|June 15, 2003||Personal Advice Columns|
Personal Advice Column
Dear Mrs. Web,
I am a 20 year old college student. I have been involved with my boyfriend for 9 months, and prior to that we knew each other for 6 years.
We are now having problems. I do not want to spend any time with him. I think this is a result of his unwillingness to consider that I am taking on a double course-load at college so I can graduate a year early. When I tell him I have to stay home and do homework, he gets very whiny and complains that he won't get to see me. Between my school work and his demands I rarely have any time to myself to work out or do anything else I like to do.
I am very annoyed with him because he seems to lack ambition. I am a very ambitious person...I want to change the world. Although I don't expect everyone to have the same motivation, he seems to have none. He is twenty-four and seems perfectly content to continue living at home. We have discussed buying house together in the future, and I came up with a plan to save money for a down payment hoping that he could plan to match my savings. When I told him about my plan and asked him what he would do, he said he would sell his bike. That is a big sacrifice for him, but he might get $1,000 out of it as compared to the $4500 I was planning on saving.
Currently he is in an extremely low paying job, but he hopes to land an electrician apprenticeship. The only thing he has to do before applying for the apprenticeship is finish an algebra course he is taking online...which he won't do! He refuses to do the work, even with my help. I understand not enjoying a required course but he does have to doe it to meet the ultimate goal.
I am working hard to ensure myself a better life by going to school and I plan to continue my education starting right after graduation. By the time I am his age, I will have 2 B.S. degrees and will be working on my graduate degree.
Although I understand that school
isn't the path for everyone, I am afraid that I will put
myself through all of this to try to make my life better and wind up with a
man who can barely make it through. I want to be
comfortable in life. How can I talk to him about this without making him think
I don't think he makes enough money? Are these differences reconcilable?
Let's be honest, you don't think he will make enough money.
Marry your equal or better. You have drive and he doesnít. Some one who has a similar vision, and is willing to work for it.
Do you want him to be a stay-at-home father? If not, find someone with more push, not an anchor.
People with your kind of drive will also benefit by reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Dear Mrs. Web,
I am a 27 year old married guy who made the worst mistake of his life. I allowed myself to be seduced into a brief liaison with my old girlfriend.
I know how terrible this was. I know that I shattered my wife's trust. To make it worse, I knew that this woman was bad news for me. I don't know how I let her get to me. I am not a chronic chaser.
While we are together physically, my wife seems very emotionally restrained. She even undresses in a different room. I know I did wrong. I want to try to repair the damage I've caused. Weíre together but were not together. What can I do to mend fences?
You broke her trust. Her behaviors betray her emotions. A woman loves from the center of her being. When she is betrayed or hurt she goes into physical shutdown.
She has agreed to live with you but not to open her heart to you. You are right; forgiveness has only half-happened here. Now it is time for the emotional healing.
You may need a third party to help you, such as a marriage counselor. On the other hand, you may be able to work it out together. When a marriage trust is breached, you have more to do than confessing and asking for forgiveness. You have to rebuild the trust. It is a bit like the trust building that occurs when you first fall in love with someone. It consists of keeping her first in you thoughts and showing it. Long talks, dates, and more talk.
Do things you both enjoy together. Put other issues on hold, make her, and repairing your marriage the number one priority in your life. Look at my Ideas for Couples and Topics to Discuss with your beloved for ideas on how to spend time and reopen emotional intimacy. Keep in touch.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I dated this guy for only a week and we really clicked. Then there was a misunderstanding. A friend told me lies about him and I freaked out. I scared him off.
I tried to mend things with e-mails, a few phone calls, etc. He responds and he's nice but he doesn't make any effort. I know he likes me, but he was hurt. I cannot stop thinking about him, and I feel like I am chasing him. What should I do?
