Caring girlfriend or drama addict?

My last boyfriend had armor all around his emotions and I couldn’t reach him. I thought that would change as our relationship developed. It didn’t. I am very expressive and I tried to elicit some feelings from him but we only ended up fighting. I’m dating again and hoping to be with someone who is more like me, but the only men who are interested in me are like my old boyfriend. Is “opposites attract” really true? Should I date one of these guys or avoid them?

“Opposites attract” is an observation, not a rule. You can hold it lightly, understanding that it appears true for some people some of the time, or you can be dogmatic, consciously or unconsciously insisting on living your life according to it. Guess which option offers more freedom? To find common ground, I suggest looking deeper than “opposites attract.” Perhaps like you, these men each believe that their relationship with emotion is the right one. So interacting with them consciously means that you can heal your belief that being expressive is better. It is simply your choice. These men have also chosen a way of emotional expression. Can you honor it as equal to yours and not scour their personal histories trying to prove your theory that they are inadequate? I’m not saying that people are never excessively self-protective, but persisting in proving them wrong would only validate their need for armor. It is also a distraction from healing yourself.

A more vital issue is whether you are addicted to emotions. It’s possible to feel so much better after a good cry or a blazing argument that you get in the habit of creating dramas that will result in tears or yelling so that you can have a release. Your efforts to elicit feelings from your former boyfriend may fall into this category. Also, ask yourself whether you inflate your emotions so that they are large enough to satisfy you and to fill the gap that you perceive in others. As you shed some of the drama, you may discover that you are more serene than you initially understood. So it wasn’t opposites attracting, after all.

My brother is a worthless loaf who sponges off my parents. Now he’s been laid off and doesn’t plan to look for a job. He is going to be a writer. My parents think he is really talented. I’ve read his stuff. It sucks. No one would publish it. My parents have always coddled him while my two sisters and I have always been expected to make our own way. My brother’s last scheme was to start a company. He never even wrote a business plan. He talked a lot and moved in with my parents to save the start-up costs, then ditched the project. I am sick of seeing them taken advantage of. How can I make them see that they are being screwed?

Your parents really enjoy your brother no matter what he does and you would really like it if they showed as much devotion to you and your sisters. Right? You can clothe your suffering in justifications, but until your parents say to you, "We have to get your brother out of our house," or your brother says, "Can you help me get a job?" there is nothing you can do. In the meantime, appreciate all the people who contributed to your own success. Spend more playtime with your parents. Let yourself loaf. Pursue projects while relishing the process, not the outcome. Then you won’t feel like your brother has something that you want but believe that you can’t have.

Meditation of the Week

“While praying, listen to your voice carefully. When your heart is attentive, your entire being enters your prayer without you having to force it,” said Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, a Hasidic Master. What do you try to force yourself in to? What parts of yourself do you cut out in order to fit in?