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We have a guest blogger today.

We are thrilled to have Cynthia Ellingson,author of Marriage Matters, as our guest blogger!

Marriage Matters:Are You Sharing a Wedding with Your Mother and Grandmother?

Weddings:Champagne toasts,bouquet tosses and questionable bridesmaid dresses. If you have such an extravaganza on the horizon,I’d like to share some words of wisdom from Chloe,one of the lead characters in my new novel “Marriage Matters”.

Wedding Advice from Chloe 

DO NOT:

1. Catch a Bouquet with your Mother and Grandmother

If you catch a bouquet with your mother and grandmother,there is a good chance that the three of you will share a wedding. Or a cell in the loony bin.

2. Get Married on Someone Else’s Timeline

Some things in life should not be rushed. A first kiss… a good issue of Star Magazine… a wedding. Take the time to really think about whether you to marry the man who proposed after three months or the best friend you have loved since you were six.

3. Turn a Cake Tasting Into a Cake-Eating Contest

Do not compete with your grandmother to see who can eat the most tiramisu,red velvet cake and dulce de leche. She might fake a diabetic coma just to win.

4. Allow your Grandmother to Plan the Bachelorette Party

Here’s a fact:Your grandmother lived through the 70’s. Trust me,a boa and a flute of champagne is not a good combination.

5. Plan a Wedding with your Mother and Grandmother

Family and marriage go together like the New Kids and Boyz II Men. It’s a combination that will never quit. But planning a wedding with your mother and grandmother is like throwing the Macarena into the mix. It confuses everything.

Don’t believe me? Read “Marriage Matters”. Romantic Times Magazine chose it as a humor contemporary must-read. I hope you enjoy it and share it with every bride – past,present and future – that you know.

Get to know author Cynthia Ellingsen at www.cynthiaellingsen.com or facebook.com/cynthiaellingsen

From our archives.

It’s Friday (yay!) and we are reaching back into our archives to re-post one of our most popular posts here at Girlfriendbooks.  We receive more traffic to our website from this post than any other –due to soooooo many women searching on terms like “is my husband a sociopath”or “why does my boyfriend lie all the time”.  It’s rough out there. Have a great weekend,girlfriends.

attn:single women

Before that date tonight,you might want to head over to the bookstore and read up on who you could be meeting:a Dangerous Man. Sandra Brown,M.A.,will tell you all about him in How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved.

Although we are a married bunch here at Girlfriendbooks,we still clearly remember our single days. Luckily,we managed,without this book,to marry non “dangerous”men;although now that we reflect,we are quite certain a few of these “dangerous”men crossed our paths.

To our single girlfriends,do yourself a favor,and read this book. This is not your average self-help. Sandra Brown knows from years of experience what she is talking about. She could save you from intense therapy,or,possibly,save your life.

We had the opportunity to ask Sandra a few questions recently. Below is a transcript of our interview:

gfb: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to write this book?
sb: I began my career 20+ years ago working with pathologically disordered people. From that,I saw the enormous damage done to their relationships,children,and just about anyone else that tried to help them. The unifying theme was certain personality disorders that seemed to perpetrate the most ‘inevitable harm’in relationships although their disorders came largely masked as other issues. One night while I was running group at a DV shelter the woman was in the shelter for the 8th time that year. I asked her what we could teach her that would help her change her patterns. She said “How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before I Get Involved With Him.”I went home and wrote the book. The 8 types of Dangerous Men I identified are largely related to the chronic personality disorders that cause the most harm in relationships. I repackaged the names for easier identification in relationships.

gfb: In the book,you identify 8 types of dangerous men:The Permanent Clinger,The Parental Seeker,The Emotionally Unavailable Man,The Man with the Hidden Life,The Mentally Ill Man,The Addict,The Abusive or Violent Man,and The Emotional Predator. Knowing what you know through your work,if you had to pick one,which one would you least like to get involved with and why?
sb: Because I tried to largely align the Dangerous Man types with certain highly dangerous and severe personality disorders,the one at the top of the danger list would be The Emotional Predator because that one uses the charming and persuasive sociopaths/psychopaths as it’s model. Psychopathy is one of the most dangerous disorders related to ‘inevitable harm’in relationships and has a 0% treatment outcome. What’s more dangerous than that?

