Love


A student from Drexel wants to know...
I would like to have a girlfriend, someone to be in love with, but I seem to be a loser in the “romance department.” Any tips?
Male, Junior

Dr. Caron’s Response:
Yes, I have a great tip: In order to find someone to love, you need to find someone you like. Think about what it says: start slow; take small steps. Rather than thinking you are a loser, I suspect you just have not found the right person yet. No one can expect to meet someone and automatically have a dynamic love relationship; it takes time. Begin by finding someone you like.


A student from Indiana wants to know:
I have never really had a good relationship.  One minute I'm head-over-heels in love with someone and the next minute I'm not interested at all.  I wonder if I can ever find that special someone.  Female, Junior

Dr. Caron's Answer: 
The secret to finding someone to love is first finding someone to like.  A true love relationship takes time - it's not something one jumps into lightly.  Take a look inside yourself.  Spend time thinking about what you really want in a relationship with another person.  What things do you bring to the relationship?  What do you hope to gain?  You may want to spend some time talking with a counselor about these issues.  It's important that we think through our dream about what makes a love relationship - then maybe it can become a reality.



A student from the University of South Carolina wants to know...
I have a wonderful relationship and would like to know some of the keys to making a relationship last..... I am interested in what suggestions you might have for keeping our relationship together.
Male, 5th year

Dr. Caron's Answer:
One of the most interesting and useful books on this topic is Seven principles for making marriage work by John Gottman. It is full of ideas and activities for couples who want to make their relationship last. Dr. Gottman talksabout how stable relationships are based on a deep friendship - the couple doesn't just get along, they support each other's hopes and aspirations and build a sense of purpose into their lives together. He also talks about how important it is tohave the positive outweigh the negative.... and suggests that there needs to be 5 positive events for every 1 negative.  His final points are really interesting ones for you (or anyone desiring in a long-term relationship) to consider:

  • Before you say goodbye in the morning, be sure to learn about one thing that is happening that day with your partner.
  • Be sure to engage in stress reducing conversations at the end of each workday.
  • Find some way everyday to communicate genuine affection and appreciation toward your partner.
  • Kiss, hold, touch each other during the time you're together.
  • Give at least one genuine praise to your partner each day.

I would add one more to his list that seems very important to the relationship, and that is:

  • Make sure you kiss each other before going to sleep.

A student from the University of Maine wants to know.....
I can't seem to forgive my boyfriend for being unfaithful to me almost a year ago.  I have decided that I want to be with him, and he has absolutely proven that its only me he wants.  However, each time I'm reminded of how he betrayed me, (whether its a TV show, or the mention of a girl with the same name) I get very upset and emotional all over again.  Is it normal to be this upset - almost a year later?  How can I get over this?? Help!
Female, Junior

Dr. Caron's response: 
I think it is very normal for you to be upset. Obviously, it still bothers you and you have not been able to "let it go" or "put it behind you" as some might say. You need to be honest with yourself about your feelings. I think everyone is different in how they respond to unfaithfulness. In your case, this represented a major betrayal to your relationship and to your ability to trust. It takes time to heal a wound of the soul so to speak. An analogy might be useful: Think about if you had gotten into an accident and this was a physical wound... not only does it hurt, it may take a month, two months, or even more than a year for the wound to heal, for the scar to fade. Every situation is different. Perhaps by thinking about it in this way, you can allow yourself the time to heal at the pace you need. Your partner's reassurance, support, and understanding are key. I hope you are able to let him know that this is still upsetting - so that he knows what you are feeling and can be understanding and reassuring.  In order for your relationship to move forward, I believe you are going to need to let go of what has happened and eventually forgive him....It sounds like this has not happened yet... and may be something you can talk to him about.  Everyone makes mistakes, and you have to decide if this one is worth losing a relationship over. It is really up to you. If may also be helpful to sit down with someone who is objective to talk about what has happened and what you are feeling. An appointment with a counselor at your college counseling center may be useful. They are there to help - they are trained to listen, reflect and offer you the support you need. Best wishes.


