Welcome to "Ask Joe," our new RealJock advice column, written by our regular contributor, Joe Weston. Joe is a life coach, workshop facilitator, lecturer and peace advocate who believes we all can find a desired level of personal fulfillment and inner peace through the practice of deepening, illuminating and integrating the various aspects of our lives. Over the last year, Joe has contributed pieces to the site on the subjects of stretching, breathing, setting life goals, and finding contentment in one's life. Looking for some clarity on tricky issues in your life? Share what's on your mind with Joe—concerning work, personal awareness, love and romance, physical well-being, meditation, and spiritual exploration. Joe will offer advice, life strategies, and the occasional exercise to help put you on track.
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This week, we've got a couple of relationship questions submitted by RealJock readers. From exes to drug issues, let's hear Joe's thoughts.
I met my boyfriend—who I'll call David—a little more than a year ago. He had just gotten out of an emotionally abusive long-term relationship (4 years!), and had really low self-esteem, etc. At first he really didn't want to get into anything serious after what his boyfriend did to him, but over time our relationship has deepened and I feel that he truly loves and trusts me. However, lately his ex has been back around, texting and calling. David says that his ex came by his house last week, wanting to talk, but that he refused to answer the door. Now David says he's confused, and that he doesn't know how he feels about our relationship. I'm worried that he's going to go back to his destructive past and get back together with his ex. He says he loves me, but wants to take some time to think. So my question is—is David just pulling away because he is afraid that he will fall back into old patterns? How do I get him to see that his ex will only hurt him again?
—Am I the Third Wheel?
Hey Am I,
Interesting name you give yourself. You are in a relationship with a guy for over a year and you see yourself as the third wheel? Have you felt like the third wheel the since you’ve met David? I can see that you are concerned about him and that you want to help and be compassionate. But I think you are asking the wrong questions. The first question to ask is what do you want and need? He says he wants to take some time to think. What does he have to think about? Being in a healthy loving relationship or an emotionally abusive relationship? How much time does that need?
How much time do you want to give him? Yes, you can give him his space to sort out his stuff with this ex. And yes, he can have concerns about his ex, but if he is thinking about going back to his ex, then you have to understand that you are in a relationship with an addict—a co-dependent. Is that what you want? And if so, how do you support him in that, and, more importantly, what will you do to get support and care for you from others? If you say that there is truly love and trust between the two of you, then you should be able to make it clear that your relationship is between the two of you and that you are willing to give the issues with this other person only so much space. Eventually, David needs to stop thinking and make a decision. Does he choose for a loving present and future, or does he free-fall into an abusive past—this ultimately is his choice. You need to protect yourself by setting limits around your own space and behavior.
My best friend (who also happens to be, along with another friend, my business partner) a couple months ago moved back into the city we live in for the first time in a year. (He was working on-site on a project out of town.) Since he got back, it's like he's gone wild. He always liked to do some drugs on occasion, but lately it seems like at least once or twice a week he will start drinking and end up doing drugs and staying up all night. He'll roll into the office the next day and his brain is just fried. My boyfriend is really worried that my friend has got a drug problem, and is always calling to check on me when my friend and I go out (one time I went along and did drugs, and ever since my boyfriend has been nagging me about it). How do I know if my friend has a drug problem, and should I say something or will this all blow over? Also, should I tell my boyfriend to mind his own business?
—Confused about Coke
The first thing to do to get unconfused is to figure out what you think of all this. What do you think? Sounds like you are being influenced by your best friend and your boyfriend, and that is throwing you off-balance. Do you think your friend has a drug problem? If the answer is yes, then that is the answer. There is no statistical answer to this question. Everyone is different. Is your friend’s partying having a negative effect on your business and on your own personal relationship? It seems like the answer is ‘yes.” Certainly a good indication that it’s time to talk to him. It’s not about “what” he is doing, it’s about the effect he is having on others around him.
Another thing to consider is that many guys coming to a big city go through the “candy store” phase. We become like little boys, trembling with delight with all the yummy things on display, and we mindlessly indulge ourselves into ecstasy. Let him have his fun! But there has to come a time when we remember that it’s not all lollipops and cream-pies. This is the time to get back to a more balanced way of life. Unfortunately, some of us never leave the candy store phase and end up blissed out, but unhappy, maybe even broken. This is the moment when friends need to lend a helping hand to wake them out of their clouded state and support them in finding a more stable, fulfilling, balanced life.
As for your boyfriend’s concerns about your drug issues—you know best if you do have a drug problem or not. Maybe he has some info for you that you may need to hear. If not, then let him know that he needs to trust you. And suggest you both continue dialoguing about this. It can only be healthy.
About Joe Weston: Joe Weston is an international workshop facilitator and personal life coach. Born and educated in New York, Joe lived in Amsterdam for 17 years and now lives in California. He is committed to helping others embody spirituality and supports others on their journey towards personal fulfillment and empowerment. Joe brings a wealth of insight to his work based on many teachings, including Tai Chi Chuan and various spiritual traditions—plus his experience in theater and various organizational trainings. He also volunteers for the Liberation Prison Project, teaching Buddhism to inmates. To find out more about his workshops and his personal coaching, visit www.joeweston.com. Joe will be offering a monthly class in Oakland Ca, Full Body Meditation, combining different physical disciplines as a preparation for a successful mediation. Check for details: http://www.heartwalkerstudio.com/events.html. Joe offers a discount to RealJock readers. For more info: http://www.joeweston.com/register.