ARTICLES - selfhelp

previous article
I want to love but I'm afraid to do it - 5/9/2007

Essentially, it has as its theme the notion that almost every one of us are frightened of openly loving someone.  We’re awful good in a dating situation and, in fact, if we demonstrated the behavior in our marriages that we do in dating, there would be far more successful marriages and far fewer divorces.  But we human beings don’t do that.  We do the opposite.  When it doesn’t count, our batting averages are high.  In practice, we make the 3-point shots, but in reality, in really meaningful, committed long-term relationships, things change.   The dynamics change and so do our behaviors.  We are no longer the loving, open, caring, sharing, communicative, easy-going people we were when we were searching for, involved in, or competing for someone’s affection.  

In marriage, things change.  There are many reasons that we could use to explain it.  It’s the big leagues.  Maybe we didn’t have sufficient training to partake of or perform in that league.  Maybe the role models we had become more evident after marriage.  Or maybe we lose our sense of freedom and behave more out of fear than out of love or desire.   To protect ourselves, we hear and think creatively, always searching for the potential attack, the possible putdown, or assuming the worst in terms of the motives of those around us.   We become less able to be chided or teased, we react too quickly to protect ourselves needlessly.  We wind up losing the spontaneity, the freshness, the enthusiasm and carefree, loving behavior and verbalizations that we were capable of while dating.  On the one hand, possibly because, soon after we marry, the dynamics, as I said earlier, change.  We’re no longer going with a girl we want to like us.  Instead, that girl now becomes a member of our family and we behave out of our family dynamics instead of our dating demeanor.   I will certainly always recall the individual I once saw in therapy who, when I asked “When did the problem start?”, answered “Right after they threw the rice.”   

In many instances, the problems don ‘t become evident until after the birth of a child.  At that point, the girl you married becomes a mother.  Not only the mother of your child, but a mother, who you then wind up treating, dealing with, reacting to, fearing, hating, capitulating, lying to or deceiving as you did toward your own mother.  It’s almost a built-in inevitability.  And if the relationship between you and your mother wasn’t a healthy one, note that doesn’t mean that it was bad, painful, noxious, abusive or sexually deviant.  It could have been too good, too nice, too seductive or too supportive.  So much so that the expectations you feel, the notion that you have to perform to a certain level and the fear of rejection, abandonment or disapproval if you don’t meet the goal increases to the point that you become awkward, ill at ease and distant, all in one fell swoop, in a relationship that you want, but are afraid to deal with honestly.

There are many examples I could give.  One would be the recent problems between Charlie and Abby.  Two would be the indecisiveness of Chris Latiolais.  The needless arguments and fights between the Goodmans; the sensitivity and introspective insight demonstrated by Mitch Zarsky, without the behavior that should stem from it; and the pain we needlessly cause our partners, without any awareness that we do so.  Those are just a few of the examples.  I could also sight the just general malaise and lack of verbalizations of loving thoughts by most individuals in general.  When it’s done, it causes hurts and deficits in relationships beyond the point that you can imagine.

That’s my initial thoughts.  I’m sure there’ll be others.  The people, such as the individuals who wait until their deathbeds before they can tell a child or a wife “I love you”, as well as those who got to their deaths without ever being able to say the words.  The loving thoughts that are never articulated, the e build up in our heads on the drive home, to avoid potential closeness, and the absence of an open willingness to give without winning, as exemplified by the story involving wanting a 24-cow woman.  All of these are indicative of the fear of being vulnerable, of showing love, of being intimate, revealing self, and the terrible, terrible dread of being emotionally hurt.  There are so many examples that it will take the book to demonstrate them.  But I think it would make a very meaningful read.  

I think we can into the whole Madonna complex by Freud and talk about the inability to have sex with a wife, to express, let alone achieve the realization of your fantasies with someone you put on a pedestal, versus the basic notion that sex is bad and evil and stemming from original sin and the4refore you can have good sex with bad people.  It doesn’t make sense, intellectually, but it does, emotionally.  

I might also go into the story of me and the shampoo that occurred when I wrote my first book, Games Lovers Play, dealing with Harriet getting shampoo and me going to tell her about it, but never doing so.  And we’ll add things as I think of them, such as the little cutting remarks, the finding fault, the exaggeration of weak areas, counter-balanced by the absence of statements about the positive factors, about the notion that, no matter how you look at other people, in the end, most of us wouldn’t change what we’ve got for we’ve sometimes fantasized about.  (...............this segment is inaudible......................)

shortness of’s exactly the way I thought it was going to be.

EER: Her know, the part that’s important isn’t that she is like your father, it’s that you are not the same way.  That’s my point.

PT: I’m not saying she’s like my father.  I’m saying I react the same as I did with my father.  Now, again, I’ve got to stop that.  And then she’s not going to beat me, she’s not going to yell at me...well, she might yell at me.  But I know she loves me and that I didn’t get from my father.  

EER: Yeah, what we’re talking about is specific on the one hand, with regard to you situation, (unclear) on this - the ramifications of your behavior, what’s going to happen with regard to your marriage.  But, on a far broader basis, you really have to take a look at the fact that what you’re describing, the tenseness, the fear and the apprehension, the lack of trust, the reluctance to take a risk, all of these factors aren’t unique to you.  And I have taken a lot of time this week, when I say last week was a terrible, upsetting time, half of it because you and Abby are very, very, very special to me.  Half of it had nothing to do with you.  It did only because you provoked it and you’re, like every one of us, involved in the hidden dynamics.  But it wasn’t just because I care enough to, it was because of the enormity of the lesson that was there to be learned.  The years that I’ve been with you and I know whenever you got involved to the point that you really cared, you sabotaged it.  You got to a point where you know you have a girlfriend who has no concept of money, and thinks she’s the little princess and you give her your credit card and then you turn around and you’re pissed because she abuses the hell out of it and runs up all kinds of bills.  Not cheating, necessarily, but ti doesn’t matter.  

PT: Yes, it does.

EER: And then you say “I’m out of here”.  You sabotaged it so you could leave.  On the one hand, maybe some of the dynamics had to do with trusting, to see could you trust her, and finding out you couldn’t.  But you already knew that.  On the other hand, it was your way of destroying, mitigating, curtailing lots of the love and care.  You’ve got a gem, number one.  I’m not telling you she’s perfect, she’s got her problems, her baggage, her family.  But, damn it, she’s got more strength in her than you or me.

PT: She has.

EER: She has dealt with a father who was an SOB, and been able to limit her involvement with her parents, and to go on in life, without letting it affect the way she loves and cares for you.  She’s been able to still have a relationship and care with her mother without being caught up in tremendous guilt at having to totally support mother and have her become another dependent in her life.  She’s been able to put her brothers into proper perspective.  And she’s been able to even sustain a relationship with your family, all the while being aware of the kind of people they are, in terms of how little they can give, or what little insight they have.

PT: Yeah.

EER: But she stayed with you, who is not an easy person to stay with, are you?  You’ve got more God damned neuroses than you could fill a basket with.  And she had her own problems as well.  But the fact remains, you’ve got a gem there.  And I’m not telling you something you don’t know.

PT: Oh, Ed, I know it.  I knew it the day that I met her.  

EER: That’s the point that I’m getting to.  The point I’m getting to is that how many times have you come in since you married?  Well, we don’t want to rehash how many times you called the wedding off and how much hurt you gave her, and we don’t want to get into the pre-nuptial and all the pain you put her through.  And I don’t want to get know, that crap you gave her about traveling when she had a kid and the times when you’ve come in here, from the day you were married, periodically, and say “You know, I don’t know if I should have gotten married.  Why should I (unclear)”.  I’m not talking about her, now, I’m talking about what you are doing to yourself.  “Why should I have gotten married?  You know, I look at my old life, it wasn’t so bad.  You know, you’ve got a responsibility, obligations, thoughts she gets cancer, she ....I don’t need all this.”  And yet, if the conversation was turned around, to talk about race cars, your eyes lit up.  Or business.  You got excited.  Or skiing in Colorado with the guys.  And, alright, I didn’t hear bad stuff, I heard this one thinks he has to call (unclear) and then it takes a catastrophic event, real on the one hand, but hopefully, God willing, and grandized unbelievably on the other, because of your guilt and a lot of other...and all the previous position took proper (unclear) stuff.  But, it took all that pain, all that upset to, for a moment, make you realize “How many weekends have I been gone on the race track?  How much time have I spent with my family?  Or not spent.  How many risks have I taken, flying the airplane, racing the cars, when I could have lost everything?”  How little did I (unclear) you?  And I’m going to tell you what the answer is.  I think you value them so much that it scared the hell out of you and you had to run from them, but more importantly, the feelings that could have been there.

I have a guy in therapy who was a friend that I’ve known for years.  He’s an OB-GYN and he’s, you know, a perimeter friend. We’ve broken bread together.  He cooks and, you know, I like him.  Not close like you, though.  But, as long as I’ve known him, he’s played jokes.  Everything is a hee-haw laugh.  The rest of the time, he’s drinking a little too much and putting on the center of attention at a party, singing limericks in Scottish - he’s from Scotland.  They’re funny as hell, and her knows a million of them.  He’s a delightful, charming Scotsman.   His wife had an affair and left him and everybody thought it was dastardly and terrible, and it was.  She should have left him - it might not be her, but the important thing is what was wrong?  How could she have an affair on such a nice, loving guy?  Well, because he wasn’t loving.  Because it was joke and he thinks it’s funny and he could be everything but close and involved and let his feelings out to her.  So she found somebody who made a lot less money, but who brought her love.  And he married for a year or two and then there are ten or twelve years he’s been free, maybe thirteen years he’s been free.  He’s made the rounds of every single girl that he could find and gone to bed with all of them.  Because he’s terribly good looking, funny, rich.  Not rich, but professional and everyone is after him.  He wasn’t about to get involved with any of them.  Even less than he got involved with his wife, because now he got hurt and so that increases the fear.  And now he has a gal who’s slept around for about seven years and finally she said “Tell me if something’s going to happen, or I’m leaving.”  And she gave him a timetable.  “I’m not saying you’ve got to marry me, but you’ve got to get engaged.”  Swell, he never quite said yes, and he hasn’t gotten engaged, but he’s got her involved with remodeling his house.  And all you hear from him, socially or here in the office is “Oh, she’s spending all this money and I’m afraid it’s gonna”........................tape ended................... he’s got to be the master in his kitchen, which will overlook the bar and the sitting area and he can control.......and that’s his style, it’s perfect.  And she said “I’ll pay for half of all this stuff, because I don’t want to live in your ex-wife’s house.  I want to have a home when we get married and I’ll pay for half of it.”  So it isn’t like she hasn’t worked and doesn’t have her own identity.  And he’s going to marry her.  But he’s backing into it.  It looks just like you.  And he’s just backing in and backing ion and backing in.  And all the while, he is cheating her of all the goodness and the love an the care and the warmth and excitement.  But he’s also cheating himself, because he won’t let himself feel all these things because there’s another feeling that goes with it - the fear of closeness, the fear of being vulnerable and open, which are words that don’t come close to really describing how frightening and terrifying real closeness can be.  And I don’t believe it’s unique to him, or you.  I believe that if we look out, every one of us can this behavior in aspects of our relationships.  The fathers who never told their sons how much they love them or admire them until they’re on their deathbed, the father who never could say ‘I love you” to a daughter or a wife until he gets sick.  And then there are some who never say it.  The quarrels and fights over inane, little things that we create, almost deliberately, to avoid getting close.  

And I didn’t have to look far.  I’m supposed to be this tremendously warm, loving, insightful, sensitive, caring, loving guy.  And I looked - you caused me to look at me at home.  A guy that can get pissed off because the light’s on in the closet again.  Not the light, 350 watt lights, there are 1050 watts of light that don’t have to be left on, you can just flip th switch.  But she doesn’t.  Well, who gives a damn?  Do you think at the end of the month or year the difference in the amount of money I spend for those three lights are going to break me?  I’m not going to be any richer or poorer.  It isn’t about money.  It’s about distance.  It’s about looking for something to land on.  It’s about trying to establish dominance, control, so you can love more, because you know you’ve got the other person controlled and they can’t hurt you, or they’re less likely to hurt you.  It’s about getting them to do what you want, because that means they care, so that then you can let your guard down a little, maybe.  And it’s unconscious.  It’s unconscious that pervades hundreds of things that we do, every interaction we have, every time we blow up or suddenly shout and get defensive over things that don’t even matter.  And if we read into, or when they said something benign, it’s the lack of kindness, the lack of doing little deeds, of trying to even out everything, to make sure you’re not doing more than the other person, or doing more and then resenting it and feeling the martyr and the victim.  It’s all the behaviors that every one of us participate in to avoid letting ourselves be open and vulnerable and taking the risk of somebody not responding.  And the crazy thing is, that what it does is cause the other person, eventually, to give you less.  So that only supports your contention from the very start, that they don’t care.  It’s a way of actualizing your fears so that you don’t have to take risks or put yourself out there.  And it’s certainly a product of dysfunctional homes and dysfunctional parents.  But it’s also, I think, a kind of innate thing in us human beings who go out and work at creating distance.  Interesting - you watch dogs that want to get along and the one dog just rolls over on its back, exposes its neck and says “here’ you can kill me.  I’m totally vulnerable.  I’m not going to hurt you.”  And the alpha dog doesn’t kill him.  He’s just established his superiority and the other one acknowledged his subordination.  But they don’t have a relationship.   And as long as we’re in this power struggle between one another, but really with ourselves, because we’re too frightened to get close, we’re going to do things that sabotage the goodness, we’re going to do things that ruin everything that out there for us.  And that’s what you’re doing.  That’s what you do.  

PT: Unclear.

EER: I believe that.  

PT: I mean it’s crystal why,’s crystal.

EER: The only thing I..........

PT: Yet, I wonder, subconsciously, subconsciously.....I guess (unclear) .......I’ve been through.  (Unclear)

EER: I’m going to tell you, let me - I don’t know if I understand that.  But let me put it in another direction.  Let me word it and see if it fits.  It may not, so you tell me.  Over the years, I’ve talked to many men and women who have had affairs and I don’t even - I can’t call these affairs, I call them involvements.  I don’t know what else to call them - contacts?  And, in so many instances, I have accused - I think that’s the word , but not in terms of put-downs, not in terms of berating the person, but in terms of trying to get them to look at themselves.  I have accused these individuals of having an affair in such a way that they literally gave their spouse every opportunity to catch them.  The airline pilot, who comes home from a trip to China, leaves his briefcase with all his flight plans and all the maps - they all have their own maps and flight plans -  this big case home when he goes out to the airport for his flight and now he doesn’t have time to go home and get it and come back, so he calls his wife and says will you bring it to me?  Don’t open it, just bring it.   Well, what would you do if somebody told you don’t open it?  She opened it. Guess what was in there?  Pictures of him and one of the stewardesses at the Kyoto big Buddhist temple, under the arch, holding one another.  

The salesman - and these are real stories - who comes home, throws his keys and his change and his wallet and all the papers in his pocket on top of his bureau and there is the hotel receipt for two people, a double, when he’s a single.  His explanation is that he put it there because he wanted to take it to the office and not charge it on his expense account for both people, because he didn’t want to cheat the company.  Huh?

All I can tell you is there are countless, countless examples about it.  The woman whose husband never comes home during the day, who calls him up two or three times that day to make sure “you’re not going to be home until 8 right?  You’re not gonna - so she called him like two or three times.  So then he got a break between whatever he was doing at the office, he ran home and guess what?  There were two in the bed.  Big surprise?  She almost invited him to it.

And in every one of these instances, and there’s a myriad of them, after we talked about it long enough, it was certainly sabotaging the relationship, on the surface, but way down deep, some of the individuals were able to say this, “I wanted to see that if I committed the unpardonable sin, whether he or she would still be there, if they’d love me enough that I could do something terrible, betray them sexually, and they’d still be there because I’ve never fully been able to believe they could.”  Isn’t that crazy?   Intellectually, logically, yes.  Emotionally, logically, I mean emotional logic, no.  No.  And once again, it’s a fear of closeness, a fear of believing that somebody would really be there and not giving them a chance to hurt you, or literally giving them a chance to hurt you, 180º the opposite way, so that you can test if they really care.  And the end result of either is to push the other individual away.  I’d have you think about that.

PT: There’s no question that’s what I do.  No question.  I’ve gone over it in my mind and last week, I had to work (unclear).  And there’s no question about it.  There’s no question that I did that.  

EER: You could go, as far as (unclear) may be.  On the surface, we can talk about how frightened you were about getting married, about making the commitment, about getting involved with somebody, but then you can go back and say, “Now let’s see.  If I cancelled the wedding two times and then finally had one with little notice for anybody, up in the mountains of Colorado, and the girl still wants to marry me, maybe I can believe she cares.  Of course, my unconscious says, oh, she’s so needy, she’s so dependent, she’d take any crap just to be married”, but then you can see that maybe, even if it was a test of everybody, every friend, relative, to see if they loved you, and if they didn’t come, and if they weren’t there.  So, it’s not just for the wife, and it’s not just this week.

PT: I totally agree. I think I totally agree (unclear).  I did all that.  And I am so (unclear) so much hurt  from me, and so much insecurity wondering if  I am loved....

EER: My answer is yes, there’s no doubt about it.  My answer is that, if it’s a matter of degree, you’ve got a hell of a lot of it.  If it’s a matter of is it there, then you’re no different than, I believe, almost 98% of the population.  Because we all take a look at the way we act and react and see in our marriages a common - within every individual, but a common desire for a clear closeness, such that our - time and time again, you’ll see a contradiction between what we say and what we do.  We say “I love you”, and we act in ways that certainly don’t show it.  Then, if you get enraged enough and hurt enough, feel rejected, abandoned and therefore unloved, you can even shout “I want a divorce.  I’m sorry I ever married you.”  But even then, the words aren’t true.  And the feelings aren’t expressed.  Why would you let somebody who’s hurt you know how important they are and they could hurt you even more?  (Unclear), so don’t give people a chance, don’t open up, constantly push them away.  And when you hear how many thousands of men have said “All I am is paycheck, that’s all you care about, is that the money’s deposited every month and you live in your fancy house, with your fancy car and you fancy maids and you nails getting done”.  I’ve heard that statement a million times.  And the statement really is “You don’t care for me.  You don’t love me.”  And the purpose of the statement, the motive, is for you to please deny that and please assure me that you care.  

PT: No doubt about it.

EER: Tell me what you’re gonna do now about the doctor thing.

PT: I’m gonna go to the doctor and tell him the situations that I’ve put myself in, let him know that (unclear), that I want to be totally conclusive and I want him to learn the best (unclear) what I want to do with it.  And certain I don’t have it.  I feel certain.  This morning, I woke up and said “I don’t believe I have this”.  

EER: Are you taking Abby with you, or she won’t go....

PT: I mentioned it yesterday to her and she was - I think she doesn’t want to go.  Because I said “You’re more than welcome to go”, and she said she (unclear).  You know, with babysitters, and...

EER: Yeah.  And, of course, she doesn’t believe you have it.

PT: Right.  Went over there last night and tried to go.  It’s funny, being around the house, how much you take for granted.  God.   Even something that’s simple and easy, even sitting outside with your son, having him (unclear), filling the bucket, dumping it over, filling the bucket, dumping it over.  How much I didn’t even think how much joy that was.  Watching him experience it.  And sitting there with my beautiful wife.  Understanding and knowing everything that we have been through and willing to (unclear).  Now, I (unclear).  From now on, I have nothing to do with this girl.  I don’t want anything to do with this girl.  It’s not (unclear)

EER: Letting you know, the prenup, just like you said, is like delaying the marriage.  It was one more thing to see if she cared.  And you couldn’t believe anybody cared.  And you know what?  You needed reasons not to care, yourself.  

PT: Absolutely.  I sure did.  There’s no question about that.

EER: That’s how frightened every one of us are about not being loved.  And told you the story about the Mexican.....and on the one hand, you can’t have any money, therefore I know you’re marrying me and staying with me because you love me, not because of the money you’re getting.  That was the way your prenup worked.

PT: It sure was.

EER: And I told you the other side of it, which is what you’re doing now.  Here’s the money.  You aren’t trapped.  And I know you love me because you’re staying when you absolutely have wherewithal to leave.  What a difference.  

There’s so many ways we can just look at the way we behave and how we avoided and avoid showing who we are, how much we care, what’s going on inside.  I’m proud of you.

There’s just another couple of stories about this.  The fact that people anticipate and, as I said, self-actualize.  They anticipate that something bad’s going to happen, so they’ll say “oh yeah, things are going good, but I’m holding my breath, because I’m waiting for him or her to blow again.”  And those two weeks or three weeks when things are going good, does the person say “isn’t this wonderful?  You know how much I love you, you know how much I care, you know this is the way I want us to live always.”  We don’t do that.  What we do is hold our breath, waiting for the b low to come and then when it comes, say “I knew it.  That’s the way it always is, so that justifies my not caring.”    

Another example is the woman or the man who starts a fight, says something they know darn well will aggravate the other person.  The other person takes the bait and they say “See, that’s the way you are all the time.  You come in the house every day, screaming and yelling, which, of course, the other persons feels trapped, nailed, manipulated.  The next thing they do is really scream and they say “That’s it, see, I know what kind of a lunatic I’m married to.”  One of the common things people do go through their lives looking for things to be mad about.   If there is one thing I would say to everyone, “you have to go through life looking for things to be glad about.”  

It’s not a case of always having just good times between you.  I think you could help the situation where you can finally get to a point where you risk being open, you risk being vulnerable and you risk showing who you are.  And the other person says “Those are just words.  I don’t believe you.  You say those things, but you don’t come through.”

PT: I had that one girl tell me that was true.  (Unclear)

EER: Yeah, there you go.  Okay.  I know, you can go “Okay, I know this is over.  You can go.  Screw you, het the hell out.”  You can go “You know, you’re probably right.  I am not as good as I’d like to be, by any ....I fall short, because I’m human.  But I’ll tell you one thing.  In spite of all that, I do care for you.  And I’m not gonna fight with you because I want a relationship with you and I’m here and I care.  And I wish you’d look at why you’re pushing me away .........”

PT: I had that discussion.

EER: “The thing to do is - and have to do is pull me toward you.”  So those alternatives are all there.  “Screw you”, “Well, it’s the end”, or ...

PT: Ignore it?

EER: Well, right, you could ignore it, too, but, instead, you could control it and you could recognize that what she’s saying is similar to the guy whose wife says “I love you” and he says ‘No you don’t.  You say it, but you don’t really love me.”   And the reason he’s doing it is because he wants a wife to reiterate it, to say how much she does care, to prove to him that she cares.  But the truth of the matter is, the problem isn’t her, it’s him.  He’s scared to death that she doesn’t love him.  He can’t trust or believe somebody does love him.  It’s no different than the situation where you say to somebody “I love you” and they say “Oh, you always say the words, you don’t mean it.”  

We have choices how we respond exactly, and we have to take a look at that.  You also have to ask yourself why would a   ..............(tape ended)...........

You also have to question yourself with regard to why would anyone stay with someone who is so

frightened of loving emotionally, of sharing their feelings, of committing entirely, of totally giving of themselves to another human being?  And the answer becomes obvious.  That person is equally frightened.  They don’t realize it, but their unloving partner, in many ways, becomes their insurance policy, that aids them, or provides for them a payoff, such that even if the relationship or the marriage fails, they can point to the other person and say “I knew they wouldn’t be here.  I should have known.  Look at the way he or she backed into the marriage.  Look at the way he or she wasn’t interested in sex.  Look at the way he or she was gone all the time, busy all the time, involved in other activities, or always at work, hunting for things to do to keep away from intimacy and family and feelings or emotions.”   

In one case that I’ll elaborate on, the wife had to know when she was first presented with a totally unacceptable prenuptial agreement; one that gave her nothing, eliminated any possibility of her having any interest in his business, his finances, but most importantly, his future growth.  Everything was kept separate.  You have to know that, when someone accepts that and then accepts two marriage dates that are broken a week, or several days before the marriage ceremony is scheduled, that this person isn’t coming after you with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their feelings.  And when you marry him that way, no matter how much you profess to love them, you have to wonder why.  Why not go after someone who’s coming after you?   In many ways, you know, it almost explains why the grass is always greener on the other side of the street.  Why we look to the next yard for the long blades of grass to eat, while the grass in our own yard may be better or the same, and certainly more available.  But we don’t appreciate what we have.  Or, we’re frightened of because we do have it, because it is available and, in many ways, the times we separate ourselves, push away, estrange ourselves, get angry, find excuses not to be close, are not the times when things are bad.  They’re the times when things are the best, or could be.  And we’re so terrified of exposing ourselves by being vulnerable, by allowing the other person to get close, that we avoid it.  

One of the most outstanding cases I can think of is a woman I saw in therapy, who always had herself interested in unavailable men.  She dated her husband for a prolonged period of time.  During that time, his sexual interest was minimal, at best.  He didn’t push for it, ask for it, or show tremendous interest in it.  It’s not surprising that for the next 18 years, he demonstrated the same lack of interest, except on a graduated scale.  All the while, she lived with him, dissatisfied, discontent, unhappy, reluctant to admit it, but very resentful toward him for not loving her, not caring for her, not wanting her sexually.  One day, she told him in no uncertain terms that she wanted out of the marriage, she had no desire to be his wife, and that she was in love with their doctor.  Impulsively, she pushed and pushed until he finally agreed to leave the house.  Then she impulsively confronted the doctor in front of his office, telling him of her great love and her firm belief that he didn’t love his wife and that he was attracted to her.  The physician was so startled, he ran from her, sent her a letter indicating that he would no longer be her physician, and called her husband, stating that he wanted nothing to do with her, and to explain the reasons why.  But that didn’t stop her.  She persisted in the delusion, in the fantasy that he really loved her, but he couldn’t admit it because it would jeopardize his professional practice.  Some time later, after her husband left, furnished an apartment, established his own life and invited his children to be part of that life, she found herself alone, scared to death, still believing that she loved the physician, that it was real, and that one day her emotions and feelings would be reciprocated, but financially, emotionally so scared that she was willing to try with her husband again.  Interestingly, her husband by that time had his own doubts with regard to returning to the marriage.  And there she found herself all alone.  Her friends, her husband, before he left, her sisters, the doctor’s letter, and her therapist all said the same thing.  “In one manner or another, this is crazy behavior.  You cannot persist in it without getting hurt and hurting everyone else.”  But she refused to listen to reason.  She was in love, she was sure it would be returned and, despite her fears, she wanted to wait for the time that her fantasy lover would respond.   

It reminds me of a story of a woman who was baking a cake.  When she started to get out the ingredients, she realized she had no sugar.   She raced to the hardware store, ran in to the man at the counter, and said “I want a 5-pound bag of sugar.”  His response was “Lady, this is a hardware store.  We don’t carry sugar here.”  “Well, why don’t you?  You should.  I’m a paying customer and I’d like sugar, and I’m sure you have it.”  Well, you and I know that she wasn’t going to get it there.  And you and I know that there were probably any number of large and small grocery stores in close proximity, where the sugar would be readily available.  Knowing that, we have to ask, why go to the hardware store?  The answer; you don’t want sugar.  Maybe your head does, but you’re not being controlled by your head.  Your behavior and your actions are being controlled by your emotions, and that part of you isn’t looking for sugar.  You might extrapolate still further and say she never wanted to make the cake in the first place.  And if she can get upset enough, or angry enough over no sugar at the hardware store, she doesn’t have to look at herself.  

Having said all this, it becomes necessary to recognize that this illustration, simplistic as it may be, is no different from a woman who goes throughout her life “searching for love in all the wrong places”, as the western song goes, and always winds up with men whose love isn’t available, then blames the men for the lack of emotions, lover and nurturing she desires.  In this one case, after talking to the woman further, would it surprise you to know that her father left when she was six years old, never returned, except on two occasions, remarried and in his 25 years of marriage to his second wife, never once had his children over to his new home?  Would it surprise you still further that her mother was an angry, tyrannical individual who was constantly depressed, spent long periods of time in her bedroom, fed and clothed her children, but never recognized or met their emotional needs?  When, at 16, this young lady had a 4-year relationship with her high school coach, which took place in the house with her mother’s awareness, i.e., on numerous occasions, she served him dinner, but never intervened, never showed any care or concern, and knew throughout the entire situation that he was married, is it any wonder that she was frightened to reach out for someone who might be available?   Someone who might cause her to feel something. To desperately believe that love wasn’t an impossible dream, and who cold, then, totally capsize her emotionally.  Who could abandon her, reject her, not care, similar to the other people in her life.  It doesn’t surprise me.  I doubt that it surprises you.  The irony of it is that it surprises her.  The fear of truly loving is one of the primary motivators for neurotic, self-destructive behavior for tremendous emotional hurt and depression, and for untold numbers of divorces that result when two individuals point their fingers and one another and say, “You’re to blame for the lack of love that’s present here.”  Or, conversely, “I don’t know why you’re unhappy and want to leave.  Everything was fine.”  

That reminds me of a joke I heard a very long time ago.  One of the common ways in which people create distance is to find themselves someone else, other than their spouse, to get close to.   Often, this behavior causes twice the problem that you might expect.  The first problem is the betrayal, the hurt, the disillusionment on the part of the partner who no longer feels they can trust their spouse or lover, who is faced with the ordeal of leaving, often an alternative they don’t desire, because they didn’t stray.  They oftentimes see their marriage as having no difficulty whatsoever, and, should they decide to stay, they’re confused with regard to whether they can ever trust again, allow themselves to get close, at least what they’re calling close at that moment, and give their so-called “better half” the opportunity to hurt them again.  

There is another problem that is rarely attended to.  The strayer, the adulterer, the cheat creates a situation which they interpret falsely.  The consequences of it is that they believe, erroneously, that the problem isn’t theirs after all.  Think about it.  Here’s another woman, or another man, with whom I can perform, who arouses me, who causes me to feel things I only felt years ago with my spouse , or by that time, at least in my mind, never felt with my spouse.  On the basis of that belief, they then come to the conclusion “I am not the problem, but my spouse is lacking, frigid, cold, unresponsive” and that, despite any therapists railing to the effect that they can’t get close, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  They’re in a relationship.  Their emotions are driven to a height they haven’t experienced in years, they’re excited, their ego is augmented, and they feel close.  In too many cases, however, should that person wind up married to the new partner 6 months or a year, 2 years, 3 at the most, later, the new relationship takes on great similarity to the one they left previously.  Only then do they begin to realize that, perhaps, it wasn’t “true love”, whatever that means.  What it was was a fling.  What it was was a heightened interest in a third party.  But what they don’t see is that, over time, when the newness of sex and the excitement of the secret affair begins to dissipate, the closeness that’s supposed to compensate for that heightened excitement isn’t there.  And that closeness is the result of their ability or, in that instance, inability, to get close.  They are 100% responsible for their behavior, their actions and their lack of closeness.  This is in no way to say that their old partner or new partner didn’t have problems of their own, didn’t bring their own baggage into the relation ship.  That goes without saying.  After all, who would marry someone who’s afraid to get close?  The answer to that question is someone who, at least unconsciously, is equally afraid of the same closeness.

There is still a third factor that might be of interest to you.  When there’s an affair, oftentimes one of the major factors involved, as paradoxical as it may seem, is that the individual participating in the affair, at some deep underlying unconscious level, wants to be caught.  Most individuals, when confronted with that statement deny it rabidly.  “There’s no way that scenario applies to me” is the general reaction.   But, after considerable introspection, they often recollect a time or two, early in the affair, when in their mind, they went through the scenario of “what if I’m caught?”  When they push that scenario,. They often realize that getting caught was, in some ludicrous way, a test, an attempt to see “If I do this, ultimate bad thin, if I cheat, if I betray, if I let my partner down, if I hurt them deeply, and they still want me, maybe then I can believe that they care.  I can trust the love they claim they have for me (.............tape ended................ )

..............a test .  But it doesn’t work in most instances, because, in the long run, the emotional logic boils down to another conclusion: “They don’t love me.  They’re only here because they’re too weak, too dependent, too frightened to make it on their own.”  You see, when someone perceives themselves as lacking in lovability, they will always be able to creatively support that notion and reinforce their belief that they’re lacking, that no one really cares or could love them.  

Obviously, there are other so-called seemingly perceived rewards out of an affair.  The brief period of sexual excitement and satisfaction, the increase in ego, worthwhileness, the notion that  “I really am a desirable man or woman” But, in the long run, the purpose is to create distance, to disallow closeness, to mitigate intimacy, to protect one from caring, loving too much and being hurt.

PT: (Unclear) I think this has changed all that so much that I might think that I’m not going to react to it.   I’m consistent enough that I might say - learn something different -

EER: You can almost take a look at what, up to here, has been kind of your outlets.  I don’t know how much alcohol has played a part in it, but it’s usually somewhat of a role.  And you’ve got to know that so it’s facilitated - the wheels are greased by a little alcohol.  

PT: Right.

EER: Then you know that you’re more susceptible to the sexual experience.  Then you know that what you’re feeling is horny as hell.  But underneath that, it wold help if you could identify at that time, not take the feeling away, but if you could identify what is it that I’m feeling underneath when getting turned on.  (Unclear) we say getting turned on, that’s one thing.  You know, when we talk about different kinds of snow.  One of the snows is being turned on.  One of the snows is living on the edge.  Maybe even taking some extra risks in the real estate business.  Certainly with the race cars.  A third avenue of expression is getting sick.  So, if you can take a look at those three and you can say “When I see myself....” and that difference between being sick and sick is like I have a difference between when I eat because something is really delicious and I eat because it wouldn’t matter what’s on the plate, I’m eating just to fill that hole.

PT: Right.

EER: And so when you see that kind of sickness, and see that kind of being horny, and see that kind of extra on-the-edge behavior that you have to take a look and say “Okay, Charlie, what is it?  What are you trying to fill?  What are you feeling empty about?”  Because there’s a hole there.  And that’s when you have to be able to recognize - and it’s not a big deal - only a couple of things, and that’s in all of us - you, me, any patient I’ve seen.  Feeling desperately of needing love, a fear that if the other person knew how bad you felt about yourself, or how weak you feel, lonely, inadequate, needy, they wouldn’t be there.  A fear of rejection, a fear of being inadequate, insufficient to deserve love, it all wraps around love.  And that being the case, you can go to the one place that’s most likely to be available.  That’s home with Abby.  And let her see you.  Try and talk out the feelings.  You won’t always be able to do ti, but it doesn’t matter.  You’ll still get the support.  So, this whole thing becomes, like getting the results today, turning a life-altering experience, all of it, where nothing - nowhere could you have been hit harder than what you’ve just been told.  But, you know, with people who are going to die of lung cancer and get a chance to live again and then go start smoking again, people like myself, who shouldn’t be overweight and who is, and on and on and on, with the various things that we know better.  And we forget that like-altering experience that so large today in time, because it’s a way of mending, it’s a way of diminishing painful things.  And so we forget the hurts, the pain.  You know the old adage, if a woman could remember the moment of childbirth and the pain associated with it, she wouldn’t have any more kids.  So, you know, we forget.  Even the helpful pains.  Somewhere, you’ve got to write down how bad it hurt, what it seemed like, when you were about to lose your life, your wife’s life, your kid’s life and leave another one an orphan.  My God in heaven.  The enormity of it.

PT: Unbearable.  

EER: And you think “I’ll never forget something like that.”  When I take a look at my friends who have had bypass surgery.  When they got out of surgery, “I’ll never gain weight again, I will always walk one or two miles a day, or every other day, and I’ll do this, I’ll eat right.”  A year later, they’re back to their old overweight again.  

PT: I’m going to write this down.  I’m going to write it down and I’m going to have a certificate made up and put in my closet.  Something in my closet, something in my office.  If I ever have doubts, if I ever change my mind about this.....

EER: All of us do.

PT: (Unclear) It has to be.

EER: That’s exactly the point I’m making when I say to you, “What’s the pain?”  Because you say, and let’s just follow it through, God in heaven, you are a health nut.  You’re like me in, no matter what money you have, you’re going to cheap on the other side.

PT: No question.  

EER: Except for the race car.

PT: (Unclear).  Like you did it with the camera....

EER: Alright.  Even though you can’t let Abby in, you couldn’t go hurt her or the kids directly.  You couldn’t hurt anybody.  And then you go out and you do something that will cost money, that will endanger your health, her health, everybody’s health.  It just doesn’t fit in your life at all.  And also, you actually almost kill your family, you, your wife, kid.  How much drive, if you will, must there be from another source to just push you to go right through all three of those - what do you call it - checkpoints?

PT: Unclear.  Why did I choose a prostitute instead of having an affair with a secretary or a bank teller, or someone like that?  

EER: It couldn’t be the worst choice?

PT: I know.

EER: So the pain was really the greatest, so you needed to get away the most, and (unclear) what you were getting away from was love.  The situation at Christmas, the family, all the good things.  Eventually, go a step farther, there’s a new baby, a new life coming in.  The epitome of a dream.  I don’t think you were lying when you came in and said “Everything, the family I wanted, was picture perfect.  Is that what I was running from?”  I’ve got to think, yes.  I really believe that if you could have closed your eyes and just let you run with how good things were, it would have been - it was, more frightening than anything else in the world.  You didn’t know, Abby said “If we had been fighting before, if something was wrong, I could understand it.  But I couldn’t understand it when there was nothing wrong.  It didn’t make sense.”  Which really becomes important to look at.  

PT: It’s almost like I was saying, “I don’t deserve this.”  That’s (unclear) back to my father.  And I can see exactly where her reactions to (unclear).  But to..., well, I think you’re right.  

EER: Well, you’re hurting ........

There are seven things that I believe need to be included in this book.  

On the basis there are seven things I believe fundamentally that influence the way people operate in terms of their relationships, in order to get to them, you have to take these seven steps or assumptions, i.e., basic beliefs, that I think describe people and the way they behave.

1. People don’t change.

2. Best therapist in the world doesn’t cure you.  Helps you only to see you and, hopefully, to deal differently with yourself than you have prior to therapy, i.e., you learn abnormal behavior.

3. No one escapes childhood without scars and wounds, which they have to learn to live with and recognize.

4. We always marry someone who is exactly like ourselves.  But it’s also true that opposites attract.  It is essential that we learn to live with ourselves.  If we don’t, based on the notion that we always marry someone like ourselves, we aren’t going to be able to live with them, because we can’t live with them.  So, the end result is that, throughout our marriages, we punish our partners for those things we see in them that we cannot abide or accept in us.

5. It is important that you learn what it is you have in common with your partner.   How are you alike?  The differences go without saying.  They’re apparent to us.  

6. All of us have “snow” or chaos, or addictions that we use to escape from seeing ourselves.  

7. Because all of us have wounds and scars from childhood, we have to realize that we are frightened to the degree we were hurt as kids, of the closeness we claim we want.  It’s not that we don’t want it.  Our heads want it.  Our emotional selves are frightened of the very thing we want , so we discover myriads of ways to avoid getting the closeness we want.  We marry people who can’t give it to us, then live with them and complain throughout that time that they don’t live up to what we want.  We behave in ways to push our partners away.  But, if we push too hard, we pull them back, because we are frightened of losing the closeness we desire, but we’re also frightened of having the closeness.  Example: Abby, when she starts to feel and trust and forgive and let all of her emotions out toward Charlie, becomes angry, pushes him away, can’t, for the life of her, stop thinking about his transgression, his betrayal, the hurt he’s perpetrated.  That’s the two parts of her working to hurt.  The key to all of this is that you have to be at risk.  Best example is Charlie destroying the prenup.

The name of the book could be “Be At Risk”.  Another title that I’m looking at could be “Luv Versus Love”.   

To receive new articles by email twice a month, sign up by entering your email address below