How to Stop Being Overwhelmed When Dating

Marriage

Marriage (Photo credit: Lel4nd)

Dating can be overwhelming.  There is quite a bit of advice about it but not much about preparing yourself to date.  Deciding in advance why to date and what type of person to date, makes decisions easier.

Why date.  For some, the purpose of dating is to discover if the person has the potential for becoming a long-term partner.   This is not about getting a marriage proposal on the first date; rather it is an acknowledgement that there is a desire for something more.  For others, dating has one purpose, to have fun.  For the fun seekers, the idea of any commitment longer than one date is too much for them.  Generally speaking, this is why those interested in just having fun are not good matches for those interested in long-term commitments.

Don’t waste your time.  If you are dating to find a partner, than wasting your time with those just having fun can be frustrating.  Once you discover that your date is not interested in the same outcome, parting ways on friendly terms is better than stringing out a relationship that will eventually end with resentment.  Most likely the person desiring the long-term commitment will resent the fun seeker because they won’t change their mind.

 Decide what matters.  If you are interested in a long-term commitment, than deciding what matters to you in a partner is better done before you meet them.  This is not a time to decide that your future partner should have blue eyes or black hair because you want kids with that combination; rather this is a time to be selective about what really matters.  Fifteen years later appearances change.  If you fall in love with the appearance of a person and not their intellect, character, or heart, then you will have built the foundation of your marriage on a sink-hole.

Make a list.  This is the hardest part of the process, making a list of the qualities that are really important and compliment you in some way.  For instance, if you know that you are a spender when it comes to money, then you are better off marrying a saver.  If you are coming into the marriage with kids from a previous marriage, then it is essential to have a spouse that loves kids.  If you like to watch weird Sci-Fi movies, then it is good to have someone who can enjoy them with you.  The list should be long and as specific as possible without too much detail.  Writing down a general statement such as “good sense of humor” is not specific enough; rather “enjoys a dry sense of humor” is a better statement.  On the other hand, too specific statements limit your prospects.  This is about finding a balance.

Prioritize.  Once you have your list, put your list in the order of priority in your life.  A person who is active in the ministry of their church might have at the top of the list a person with similar characteristics.  Items such as moral beliefs, value systems, desire for future children, good reputation and employability should be close to the top of the list.  The bottom of the list may include appearance preferences, location, or family background.  However, you may decide differently then suggested, remember this is about your desires for a mate not about someone else.

Use the list.  Please do not bring the list on the first date and begin questioning the other person about the items that are important to you.  This is a bit on the crazy side and is more likely to scare someone away rather than draw them closer to you.  Instead, pick one or two and investigate if your date has the qualities you are looking for in a partner.  Then work your list a bit at a time.

Dating with a purpose in mind and with an understanding of the type of person you are looking for in a partner, makes the process more enjoyable and less frustrating.  It also saves you the heartache of spending too much time and investing too much emotional energy with Mr. Wrong or Mrs. Wrong.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org or visit my website at www.growwithchristine.com.

Do You Have Unexpected Anxiety Attacks?

Anxiety AttackI was in the dentist office watching my daughter have some work done on her teeth when my heart began pounding  and racing. My daughter was fine. She was not in any pain as the dentist and assistant were very polite and the environment was extremely friendly. But I felt like I was losing it.

Shortly afterwards my stomach took it’s turn. It felt like it was in my throat, my palms became sweaty, I felt light-headed, my breath became shallow and my thoughts began to race. I am physically healthy with very low blood pressure and normal cholesterol levels so this was clearly not a heart attack.  Rather, it was an anxiety attack.

Perhaps this has happened to you recently. You run into someone unexpectedly, walk into a hospital room, watch something on TV, or eating dinner out and all of a sudden, for no particular reason, you have an anxiety attack. At the moment, it seems as if the attack comes out of nowhere. You realize that analyzing the problem in the moment is futile. So instead, you need a quick solution to settle down immediately and then later evaluate the potential cause.

Mental Solution. During my anxiety attack, I looked for a distraction in the room to minimize the intensity. Sometimes, just focusing your thoughts on something else other than how you feel can be helpful. There was a picture hanging on the wall that caught my attention. It seemed a bit out-of-place and overly simplistic yet the image of the fish was very colorful and the fish seemed to be smiling. This odd distraction reduced the intensity but it was not enough to remove all of the anxiety.