gfb: We’d like to ask you a few questions about one of the most common dangerous men –The Emotionally Unavailable Man. Why,despite history repeating itself over and over,particularly with married men,do women continue to fall prey to men like this?
sb: One of the things The Institute has gone on to study is the temperament traits (the emotional hard-wiring) of women who have gotten into the most disordered (ie,pathological) love relationships. The astounding find was that the women most likely to end up in these relationships (as well as the other 7 dangerous man types) were those who had severely elevated temperament traits in bonding/attachment,tolerance,empathy,trust,and loyalty. These traits contribute to a woman’s ability to trust (even when evidence to the contrary exists),the ability to bond deeply to someone who betrays them,the ability to tolerate very high levels of emotional pain,and the ability to be empathic about all the sad stories of woe in his life. Women who do not have elevated traits like these are women who don’t get involved with men like these and if they do,they kick them to the curb quickly. I wanted to study and find the REASON why women were attracted to,tolerant of,and empathic with,the most disordered and harmful partners. Her temperament traits (covered in the book which followed this one,Women Who Love Psychopaths) is the first research geared to studying why women end up with obvious betrayers.

gfb: Can a woman ever change an emotionally unavailable man?
sb: All of The Institute’s books and products help teach Public Pathology Education which explains the permanent disorders associated with some mental health issues and what they look like and do within relationships. The Emotionally Unavailable man may or may not be able to change. It depends WHAT ELSE is also wrong with him. If he indeed does have one of the severe personality disorders along with his unfaithfulness,he will have almost 0% chance for the ability to sustain positive change (read our chapter on Neuroscience in Women Who Love Psychopaths to find out what is wrong with their hard-wiring). If he is one who is unfaithful but does not have one of the personality disorders,his chance for authentic and sustained change is higher. Those chronic unfaithful types usually have a personality disorder fueling the infidelity.

gfb: When emotionally unavailable men have affairs,can they be in love with their wife and their affair partner? Or,are they incapable of love at all? Is the affair partner simply a distraction from having to be intimate with their wife?
sb:Those with personality disorders have bonding/attachment issues. They typically have shallow and superficial (although intense) attachments and relationships. It’s why they can move on quickly from one to the next without being emotionally damaged from the ending of one relationship. So that would cause one to ask,“Are we talking about the same concepts of love and attachment when we are looking at the highly disordered person’s ‘love’relationship.”I would say no–they don’t have the same bonding which is why the woman is hurt because his shallow attachment allows him to move on without guilt or conscience. These are also types that need high levels of distraction so they are actually looking for distraction. Not away from intimacy but distraction in general.

gfb: Let’s move on to The Emotional Predator. After reading through the chapter about these charming and seemingly loving men,we wondered –how is a woman to tell the difference between this man and a man who really loves her?
sb: Women who have ended up with the Dangerous Man types have probably been swept up in the typical pathological approach which is to ‘sweep them off their feet’and have ‘love bombing’where the woman is ‘consumed’by him 24/7 through over and rapid contact. Women end up moving in or marrying these types quickly on his insistence. Women who have had these pathological relationships are those who need a different approach to dating and who must date casually and slowly so she can respond to her red flags and not bond so quickly given her elevated trait of bonding. Her ability to read him correctly is not as highly evolved as other women who don’t end up in these relationships. These are women who need longer term dating with men so they can have time over a long period to test out his motivations. Other women who have not been in these relationships seem to be able to respond better to their red flags and follow up on cues and clues. These women tend to minimize,rename,or deny their red flags and so can’t tell when someone is conning them. They need more professional assistance in their next relationship and help retuning into their red flags and reading motivation below the superficial presentation.

gfb: How do these men become such good liars?
sb: Most people know what ‘pathological lying’is however most people don’t know that the term is also associated with pathological disorders such as the severe personality disorders of Narcissism,Anti-socials,and Psychopaths. Those are the types that are easy liars and have little physiological reactions to lying so people can’t tell they are lying.

