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         Like Versus Love

Like Versus Love

For Want Of A Nail

I have decided to end a two-year relationship with my boyfriend and don’t know if I am making the right decision.

I am 32 years old and have never been married.  My boyfriend, Brandon, has two sons from a previous marriage.  Over the course of a year we realized we shared many interests, and our relationship evolved into a romantic one.

On our two year anniversary, Brandon made it clear he wants to marry me.  Although he brought marriage up before, I never gave him a strong indication that I would say yes.  He now feels, and I agree, it’s time to move forward or move on.

Brandon, 44, is a wonderful man.  He is caring, a great father, has good values, and is intelligent and creative.  He is deeply in love with me.  While I appreciate him and am very fond of his boys, I don’t feel deeply “in love” with him.  We are companions who get along well and enjoy each other’s company.

On a sexual level, I want someone more aggressive, with a different physical look.  It sounds superficial, and I don’t know another way to express it, but Brandon is not my “type.”  He doesn’t turn me on.  I feel guilty and flawed because I am having a hard time committing to such a great guy.

We have been in counseling together, but I believe it’s impossible to manufacture the chemistry of love and sexual attraction that is missing.  Nothing we do seems to work.  We are affectionate, but the spark is not there for me.  Brandon believes if I try hard, I can change.

Another aspect of our relationship is that Brandon is financially secure, and I am not.  He is a software designer, but he doesn’t have to work.  I am a full-time photographer.  It has not been a very lucrative path for me, but I make enough to survive.  I work long hours at my job and freelance for extra income.  Marrying Brandon would relieve my anxiety about money.  If I marry him, I will toil less and have more freedom.

I dread the idea of starting over and trying to meet someone else.  We live in a very small, isolated town where there are few eligible men.  If I want to meet someone else, I would need to move.

These past two weeks, Brandon and I have been at an impasse.  Marrying him would represent a conscious compromise I would have to make with myself.  I can’t sort out the conflicting messages between my head, my heart, and my body.


Jolie, when our basic needs are satisfied, our higher needs assert themselves.  You may think marrying Brandon will give you freedom from toil.  What it will give you is more time to think about what you lack.  People focus on what they don’t have, not on what they have.

Do you remember the nursery rhyme “For Want of a Nail”?  For want of a nail the shoe was lost; For want of a shoe the horse was lost; For want of a horse the rider was lost; For want of a rider the battle was lost; For want of a battle the kingdom was lost; All for want of a horseshoe nail.

You are at the beginning of a sequence of events, a sequence of causality.  The sequence could end 20 years from now with you saying to your child, “You know, I never really loved your father.”  The sequence could end in years of therapy, trying to learn how to have sex with a man you don’t love.  The sequence could end in many ways.

Which sequence do you want?  The one which ends this way, or the one which ends with you marrying the man you love?  Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can marry for security and not suffer consequences. 

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


Night And Day

How do you know when you’ve crossed the boundary between liking and loving someone?  What is the difference?


Kirby, it’s hard to talk about this boundary without using example and comparison.  They don’t give an exact picture, but they suggest and give you a sense of the reality.

If you say, “I love my dog,” but look at an apartment that doesn’t allow pets, you only liked the dog.  Whoever said, “You can fall in love with a rich man as easily as a poor man,” never loved.  Whoever thinks love can be measured by a bathroom scale or diminished by age, never loved.

Love is like the answer to a riddle.  Other answers may seem good or clever, but only this one answer is perfect.

Love is like the right job.  The job inspires you and feels like play.  You crave the work, you are passionate about it.  It lifts you up and drives you to new levels.

Love is the color which connects with the deepest level of your being.  It is the music which speaks to you.

When you love someone, you are totally yourself with them.  Nothing can drive a wedge between you.  Whatever life throws at you, you deal with together. 

When you reach the boundary between like and love, you know you are entering another country.  You are beyond newness and infatuation.  You know what Shakespeare meant when he called love “an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken.”

(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)


The Full Package

On Friday the 13th, my boyfriend said he only loved me 99 percent, and he wanted someone he could love 100 percent.  He doesn't know which 1 percent is missing.

However much I talk to him, he sticks to his guns.  I'm not angry, just confused as to where he's going to find another woman daft enough to give up everything for him, with the same hopes and ambitions, tastes and friendships.

Do you think he'll come back to me when he feels the need for love and affection again?


Morgan, sometimes 1 percent makes all the difference.  A 1 percent difference in functional DNA is all that separates us from the chimpanzees.  That tells you that 1 percent can be everything.  One percent can be the difference between right and wrong.

Who wants a man who needs to be argued into staying?  You want a man who knows you have the 1 percent which makes all the difference to him.

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


Time Travel

Let me quote something you wrote.  "When you reach the boundary between like and love, you know you are entering a different country.  You are beyond newness and infatuation.  You know what Shakespeare meant when he called love 'an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken.'"

On one level, I agree with what you say.  But I believe very few of us find what you describe.  We end up settling when we reach a point at which we realize it is either that or being alone.

I, for one, have never felt what you describe and recently have come to terms that I will not.  I am 50, outgoing, attractive and independent, with two children who are blessings I would never have if I did not "settle."  I know I will never make that mistake again, and I find I am alone and probably always will be.

