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Need some womanly advice
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My girlfriend was recently fired from her job. I think there were some economic reasons at play but she was the first to be let go and they even asked another guy who was quitting to stay longer so they could let her go. She had only been there for a few months and definitely did not hit it off with her boss. I wanted to be more sympathetic but she had some of the very same issues with her previous job and her contract was not going to be renewed before she "quit".

She has been looking for a job for 6+ weeks with basically no leads (I realize no one is hiring now so bear with me for my point). She was a teacher before but doesn't want to continue teaching. She is looking to change careers but has thrown out like 10 different ideas. I find myself reluctant to get behind her 100% for any of the ideas. At first I thought it was because she was all over the place and all of these new career paths were in areas that she has never shown an interest.

But the more I thought about it the more I came to a more uncomfortable conclusion. I'm starting to realize that the reason I'm reluctant to support her career ideas is that she has no real ambition to succeed at any of them. She is not a competitive person at all which is fine (not everyone needs to be totally type A like a lot of us here). But she isn't even competitive with herself. She is okay doing a mediocre job at whatever she is doing. She has literally said that she just wants to do enough to get by. A lot of the problems she had on her last two jobs were because she wanted to do the bare minimum to skate by. Unfortunately I see some of these same attitudes she has about work manifest themselves in our daily lives. Half assed is good enough for her a lot of the time though she is quick to give a reason why she didn't try harder.

I really love this girl and she has a lot of great qualities. I genuinely want to support her emotionally as she tries to figure out this next stage of her life. I fear that until she realizes that she is responsible for her current state of affairs (at least in part) because of her lack of ambition and willingness to settle for being mediocre and just "punching the clock" that she is never going to be happy with what she does.

I should point out that her mom and dad are super Type A and very "success driven" so she has probably been conditioned to do the total opposite her whole life. I'm not saying that she has to make a 180 degree change but she definitely needs to move in the other direction.

So how do I tell her this in a way that doesn't make her think that I think that she is a hopeless cause? She is very sensative to criticism (aren't we all) and is already feeling down about being out of work and directionless. I want this to be a very positive conversation that will hopefully get her moving in the right direction. I can already hear some people saying that I am the one with the problem and that she should be free to live her life however she chooses. Let me point out that I'm financially supporting her right now and did so even when she was working. That is okay but I would feel a lot better about it if I felt that she was going to have a fundamentally different approach to her endeavors going forward. I want her to find something she is passionate about and then passionately pursue it. I just fear that in an effort to be totally different than her parents that she has doomed herself to a work life void of passion and I want her to have that as a source of happiness no matter what the cost to me financially or emotionally.

I hate to put this on an Internet forum of all places but I'm betting that a lot of the women here can relate to this and can hopefully help me communicate this to her in a positive way that lets her know that this comes from a place of love.

Any suggestions on how to help her find something she can be passionate about are welcome as well.

On a related note, if you know anyone hiring please let me know. ;-)
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Re: Need some womanly advice [fatbastardtris] [ In reply to ]
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Gosh, I'm sure there are a lot of women on here who are not really driven, just doing enough to get by, (want a man to take care of us), etc. I'm sure they will chime in.

Okay that was partially sarcastic...but sort of serious....because you did say a lot of us could relate...and I'm guessing that no, not very many of us can relate....seriously though, the lavender room types might be a better audience :-)

No advice for you except ask her what she wanted to do when she was 7. Then find a job related to that and there's a good chance she'll be happy (or so I've been told). And a lot of people are changing careers as a result of the economic downturn, so it's not really a bad thing.
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Re: Need some womanly advice [fatbastardtris] [ In reply to ]
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This is a really really hard one. Unfortunately this is really a multi-layered problem.

She is likely depressed. It is hard to know whether she needs treatment but an appointment with her doctor will clear that up.

One approach would be to encourage her to get career counceling. It may be that she doesn't don't know what she is good at and therefore can't get excited about anything. Having a professional guide her through this exploration might be really helpful.

Pushing will likely only backfire. I honestly think that just listening and go along with her ideas is the best approach. My husband does the floating around from idea to idea thing and it is exhausting but I can usually tell when he is really excited about something rather than just thinking out loud. When she comes up with an idea ask her about it. Help her think through it. Don't pass judgement, just ask questions. "What would it take to do that?" "What does that job do?" "Do you know anyone who does it? If so, let's have dinner together and talk to them about it" Just saying "that's great!" can get annoying for both of you.

This is really a process she has to go through on her own. You should set a timeline, though, for her to get some kind of work. Any kind. It doesn't matter if it is pulling espresso at Starbucks. Contributing to the finances is important for both of you. I'm sure being dependant on you isn't helping her self esteem.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Jen - @ultragrrl

"In order to keep a true perspective on one's importance, everyone should have a dog that worships him and a cat that will ignore him." - Dereke Bruce
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Re: Need some womanly advice [fatbastardtris] [ In reply to ]
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Sounds like she just hasn't found herself yet. That's OK if she's still in her early or mid 20's. Not so good later in life as some people never find themselves. Hopefully she'll eventually find something that moves her. There are lots of people who are late starters in life and still do very well in the end. Not much you can do about it except offer encouragement (not criticism) and let her go at her speed. My $.02.
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Re: Need some womanly advice [fatbastardtris] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
I hate to put this on an Internet forum of all places but I'm betting that a lot of the women here can relate to this and can hopefully help me communicate this to her in a positive way that lets her know that this comes from a place of love.
I'm really not sure why you think a lot of us could relate to being unmotivated and kind of lazy.

I don't want to sound like a total jerk because I can tell that you do love her and want the best for her and she's certainly lucky to have someone who cares about her like that in her life, but in all honesty, she sounds like she just wants to kind of float by never having to work hard. I guess you can do what maggs said and encourage her to think about the things in her life that she really loves doing and see if she can find her way into a career that relates to the things that she enjoys. I also think that maybe you should tighten the purse strings a little bit as a little kick in the pants to get her looking a little harder. I think a lot of us have had times in our lives where we weren't exactly sure where we were going or what our next step was, but if she wants to get out of the rut she appears to be in, she probably needs to take a risk, work her butt off to get a job, and work hard.

I wish I had better advice for you but this sounds a lot to me like the kind of situation where she needs to help herself more than anything.

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Re: Need some womanly advice [PirateGirl] [ In reply to ]
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I'm sorry. I meant relate to the need to be driven to do a good job at whatever you are doing.
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Re: Need some womanly advice [fatbastardtris] [ In reply to ]
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I agree with Jen's advice, but instead of a career counsellor I would suggest a life coach. I think she needs help figuring out what she wants to do with herself as a person in addition to a career. I also agree that she needs to get a "filler" job as soon as possible. She needs a reason to get out of bed in the morning and she needs a structure to her life. Being off work until she "finds herself" is only going to make the situation worse and make you resentful.

I'm one of the few ST'ers who is not Type A. I don't take this stuff very seriously, I fit in my workouts where I can and I don't worry about it if I miss one or two (or seven). However, I am very motivated and committed when it comes to my family and my work. I work my tail off when it comes to that stuff and I would never give less than 100% in my professional life. I agree with everyone else who has said she just hasn't found something that she's passionate about yet.

Good luck.
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Re: Need some womanly advice [fatbastardtris] [ In reply to ]
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Is she okay at being average in EVERYTHING, or just in her work?

There could be one of two answers here...One: she's not found a career that satisfies her, ergo, she doesn't really put any effort into it, or two: she just doesn't care about work, sees it as a means to an end, and has other things she's more passionate about.

If it's the former, well, I can understand that--it's hard to get excited or enthusiastic about doing something you don't give two shits about. In that case, yes, she just needs to keep looking (but understand that in this economic crisis, being picky about jobs is sort of a luxury). She should think about seeing a career counselor or maybe attending a career planning workshop or two, perhaps do an interest inventory as well.

If it's the latter...well, then she needs to find a job that obviously is a bit less life-or-death than an airport control tower operator or ER surgeon. But if she's not deliberately failing, and if she has happiness in other areas of her life, then, well...not lovig your job isn't a sin. There are more clock-punchers out there than you'd imagine.

But if she's just sort of bleh about EVERYTHING in her life--if she has no hobbies, no passions, no outside interests...well, then she may be depressed. Either way, maybe having her talk to someone might help.


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Re: Need some womanly advice [fatbastardtris] [ In reply to ]
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>> I'm financially supporting her right now and did so even when she was working. <<

Why would she want to change things?

Damn--I need someone to support me so I don't have to work and could just train.

clm

clm
Nashville, TN
https://twitter.com/ironclm | http://ironclm.typepad.com
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Re: Need some womanly advice [fatbastardtris] [ In reply to ]
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This is going to sound bitchy and extreme, but... you don't respect her and you probably aren't a good match. She is in a bad place in her life and needs to grow and it's likely that you will be unable to help her grow. If you don't believe in her now, it will only get worse and your resentment will grow. There is a difference between supporting someone you believe in and financially supporting someone who doesn't have their shit together. I know, I dated someone who struggled to find themselves but I believed in him, even at the lowest point. I always respected him and thought he was capable of great success. This wasn't the case with other men. Now we are married and things are working out great, we both have fulfilling lives and we feel fortunate.

