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Week of February 11, 2001


Dear Mrs. Web,

My girlfriend and I have been dating for a little over two years. We are very close. Since we have been so serious, she has basically given up most of her friends for our relationship.

Recently, she said she wanted to take a break from our relationship so she could enjoy her senior year and have fun. I told her that would be fine, and I would give her space. We agreed that we would still hang out and stay close, but we wouldn't act as if we were together. This was incredibly hard, for the both of us, and only lasted a couple of days after we broke up.

I can tell she wants to have her friends and me at the same time. She always calls me, and I always call her. I really love her and want to know what I should do to get her back so I am her number one priority, and get things back to where they were when we were really serious.

Should I just continue doing what I am doing, and be patient, or should I refuse to act as if we are together, hoping she realizes what she is giving up. I am just afraid that this is going to last more than a month or two, and I want to do whatever it takes to get back together with her ASAP!


The problem here is that being "together" for the two of you is an either/or situation. We are either together or we have friends. There is no balance. Your girlfriend began to feel the relationshipís exclusivity as too heavy a burden to bear despite her love for you.

You might get her back to the old ways for the short term, but it wonít work forever. Love is having someone in the center of your heart, but not necessarily in the center of your attention at all times.


One can be involved (or married!) and still have friends and interests outside the couple. Women have and need a circle of supportive women friends. Many men do too. You cannot expect her to be the focus of your attentions indefinitely and vice versa. That does not mean there is no love. It means a person functions in the world from a base of love.


Another piece that I see relating to this issue is that many couples have the intensity, depth, and intimacy of a married couple, without the commitment of marriage. So they feel all these intense emotions but have no platform to build on. Instead of having the comfort of standing on the solid ground of love and commitment and reach out into the world, they have to put all these outside strictures and checks around the relationship to guard their hearts.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I have been dating a guy for two weeks. Last night we went to a club with a group and drinking got out of hand. I ended up sleeping with him. I didnít mean to. Do you think that was a mistake of me to sleep with him right away? Should I discuss this with him? This is not the way I normally behave.


Yes, I do think it was a mistake to sleep with him. It sounds like you sometimes donít have control yourself when you drink. That is information you should use. If you lose control of your self when drinking Ė stop.


I would talk to the young man. Explain that you stepped all over your beliefs and values. You behaved out of character. He needs to know that. You both need to make some decision the relationship. It is hard to backtrack out of sex. You may not be able to.


You need to set up some rules and develop some skills if you decide to keep dating. I would take some time out and make some decisions about how you want to behave and in what kind of relationships. Personally, I think a sexual and emotional relationship without marriage is a heartbreaking situation. No commitment at the cost of ones heart and emotions. Look on my bookshelf for some different, more modern ideas about dating and courtship.



Dear Mrs. Web: 

When I receive a voice mail from my boyfriend that says "Hi itís me, just called to say hello, - my day is going well. Iíll talk to you later," am I suppose to return his call? When I call back immediately, it is usually a bad time for him, during a meeting, for example. Is he expecting a return call?


It sounds like he calls at times when he has a free moment. He is touching base during the day, just connecting. I know women who would walk miles - barefoot - over sharp glass, for that sort of attention.

The best way to find out how he want you to respond is to ask him the next time you are together. My husband does a variation of this; he wanders in from his office to my office, just to say hello. Not because he wants anything in particular, but just because he loves me, and we are connected. Or heís bored.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I am a 32-year-old African American female and a white male has asked me out for a date. I have never dated outside of my race and his asking me out does not offend me.


My question is should I accept his invitation to go out on a date with him or not? What are the things that should not be brought up while I am with him? Please help me out on this one!


I donít know whether you should date him or not. I think you will have to decide your comfort level. I would not actively encourage anyone to become emotionally entangled with someone, whose religion, race, ethnicity, or beliefs would rule out marriage. This is, in my opinion, just asking for pain and hurt for both. This is because I donít consider dating a recreational activity.


On the other hand, I live in an African-American and Caucasian family and donít see any problems with interracial dating and marriage. If you decide to date the man, I would treat it like any other date. If neither of you have had any experience with interracial dating; you might feel a bit awkward at first. When I am with people who are different than me, I always assume good will and good intent and overlook awkwardness, or ignorance.


I donít think there is any subject in particular you shouldnít talk about. Get to know this person as a human being not as a member of a race or group. Share bits of your life, talk about your family, and work. If you decide to accept, have a wonderful time.


By the way, it never would have occurred to me that, you could be offended by being asked out by someone of a different race. Whatís to offend?




Dear Mrs. Web,

I have been dating a woman for over two years. A while back, she saw me follow her in my car. I had followed her because of my own insecurities and lack of trust She has never given me a reason not to trust her. She was very upset and accused me of "stalking". I didn't make too much of it and told her it wouldn't happen again.


Recently I felt as though I needed to see where she was going. She caught me again! This time she totally flipped.


I am not the "creepy stalker" type! I just wanted peace of mind by knowing where she was and what she was doing. She said she did not want to be in an unhealthy relationship and broke up with me. I can't believe she ended such a great relationship because of these 2 minor incidents! Our relationship was flawless besides these 2 occurrences! Am I out of line?


