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Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 10.37.39 AMDear Dr. Darcy: 

My best friend always has her panties in a twist over someone or something. She’s always fighting with one of our friends, always pissed off at someone or causing someone to get mad at her. She shares her business (aka, talks shit) with anyone who will listen and almost never asks about anyone else’s life. I’ve seen about six friends part ways with her in the two years that we’ve been very close and I’m beginning to see why they do it (I’m a slow learner). I really think I finally need some distance from her. Is it wrong to end a friendship because it’s draining?


People either fuel your life or suck the fuel out of your life – they either contribute or they take away. Your BFF sounds like my worst nightmare. But be warned: You don’t want to become the next focal point of her drama, so the way you handle this is very important.

There’s no need to make declarative announcements such as I’ve decided we can’t be best friends anymore because that sort of statement will provoke a tsunami of drama from Drama. Find yourself busy more often than not. Cut your outreach down by half, then again in half in a month. Repeat until you have enough distance that you can breathe.

Now that we’ve solved that issue, it’s time to ponder why you were attracted to this type of person, and in particular, how you came to choose her as a best friend. The answer to this question will illuminate data about you – not her. We attract like-minded people into our lives and repel those who are incongruent. If you don’t excavate this issue, you’ll find yourself in a relationship with a new person with whom you’ll have similar problems, so get to work. It’s all about you.

Writer’s Stats: Male, Gay.

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Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 11.00.01 AMWe suck at picking partners. We’re more likely to end in divorce court than to live happily ever after. It’s not that we’re looking for perfection – I’m not intending to insult our collective intelligence. We understand that we won’t be happy every moment of every day for the rest of our lives. We get that some of our partner’s habits will likely become bothersome over time.

We marry for all the wrong reasons. Our society doesn’t teach us how to succeed in relationships. Most of us have the same level of self-awareness at 13 that we’ll have at age 50. We have some profoundly outdated ideas about things we should and shouldn’t ask our partners before getting married. We pick our partners based entirely on emotions and almost always in the absence of empirical data. We rely on how we feel to determine when it’s right, but what we don’t realize is that what feels right is almost always a sense of familiarity which is rooted in our family history – something that most of us can at least consciously agree we wouldn’t want a repeat performance of.

This post is less about why we suck at picking partners and more about what to do to before you commit. Don’t want to become a statistic? Follow my guidelines below. Warning: Today’s tips are not romantic, nor are they for the fainthearted.

  1. Do your own work. What does this mean? It means get into real therapy with a very gifted therapist and if you can’t find the suggested therapist, dive into personal development as though your life, or in this instance, your marriage, depends on it, because it absolutely does. And stay there until you, A) know all your worst attributes, B) know all your ISSUES and TRIGGERS around shame, jealousy, anger, abandonment, insecurity, authority, money, control, infidelity, and boredom, C) you’ve worked through this mountain of personal baggage. This won’t take months. It will take years. If you’re very diligent, maybe you can do the bulk of it in two, but that’s super optimistic and it presumes a level of self-motivation that the vast majority of us lack.

Does this mean that when you’re done you’ll be issue-free? No. It means that on a scale of 0-10, 10 being bat shit crazy and 0 being completely neutral, generally speaking none of your ISSUES or TRIGGERS can jack you up beyond a 3 or a 4, and on the rare occasion that you do reach above a 4, you have tried-and-true coping mechanisms to self-sooth, ie, you do not rely on your partner to fix the way you feel – you know how to do it yourself.

This is perhaps the hardest work we’ll ever do in life and hands down the most important. Having this skill set divides emotionally intelligent adults from emotional amoebas. And because most of us are too lazy to do this work, our divorce rate hovers at just over 50% for first marriages, 60% for second marriages and 73% for third marriages, according to the US Government, CDC, linked to here.

  1. Wait. Don’t commit too soon. Most of us do it while we’re still in the honeymoon phase of our relationships – when our brains are still so soaked with mind-altering chemicals which we secrete when we fall in love that, under these circumstances, we shouldn’t select a paint color for a room let alone a partner for life. I advise couples to wait a minimum of a year before committing and only if within that year each partner has been the caregiver for the other during a stomach virus.
  1. Visit your partner’s shrink. They don’t have one, you say? Never had one? Run for the hills. This is a hard pill for a lot of you to swallow, but I daresay we are no better able to figure ourselves out than we are able to drill our own cavities. Your partner is no emotional genius. No one is. We need someone in our life to hold a mirror up to us and tell us the things that no one else will. That’s the job of a shrink.

Upon visiting said shrink, ask him/her what your partner’s triggers are – unresolved issues are – and ask the shrink what type of personality their patient would be most compatible with. That this sounds crazy is in and of itself fucking crazy. Marrying is among the most significant commitments you’ll make in your life, and yet we blanch at the thought of asking to speak with the only person remotely qualified to provide us with this necessary data? Would you rather be polite and divorced by year 7?

