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Not Sure What is Wrong
August 19, 2013 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
Hi Dr. Turndorf,
First I will give you a little background of my life. I suffer from OCD and Anxiety Disorders. I am 27 years old, and have only been on medication for about 4 years. However, while the medication has been effective, my symptoms have been 95% stopped for only the last 6 months. I have had a couple of girlfriends, but nothing that has lasted. It took several years to find a medication combination that worked this well.
So, I am not very experienced with dating. I am average looking, not really anything to write home about. I have tried online dating like eHarmony and Match. I dont get many responses. I may have some problems with understanding girls because I dont have any experience. There has not been any positive reinforcement for me to be able to understand what part of me that girls find unworthy. I have a creative mind, mostly because I had to in order to make it during the really hard times that I had before I was on medication. These were some really hard and dark days for me. So, I still have some of these emotions that are still really unproductive and it causes me to not be able to understand how to act/pursue/or make girls want to be around me.
That is what the problem is, girls dont want to be around me. I think they read my body language and personality, and they see that I am lonely and that all I want is for one of them to give me a chance and give me some productive feedback so I can make myself better and more worthy of their time. I suffer from depressionA psychiatric disorder characterized by an inability to concentrate, insomnia, loss of appetite, anhedonia (chronic inability to perceive pleasure), feelings of extreme sadness, guilt, helplessness...(Click for full definition.) because I had such bad agoraphobia when I was a teenager. I never went out and partied or played sports. I had/have a low self-esteem because I can't get anything to go right. They anxiety has blocked my cognitive function for so long, that I am lost when it comes to women. I taught myself to survive by withdrawing from from these terrifying experiences by staying inside the house. I feel so hard-headed at times because I cant get this figured out. I just keep going in circles. I am straight foward, almost blunt, because I helps to relieve the anxiety from not being able to comprehend what I am doing wrong. I analyze and think a lot because that is the only thing that works for me.
So, I dont know what women want. I have a 143 IQ. And I have the biggest heart of anyone you would meet. I am also loyal, very loyal. Girls really judge me. They are not very understanding of what I have been through, and very unwilling to give me a chance. They seem to know right away that I am not what they are looking for. Recently a professional athlete messaged me on eHarmony. I was very overwhelmed by this, and I was very polite and sweet, but that seems to not be what she wanted. I was just trying to get to know her and being very considerate so I wouldn't seem like a jerk, but that didn't work. She hardly knew me. And she made that judgement.
I realize I'm not a ladies man, but that is what girls seem to go for. It always seems like girls have better options than me and I get left out. Then I get depressed and I lose my ability to cope with this large amount of possible information that I could be doing wrong. If I dont get feed-back, I make up my own stories of what I did wrong. I get really nervous when I think of me trying to make a girl happy. I've never been able to do that... What do you think? Is it possible for me to overcome my disorder and lead a happy life with a girl?
Need some help
My heart goes out to you bigtime. I know that you feel defective because you’ve lived most of your life being disabled by anxiety and OCD. But guess what? We’re all physically and/or emotionally disabled in one way or another. All of us! And, as we age we become even more so. Our skin sags; our bodies betray us. The real issue is what we feel and how we think of ourselves in response to our flaws. All the best relationship advice techniques are useless when you don't have the right feeling about yourself.
The reality is you have so many wonderful qualities (brains, loyalty and a big heart). These are qualities that HEALTHY women seek in a life partner.
What you do lack is a good feeling about yourself. What is diabolical is the fact that we can literally “skunk” people away from us simply because of our own negative self-perceptions. It’s true, people pick up our non-verbal signals. Think about it. When you’re parked at a red light and you look over at the driver in the next car, he/she always senses the energetic frequency of your gaze and looks back. Well the same thing happens when it comes to self-image. If you think you’re not worthwhile, women pick that up and they mirror back to you exactly how you feel about yourself. Women are judging you as harshly as you judge yourself.
