“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.”

"Rocket Man" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Rocket Man” by Mimi Stuart ©


People who need attention or validation in order to feel secure must step back and learn to cope with that longing without acting on it. Otherwise they create a vicious cycle that will ultimately backfire. The more desperate and insecure you become, the less likely you are to be validated by others or to get the attention you crave.

Even if you do receive validation in this situation, it’s likely to be out of a sense of pity or guilt rather than freely given.

Thus, for your own well-being, you need to resist the urge to pursue validation from your girlfriend. Avoid the use of manipulation, guilt, pleading and covert reciprocal bargains, such as the unstated, “I’ll flatter you if you flatter me.”


People differ in how effusive they are in emails, texts, and on the phone. There is no correct way to be. Accept your girlfriend for who she is, and give her positive feedback when she is more affectionate or attentive in her texts to you.

When dealing with feelings of anxiety and desperation, remind yourself to resist acting on those feelings in order to avoid pushing her away.

Do something interesting

Instead of getting angry at her or sending a needy text, find other things to do during those moments of anxiety that will make you a more whole and interesting person. Once you focus on another engaging activity you will feel less anxiety. Moreover, you will become more interesting and desirable to her and others around you.

Decide what activities you will do when you feel lonely or insecure–read a book, learn a language, go for a run or a walk, play the guitar, write poetry, watch Ted Talks, or the like. Find a few interesting things to do and then develop the willpower and self-discipline to do them, instead of letting your anxiety and anger get the better of you.

It may be hard at first, and then it will become easier because you will enjoy doing your own thing. The result will be a more interesting, confident, and well-rounded person, who will be more desirable to be with. The bonus will be increased interest and attention from your girlfriend.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen


Read “I end up arguing with him because he’s usually too busy working to talk.”

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

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Misinformation about Covert vs. Classic Narcissists

"The Stuff of Dreams  Apollo 11" by Mimi Stuart ©

“The Stuff of Dreams Apollo 11″
by Mimi Stuart ©

GUEST AUTHOR Sam Vaknin writes:

Contrary to misinformation spread by “experts” online, covert narcissists are not cunning and manipulative. Classic narcissists are: they often disguise their true nature effectively, knowingly, and intentionally. They are persistent actors with great thespian skills. Not so the covert narcissist: he suppresses his true nature because he lacks the confidence to assert it. His is not a premeditated choice: can’t help but shy away. The covert narcissist is his own worst critic.

Inverted narcissists are covert narcissists. They are self-centred, sensitive, vulnerable, and defensive, or hostile, and paranoid. They harbour grandiose fantasies and have a strong sense of entitlement. They tend to exploit other, albeit stealthily and subtly. Covert narcissists are aware of their innate limitations and shortcomings and, therefore, constantly fret and stress over their inability to fulfil their unrealistic dreams and expectations. They avoid recognition, competition, and the limelight for fear of being exposed as frauds or failures. They are ostentatiously modest.

Covert narcissists often feel guilty over and ashamed of their socially-impermissible aggressive urges and desires. Consequently, they are shy and unassertive and intensely self-critical (perfectionist). This inner conflict between an overwhelming sense of worthlessness and a grandiose False Self results in mood and anxiety disorders. They team up with classic narcissists (see below), but, in secret, resent and envy them.

Compare the classic narcissist to the covert narcissist is this table (Cooper and Akhtar, 1989):

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.54.46 PM

The Inverted Narcissist is a co-dependent who depends exclusively on narcissists (narcissist-co-dependent). If you are living with a narcissist, have a relationship with one, if you are married to one, if you are working with a narcissist, etc. it does NOT mean that you are an inverted narcissist.

To “qualify” as an inverted narcissist, you must CRAVE to be in a relationship with a narcissist, regardless of any abuse inflicted on you by him/her. You must ACTIVELY seek relationships with narcissists and ONLY with narcissists, no matter what your (bitter and traumatic) past experience has been. You must feel EMPTY and UNHAPPY in relationships with ANY OTHER kind of person. Only then, and if you satisfy the other diagnostic criteria of a Dependent Personality Disorder, can you be safely labelled an “inverted narcissist”.

by Guest Author Sam Vaknin — 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.

Read Sam Vaknin’s “One partner loves to love, the other loves to be loved.”

Read Dr. Alison Poulsen’s“Seven Points to Dealing with a Narcissist.”

