Monday, June 29, 2009

Emotional Pain and Clear Thinking Don't Mix, Especially in Relationships and Marriage

A reader’s letters over a three-month period demonstrate how the pain and stress of a troubled relationship or break-up can kill your ability to think clearly and make you very vulnerable to having your buttons pressed by people trying to help you, and how you can recover if you choose to.

I want to get away from the subject of break-ups for awhile, but I have to give you this one last lesson before we get completely away from the subject, because this level of stress may happen to you someday and I need to prepare you for it.

Fair warning, this is a little longer than usual because I’m quoting several e-mails, but men and women alike can learn a lot from this if you’ll take a few extra minutes to read it.

Fights, fear, insecurity about your future, etc., those things that eat at you when your relationship isn’t going well or has ended, are a lot more destructive than most people imagine. Yes, it’s obvious that it hurts and makes you lose sleep, but the degree to which it can inhibit logical thought and even make you lash out at those who want to help you through tough times is not so obvious.

I’m going to share with you three letters, all written by the same reader, two of which were written within less than a week of his subscribing to this newsletter, and the third one today. Bear with me, as the point will become very clear toward the end. Meet J., a man who has been in a lot of pain but is obviously finding his way out of it and back to mental clarity and stability:

(His first letter, captioned “ohmigod,” received after he had read only one issue of this newsletter:)


does anyone actually believe any of this?

so - if your partner is bored of you, its your fault

my parents told me that only boring people get bored

its you, the man's job, to dance attendance on her and make her feel special

just what kind of relationship do your readers have with their women - and what kind of woman is it who lounges around like a spoiled teenager expecting to be "swept off her feet" by her man

maybe if she made an effort to find stimulating shared experiences and PUTTING SOMETHING INTO the relationship, instead of seeing her husband as some kind of personal satisfaction service, she might not be quite the miserable self-centered bitch you think all women are

holy cow, get a grip - if you REALLY think this kind of woman is the best a man can get you're lost lost lost buddy

kind regards,


Kind regards, huh? I didn’t know it until later, but he had just come out of a bad relationship, and pretty much got the meaning of the newsletter he read entirely backwards, as any of you who have been reading my newsletters longer than a couple of days already realize. It was pretty obvious that he was angry and in pain, especially in the level of sarcasm in his writing, but I wasn’t yet sure that it was a relationship at the core of his problem.

I wrote back to tell him so, and not realizing that he had just been through a break-up and was looking for an outlet to ventilate, replied with a fairly short and demure response:

Good morning, J.,

I'm sorry, but you have taken whatever it is that you're responding to so far out of context that I can't even determine what post or newsletter you might be speaking of. I don't ever speak of fault, except to tell men and women not to preoccupy themselves with fixing fault and blame, and to take responsibility for whatever they may be able to improve in their relationship instead.

As for being part of the problem, yours is the first negative comment I have received from anyone since I began this, and I can forward you hundreds of e-mails from readers of both my newsletter and my book where these people are telling me that they have turned their relationships completely around and that they are now better than they have ever been, including their original honeymoon period. I can only guess that you either have a hot button that was pressed by something you read or that this is yet another case of two peoples being separated by a common language.

I appreciate you taking the time to write, but frankly, I might have been a lot more interested in what you have to say had you exercised a bit of tact in lieu of sarcasm about how I write and where I live. I hope you find whatever it is that you are missing, because you are obviously not a happy man.


…and he replied with the following, captioned “OK” the next day:

read your latest contribution with interest

of course men shouldn't habitually complain about how little support they get from their wives

but its my experience that men are caught in a double bind, their women are allowed to be behave like dependent irrational little girls and be as assertive and independent as they like - they are encouraged to be both - "girls" and "women" - and woe betide any man who questions their right to be which they want to be at any given time

men on the other hand are expected to be supportive and independent at the same time, and find their support away from the relationship - "Big Guys"

support, unfortunately, is often needed at inconvenient times

so men are screwed, not by women, but by blogs like yours which tells them to stop being a "wuss" and insists that its their fault that they can't be superheroes and not have ordinary human needs like everyday love

well, buddy, you seem to be part of the problem and not the solution

and you use 10 words (badly written American corporate-speak at that) where one will do

keep up the good work!

kindest fraternal greetings


"Keep up the good work!" and "Kindest fraternal greetings"??? At this point it was pretty obvious that he’d been through a break-up or two, was awash in a sea of negative emotions, and needed somebody to rough him up a bit to wake him up to the fact that he was indeed reacting emotionally and needed to pull back and look at what he was doing, attempting to alienate me with sarcastic remarks and possibly others who were interested in helping him.

I hate having to “read somebody the riot act” as the saying goes, but every man knows that there’s nothing like getting stomped on a bit to make you realize that somebody does care about what’s going on with you, else they would just leave you, exposed and vulnerable, to wallow in pain and self-pity, so I sent him the following:


You'd probably be a much happier person if you spent a little more time listening and learning and a little less time trying to argue with people to defend the mistakes you've made in your life. People use all of this, every day, and they write letters to confirm how well it works. Before it was ever published, it was tested on over a hundred couples with complete success. The information I use concerning attraction is based in part on information that people like John Alanis, David D'angelo, F.J. Shark, and Ross Jeffries (dating gurus) proved effective as much as ten years or more before I ever took it up and adapted it for use by people in committed relationships.