I have a very poignant example of how our non-verbal thoughts and feelings get read by others. I had a patient some years ago in her 70s whose daughter verbally assaulted her for as long as she could remember. I sensed that this woman felt that she deserved a beating--and she was getting her daughter to do it for her. When I explored why she felt she deserved punishment, she recalled a buried memory. She told me that she was a devout Catholic and that when she was pregnant with her daughter—who was not her husband’s child!—she drove to an abortion clinic to terminate the pregnancyPregnancy is the carrying of one or more offspring, known as a fetus or embryo, inside the womb of a female. . Her faith prevented her from going through with it, but she harbored terrible guilt for having considered the termination. She never told her daughter about this, nor did she tell her daughter about her buried guilt. She didn’t have to. Her daughter read her unconscious signals and beat her up for it. Now here’s the amazing part. When my patient made this realization, she instantly said to me, “That’s it. I’m coming down off the cross. No more guilt.” And you won’t believe what happened next. She didn’t have to say a word to her daughter. She didn’t have to put her foot down and say stop dumping on me. Her internal shift was enough. Her daughter sensed that she no longer would tolerate the abuse and she literally stopped crapping on her!
I hope you get my point that women are just giving back to you what you feel you deserve.
The next thing I want you to know is that your perceptions about yourself are distortedly negative. In fact, when I heard what you think about yourself, I nearly cried. The first thing that broke my heart was your saying that you want feedback so you can make yourself more worthy of their time. You were born worthy of love and attention. It’s your birthright as a human being. I want you to take my words in and believe me. Feel my words entering your soul. Make them your own.
The next thing you said was that you can’t get anything to go right. That’s clearly not true. You kept hanging in and even found the doctor to give you the right medications to control your symptoms.
As for women judging you, again, you judge yourself so why wouldn’t they? I want you to also know that nobody should be judging you, least of all you yourself.
Now I know you’re on meds and you’re feeling better, but I want you to also do some therapy. The way you tear yourself down is something that you learned during your formative years, and meds can’t fix this. By the way, nobody comes out of the womb putting him or herself down. We self-attack either because we are misdirecting our rage (and turning it back on ourselves, which causes self-blame, depressionA psychiatric disorder characterized by an inability to concentrate, insomnia, loss of appetite, anhedonia (chronic inability to perceive pleasure), feelings of extreme sadness, guilt, helplessness...(Click for full definition.), anxiety, and many other symptoms) or because we’re rebroadcasting the put downs that we received from our parents. The reality is our parents’ poisonous voices live inside our own heads and, without our knowing it, we talk the same crap to ourselves. This is called the “toxic introject” because their voices literally poison us from within. This causes us to beat down our own self-esteems. Hear me and hear me good. No woman will like you until this stops!
The only way to exorcise the toxic introject is to use what’s called the “observing ego” portion of your psyche. This is the part of the psyche that can step back and watch what’s going on inside yourself and around you. Every time you say something negative to yourself, you must stop, observe the process and ask yourself who is really talking in your head. Mom? Dad? And remember, you didn’t come out of the womb talking this way to yourself. So, label the voice as theirs, not yours. Don’t try to stop the voice or shut it up. It will only get louder. Ever tried to not think about a Pink Elephant!!! Rest assured knowing that the act of observing creates a space between them and you. Little by little, their voices will fade away naturally. When this happens, your self-esteem can heal.
I know you’re smart and that you are trying to think your way out of all your problems. But your brain isn’t going to fix this problem. The healing has to come from feelings. You need to get the right feeling from others and you need to feel differently about yourself. When you do, women will want you. Plain and simple. And just so you know, nobody can operate in a vacuum. Nobody can heal in a vacuum either. You need constructive feedback from people who feel warmly about you. Group therapy is a very powerful way to get these positive feelings. The Center for the Advancement of Group Studies in New York City maintains a list of therapists throughout the world who are trained by them. Give them a call. Join a group. When you surround yourself with love, that love will soon become your own self-love. Then and only then will you be ready to take your show on the road, meaning you will naturally draw love from women in the outside world.
Now I’m not saying that you can’t become more skilled when it comes to interacting with women. Group will help you with that too. But what you need to know is that the skills required are simple. We are all drawn to people who admire us, show interest, and listen.
By the way, according to research, a man’s looks aren’t top on the list of traits that make a woman choose a man as her life partner. A woman is more drawn to a man who she perceives as successful and confident. I’m thinking now of a male patient of mine who felt like a failure with women. He thought that if he didn’t try hard, he wouldn’t get the girl. Paradoxically, the harder he tried, the more women felt that he was hungry and desperate (not successful and confident) and they repelled him. As he healed with me, and grew to feel better about himself, he was able to stop trying so hard. Low and behold, he became a chick magnet.
When you feel better about yourself, your confidence will rise. Then you will finally get some success under your belt, and I do mean that both figuratively and literally!
Promise to keep in touch with me.
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