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Dear Ask My Jackie: When does being alone become unhealthy?Dear Alone,

If you have to ask—then right now.

Let’s talk about loneliness. We live in a culture with seemingly endless electronic distractions. With computers, smart phones, tablets, social media and the like, we are only a device or an app away from our connections with others. And yet, despite all this apparent connectivity, there are still those of us who feel lonely and alone.

Everyone suffers from loneliness from time to time, but I’m going to make a wild guess here, and assume that your loneliness is more than occasional, and that you have an introverted personality style. Approximately 25% of people are introverts and it has been my experience that introverts suffer more from loneliness than their extroverted counterparts.

First a simple definition: Introverts get their energy from being alone. Extroverts get their energy from being with people.
I tell my introverted clients that life is understandably difficult for them, because they are living in a world where the cultural norm is determined by the majority (75%) extroverts .

Extroverts, with their gregarious natures, tend to gravitate more to fields that require strong people skills, whereas introverts are attracted more to careers that call for introspection.

So for extroverts; think salespeople, politicians, actors and other performers, community organizers, and courtroom lawyers.

Introverts contribute to the infrastructure of our planet. Think writers, engineers, accountants, computer geeks, and inventors. They’re responsible for so much of what we enjoy on the planet, and yet they are sometimes unnoticed because-- they aren’t talking about it!

So why do we think introverts suffer more from loneliness? Because it’s a short walk from being introspective, reflective, sensitive, and deep thinking to lonely, depressed, and withdrawn.

I like to quote the proverbial wise man who said our weaknesses are the flip side of our strengths. I love the traits of the introvert, and these are definitely strengths.

On the flip side, though, the reflective person can become withdrawn, non-communicative, sullen, and resentful of life. These are most assuredly the weaknesses.

So what is the solution? It makes sense that we want to borrow from the playbook of your extroverted friends.
Every day make yourself talk to strangers. Ask, “How is your day?” to your coworkers. Invite a friend or acquaintance to lunch, a movie, or a sporting event. Join book clubs and Meetups. Check out new spiritual groups. Think about how you can help others, serve others, and make the planet a better place because you’re here.

And I trust that after you do all that, you won’t be talking about it!

If all goes well, you might just turn yourself into a third type of personality—the ambivert. That’s the perfect balance between the introvert and extrovert and according to a recent study-- they might outshine both. published an article by David DiSalvo titled, “Move Over Extroverts, Here Come the Ambiverts,” detailing research in the journal “Psychological Science” that suggests the ambiverts, who are more or less equal parts extroverted and introverted outperform both types.

The study was conducted by Adam Grant of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who is also author of the book, “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success.”

And that, is going on my book list.

David DiSalvo concluded the article with this comment: “Once again, balance proves more beneficial than extremes. . .” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Now go out there and find some balance!

Sanity now!
29 Nov, 2013 12:15 AM
Dear Ask My Jackie,
Why am so passive with men? For example, I have a hard time standing up for myself or telling men exactly what I want. Or even just starting a conversation with a man I think is attractive! And I can talk to anyone!! I have this embedded belief that it's a "man's job" to start the conversation or initiate the whole dating thing, but in practice I don't even agree with this. This is why I feel like I am reincarnated from the 50s! HAHA! And really the types of men who initiate a "conversation" are usually creepy guys who I don't want to talk to. So anyways, do you have any recommendations for a book about overcoming passivity in women? Or about gender roles/stereotypes in our society. I am extremely interested in this and breaking those stereotypes! :)
Dear Person from the 50’s,

Most of the time I hear from people who are already unhappily coupled. It’s much easier to try and fix mistakes before they happen. So congrats to you for being proactive!

You bring up a lot of good questions and I will try to address each one of them. And I’ll throw in a few answers to questions you did not ask!

Book recommendation first. I’ve heard that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” is awesome. (Breaking news: she just sold the movie rights to Sony Pictures.) I haven’t read the book, but my oldest daughter wholehearted recommends it. I understand it focuses on the subjects you mentioned. Please leave a comment/review on this post, if you do read it.

On the other hand, there is another approach to your dilemma. There are a lot of young women who are confident, take-charge, and successful in their school and/or work lives, who feel like a bundle of nerves in the dating scene. I would not call it passive. I would call it normal behavior. Let’s look at why.

In school, or at work, we feel we are in control of our destiny. Oh sure, there are professors, or bosses we don’t like, but we can also do workarounds; change classes or majors, look for another job, ask for a transfer, etc. So control still resides within us. Most of us like having that control.

In the relationship world though, if we want to be happy and healthy, we learn to give up control. We surrender to the relationship itself, and do what’s best for it. Both the man and the woman do this. Most of the couples counseling I do involves one partner who cannot do this. He or she cannot compromise, give in, or retreat. Why? It’s a control thing.

It’s that little piece of you that fears giving up control that is operating here. But I don’t think you have a thing to worry about. I predict you will be very successful in your work. It sounds like you’re hard-wired for it. With just a little bit of acceptance on your part, a successful relationship will come next.

A wise man once said our weaknesses are the flip side of our strengths. In this case, your strength is that you are take charge. But your weakness is that you can’t surrender. Don’t be afraid to give up that need to be in charge, when the right guy comes along. But don’t forget, he has to give up control too. Then you’ll be a happy, healthy couple.

So do you see? There is nothing wrong with you! You’re normal. Please don’t try to change this part of yourself. Be yourself. Love yourself. Klutzy quirks and all. It wouldn’t hurt to laugh at yourself!

