Hey Doc,
It has been a year since I joined the army, and looking back, I am in a much better place today than I was then. When I joined, I had just removed from school due to drug dependence and was living with my parents, feeling like dirt.

A year after, and I have a far better relationship with my parents, I have lost weight, and I am doing well financially. By all of metrics, I feel as if life is going better, which I have made immense improvements.

So why can not I stop feeling like a fucking loser?

Once I was skipping class, doing drugs, dismissing my well-being and relationships, I had been getting more dates than ever and felt more confident than I do now, despite my entire life being in shambles. In my head, I moved from an awkward nerd who had difficulty talking to people let alone girls, to somebody who partied, hung out with friends, and might chat up girls easy.

And I have built up myself. But I am not valuing that. And I can not stop believing that the me that seems when I am an addict is more attractive than the me who has my shit together.

I can not even trust my own mind. I guess that is why I am asking you; How do I get myself to begin valuing my accomplishments? I need to have the same confidence I had before but without the identical self-destructive habits.

Very respectfully,
Hyde wishing that he was Jekyll

You said it yourself, HWHEWJ:”on your mind.”

It is not that being an addict made you a cooler, more confident person: you are just remembering it that way. I mean, let’s be honest here: if life were {} , why would you stop? By your own admission, you’d dropped out of school, your relationships were awful and your life was falling apart.

We are not objective, impartial observers of fact; we lie to ourselves all the time. We distort our own memorieswe edit the unpleasant components and choose to only focus on the highlights of yesteryear. That’s among the reasons why, by way of instance, we are tempted to return into exes that we know are bad for us. It is also part of the reason we’re tempted to return to lifestyles which we know were ruinous.

That’s before we {} in mind-altering substances. To quote a wise man, everybody knows you will life forever once you’ve done a line or two. It’s quite easy to believe you are thicker, suaver, smoother and more attractive once you’re drunk or high. But the issue is that your ability to judge your state is severely diminished. You are not thinking clearly… you just think you’re. In your mind, you are the second coming of Oscar Wilde, falling bon mots and holding court into a room filled with admirers who are hanging on your every word. In fact… well, you’re the man who is slurring about his doctrine, laughing at his own jokes and overlooking the annoyed, uncomfortable and bored looks on the faces of the people around you.

And look, I am as guilty of this as anybody. I have had too much to drink and thought I was the smoothest of the smooth and the coolest of the cool… and in fact, I was being an obnoxious asshole to people.

The parts I remember in any way, that is.

At this time you are at a low point. You are missing that bullet-proof assurance you used to have. It does not matter that it was illusory, odor and smoke out of your own mind; you miss the way it felt, even when truth doesn’t line up. And that is totally understandable. But here is the thing: you have that confidence. You have the capacity within you. It is not that drugs magically imbued you with confidence and the gift of gab, it just turned down the volume on the sections of the brain that were holding you back. It is less Dumbo’s magic feather and much more Dumbo’s magic mushroom.

You felt that way before. You can feel like that again. You can still party, you can still hang out with your buddies and you can still talk up girls. You may find your confidence again. You’ll need to do it the hard way — not using the medication as a short-cut — but it can be achieved. You begin by recognizing what you have and learning to be thankful for them. Simply quitting and taking inventory of your life is a fantastic means of recognizing that you’ve got more going for you than you understand. And you have a lot to be proud of; pulling yourself back from the brink and rebuilding your life is really goddamn impressive.

The fantastic news is that you’ve got easy access to this too; you have got your brothers and sisters in the military… your literal squad. Let that be the basis for finding those significant, emotionally satisfying friendships, particularly with other guys . You can still hang out with your buddies without needing to be stoned out of your gourd.

And while you are at it, find your community. One of the things which can help build up us is feeling like we are part of something larger than ourselves. Your service in the military is one example. Another may be what you do once you leave the ceremony. Finding — or creating — your neighborhood and your goal will provide you leadership and fulfilment. You will have the feeling of satisfaction, of knowing that you are doing something which matters will help build that sense of confidence and make you realize just how much you need to offer.

Recall: the past you recall is an illusion, a mirage. It is a dream that obscured the ugly facts of your situation. You are in a position to reconstruct it… for real this time.

You have got this.

I am just coming from what I believe was my first connection, but to be honest I do not know whether it is over, or if it even begun. I am all mixed up and feeling lonely with no support she would normally be giving me. The events leading up to it are odd to say the least so I will begin at the beginning.

A couple of years back, two friends of mine started dating. I have been friends with a few of these — we’ll call her A — for three decades, but we were not super close. I had been friends with another man — who we will call B — for eight decades. A and B began dating around two-ish decades back, and they had been going steady ever since.

This season I started going to the gym. However, things began to get tough in her relationship, and she and her boyfriend fought a lot. It culminated in B damaging A, and performing some pretty bad psychological damage. I would rather not disclose the specific details of what happened, but this was lifelong injury levels of hurt.

They dragged out the connection for about a month later, through which A came to me for comfort, while B turned off all of the help I offered. I opened up in ways I have never opened before, and managed to get emotional support in a way that {} really common between men. Furthermore, it felt as though I had been genuinely helping someone to be a happier person, which gave me a excellent warm and fuzzy feeling. Over all, everything was terrific. I had found someone who I could genuinely call my very best friend, a name I had never wholeheartedly given out before.

