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Fundamentals of Dating

Predictable Patterns

My name is Jessica.  I am 25 and my boss is 47.   I was wondering if it is inappropriate for me to have a personal, friendship-level relationship with him.

My boss says he is there if I need him, and he almost always is.  He emails me electronic greeting cards for every occasion.  We often talk to each other via email and Instant Messenger.  I have been out with him and some others for a goodbye party for his secretary, and I enjoy his company very much.

He is a bit of a womanizer though.  He left his first wife, is currently living with another woman, and has some weird relationship with another girl who is 36.  My parents don’t approve of our relationship because of his other relationships, and because of what it might do to my job if something wrong happens.

I have always and still continue to feel completely comfortable and relaxed with him.  I do not feel threatened or uncomfortable being alone with him at all.  I have been alone with him in his office several times, and he has never done anything to make me feel uneasy.

Do you think I can keep the relationship, or do you feel it is wrong?

Jessica

Jessica, whether it’s learning a language, running a business, or initiating a relationship, pattern recognition is critical.  The postman comes each day at one, and we learn when to have the outgoing mail ready.  We hear the wail of a siren, and we pull over to let a fire engine pass.

One of the most important functions of pattern recognition is to protect us, but it can’t do that if we ignore the pattern or refuse to see it.  Your boss is a womanizer.  He is involved with several women and grooming at least one more, you, to join the stable.  His pattern of behavior is repeated every day, from the factory floor to the White House.  

Perhaps you haven’t been in this situation before, so you don’t know what the end result is.  Perhaps you don’t realize each woman entering a relationship with him thought she would be the last.  The truth is his pattern doesn’t fit what you are looking for, but as long as women line up to be with him, he can only conclude what he is doing works.  For him.

Don’t give him credit for saying he is there if you need him.  That statement will likely never be put to a real test.  Making women feel comfortable with him is just his method of operation.  Can you see his pattern, or will you learn an awfully hard lesson, the kind of lesson that makes you mistrust other men.  Good, honest men.

Wayne
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)

 

Changing Times

Reading one of your older columns today, I came across this.  “All the pain in this world is caused by unhappy, thwarted, frustrated people.  Happy people don’t hurt other people.  They enrich the planet and bring fulfillment to others.”

While I like to think I’m one of the happy people bringing fulfillment to others, I am continually thwarted in my attempts at relationships.  Time and time again men represent themselves to me falsely, and time and time again I fail to see it until it is too late.  Then I turn into one of those unhappy, frustrated people.

I suspect the key is to let go mentally, but my problem is twofold.  First, I want to date.  Second, if I keep dating, I keep getting into bad experiences and am unable to let go of them.  It’s like being stuck in traffic.  You put up with it, but eventually the frustration builds to intolerable levels.

How on earth can I learn to avoid sleazebags without stopping dating altogether?  I feel like the most idiotic person in the world.

Tally

Tally, if you are getting hurt, then you’re hanging on too long. 

The balance of power has changed, and women haven’t acknowledged it.  In an older time, all women had to offer was their virtue.  They were dependent on men.  Today few men are the sole support of their family.  Stop giving the thing women give which makes them emotionally attached to a man—the thing which men prize when not easily given.

A man in marriage gets a maid, a mistress, a cook, the mother of his children, and usually, a second income.  What does a woman get?  Without love, all she gets is someone to share expenses.

Why are you not best served by preserving the one asset you know the other party wants.  That’s what you need to protect, bank on, and prize.  It doesn’t matter whether you prize it; men prize it.  In Aristophanes’ play “Lysistrata” women withheld sex in order to stop a war.  That is not the only cause--nor the only good cause--which is to a woman’s advantage.

Tamara
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High Society

I am a 34-year-old, single, college-educated woman, but honestly I feel clueless when it comes to love.  I've had lots of relationships that last six months.  That's the time men start professing their love, and I find a reason to run.

I had one relationship that lasted five years, mainly because he was a professional athlete.  I'm ashamed to admit I would have stayed with him just because of what he did for a living and the exciting lifestyle he provided.  Even then I cheated twice.  No matter how great the guy is, I always feel I might miss something better out there, or find someone who makes more money, or is better looking. 