Posted in Personality Traits, Vaknin, Sam PhD, Visiting Authors | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

“Whenever I try to talk about where our relationship is going, he backs away.”

"Improvisation" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Improvisation” by Mimi Stuart ©

Tiresome and trapped

The more you try to analyze and question the status of the relationship, the more he’ll feel trapped rather than desire for you. So avoid becoming a tiresome obligation to the one you desire.

While it is crucial to be able to express important needs and preferences, people who talk too often about the status of their relationship appear needy and end up pushing the potential partner away.

Taken for granted

If you want to talk about the relationship because you worry that you are being taken for granted, then change the patterns that have become convenient and well known to him. People pay attention to actions, not words.

Make more space for both of you, but avoid anger and bitterness. When you understand that accepting mediocrity in your relationship will breed contempt, you’ll understand that creating more space is not playing a game. Creating a little distance while maintaining your self-control will make him pay attention and increase his appreciation of you and the relationship.

Develop and maintain a life of your own.

Don’t drop your plans to be with him. Maintain your friendships and interests, and let him plan ahead to see you. When you drop everything to see him, he will sense that you intend for him to fill a void and a need in your life. That is not very appealing.

Good relationships grow organically and take time. Have fun and take pleasure in the process, but don’t drop the rest of your life, your friends or your interests — ever. Who wants to be with a person who makes you their entire world? You want to be with a person because they have their own different and exciting world.

Getting committed

Don’t allow another person to call all the shots. If you want someone to commit fully, then don’t have all the fun with that person before he is more fully committed. If you are there and available all of the time, then desire and the need for bonding are absent. Simply back off and use more discretion about how much time you spend together.

But when you are together, make it enjoyable and exciting – the time should be special. This way he will want to be with you, but he’ll also know that you will only invest yourself more fully with someone who is really serious about you.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen


Read “Sustaining Desire: ‘It doesn’t matter. Let’s just watch TV.’”

Read “It hurts that my fiancé thinks I am smothering him. He wants me to let him catch his breath after he gets off work. I’m scared that I’m going to lose him because I’m needy or clingy.”

Watch “Seven keys to a great relationship.”

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“How can I teach my son to be respectful and caring and to love himself?”

"R E S P E C T" by Mimi Stuart ©  Live the Life you Desire

“R E S P E C T” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

“When my son was two, his dad went to prison due to his strong drug addiction. Because I felt so sorry for my son, I over-spent on material things and became his best friend. I was in denial that my actions would hurt my son, and myself.

Now my son is very selfish, rude, and angry at the world, and he is non-sociable. His world is restricted to video games on the internet. He has a very high IQ, but he is overweight, and while in school, he was bullied, which drove him almost to suicide. So I took him out of school, and decided to home school him. He didn’t learn any social skills.

I am disabled, and I am overweight as well. I am trying to save enough of money to get us an elliptic stepper exerciser, but they are expensive.

Now I have a selfish, angered, lazy son who is rude to me; he wants things and does not want to give. How can I teach my son to be respectful, show he cares and to love himself?”

Hi Tina,

You have plenty of challenges in your life without beating yourself up about the past. At this point, you need to focus on each day and look to the future.

Let’s look at four reasons teenagers and children at any age tend to be rude, disrespectful and uncaring, and what to do about each one:

1. The parent lacks self-respect. A parent who demonstrates little self–respect receives little respect.

Self-respect involves valuing yourself and not allowing others to treat you poorly. You need to value what’s best for your long-term fulfillment and work each day toward improving your own life. You also need to expect respectful treatment, and have appropriate consequences each time your child is rude to you.

For instance, when he demands things, say something like “If you want something you need to be respectful and contribute to this household.” Then make sure you give him what he wants only if it is necessary, he is polite, and he contributes to the family (chores, etc.) It’s important that you as the parent make such demands respectfully so as to set a good example.

2. The child knows no boundaries.
The second cause of rudeness in children is parents’ over-indulging them and neglecting to set boundaries. The parent needs to be able to say “no” and mean it, but without a condescending attitude.

Parents who need to be liked or become their child’s friend find it difficult to have reasonable expectations and set boundaries. Indulgence and lack of boundaries intended to prop up a child’s self-esteem do the opposite—they cause increased distress and anxiety in the child.