Physical Solution.  Next, I focused on my breathing taking not so obvious deep breaths. There was no need to alarm the dentist or my daughter about my anxiety. I breathed in for a count of four, held it for another count of four and breathed out for a count of four. Repeating this four times while simultaneously becoming aware of the tension in my face, shoulders, hands and even toes. These breaths brought relaxation to tense areas, reducing the anxiety even more.

Needing more help, I remembered my “happy place” on the beach, a place of serenity and calm.  Despite the drilling sound, I imagined the crashing of the waves, the birds singing in the air, the smell of the sea, the soft cold sand in between my toes and the warmth of the sun. A feeling of peace began to peek through the anxiety but the drilling sound was far too distracting. So I moved onto the next solution.

Spiritual Solution. Finally I recalled a passage in Scripture that reminds us to have no anxiety but instead with thanksgiving make your request known to God (Phil. 4:4-6). So I prayed. Thought about all the things I had to be thankful for and the many blessings in my life. That worked, the anxiety disappeared. The rest of the visit was spent focusing on my daughter’s needs instead of fearing that I would pass out.

Several hours later, I reflected on the real cause behind the anxiety attack. My fear was really about not having any control over the potential pain my daughter maybe in during the visit. Although she reported no pain, as a mother I was still concerned for her and wanted the visit to go well.

The next time you have an anxiety attack, try some of the solutions above including spending time later to discover the real cause behind the attack. Knowing your real cause and addressing it quickly can keep the attacks to a minimum and help you to focus on what really matters.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Understanding Histrionic Personality Trait

gone_with_the_wind_dresses_20100831151427_320_240

by Christine Hammond

Histrionic is defined as overly dramatic or emotional but as a personality trait histrionic includes overly sexual or provocative.  Interestingly enough a histrionic will see themselves as very sexual even when they are not sexually appealing or even physically attractive.  It is almost as if they have rose colored glasses on when they look in the mirror and then take them off when they look at others.

So what is Histrionic?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, histrionic is no longer a personality disorder in and of itself rather it is now classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify histrionics as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of histrionics are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

  • Emotional – crying uncontrollably
  • Manipulative
  • Attention seeking

The practical definition looks more like this:

  • Dresses provocatively
  • Acts very dramatically
  • Gullible
  • Low tolerance for frustration
  • Makes rash decisions
  • Threatens or attempts suicide

One of the best examples of a histrionic is Scarlett O’Hara from “Gone with the Wind”.  Her flair for the overly dramatic, the constant demand for attention, the quick foolish decisions, and emphasis on provocative clothing even during her impoverished years is typical histrionic.  It was all about Scarlett and she was furious at anyone who did not give her attention when she wanted it.

So how do you deal with a person who might be schizoid?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • “You look nice today” is a safe way to give needed attention without getting into the specifics of their clothing.  Remember they are dressing provocatively on purpose so don’t go too crazy on the compliments.
  • Allow them to be the center of attention for a specific time period to get it out of their system and then they will be more likely to share the stage with others.
  • Do your best to minimize conflict when they are around or they will shut down.  They are not great fighters despite their forwardness.
  • Don’t play into their drama moments.  Instead set firm boundaries in your dealings with them.
  • Don’t get emotional, they have a sixth sense about emotion and will play on it.  Sometimes they even turn the emotion sexual when that was the last thing on your mind.
  • Be very careful because they make rash decisions which means they might agree now but won’t later.

You might be wondering what the difference is between Borderline Personality Disorder and a histrionic because when you put the two disorders side by side they do have some of the same characterizations.  Borderlines don’t tend to be as sexual as histrionics.  While they do engage in inappropriate sexual acts or make overly provocative comments, histrionics take it to the next level and make everything sexual to the point of nauseating.  If you are dealing with this, please get some help.  This is too tiring to deal with alone.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Understanding Paranoid Personality Trait

Cover of "Conspiracy Theory (Keepcase)"

Cover of Conspiracy Theory (Keepcase)

by Christine Hammond

Have you ever met someone who truly believes that everyone is out to get them?  They are paranoid about family, friends, co-workers, the trash man, the police, or even the cashier at the grocery store.  When confronted they can site numerous reasons not to trust other people and insist that the problem is everyone else and not them.  Or is it?  Paranoids are just that, paranoid.