In some way I have to prove myself to the world by finding the perfect man.  My perfect man is incredibly good-looking, has a high power or high paying job, is strong enough to protect me, dresses hip, and has an amazing personality.

My friends and family would tell you I'm a sweet, loving person which I truly am.  I'm very much the girl next door type.  I love the simple things in life, but for some reason my priorities become all messed up when it comes to relationships.

Recently I met an amazing guy who wants to pursue a relationship.  Honestly, if this guy was a professional athlete, lawyer, doctor, or even owned a highly successful business, I would be completely into him.  He tells me love is all that matters in life.  But when it comes to relationships, I don't know what love is.

Cami

Cami, in Somerset Maugham's novel "The Razor's Edge," a man named Elliot Templeton spends his life trying to secure a place in elite society.  Elliot lives in mortal fear of not being invited to the best parties.  In the end, he dies alone.  As one character in the novel remarks, "I happen to think that we've set our ideal on the wrong objects."

Like Elliot Templeton you attribute value to yourself by the value of those you are with.  But the problem with selling yourself to the highest bidder is you can never be sure when you have the highest bid.  Something better may always come along. 

You're clever enough, polished enough, and attractive enough to attract powerful men, but it doesn't satisfy you.  After six months, your goal accomplished, you lack a reason to stay.  Acting solely to elicit a response from a man ensures you will believe his feelings are no more genuine than your own.

Now you're in love with the idea of being a simple girl who loves romance, but that idea is no more substantial than wanting a man for his looks or his money.  A man's looks, money, and fame can disappear overnight, but a genuine connection to that man can endure as long as life itself.

Elliot Templeton loved parties, and parties are wonderful.  But when the party's over and there are cigarettes jammed into the potted plants and glass rings on every table, you deal with that alone.  Unless you're not alone because you have someone of your own.

Wayne & Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)

 

A Love Story

My name is Winnie.  I am 15 years old.  I am in love.  I know it has to be love!  I spent the whole day yesterday with this guy I have liked for about a month.  He is 16.

I know he likes me, too.  Well, at least I hope so.  He flirts with me all the time.  I want to call and talk to him about my feelings, but I am not sure how to word it.  Every time I see him I get butterflies in my stomach, and every other problem in the world seems to go away.  Can you please tell me what to do, or at least, what to say?

Winnie

Winnie, every story has a beginning, a middle and an end.  You're at the beginning of the story now, and it's such a good beginning you want to rush to the end, read the last chapter, and see how it turns out.  At least you want to tell this boy how it should end.

But by skipping to the end and telling him your feelings, you will miss the middle part where things develop and the plot gets interesting.  Let the story unfold in its own way.

If you've already spent a whole day with him, you don't have problems talking to each other.  We're pretty sure he knows you like him a lot.  That's enough for now.  By letting things unfold in their own time, you won't spoil the ending.

Wayne & Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)

 

Vicious Vixen

I'm in a long-distance relationship at the moment.  I love my boyfriend very much, and the relationship is good.  Recently I met someone and things kicked off really fast between the two of us.  We are really interested in each other.  It feels as if we've known each other for years.  We are comfortable with one another and really open and honest.

I don't want to push the issue of an official boyfriend-girlfriend relationship with him.  My suggestion is we remain as friends, then we can determine if we should remain as friends or if something was meant to develop out of this.  If something deeper develops, at that time I'll deal with the situation with my boyfriend.  Am I wrong in this?

Dawn

Dawn, on the sly you're trying to lynch your boyfriend.  You've built the scaffold, put the hood over his head, led him up the stairs, and tightened the noose.  Now you're positioning him over the trapdoor.  Before you drop the door, will you tell him he's at a lynching?

C'mon, can't you do things in the right order?  Horse, then cart.  Break up with the old before starting the new.  Your old boyfriend thinks he has a girlfriend, and he doesn't.  What might he think when you break up with him?  That women are sneaky, nasty creatures.  And with you, he's going to be right.

There's nothing wrong with being attracted to someone else, but the honorable course is to end one relationship before starting the next.

Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)

 

Put To The Sword

My girlfriend has an aggressive sense of humor.  She teases and likes to parry put-downs.  She says it is all in fun, and it is very important that she can joke with her partner.  She thinks I am thin-skinned and overly sensitive.

Indeed I know I am sensitive, but this is a vicious circle which makes me more and more sensitive.  No doubt this kind of dialogue is very common amongst some people.  I witness it almost daily with friends or certain colleagues.

To me there are limits and obviously my limits are different than hers.  I'm working on being less sensitive, but the only way to do that is to numb myself, which doesn't give her the participation she wants.  She says she will try to do it less, but it always comes back. 

I do not think she believes there is a problem on her side.  She's said she wants this in a relationship, and if I can't handle it, maybe we aren't right for each other.  Other parts of our relationship are great, but I don't understand why a clearly negative behavior is so important, especially for an intelligent person.

Albert

Albert, your girlfriend is good at swordplay, but she can't fence by herself.  She wants you to play so she can feel good about herself.  She has a fondness for something hurtful.  That says more about her character than you realize.

There is a difference between humor and wit.  Humor puts us in the same boat as the other person, while wit throws us out of the boat and into the water with the sharks.  That is why humorists are often loved, while wits are often quoted but seldom loved.

Your girlfriend is a wit.  She is not too thick-skinned to realize she hurts others.  Most likely she simply doesn't care.  Making you wince is part of her nature.  Look for a girlfriend who wants to row the boat with you, not feed you to the fishes. 

Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)

 

False Start

My boyfriend and I are 18 and have been dating four months. Although we are young and haven't been together long, I truly believe we have the relationship of a more mature couple with a longer history. Or at least I do.

My boyfriend, we will call him Bob for privacy's sake, is a true renaissance man when it comes to relationships; he's great with kids, loves me very much, has a great body, is pleasing in the bedroom, is hilarious, and most importantly loves his mother more than anything else.

Bob has one shortcoming, though. When I see Bob with his family, my heart melts. I have never met a person with closer family bonds, and that is important to me since I have never been close to my family. However Bob's interest in me has gradually ebbed, or so it seems to me.

There are times of course when he is sweet and romantic, and I just think, "Wow, this is the kind of man I want to spend my life with." But most of the time he seems too busy to sit down and have a real conversation with me.

I have experience enough to know that every strong relationship revolves around communication, but Bob is stoic, which makes effective communication difficult. Half the time I'm almost convinced I've done something wrong to make him angry, but I can never think of anything, and when I can, I always make it a point to talk to him about it and apologize.

None of my efforts seem to make a difference, and I'm about at the end of my rope. I love Bob very, very much, but I wonder if he is as committed to me as I am to him, or if he isn't as mature as I am to know how to make this relationship work.

I know the obvious answer is to talk to him. I have and will continue to do so, but I'm running out of ideas. Please don't dismiss this as teen angst. It really does run much deeper than that, and for once I want somebody to take me seriously.

Renae

Renae, a relationship of four months has gone so far awry you are at the end of your rope, and you've fallen into the "every relationship can be fixed" trap. And you are a teen. Look at the pattern you are setting for yourself.

Time must be present in dating so people don't put the cart before the horse. You need time to get to know a man, to build the connection, to let him show you who he really is. You need to get him off his best behavior and away from what he thinks you want.

Otherwise, it's he says nice things, you have sex, and you try to call it a relationship. What many women don't understand is that a man may despise them for the very thing he wanted. Sex. That night he wanted sex; the next day or the next week he can discount her because sex came too easily.

You can take back love, you can take back friendship, you can take back trust, but you cannot take back intimacy. It is because you had sex that you are chasing the relationship. Without sex you would simply have stopped dating him.

Aside from intimacy, there is another factor. Who doesn't see a Hallmark card and think they want the big happy family around the Christmas tree or at the birthday dinner? Did you think you could get what is missing in your family through him?

The two things every relationship must have—the feeling of being loved and the ability to talk honestly with one another—those are the foundation. That's what you build upon. Without that, you have no relationship. Without that, there is nothing to "work on."

Wayne & Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)

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