154: Ask David–Relationship Problems: What can you do when people “ghost” you? What can I do when my wife doesn’t want sex? And more!

Ask David Five Secrets Relationship Questions

Kate asks: I love listening to your podcasts and am currently reading my way through your book, Feeling Good. I appreciate that you have written and spoken about relationship problems at length, but in what I have read and heard so far I do not see how this can apply to the current climate of casual dating and hook up culture which is fueled by apps such as Tinder.

I don’t know how it’s possible to build relationships when the dominant mentality is that people are disposable. It feels like no matter how much I find truth in what my date says, stroke them and empathize with them, that they will disappear (‘ghost’) at the drop of a hat.

I think this may be a significant problem for many of your listeners, and would greatly appreciate your thoughts, as well as any practical steps on how to date in today’s world.

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Eli asks: Your work has helped me tremendously over the past 2 years. However, recently I’ve discovered something about myself that I don’t know how to change. I’d be really curious to hear your thoughts.

For some reason, when it comes to sex, it seems that I have a lot of self-worth wrapped up in my sex drive. I’m realizing when my wife and I have sex I feel like I’m on top of the world afterwards. I feel so positive the following few days and I feel mentally and emotionally healthy. But it’s devastatingly real that the reverse is true as well… when we don’t have sex (and particularly when I reach out and she’s not in the mood) and when a week or so passes that we don’t have sex, I find myself feeling very insecure. I feel ugly, unlovable and generally less valuable as a person.

Is there an exercise you would recommend for me to discover possible hidden thoughts/emotions that could be causing this? Is it possible to change this about myself?

I want to have a close, intimate relationship with my wife (sexually and non-sexually) but I also want to feel valuable and positive whether or not we’re sexually active.

PS – If, by chance, you address this on the podcast, could you refer to me as “Eli” or something else anonymous as you usually do.

Thank you for all you have do!

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Susan asks: You seem like a good person to ask this question partly because you are a man. Someone I know, I won’t say whom, told me he felt emasculated when I asked him to take my car to the gas station to get the wipers replaced.

He said that he should be able to replace them himself but doesn’t actually know how, so he would prefer if I took the car to the service station. I said that was stupid, granted not very diplomatic, and he said that’s what he gets for expressing his feelings, which I frequently complain he does not do.

To me “emasculated“ is more of a concept or a thought. I will not get into toxic masculinity and the patriarchy, but I am curious what you think. By the way, this person and I have benefited a lot from your relationship journal exercise, thankfully we did not need it this time 🙂

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Knaidu asks: Here’s a specific example which occurred whilst I was trying to use the disarming technique. It is one where I failed to use the technique.

Anyway, I was meeting a friend of mine, and was a running a few min late for our lunch appointment. I couldn’t send her text to let her know as I was driving. I arrived at least 5 min late. When I arrived she immediately said

“I knew it all along, you really don’t want to meet with me or actually have lunch with me!”

I tried to explain that I was stuck in a traffic jam and couldn’t text, but it didn’t work. Here’s what I said:

 “Please Mrs. X, I was stuck in a traffic jam and that’s why I am late. Have I ever said I don’t want to meet with you? And if I didn’t why have I bothered to arrive at all, I mean I could have just not arrived if I didn’t want to meet you!”

After I said that she stormed off.

I am afraid I could agree with her idea that I didn’t really want to meet with her, because the truth was I did want to meet but couldn’t help being late. I could agree with something that was not real to me and if I did try to agree, I would be lying to her.

Please help me, David and Rhonda!

Thanks for tuning in, and keep the great questions coming!

David and Rhonda

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You can reach Dr. Burns at david@feelinggood.com. Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and can be reached at rbarovsky@aol.com. She is a Certified TEAM-CBT therapist and specializes in the treatment of trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems. She also does forensic work in family court, but finds TEAM-CBT to be way more rewarding!

If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here

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You may have missed the Calgary and South San Francisco intensives, but there will be two more awesome workshops
for you this fall.

High-Speed Treatment of Depression
and Anxiety Disorders

A Four-Day TEAM-CBT Advanced Intensive

November 4 – 7, 2019
The Atlanta, Georgia Intensive

Sponsored by Praxis

* * *

I also have a tremendous one-day workshop scheduled with my colleague, Dr. Jill Levitt, that will be potentially life- and career-changing (really!) You will learn powerful skills that will boost your clinical effectiveness and improve your relationships with friends, colleagues, and loved ones.

Advanced Empathy Tools for Connecting
with Challenging Patients,
Colleagues, Friends, and Loved Ones

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

Oct 6, 2019 | 7 CE hours, $135

Do you have a patient, colleague, friend or loved one who:

  • Complains endlessly but doesn’t listen to any of your good advice?
  • Appears irate, but insists s/he isn’t upset?
  • Refuses to express his / her feelings?
  • Never listens?
  • Argues, and always has to be right?
  • Always has to be in control?
  • Is relentlessly critical?
  • “Yes-but’s” when you try to make a point?
  • Insists you don’t really care—or understand—when you think you do?

Then you’re going to LOVE this workshop with David and Jill. You’ll learn about–

  • The Powerful “Law of Opposites”
  • How to find out how your patients really feel about you–if you dare!
  • How to transform therapeutic failure into success
  • How to talk to people who refuse to talk to you

You’ll also learn–

  • Why your worst therapeutic failure is actually your greatest success in disguise
  • The fine points of the Five Secrets of Effective Communication
  • Three Advanced Empathy Techniques: Multiple Choice Empathy, Changing the Focus, and Positive Reframing
  • And more

There will be lots of small group practice with expert feedback and mentoring to help you refine your skills!

Attend in person or
from your home via Live Streaming

Sign up early because we always sell-out for the in-person seats. Of course, there will be lots of skilled trainers to help the online participants with the small group exercises, so you’ll have a great experience either way.

My one-day workshops with Dr. Levitt are usually pretty awesome! It is always an honor to teach with Jill!

Learn More & Register

 

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Coming up in 2020

High Speed Methods to Reduce Resistance
and Boost Motivation

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

Feb 9. 2020 |  7 CE hours. $135

Learn More & Register

 The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135

Learn More & Register

 

2 thoughts on “154: Ask David–Relationship Problems: What can you do when people “ghost” you? What can I do when my wife doesn’t want sex? And more!

  1. Hi, Dr. Burns!

    Thank you the great podcast. Your book “Feeling Good Together” really saved my relationship with my girlfriend and my father. As someone wanting to be a therapist, I always hated the idea of helping couples. Why help people that just want to fight? Everyone is usually so good at seeing troubled couples “mirror” each other, we think we cannot possible be victims of that same mechanism!

    After doing the exercises, I realized I was mirroring the same attitude of dysfunctional couples! Why would I, as a future therapist, want to help all of these people who do not want to help each other? And then your insight hit me, like a ton of bricks: I was mirroring the same attitude of the people I didn’t want to help! I too was saying that it is “their fault” and I have no duty to help them. Have you thought this way?

    Since reading your book, I came across something called the “mimetic theory” by a philosopher named Rene Girard. His basic thesis is that we imitate each other’s desire and that rivals become “doubles” of each other in the same way troubled couples do. One of the theories developers, Jean-Michel Oughourlian, has a book where he applies it to couples called “The Genesis of Desire”. He seems like a fellow traveler to you, although I believe you have more practical insight.

    God bless!

    • Hi Paul, thanks so much! I confess I’m a super slow reader, and half blind, too, so I don’t read much. But I DID read and enjoy your terrific email! All the best, david

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