Relationships: Finding the Courage to Move On (cont.)
column_WebMD: What are the "Fantasy Lover", the "Smothering Lover", the "Neglectful Lover", and the "Yo-yo Lover"?
Dr. Greer: The fantasy lover is the lover that you wish you had. You hold up everybody to that ideal and they never measure up. It's a way that people in the love rut I call "distancers" keep people at bay from unrealistic expectations. You can keep your distance, stay uninvolved. The smothering lover is the lover that is usually a by-product of the "clinger rut." They can't let go. They're possessive, controlling, can't tolerate separation because they're anxious. The yo-yo lover is also consistent with the distancer rut. The lover that can't live with you, can't live without you. Breaking up with you, then getting back together. After a separation, they get anxious and focus on things that they did love and want, and they return. You never know if you're coming or going. The neglectful lover is very often what women see in the staller rut, and men too. The people who are in marriages or live-in relationships where the other person deals with their own anxiety by being immersed in work or an activity, golf, or bowling, or going out with friends, that becomes primary. They need to do that first and foremost, more than being with you. You're left feeling neglected and even though they tell you they love you, they're not around.
gr_paula_WebMD: How can I recognize when I'm in one of thee ruts?
Dr. Greer: You can keep the denial document. It's a way to gauge how much pain and hurt you're experiencing. The other is the quality of the relationship helps you determine what rut you're in. The clinger rut means you're attached to someone but can't let go for the fear and anxiety of being alone. If you've been in a long relationship, like a marriage with children, and you fantasize about leaving, but put it off, then you're in a staller rut. You feel like it should end, but you haven't tried to do anything about it. A distancer doesn't get into the relationship. You have your finger on the eject button. If you have a hard time getting close to somebody and developing the kind of intimacy, you're in a distancer rut. The bouncer rut is bouncing between two people, for the unfaithful. You're ambivalent. You may find yourself in a "rutten" world. (laughs)
Mikey40_WebMD: How can one "move on" and still be friends with someone after ending a relationship?
Moderator: (If it's possible.)
Dr. Greer: It's possible! if you use your anger about a situation and what ended to take a constructive action by leaving and ending, and by not harboring anger and resentment, but you accept that things didn't work out without looking to lay blame. By appreciating the good that did happen, take that with you. Focus on what you gained, not what you lost. Often, one person is ready to move on and the other is not. Depending how you end things, one person may be terribly wounded, or the other is so guilt-ridden about leaving, it's hard to be friends. It's easier to come by when it was a mutual growing apart.
gr_paula_WebMD: Can you please define codependency? And what are the pros and cons of codependency?
Dr. Greer: There aren't very many pros as such. Codependency comes about when you're dealing with somebody -- it comes out of an addiction problem -- addicted to gambling, or drugs, or shopping, or eating. Generally somebody with an addictive problem like that, it affects you. As a result, you take on their problem and try and get them better, try and get them to change. Once you do that, you're in a co-dependent situation. They never feel the enormity of the problem because you take on a portion of it. You become known as an "enabler." The key is to figure out what YOU need to do differently. It's how you disengage and not only not foster the behavior, but to separate so you take care of the problem as best you can on your own. If you're dealing with someone who's drinking, instead of getting them to stop drinking, you determine a) you'll never get in a car with them, you'll arrange for a cab. You let them know where you draw the line as to where you'll be involved. If you know that they'll get belligerent, you have to talk to them when they're not drinking. Shift it from what you want them not to do to what you won't do.
Moderator: Are the serial pleaser personality and codependent personality linked in any way?
Dr. Greer: Yes, but I wouldn't say that all serial pleasers are codependent, nor all codependents are serial pleasers.
column_WebMD: Given that so much of our lives are dependent on external factors and large institutions, to what extent are we actually IN control of our lives?
Dr. Greer: That's a great question. We're in a lot more control than we realize. There are many choices we're free to make in order to feel in control. Certain situations -- if you need a job and the money, and you don't like your job, you can't make the choice to walk out. But you can make the choice to acquire more skills, education, to plot a job change over time so you don't feel helpless and stuck. Even if it's pouring rain out, you can make a choice to take an umbrella or raincoat to protect yourself and not feel helpless. While there are many things we cannot control, like being stuck in traffic, you can choose to turn on your favorite radio station, or tapes or CD's to soothe yourself. This is so you don't feel out of control. How you plan your time and build in techniques to soothe and calm yourself down are all ways to feel in control.
Moderator: If your past is largely responsible for your present state, what can you do about it?
Dr. Greer: If you could learn to become more self-aware, to develop better skills for keeping anxiety in check, to manage anger more constructively, you can really cover new ground and make strides. You've only been limited thus far, and "thus far" are the operative words.