In contrast, parents who set reasonable boundaries and give reasonable consequences are teaching their child self-discipline in the face of instant gratification and temptation. Self-discipline is what enables children to persevere in the world despite set backs. Self-esteem is built on a foundation of perseverance.

3. The child needs more autonomy. All children strive for independence and separation from their parents and need to push the parent away if the parent does not encourage the development of independence.

If you give too much advice and keep them too close, they will not feel good about themselves and they will lose respect for you, often becoming rude, surly and more demanding. Over-protection angers children because implies that they are incapable and it restricts their ability to grow. Ironically, over-protection makes the child more vulnerable and incapable of taking care of themselves. As a result, over-protected children end up craving independence while fearing it at the same time.

In extreme cases when a child is at risk of suicide, there needs to be intervention and counseling. But continuous over-protection will only increase their vulnerability when they do have to venture out into the world.

In general, when we allow our children to deal with the normal difficulties of life, they develop their abilities to deal with the risks, dangers, and bullies that life has to offer. The parent has to realize that the child will get hurt, but will develop ways of dealing with painful incidents if given appropriate amounts autonomy. Ideally, autonomy, good decision-making, and self-preservation develop gradually as a result of the parent gradually giving the child more independence along with more responsibility and accountability.

4. The child seeks power. The fourth cause of rudeness is a need to lash out as a way to experience power because the child does not feel self-empowered in any other way.

A healthy way for a child to become self-empowered is to develop the ability to set goals and achieve them, which again requires perseverance in the face of difficulties. Parents need to have reasonable expectations that their children become more responsible and face reasonable difficulties on their own, while they also hold them accountable for their actions.

In summary, a parent sets the stage for a child to develop self-respect, a precursor to being caring and respectful, by doing the following:

1. developing their own self-respect,
2. setting reasonable boundaries and issuing consequences,
3. giving the child gradually-increasing amounts of autonomy along with responsibility, and
4. expecting the child to work hard, challenge him- or herself, and treat others well.


At this point, I would focus on improving your life, expecting more from your son, and not being afraid to say “no” to him. Avoid argument while focusing on daily improvement of your life.

Rather than buying an elliptic stepper exerciser, you may want to consider going for regular walks. Walking is free and it gets you outdoors in fresh air and among other people, which encourages healthy interaction with the world. You may want to download books from the library onto an mp3 player, which will make it easier and more enjoyable to take longer walks. By demonstrating to your son that your are learning, improving your life, and that you can leave the house frequently despite the discomfort you feel in doing so, you will role model your ability to pursue challenges on your own. I would also encourage or require your son to go back to school and/or work, or some other social environment where he challenges himself to grow and engage with other people.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen


Watch “How to Respond to Rudeness: ‘I TOLD you to get it for me!!!’”

Read “Angry Adult Child:
‘The years of terror from my mother has made me make sure that my son knows I love him. I fear, more than anything, his total rejection. HOWEVER, he often seems angry at me.’”

Read “My teenager is selfish and rude! How did I raise a child like this?”

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Pursuing Connection with a Distancer?
“We never spend time together.”

Click on the picture below to watch the short video:

To sustain a passionate, fulfilling relationship, a couple has to balance two primary drives — togethernesss and separateness. Often however individuals often end up polarizing into the Pursuer and the Distancer.

When pursuers pursue connection they tend to push the distancer away. Pursuers feel rejected when their partner needs space and they’ll often try to get any emotional reaction just to make some sort of connection. The distancer may finally respond with anger or with resentful accommodation. But neither is very satisfying for the couple.

Pursuers tend to come across as needy. Distancers feel smothered by the pursuer’s craving for more connection and often lose desire for the pursuer. Pursuers need to reduce the burden they are putting on to their partner to satisfy their needs. Instead of attacking and overwhelming your partner, start by appreciating your partner and appeal to him or her by expressing desires in a positive way.

Complaining, generalizing, and attacking put others on the defensive and does not make you desirable to be with. You want your partner to want to be with you not to feel obligated to be with you. Entice your partner with one specific positive request at a time. If there’s an entrenched problem, discuss it in a self-empowered and compassionate way, by expressing your needs and values, without complaining and attacking.

If your partner is always busy or doesn’t take you seriously, set an appointment to talk. Keep your conversation concise rather than long and draining.