A student at the University of Maine wants to know....
What about a long-term relationship when the woman is 11 years older than the man? It is great right now. What might it be like down the road?
Male, Junior

Dr. Caron's response:
You seem to have two major issues to deal with here: the long-distance factor and the significant age difference. In terms of "down the road," I need to say that it is always hard to predict what will happen in any relationship. Looking at the issue of long-distance, I would be interested to know how long it has been this way - and what you mean by long-distance. For example, do you see each other only on weekends, only once a month, or less than that. Certainly, if your relationship has had a chance to develop while you were living close to one another, that will be a plus - you will have been able to lay a bit of the foundation for the relationship. The concern is that a long-distance relationship makes it easy for you to think the relationship is much better than it is - because you don't spend consistent time together. You don't see what your partner is really like and you can avoid dealing with any problems. What can happen is that you both end up having a very unrealistic view of each other and the relationship. The other issue is significant age difference. You are both mature adults, so that is a plus. However, sometimes when there is a big age difference some things can happen that may not be good or productive to the relationship. For example, the older person may become more impatient, act like a parent, may be more financially successful, and may be more controlling. As the younger person in the relationship, you may find yourself putting your partner on a pedestal, setting her up to be the parent, or you may be more likely to compromise your own interests and friends. What's important is to look at these issues (long-distance and age difference) as obstacles that can make your relationship difficult, but they do not have to destroy your relationship. By being honest with your partner about your situation and recognizing the uniqueness of your relationship, you will be much better served in the long-run. Recognize that all relationships go through changes in levels of intimacy, passion, and communication - yours will too. If the commitment is there, that is a very good sign for long-term growth. Best wishes.


Question from a student at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign:
I'm in a relationship that has lasted almost a year. I feel I am in love with my girlfriend but I am not sexually attracted to her. We have even talked about getting engaged and I'm wondering if our relationship can last without the physical part being there. Male, Senior

Dr. Caron's Answer:
It sounds like you have a nice friendship going with this woman. However, I don't believe you can have a long-lasting romantic relationship with someone you aren't attracted to. What is interesting is that your question is almost the reverse of what many people worry about who say, "All we have is sex, sex, sex - Is that enough of a basis for a long-term relationship?" I guess I'm wondering what you would like in a relationship. Do you wish it were different? Have you ever experienced sexual attraction to another person you were involved with? I am also concerned about why there is no attraction? How does your partner feel about this? Is she okay with the relationship as it stands? or does she feel rejected? What are her expectations for the future? Again, I am referring to sexual attraction, not sexual activity; you can have one without the other. I think sometimes people avoid the sexual part to avoid intimacy or connection: Since you know you won't be that close, you can protect yourself - keep yourself at a physical and emotional distance. I also wonder if part of your lack of sexual attraction for your partner concerns a fear of sex itself. Have you experienced some type of trauma or hurt feelings around sex? I think you are right to ask yourself now if this lack of sexual attraction is going to be a concern for the future. Ignoring it will not make it go away. These are just some of the issues you may want to look at with a professional. Talking with someone you can trust will give you the perspective you need to make important decisions. Including your partner in these conversations will be essential. Good luck!


Question from Penn State: How can I get an athlete to fall in love with me? Female, Sophomore A: Nobody can make another person fall in love with him or her. Love is a gift - not something you can negotiate. Question from a student at Indiana: I have never really had a good relationship. One minute I'm head-over-heels in love with someone and the next minute I'm not interested at all. I wonder if I can ever find that special someone.
Female, Junior

Answer: The secret to finding someone to love is first finding someone to like. A true love relationship takes time - it's not something one jumps into lightly. Take a look inside yourself. Spend time thinking about what you really want in a relationship with another person. What things do you bring to the relationship? What do you hope to gain? You may want to spend some time talking with a counselor about these issues. It's important that we think through our dream about what makes a love relationship - then maybe it can become a reality.

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