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I worked a psychic hotline for a while. Actually, it was an app—think Uber for psychics. I could turn it on and work when I wanted. People would call me up and pay by the minute. They would ask their question, I’d pull tarot cards, or read their energy and then they’d be on their way. That’s right—there’s a gig economy for psychics too!
The thing about psychic hotline callers is that they’re usually heartbroken. 80% of the calls had to do with romantic despair over their partner, potential partner, or lack of partner. They wanted answers. Sometimes, people really just wanted someone to listen.
When I started working the hotline, I was single and looking. By the end, I had begun a relationship, and somehow the calls shed light on my own romantic behaviors. As a self-identified empowered woman, I felt sad for how readily the female hotline callers would give up their own power for “love.” But, I’d return to my own life after working the hotline only to realize that I was doing something similar in my own relationships! While they were paying me to pass the psychic guidance to them, the Universe was really giving me these same messages. It’s hard to see yourself, so sometimes people are brought to you to let you witness the insanity of your own behaviors.
Whether you’re on the prowl or nested, I hope you find something in these lessons that lets you reflect on your own romantic behaviors. (And, a huge thank you to the women and men who helped me learn these lessons. May you find the courage to love yourself, and find a partner who is deserving of the person you are, and the love you give!)
Women love love so much, they will patiently wait for a ghoster to call them back. It breaks my heart. These love interests disappear into thin air, never to text them back again, and yet they ask, “Will they come back?”
My immediate reaction is to blurt out, “Why would you want someone to call you back, who was so disrespectful to you?!” Of course, that’s easy for me to say as an observer. But, truth is that I’ve gone back to people who’ve done worse.
Unfortunately, ghosting is the latest communication tool, and I’ve found it to be one of the first signs of disrespect. If someone can’t handle a measly text or call back, how are they going to be as a partner? Even if it’s a casual hook-up, can’t we do it with respect?
In my own life, I’ve learned that ghosting (in any type of relationship) means “no.” I know that hurts, but really, they’re doing us a favor. If they’re ghosting us, they’re not really for us. It doesn’t matter the exact reason. Because either a) this is a person that’s unable to be present, respectful, and have emotional maturity to tell the truth; or b) the answer is “no” and they don’t know how to say it in a kind way.
I learned the latter being a ghoster myself on a few select occasions. I’ll admit it! I have ghosted. And sometimes, as the ghoster, I feel silence can be the better answer, if there’s nothing good to say. It’s a way of setting boundaries that spares another person’s feelings with space and air, rather than more bad ju-ju.
Either way, we gotta let ghosters lie. I’ve seen enough horror movies to know, it’s usually best to not to mess with ghosts!
It is concerning to me the staggering number of women who asked me the following sequence of questions.
Is my partner cheating on me?
Follow-up question: Will we get married?
Follow-up question: Will we have kids?
Even if the answer to the first question is “no,” if you’re asking the question, you gotta wonder if there may be some trust issues in the relationship. Either your partner is truly untrustworthy, or you feel you can’t trust them based on your own past experiences with exes. Your fear of trust may be valid. But, trust is an important foundational component in a healthy marriage or commitment, and not something to gloss over when saying “I do” forever.
Hey, I’m not hatin’ because I’ve done it myself. Our desire for love can cause us to ditch trust and simply endure the constant nagging anxiety of distrust—which is no way to live. As I look at my past relationships, trust was missing in one way or the other, and yet I kept going because I didn’t want to be alone.
In my current relationship, we’re building some major trust, and it feels fantastic. Because of this, I want people to know that a trusting relationship is possible! Building trust in a relationship is a two-person job. It’s done through courage, sharing, vulnerability, action, and the passage of time.
Part of trust-building is noticing. Do they listen? Do they do what they say? Make sure to appreciate when they do! That means—thank them when they call when they’re late, or when they put the toilet seat down, or whatever it is you ask of them. Not only will they feel recognized, you’re validating it for yourself that this is a trustworthy person. Probably the hardest part of building trust is that you must extend a little faith to the other person to give them the time and space to show up for you. We can’t really see trust unless we give at least a little bit of it for them to work with. Sometimes, we fear that our trust will be broken so much that we jump to control, before they even have time to show us their trustworthiness.
If I want a true partner who is reflective of my inner trustworthiness I must examine my integrity and honesty. Do I tell little lies? Do I keep secrets? Sometimes we do these things without thinking about it. To have a truly trustworthy relationship, we both have to be willing to hold each other in a loving and caring regard without one person taking too much or too little. Trust will grow, but it can take time and patience.
If a partner isn’t willing to do that, one must ask—do we really want to marry and have kids with this person? At this point in my life, my answer is emphatically, no way! But maybe that’s just me.
(Side note: everything below can apply to any gender, but I’m highlighting here the non-emotional, strong-person societal programming that is particularly aimed at men.)
We always assume that if a man is distant, quiet, and slightly inattentive, they’re cheating. I’m not saying cheating men don’t exist—they most certainly do. But, men can also simply be having a hard time and need space to figure themselves out. Male callers would regularly bring up how hard it is to talk to their wives about their worries and concerns. They feel they are their partner’s rock. They’re expected to be strong and unwavering in the face of obstacles. In the past when they’ve brought up concerns to their wives, it’s upset them. They’ve learned to avoid the conversation.
Reading men has given me an inside look at the male experience, and to be honest, it’s a bit sad! As a former man-hater, I made a surprising discovery while working the hotline: men have feelings too! They are just as overwhelmed, confused and lost as we are, but we don’t expect (or allow) them to be. Seeing their experience in this way has helped me put aside my own stubbornness and have compassion for men who feel like they must suffer in silence.
I’ve found that men often deal with overwhelm, a hard time, or grief by silently running away to hide. This behavior is otherwise known as: ghosting, avoidance, playing video games for hours, being gone for hours with no explanation which makes it look like they’re doing something shady.
I’m not saying that we should excuse behavior that crosses boundaries, but I’ve learned that if a man is distant, it’s not always about you. I tell them I’m there for them if they need to talk, express my concern, and give them the space to open up when they’re ready.
And, btw! I know I’ve been guilty of using any excuse to chase emotionally unavailable men, so remember this! If they ghosted you or disrespected you in some way, it’s still not okay. Just ‘cause they’re sad does not override their poor behavior.
If you haven’t gathered yet, I’m a fan of boundaries. Sometimes, we fall into toxic, codependent traps with jerks who disrespect us, and yet we keep going back. I’ve advised plenty of women on and off the hotline to walk away and close the door because sometimes hard boundaries are what we need.
Still, each situation is different and “Fuck ‘em, close the door” should not be blanket advice for all troubled relationships. Reading a variety of women has shown me that empowerment can look very different for each person. What’s empowered for one person is completely wrong for another.
Our friends are not trying to steer us the wrong way. They’re giving us advice based on their own experience that may or may not be the same as yours. Your situation is different because you are a different person, and so is your partner. Each scenario is specific to you. Your feelings are specific to you. And what’s important to you, is specific to you.
Sometimes we think we’re confused, but we’re not. We know exactly what’s best for us, but we don’t want to go against what our friend advised because we love our friends and we don’t want to go off the herd and do our own thing. Be aware that if your intuition is telling you something different than what your friends are saying, it’s okay to trust it. Ultimately, only we know what’s right for us. It’s okay if your form of empowerment is different from your friends’.
As you can imagine, there’s a lot of marriage talk on the hotline. And, I have to be honest. The question “Does my partner want to get married?” frustrates me. Of course my frustration has nothing to do with an anxious caller, and everything to do with my own self-sabotaging habit of trying to guess my partner’s wants and analyzing their every move. I drive myself crazy when alls I gotta do is put my big girl pants on and ask them directly.
For those of us who fear abandonment, this kind of vigilance is a strategy. We anticipate our partner’s wants so we can adjust ours to be theirs, hoping to avoid hurt when they want something different. In the past, I would compromise anything in order to not be abandoned. The upside of this strategy is that our partners stay with us. The downside is that we get nothing we want or need from the relationship. How’s that for compromise?
I’ve had to do a lot of work on getting clear on what it is I truly want and communicating to my partner about what I need from the relationship. In every relationship, there’s always some compromise, and we can’t control everything. But some stuff is really, really important, and that’s the stuff we shouldn’t compromise. If the relationship affects our ability to be aligned with these core values, it makes us anxious to not live in alliance with our truth. Get clear on what this may be for you. Owning a few non-negotiables can be empowering!
Rev. Bonnie Ho is a spiritual counselor, energy reader, and author of the Living in the Third Eye column for Jumble & Flow. After spending most of her adult life trying to prove her own worth through an analytical career, Bonnie found a spiritual path that led her back to herself and her own heart. Now, Bonnie aims to help others heal their wounds, find their joy, and embrace their intuition and true desires, in a grounded, balanced way.
Bonnie is available for spiritual guidance and energy readings. Visit bonniehoinsights.com to learn more.
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