gfb: With regard to The Addict –you write that men can be addicted to many things,not only drugs or alcohol,but work,pornography,approval,even relationships. Can you talk a little about how these men often “swap”addictions based on their current circumstances?
sb: Addictions are a complicated web of emotional,social,biological,and physical reactions. All addicts do not have personality disorders but almost all severe personality disordered people have addictions. In their attempts to mask their behaviors,they will often stop one addiction to please their partner or save their job. However,since both addiction and severe personality disorders are highly influenced by neuro abnormalities related to impulse control problems,they will quickly move to something else either substance oriented or behaviorally because of the poor impulse control.

gfb: Referring to the list,which type of dangerous men have the ability to change? Which ones usually never change,despite therapy?
sb: The inability to grow to any authentic emotional or spiritual level,the inability to sustain consistent positive change over time,and the inability to develop insight how one’s negative behavior effects others has more to do with the severe personality disorders than it does the actual name of the dangerous man category. Any of those categories can and often do reflect one of the severe personality disorders. In those cases,consistent life time change is very unlikely. The issue that always determines a person’s treatment potential has more to do with the severe personality disorders than it does anything else. Therefore,any of the categories could have a man with one or more of the severe personality disorders. In the cases of The Emotionally Unavailable or The Addict,it’s possible they wouldn’t have the highly unchangeable personality disorder. However,infidelity is highly associated with severe personality disorders as is addiction. So it would be hard to say. The issue that helps us identify if a person has these disorders is a look over their lifetime and if they have enduring patterns of behavior that have not consistently changed. That’s the best determiner of probable pathology.

gfb: Based on your experience,which type of man is the hardest to extract yourself from?
sb: The Emotional Predator usually because that category represents psychopathy,sociopathy or narcissism which are like gorilla glue in a relationship. They have an intensity that women attach deeply too,especially these women who already have deep bonding and attachment traits. They also don’t go away so it’s very hard for the women to get away from a boomerang.

gfb: You write that often,men are several different kinds of “dangerous”. Which combinations are the most common,and why?
sb: Severe personality disorders have common traits which includes addictions,infidelity,conning/lying which equate to The Addict,The Emotionally Unavailable Man,The Hidden Life Man,and The Emotional Predator. Most women say they see 5 or 6 of the 8 men typologies in their men making most of these guys a ‘Combo Pack.’

gfb: Do you have some advice for women out there who are recovering from a relationship with a dangerous man –maybe the three most important things you tell clients?
sb: Get help and support. These are not the normal ‘bad break up’relationships. The attachment to these men are intense and most women have difficulty breaking it on their own so get the help you need the first time so you don’t keep going back and re-enforcing the intensity of the bond.

Get education. Part of what happened is you did not spot pathology and do not realize the risk factors you have in your own temperament traits that work against you in your patterns of selection. The more you know,the more you can spot in yourself and others.

Get accountability. The next time you get out there,someone needs to be watching your patterns of selection and your relationship dynamics. We heal in community,we don’t heal in isolation. Much like 12 Steps has a sponsor,these women need an Accountability Partner that is a witness to the next relationship that can give her feedback if she spots pathology that the woman is missing or minimizing. The more relationships she has been in the longer she needs to work on herself before beginning again.

gfb: Could you tell us about your institute?
sb: We provide education and support services to women leaving relationships with narcissists,sociopaths and psychopaths. We offer phone counseling,1:1 counseling,retreats,and products related to Pathological Love Relationships. We are the only organization of our type offering extensive survivor support services for these types of issues. We also run an online magazine about pathology and write for other organizations such as Psychology Today and Times Up blogs. In the near future,all of our retreats will be available on our upcoming Web Channel so that people can heal at home! www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com.

Much thanks to Sandra Brown for her time –and for making a difference in the lives of so many women!

Survival of the fittest.

When Eve’s life implodes in Los Angeles,she decides to throw caution to the wind and move to the city that never sleeps. After all,her boyfriend said she could live with him…or so she thought. Lost in Manhattan by stand-up comedian and more Moreen Littrell is a priceless read about moving to the big apple homeless,jobless,and nearly hopeless.

