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To some running S.F. Marathon, 1 Trip around course not enough

by robin

Article about my participation in the San Francisco Marathon: in The San Francisco Chronicle

by Steve Rubenstein

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Love Me Don’t Leave Me

by robin

In her new book, Love Me, Don’t Leave Me, psychologist and relationship expert Michelle Skeen, PsyD, reveals the five big fears that can cause relationships to short circuit. Skeen helps people move past these fears so that they can forge lasting relationships.

Skeen explains that fears often cause people to jump to conclusions and act in ways that will push their loved ones away, rather than drawing them closer. “The good news is that you can put a stop to how you react to situations and you can build better relationships,” says Skeen. As she explains, whether you’re clingy or afraid to open up, whether you gravitate toward the wrong men or feel the need to be someone you’re not, your behavior is getting in the way of the connections you crave.



New book by psychologist Michelle Skeen, PsyD, offers a step-by-step guide to understanding your fears and changing the behaviors that are sabotaging your love life.

Everyone longs for closeness and long-term relationships, but too many people find themselves alone – pushing partners away, leaving before they can be left, or consistently choosing the wrong mates.  In her new book, Love Me, Don’t Leave Me: Overcoming Fear of Abandonment & Building Lasting, Loving Relationships (New Harbinger/September 2014), psychologist Michelle Skeen, PsyD, reveals how fear of abandonment sabotages relationships.  She offers a powerful guide to working through long-standing fears and changing behaviors that impede healthy connections with others.

Skeen begins by explaining how childhood experiences set the stage for the “core beliefs” that underlie people’s self-perceptions and how they interact with others. “Any one of an array of scenarios – your parents’ divorce, the loss of someone important to you (or that person being with you inconsistently or unpredictably), being overprotected, having an alcoholic or drug-addicted parent – can leave you feeling disconnected, alone – abandoned,” says Skeen. In turn, these core beliefs shape the way individuals respond to those around them, she writes.

“When your core beliefs get triggered by a situation or interaction that reminds you of a painful experience from your childhood, you often react in ways that perpetuate these experiences,” she continues. For example, if someone you are dating doesn’t respond to a phone call immediately, and you react by becoming clingy due to your fear of abandonment, you may well push that person away – confirming your prediction that he or she will leave you.

Love Me, Don’t Leave Me describes how understanding your story, and how it is affecting the present, enables you to change your relationships moving forward. Skeen’s step-by-step process begins with uncovering your underlying core beliefs by using the self-assessments in the book (and on, and journaling as the author suggests. These harmful beliefs include abandonment, mistrust and abuse, emotional deprivation (the belief that you won’t receive the support that you need), defectiveness (the feeling that you are unworthy and unlovable), and failure (the sense that you don’t measure up). Skeen also points out the kinds of destructive reactions these beliefs often engender, and the types of people that are likely to trigger these responses – such as those who are unpredictable, unavailable, detached, judgmental, or ego-driven.

With multiple examples, Skeen walks readers through developing the skills they need to distance themselves from their core beliefs.  These include:

Mindfulness – Cultivating awareness of your behaviors gets you out of your limited mindset and allows you to make behavioral choices rather than defaulting to habitual responses. Skeen recommends such mindfulness exercises as taking a walk, consciously noticing your own sensations as well as what is around you, and then recording your experience in a journal.

Letting Go Of What You Can’t Change – The pain engendered by past experiences won’t go away, says Skeen. The key is to accept the pain that emerges when your core beliefs get triggered, and then change your behavior in reaction to this pain.  “You need to begin to see your experience as transitory,” the author writes.

Identifying and Committing to Your Values – “By getting in touch with your core values and committing to living a values-driven life, you can stop resorting to your old core belief-driven behaviors,” explains Skeen. For example, valuing intimacy and openness is in direct conflict with withholding the “real you” from your partner due to fear of rejection.

Managing Your Emotions – Emotional pain is what drives people to engage in unhelpful coping behaviors, declares Skeen. “You can’t eliminate negative feelings, but by accepting them rather than trying to control them, you can use them to help you learn and grow,” she writes. Love Me, Don’t Leave Me details a variety of ways to deal with painful emotions when they surface, from exercising to volunteering, and from taking care of items on your “to do” list to getting a manicure or facial.

“My ultimate goal in writing this book is to get you to a place where you can be present in a relationship without being controlled by your fears,” says Skeen. By using the information and skills she shares in Love Me, Don’t Leave Me, readers can get closer to the healthy relationships that they desire.


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What Happens When the Chill Girl Falls in Love

by robin

Yes, pretending to be a burping, low-maintenance, “one of the guys” hottie will land you a boyfriend. But will it make you lose yourself?

by Anna Breslaw

“Being the Cool Girl means I am a…woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth…while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are, above all, hot. Hot and understanding.…Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.”

If you haven’t read or seen Gone Girl, don’t worry—I’m not giving away spoilers; I’m just sharing one of the best passages in the book. Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel, now a film directed by David Fincher, isn’t just a sharp page-turner. It’s a manifesto about how conforming to the archetype of the Cool Girl (or Chill Girl) is a troubling trend among young women. Being a Chill Girl is all about faking it: Chugging beer when you’d prefer a Riesling, pretending to be into baseball playoffs when you’d rather be watching Real Housewives, disowning conventional girliness in public but drooling over Pinterest braids in private. Alas, playing the Chill Girl is the most effective hack into Dude World short of literally being a human blow job.

Just to be clear, plenty of girls are actually chill. They have tons of dude friends, they’re not invested in the person they’re casually sleeping with, and they like sports and beer. But they’re naturally chill girls, not Chill Girls, who are twisting themselves into repressed, self-loathing woman-pretzels to come off that way. I know this because I spent three years pretending to be one. And once I was actually in a good relationship, my Chill Girl routine almost ruined it.

