Dating Dilemmas

 

A student from Louisiana Tech wants to know…
I've been sort of seeing this guy for a while.  I had been seeing him last year, but we decided to break it off for the summer.  I hadn't planned on seeing him this year as anything other than friends.  But when I first saw him in September I was still attracted to him.  I wouldn't even classify our relationship as dating - we just have sex.  That's not at all what I want.  I tried talking to him a little last year about what I wanted but it didn't do any good.  It's either his way or no way.  I'm almost positive that all he wants is sex, but I want something more.  Lately I've been thinking a lot about my past relationships and I've been feeling very regretful.  I don't know what to do.  Female, Junior

Dr. Caron's Answer: As you describe this relationship, I find it difficult to imagine what real satisfactions and joys there can be for you in this.  You say, "It's either his way or no way," indicating your relationship is on his terms only.  What about your terms?  You also state, "That's not at all what I want."  So why continue the relationship?  How about making YOU a priority.  A good relationship is a relationship of equals - both of whom care about and respect the well-being of the other.  The relationship you describe sounds very superficial.  It sounds like you're looking for something different - a relationship with some depth or real intimacy - and you're not finding it in this one.  You may want to consider ending this relationship and seeking one that is more in line with your own interests and desires.  Before entering a new relationship, I would suggest you spend some time thinking about what you really want in a relationship with another person.  It's important that we think through our dream about what makes a love relationship - then maybe it can become a reality.


A student form the University of Maine wants to know:
I've been best friends with this girl for two years.  I'm starting to develop stronger feelings for her now and I believe she feels the same way.  How do I break the ice and not ruin the friendship if things don't work out?  Male, Junior

Dr. Caron's Answer:
As with any relationship, a person must often take risks to move forward.  Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that things will work out.  However, it is helpful that you have already established a friendship.  But before you talk with her about how you're feeling, I suggest you think about how you'll feel if she says she just wants to continue to be friends.  Will you be able to continue the friendship?  I would guess that if your friendship is important to both of you, you'll be able to work things out.


Question from a student attending UMass-Lowell:
I want to be able to date others while at college, but I have a girlfriend back home.  She doesn't want to break up.  Should I just go ahead and date people here and not tell my girlfriend?  Male, First-Year

Dr. Caron's Answer:
It sounds like you need to decide what you really want in relationships with others.  It's difficult to have a relationship built on deception - with either your girlfriend at home or the women you would like to date here at
college.  If you really want to date other women, you need to be honest about your feelings and tell your current girlfriend.  In the long run, you won't be doing her (or you) any favors by being dishonest.




A student from Drexel wants to know:

I have been seeing this guy since the start of the semester -  it has been pretty fun and has included a lot of great sex. But here is the problem - he is getting too emotionally involved too soon.  What can I do or say to him to get him to back off? Female, Sophomore

Dr. Caron's Answer:
I'm not sure I understand you.  What I think you're saying is you want a casual relationship and he wants a commitment.  If this is so, then you need to be straight with him about your feelings. Sometime the sex can complicate the situation because it may mean different things to different people.  One way to cope is to say, "I like you very much and I am not ready for an exclusive relationship with you.  I'd love to share a friendship with you and also want to be with others - to meet and date other guys."  It is no kindness to let a person believe that you are making a similarly total commitment to him, when in reality you're not ready to do so. Best wishes.


A student from Wake Forest wants to know...
I have been dating a guy for a few months and have a major problem. I cannot stand his friends. I do not want this to drive a wedge between us, but it is something I am concerned about. Should I say something or just ignore it?  Female, Sophomore