You have done everything you can. Sometimes due to circumstances, things donít work out. Let it go. You are obsessing about him. It is time to think about something else. There are many wonderful men out there.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I have been involved with a man who has been divorced three years after 11 years of marriage. His ex-wife left him for another woman. We had interwoven our lives, friends, and family, including our children. We had become intimate. I don't want to marry him and he doesn't want to get married although we both said we would live with someone.
Six months into the relationship he said he needed space. He wanted to see other friends and "get himself together, but wanted to remain my friend." I pulled back. I said I understood although I was crushed.
This autumn he called and we had a few dates. He said he was not interested in a relationship at this time because he was buying a boat, but when he was ready, he wanted to have one with me. I have been trying to be sensitive to his needs. I think he was hurt and is afraid of these feelings. I donít know what to do.
You have a man who has been unable to be close to you without pulling back from the relationship. In the meantime, you stand with arms open letting him come and go in your life, not asking for much, taking the crumbs and hoping for love and some undefined futureÖ He wants love and is afraid of any commitment. You want love with no commitment. In my opinion, neither one of you is a safe bet.
Relationships require many things but the foundation is commitment. You donít deposit your money in a bank that wonít guarantee it will be there next week, month, or year. You donít place your hearts in the care of someone who canít promise he/she will be there in the future.
I understand he has been hurt. We have all been hurt. There comes a time we stop nursing our wounds and risk everything again. I think you both need to make a decision.
Dear Mrs. Web,
She said that she did it to get rid of him and so he would stop trying. She has lied about this incident for the whole time that I've known her. The only reason I know today is because I made her "promise to God" that the guy didn't kiss her. She lied at first but later broke down with the truth. I have known for a month now and her lying bothers, me even though she has begged for forgiveness and swears she will change. What do you think of the situation?
I think she was not able to be truthful with you because she was afraid of your extreme reaction, and she was right. It is inappropriate and out of bounds.
Stop clubbing her with God and stop bullying her. People sometimes do things they would not normally do because they feel stuck in a no-win situation: Like kissing an insistent boor, or lying to a bully.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I have been dating the same guy for nearly 3 years. Heís meant absolutely everything to me, and weíve done so much together. We have been in college, camp counselors, and wonderful vacations together. I was so much in love with him, and have spent many special moments with him. We planned to be married.
In the past few months, our relationship has changed. Heís left me feeling neglected. He stopped doing all of the cute, sweet romantic things he used to do and we both began to take each other for granted. Two weeks ago, we decided to take a break from our relationship. I have been sort of seeing someone who I know likes me and Iím definitely interested.
I keep feeling that I am doing the wrong thing by seeing the other man. I feel as though I should be going back to my boyfriend instead to try to resolve our problems. Do you have any advice?
The honeymoon is over. Too bad you didnít wait until you were married to have it.
You have had an emotionally and physically intimate relationship with a young man for three years. You are not married and therefore have no real binding force in your relationship except your feelings. Feelings change. It sounds like they have cooled for the both of you.
Dear Mrs. Web,
My fiancť is very irritable and when we argue which is whenever we are together and away from the children. He becomes angry and says hurtful things. Later he asks me to forget it. He claims he was just mad, and didn't mean anything. I have a hard time forgiving him and getting over our battles. I think he has many of the symptoms of depression. He has finally gone to our doctor for some anti-depressants. I am hoping this stops his anger. Do you think I am wishing on a star or could the medication help his anger?
Well, if his irritability is caused by depression, it may help him. If his irritability and lashing out is caused by lack of character and an unwillingness to learn how to change, you have a long, miserable life ahead. Anger management, and communications skills education as a centerpiece of coupleís counseling may be a good first step to address this issue.
Dear Mrs. Web,
Otherwise, is seems some want intelligent women, for others, it is not a major requirement. Some like independent women, others want cling-ons. Some place an inordinate emphasis on physical beauty, others really donít care or prefer an inner beauty (Sometimes a beauty only they can see.).
So I donít think there is a list that works with every single guy. The best way to explore the subject is to ask the favorite guy what he thinks most men look for in a woman and then ask how his list would be similar/different.
Dear Mrs Web,
I have been dating a wonderful woman, with 2 children. We have dated over 8 months. I sleep at her house on weekends. My son is with his mother weekends so I can leave home. She is a wonderful woman and someday we hoped to become more committed. She has said she loves me.
The oldest child is 9. I like both the children but the 9-year-old tend to midnight visits. When I told him that our bedroom should be for adults and he should go to his room, he got mad. I donít know what he said to his mother but she told me that our romance would have to end. She didnít invite me to dinner Friday as per usual and I have been told I will no longer spending the night with her. What happened? What can I do?
You are telling me that when you put some limits on the 9 year-old about closing the motherís bedroom off to him, the relationship cooled. Sir, you came between a mother and her kid. Bad place to be.
You are in an uncommitted relationship with this woman with a "Maybe somedayÖfuture." You have no grounds and no standing in this family. You are a sex add-on feature, her good friend and love bug. Friends come and go, and one can love a teddy bear too. These words donít mean much to me.
You are also in a relationship with a woman who would let an uncommitted man into her bed and play house with her family. In my opinion, this is a woman with inappropriate boundaries and poor judgment. If you want someone to love you back, be in relationships where you have some standing and influence. Make a commitment and get married.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I like this girl. She has been hurt so many times she will not give in to me. I want her and cannot stop thinking about her. How can I get her?
Not with Dear Mrs. Webís help, you... bounder, you...! Dear Mrs Web does not believe for one moment that having uncommitted sex is good for this poor girl (or you). Of course, she will be hurt, and so will you, on one level or another. Uncommitted emotional and physical relationships have made her rightfully fearful.
Dear Mrs Web supports courtship as an option for men and women. An increasing number of thoughtful dating aged singles are becoming involved. Look in my bookshelf for more information.
Dear Mrs. Web,
Why doesnít any one ever have any sympathy for the mistress? I never chased him; I never looked for a married man. I did not want to take anyone's husband away. He chased me. He told me that his wife didn't love him. He told me that he loved me and only me.
Only now does he tell me - after two years - that his wife owns half his business, and he can't leave or he would have nothing left. So what do I do? I really love him. I would do anything for him Ė I wait for his calls and wonder what he is doing every minute of the day. I am so lonely.
Letís first take some responsibility here. He chased you. You, my dear, could have ended it before it started. Just because you are chased doesnít ever mean you have to give in. Being chased by a married man is a predictable occurrence in the lives of most single women.
Heís a bounder and a cad. Men who step out on their wives are liars. Why would you ever think he would not lie to you?? One chooses oneís future forever love based on good character. He flunks.
Discrimination is needed to discern a man who would be good for your life. Any woman who bases her life plans on a married man needs to have a strong dose of reality: He isnít going anywhere. Thatís why heís still married.
Women who have affairs with married men seem to not understand that marriage is much more than a sexual relationship. People are not necessarily happy in their committed relationships. The connections of marriage run deeper then love, and for many people, are more important.
That all said, my heart goes out to you. You must be lonely and sad. I am sorry. It is time you to stop worshiping this man (Dear Mrs Web defines any inappropriate centering of oneís life around something or someone as worship.) and begin building yourself a new life, one with a future.
Dear Mrs. Web,
How right or wrong was it for me to tell my boyfriend of 3 1/2 years, that at times I feel as if he means more to me than I mean to him. I explained myself by pointing out some of the things he does (or doesnít do) that make me feel less important in his life.
I also pointed out that I do a lot for him, and his dog. I just donít want to be taken for granted. I said all this in a calm tone, no yelling - just a casual conversation.
I donít think "wrong" is the word. "Productive" might work better. I am not sure this kind of confrontation is productive unless presented with examples of how he could show his caring. Without this information, he is working in a vacuum.