So, why do twentysomething women fake it? “We have a lot of pressure to be independent, and somewhere down the line, that made us believe that we shouldn’t need ‘traditional’ relationships,” says Emily, 26, a screenwriter in L.A., who was a Chill Girl for six months while dating an unavailable man. “I think I was trying to convince both him and myself that I was sexually and emotionally relaxed enough to have just a fuck buddy.”

Sarah, 27, a comedian, calls it “bro-ing it up. You’re the best of both worlds to a certain type of guy.” Specifically, the kind of guy who pigeonholes women into sexist categories (Chill Girl vs. Needy Girl). “You’re a girl who can hang and also bang…but without the title of girlfriend. It absolves the guy of any obligations. No airport pickups, no meeting parents. It’s like catnip for the man-child.”

Twentysomething girls are particularly prone to the Chill Girl masquerade, says Michelle Skeen, PsyD, therapist and author of Love Me, Don’t Leave Me: Overcoming Fear of Abandonment and Building Lasting, Loving Relationships. By the time you’re in your 30s, you’ve found your identity and developed self-compassion. In your 20s, you’re still trying things on. “When you do play this role and get positive feedback [from men], that feels good for a while,” says Skeen. “It’s not intentionally manipulative—it’s more like a quiet desperation. But it’s not good for women and it’s not good for relationships.”

In the three years I was one and off with my ex—let’s call him Dave—I went from a confident, intelligent person to a fake, crass fembot who ran on $3 PBRs and low self-confidence. I binge-drank, talked shit about other women, and constantly reaffirmed my status as the exception. I’m not like other girls—I can come from anal sex! I drink whiskey straight! I hate shopping! Oral sex and feelings went unreciprocated—because I refused to let on that I wanted either returned. The more I pushed down my own needs, the more reckless my behavior became. As my best friend, Julie, describes it: “We’d get brunch, and you’d be like, ‘I’m fine, this is what I want,’ and it made me want to cry.” How did she know I was lying? I asked. “I’m your best friend, you asshole. Also, you lost a lot of weight and drank too much.”

This is par for the course for Chill Girls, explains Skeen. “Even if you know on some level that he doesn’t really care about you but he likes you in that moment, it’s intoxicating. And then there’s this huge hangover when you realize, He has no idea who I am. I’m not known or understood. That results in a lot of self-destructive behavior, like binge-drinking, eating issues, and shopping addiction, to distract yourself from the fact that none of your needs are being met.” As my drinking and recklessness spiraled, Dave and I split for good. Neither of us could keep denying how bad he was for me—rather, how bad I was for myself around him.

Anna S., 33, a now-married copywriter in New York, became a Chill Girl when an ex-boyfriend requested an open relationship. “I was so far into this I-don’t-care-do-whatever persona that I couldn’t even tell that it was completely destroying me inside. I actually tried to hook him up with a good friend of mine. [The Chill Girl] just totally lets guys off the hook.”

Greg, my now-boyfriend, made it clear from the beginning that my needs wouldn’t scare him away, but even in my new, healthy relationship, I couldn’t relax and be myself.

On our first few dates, in order to show him I’m not one of those Salad Girls, I pounded heavy dinners like Guy Fieri and wound up in pain afterward every time. He eventually had to reassure me that liking kale salad doesn’t indicate that I wear opera gloves when I give a hand job. I pretended I hate-watched Sex and the City, when in truth I love it earnestly to the point of being deranged. When he asked questions like ” Do you want me to spend the night?” or “Do you need me to come over?” I’d want to say yes, but the incessant chant in my head of BE CHILL, BE CHILL YOU CRAZY, NEEDY HAG stopped me. Because I’m not one of those girls. You know, humans.

Once the Chill Girl’s booted up, how do you de-program her? Anna S. broke the habit when she began dating her now-husband. “With my ex, I felt like I wasn’t allowed to want a vanilla, monogamous relationship—but when my husband didn’t judge me for wanting it, I realized that was an okay thing to want.”

Greg was patient with me after I explained that my Chill Girl tics would be hard to shake. (Patience is necessary when you have a girlfriend who says things like “Maybe we should do something for Valentine’s Day, but I mean, never mind, we don’t have to. I’m not one of those girls who’s, like, obsessed with Valentine’s Day.…We could just do something super low-key, like go to a cheap restaurant or roll around in garbage or whatever, haha!”)

His breaking point finally came when I needed an escort home after a minor surgery and he couldn’t make it. I was upset, but Chill Girl texted back: “No worries.” He didn’t buy it. “Just tell me if you’re mad at me,” he said. “This isn’t a battle of who gives less of a shit.” I realized then that Chill Girl actually bored him—he was trying to see past her because he actually liked me. I’d never had that kind of security with a guy before. I no longer needed Chill Girl armor to weather my relationship. It didn’t happen overnight, but after a few months of happiness and stability, I finally shook her off.

Ultimately, you’ll either eventually shed Chill Girl due to sheer exhaustion and lose the guy who fell for her or go in for the long con. And are you really willing to pretend you love degrading porn and beef jerky until death do you part? Just like faking orgasms will sabotage your chances of a real one, faking a personality will only result in a relationship that doesn’t make you happy.

“It’s ironic,” Emily says. “Because I do like comic books and beer. But first and foremost, I’m a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to admit that that includes some goddamn chivalry.”

This article was originally published as “What Happens When the Chill Girl Falls in Love?” in the November 2014 issue of Cosmopolitan.

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“Love Me Don’t Leave Me” is published in Turkish

by robin


“Just As You Are” gets bookfaced

by robin