HE CAN’T SAY THOSE THREE LITTLE WORDS
I am in love with a man who understands me more deeply than I understand myself sometimes. Oh God, that sounded straight out of some sappy self-help book or something. But seriously, it’s true. He’s such a part of me that I can’t imagine ever being without him though our attempts at a relationship have been anything but smooth-going. I know that he feels the same depth of connection to me but the problem is that he can’t express that to me. He’s damaged, to say the least. But I’m damaged too and I will never give up on him. I think he understands that, that I will make sure he’s never alone, but sometimes I worry that the depth of his pain will never let him love me like I love him. He hurts me and pushes me away but I think it’s all a part of his abandonment issues, a test to make sure that I’m telling the truth that I will be there no matter how much pain he causes me. I know that probably sounds unhealthy but our relationship is complex. But the most hurtful thing for me is that even after all we’ve been through together and the depth of love I’ve shown him, he can’t say those three little words. Eight letters. I know that he feels it, but I need to hear him say it. I need to know that we have a hope for a future together. Oh, and if you leak this to a certain online source, I’ll make your life hell.
Dear Queen B,
It certainly sounds like you two have a very complicated relationship. But I admire the commitment that you have to him. You mentioned that he has abandonment issues, but your never wavering love must be working on mending his wounds. That being said, you do need to monitor your own needs and make sure that his issues aren’t causing you too much stress. If you are pouring all of your emotions into his happiness you may be neglecting your own happiness. You may need to step back and protect your own emotions while still being there for him as a friend if he can’t return the same feelings that you have for him.
As for those three little words, they are definitely one of the most nerve-wracking parts of a relationship. Who says them first? Will they be returned? If you’ve already told him how you feel, I can imagine that it’s causing a ton of anxiety that you haven’t heard them from him. Those words are incredibly powerful but remember: actions speak louder than words. If you feel like he truly cares for you, you may just have to let that hold you for a while. Saying those words are hard for anyone, especially men, and especially a man who has had issues with trusting those close to him. It may take him time and you can keep helping him towards them, but try to cling to the fact that how he treats you is a communication of his emotions. That may be what you need to have hope for the future but like I said, make sure that you’re protecting your heart while you try to fix his because if you’re broken, you won’t be able to care for yourself or for him.
I’M CHEATING ON MY HUSBAND BECAUSE I DESERVE SOMETHING MORE
I’m dating my gardener. He is incredibly sexy, such a great lover, and he doesn’t bother me with blabbing on about stuff. The little problem is that I’m married. Ok, ok, before you just start judging away, let me say a few things. I once found my husband super sexy and I know he felt the same way about me but it was like once we got married, I became his possession. A guarantee. Sure he works hard and makes a lot of money which I always thought was one of the most important things about a relationship, but I’ve been feeling…well, lonely. I don’t want to be just someone he takes out to show off (though I love showing off, I mean have you seen how the women in this neighborhood dress? Hi Grandma). I want him to really care about me. To want to be home with me. But he doesn’t really seem to have an interest in that and my gardener certainly does. So can you blame a gal for getting a little help from the help?
Wanting More on Wisteria Lane
Dear Wanting More on Wisteria Lane,
First of all, cheating is never ok. Especially cheating on a spouse. Yes there may be circumstances that make it seem more validated but that doesn’t mean it’s right. If you can’t help but cheat, that means you need to end the relationship you’re in. Cheating is for wimps who don’t have the courage to make a decision between two people. But if you are feeling guilty about cheating, it probably means that you still have feelings for your husband and care that your actions will hurt him. In that case, cut off the relationship with the gardener a.s.a.p. and start working on the relationship with the man you promised to be faithful to forever.
That being said, your husband also made promises to you that he doesn’t seem to be keeping. While your cheating is not valid, your feelings are. Feeling neglected by a partner is a major cause for unhappiness in a relationship and has certainly led other people besides you to look for someone else to make themselves feel worthwhile and beautiful. But feeling neglected means that you are both neglecting communication. Find a moment when your husband is not consumed by something else like work and really talk to him. Let him know how unhappy you are and your suggestions for making a change to your relationship. He probably can’t give you all of his time but he needs to make more time for you and even more important than time, he needs to make you his #1 priority. Ask for what you need and get to work on rebuilding the marriage.
CAN I KEEP OUR RELATIONSHIP A SECRET?