We have all been there –well almost there!

The title sums it up, My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me – it’s horrible,it’s humiliating,it’s hilarious! Like many modern women,author Hilary Winston has been through it all in her quest for love. First dates,blind dates,edates,just plain bad dates,great sex,almost great sex and really bad sex – this is a story that has been experienced by too many of us. What makes it unique is that Hilary is a great comedic writer.

Let’s face it girls,there’s always that first great love from early in our dating career. You know the one and probably still think about him to this very day. He’s the guy with whom you shared your most intimate moments and the first who saw you for who you really are – flaws,farts and fat-asses exposed. For Hilary,it was Kyle,for the rest of us.

But where our post break up pain was left well in the past,Hilary’s was reborn in Barnes and Nobel,Amazon and in every bookseller in between. Whether she wrote it in revenge or merely as a catharsis,I hope her book sells way more than his! I mean what kind of grown man takes a bath every day? Girl,you are better off without him.

For every girl who has been in love and had her heart-broken,the laughter from this book will help ease the pain. For girls who have been or are,God forbid,on the dating scene today,this book will help you remember you’re not alone. Dating,love,relationships – how we survive with our sanity and dignity in tact proves how strong we women really are. If you doubt yourself,get a glass of wine and read this book.

About the Author: Hilary Winston is currently working as a writer and producer of the critically acclaimed comedy Community and was one of the writers for the Emmy-award-winning show My Name is Earl. She began her writing career by getting people coffee at various places like National Public Radio and Hollywood Squares. She can now proudly say someone else gets her coffee. Unfortunately,she doesn’t like coffee. Winston lives in Los Angeles.

This review was written by girlfriend Chris Micolucci.

The madness of love.

The Case for Falling in Love is a self-help book,despite Mari Ruti’s best attempts to claim it’s not.  Ruti spends the first quarter of the book presenting her claim that this is something other than a self-help book,but while it’s occasionally more interesting and insightful than those that might share its table of dating guides in your local bookstore,it still belongs there.

The first half of the book uses cultural criticism and gender studies to argue against old-fashioned self-help guides that polarize gender roles – there’s definitely some value in that argument. The second half of the book helps the reader find opportunity in past loves that may have gone wrong. Throughout the book,the main thesis seems to be:Ditch the dating myths and be yourself. The book closes with a list of “12 anti-rules” (i.e.,“rules”) to help the reader stay true to herself when faced with romantic adversity. (Really,this isn’t supposed to be a self-help book?)

Throughout the book,Ruti touts her Ivy League credentials,which are valid,but this reader was wishing for more smartness and sass,and less pandering to,well,the reader seeking self-help advice. The highlight of The Case for Falling in Love is Ruti’s treatment of Gossip Girl and other smutty television shows as a teaching tool for analyzing relationships – this section was very fun and informative.

If you are looking for a book to pick you up after a break-up,to encourage you to break a bad dating pattern,or to give you strength to get out there and find Mr. Right,this could be the book for you.

About the Author: Mari Ruti holds degrees from Brown (B.A.),the University of Paris (DEA),and Harvard (M.A. Sociology;M.A. Comparative Literature;Ph.D. Comparative Literature). She is currently Associate Professor of Critical Theory at the University of Toronto.

Valentine’s Day is in the air…

and I thought you’d enjoy these tales of how several of the world’s most famous couples first met. And the Rest Is History:The Famous (and Infamous) First Meetings of the World’s Most Passionate Couples is for those of you,like myself,who love to ask couples the question:  “how did you meet”?  I met my husband,predictably,at work. What was not predictable is that the first moment I saw him in our office’s cafeteria,before we had even met later that afternoon,his image burned into my mind.

Some of the couples in this book are better known than others –Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles,for example.  But some of the more interesting,Charles Parnell and Katharine O’Shea,for example,are lesser known.