You are way out of line. You donít follow people for peace of mind. People usually have internal resources to rely on when they are feeling insecure, to help them remain calm and think of appropriate responses. You seem to be missing or unable to use your internal resources.


Your girlfriend most likely ended the relationship because these behaviors indicate insecurities and controlling actions way beyond what is healthy in a relationship. She is wise. In your shoes, I would make an appointment with a therapist, or clergy. Your insecurities and your ways of responding to them to it are making a significant negative impact in your life: you lost your relationship. You need to find, with help, a better way of coping with your feelings.



Week of February 4, 2001


Dear Mrs. Web, 

Whenever I'm in a situation where I talk with girls I get all hot, sweaty, blushing and embarrassed. I canít even look them in the eye. I feel like I don't have control of the situation. I'm totally self-conscious (I go to the washroom a lot just to look in the mirror to make sure I look all right). I generally have this problem around all strangers (also when public speaking) but never as bad as when I'm trying to talk with girls.

Around my friends, I am a totally different. Is there something wrong with me? A pretty girl in my class said hello recently. I blushed and mumbled something inane. I would just like to be able to ask her out.


Your hyperawareness of yourself and otherís reactions to you, combined with a self-critic can tie anyone up in knots. Behavioral retraining methods can help one change the hyperawareness and turn off those critical tapes in your mind. Does your university have a personal counseling office? Make an appointment and ask for a referral to a behavioral oriented psychotherapist.


In the meantime, let me tell you that I am familiar with that shy, tongue-tied heart pounding feeling. Most people have it to one degree or another when placed in an unfamiliar situation. The best method I have found to deal with it is to immediately get my mind off me. I do that by having a standard repertoire of questions I ask others about themselves when I find myself tongue-tied.


I ask them where were they born, who lives in their family, where they went to school, what their hobbies areÖThen I focus intently on their answers and use it as a springboard for further questions. People love to focus on themselves and they are their favorite subject. As they talk, I learn about them and my anxiety cranks down.



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 him to call her. I was very upset by these messages talked to him and his mother. His mother tried to reassure me by saying he does not have any personal relationships with these Internet correspondents. He only receives calls from me and 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 and addresses in 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 by his future behaviors whether he is trustworthy in this area.

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.


Dear Mrs. Web.

I met this guy through one of my friends. We started talking. One day I went out of town to see one of my friends, and when I got home I called him. He told me he had called one of my friends while I was gone and he was confused because he liked us both.


I was upset. The next day at school my friend said she was sorry, and that she would not talk to him any more. Later that night, I found out she told him she liked him too. I donít know who I should be mad at. She is my best friend and I really like him. I think it's all her fault.


When talking and dating, people are shopping around. Your male friend and your girlfriend have been shopping together. I wouldnít get too bent out of shape about it. There is no commitment going on here. You didnít have much if he couldnít manage a day without you and had to call someone else.


I think you have a friend who likes someone you like. Moreover, he likes her too. Gracefully bowing out is always an option. There are many fish in the sea.



Dear Mrs. Web, 

What do I say to my boyfriend who has a male friend who seems to be jealous of our relationship. This friend does not acknowledge our relationship and I feel like I am competing for time with my boyfriend.


This guy has a girlfriend but he is not happy with her and would rather pass time with my boyfriend without including me. I have never been invited to any of their functions, even when his girlfriend is there.


I guess I would approach it directly. Kind of a "Gee, John, Ted never seems to remember me when you all are getting together. I feel somewhat left out. What gives?" 

Guys do tend to like to be guys together, but my antenna goes up when he doesnít include you in mixed party functions. Your boyfriend has the burden to bear here to make sure you are included and in protecting the time you carve out together for yourselves. It is part of being a thoughtful beloved.


Week of January 28, 2001


Dear Mrs. Web,

I am a 41-year-old - recovering addict with eight years of sobriety. I have not been in a loving relationship for over 10 years - not even "casual sex."


Going to work, being part of my children's lives, and other reasons have always come first. In truth, I am scared to death of actually finding a mate.


Everyday I rush home after work, hide away until the next morning, and repeat. Initially in my sobriety, the solitude was fine. Now I am so lonely and wish to be involved with a life-mate. I am even avoiding my women friends because I am tired of making up relationships - how sad Ė so I would fit in. I am intelligent, attractive, and so confused. I just want to feel again.

You sound tremendously lonely. And you seem to be isolating even more. Are you going to meetings? Have you done step work?


When I hear about fantasy and lies, and retreating, I would recommend you get yourself to a meeting and get involved in a home group. Individuals go in and out of their need for intensive recovery work. It sounds like it is time for you begin it over your isolating tendencies. Meetings will also get you out of your isolation and listening and interacting with a wide variety of people. Keep in touch.



Dear Ms. Web,

How right or wrong was it for me to say to 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 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 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. 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 me againÖ and I never ever hear from them.


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 am totally perplexed. I want a relationship. Please lend some insight thank you.


I hear this complaint often. 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 (See my web site bookshelf for additional insight.





Dear Mrs. Web,

I had a difficult marriage with a man who was in 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 older 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 with baby steps all work.


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. Sometimes 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 and love you forever.



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. 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 end the relationship and I think it is unwise for it to continue. Letís all be real grownups and realize things do end.




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