I’m into this guy but he is like so nerdy. But kind of adorably so. He has like worshipped me for years which is slightly creepy but also totally cute. You’re probably like, “Are you really interested in a nerdy stalker? Ew.” But he actually has a great heart and really cares about me. The problem is that while he makes me feel like a princess, I’m afraid that my friends will see him as the court jester. I have a reputation to uphold in my school and dating the class nerd doesn’t really have a great impact on that. I want to be with him but I really don’t want anyone to know about it. Is that possible?
Secretly Obsessed in the O.C.
Dear Secretly Obsessed in the O.C.,
Sorry, but your plan will not work. First of all, secret relationships are always difficult to manage because it’s basically inevitable that someone will find out. But the greater problem for you is the reason why you want to keep it a secret. Basically, it seems that you are embarrassed by him and that’s certainly not a healthy attitude for starting a relationship. If he worships you, he may let you get away with treating him poorly, but that doesn’t mean that you should. If he cares so much about your feelings then you need to think about his feelings too. How would you feel if he was ashamed of you? There’s only so long that he’ll put up with it…even the nice guys have a limit.
Do you really care that much about what your friends might think that it would stop you from being in a relationship with him? If so, you need to think about your priorities. If popularity really is #1 for you and you really don’t think you can have that while dating him, then you need to let him go. It’s unfair to him if you are going to care more about your image than your relationship. But if you really like him, maybe it’s time to grow up and realize that a relationship can be important that winning Prom Queen. If your friends are really going to ditch you just because you’re dating a guy who isn’t popular enough then perhaps you should be thinking about whether these are really the people you want to be friends with forever. But if you tell them, it might surprise you that they won’t be as judgmental as you think. The insecurity might all be in your head and if this “nerdy guy” could win you over, maybe he can win them over too.
CHOOSING BETWEEN CAREER AND LOVE
I really like this guy. I also really like my job. Correction: I love my job. Problem is, the two don’t mix because I work with the guy and am therefore not allowed to date him. I know that he likes me too and it’s killing me that I can’t be with him because he’s amazing but I am not willing to sacrifice my job for a relationship. If I left my job I wouldn’t know who I was as a person and the whole town would suffer (oh yeah, I work for the city. The best city ever.) But I like this guy soooo much and just want to eat waffles with him everyday for the rest of our lives. What do I do?
Freaking Out in Pawnee (a few years ago…)
Dear Freaking Out in Pawnee,
That’s a tough one but actually a fairly common dating problem. It’s only natural that sometimes coworkers fall for each other because you spend so many hours each day with those people and you often have similar interests if you’ve chosen to work for the same company. That said, it’s always a very difficult problem to navigate because careers are important but so are relationships. And when you have to choose between them, the choice is very personal.
I don’t think it’s really ever a good idea to jeopardize your career for the sake of a relationship. You may have put in years to get to the place that you are in your career and a relationship could end in the matter of months. Or weeks. And if you gave up your career for the relationship then you’re just left sad and broke. Trolling through Craigslist is not a fun way to get over a relationship. But I also think that centering your life completely around your career is not healthy and there has to be room for relationships as well. So when that relationship happens to come out of your career, it’s time to strategize how to make it work.
Some people may choose to keep it secret for a while to see if the relationship is actually working before making any career decisions, but that is pretty risky because if someone finds out, it might mean both of you getting fired. Another option is for one of you to get a new job elsewhere. I think the safest (though scariest) thing to do is approach your supervisor and explain the situation. Let him/her know that you have not begun dating but you would like to and if there’s any way that it could be allowed. The organization may have a blanket rule in place to protect employees but may be willing to make exceptions. However, if they won’t, you’re going to have to make some tough decisions about how to deal with it. I’ll hope for your waffle happily ever after.
SHE DRIVES ME CRAZY…BUT I LIKE HER
Oh jeez, I can’t believe I’m actually writing you. If anyone finds out about this, I’m going to get so much shit. But I have this annoying problem that has popped up and now I’m trying to deal with it. My annoying problem is that my super annoying coworker/friend has suddenly become a little less annoying to me. Like despite the stupid stuff she says, ridiculous ideas she comes up with, and the amount she yammers on and on, I’m realizing that she’s actually pretty cool…and sexy. I’m really not sure if she’s into me and I could look like a complete idiot if I tell her how I’m feeling and she laughs at me. Like I would never live it down at the office. I’d probably need to pack up and move out of New York. But still, there’s some part of me that tells me that she might actually be great for me. Ugh. Do I tell her?
