Q: I am a divorced man, 34, who wants to remarry. I have had a relationship for two years, but our time together is limited by our careers, my night school and 40 miles between us. When we do spend more time together, we usually fight.
She doesn't want to make a commitment until I finish school, in two years. I am afraid that after the two years we may still be unable to commit. I am also afraid that we are too comfortable with a weekend relationship. Any suggestions?
A: Your concern is justified: This arrangement may be a placebo for a relationship that is basically unsound. Constant fighting is not a good sign, and if both of you are serious about marriage in the long run, this is the time to probe your feelings. I suggest you use some of your precious shared time to interview counselors and find one you can trust and respect. Finding the roots of your conflicts is the best possible use of this pre-commitment time. Is convenience or love holding together the relationship? If you truly want to remarry happily, start the process of self-discovery.
Q: Regarding the guy who wanted to delay sexualizing his
relationship, I do the same thing -- wait. What works for me is to simply have a conversation when the time is right (usually between the second and fourth dates) where I say that I don't like to rush into things and that she should let me know when she's ready.
This approach takes the pressure off, and it's more open and honest.
A: It is only logical that your putting into words an issue on the minds of both people pays off in improved understanding. It makes good sense to address the issue directly and put both people at ease. Physical communion is meaningless unless there are mutual feelings behind it. Thanks for sharing some valuable insights.
Q: I'm dating a man who has been single for years, between two marriages, and now loves living alone. I know that a marriage commitment may not come for a year or two, if it comes at all.
How can I help myself to be happy with what we have and not feel anxious about the ultimate commitment?
A: By focusing on the moment at hand, by letting go of the goal, you may very well bring it closer. What is certain is that you'll become a more interesting companion and more fun to be with, even if a wedding ring doesn't suddenly materialize! While you're working on letting go, I suggest you start building more pleasures and satisfactions into your life, so that you don't smother your partner. Believe it or not, he may be getting signals from you, subtle but clear, that you are focusing more on marriage than on the relationship and him. As you dilute your focus and bring more joys into your days, you'll take off the pressure -- while making yourself a more attractive person.
Q: For the past four months I've been seeing my married college professor outside of class. During that time we've become extremely close, mentally and physically, and he tells me his marriage is going downhill and to be patient. Although I want to trust him, I know that once a cheat, always a cheat, and I don't know if I should stick it out or not interfere with his marital situation.
A: You know exactly what you should do -- all you need is some prodding. Obviously you don't trust your lover, and you don't respect him for having an affair. It's as simple as that. But things aren't so simple when you are with him; other considerations come into play: his position, his life experience, his power on campus. Still, you must tell him that you are upset with yourself and him, for what you two are doing behind closed doors. After the talk you'll be a wiser woman. You'll have gained his respect (and your own), and if indeed you are the love of his life, he'll know where to find you after his divorce becomes final. This is a graduate course in life.
Q: Recently I discovered that a man I was seriously involved with is bisexual. Now I'm unable to have a normal sex life with my new boyfriend because of my fear of AIDS. I am afraid to tell him, yet I find it impossible to keep it from him. How can I handle the situation without being rejected by my boyfriend?
A: First, arrange with your family physician to be tested for AIDS and have a heart-to-heart talk with him or her about your predicament. Next, call the AIDS hot line -- (800) 342-AIDS -- for assistance with any other questions you may have. This should clear your head for the next step -- telling your boyfriend. (Not to tell him would be irresponsible, and that is exactly what your body is signaling to you.)
Arrange a quiet time with no distractions when you and your boyfriend can speak freely. If he can't bear the reality, he is no friend, and you are well rid of him.