Men tend to ignore womenís needs to be cherished unless directly addressed. I would get out of the blaming place and find the ways you both show love.
I have a great book on my web site bookshelf called The Five Love Languages. The author works with this issue in detail. I recommend you read it.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I am totally perplexed. I am 40 years old and have plenty of dates. However, no one ever calls back for a second date. They all say how much they enjoyed the evening, my company, say they want to see meÖ and I never hear from them again.
I have even left voice mail for two different gentlemen and never received a return call. I donít know what I am doing wrong. I want a relationship. Please lend some insight.
This is not an uncommon complaint. Well, let us begin with the obvious issue. No man, unless he is a complete boor, is going to say any thing but positive things to a woman he is dropping off after a date. Men donít do that. They usually donít confront issues like this. Men are better read by their actions, in my opinion
I have not been dating you, so I donít know why you are not progressing in your relationships. I would ask a truly honest friend for their opinion.
In addition, you could try behaving somewhat differently than you usually do, if talkative, being somewhat more quiet and vice versa. That old chestnut about men needing to be drawn out and listened to still applies in year 2001.
Dating is shopping and frankly, I think there are other and better ways to meet people and highlight your assets as well as discover more about them. Volunteer organizations, classes, and political work are good places to begin.
You obviously have what it takes to get dates, and that is more than many people can say. So dig a little bit and see if the above sheds light. You could read The Rules or Love Tactics for additional insight.
Dear Mrs. Web:
I know that women are supposed to be supportive and positive always around their men. However, I would like sometimes to express how am I am feeling. There are days when I have to put on a happy face even when I am feeling sad.
How appropriate is it for me to say how I am feeling to my boyfriend? Today I found myself wondering what on earth I am doing with my life?
I think being open, vulnerable, and transparent are all-necessary for deep intimacy. Admitting honestly oneís fears and concerns as well as asking your beloved about his feelings in these areas move relationships to deeper levels. We are not all surface, but have many levels of self. There are times to set aside the pretty masks we have constructed for public view and show our hearts and tender places to each other.
There is a profound difference between whining and being open. Whining is complaining, being open is putting your issues on the table and admitting they scare or frustrate or whatever they do to you. In these cases, you would be looking for empathy and understanding, not sympathy or pity.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I had a difficult marriage with a man who was, at the end, untrustworthy and cruel. It has been over three years since we divorced and I am still struggling. I attending university, work, and raise one child. It is very hard.
A man is interested in me. I have known him for years. My first priority is to my daughter and I know this man really likes my daughter but I am so scared. My daughter likes him too. He is a decent and caring person and very understanding but I keep putting him off.
Whenever I say to myself that it's okay to get involved, I get afraid and withdraw. I really don't know what to do. I shy away from physical contact and any emotional commitment.
I am terrified of getting hurt, and worse, my daughter getting hurt again. I feel that most times my emotions are on a roller coaster and theyíre out of control. I really need the advice.
When you are badly hurt and trust has been killed, you need to recover. Time, sometimes counseling, and approaching new relationships in small steps all help.
Many universities have counseling centers where people could help you forge a place of trust in your heart again. Your new beloved may be the right person for you to trust again.
My only caveat is that sometimes we pick the same situation or same kind of man. Other times we choose someone so opposite just as a reaction. Both kinds of reflexive choices are not good, thoughtful, loving, choices.
Take you time with this new man. Spend time with him. Use my Questions for Couples to get to know him better. Take time to learn whether he is the sort of man who will protect, honor, and love you forever.
Dear Mrs. Web:
I would like your input (although I'm sure I will not like the response). I am having a difficult time. I have been divorced twice and am now engaged to a wonderful man. He is just like me in many ways and he offers me a wonderful and comfortable life.
I recently met and fell absolutely in love with a man I met who lives quite a distance away. He makes my heart, and all the other important parts, zing. He leads an equally comfortable, but very different life.