I Hate Talking About Feelings
Dear I Hate Talking About Feelings,
It may seem like you’re totally on your own with how you feel and that none of your guy friends would understand, but I doubt that’s true. Yes, I know that guys don’t really like talking about this mushy stuff but I’m sure you’re not the only one out there struggling with whether to tell a girl that you like her. So don’t feel so self-conscious about your feelings. They’re normal. And good.
It sounds like you two are definitely opposites but that’s not a bad thing. Opposites tend to balance each other out well in a relationship as long as they have some common ground on which they can connect. It sounds like you must have that if you described her as a coworker and friend. I assume being coworkers that you must at least enjoy the same thing professionally and being her friend means that you must enjoy doing at least some of the same things outside the office. So there’s definitely something there and even if your views of the world (and the amount of talking that is acceptable) are a bit different, it just means that you have space to be your own person and teach each other about new things.
I say go for it. Tell her. You may think she would laugh in your face but I know very few girls who would be that cruel. If you have a friendship foundation, the worst she’d probably do is tell you she doesn’t return the feelings and keep it between you two because she probably isn’t interested in ruining your friendship by blabbing about it to all of your friends. But what if she is into you? And she just hasn’t realized it yet or has been mulling over whether to tell you? She sounds like she might be a good yin to your yang. So suck it up and talk about your feelings.
CAN I TRUST HIM?
My husband lies. For a living. He’s an ad man. I’m always concerned whether he’s lying to me too. He’s brilliant and sexy, the type of guy that could have any woman he wants, and often I’m concerned that he is having any woman he wants. I know that before me he had a history of straying, but he seemed so devoted to me. So in love with me. But lately he’s been acting off, not including me in the decisions he makes, and we’ve been getting in a lot of fights. I’ve reached a point where I’m really never sure whether what comes out of his mouth is the truth or a lie and it’s driving me crazy. How can you have a marriage with someone like that? But I love him. I just don’t know where to go from here…
Dear Mad Woman,
I know that guy. I’ve dated him, and wow, is he irresistible. But that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. In my opinion, the #1 most important thing in a relationship is honesty. If you can’t trust him, how can you possibly share your life with him? The smooth talking may have been attractive in the beginning but it quickly becomes concerning when you’re thinking about building a life with that person. It sounds like you’ve been having a lot of problems lately and with this kind of guy that could very well spell trouble.
I don’t think that you should doubt whether he once loved you, but unfortunately with this type of guy, one woman often isn’t enough. They may go all in but eventually their dishonest ways catch up with them and it’s the thrill of pursuing what they’re not supposed to have. You need to have some serious talks, maybe even see a couples therapist, and get to the bottom of why he lives his life that way and if he’s ever going to be able to stop. It may be just you he’s hurting now, but what if you have kids, build a family together? Do you really want a father who would lie to his own children? Though it’s incredibly painful to have to face these truths, I think it’s necessary before you go any further with your marriage. If he is not going to have the respect for you to be honest with you, you need to find someone who will be.
WE’RE FROM DIFFERENT WORLDS
I’m into this guy but he’s from…across the bridge. A different world than the one I grew up in. It’s part of what attracts me to him, but it’s making things challenging because he’s judging everyone I love and everyone I love is judging him. He thinks that all my friends are too obsessed with money, status, and fashion, and that may all be true but they helped make me who I am so I don’t understand why he can like me but hate them. And my friends just immediately write him off as not good enough for me just because he’s not from our world, which is incredibly frustrating. Is there any hope of ever ‘bridging’ that gap? Or will he and my friends never understand each other?
Unhappy on the Upper East Side
Dear Unhappy on the Upper East Side,
While some people may think that being from “different worlds” seems like a ridiculous reason to have dating problems, it’s actually more common than people realize. There are many types of different worlds: a Christian dating someone Jewish, a Democrat dating a Republican, a PhD dating someone with only a high school diploma, just to name a few. These are all scenarios that play out every day in the dating world and make it difficult to navigate your relationship and the judging words of your friends and family. It sounds like you and he have had very different upbringings and it’s no surprise that it’s causing problems because the values we’re raised with define who we are as adults and how we view the world.
All you can do is continue to encourage patience and understanding between him and your friends. Is there any sort of ‘neutral ground’ where you can all hang out and really give them a chance to get to know each other? An alternative is doing something where everyone would feel out of their element so that you’re all on the same page. Let them know that if they care about you (and it sounds like they do) that giving each other a chance would mean a lot to you. It may be hard to tune out the criticism but if the bonding doesn’t work, that may be the only thing you can do to hold on to both him and your friends while staying sane. Eventually people might mature and it might get better, but for now, unfortunately the burden is on you to be the ambassador for both sides of the bridge.