Parnell,a 19th-century Irish politician and confirmed bachelor,said that on meeting O’Shea,he knew she was his destiny even though she was a married woman. O’Shea’s marriage was clearly in a shambles,but her husband would not divorce her because she was expected to get a large inheritance. The Parnell/O’Shea love affair,which continued devotedly for decades and produced three children,finally cost Parnell his political career.

This book is also filled with stories of lifelong love and regret.  Aristotle Onassis,who dumped Maria Callas to wed Jacqueline Kennedy,reportedly hugged the red Hermes blanket that was Callas’last gift to him as he lay dying.

The Australian novelist Bryce Courtney once said:“Love is energy:it can neither be created nor destroyed. It just is and always will be,giving meaning to life and direction to goodness…Love will never die”.

This book is full of the energy of love. For all of you single girlfriends out there looking for love this Valentine’s Day,this quote will serve you well.

Could you be dating a sociopath?

As a follow up to our recent interview with Sandra Brown,author of How To Spot a Dangerous Man,we bring you a truly fascinating perspective from someone who has been there- Donna Anderson,author of Love Fraud. Andersen learned about sociopaths the hard way —by marrying one.  In her quest to prevent other women from the heartache she experienced,she shares her story in her book,and on her website,LoveFraud.com.

Many of us think of sociopaths as crazy-looking serial killers.  However,the sad and chilling truth is that they are much more common than most people realize.  They appear “normal”and are extremely skilled at hiding their dark secret –they lack a conscience.

So,if you suspect something isn’t right about that new man in your life,(or worse,your husband!),check out Donna’s warnings signs that the person you are involved with may in fact be,a sociopath:

  1. Charisma and charm. They’re smooth talkers,always have an answer,never miss a beat. They seem to be very exciting.
  2. Enormous ego. They act like the smartest,richest or most successful people around. They may actually come out and tell you that.
  3. Overly attentive. They call,text and e-mail constantly. They want to be with you every moment. They resent time you spend with your family and friends.
  4. Jekyll and Hyde personality. One minute they love you;the next minute they hate you. Their personality changes like flipping a switch.
  5. Blame others. Nothing is ever their fault. They always have an excuse. Someone else causes their problems.
  6. Lies and gaps in the story. You ask questions,and the answers are vague. They tell stupid lies. They tell outrageous lies. They lie when they’d make out better telling the truth.
  7. Intense eye contact. Call it the predatory stare. If you get a chill down your spine when they look at you,pay attention.
  8. Move fast. They quickly proclaim that you’re their true love and soul mate. They want to move in together or get married quickly.
  9. Pity play. They appeal to your sympathy. They want you to feel sorry for their abusive childhood,psychotic ex,incurable disease or financial setbacks.
  10. Sexual magnetism. If you feel intense attraction,if your physical relationship is unbelievable,it may be their excess testosterone.

On guard,girlfriend!

attn:single women

Before that date tonight,you might want to head over to the bookstore and read up on who you could be meeting:a Dangerous Man.  Sandra Brown,M.A.,will tell you all about him in How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved.

Although we are a married bunch here at Girlfriendbooks,we still clearly remember our single days. Luckily, we managed,without this book,to marry non “dangerous”men;although now that we reflect,we are quite certain a few of these “dangerous”men crossed our paths.  (It definitely explains one heartbreak in college.)

To our single girlfriends,do yourself a favor,and read this book.  This is not your average self-help.  Sandra Brown knows from years of experience what she is talking about.  She could save you from intense therapy,or,possibly,save your life.

We had the opportunity to ask Sandra a few questions recently.  Below is a transcript of our interview:

gfb: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to write this book?
sb: I began my career 20+ years ago working with pathologically disordered people. From that,I saw the enormous damage done to their relationships,children,and just about anyone else that tried to help them. The unifying theme was certain personality disorders that seemed to perpetrate the most ‘inevitable harm’in relationships although their disorders came largely masked as other issues. One night while I was running group at a DV shelter the woman was in the shelter for the 8th time that year. I asked her what we could teach her that would help her change her patterns. She said “How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before I Get Involved With Him.”  I went home and wrote the book.  The 8 types of Dangerous Men I identified are largely related to the chronic personality disorders that cause the most harm in relationships. I repackaged the names for easier identification in relationships.

