I was waiting at a CVS store in Manhattan last month when I noticed that a customer on an adjacent line was not wearing a mask. He caught me staring so I casually pointed my finger at my mask. He looked at me and said, nonchalantly: “I’m a libertarian.” On the tip of my tongue, I was about to say, “The liberty to swing your fist ends where my nose begins,” but why start something that could get out of hand. But I did know that my rejoinder would have been near and dear to the heart of any true…


“Not enough sex.” We’re fighting all the time.” “I can’t trust him.” These are among the most common reasons that bring couples to counseling. But, it is not the existence of problems that causes dysfunction but HOW they are dealt with. In my years as a couples counselor, I could not help but see that the only sure-fire way to address problems is through compromise. You may be thinking that the need to compromise seems so obvious as to not warrant an article about it. However, while we routinely compromise in our work and social lives, it seems far more…


I always thought, in a romantic relationship, you were supposed to make your partner happy. But that belief was not working out particularly well for me. It created tons of pressure, which compelled me to put others needs before mine. While this may seem like a trait to be admired, it actually meant that I was defining myself on something that I have no control over: making someone else happy. You may be thinking that’s absurd, of course we can make someone happy, otherwise why bother having relationships? But the hard truth is, we can only TRY to make our…


While watching an emperor penguin mothering its chick on a BBC Planet Earth episode, I was overwhelmed by envy. Damn! I wish I had a mother like that. How wonderful would it have been to grow up with a nurturing, emotionally-attuned parent. But, through the “ovarian lottery,” a Warren Buffet phrase, it was not to be. This presented certain challenges for me growing up. One seminal event in my life, when I was 11 years old, set me on a course that continues to this day.

The Event

I am playing Strato-O-Matic, the folds of the game board frayed and…


I tried to stop…

I cheat on my wife. I can’t help it. The sensations, the anticipation are all too much for me. Hell, I have tried and tried to stop. But it’s a force so powerful as to almost defy description. It’s a mistress always there, always willing to meet my needs, never asking anything in return. Clearly, I need help.

I definitely don’t want to be one of those slimeballs that betray a partner’s trust. So, I have become an expert in rationalizations. My go-to is that I have a compulsion, maybe even a disorder that would explain my behavior. Or, what…


Tips on staying out of trouble

“We’re just good friends” is what you might tell yourself at first. But self-delusion and rationalizations only go so far before reality sets in: you are in a full-blown emotional affair with a coworker. You look forward to seeing her every day, enjoy her company more than your partner’s and think she’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. That’s why you have plunked your carcass on my office couch, wracked with anxiety, worried about getting caught, not knowing what to do.

WHAT MAKES EMOTIONAL AFFAIRS SO ATTRACTIVE?

The gold standard of healthy relationships is that partners feel special to each other. Problem is, life gets in…


Married ten years to a Haitian woman, I could not help but see that the subject of racism had gradually become a source of alienation between us. I present her story here, in her own words, as a way to give voice to her concerns and, perhaps, to come to grips with my difficulty in more deeply sharing her experience as a woman of color.

It surprised me when my husband, Michael, an American, started to feel exhausted listening to tales of racism in my life as well as various run-ins with same in New York City. What do you…


I realized I was definitely getting older when my nasolabial folds started resembling crevasses so deep that my nose became an afterthought. Older, in my mind, did not mean old, although the distinction may be suspect. Being older only made me realize that I wanted to live a lot longer. Perhaps not as long as Jeanne Calment, a French woman who lived past the age of 122, recently profiled in the New Yorker. But longer! Wondering if there was anything I could do to postpone my eventual demise beyond avoiding refined sugar and exercising every day, I flirted with certain…


I thought I wouldn’t survive it, but…

Erika said that “we needed to talk.” Worse words I cannot imagine coming from a girlfriend. She was breaking up with me. She hewed close to the line of “it’s not you, it’s me.” We had been together four and a half years, starting in college and continuing through our first jobs in the real world. She said that she didn’t have the chance to find out who she was, to develop herself more fully, to try things she never had. Blah. Blah. Blah.

I thought that I would never find anyone as good, as cool, as beautiful as her…


We never expected the unexpected

We got engaged just to stop the nagging from our parents. Then, the incessant, insipid questions started.

Do you have a wedding date?

Who is going to throw your bachelor/bachelorette party?

Where are you going on your honeymoon?

When are you going to have kids?

All these questions were asked by friends and relatives with smiles so sickeningly sweet that you wanted to bitch slap every last one of them.

Barbara, my fiancée, being quite polite, managed to keep a smile plastered on her face for all these interrogatories, so much so that she feared the onset of facial paralysis…

Michael Sands

Challenger of assumptions. People worker. Recovering nihilist.

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