Best wishes to you, and to her, this is not an easy situation to be in.
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Re: Need some womanly advice [fatbastardtris] [ In reply to ]
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It sounds like there are multiple issues here.

1) You two have very different personalities. You are Type A, she is not. Neither is better nor worse, just different. Has she always been ok with being mediocre? If so, you will never (and shouldn't try to) change this. This is how she was put together, and if it doesn't jive with your core personality, it will only cause problems.

2) You say she is down about not having a job. This is a natural reaction, and it sounds like she needs support while trying to get back on her feet. You are happy to support her emotionally and financially while she searches for employment, which I applaud. Do you secretly resent her for not financially participating in the relationship? Is she doing her part to make up for this i.e. full time job searching?

I will say that I think the issue isn't her current problem (out of work for 6 weeks), but a fundamental difference in how you two approach the world. You can love someone very much and overlook major personality issues for a while, but they will always be a part of the relationship.

I wish the best for you.





Come crawling faster
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Re: Need some womanly advice [LovePugs] [ In reply to ]
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Do you secretly resent her for not financially participating in the relationship? Is she doing her part to make up for this i.e. full time job searching?

I'm trying not to but I think I do a little bit because she was so woefully unprepared financially for this setback. She is 31 and really had nothing set aside to help herself. She has always worked for non profit organizations though so I do understand a little bit. I think you nailed part of why I'm a little upset with her though. She keeps telling me that there are no jobs and I believe her. But sleeping in until 9 o'clock and then doing 3 hours of Yoga followed by an afternoon hanging with friends certainly isn't helping her find something. I want her to do these things to relieve her stress but there has to be a healthy mix. She has it in her head that there are no jobs so she isn't looking and I keep telling her that she will never find something with that attitude. For awhile she was acting like she was on vacation and that did bother me especially given the fact that she was JUST off all summer even though I encouraged her to get a summer job so she would have a little savings. To be fair, she has stopeed the "vacation" attitude since I pointed out the fact that it bothered me so I think we have moved on from that. But she told me that she wanted to try to drum up some business pet and/or house sitting. She even made up some flyers and passed them out one afternoon. That was 2 weeks ago and since she didn't get any calls back she has pretty much decided that she'll never be able to do that.

I think you guys are peobably right about her being depressed. I probably would be if I were in her situation which is why I'm trying to be as supportive as possible. I gave her an "assignment" today at lunch that I think might help her. I asked her to read "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People". I read that book 9 years ago and it really helped change my perspective on things. I told her I would re-read it with her and we could talk about some of his ideas. I think this will give me a really good avenue to discuss some of my concerns without coming across as unsympathetic.

Anyone have any other books I could suggest?
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Re: Need some womanly advice [DawnT] [ In reply to ]
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"I'm one of the few ST'ers who is not Type A."

I doubt that very much. It seems that nobody on ST has ever taken a Psychology 101 course. A true Type A personality is actually a recognized personality disorder by the American Psyychiatric Association and people on ST throw it around as if it's some sort of a badge of honor. True Type A's are people with serious deviations from the norm. They are the bosses, neighbors and spouses from hell.

Just because you do triathlons doesn't make anybody a Type A, and thank God for that.

"Type A individuals can be described as impatient, excessively time-conscious, insecure about their status, highly competitive, hostile and aggressive, and incapable of relaxation. They are often high achieving workaholics who drive themselves with deadlines, and are unhappy about the smallest of delays. Because of these characteristics, Type A individuals are often described as "stress junkies."

Symptoms of Type A Behavior
  1. An intrinsic insecurity or insufficient level of self-esteem, which is considered to be the root cause of the syndrome. This is believed to be covert and therefore less observable.
  2. Time urgency and impatience, which causes irritation and exasperation.
  3. Free floating hostility, which can be triggered by even minor incidents"

Last edited by: cerveloguy: Dec 11, 08 12:06
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Re: Need some womanly advice [cerveloguy] [ In reply to ]
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Firstly, I said I am *not* a Type A, so I think you were agreeing with me. :)

I understand what you're saying except that "Type A" has come to mean something more than the true definition as per psychiatrists. It has come to mean anyone who is obsessive/compulsive about their lives. I think many people who do triathlons, especially folks on ST, seem to take it very seriously and do everything they can to structure their lives to be successful in this sport. That, to me, is someone who shows Type A tendencies.
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Re: Need some womanly advice [DawnT] [ In reply to ]
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"That, to me, is someone who shows Type A tendencies"

But that's still not a true psychiatric definition. That's like saying that anybody who takes any other hobby somewhat seriously is also a type A. Both my wife and I are very much Type B's - quite laid back, but she's particularly is still very competitive about triathlon. There are Type AB's which show both types of characteristics. I'd suspect that may describe a fair number of people on this board, but true Type A's are people I tend tend to avoid as much as possible.
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Re: Need some womanly advice [fatbastardtris] [ In reply to ]
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Maybe "highly driven" instead of Type A.

