

It is only partly premeditated and intended to disguise the abuser’s acts. More importantly, it reflects his inner world, where the victims are nothing but two-dimensional representations, objects, devoid of emotions and needs, or mere extensions of his self. Thus, to the abuser’s mind, his quarries do not merit humane treatment, nor do they evoke empathy.

Typically, the abuser succeeds to convert the abused into his worldview. The victim and his victimizers don’t realize that something is wrong with the relationship. This denial is common and all-pervasive. It permeates other spheres of the abuser’s life as well. Such people are often narcissists steeped in grandiose fantasies, divorced from reality, besotted with their False Self, consumed by feelings of omnipotence, omniscience, entitlement, and paranoia.

Contrary to stereotypes, both the abuser and his prey usually suffer from disturbances in the regulation of their sense of self-worth. Low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence render the abuser and his confabulated self vulnerable to criticism, disagreement, exposure, and adversity real or imagined.

Abuse is bred by fear of being mocked or betrayed, emotional insecurity, anxiety, panic, and apprehension. It is a last ditch effort to exert control for instance, over one’s spouse by “annexing” her, “possessing” her, and “punishing” her for being a separate entity, with her own boundaries, needs, feelings, preferences, and dreams.

In her seminal tome, “The Verbally Abusive Relationship”, Patricia Evans lists the various forms of manipulation which together constitute verbal and emotional (psychological) abuse:

Withholding (the silent treatment), countering (refuting or invalidating the spouse’s statements or actions), discounting (putting down her emotions, possessions, experiences, hopes, and fears), sadistic and brutal humor, blocking (avoiding a meaningful exchange, diverting the conversation, changing the subject), blaming and accusing, judging and criticizing, undermining and sabotaging, threatening, name calling, forgetting and denying, ordering around, denial, and abusive anger.

To these we can add:

Wounding “honesty”, ignoring, smothering, dotting, unrealistic expectations, invasion of privacy, tactlessness, sexual abuse, physical maltreatment, humiliating, shaming, insinuating, lying, exploiting, devaluing and discarding, being unpredictable, reacting disproportionately, dehumanizing, objectifying, abusing confidence and intimate information, engineering impossible situations, control by proxy and ambient abuse.

In his comprehensive essay, “Understanding the Batterer in Custody and Visitation Disputes”, Lundy Bancroft observes:

Because of the distorted perceptions that the abuser has of rights and responsibilities in relationships, he considers himself to be the victim. Acts of self-defense on the part of the battered woman or the children, or efforts they make to stand up for their rights, he defines as aggression AGAINST him. He is often highly skilled at twisting his descriptions of events to create the convincing impression that he has been victimized. He thus accumulates grievances over the course of the relationship to the same extent that the victim does, which can lead professionals to decide that the members of the couple ‘abuse each other’ and that the relationship has been ‘mutually hurtful’.

Yet, whatever the form of ill-treatment and cruelty the structure of the interaction and the roles played by abuser and victim are the same. Identifying these patterns and how they are influenced by prevailing social and cultural mores, values, and beliefs is a first and indispensable step towards recognizing abuse, coping with it, and ameliorating its inevitable and excruciatingly agonizing aftermath.


Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain – How the West Lost the East, as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction.

He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb, and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

Visit Sam’s Web site at http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com

Read Sam Vaknin’s “I Admire and Support him and He Abuses Me!”

Read Alison Poulsen’s “Abuse: ‘How do I respond to my ex’s abusive emails? I just wish we could be friends.’”

Posted in Conflict, Personality Traits, Vaknin, Sam PhD, Visiting Authors | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Is “playing hard to get” just a game?

"I'll Give You the Moon and the Stars" by Mimi Stuart ©

“I’ll Give You the Moon and the Stars”
by Mimi Stuart ©

If you find yourself frequently pursuing intimacy and wondering why the person you’re pursuing seems to back away, your friends may give you advice to “play hard to get.” But perhaps you don’t want to play games and be inauthentic within your relationship. You would rather be honest about your strong feelings, even though you are pushing the other person away.

Is “playing hard to get” inauthentic?