 
gfb: In the book,you identify 8 types of dangerous men:The Permanent Clinger,The Parental Seeker,The Emotionally Unavailable Man,The Man with the Hidden Life,The Mentally Ill Man,The Addict,The Abusive or Violent Man,and The Emotional Predator. Knowing what you know through your work,if you had to pick one,which one would you least like to get involved with and why?
sb: Because I tried to largely align the Dangerous Man types with certain highly dangerous and severe personality disorders,the one at the top of the danger list would be The Emotional Predator because that one uses the charming and persuasive sociopaths/psychopaths as it’s model. Psychopathy is one of the most dangerous disorders related to ‘inevitable harm’in relationships and has a 0% treatment outcome. What’s more dangerous than that?   

 
gfb:  We’d like to ask you a few questions about one of the most common dangerous men –The Emotionally Unavailable Man.  Why,despite history repeating itself over and over,particularly with married men,do women continue to fall prey to men like this?
sb: One of the things The Institute has gone on to study is the temperament traits (the emotional hard-wiring) of women who have gotten into the most disordered (ie,pathological) love relationships. The astounding find was that the women most likely to end up in these relationships (as well as the other 7 dangerous man types) were those who had severely elevated temperament traits in bonding/attachment,tolerance,empathy,trust,and loyalty. These traits contribute to a woman’s ability to trust (even when evidence to the contrary exists),the ability to bond deeply to someone who betrays them,the ability to tolerate very high levels of emotional pain,and the ability to be empathic about all the sad stories of woe in his life. Women who do not have elevated traits like these are women who don’t get involved with men like these and if they do,they kick them to the curb quickly. I wanted to study and find the REASON why women were attracted to,tolerant of,and empathic with,the most disordered and harmful partners. Her temperament traits (covered in the book which followed this one,Women Who Love Psychopaths) is the first research geared to studying why women end up with obvious betrayers.  

 
gfb:  Can a woman ever change an emotionally unavailable man? 
sb: All of The Institute’s books and products help teach Public Pathology Education which explains the permanent disorders associated with some mental health issues and what they look like and do within relationships. The Emotionally Unavailable man may or may not be able to change. It depends WHAT ELSE is also wrong with him. If he indeed does have one of the severe personality disorders along with his unfaithfulness,he will have almost 0% chance for the ability to sustain positive change (read our chapter on Neuroscience in Women Who Love Psychopaths to find out what is wrong with their hard-wiring). If he is one who is unfaithful but does not have one of the personality disorders,his chance for authentic and sustained change is higher. Those chronic unfaithful types usually have a personality disorder fueling the infidelity.

gfb:  When emotionally unavailable men have affairs,can they be in love with their wife and their affair partner?  Or,are they incapable of love at all? Is the affair partner simply a distraction from having to be intimate with their wife?
sb:Those with personality disorders have bonding/attachment issues. They typically have shallow and superficial (although intense) attachments and relationships. It’s why they can move on quickly from one to the next without being emotionally damaged from the ending of one relationship. So that would cause one to ask,“Are we talking about the same concepts of love and attachment when we are looking at the highly disordered person’s ‘love’relationship.”  I would say no–they don’t have the same bonding which is why the woman is hurt because his shallow attachment allows him to move on without guilt or conscience. These are also types that need high levels of distraction so they are actually looking for distraction. Not away from intimacy but distraction in general. 

 
gfb:  Let’s move on to The Emotional Predator.  After reading through the chapter about these charming and seemingly loving men,we wondered –how is a woman to tell the difference between this man and a man who really loves her?
sb: Women who have ended up with the Dangerous Man types have probably been swept up in the typical pathological approach which is to ‘sweep them off their feet’and have ‘love bombing’where the woman is ‘consumed’by him 24/7 through over and rapid contact. Women end up moving in or marrying these types quickly on his insistence. Women who have had these pathological relationships are those who need a different approach to dating and who must date casually and slowly so she can respond to her red flags and not bond so quickly given her elevated trait of bonding. Her ability to read him correctly is not as highly evolved as other women who don’t end up in these relationships. These are women who need longer term dating with men so they can have time over a long period to test out his motivations. Other women who have not been in these relationships seem to be able to respond better to their red flags and follow up on cues and clues. These women tend to minimize,rename,or deny their red flags and so can’t tell when someone is conning them. They need more professional assistance in their next relationship and help retuning into their red flags and reading motivation below the superficial presentation.     

