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Ask Joe: Boyfriends with Girlfriends, and Finding Self-Worth

By Joe Weston

Welcome to "Ask Joe," our RealJock advice column, written by our regular contributor, Joe Weston. Joe is a life coach, workshop facilitator, lecturer and peace advocate with a deep commitment to the possibility of individual personal fulfillment. 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, meditation and spiritual exploration, or just about anything else that's getting between you and your life goals.

Write to Joe:
Reaching Joe couldn't be simpler: just email your question to joe@realjock.com. Your identity will be kept anonymous, but do note that questions may be edited for length and clarity.

Hey there, Joe,
I need a little help and direction; I just don't know what to do anymore. About two months ago, I was able to confront my abusive ex by phone. Talking to him really made me feel good, telling him how i feel about him and how much i was mad at him. But then it also opened me up to more feelings of the past and dragged up a lot of stuff. Several years ago, my ex and I were living together, taking care of his two kids. I had given up a good-paying job to move to be with him, and was really struggling to make it. One night I came home to find my ex molesting his son.  I grabbed my keys and took his son to his mom's, then came back to get my stuff and leave. My ex trapped me there, tied me up, and beat me. I eventually broke free after he passed out from drinking. At that point, all I had were my clothes that were torn and ripped and and a 1989 Ford Escort. I slept in my car for about two weeks, got a job, and eventually rebuilt my life. At that point I was about 227 pounds; now I am almost 400. I've been single for five years, and I don't want to go out into public being fat and ugly as i am. I've tried to talk to guys, but I just can't really trust them. Well, I have a hard time trusting people, period. At this point, I just want to lose this weight and try to find a nice, healthy, stable guy I can make a life with, you know? But I don't know how.
—Lost and Confused
 

Hey Lost and Confused,
Thanks for getting in touch. You have an amazing story. You can view it from many angles. One could be the angle of the victim. You have put yourself in a situation where you were abused and disrespected. You gave up your job and, on some level, gave up your power.

Or, you can view your story from the angle of the hero. Without realizing it, you got yourself in a situation where you lost your power and, despite the threats and danger, you took strong action to protect the child, get yourself out of harm’s way, and rebuild your life.

Which story would you like to hold on to? The one of the victim or the hero? Sounds like this might be a helpful way for you to approach yourself and your life at the moment. Forget about meeting a guy right now. You need to take a look at your relationship with yourself!

Let’s take your weight as an example. You make it sound like you are victim of your weight problem, almost in the same way that you describe how your ex trapped you in the house. Your story makes it sounds like your weight is keeping you from having control of your life and finding happiness. Sorry to say it, but in essence, from this angle, you are the victim and you are your own abuser.

 If you want, change the angle! Become the hero. In the story with your ex, it was your ex's son, the little boy, that got you to call out the “hero” in you. Who is the little boy in your current story? What part of you is like the little boy who is hurting from the weight and your patterns? Take the time to connect with that part of you and let that motivate you to take action to protect that vulnerable person.

This is not easy, but when you can stand up to this self-abusive part of you, your life will change, you will find more personal fulfillment, and it will be easier to connect with men who will love and respect you.

Hey Joe,
  My boyfriend and I have been together for a little over a year and recently an issue has arisen where he's been a bit too intimate with his new best female friend. Basically, she comes once or twice a week and picks him up (we don't own a car) while I'm in evening school and they cuddle up together at her house watching movies. Then, because it's "too late to take the bus home" or have her drive him home, he spends the night, cuddled up with her in her bed. This really bothers me. They aren't having sex, they keep their clothes on and he says there's no sexual anything there, but I'm just not comfortable with him sleeping with her. I've told him so and he still continues to do it. He won't sleep on her couch since he says it would offend her and he doesn't want that. But what about my hurt feelings? I'm his lover, not her! I go to sleep alone twice a week now because he's off with her cuddling in her bed. He sees no issue with it because no sex is involved. Bear in mind he's never been in a monogamous relationship and I've only been in monogamous relationships. To me, boyfriends (monagmous) don't regularly sleep cuddled up with anyone but who they are dating. What do I do? Do I just get used to it and try to be happy that at least he's not cheating on me, or do I put my foot down and thus have him pissed off at me for shortening his social time with his best friend? I'm fine with him hanging out with her, just not with the cuddling and staying over regularly part.
—Second Choice
 

Hey S.C.,
  Sounds like you need to sit down with your boyfriend and have a good long talk about this one. I think it’s great that friends can be intimate like they are, especially a guy and a girl. It’s fun to curl up and watch a movie together. It’s fun to play-wrestle with friends. And every once in a while, when it gets too late to drive, it’s sweet to sleep over and maybe share a bed together. But I don’t see why it has to end up with them sleeping in the same bed every week. Once in a while maybe, but every week, twice a week? That’s why you need to talk to him. What is he getting out of it? If you find out what he gets out of it, maybe you can find new ways to be intimate with him.

But the most important thing for you here is what you are feeling and what you think of this. There may not be anything “wrong” with what he is doing with his “girlfriend”, but if it is making you feel insecure and uncomfortable in the relationship, then you need to communicate that clearly and he needs to really hear it. His behavior, however innocent it may be, is having consequences for the connection between the two of you.

There is not one clear definition of monogamy. There is only the one definition that you and your partner of a year decide are the parameters of your monogamous relationship. It’s time to sit down and clarify what both of you find acceptable in how you relate to each other and others. This is an opportunity for the two of you to grow and learn more about each other. Who knows—maybe you will expand your views of intimacy and commitment through all this. And maybe he’ll see that he can come to you for more affection and physical intimacy than he knew. Talk and explore and have fun!

The one we should be concerned about is the “girlfriend.” Why is she spending her time cuddling with a gay man who has a boyfriend? It’s time for her to find her Mister Right with someone who is really available and not fall into the illusion that she has “found what she is looking for” in her “gay best friend.” Hmmm… sounds like a great story for a TV series….

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 here for details. He is also leading a Respectful Confrontation Weekend Training in Oakland on February 5 - 7, 2010 and he is offering a 25 dollar discount to RealJock readers. For more info, click here. Joe is also co-leading a retreat in Costa Rica called Sacred Elixir for Men: learning the healing power of yoga and intimate touch. For details, please go here.