Dr. Caron's Answer:
It sounds like this may be something that is too difficult for you to "sweep under the rug."  On the one hand, you know you are not dating his friends, you are dating him. How you feel about your boyfriend plays a major role in your continued interest in the relationship. On the other hand, the people he chooses to surround himself with says something about him - it tells you some things about his values and attitudes. I wish I knew more about what upsets you about his friends.  For example, is it something that can repair itself over time? Is it something about them that you can get used to? Is it something you can just ignore? Is it that they demand some (or a lot more) of his attention and that means less time for the two of you? Is it that your boyfriend has not found a good way to balance his time between being with his friends and being with you? Or is it that his friends are the type of people you would never associate with if it were not for your boyfriend? There are a lot of questions to consider. You say you have been dating only a few months, so perhaps you need more time to observe and get to know his friends. Perhaps you have not given them a chance to get to know you and vice versa. Consider taking it slow and keeping yourself open to the idea that you may just need to warm up to each other. However, if you feel the situation is so concerning and so bad that you need to say something to your boyfriend, try to find a way to do it that is respectful of his choice in friends. To be honest, I would not want to put your boyfriend in a situation where he needs to decide between you or his close friends - especially when they have been part of his life a lot longer than you have.  Time will tell with this situation. Should you find that you really cannot stand his friends, and your boyfriend is not willing or able to help in resolving the problem, you may need to discontinue the relationship. It really depends on your comfort level and how strongly you feel about the relationship with your boyfriend. What is it about him that interests you or attracts you to him (beyond his poor choice in friends)? You need to decide if the relationship can continue to grow and develop despite his choice in friends. Good luck with this.


A student from the University of Georgia wants to know....
Throughout my college career, I have had a number of dead-end relationships with several guys.  It seems things always go fine at first, but within a few weeks it "peters" out.  While at first we had lots to share and talk about, in a matter of just a few weeks there is nothing left to say to each other.  What's wrong?  Do I just have really bad luck or what?
Female, Senior

Dr. Caron's Answer:
I'm curious about the relationship you have had with these various guys before you started dating them.  Sometimes people think they can meet someone in an evening  - fall in love - and that's it...a love relationship has been established.  But it needs to be based on something - such as mutual interests, values.  I wonder about your own expectations for a relationship.  Clearly the initial meeting is important - but what is the "glue" that holds you together?  My motto is "Start a trend, fall in love with a friend."  That way you have a basis on which to judge the person you are now romantically involved with.  Also, there are things you can do to keep the conversation going. Attending plays or guest lectures on campus, or reading articles in the campus newspaper together can certainly provide ideas for conversation. You have to work at any relationship.  It doesn't just happen. Best wishes.


A student from the University of Maine wants to know...
I've been best friends with this girl for two years.  I'm starting to develop stronger feelings for her now and I believe she feels the same way.  How do I break the ice and not ruin the friendship if things don't work out?
Male, Junior

Dr. Caron's Answer:
As with any relationship, a person must often take risks to move forward.  Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that things will work out.  However, it is helpful that you have already established a friendship.  But before you talk with her about how you're feeling, I suggest you think about how you'll feel if she says she just wants to continue to be friends.  Will you be able to continue the friendship?  I would guess that if your friendship is important to both of you, you'll be able to work things out. Best wishes.


Question from a student at Berkeley College:
My current girlfriend of 8 months is going away to Boston University. And she wants to stay with me when she does go away...And im afraid that she is going to play me, because thats what people tell me all the time that when a girl who dorms away and has a boyfriend, it really doesnt last. She told me she is not that type of girl to do that. And i asked her if she wants to be single during her first year of college and she said no...but i dont know if i know that she wont play me when she goes away to college.
Male, Freshman

Dr. Caron's Answer:
While long distance relationships can be tough, some of the best ones are based on a solid foundation of friendship - which you are building with her now. I would trust her when she says she wants to continue your relationship rather than listen to what other people who are outside your relationship are saying. You are dating her - not them. While you are right about how sometimes being apart does not "make the heart grow fonder", on the other hand, a relationship that has a solid foundation of trust, honesty, love and caring can continue to flourish despite the distance. While there are no guarantees of faithfulness or longevity in any relationship - whether she stayed with you on the west coast or moved to the east coast by herself, it will be important to keep the lines of communication open. It may be useful to talk with her about how you are going to handle the logistics of this relationship - phoning, e-mail, visits, and spending school breaks together, as well as the long term plans for being together down the road. This may ease some concerns you have about losing her. You may also want to spend some time examining your own expectations for a dating relationship. Perhaps you would prefer to have a relationship with someone who is physically located where you are - someone to spend time with , play with, touch... it will be important to explore your own desires for a relationship and determine if a long-distance one is suited for your needs as well. Best wishes.


Question from a student at the University of Maine: My boyfriend is going to another school that is pretty far away so I only get to see him on the weekends. When we have sex, he gets really tired very easily. I was wondering if it was because he hasn't had sex in a long time or if it was because he is cheating on me?
Female, Junior

Answer: I guess the place to begin is to ask him directly. It could be he is just tired. However, if it's not "tired" that you're sensing, but instead it seems to be a lack of interest or enthusiasm, I would want to have a serious discussion with him about how you're feeling and how he's feeling. Perhaps there is some other stress in his life, maybe he's just preoccupied with school, or perhaps he has questions about your relationship. Then again, he may just be tired. What seems clear from your question is that you sense something has changed, and you see it played out in your sex life. It also sounds like you need answers and reassurance from him that it's nothing more than that. You're right to follow your "gut feelings" and question if there is a problem in the relationship! Best wishes.




Question from a student at the University of Chicago: I recently started dating a guy that I have been friends with for about a year. As friends, I had explained to him that after a very painful breakup of my last relationship, I wanted to go slowly in establishing a new relationship with someone else. He said he understood completely. The problem it, now that we have begun dating each other, everything I thought we discussed about going slow, etc is out the window. He calls me a lot, asks me out 2-3 times a week, and if I'm not home he jokingly wants to know what I was doing. I do like him a lot and enjoy his company. I even feel comfortable kissing him, but at this point that is all. I feel that if things keep going as they have been, it will get out of hand - what could be a good relationship will end just because it is going too fast too soon. How should I handle this situation? I hate to use the old cliche, but I do need some space until I know just how I do feel about him. Is there a way to go about it without hurting him? Female, Senior, University of Maine

A: It sounds like you're feeling smothered by your friend. It also sounds like you need more time to recover from your last relationship before you enter a new one. In addition, it sounds like it's time to have a heart-to-heart talk with your friend. Unfortunately, it may be hard for him to hear you say how you are feeling. But in the long-run, it will be easier for him to accept your honesty now rather than string him along until you are to the point where you can't stand to be around him. Hopefully, he will be able to accept your feelings and understand that you need more space as well as his supportive friendship. Good luck!




Question from a student at UMass-Lowell: I want to be able to date others while at college, but I have a girlfriend back home. I'm not sure I want to break up. Should I just go ahead and date people here and not tell my girlfriend?
Male, First-Year

Answer: It sounds like you need to decide what you really want in relationships with others. It's difficult to have a relationship built on deception - with either your girlfriend at home or the women you would like to date here at college. If you really want to date other women, you need to be honest about your feelings and tell your current girlfriend. In the long run, you won't be doing her (or you) any favors by being dishonest.


Question from a student at Cornell University: There is a woman who likes me as "more than a friend" who I would like to keep as "just a friend." How can I tell her without hurting her?
Male, Senior

Answer: You may not be able to save her from hurt. She is responsible for her feelings. If you are able to talk with her directly, I might suggest starting by expressing how important her friendship is to you. Emphasize what you like about her and what makes her an important friend. If she can hear that, she may be able to hear you when you explain that you would like to keep the friendship platonic. If you don't talk to her about the situation, but instead choose to let the tension continue, at some point she may feel led on. Talking to her and being honest now will save her (and you) a bigger hurt down the road.



Question from a student at UCLA: I am seeing a man 21 years older than I am - he's 40 and I'm 19. He's also married but isn't in love with his wife. They are going through marriage counseling because she found out about us a year ago. We started our relationship over the summer again. He says he'll know by next summer if he is going to stay married or not. Should I wait or should I just move on.
Female, Junior

Answer: This may be difficult to hear, but you should know that most men in this situation don't end up leaving their wife; if they do, they end up going back to her. I'm curious about what you see in him. He's married, he's 21 years older, he's not able to make clear decisions about relationships, and by having an affair he hasn't been honest with his wife. What attracts you to him? What are your hopes and dreams for a relationship? I think it's important that you look at your motivation for such a relationship. Can you talk to someone about this?

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