 
gfb:  How do these men become such good liars?
sb: Most people know what ‘pathological lying’is however most people don’t know that the term is also associated with pathological disorders such as the severe personality disorders of Narcissism,Anti-socials,and Psychopaths. Those are the types that are easy liars and have little physiological reactions to lying so people can’t tell they are lying.  

 
gfb:  With regard to The Addict –you write that men can be addicted to many things,not only drugs or alcohol,but work,pornography,approval,even relationships.  Can you talk a little about how these men often “swap”addictions based on their current circumstances?
sb: Addictions are a complicated web of emotional,social,biological,and physical reactions. All addicts do not have personality disorders but almost all severe personality disordered people have addictions. In their attempts to mask their behaviors,they will often stop one addiction to please their partner or save their job. However,since both addiction and severe personality disorders are highly influenced by neuro abnormalities related to impulse control problems,they will quickly move to something else either substance oriented or behaviorally because of the poor impulse control. 

 
gfb: Referring to the list,which type of dangerous men have the ability to change? Which ones usually never change,despite therapy?
sb: The inability to grow to any authentic emotional or spiritual level,the inability to sustain consistent positive change over time,and the inability to develop insight how one’s negative behavior effects others has more to do with the severe personality disorders than it does the actual name of the dangerous man category. Any of those categories can and often do reflect one of the severe personality disorders. In those cases,consistent life time change is very unlikely. The issue that always determines a person’s treatment potential has more to do with the severe personality disorders than it does anything else. Therefore,any of the categories could have a man with one or more of the severe personality disorders. In the cases of The Emotionally Unavailable or The Addict,it’s possible they wouldn’t have the highly unchangeable personality disorder. However,infidelity is highly associated with severe personality disorders as is addiction. So it would be hard to say. The issue that helps us identify if a person has these disorders is a look over their lifetime and if they have enduring patterns of behavior that have not consistently changed. That’s the best determiner of probable pathology.    

 
gfb:  Based on your experience,which type of man is the hardest to extract yourself from?
sb: The Emotional Predator usually because that category represents psychopathy,sociopathy or narcissism which are like gorilla glue in a relationship. They have an intensity that women attach deeply too,especially these women who already have deep bonding and attachment traits. They also don’t go away so it’s very hard for the women to get away from a boomerang.    

 
gfb:  You write that often,men are several different kinds of “dangerous”. Which combinations are the most common,and why?
sb: Severe personality disorders have common traits which includes addictions,infidelity,conning/lying which equate to The Addict,The Emotionally Unavailable Man,The Hidden Life Man,and The Emotional Predator. Most women say they see 5 or 6 of the 8 men typologies in their men making most of these guys a ‘Combo Pack.’  

 
gfb:  Do you have some advice for women out there who are recovering from a relationship with a dangerous man –maybe the three most important things you tell clients?
sb: Get help and support. These are not the normal ‘bad break up’relationships. The attachment to these men are intense and most women have difficulty breaking it on their own so get the help you need the first time so you don’t keep going back and re-enforcing the intensity of the bond.

Get education. Part of what happened is you did not spot pathology and do not realize the risk factors you have in your own temperament traits that work against you in your patterns of selection. The more you know,the more you can spot in yourself and others.

Get accountability. The next time you get out there,someone needs to be watching your patterns of selection and your relationship dynamics. We heal in community,we don’t heal in isolation. Much like 12 Steps has a sponsor,these women need an Accountability Partner that is a witness to the next relationship that can give her feedback if she spots pathology that the woman is missing or minimizing. The more relationships she has been in the longer she needs to work on herself before beginning again. 

 
gfb:  Could you tell us about your institute?
sb: We provide education and support services to women leaving relationships with narcissists,sociopaths and psychopaths. We offer phone counseling,1:1 counseling,retreats,and products related to Pathological Love Relationships. We are the only organization of our type offering extensive survivor support services for these types of issues. We also run an online magazine about pathology and write for other organizations such as Psychology Today and Times Up blogs. In the near future,all of our retreats will be available on our upcoming Web Channel so that people can heal at home! www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

Much thanks to Sandra Brown for her time –and for making a difference in the lives of so many women!