  1. Exchange credit reports. Exchange tax returns for the past 5-years. Disclose all of your finances. You should know every debt, asset and dollar that your partner has and vice versa. Discuss how financial responsibilities will be divided. Discuss financial goals. Be specific.
  1. Discuss and determine how household responsibilities will get completed. Who will cook? Who will clean? Who will run errands? Are you willing to live with your partner’s housekeeping habits as they stand today? Newsflash: those habits are as likely to change as your partner’s political views.
  1. Plan to breed? Make sure you’re on the same page with this issue. Discuss your respective parenting philosophies. How will you handle misbehavior? What are your expectations about grades and performance? Who will shoulder the majority of care giving responsibilities? How will you learn how to parent (we’re actually not born parents – it’s a skill set that we’re taught…or not taught)?

Choosing a partner is a subjective and emotionally driven decision. I understand that this is unlikely to change anytime soon. However, I submit that upon making that selection, emotionally intelligent adults examine partners through a lens of long-term compatibility standards. Our society needs to develop some way in which the masses can measure and rely upon results that confirm the sustainability of their relationships. Colleagues, this is a call to action – a need for specialization: a goldmine yet to be tapped.

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Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 11.29.33 AM“A white woman was accidentally impregnated with a black donor’s sperm. Now she’s suing.”

“White Lesbian Couple Starts Family, Comes With Unwanted Blackness.”

“White Ohio Woman Sues Over Sperm From Black Donor.”

It all sounds repugnant, and I don’t dispute that there may be some primordial racism fueling the lawsuit of Jennifer Cramblett, the white Ohio woman who is suing a sperm bank for impregnating her with a black donor’s sperm, but don’t let race distract you from the central issue: The sperm bank fucked up. Colossally. To me it’s indisputable – and personal.

Steph and I decided to start a family two years ago. We decided that I’d carry. It felt like a more natural fit with my gender identity and because of my complicated family genetics (you’ll need to read my memoir to get that story), I wanted a child biologically related to me; one who had a chance of looking like me.

After three months of testing, our doctor at NYU Fertility determined that my body was good-to-go and he informed us that I’d get my first insemination the following month, so it was “time to pick a sperm donor!”

This process of picking a sperm donor, by the way, would have made a great reality show. I am the most controlling human being on the planet, a Virgo to the nth degree, detail-oriented to the point of sometimes meeting criteria for OCD, and historically speaking, I can’t make a decision when there’s too many options. We had about a week to decide on the paternal genetics of our future children, and when I tell you we had an almost infinite amount of options for who the donor would be, I am not exaggerating.

Sperm donation is big business folks. The ‘banks’ as they’re called, are FDA approved, and they house every combination of intelligence, physical health, mental health, race, culture, religion, education, eye color, hair color, height, weight, talent and aptitude that one can imagine. If you can think it, there’s a good chance that some college-aged kid who meets your exact criteria has donated his sperm in exchange for some spending money.

It took us about five days to decide on our sperm donor (we only had 7), after having purchased additional information (ala carte, of course) about his medical history, his psychological history, his ACT score, a personality test, and of course, an adult photo. I’d read somewhere that we are more likely to conceive with people who we’d be attracted to in real life. So I picked a guy who looks like my wife, Steph. We called him Boy-Steph.

Our story doesn’t have the ending that we wanted – but that’s not the point. Here’s the point: If sperm banks don’t want to be held accountable for giving aspiring parents the exact sperm that they sign up for, they shouldn’t offer options. This isn’t about race. It’s about accountability and taking responsibility for the fact that these sperm banks have God-like control over their client’s future children.

I have a family member who’s husband’s sperm were slow swimmers – the cure for which involved taking the sperm, spinning it, and inseminating her. There’s a lot of trust that goes into getting inseminated. Can you imagine if she had been inseminated with the wrong man’s sperm?

I have another family member who used a donor egg to conceive her child. Her process of choosing said donor was as laborious as my own in picking a sperm donor. I can’t begin to wrap my head around the heartache she’d have suffered if after the emotional tsunami of choosing a donor, she’d been impregnated with the wrong donor’s egg.

It’s akin to being sent home from the hospital with the wrong fucking infant, people, but worse: You can return the wrong infant, but what happened to this family can’t be reversed.

Here’s another point that you probably haven’t considered (because the only people who would consider it are those who go through this miserable process):

Some of that pre-insemination testing that I underwent was intended to identify any chromosomal abnormalities that I was a carrier for. Lots of people are carriers for a genetic abnormality but it only becomes a problem if both the man and the woman are carriers. What if I had been a carrier of a genetic abnormality and I had specifically chosen a sperm donor who wasn’t a carrier, but because the sperm bank fucked up, I wound up inseminated with the wrong sperm and became pregnant with a child who had that genetic abnormality. You know, two lesbians can’t bump in the night to become pregnant – we have to go through a very complicated and expensive process to breed. The upside to that process is that we get to choose the exact genetics of the sperm.

That said, I disagree with Cramblett’s choice to go public with her story. If she were politically minded, or if she actually gave a shit about being a role model for the LGBT community, she would have kept quiet. This kind of publicity is not the kind our movement needs, specifically because race is involved and any imbecile could have predicted that it would become a distracting variable.

If Cramblett were thinking long-term, as dare I say any parent should about the effects this fiasco will have on her child in terms of her racial identity, her family identity, and of how this will effect her socially, she certainly wouldn’t have done this.

So let it be known that I think Cramblett’s decision to sue the sperm bank was ill conceived (pun intended), outrageously selfish and a bad decision for all involved. Still, what that sperm bank did was inexcusable – and they should pay multiples of the 50K that this couple is asking for.

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