Truth—and dare

Joey Garcia

I had a 10-year friendship with a man, but because he cheated on me, I was left out of his life. I still love him. He is now living with a girl who thinks she is his fiancée. I don’t want to move on. Is it OK to hope that I’ll see him again? I have guys who are willing to be with me, but I have high standards. What do you advise?

Playing truth or dare. I dare you to tell the truth about the man you were involved with. Start here: You didn’t love him. Yes, you were attached to him, probably because the sex was outrageously yummy. Or because he seemed to bare his soul and was so exquisitely apologetic when you caught him in a lie. The reason doesn’t matter, because attachment (feeling an emotional bond to someone) is not love. Attachment is a nudge that says, “Hey, this connection may have potential as a long-term partner. However, this connection is more likely a mirror allowing me to see how I create problems in relationships and how to stop.” Does that make sense? Your pain will end when you admit that you were wrong about him and the relationship. He was not a friend or a boyfriend or a possible life partner. He was a man who chose to cheat on you, have sex with others and who currently lives with another woman. When you accept this reality, you will stop yearning to see him.

Now, I dare you to consider this: Only frighteningly low expectations for yourself and of men would keep you clinging to a man who mistreated you. Strong self-esteem doesn’t tolerate a serial cheater. And, yes, of course, you have guys who are willing to be with you. Who doesn’t? Distracting yourself with another relationship is not the answer. Fast from romantic relationships. Focus on discovering who you are. Try a 12-step Co-Dependents Anonymous group, or make arrangements to see a qualified psychotherapist. It’s time to become the woman you were meant to be.

I am a new general contractor, happy to be doing what I enjoy. My problem is that family, friends and neighbors keep asking to borrow my tools. They don’t seem to understand that my tools are my business. I have stopped returning phone calls from people who want to borrow stuff, but I feel bad. I thought if people read this in your column, they might have more respect for what they are asking.

When people ask to borrow your tools, they are only thinking of themselves. They have a problem and want it fixed without losing the cash they prefer to spend on life’s little splurges. So it’s your responsibility to respect yourself. Step one: No more Mr. Doormat. The next time someone asks to borrow your tools, say, “Those tools are essential for my business. Without them, I cannot work. I refuse to lose a job because I don’t have the tools I need when I need them. That’s why I no longer loan out tools.” Then look that person in the eye and add, “I’m sure you understand.” If someone is particularly pushy, be firm: “I understand. You can rent or buy exactly what you need at The Home Depot. Or I can give you a bid to do the work myself. Otherwise, it’s like me asking to borrow your laptop, cell phone or cubicle for the weekend.” If all else fails and you get tongue-tied, repeat this: “I wish I could, but I can’t.” That phrase is best served with a warm smile and without any explanation. And remember that each borrower’s request is an opportunity for you to practice treating yourself and others with respect.

Meditation of the week
I took my big yellow Labrador retriever for a walk around McKinley Park at 9 p.m. the other night. As we strolled along Alhambra Boulevard, I noticed glittering eyes staring from the base of a tree. Curious, I moved within 2 feet of the critters. Five rats stood their ground. Gangs of rats skittered all along the edges of the park that night. What moves in your dark spaces?

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