Here is where things go wrong. A was separated from her ex for about a month and a half, though the breakup was just formalised a couple weeks ago. At this point in time, A and I were hanging out one or two times per week, and we talked every night before bed. I realised that had feelings for A, but I did not really understand them. I could not tell if I liked her, or if she had been just a friend who also happened to be extremely attractive.

Her last relationship had left her {} pretty ruined, and she said she did not want a complete relationship yet. I was going to let it go and move on when she said she would be amenable to being casual, and that she had really had a crush on me because before the big bang that ended her relationship. I was ecstatic. I had never been in a relationship before, and I had never been close with anybody as I was using A. I was afraid {} ruin our friendship when she turned me down, but what was going better than planned. The next few weeks were paradise. We had sex a few times, and we spoke even more publicly than before.

Unfortunately, school ramped up, and we did not have enough time to hang out. I had been feeling a bit lonely. In my drunkenness, I decided to “test” her. I pretended to be gloomy and denied interaction from anyone to determine if she would come and check on me. She sent a friend to do this because she believed she was too drunk to assist. I translated this as her not deeming me value the time. It was a dick move. Apparently her ex used to do so and she actually did not like that I did it too. She became distant during the next week before telling me she was angry, and I was hurt that she had not told me I had messed up earlier. It has been downhill from there.

And now we have reached the present. We have been talking lately. Apparently what she had wanted from”being casual” was casual hookups along with being friends. What I thought she had meant was an open, short term relationship. She revealed to me lately that things just got to close to a complete connection for her comfort. She has been wobbling between wanting to be friends with benefits with me, needing to cut off things, and everything in between.

I believe I still have feelings for her, but I do not really know. Last time we hung out was before everything went bad, and we had a excellent time. I wish to continue to spend some time with her, but she keeps leaping on what she wants. She is leaving for out of town soon, so she will be gone for some time. I’m all mixed up inside and I do not know what to do. This is not just the first (nearly ) relationship I have had, but also the first time I’ve really liked a woman this much. I know that a critical relationship is wholly out of the question, but I would love to go back to the way we were before.

Will we ever have the ability to return to being close buddy like before? The support from this was amazing and really helped me make it through the entire year, and I would like to return to that.
Is it possible for us to be intimate, but also be friends, with this happening again?
How do I tell how she feels? Everything she says contradicts something she’s said, is contradicting something that she ends up saying afterwards.
What should my next steps be? I truly don’t like the concept of going nuclear with her.
How can I avoid this type of thing happening again in the future?

Best Wishes
-All Mixed Up

Hoo boy.

This was… not the ideal connection for your first foray into relationship AMU. While I do not doubt that you and your buddy had a real relationship, there was plenty of crossed wires, miscommunications and complicated background there.

The fantastic thing is that this is {} to offer you a great deal of much-needed experience that will serve you well in future relationships. Assuming, of course, you really learn the lessons from this one.

And the first lesson is do not test your relationships. You were drunk, you’re feeling low and you’re having doubts. But there is feeling low and having doubts and then there is trying to make your girlfriend jump through hoops to be able to prove… something. Part of the purpose of being in a relationship with someone is learning how to trust them and to rely on them. If you’re concerned about things or have questions, the solution is not to see if she will pass your ordeals three, it is to use you words and speak to her.

That, incidentally, is the next lesson. As long as the two of you were, you were not speaking with each other… not in how you should have. The most obvious disconnect occurred right at the beginning. Among the main parts of getting the Defining The Dating Talk is to really define your terms. It’s pretty apparent that you and A had quite different ideas and expectations of the sort of relationship the two of you’re likely to have. She, on the other hand, expected to simply add sex to your preexisting friendship without expectations of monogamy and commitment.

If the two of you had had a conversation about what you anticipated and defined your terms, things may have turned out otherwise. You may not have been so upset by her being busy with school and inadvertently reopened the wounds that B gave her.

So taking your questions in reverse order:

  • How you avoid this in the future will be to prioritize clear and open communication. Ensure you and your prospective partners are on the exact pages about what you expect from the connection, and do not be afraid to express your feelings to them.
  • Your next step is to speak with her, find out what she wants and allow her prioritize her recovery; she’s not been outside of her connection with B quite long and when things were as traumatic as you said, she is going to need time. That may, unfortunately, mean time away from you.
  • You tell how she feels by speaking to her and ensuring you understand what she is saying. It is not that she had been asking for conflicting things, it is that you two were talking at cross purposes. You’d conflicting ideas of what this relationship would entail and that detonated the entire thing.
  • No, I do not think you are going to be FWBs again anytime soon. I think you are going to have to acquire more relationship experience under your belt before that is a real possibility, and she is going to need time to concentrate on getting over her past relationship. If you can return to being her friend and letting go of your hope to get back into her pants, then perhaps. But again, this will depend on her.

Unfortunately this leads into your next semester: not everything can be fixed, no matter how badly you need it. Sometimes the consequences of your mistakes is that the connection is permanently changed and can not return to what it was. The one thing you can do from this point forward is see what this new connection will be… or if there’ll even be one.

But that is going to depend on A. And the only way you can ever know for sure is to speak to her.

Very good luck.

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