So what is Paranoid?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, paranoid is no longer a personality disorder in and of itself rather it is now classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify paranoids as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of paranoid are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

  • Distrust and suspiciousness
  • Intimacy avoidance
  • Hostility
  • Unusual beliefs and experiences

The practical definition looks more like this:

  • Believes others are using them
  • Reluctant to confide in others
  • Unforgiving and holds grudges
  • Takes criticism poorly
  • Reacts with anger, retaliates
  • Cold, distant, controlling, and jealous
  • Believes they are always right

Mel Gibson in his portrayal of Jerry in “Conspiracy Theory” did a wonderful job showing what paranoids look like in real life.  The constant looking over his shoulder, reading more meaning into seemingly meaningless things, the hypervigilant behavior, and intense anger are all characterizations of a paranoid.

So how do you deal with a person who might be schizoid?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Although they are highly logical, don’t try to logically reason their paranoid thoughts away.  It won’t work and the only one who will get more frustrated is you.
  • Paranoid beliefs are rooted in childhood and have nothing to do with present circumstances no matter what they say.  There really is no magic ingredients of affirmation that will stop the paranoia.
  • They record as many things as possible by video or audio including people or family in their own home, so expect it.  To everyone else, this seems a bit strange and weird but to them, this is normal.
  • Choose your words carefully when speaking as they frequently read far more meaning into them then intended.
  • All it takes is one comment they don’t like and they will shut you out of their life forever because you are unsafe.

Living with a paranoid is exhausting because they can fake social interaction but inside they don’t do social interaction really well and will often leave saying all kinds of horrible things about the people they were just nice to.  Their paranoia will be pervasive as in nearly every conversation some form of it will appear.  Most of the time they have learned to say things like, “I was just trying to keep you safe” or “I can see things that you don’t” as a way of softening the paranoia.  But it is still there.  You need help if you are dealing with someone who has this as their perception of reality is usually way off-balance.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Understanding Depressive Personality Trait

the hoursBeing depressive is not the same thing as having depression.  The two can look the same to an outside person as the symptoms are similar.  The major difference is that a depressive can actually have depression but a person with depression is not depressive.  Depression is situational such as grieving the loss of a friend or it is chemical such as your body overproducing certain hormones.  Depressive is a personality trait and is not based on situation or chemical factors.

So what is Depressive?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, depressive did not make the final personality disorder cut and instead is classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify depressives as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of depressive are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

  • Depressivity
  • Anxiousness
  • Anhedonia – absence of pleasure or the ability to experience it

The practical definition looks more like this:

  • Feels dejected, gloomy, and worthless
  • Self-critical and derogatory
  • Is negativistic, critical and judgmental toward others
  • Pessimistic
  • Feels guilty or remorseful

In the movie “The Hours”, the three main characters all demonstrated different forms of depressive personality.  While each of them was depressed for a period of time, such as the suicide attempt, the overall appearance was a gloomy or depressive state.  This was unchanging no matter how hard the other people in their lives worked to minimize the depressiveness.  The depressiveness never when away completely and two of the three characters learned to live with it.

So how do you deal with a person who might be depressive?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Don’t minimize their feelings of inadequacy or depression; rather reassure them that your support is not contingent upon how they feel.
  • Do a small act of encouragement or show gratefulness to them whenever you can without expecting it to change or modify their behavior.
  • If one thing goes wrong in their life, it all comes crashing down so don’t overreact even if they are over or under reacting.
  • They spiral easily to a depressive state so keep things as smooth as possible.
  • They aren’t able to “look on the bright side” so don’t expect it or get angry when they can’t.
  • Listen to their worries and fears without criticism or judgment.  This is not a spiritual condition and cannot be fixed through spiritual methods; this is a personality condition and is as ingrained as the color of their eyes.

It can be frustrating at times to have a depressive person in your life but their mood does not need to infect your mood.  Learn to set and maintain good boundaries in your life so you don’t feel responsible for trying to help them feel better.  You are not responsible.  Rather get some guidance as to how to approach them and have a healthy relationship despite the depressiveness.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Understanding Passive Aggressive Personality Trait

Bride Wars

Bride Wars (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Most likely you have heard the term “passive-aggressive anger” which is a person who gets angry but doesn’t show it right away and instead stabs you in the back later.  While the experience hurts, you are not likely to forget the passive-aggressive approach.  Now take this concept and expand it to not just one emotion of anger but in nearly every aspect of a person’s personality.  This is passive aggressive where blame is shifted from them to you and no responsibility or accountability is taken by them.