How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved

we just finished reading

I Loved,I Lost,I Made Spaghetti:A Memoir of Good Food and Bad Boyfriends by Giulia Melucci and although we loved Giulia,and desperately want to be her friend and have her cook for us,we do want to take a few minutes to….shake her. 

Giulia is a single PR executive working in NYC who writes and cooks her way through this memoir of her multiple failed romances.  Obsessed with cooking for her boyfriends,the book not only delivers a page-turning story of a single New Yorker,but includes her easy to follow recipes as well. 

What can we say,love is a difficult thing to find.  However,Giulia seemed to want it so badly,she wasn’t taking a good look at the men she was trying,to,um,extract it from. We also tend to doubt the old adage that the way to man’s heart is through his stomach. Sure,they certainly want to enjoy good meals,but not at the expense of a stressed out girlfriend.  In one scene right out of Charlotte’s life in Sex and the City,Giulia spends days preparing a Passover Seder feast for her Jewish boyfriend. By the time it was ready,she was ready to kill him. 

The final,heartbreaking,relationship in the book was like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

Giulia,you are beautiful and successful and funny! Sit back and let a man work for your affections. We are definitely looking forward to the sequel.

I Loved,I Lost,I Made Spaghetti:A Memoir of Good Food and Bad Boyfriends

single girls

single girls –just wanna have fun.

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Getting Over It by Anna Maxted
 This is not your typical chick lit.  For starters,the subject matter is a bit more diverse as the heroine,Helen,has to deal with the sudden loss of her father,the needs of an over-demanding mother,and a good friend in an abusive relationship.  Of course,there’s also her bumpy love life or the story wouldn’t be complete.  Written in a hip,bouncy style,this book will be sure to make you laugh at loud.
buy now! Getting Over It

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Must Love Dogs:A Novel by Claire Cook
This is a fun read,especially for single girlfriends starting over.  It follows the stop and go dating life of 40ish,recently divorced,preschool teacher,Sarah,whose first foray back into the dating world has her answering a personal ad written by her widowed father.  Things don’t always go smoothly (or what would be the point of the story),but Sarah’s meddling,yet well-meaning,Boston Irish family keeps pushing her out there until she gets it right.
buy now! Must Love Dogs:A Novel

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Shacking Up:The Smart Girl’s Guide to Living in Sin Without Getting Burned by Stacy and Wynne Whitman
Thinking about moving in with the love of your life?  Then take a look at this book first.  Shacking Up is a much needed guide for 20- and 30-somethings contemplating this decision.  Filled with couple interviews,advice from psychologists,financial planners and other professionals,and fun Cosmo-type quizzes,it provides lots of useful,thought-provoking information to consider before packing your bags (or letting someone unpack).
buy now! Shacking Up:The Smart Girl’s Guide to Living in Sin Without Getting Burned

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Oh,Solo Mia!:The Hip Chick’s Guide to Fun for One by Wendy Burt

Looking for entertainment beyond your local video store?  Then check out Oh,Solo Mia! with over 100 ideas for having fun with your favorite person –you.

buy now! Oh,Solo Mia!:The Hip Chick’s Guide to Fun for One

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The Go-Girl Guide:Surviving Your 20s with Savvy,Soul &Style by Julia Bourland
Your 20s can be a confusing time as you really begin to discover who you are,what you want,and how on earth are you going to get it.  This book is a girlfriend-to-girlfriend guide providing helpful advice on challenges such as climbing the corporate ladder,dating,financial independence and more.  See why many 20-somethings have chosen this as their bible to help get them through these whirlwind years.

buy now! The Go-Girl Guide:Surviving Your 20s with Savvy,Soul &Style