I read your column regularly and feel that you tend to turn the problems on to the ones seeking your help; turn the victim into the culprit. Nevertheless, I’m writing for a bit of your wisdom. I have a problem with clutter because of my procrastination. I’ve been told that procrastination is the result of my perfectionism. This is also manifested on a social level. I cannot bring myself to consider starting a relationship with any female without over-analyzing everything. That is, am I up to par for them, or are they up to par for me? I even consider how the person walks, talks or wipes their nose when I decide whether to pursue a relationship. I’m beginning to think I really don’t know what I’m looking for. What can I do about this?
Stay single? It may be what you really want since you search for reasons to avoid entering romantic relationships. Social norms dictate that adulthood is incomplete without marriage. But it’s possible to fashion a different life if you have the courage to trust your own path rather than the culture’s expectations. Of course, if you genuinely desire a loving relationship with a woman, there’s only one thing to do: Ditch your addiction to compulsive criticism. A 12-step program like Co-dependents Anonymous can help. So can focusing your attention on what is right, good or perfect about a person or situation. As the author Alex Haley once wrote, “Find the good and praise it.” Doing so distracts your neurotic ego from venturing into someone else’s life to dictate (even in your mind) how they should act or think and what they should say.
Perfectionism is the fear of being human. The sufferers expect themselves and others to behave as gods. When you relax into life on earth, you can open to loving yourself as you are (yes, even with your clutter and procrastination). That love inspires you to be compassionate toward other people’s quirks, and even to find charm in the way they “walk, talk or wipe their nose.”
And, finally, a response to the silliness expressed in your opening sentences: Of course I hold a mirror up to the person writing in for advice. They are the ones empowered to change their circumstances. I believe in their capacity to transform themselves, even when they hesitate to believe in themselves. If I urged them to deal with their troubles by attempting to control, manipulate or coerce others, I wouldn’t be Joey, would I?
My boyfriend pays alimony and child support so he never has money. I am continually frustrated and beginning to take it out on him. Having a guy pay my way is important to me; I’m old-fashioned and romantic in that regard. It will be another five years before the alimony is paid and 10 years before child support is complete. We’ve been together for nine months. He’s a great guy but is he worth waiting for?
That depends. Are you old-fashioned enough to invest in old-school virtues like patience? If not, he’s meant for someone else. So my advice to you is: be honest. If the destination for a date is more important than the person you’re sharing the experience with, your man doesn’t have enough to offer you. But if you laugh at the same jokes, share similar spiritual beliefs, chat endlessly, resolve conflicts easily, pursue common interests and would be grateful to be stranded Survivor-style together, think again. It may be worth waiting for your appreciation of him to kick in so you can count your blessings.