AUTHOR’S NOTE: This post was originally published by me as “The Weiner Epidemic: Disease of Disconnect” on June 16, 2011, and here we are five years later with a rather dissatisfying status quo.  Intelligent, grown adults saw a problem but were unable to successfully resolve the issue.  

The Weiner Epidemic: Disease of Disconnect (6/16/11)

So we now have a face and a name (with a capital W) to be the poster-child and fall-guy for the oft-maligned, yet essentially innocent word… weiner. As of this writing, Anthony Weiner has announced his resignation from Congress for sending lewd photos and sexts – via online means like Twitter – to at least six women who were not his wife. According to Weiner’s own admission, he has been engaging in this behavior both before and during his current year-long marriage to his wife, who is now in the early stages of pregnancy with their child. Since this “sex scandal” broke, he and his wife have not been seen together, and she has not attended any of his news conferences regarding the situation. The big Weiner, however, claims to have his wife’s full support and that the marriage is stable.

To refresh our memories, here are some other famous names associated with sex scandals that have forged the path for what I will heretofore refer to as The “Weiner” List: Edwards… Woods… Letterman… Spitzer… Clinton… Schwarzenegger…

Mr. Weiner is obviously in very good company.

A lot has been written lately about how these men may have succumbed (no pun intended) to the perils of power, lacked support for the stressors of a high-profile life, or found it difficult to face their ultimate fear of failure. And these explanations, among many others, are given by armchair psychologists as a way to explain this epidemic as one would the outbreak of disease.

We come up with explanations because we believe the following: We can treat the problem if we understand its cause.

But here’s the flaw in that logic. The power/stress/fear-of-failure triad is NOT THE CAUSE!

How do I know this, you ask? I know this because I am seeing The “Weiner” Epidemic not only every day in Everyday People in my psychology practice, but I am also seeing this in friends’ relationships, older adults, teens… The “Weiner” Epidemic seems to be an equal-opportunity “disease,” not only contracted by the powerful and high-profile. As Bill Maher so poignantly states, “We live in a dirty world,” and these are the dirty symptoms.

When I see a state of “disease” in my clients or the people in my life, I realize that there was obviously a missed opportunity at prevention. I think we as a society need to be better Predictors and Noticers and not wait until disease is present to realize something’s wrong. Very often, by the time we get to the treatment stage, it’s too late.

The disease here is an easily diagnosable one. And highly preventable if caught early. It’s the Disease of Disconnect.

Fact is: It’s not possible to have a healthy, loving relationship in a state of Disconnect. The words Disconnect and Relationship are antithetical.

Today people walk around in Disconnect from their partners, friends, spirituality.. even themselves. Disconnect in a relationship is a recipe for indifference, addiction, resentment, unhappiness, infidelity, and disaster.

The obvious cure for Disconnect is a Reconnect. We need to bring intimacy back, even more than we need to bring sexy back.

But we need to understand there’s a problem – a disease – in the first place. Acknowledging that a problem exists must come first. But, again, we must be accurate in diagnosing the problem.

By the time couples sit down in my office for relationship therapy, they have experienced Disconnect in their relationship that has very often been present since its inception. For some reason, we are not taught how to “be” in the truly important aspects of our lives, like being in a relationship or having children. Those topics are “private.” We are told they’re no one else’s business, even though the ramifications of their mishandling affect lots of people.

We are left to “wing it,” but our wings are broken. Or, more likely, they weren’t even formed to fly in the first place.

The real problem is that we don’t go into relationships with a plan – a blueprint for what a healthy relationship should look like. In our quest to not appear “judgmental,” we wind up with no opinion at all. But the judgment in order here is not about the specific details of the relationship (who, what, why); it’s about the overall quality of the relationship.

With respect to the quality of the relationship, most of us will say that we want a connected, intimate relationship, but when asked how one would go about ensuring that will happen, will have not a clue.

With all of our intelligence, information, and technology, we still don’t know how to get where we want to go in relationships.

The good news is that there are blueprints and “training manuals” for intimacy and relationships. This is the work I do, and I have witnessed first-hand how providing couples with a vision can turn around a relationship that has been diseased with Disconnect for decades.

And when a couple comes to me at the beginning of their relationship – understanding the importance of a good, solid foundation – what they are essentially doing is forming their wings for a successful flight through life together.

We simply must understand the need for these training manuals and implement them at the beginning of the process – not the middle or the end, when the Disconnect becomes more difficult to turn around. This training can then be passed from generation to generation, effectively replacing the “training” that’s being passed down in society today.

It doesn’t have to be a dirty world. We can change things, Bill Maher!

Text me to find out how.