I donít know him very well, just seven days on a vacation. If I were to leave my fiancť to explore a life with this new man, I would lose my fiancť and perhaps my 'love' wouldnít work. Momma said last night, if I just listen to my heart I will come to the right choice. I am confused.
I think the zinging has scrambled your thoughts. You are having trouble making a choice. It sounds like you have not decided the kind of life you want, or the kind of man you want to share it with. You seem to be running on emotions instead of head and heart knowledge. Listening to our hearts is important, but we must also use our brains.
You also seem to subscribe to the prevalent notion that being "in love" is important to long- term relationships. This is, of course, false.
"In love" is an emotional state of being. On the other hand, loving someone is a decision you make, sometimes hourly when the going gets tough, to commit yourself forever to your beloved. Moreover, when you make that decision, other possibilities close.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I am living with a man who has been divorced for 5 years. There are no children. They were briefly married after a long time together in college. My boyfriend considers his ex-wife one of his best friends and had been active in her life. Her picture still hangs in his study. He said that he had loved her very much and she left him.
When I moved in, I asked him to severe ties with her. He assured me he loves me but I still felt that her presence in his life would make it difficult to establish the intimacy I wanted. He agreed somewhat resentfully, and said he didn't feel it was necessary.
Did I do the wrong thing by asking him to end their friendship? I have told him that once we have a steady foundation maybe their friendship can resume. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.
I feel the thoroughly modern notion of being a friend of oneís former spouse or beloved denies all the pain and difficulties of the relationship and does not close the door. The "I love you as a friend" phrase, best remembered from oneís sophomore year when breaking up with oneís "first love." is a prime example of this thinking.
I think if you are considering a relationship with this man, it is time he put the past away and said goodbye. In the terms of another modern notion, it is time he "moved on."
No, I do not think you have made a mistake by insisting he terminate the relationship. Letís all be real grownups and realize things do end.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I have been involved in a serious, long-distance relationship with a guy for 8 months now. We are engaged. He is very attentive and does what he can to keep our relationship going.
My only concern is that when I visited him in December, I was checking his ICQ messages and I found a couple of messages from other people that concerned me.
One particular girl he had been writing to since before we met, had flirty messages written to him and he had flirted back. I noticed that in one of his messages he had written, 'I love you' and threw some kisses to her and asked her to call.
I was very upset by these messages and talked to him and his mother. His mother tried to reassure me, saying he does not have personal relationships with these Internet correspondents. He only receives phone calls from me. She remarked about how serious he is about our relationship. Her opinion is that he was bored and passing the time on the Internet.
My fiancť swears that he didn't mean anything by those messages and that it was sheer entertainment; he has never met these people before and doesn't even know what they look like. He deleted all of the information front of me. What do you think? Is this a big deal or something minor?
You caught your boyfriend playing Internet footsies. I would not make this more than it is, but I wouldnít ignore it either. I would be very clear with him about what you expect regarding fidelity, including emotional fidelity, in a relationship. I would evaluate this situation by his future behaviors. You must be able to trust him on the Internet. I get many sad letters from women whose husbands are devoted on on-screen relationships and stimulation.
If he were my beloved, I would also question his pornography use on the Internet. People who use the Internet as an amusement can often become sucked into its pornography. I would hold off the wedding until these questions are cleared up.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I wrote a letter to my boyfriend, which was essentially a long good bye. I understand he has talked to a friend about the letter. He brought it up by saying "Say hi to her for me." and said we were through. However, my friend said he did keep talking about it. He also asked that my friend not mention the conversation to me. What does he want from me? Why does he keep holding on? Should I call him?
You wrote a goodbye letter to your boyfriend. He mentions it to a mutual friend by starting the subject by saying "Say hi to her." This is an opening to the subject that you are no longer together. Sounds like he is letting people know you both have ended. I donít see it as "holding on."
What is more disturbing is that your friend would forward the conversation to you, especially after you ex asked that it not be mentioned.