Life is a series of adventures, misadventures, and adjustments. One of the adjustments a pursuer needs to make is to resist the conspicuous chase that too frequently ends in disappointment.

At first it may feel like a pretense to try changing your inclination to pursue. It may feel inauthentic to pursue other interests and have fun with other friends when all you want to do is spend every minute with the person you’re pursuing. Yet ultimately you may find the distractions and separation rewarding. In the end it will make YOU more interesting to the target of your affection.

It can be difficult to develop a new quality and try a new approach. It is normal to feel awkward and fake. For instance, saying “no” feels inauthentic when you are just learning to set boundaries. Similarly, not always saying “yes” to the person you’re pursuing may feel inauthentic while you are learning to seek balance in your relationship. Yet eventually this approach will feel natural and will serve to make you more desirable.

“Playing hard to get” may feel inauthentic. Becoming more independent may also feel awkward but it is not a game.

Fostering desire

Desire only flourishes when people maintain their own independent life, spark, and activities. When one person waits slavishly for the other’s attention, the other person loses interest because there’s no more challenge in the relationship.

Ideally you should engage in the relationship enough so that your partner will want to engage with you but remain occupied and independent enough so that he or she will want to KEEP pursuing you. This balance will enhance his or her appreciation for you and the desire to continue the pursuit of you.

So focus on your goal and not your immediate impulse. Your goal is to be in a relationship with someone who respects and desires you. By learning to allow for a little separateness and mystery you can create the groundwork for mutual desire, romance and intimacy.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen


Read “I always fall madly in love; we do everything together; and then, out of the blue, I get dumped.”

Read “I often feel depressed, anxious and desperate when my girlfriend is not giving me enough attention. For example, if she takes too long to reply to my text messages or is not very affectionate.”

Posted in Intimacy, Relationship Skills | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The psychological habit that is as unhealthy as smoking: Rumination.

"Allegretto" by Mimi Stuart Live the Life you Desire

“Allegretto” by Mimi Stuart ©


Have you spent too many sleepless nights or distressing days dwelling on bad feelings and experiences of the past? Rumination is the compulsive focusing on causes and consequences of your distress. While worry focuses on potential bad events in the future, rumination focuses on past and current failures, disappointment, or suffering.

Rumination interferes with the confidence you need to problem-solve and move forward in your life in a positive way. Moreover, ongoing repetitive circular thinking about failures and distress often leads to depression as well as addictions.


The solution is to learn to notice each time you start ruminating. Then immediately distract yourself with a healthy activity for at least two minutes. Only two minutes of distraction will stop you from ruminating. You may have to do this countless times a day when you first start, but if you keep it up, your ruminating will diminish and then disappear.

Depending on your personality, effective distraction may have to involve your mind, your body, or both. Think of a mental or physical activity that is engaging enough to distract you.

Here are some examples:

• Organize papers or your accounting.

• Read a book.

• Do fifty sit ups.

• Clean your house while listening to your favorite music.

• Call a friend.

• Do a sport or take a walk while listening to a book on tape.

• Do an interactive video or game, such as a language or geography game, or lumosity.

• Clear clutter, focusing on what should be thrown out or where to put things.

• Catch up on social media or emails.

• Plan a dinner party or a trip.

Remember that you only need to distract yourself for two minutes. But if you distract yourself with something positive or productive many times a day, you’ll also have accomplished something worthwhile in the meantime. You’ll be better read, in better shape, caught up with friends, and you will have a cleaner house. These small satisfactions will also help you to stop ruminating about past negative events.

If you don’t have two minutes to spare, consider doing what a friend of mine did during a painful break up to keep her from dwelling in negative thinking. She wore a rubber band around her wrist and snapped it each time she started to ruminate about the past or worry about the future. Her wrist turned red, but her emotional health remained stable and empowered despite the losses and transition she faced.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen


Read “Fear of failure: ‘I’m worried about failing.’”

Read “Regret: ‘I shouldn’t have yelled at my friend.’”

Read “’I don’t have time for this huge project.’ Ten minutes: One box, one call, one block.”

Posted in Attitude, Happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment