I’m writing with a deceptively simple question. How can I be vulnerable? Some pertinent background: I’m an academic, working in a field that requires me to live in very remote places for extended periods of time. I find my work incredibly engaging and rewarding, and I know I’m lucky in this regard. Still, the life of an academic (particularly a traveling academic) is often isolating. I don’t have a place to call home. My family is deeply dysfunctional; although I love my parents and siblings, our relationships are fraught and I have never felt unconditionally loved by my parents. I was diagnosed as a child with OCD, and [...]
One of the goals I have set for myself this year is to be a kinder person: more supportive and forgiving of my friends, more friendly and open to people I've just met, more approachable and compassionate with strangers. The problem is that this is a huge struggle because I am not naturally compassionate with people I don't already like.
I have two reasons for wanting to be kinder: to ~make the world a better place~ in an abstract karmic kind of way, and also (this one is selfish) to fight against my depression, defensiveness, and general negative attitude toward life by opening myself up to more experiences. [...]
Dear Polly, I have sort of a backwards problem, in that the better things are going in my life, the worse I feel. I know a good bit, or think I do, about why this happens. My mother committed suicide; my brother who tried to; and my father taught me that my sole purpose and value in life was to make them feel better and stop them from killing themselves. When I tried to care about myself and my needs as much as theirs, I was told this made me a terrible person, and no one would ever love me.
So I grew up to be extremely empathetic and [...]
The amazing man I'm with told me to improve my looks when we first got together. We've been together four years now. Here's the story:
When he first met me, he had fallen for me straight away, always coming in for coffee on my shift at the local cafe, always texting first, offering rides home, asking me out first. He was very sweet and persistent.
I was hooked and I said yes, yes I will be your girlfriend. Then some shit started…
He never complimented me on any of my physical traits, yet every weekend we hung out, he would somehow manage to tell me that [...]
I'm part of a group of friends that have known each other for many years. I treasure this group and want to be friends for a long time to come. Unfortunately, conflicts have been coming up here and there over the last couple of years, it seems to be escalating, and I'm at a loss as to how to make things better.
The problems mostly revolve around me and one of the other women in the group, "Jessica."
Jessica and I are very different people. She's an only child who, at age 40, still lives with her parents. Her mother does all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, even buys [...]
I am stuck on my recent ex of about 15 months.
We began online and with distance. He was in a live-in relationship at that time. I told him that I was not interested in an online, long-distance relationship and that I definitely was not interested in an attached man but he assured me that these things were temporary—and I believed him. She was/is his boss (she got him the job) and he claimed he was fearful of repercussions and also that he feared she would kill herself or quit her job if he left her. He also said that he hated the city where he lives [...]
For the past seven months I've been dating a great guy but now that things are getting quite serious I'm totally scared. I can't tell if it's because I myself am beginning to fall out of love with him, or if the internalized judgment of my (very judgmental) parents is freaking me out.
Before I met this guy, I was on an online dating rampage. I was preselecting guys who were tall, dark and handsome, had been to good schools, and were very, very likeable by my parents' standards (which at the time I thought were also my standards). I am extremely intellectual and well-educated and was [...]