I HAVE A CRUSH ON SOMEONE…WHO’S DATING SOMEONE ELSE
So there’s this guy who I like. Like really REALLY like. He had a crush on me for a long time but I always brushed him off. He mentioned wanting to ask me out once but then never did so I went on to date other guys…most of them were total jerks. One of them felt up one of my friends. Gross. I just found out that this guy was super into me and it finally hit me how amazing he is. He’s been a wonderful friend to me and I feel like he’s the type of guy who would really be there for me. Even when it hasn’t been my day, week, month, or even my year. But…here’s the snag. I finally realized how great he is, but now he’s dating someone else. They seem so cute and so happy and I’m dying inside. I really want him but now I can’t have him and it’s driving me nuts. I feel like he may return my feelings if he knew but I have no idea how to navigate this. Do I tell him? Make a move? Do nothing and die alone?
Wanting More than a Friend
Dear Wanting More than a Friend,
What the heck took you so long to realize he was right for you?? I’m just kidding; emotions are one thing in life that often emerge at the most inconvenient times. For a lot of people it’s the “love lost” thing that finally kicks their heart into gear. It’s along the lines of the “wanting what you can’t have” but a little further in which you realize you had your chance and blew it and now are having crazy regret. And I’m sure seeing him having a great time with his new gal isn’t making it any easier. I don’t think that the “love lost” thing is terrible because it’s what has gotten you to finally confront your emotions, which is an important part of navigating your love life. So now you know that you want to be with him…but there’s someone blocking your path to a new relationship.
This is where it gets tricky. On the one hand, I hate girls who pursue a guy already in a relationship but on the other hand, there’s some history between you two and there could be something there. You said that he had a crush on you forever so this new girl may just be him finally giving up on that and deciding to move on with someone new. But does he deserve to know that you now return the feelings he used to have (or may still have?) Do some soul-searching and decide how much you want to be with him. If there’s any part of you that still has doubts, don’t disrupt his happiness with this new girl and confuse him. That would be cruel.
But if you really 100% want to be with him, I think you need to tell him how you feel. Give him the decision. It may be scary because his decision may be that he’s moved on from you permanently, but you need to put it out there now before things get any more serious with his new girlfriend. You need to be prepared for the worst but there is a chance that he will return the feelings and you two will both get your happy ending.
DATING WITHIN THE FRIENDSHIP CIRCLE
I’m not really the type to ask for dating advice but I really like this girl and she is way too good for me, but I can’t stop thinking about her. The problem is that my best friend has been into her forever and they dated for a long time. I have this feeling that they both think they’ll end up together someday. So I’ve tried to get over this crush but she is just too amazing to get over. I doubt she would ever go for me because I’m a screw-up and probably never going to be able to leave our town whereas she’s going places but every time I’m around her, I feel happy and she makes me feel like maybe I could be someone. So aside from her being totally out of my league and it potentially forever damaging my oldest friendship, it sounds like a great idea to ask her out, right?
Crushing in Capeside
Dear Crushing in Capeside,
Sounds like you have a few issues to tackle here. Probably the biggest is the relationship between your dream girl and your best friend. Dating within the friendship circle always brings complications but it’s basically inevitable because those are the people you hang out with and obviously enjoy being around. That being said, it’s a delicate situation to deal with because if you play it wrong, you could end up not only missing out on a romantic connection, but damaging really important friendships. There’s really only one solution: honesty.
Before you pursue your gal, talk to your friend and let him know about your feelings. He might give you the go-ahead or he might tell you over his dead body. If it’s the latter, you’ll have to ask yourself: is it worth it? And if you decide that it is, just be aware that it may be something that your friendship won’t recover from but at least you were up front and that might count for something when he calms down. But going behind his back will almost certainly end in friendship disaster.
In terms of whether she’s too good for you, that seems like you might just need a little boost of self-confidence. If she’s friends with you then she likes you enough to spend a lot of time with you so the possibility for that to move to the next level is very real. A relationship is about working as a team so together you can improve yourselves and each other. And what I’m hearing from you is how much you care for and admire her and those are great qualities to bring to a relationship.
And regarding your concern that your girl and your friend feel like they might end up together, it’s the old nothing ventured, nothing gained. I think for a lot of people there is someone like that to them but then they meet the person they are actually supposed to be with and all those feelings fade away. You could be that person for her but you’ll never know if you don’t make a move. So talk to your friend and then figure out what’s next. Good luck.
And now time for some ‘vintage’ letters…