What we seem to fear the most is the broken heart

Zen Flash

What is the worst that could happen if you surrender to love? What we seem to fear the most is the broken heart.

Yet the very unwillingness for the heart
to be broken is the broken heart.

The tragedy and the irony is that
in order to avoid a broken heart,
people live in a state of broken-heartedness.
In the willingness to have the heart be broken a million, trillion, zillion times, true love is revealed.Let the whole world break your heart
every instant of the remainder of your life.

Then this life can be lived in service to love.
It does not mean you stay in abusive relationships.

It means only to stay true to that which is always true to you, and that is love. Anything else is a story.

If the story is never investigated,
your whole life is lived on the assumption that the story…

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Seniors: Safe Sex, Please

Senior Citizens are spreading STDs like wildfire according to statistics recently released from the CDC. Some might find the numbers shocking, especially those who might be surprised at the level of sexual activity among single seniors. According to the CDC, diseases like Syphilis and Chlamydia increased by 52 and 31 percent respectively from 2007 to 20011. This puts seniors in competition with young people between the ages of 20 and 24 in terms of the biggest increase in STDS. Young people in this age group had similar numbers in terms of increases in these types of illnesses.

The rate of STDs among seniors has been growing steadily for the last several years. In 2010, the CDC reported that rates of STDs in seniors had doubled from 2000 to 2010. They continued to increase after that report with rates being the highest  in the state of Florida.

Reasons for the increase may be connected to drug use, specifically use of erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra and Cialis. In 2010, a study showed that older men taking these types of medications had an STD rate that was double that of their counterparts who did not take medicines for erectile dysfunction.  Besides drug use, the fact that seniors are living longer with better health also contributes to their increased sexual activity.

Senior citizens are also far less likely to use condoms than are their younger counterparts. A study out of Massachusetts General Hospital found that men aged 50 and over were six times less likely to use condoms than men in their twenties. Despite the fact that STDs are becoming a major problem among the senior set, the CDC reports that a mere 5 percent of seniors are utilizing the free STD testing that is provided to them through Medicare.

Besides the statistics that prove senior citizens are spreading STDs like wildfire, there are also many anecdotal reports in the media of senior citizens living in retirement communities who enjoy a “college dorm” type of atmosphere. This issue has also been reflected in movies and television shows, often with comedic effect. However, STDs are no laughing matter. Besides the curable diseases like Syphilis and Chlamydia, life-threatening HIV is also on the rise in the senior demographic.

Seniors who live in assisted living centers or retirement communities aren’t getting the education they obviously need with regard to STDs and how to take preventative measures against contracting such diseases. The combination of access to drugs like Viagra and a lack of education on susceptibility to STDS is a perfect storm of danger for seniors who are still enjoying an active sex life.

Senior citizens are spreading STDs like wildfire and this issue shows no signs of abating anytime soon. STDs have been rising drastically in this community for at least the last 14 years and seem be continuing their upward trend despite a public service announcement about the problem, which was produced last year. It seems clear that more resources and educational opportunities are needed to stem the rising tide of STDs among senior citizens.

By: Rebecca Savastio

via Senior Citizens Spreading STDs Like Wildfire.

How to Move In Together: A Checklist

Dear xoJane,

My boyfriend and I are moving in together soon and while I am super excited, I also feel a little unprepared. I’ve never lived with someone before! I was hoping you guys could give me some advice on the matter. So my question is; If you could go back in time to before you first lived with someone, what advice would you give yourself?

Thanks x 10000000,

Emily sent the above letter from a reader to the xoJane crew and I was all over it because a) I’m coming up on my one year living together anniversary with the mostly greatest boyfriend on earth and b) Oh, how I wish I’d had the foresight to ask for advice waaay back in the day when I first moved in with the worst boyfriend of all time.

So first, Dear Reader, I commend you on being smart enough to realize what a BIG move moving in really is. As the New York Times recently emphasized  in the op-ed “The Downside of Cohabitating Before Marriage” many American couples simply “slide” into cohabitating, effectively making a non-decision about a very, very important decision:

Moving from dating to sleeping over to sleeping over a lot to cohabitation can be a gradual slope, one not marked by rings or ceremonies or sometimes even a conversation. Couples bypass talking about why they want to live together and what it will mean.