Pursuers often look for others to satisfy their deepest needs to be heard, to feel validated and accepted, and to avoid feeling alone. Yet no one can truly fill that emptiness. Psychological duress only leads to coerced togetherness not passionate togetherness. Avoid being the victim and using guilt to manipulate someone to spend time with you.

Distancers have all the power in the relationship. Pursuers need to take back that power, not over the other person, not even over the relationship, but over their own lives, by becoming accountable for their own fulfillment rather than making their partner responsible.

Love means having the self-discipline to respect other people’s wishes and needs despite your own desires. Appreciate the other person’s autonomy. Give the other person the space and time apart necessary to desire being with you. Also enjoy your time without your partner. It makes you a more interesting and desirable person to be with.

In summary, allow there to be some space and even mystery between you and your partner. Be responsible for your own fulfillment. If you develop your ability to be independent and to accept yourself, you won’t need to coerce validation and support from someone else.

Strive for love out of fullness rather than out of need and emptiness. Fullness comes from leading a more full, balanced life with ongoing growth, as well as self-validation and self-acceptance. Give yourself and your partner the gift of having the space to desire you.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen


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Lying: “I am a coward and I am dishonest. I have been hiding my true feelings from my boyfriend. I wanted my doubts, fears and insecurities to disappear. I felt no love from my overbearing father who just liked to tell me what to do.”

"Power of Pink" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Power of Pink” by Mimi Stuart ©

Learning to lie

Often children of overbearing, controlling or critical parents learn to hide their true feelings and intentions. They put on an obedient mask, keep secrets and tell lies. They hide their real feelings as a survival technique to avoid being bullied, rejected, or verbally and physically abused. This defense mechanism serves a child to survive a difficult environment.

When children must focus on putting on an obedient mask to hide their vulnerabilities and anger toward their parents, they often lose touch with their own feelings and needs. Moreover, feelings represent a real threat to the child because if they are exposed they may trigger a dangerous reaction from the parent. The child subconsciously thinks something as follows:

“If I show my anger, fear, disgust, sadness, or need for love, affection, or acceptance, my parent will reject me or yell at me. So those feelings are bad. I must repress them.”

Hence, such feelings go underground and become tainted with excessive anxiety. An ongoing sense of anxiety grows within them as they grow into adulthood, particularly when it comes to close relationships.


Later, as an adult, it is difficult to talk about feelings, let alone understand the nuances of them because they are stigmatized with extreme anxiety. Hiding feelings has become a habit ingrained in the neural pathways of the brain. Repressing feelings has become second nature. Lying to avoid revealing any “dangerous” feelings has become second nature as well. Such deception is rarely intentional and not meant to hurt others.

These defense mechanisms developed as a child no longer serve an adult well. In fact hiding feelings and lying will destroy most relationships.

Time to change

Now is the time to start paying attention to your feelings and desires and expressing them when appropriate. As your ability to understand your own feelings improves and becomes more nuanced, you will gain the following benefits:

• You will take responsibility for your feelings and needs, rather than blaming others and making them responsible for your fulfillment,
• You will feel greater peace because you will lose excessive anxiety,
• You will become more self-aware and less confused,
• You will become more empowered,
• You will become more empathetic of others,
• You will communicate better with others and enjoy better relationships.

When you learn to identify your feelings and vulnerabilities and understand them, you’ll be able to express them appropriately in an empowered way. Confrontations, which are based on miscommunication and blame, will be mitigated. As you become more conscious of your feelings and the meaning they convey, the anxiety you experience around them will gradually disappear and you will learn to accept yourself.

You have demonstrated that you are not a “coward” by putting this question out there. The first step to dealing with your “dishonesty” is to acknowledge it and to understand why that worked for you a child. The next step is to avoid reacting as usual with hiding or lying. Instead clarify or write down the ambivalent feelings and desires you have and then try to express them if appropriate.

You might get the book or CDs “Nonviolent Communication” by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. In them you will find effective ways of expressing your feelings and needs, as well as lists of numerous distinct feelings and needs, which will help you develop self-awareness and an appreciation of other people’s feelings.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen



Read “Lying: ‘I get so mad that my family lies to me all the time.’”

Read “Manipulation: ‘I value honesty and can’t stand dealing with manipulative people.’”

Read “Keys to Improving Relationships”

Posted in Communication, Personality Traits | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment