Feb 16

Are you a great listener to friends and coworkers as they unburden their problems on you? Do you find yourself the one who always know the right thing to say, full of nuggets of wisdom and advice? Be careful, this will fast become your part-time job. Often times it boils down to a single individual complaining about a boss, a partner, or some other personal matter, and it is not uncommon to find your posture changed from listening passively, to participating actively by literally being the shoulder to cry on, and the arms to provide comfort.

But it never stops there, and eventually, sex – the great pacifier and purported healer is added to the mix. Unfortunately, this is the modus operandi of most cheaters. Biggest in the game is the married person who puts it up front that “yes I am married, but….” Once you step over this line willingly, there are no holds barred, and your good “fix-it” intentions will land you with a few problems of your own– hence the old adage: “You lie with dogs, you rise with fleas”.

Are you on the phone and/or texting with this individual at “abnormal” times? Then you know you are now handling your part-time job! If your partner would be livid to know what you are doing, then you know things are no longer normal.

What is normal?

I am glad you asked. Normal is any act that does not disrupt healthy function and relationship. So check yourself. You cannot expect to fix a broken radiator by simply changing a tire on the vehicle while ignoring the true source of the problem. In the same way, you cannot go outside your relationship to fix (an inside problem) between you and your partner.

There is an awesome commercial that shows a doctor jackhammering in the street, and this guy in a hard hat is looking at the doctor incredulously. Then came the punch line: you would not expect your doctor to be doing your job, so why are you doing his? ! There are professionals who specialize in marriage and family counseling, communication skills, and life coaching. They typically speak to both parties together, they do not meet their clients in the bar, restaurant, or park, and there are boundaries….

Counselors facilitate a conversation and dialogue when communication has broken down in relationships. It is not enough to tweet your frustrations or blow off steam on facebook. In this case, what the “Damsel in distress”, or the “knight who needs to have his armor shine again like 10 years ago” has shared with you is exactly what he/she needs to articulate with his/her partner, and give each other the opportunity to air what is on his/her mind. This is their context, their reality, and their world.

Remember you are the outsider with only one side of the story. If your intentions are honorable, then be a resource – point your friend or coworkers in the direction of first trying to talk with his/her partner honestly, or subsequently suggesting where to find great counselors. Be reminded that if you yourself are going home to a partner, the last thing you need is to bring fleas into your own bed!

“Live, Love, Laugh” – Dr. Carly

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