Rebuilding Self-Esteem After a Cycle of Rejection

When we were young, we created many of the patterns that control our adult lives. This can be especially true of relationships – what did you learn to expect in your earliest relationships? Do you expect emotional reciprocity and respect? Or do you expect to be disrespected and rejected? As an adult, it can be hard to break these patterns of expectation.

One pattern I see frequently in my practice is that of patients who, now or when younger, used sex to try to pull an emotionally distant person closer. This tactic, of course, is not to be confused with the kind of sex that helps to bring you and your partner closer or sex that is relaxed and fun. Instead, we’re talking here about the kind of sex that is meant to close a perceived power gap – this person has emotional power over you, and you want very much to even the playing field.

Read more

Sex as a Tool of Pursuit

Remember back to your first relationships: was one person the pursuer and the other the pursued? Especially when you were experimenting with what it meant to like and then love someone, there can be imbalance in the relationship—one person is more invested in pulling the other close. This imbalance creates the experience of insecurity for the pursuer. And amid this insecurity, instead of participating equally in the creation of a relationship, one person may use the tools at their disposal in the attempt to engage their partner in emotional reciprocity.

Sex can be one of these tools.

Read more

Does Relationship Insecurity Create Passion?

Young or old, gay or straight, for many people there’s nothing like making yourself believe your partner is on the prowl to give your relationship a little kick. Would he betray you? Is she flirting? Do you think your partner is cheating? Do you accuse him or her of these things? Maybe you have reasons to be nervous, but here’s another explanation: many of us, for a multitude of reasons, subconsciously and/or consciously create feelings of insecurity in our relationships as a way to get back the passion we once felt.

Read more

Everything You Do is Meant to be Self-Preserving

Do you feel there are things best kept to yourself, things that aren’t fit for the public eye – things you’re deeply ashamed of? For example, I have a patient who struggles to trust her partner. She knows she should, but she just can’t and she sees this inability to trust as an ugly and shameful part of herself. Another patient has such an exaggerated view of body flaws that she starves herself – and feels such self-loathing because of it. These patients bring to therapy not only these symptoms, but a deep and painful shame about what they see as hidden ugliness. What “dysfunctional” behaviors do you engage in that you feel helpless to stop even though you promise yourself you will?

Read more

How to Stop Chasing Your Idealized Self

Imagine you’re at home, it’s quiet, and you’re by yourself. What do you feel in that moment? Do you feel comfortable in your own skin – calm in the eye of the storm that is your day? Or, like many people, do you feel like you should be doing something? You should be cleaning the house. Or working. Or working out. You’re supposed to. And there’s something wrong with you if you don’t.

Too many of the women I see in private practice are immobilized by this idea of “should.” And it’s not just the haunting, tenacious feeling that you should do something, but the feeling that you should be something, namely an idealized version of yourself – the kind of person who would clean the house or work or exercise instead of sitting and being with yourself, relaxing into that moment.

Read more