 

So what is Passive Aggressive?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, passive aggressive did not make the final personality disorder cut and instead is classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify passive aggressive as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of passive aggressive are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

 

  • Hostility
  • Depressivity

 

The practical definition looks more like this:

 

  • Acts sullen
  • Avoids responsibility by claiming forgetfulness
  • Inefficient on purpose
  • Blames others
  • Complains
  • Feels resentment
  • Has unexpressed anger
  • Procrastinates
  • Resists suggestions

 

The movie “Bride Wars” featured two main characters who displayed some passive aggressive traits in a humorous setting.  But the main character Emma took passive aggressive to a personality level where she had issues in several areas of her life of putting things off, getting back at her friend in an underhanded way, intentionally being inefficient, and being resentful.  

 

So how do you deal with a person who might be passive aggressive?  Here are a few suggestions:

 

  • They can be very angry and you will not know it until it is too late and they are stabbing you in the back.  So be on guard.
  • This personality is not immature behavior although the behavior does look immature.  Rather their behavior is a personality issue and they will not outgrow it.
  • Eventually they will comply to wishes, demands, or expectations but it will be late and seem almost rebellious in nature.
  • When they get angry, they have a tendency to sabotage whatever is going on.  This is your clue that something is wrong as they are not likely to communicate anger.
  • By contrast, they hate outward signs of anger and routinely shut down when others are aggressive.

 

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of passive aggressive is that they seem like adult teenagers that you just want to shove into reality.  But they are not, this is not a condition that goes away with time and experience usually does not change their behavior.  If you are in a relationship with a passive aggressive, get some counsel to learn to better manage your expectations and establish healthy boundaries for your protection.

 

 

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.  

 

Understanding Schizoid Personality Trait

Cover of "The Remains of the Day [Region ...

Cover of The Remains of the Day [Region 2]

The name “schizoid” was coined in the early 1900’s but it really has nothing to do with similar names like schizophrenia, schizoaffective, or schizotypal.  Rather, it is closer in identity to avoidant personality disorder with many of the same characteristics and traits but adds the element of a blunt affect.  Perhaps the best definition of a schizoid is a person who pulls away from others and their own emotions or feelings thereby creating flat emotionless responses.

So what is Schizoid?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, schizoid is no longer a personality disorder in and of itself rather it is now classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify schizoids as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of schizoid are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Intimacy avoidance
  • Restricted affectivity – blunted affect
  • Anhedonia – absence of pleasure or the ability to experience it

The practical definition looks more like this:

  • Prefers being alone
  • Little desire for sexual relationships
  • Unable to experience pleasure
  • Comes off as dull or cold
  • Feels unmotivated

What does this look like in person?  Remember Anthony Hopkins portrayal of the head butler in “Remains of the Day”?  This is an excellent example of a schizoid.  The head butler focused on his job over all social encounters and disappeared into the background seamlessly.  Even when pressed about his feelings, he was unable to communicate them or show any real emotion.  This was not just proper job training for a butler; it was an aspect of his personality.

So how do you deal with a person who might be schizoid?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Because they won’t talk much, don’t expect a lot of feedback.  A little goes a long way.
  • They are not likely to go to lunch or engage in talks over the water cooler so don’t force it.
  • They will seem odd or indifferent in most social or work environments but they are comfortable with that so it won’t do any good to point it out or try to force them to be something they cannot be.
  • Emotional reasoning won’t work because they aren’t in touch with their own feelings let alone the feelings with others.  Rather logical reasoning will work.
  • They are very comfortable being alone so don’t engage or try to force them to talk during awkward silence.  Most likely the only one uncomfortable with the silence is you, not them.
  • One of the greatest mistakes you can make is that their silence means agreement.  It does not!  While this might be true for most of the population, this is not true for schizoids.
  • They generally need time to process decisions so give them deadlines for feedback.  Don’t leave a decision open-ended or you will never get the input you need from them.

If you find that you are in a relationship with a schizoid, get some counseling advice to manage your levels of exhaustion.  Their silence and blunt affect can be very frustrating especially for a person who likes to engage in conversation and is not afraid to show appropriate emotions.  Schizoids are capable of wonderful relationships but you need to understand their natural limitations and not have expectations that contradict with their abilities.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.