Touche, touche. It took me three months to figure out who to room with freshman year but all of three minutes to say “Um, yeah sure okay” when my college boyfriend suggested we just share his one-bedroom in Harlem. To make a long story short, the whole thing ended epically bad. Turned out homeboy was a nut. And for my part? I was naive.

I was 19 years old and just sort of testing the waters of seriousness whereas he, at a very old-seeming 22, was ready to put a ring on it right after I rustled up my degree. We never discussed this massive imbalance in expectations until it was too late to talk any lower than a scream. Supposedly one of the hardest things to do after moving in, is moving out.

When I walked out of our former love nest one last time with a box of pictures of my friends — pictures he’d doused with “water” — I tried to be civil. But before I could turn to say a final goodbye, he pushed me down the stairs and then slammed the door on my flying back.

“Just get the fuck out then,” he shouted in an octave that can only be described as hurt. I landed on my feet — literally — stunned and relieved. Mostly relieved. Yeah, this isn’t a happy story.

But there is hope, promise!

image

An artistic rendering of me staring longingly at my main squeeze

After 10 years of “never again” responses when asked about the likelihood of me sharing my sacred space with anyone other than Miles the Magnificent Pug Psychiatrist, I met my main squeeze. A man who I can honestly say turned my self-centered world view on its head.

That is to say, now it’s the two of us (three counting Miles) and I’ve had to dig deep past my only-child tendencies to embrace the chaos of other people’s shit. It’s fantastic, frightening and mostly very fun.

But none of that is to say living together is easy just because I’m a) older b) have more sense and c) know how to ask someone to do dishes. Living together is hard work. In fact, in my opinion it should be just as hard as being married to someone.

To quote the Times pieces once again: “The best time to work on someone’s marriage is before he or she has one.” Or to put it in 21 century “not everyone wants to get married” terms, the best time to work on your serious “we live together” relationship is before your cohabitator invades.

So here’s my totally makeshift, experience-driven and absolutely unscientific Moving In Checklist. This is also me assuming you’ve plowed through the important stuff like who’s paying for what (halfsies or some other fraction), who’s handling the bills (i.e., actually pressing submit or smacking on a stamp) and who’s doing stuff like dinner, the dishes, the laundry, etc.

Put your name on the lease

Moving into someone else’s space is tricky both emotionally and legally. Never let anyone, no matter how cute they are in the morning, hold your housing in their hands. I’ve known too many smart women with jobs who ended up effectively homeless when a relationship ended. And on a brighter note ,when the two of you are both on the lease then you both feel equally empowered to make decisions about the mansion/apartment/shack/house (remember MASH?).

Get a storage unit

Remember the “stupid, wagon wheel, Roy Rogers, garage sale coffee table” Jess wanted to keep when he moved in with Marie in “When Harry Met Sally”? Just avoid the fight and store all of his (or your) hideous crap out of sight. Plus, you don’t need redundant furniture. If someone’s life-sized Darth Vader wax figure is too sentimental for Craigslist but also too ugly to exist, then swath that bad boy in bubble wrap and ship it off to the 10 x 10 that time forgot.

Have conversations

You do this a lot sans rooming but convos not of the “who needs to do x, y and z” variety can fall by the wayside once folks have sides of the bed. And yes, talking always makes things better. Despite being a writer on most days, I hate talking about things like my feelings directly to the person I have them for. I can never find the words and I feel awkward and dorky — like how if your favorite singer sang you a love song. The whole time I’m thinking, Where do I look? What to do with my hands?

Thankfully my love life is not a live action episode of “Glee.” When there’s a problem, it only makes sense to sit down and talk it out with the person you see the most, the person you care enough about to live with. But “We need to talk” is the worst. I usually open with “Can you listen to me right now?” It’s weird, but it works.

Go on dates.

I don’t know how or when people with spawn hijacked the term “date night,” but it’s for everybody. Date Night for all!!! When you move in together, the trajectory usually follows a clear line from high “Holy shit you’re still here” type glances in the steamy bathroom mirror and then quickly devolves into, “Yep, still here” sighs from the front door. Remedy this by getting out of the damn house on a regular basis. There’s a reason your mom demanded you “go out and play” for a while after school — stir crazy is a thing. And it can kill the sex. Also, have sex (if that’s your thing).

Manage your expectations

This check is two-fold. Firstly, don’t think living together will transform your couch into a magical island of psychedelic fun. It’s still a couch. What makes the mundane stuff of your single life even better in your doubled-up life is the act of being in a fun, committed “thing.”

Also manage your expectations by checking in with yourself. Ask if you’re still on the same page with your partner? If you’re still enjoying the relationship? Are you smiling 7 times out of 10 when your main squeeze turns his key or is that sound more akin to nails on a chalkboard?

Living together is a leap. Whether you land on your feet, in his lap or on your BFF’s couch three months later is entirely up to the two of you. But waking up in the morning to your favorite face (aside from your own, of course) is seriously the gift that keeps on giving.

And I know I’m not the only one in the xoJane peanut gallery with strong opinions on the whole cohab confab. Add your deal-breakers and makers to the list folks, I wanna make sure I’m doing this thing right, too.

via How to Move In Together: A Checklist From Someone Who Learned the Hard Way | xoJane.  [check out the comments too]

Healthy Connection

At the heart of attachment theory is the assumption that we all — all of us — have a basic, primal drive to connect. It’s wired into us, after millions of years of evolution, because on our own, we humans are weak, relatively defenseless creatures. That’s why emotional isolation registers in one of the most primitive areas of our brain — the amygdala — as a life-and-death situation (scientists call this the “primal panic”). The anxiously attached lack any faith that emotional closeness will endure because they were often abandoned or neglected as children, and now, as adults, they frantically attempt to silence the “primal panic” in their brain by doing anything it takes to keep connection. In short, they become needy. (The avoidantly attached shut their dependency needs and feelings off altogether to escape the pain of having their longings ignored or rejected.)

It’s not need, then, that engenders neediness. It’s fear– fear of our own needs for connection and the possibility that they won’t ever be met. That’s what hurtles us into the abject despair of neediness. The only way to get rid of a need is to satisfy it, and the more anxious we are about having it, the more quickly we want it met. Overcoming neediness therefore demands that we disentangle the need from the fear, and there a number of ways to do this:

Breathe. If you recognize that fear is the problem, not loneliness or a desire for contact, you can escape the suffocating grasp of the neediness by using stress management skills. Go for a run, meditate, do diaphragmatic breathing — all of these will reduce your anxiety, along with your impulse to act out of neediness.

Get connected. The researchers discovered a healthy version of dependency, one that involves a valuing of relationships. It’s not just more active, it’s more direct. Make clear requests. Neediness is all about blindly reaching when you don’t even know what you’re reaching for. Connectedness is about effectively depending on others.

Practice emotional mindfulness. Rather than acting on what you think you need, sit down and write about the feelings you’re having. Are you afraid of being alone? What’s it like to simply focus on that without trying to flee it by seeking contact? Instead of trying to get rid of the feeling, try to understand it. Not only does that make it easier for you to recognize and express your needs more clearly, it teaches you how to tolerate them.

Take stock of your relationships. Needy people often attract dates or friends who reinforce their neediness — people who crave connection, just like everybody else, but seem loathe to express the desire (they’re often avoidant). If your fear is that the phone will stop ringing if you don’t call, ask yourself, am I the one who always seeks contact or reassurance? Am I OK with that?

Make room for your needs. When we hate or fear our needs, it only makes them more intense because we’re tempted to hide or disguise them. That not only makes them confusing for others, but harder to satisfy. How you express your needs — whether for closeness, reassurance, contact, or love — will change dramatically once you start taking them seriously because you’ll have a far better understanding of what they are and where they come from.

When all is said and done, the key to overcoming neediness is to respect your needs for connection instead of fearing them. When you do, the chaos of neediness gives way to the clarity of intimacy. And everyone’s happier for it.

via Dr. Craig Malkin: How to Overcome Neediness.

Moving in with a boyfriend.

Is this real life?

In my last post, I spoke about living with friends and the drama that comes with it. Now I want to talk about what happens in the first week and a half of living with your boyfriend.

Shockingly enough, I don’t have much to say. I think maybe because we’re lucky enough to not be up each others asses as much as other couples would be if they lived together. I work during the day, he works graveyard shift. I work Monday through Friday, he works Wednesday and Thursday one week, Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday the next week. He’s a cop, by the way. That’s what one would call a ‘pitman’ schedule (I’m pretending to be savvy with the cop lingo, I’m really not). So on the days we’re both working, we don’t see each other at all. On the days he’s working and I’m not, we’ll only have…

View original post 638 more words

Overcoming Singleness Anxiety

Throughout our entire childhood and upbringing, we were taught that we are supposed to look for love and marriage. We were taught that we should get married. We were taught that love and/or marriage would make us happy… or even that love and marriage are needed in order to be happy. This is ingrained in us by our parents, our teachers, the movies, TV shows and everything else most of us were exposed to. This is normal. And at first glance, this doesn’t seem like a problem at all. So what’s the issue?

The big issue with our pursuit of love… it makes us unhappy

If we believe that we need to find love and get married in order to be happy, this naturally makes us believe our life isn’t good enough the way it is. This subtle and often unconscious belief that “life isn’t good enough the way it is” creates a sense of lack, a sense of incompleteness, or a sense that something is missing from our lives. For some of us, this sense is very subtle and can only be noticed through continuous efforting to find someone to love us… but for others, this sense of lack is very apparent and strong.

In addition, once we believe that love and marriage are required to be happy, we naturally believe that we can’t be as happy if we don’t find love and get married. This is automatic. If we believe it is “best” to get married, of course we are going to believe that it would be “worse” if we never get married. Once we believe that it would be “bad” if we never find love and get married, we being to fear that outcome and experience stress and anxiety about it.

As long as you believe that love and marriage can make you happy, you will have this sense of lack and fear that you won’t find love

So, if you would like to feel complete now, if you would like to feel relaxed and anxiety-free now, there is a simple way to do it. Discover that another human being does not have the ability to fulfill you. If you can discover that love and marriage can’t make you happy, then you will no longer feel like you are missing something in your life, and you will no longer fear not getting love and marriage.

Let’s examine whether love and marriage can fulfill you:

All of our unwanted emotions are created by thoughts. To believe that someone else can make you happy, means that you believe another person can eliminate all of your negative thoughts. Of course, we don’t recognize this is what we are believing, but nonetheless, that is the underlying assumption. The only way we can be happy is if we don’t have thoughts that make us unhappy. If we believe that love and marriage will make us happy, we are inherently believing that love and marriage will somehow eliminate all of the different types of negative thoughts that currently create our unwanted emotions and prevent us from feeling fulfilled. But is that true? Let’s look at 7 different types of thoughts that love and marriage can’t eliminate.

1) Do you have any insecurities or judgments about yourself?

Are there parts of your personality or your appearance that you don’t like? Do these thoughts sometimes make you feel ashamed, embarrassed, lacking, or worried about others’ opinions? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

2) Do you have aspects of your life that you think aren’t good enough?

Maybe your job isn’t good enough, your apartment isn’t good enough, or you don’t make enough money. These thoughts make you feeling lacking and insufficient, and create anxiety. Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

3) Are there people in your life which you think aren’t good enough?

Do you judge people that you come across? Do you sometimes get angry at co-workers? Do you have issues with your parents? Do you think your friends don’t always do the right thing? Do you think people should treat you better? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

4) Do you worry about what other people think?

Do you worry about whether you have your parents’ approval? Do you worry about whether your boss will like your work? Do you worry about what others will think of your appearance and clothes? Do you sometimes not do what you want because you are afraid of what other people will think (i.e. dancing etc)? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

5) Do you sometimes feel guilty or ashamed about your actions?

Do you sometimes do things you don’t want to do? Are you sometimes unable to do things that you really want to do? Do you still have habits that you think are bad, but can’t stop them? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

6) Do you sometimes feel restless and bored?

When you are just sitting or lying down and your mind is constantly thinking, this creates the feeling of being restless or bored. Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

7) Do outcomes and events sometimes occur that you don’t like?

When you have negative thoughts about a particular outcome or event, doesn’t this sometimes create sadness or anger? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

Relationships can eliminate a few negative thoughts, but they will almost certainly be replaced by new ones

Getting into a relationship will likely help you get rid of the thought “my life isn’t good enough because I don’t have a partner or someone to love me”. This will likely eliminate part of the sense of lack and shame that you had. But, it is likely to be replaced with new thoughts about how “my relationship isn’t good enough”, “they don’t love me enough”, “they don’t appreciate me enough”, “our relationship isn’t as good as their relationship” and these types of thoughts which will create more lack and shame

If you get married, you will almost certainly lose the thought “it would be if I never get married or find someone to love me”. Since this thought created some anxiety, whatever anxiety it created will likely be gone. That will feel really nice in the beginning. However, this thought is likely to be replaced with a new worries about whether they will stop loving you, worries about whether they still love you, worries about what you need to do to keep their love, worries about whether they will cheat on you, and possibly others. These new thoughts will continue to create anxiety and worry. It makes us fear that we will lose their love and constantly seek reassurances that they love us.

