Soapbox Therapy: Your Brain Is Cock-Blocking You

We’re funny. Serious. Smart. But sometimes in life we hide behind those things to protect ourselves from letting others get too close. Brooke explains more on being yourself without hiding behind yourself.

Dear Brooke,

I am new to the Primer world but I love what you do here.

I have dated a few girls over the last couple of years but nothing long term (less than 9 months all of them) and I am a 24 year old guy. Most of my lady friends have broken things off and the results were amicable (I could tell things were heading that direction and was unsurprised when “the conversation” happened).

They tell me I am too sarcastic, my humor is too dry. I am too serious. What hurts the most though, they said I was smart to the point that they didn’t want to talk to me because my conversation went over their head.

I work hard at everything I do, school being one of those things. Are they copping out with that last complaint on my personality?

I admit to being sarcastic, dry and occasionally serious, but I don’t want all these things to ruin my chances with women. Help?

Misery in Missouri


Dear M&M,

First of all, welcome to the Primer world darlin’! And I’d like to personally welcome you to Soapbox Therapy on Primer, where I do my damnedest to help modern men like you to be their most emotionally intelligent selves. Good times.

I take pride in not bull-shitting you, judging you, or wasting your time, so with that said, here’s my take on your sarcastic and smart self.

You might just be too sarcastic, too dry, too serious and too smart for some girls. But when it comes down to it, the healthiest relationship you’ll ever find yourself in will be the one where you’ll not only be able to be completely yourself, but you’ll be loved for it. There is in fact a woman out there with a killer vocab, a thing for dry humor, and a great ass to match. My belief is if you exist…she exists.

That being said…

The truth is, girls haven’t broken up with you because you’re too smart. Smart is sexy. They’ve broken up with you because something about the way you do smart is making them feel bad about themselves and uncomfortable around you.

So I’ll say this straight up. You might be smart as a whip, but it sounds like you’re not using that power for good, but for evil…against yourself. The truth is, your brain is cock-blocking you. (yes, I did just say that)

Often, intelligence and sense of humor are used as a go-to wall, or, a tool to keep yourself safe from feeling vulnerable — making sure people are at enough of a distance that it saves you from risking falling in love, only to get hurt. My sense is that this might be what’s going on for you.

There’s a pattern here with the way you are making women feel, and from where I’m sitting, it sounds like you’re afraid of something. Maybe you’re afraid of being hurt or rejected or turned down? What’s happening is that you are in fact hurting or rejecting or turning down others, before they get a chance to do it to you.

Let’s take sarcasm for example. Sarcasm is actually a really funny…defense mechanism. Sarcasm is a form of humor that puts others down, keeping them from feeling safe to get too close to you. People who overuse it are generally doing it (unconsciously) to keep people at a distance.

So, my advice…

First. Get curious about your feelings around getting hurt and being rejected. There’s probably a time in your life when you were hurt on a deep level—from parents getting divorced to having a horrible first break-up, it can show up anywhere. Think about that time, and find support to process it. My hunch is, you may think you’re over it, but it’s still taking up a lot of space in your life.

Second. Use your sexy brain for good, not evil. Be funny when you feel it. Be dry when you want. Be smart like you are. But, when it comes to starting a relationship, let your heart lead while your brain takes a break. Sure, you might get hurt. That’s the truth. But you also might fall in love…with someone who loves you for exactly who you are.

Thanks for you,

Brooke.

Born in Detroit and raised in Chicago, Brooke Miller, MA is now a San Francisco based advice columnist and relationship expert. Her column, Soapbox Therapy, has been called “ Raw, honest, thought-provoking, and wisely witty” by readers and critics and can be read in several publications including The SF Chronicle’ s affiliate, TheIsCollection, and Cheeky Chicago. Brooke supports clients all over the country via Skype and phone coaching sessions. She can be contacted at brooke(a)primermagazine.com.