Another piece of advice: Lowering the stakes by cultivating friendships with guys is also a healthier approach than seeing every guy as potential relationship material. And I don’t mean friends with benefits. That is one tip from the 50’s that I think still works in this century. So no sex, unless you’re pretty darn sure he’s “the one.” That’s one klutzy mistake you'll want to try and avoid.

Since we’re talking about the 50’s—I’m in agreement with women who let men initiate relationships. The reason for this, however, is not about women’s rights, or equality, or anything else that I believe in wholeheartedly.

It’s because women are more emotional than men, and that’s not stereotyping, that’s estrogen. Because we tend to be more emotional, in the beginning of the relationship, I think we are much happier if we feel pursued and nurtured. (And honestly, if he can’t pass that test, you want to know up front.)

Of course, there is a balance in all things, so don’t be coy. Let him know you’re interested. Once you’re sure of the commitment of the guy, and your estrogen need to be needed is balanced out, then look for totally equality in all aspects of the relationship. Actually, I look for women to hold more of the power at that point, but that’s a topic for another day.

And please give the “creepy” guys a chance, some sympathy, or a hand out for friendship. Maybe they are just feeling klutzy too!

Sanity now!
29 Nov, 2013 4:24 PM
Dear Ask My Jackie,

I understand that life consists of growth and transitions, but some transitions are overwhelming. I've faced marriage, divorce, re-marriage, childbirth, empty nest, and now, the so called "twilight years." This was supposed to be the reward for persevering the previous transitions and surviving relatively intact. However, last week I had the sensation of being swept up in an ocean wave with the sand rushing from under my feet. Fortunately it was fleeting and not a full blown panic attack, but I am facing my husband's retirement. I am his only hobby per se, but I am accustomed to being home alone and living on my own schedule. What is a good technique to guide him to develop interests in life beyond his former life of workaholic? It calls to mind teaching an infant to self-soothe. I am comfortable in my routine. The panic/agitation is the change in my routine by feeling as though I must entertain or constantly engage my spouse. It seems that time apart creates time and experiences to share. I suppose the best way to pose this question is, "How do I teach an old dog new tricks and not lose my own sanity in the process?"

-- Swept Up
Dear Swept Up,

You ask an excellent question and you express yourself very well. Have you considered taking up blogging as a hobby? ;-)

To your first comment about the rewards for persevering: I congratulate you on surviving everything that life has thrown you up until this point, but surely you have learned that life has no guarantees. Surviving one transition is no guarantee that you’ll survive the others. After all, what is life except facing ourselves? That can come at age 16 or 76.

As to being your husband’s only hobby and wanting techniques to guide him and teach the old dog new tricks: Frankly, I would let that sleeping dog lie! The mental health mantra is and always will be, “You can’t change others; you can only change yourself.” (Except for mental health professionals, because we have a license to change others!)

To your final question then, how to prevent yourself from losing your mind and being swept up in a sea of panic and distress from the very serious syndrome, “dogged husband under foot all day?”

I think this conundrum falls under the category of—what’s the lesson in this experience? Is it that you need more hobbies that will take you away from the house, now that he will be there 24/7? Is it that you two need some sessions with a marriage counselor or a marital retreat so that love has a chance of being fun again? Do you need to assess whether or not you want to stay in said marriage that has apparently reached the point where you no longer enjoy time alone with the dog, er, man.

Now for the question underneath the question: Why does life have to change? I was just getting used to things the way they were. Ah, that is a doggone good question. Life changes because without change we would never be forced to reevaluate ourselves and our lives. Please do that now. It might get you out of the doghouse that has become your new life.

Ok, enough with the dog metaphors already! Good luck to you, and think about my blogging suggestion.

Sanity now!
31 Jan, 2014 9:56 PM
Hello! My name is Alex and I stumbled upon your site while doing a quick Google search. Before I get into this, I would like to complement your site on the theme that is currently has, simple yet stylish. Back on topic, I really love the posts and the quality of them, most of the sites that write about the same things that you do are very repetitive and boring. I enjoy reading your posts, keep it up. Guess that's all I'll be posting, also, feel free to check out my sons site if you have time (I'm still working on mine, not the smartest in tech haha :P) free dj software or if that doesn't show up, Keep on blogging! -Alex S.Hi to you, Alex S. Thank you so much for your support! And my apologies for taking so long to respond. I'm still learning too, and didn't realize these comments were here. My tec guy showed them to me a few nights ago. So ooops! I'll try to stay on top of these now! Keep on blogging. I'll check our your son's site tomorrow. Sanity now! JA5 Apr, 2014 4:53 AM
Definitely would love to start a website like yours. Wish I had the time. My site is so amateurish compared to yours, feel free to check it out: Alex :)I couldn't access your blog tonight, but will try again tomorrow in the light of day. But please keep trying Alex! My first blog was a real bust too, but we learn from our mistakes, eh? Never, never, never give up! Sanity now! See next Q&A for more info on my theme. JA7 Apr, 2014 3:53 PM
Blog looks nice. I'm still trying to make a blog but it won't be as professional as yours /: Keep on blogging :) pirater un compte facebook
pirater un compte facebook
Thank you for your support. See below for apology for lateness in responding. Wanted to let you know that I spent approx. 8 hours looking at blogger themes on ThemeForest and picked out my top four favorites. Then I gave those picks to my tec guy, son-in-law, and he chose this one, which is Sahifa, because he thought it had the most features for the money. Yes, to blogging! Sanity now! JA (I will check out your blog tomorrow, but wanted to get a response to you tonight.)
22 Apr, 2014 12:04 AM

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