If you are seeking love and marriage to make yourself feel happy and whole, you are looking for someone to use.

Let me ask you a question: Why do you want to find love and marriage? Really, take a moment to answer that. If you knew with absolute certainty that getting someone to love  you and marry you would make you unhappy, worried, and angry all the time… would you still want to pursue love and marriage? Almost certainly not. Why would you pursue love and marriage if you knew it would make you unhappy?

You likely wouldn’t. If you would want to pursue love and marriage when you believe it would make you happy… and you wouldn’t want to pursue love and marriage if you believe it would make you unhappy… then it makes it pretty clear that you are just pursuing love and marriage because you believe it will make you happy. In other words, you don’t want love and marriage… you want to be happy, and you just happen to think that love and marriage will make you happy. Love and marriage is the means, not the goal.

But, here is the reason why I bring that up. If we are seeking love and approval to be happy, then we are actually seeking someone to make us happy. In other words, if we are seeking someone to make us happy, we are actually looking for someone who we can use to make us happy. This is why we tend to think that receiving love means having someone to fill our needs (or wants).

If we are using someone to make us happy, then we aren’t really loving them. We just love how they help make us feel. That’s fine, there’s no problem with that. It’s just not based on love. If we pursue someone to make us happy, then we will “love” them when they seem to make us feel good and we will hate them when they seem to make us feel “bad”. This type of “love” is completely conditional. The bottom line is that if we don’t truly love someone, then we don’t feel this love or the fulfillment that comes with truly loving… unconditionally and selflessly. By pursuing love to make us happy, we are setting ourselves up for a relationship that’s not actually based on love.

When you discover that love and marriage can’t make you happy, you can be much happier right now

When we believe that love and marriage will make us happy, it creates a whole lot of suffering. And this suffering absolutely doesn’t end when we find someone to love us.

But, if you are able to see that love and approval can’t make you happy and fulfilled, then you can stop feeling like something is missing from your life and stop worrying about whether you will ever get it. Then, you will be left feeling much more free and happy right now.

If you want to feel whole and happy, you need to identify and address the thoughts that make you feel this way

Since other people cannot change all of our negative thoughts to positive ones, we need to question the truth of our negative thoughts if we want to be happy. If we don’t believe the thoughts which make us feel unappreciated, insufficient, or unlovable, then we will be completely happy regardless of whether or not others love us.

In addition, once you are already happy, then you can enter into a relationship without wanting anything from the other person. When you are fulfilled, you can enter into a relationship without an ulterior motive… without using them. Then, any relationship will be much more enjoyable. It will be based on love.

Therefore, somewhat paradoxically, discovering that a relationship can’t make you happy will make it much more likely that you will end up in a happy relationship.

Now, I would like you to ask yourself a few questions:

Can love and marriage eliminate all the thoughts that create my unwanted emotions and make me feeling lacking and unfulfilled?

If love and marriage can’t eliminate all (or even many) of the thoughts that make me unhappy, is it true that love and marriage can give me the happiness, wholeness, and fulfillment I want?

If love and marriage don’t have the ability to fulfill me (or anyone else), then is it true that my life isn’t “good enough” just because I don’t have love and marriage?

If love and marriage can’t fulfill me, am I sure that I would be happiest if I got married?

If all of my unwanted emotions and sense of lack are created by thoughts, then is it true that I need to get love and marriage in order to be happy?

Is it possible for me to feel completely whole, happy, and fulfilled without getting married (by addressing my thoughts)?

If I can be fulfilled without getting love and marriage (by addressing my thoughts)… and love and marriage don’t have the ability to fulfill me… then can I admit that it wouldn’t necessarily be “bad” for my life or my happiness if I never get love and marriage?

via How To Stop Feeling Lacking and Worried About Being Single.