Anyway... another book to try is "What Color is your Parachute" But make sure she actually sits down and writes down all the exercises. If you just sort of skim things, it won't have much effect.

BTW, I totally understand where you are coming from. It's a very tough job market, but people who are driven will make forward progress, and those who are not are likely to feel even more stuck. I'm actually going through this a bit with my hubby right now, as he lost his job (not fired, the company closed) but he's down and feeling stuck with what to do next.


----
Suffering on the the bike is always more fun than suffering on the run.
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Re: Need some womanly advice [fatbastardtris] [ In reply to ]
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Look back at what you wrote. Do you really think you two are compatible in the long run? Just loving her might not be enough.
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Re: Need some womanly advice [fatbastardtris] [ In reply to ]
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I REALLY hope you've asked her how you can help her rather than just giving advice and "homework". And since I'm sure you have asked her, how did she say you can help her?


______________________________________
I know I'm promiscuous, but in a classy way
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Re: Need some womanly advice [Velo E] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
Look back at what you wrote. Do you really think you two are compatible in the long run? Just loving her might not be enough.

+1

you can love a person regardless of who they are, but to actually have a productive long term relationship with them love is not enough, you need some basic compatibility: from the way you are talking it seems you two are like the ant and the butterfly...


--
A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
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Re: Need some womanly advice [fatbastardtris] [ In reply to ]
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I used to date a male version of your girlfriend. We dated for 5 years and for many of those I thought I would marry him.
When people ask me about my relationship with him, I say that he was the kind of guy who "shoots for the middle". When we started dating he seemed very motivated and excited about his life. I have always been an overachiever, I expect nothing less of myself. I'm very competitive and I get off on being the best at my job (makes me sound a little crazy, but its true).
Over the years, he became less and less interested in being successful. He started talking about moving back to the city where we're from and working at the same place he worked at in high school. This horrified me. He put me down for wanting the best grades, why shoot for anything over 50%? Whats wrong with doing whatever and driving a Toyota Corrola?
I have a pathetic need to please people. And as the years went on, I began to change my own life aspirations to please him. I was going to turn down free grad school to move back to that city and take an entry level job just because he was uncomfortable with anything else. At one point my sister-in-law said to me "what is he so afraid of?"
We broke up, and thank god for that. I have been able to "re-discover" myself, it and horrifies to think of how much I was going to give up for this person who was going to drag my down for the rest of my life. I have accomplished twice as much since we broke up than during those 5 years together. And I have a new boyfriend who leads by example, and makes me expect more from myself.

Do you think that she will change if she finds another job? Or, is this who she is, and it disappoints you?

She can talk about new jobs all she wants, but one onze of action beats a ton of words.
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Re: Need some womanly advice [cerveloguy] [ In reply to ]
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Actually, "type A" and "type B" "personalities" are descriptions of events. I wouldn't hang your hat on a construct like "personality," regardless of its hypothesized type.
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Re: Need some womanly advice [fatbastardtris] [ In reply to ]
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"I hate to put this on an Internet forum of all places "

After reading all the previous posts, including my own, maybe you should go elsewhere. There have been some good suggestions, but now you need to take it to the next level.

ST'ers can't even agree on bike fit let alone relationship issues.:-) Time to move on.
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Re: Need some womanly advice [Train] [ In reply to ]
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"type A" and "type B" "personalities" are descriptions of events. I wouldn't hang your hat on a construct like "personality," regardless of its hypothesized type.


I'm a little lost by your statement? Please explain? AFAIK "A", "B" and "AB" are clinical recognized personality descriptions. Not sure what you mean by "events"?
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Re: Need some womanly advice [cerveloguy] [ In reply to ]
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Please take the discussion of personality types to the LR. TIA.

type A clm

clm
Nashville, TN
https://twitter.com/ironclm | http://ironclm.typepad.com
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Re: Need some womanly advice [trackie clm] [ In reply to ]
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"Please take the discussion of personality types to the LR....type A clm "

Obviously you never took Psychology 101 either. Hey, but it's your forum lady. I'm out of here.
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