Why Do Nice People Attract Jerks?

Boundaries in Dating

The question that many people wonder is “If I’m nice, then why do I keep attracting such jerks?” They think that something is inherently wrong with them, and sometimes they can begin to get quite hopeless over their chances of finding good friends, someone good to date, or building a great marriage.

The key to remember is that the reason why nice people attract jerks is that they are too adaptive in the beginning….

Sizzling Passion and the Myth of Hollywood Romance

Beyond Boundaries

To some extent, our society is afflicted by a Hollywood distortion about relationships. Don’t get me wrong—I (Dr. Townsend) am not anti-Hollywood. I am a movie person, and my sons are in school studying film. But we need to free ourselves of a distortion embedded in the DNA of the movie culture: passion trumps everything. That is, if you deeply connect on a romantically passionate level, you have entered relational Nirvana, and your love conquers all. This is the stuff of lots of great entertainment, but it is not how real relationships actually go to the next level.

For example …

How Intimacy Can Be Realized Through Conflict

Boundaries in Dating

What is your normal reaction when conflict occurs in a new relationship? Are you comfortable addressing the issue? Or, do you stuff the issue out of fear or a desire preserve the peace? Honesty is the best policy for two important reasons:

1. Being honest helps resolve the hurt or the conflict.
2. When you are honest, how the other person responds tells you whether a satisfactory relationship is possible.

If you are hurt in some way, bring it up. Don’t harbor bitter feelings. Or …

How to Guarantee that People Will Want to Be Close to You

Boundaries in Marriage

Amy and Randall had been married for eight years, and they loved each other. However, when he was angry or upset, Randall became moody and would withdraw from Amy and the kids, except for occasional outbursts of anger. When his manufacturing business was struggling, he would sit silently through dinner. Once, during this period, the children were arguing at the dinner table. Out of the blue, Randall said, “Amy, can’t you keep these children in line? I can’t even have a moment’s peace in my own home!” And with that, he stormed out of the kitchen into his home office …

The Truest Test of Trust

Beyond Boundaries

The extent to which other people are concerned about their impact on you is the extent to which you can trust them. You trust them because you know it’s not just you looking after yourself; they are looking after you too.

For example, I (Dr. Townsend) was working with Steve and Lisa on learning this, so that they could connect on a deeper level. She had a tendency to criticize him in public. It wasn’t mean or harsh. It was more like he was always the idiot in her stories: how he dented the car, got the flight info wrong, let their daughter wrap him around her finger, and so on. He brought it up in our session. Here is how the conversation between the three of us went: …

Surprising Ways Rewards and Praise Can Harm Others

The Entitlement Cure

We sometimes reward (through actions) and praise (through words) our spouses, employees, children, and friends in ways that can actually harm them, even though it feels good at the time because it seems so positive. But what seems positive is not always what is best. A pizza slice or two is positive — but four can cause problems. These unwise reward/praise approaches, although well intentioned, create bad fruit. Remember — these are patterns, not isolated events. Doing these things every now and then would be all right, but when they become trends, they risk fostering attitudes of entitlement….

How to Nip Relationship Problems in the Bud

Boundaries in Dating

“I don’t understand what happened,” Todd told me (Dr. Cloud). “It seemed that Mary and I were doing so well, and then she just came in one day and told me that she didn’t want to be with me anymore. She was very angry about a lot of things.”

“Did you have any warning?” I asked. “Did she give any signs?”

“Well, sometimes I could tell that she was sort of pouty about things. There would be things I did that she would not like, but I never thought it was a big deal. Like when I would be late, or go out with my friends without telling her. Or, sometimes, I would cancel on her to go play basketball if a good game came up. That kind of thing. But I never thought it was a big deal,” he mused….

Boundaries and The Beverly Hillbillies

How to Have That Difficult Conversation

When setting boundaries with someone, it’s important to differentiate between what you prefer and what’s actually wrong. Before you talk to someone about changing his behavior, figure out if what he is doing is really a “bad” thing or just something you don’t like.

I (Dr. Cloud) refer to this distinction as a test I like to call “Would God and the Beverly Hillbillies Agree?” Here’s what I mean: Some things are just things you don’t like and want someone to change, but that person is not really doing anything wrong. Depending on where you come from, it may be acceptable or not….

What to Do When Your Teen Pulls Away

Boundaries with Teens

Some parents fear that if they set boundaries with teens, it will cause their son or daughter to detach themselves and withdraw their love from them. This fear can cause these parents to avoid boundaries at all costs, and to do their best to keep their kid connected.

When this happens, it teaches teens that they can get their way and avoid limits by cutting off the love supply. These adolescents often have difficulty …

How to Think about Your Thinking

So how can you become a wise, sober-minded person of good judgment—one who thinks rather than reacts and routinely utilizes internal as well as external data? Start by becoming an observer of how you think. It may sound strange to think about thinking, but it is important and helpful. You can begin to pay attention to your thinking by routinely observing your thoughts and by recognizing any cognitive distortions.

Life is chaotic, and sometimes too much information can cause confusion in an organization. As a result, leaders are under great pressure to think with focus and direction….