Under pressure

Got a problem? Write, email or leave a message for Joey at News & Review. Give your name, telephone number (for verification purposes only) and question—all correspondence will be kept strictly confidential.
Write Joey, 1124 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815; call (916) 498-1234, ext. 3206; or email askjoey@newsreview.com.

What is the secret to online dating success? I’ve been divorced for two years and can’t seem to meet anyone online as easily as everyone else does.

Comparison works best when we evaluate ourselves by who we were in the past against who we have become. Or when we evaluate who we are now by our ability to help the stranger behind us on life’s ladder. Yes, that would be the person we must assist to the rung we are vacating. But please avoid comparing your dating life (or finances, career, education, etc.) to others. It’s unkind to you.

Online dating is a business, so it markets its products like any other company. Individual profiles online are also a form of marketing. Accepting this reality relieves a lot of pressure.

After you find someone online that you’re interested in, meet face-to-face as soon as possible. Doing so keeps your brain from filling in the blanks by spinning a romantic fiction about the other person. The longer you spend chatting by phone or exchanging emails and texts before meeting, the harder it is for your intuition to guide you. The ego’s need to justify the fairy tale it has spun about your match overrides intuition and common sense.

Most of all, have fun! Enjoy being divorced, single and dateable. It’s not better or worse than any other relationship status.

My very traditional family is pressuringme to marry. My parents have an arranged marriage and are insisting that I marry before starting a career. I love my parents, but I don’t want to live their life. All we do is argue now. I remember reading in one of your columns that you sometimes repeat the same line when arguing with someone who isn’t listening. What line can I use on my parents?

Try this: It’s easier to marry for love, when I’ve already given myself a life. But let me also encourage you to stop resisting your parents’ wishes. Much of the pain you’re experiencing comes from holding the position opposite theirs. Each of you has overinvested in an opinion. Holding those opinions more lightly will greatly ease the tension at home.

My 13-year-old son’s 14-year-old girlfriend talked him into wearing makeup and a dress for a photo session. She also posted the pictures on Snapchat. I was angry, of course, and terrified that he would be bullied. He wasn’t. The problem is that he liked the makeup, nail polish and clothing so much he prefers to dress that way now. His teachers say some classmates have made rude comments. I don’t want to tell him not to express himself, but I don’t want him to be a target, either. Last week his girlfriend broke up with him. He has started wearing his hair like hers and adopting her mannerisms. I am so worried about him, but there is no one I feel I can talk to. Please help.

By cross-dressing, your son is literally trying on a new identity. His behavior may appear to be inviting trouble or questionable attention, but it’s more likely that it’s an exploration. It might also provide him with a necessary release from anxiety. But adopting the style and mannerisms of his ex-girlfriend is odd. If your son is not currently seeing a child psychiatrist, he needs to start immediately. Therapy can help him be himself fully, instead of just copying someone else.

Meditation of the Week

“We write because we believe the human spirit cannot be tamed and should not be trained,” says poet Nikki Giovanni. Do you keep a poem in your pocket so you know how to live?