I couldn’t care less what your parents taught you. Mothers teach their sons to be "nice guys" and kiss women's behinds, try to buy their affection, and dump all the decisions in their laps with regularity, because it's what they think they want, but when they get it, it turns them off completely. Making a woman feel special is done by listening and responding, and by acting like a man, not by "dancing attendance on her" or any other form of serving her.

I have no idea where you get this idea that I said anything about a woman lounging around like a spoiled teenager. Women do day-dream frequently throughout the day about feeling sexual attraction. It's why they read romance novels, and why they start fights when men ignore them. It’s how they prevent boredom if left to their own devices, and is far preferable to affairs and such. Women do try much harder than men to put something into relationships, but it usually comes after attraction is triggered and after they feel commitment. I don't know of any mentally healthy women who see their husband as some sort of personal satisfaction service, and I see no evidence of them being miserable or self-centered.

This is the last time I'm going to waste my time writing you. You've read one of my newsletters, apparently half-assed because you have no clue what I am telling people, and you're trying to argue with me that what I'm teaching doesn't work when (a) you don’t even know what I'm teaching, (b) if you were such an expert, you wouldn't be reading anything I've written to start with, you'd be getting rich selling what you know, and (c) everybody who has and is using it is doing so with outstanding success. Nobody who has ever used my information has ever said anything about it except how well it works, and nobody who has ever used it has asked for a refund, and I extend a satisfaction guarantee for a full year after purchase, so if they wanted to do so, they would have. That speaks for itself, as does the reality of the results that my material is giving those who use it.

Your options now are to either read and learn or argue with somebody else, because I don't really care what you think, what you agree with, or what your parents told you, and until you understand what I'm saying and have tried it, you're not in any position to criticize it. What I'm teaching came straight from working with hundreds of women to find out what they respond to, and then working with their men to make sure that men can understand and do what is required. It's reality, there is no arguing with it, and if you don't like it, you can sod off and be miserable while the rest of us are enjoying a great relationship with our wives and girlfriends. I don’t deal in opinions and have no time for armchair pundits; either get in the game or get off the field.


I didn’t hear back from J. for awhile, and he did exactly what every real man does when confronted with such a wake up call. He dug in, paid attention, found his way out of the pain and frustration, and put his brain back in charge of his well-being, proving to himself and the rest of the world that the pain of even the worst break-up can be very temporary if you can keep your wits about you, with or without the help of friends and other concerned parties. This message was received captioned “from your (former) tormentor”:

Hi David,

Remember me? I was the guy who pissed you off a few months ago.

Well, I still haven't read your book, but I have been reading your daily emails and I am not too proud to admit when I have made a misjudgment. I'm looking forward to reading your book, but a lot of what you say in your emails makes rock solid sense to me (and at 41, I've had enough unhappy girlfriends/bad relationships to realise that I must be getting something wrong).

I'm going to recommend your project to friends, read your book and come back with some constructive comments (I am presumptuous to say). I think you come from a good place.

I latched onto "makingherhappy" in a bad way, because, in my last relationship, I spent a huge amount of energy trying to make an immature girl happy and made myself very unhappy and ill in the process.

Here's a thought though: I have to go into a workplace where this girl will be. Ex-partners and work, now there's a thorny issue. Maybe not for you, but it’s a tricky one nonetheless.....

with all good wishes,


So, J., no, you didn’t piss me off, and this time I believe you when you send “best wishes.” And you’ll know how to handle the girl in the workplace after you’ve read "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," so don’t worry.

You see, Folks? When you’re having relationship troubles and feeling like your guts are being ripped out at every turn, you need a release for that frustration, and the most likely and unfortunate outlet is someone who is trying to help you precisely because you have their attention. Remember that, and guard yourself against it, because not everyone is able to recognize that an outburst is an act of reaching out for help, and you have to admit that it’s a very poor way to ask for help in any case.

What I recommend when anyone is having relationship or other problems that breed frustration, fear, pain, etc., is ACTION! Don’t sit back wondering what will happen next and waiting for it to happen. Dig in and find the cause of the problem and do something about it. It’s an excellent outlet for all that negative energy because it converts it into something constructive, achievement and stress relief, and it has the added benefit of MAKING THE PROBLEM GO AWAY! You can’t beat that with a stick, can you?

Whether you’re facing nuisance or disaster, the key to making it go away is two-fold: knowing what to do and then doing it. “Think things through, then follow through,” was famed U.S. Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager’s “six-word formula for success,” and it works. “Thinking things through” in your relationship requires a sense of reason and a solid working knowledge of what you and your partner want and need and how you can best communicate.

Yep, that’s in "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," which you will find at The best news is that if you read it before you have problems, you’ll likely never have any because you’ll work together to keep them out of your relationship, but if you do have problems, you can fix them. Just don’t alienate everybody you know while you’re trying to get through it.

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

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