Is love the luck of the draw?  Are some of us just luckier than others?  Or is it something lacking in me?  I would love to know.


Linda, sixty years ago the science fiction writer René Barjavel asked what would happen if you traveled back in time and killed your grandfather before he met your grandmother.  Could this happen?  If it did, you would not exist, so how could you travel back in time?  This dilemma is known as the grandfather paradox.

When you "settled," how did you know the next man wouldn't have been the perfect one for you?  How did you know the children wouldn't have been his and your children?  When you are of the mindset of settling, you're not thinking of love but of other things--marriage, a house, children.  You've traded love for a time schedule.

When you "settle" for a house, how many more houses do you visit with your real estate agent?  None.  How do you know the next house wouldn't be the one of your heart's desire?  When you are dating, married to, or pregnant by a man you settled for, how likely is it you can see or be seen by the one for you?

It would be as easy for us to say your children would have been in your future, if you'd waited.  Now you want to discount this idea again, but you are closer to it now than when you settled--because now you don't want to settle.  This has more to do with patience than with luck.  You don't stop trying to balance your checkbook until things balance. 

Perhaps it is your fate to come to this knowing now.  Why could this not happen for you now?  Why not tomorrow or next month or next year?  When you are living your life fully, engaging with others, knowing what you want, why not now?

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


Not Love, Just Lonely

You know what really stinks?  When you find a girl you like, eventually fall in love, and like an idiot throw it all away because you think you can do better.  The worst part is seeing her with her new boyfriend and having endless nights of regret for what you had and let go.


Mark, nothing about you or her has changed.  If you were with her, you would still be rubbernecking other women and wanting someone better.  Because you haven’t found anyone, let alone someone better, now you are willing to settle for her.

Something in your relationship told you she was not for you.  Be grateful for that.  That something prevented a mistake from happening to both of you.  Your second thoughts are caused by loneliness and jealousy.

If you loved this woman, you wouldn’t have thought you could do better.  You would have known she was the best—better than all the rest.  If you were with her again, in no time at all you would be thinking, “I can do better.” 

At any time you can settle for less, but the price you pay to have the right person in your life is having the strength not to settle for less.

(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)


Another Dimension

What is more important in marriage, love or companionship?  I love a woman.  I know she loves me with a deep and loyal love.  Still we hurt each other with words.  Often I feel we neither complement each other nor are we soul mates. 


Derek, the Irish short story writer Frank O'Connor wrote a story called "The Impossible Marriage." In it a woman named Eileen and a man named Jim find each other.  Though they lived in the same section of Cork, they never noticed each other until the time was ripe. 

Neither is free to marry because of family obligations, but they marry anyway.  The marriage is something of a joke to people around them because they can't share the same household.  They are only free to be together a few evenings a week and for short vacations. 

Despite this, they are extraordinarily happy.  After awhile, unexpectedly, Jim dies.  At the funeral Eileen tells Jim's aunt it won't be long before she and Jim are together again.  When the aunt protests Eileen will find happiness again, Eileen says she could never find such happiness a second time. 

By the end of the story everyone realizes that this marriage, which seemed like a parody of the real thing, was so complete and so perfect that beside it their own marriage appears hollow. 

Most writers get this kind of story wrong.  Their intuition tells them it's supposed to be like this, but they surrender to self-doubt and think no one will believe it.

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


Without Love

Kendra and I have been dating almost six years.  For the past three years I have constantly asked myself if she is the one.  I can never come up with the answer.

I fantasize about being with other women, and it is not because Kendra lacks beauty.  I feel disinterested in intimacy with her, but it was not like that in the beginning.  If you asked me three years ago I would have told you I was not missing out on anything.  Now that cannot be true.

I guess the biggest problem in my mind's eye is time.  Because we have been together for so long, I'm not sure if I am just staying out of convenience.  I am accepted by her family, she is accepted by mine, and our friends think we suit each other perfectly.

I asked my mother about her relationship with my father.  She explained they were each other's best friend.  They share the same goals and that works for them.  I asked if their sex life was still strong.  My mom said they don't have it nearly as much as in the past, but that it still happens on occasion.

Just recently I went away for a month to work out of the country and met Lissete.  We connected on many levels.  I promised her I would end things with Kendra when I returned home, and at first I felt great about my decision.  In the course of a month Lissete and I made plans for her to come here from Holland.

Then one morning I awoke from a nightmare and felt sick to my stomach.  I felt I made a mistake.  I felt sick the entire day until I got the nerve to call Kendra.  She agreed to meet.  Suddenly I was quick to make things work with Kendra, and we decided to give it a second try. 

I told Kendra about Lissete.  She was upset, of course, but understood it was over in my head.  Now here I am, one month later.  The first few weeks were great, but I feel us slipping back to where we were.  I can only think of the other girl.  Lissete was heartbroken and tried to warn me this would happen, but I wouldn't listen.

Now I don't know what to do.  Kendra will never break up with me, leaving me to do the dirty work if it has to be done.  Who is to say I wouldn't have the same sex boredom problem with the other woman.  Once again I find myself asking if I should just marry this woman who loves me to death and go on with life.


Ward, whoa!  Can you hear what you're saying?  Things were not right with Kendra so you ended it.  You felt you deserved better.  Then things were wonderful with Lissete until you felt the burden of her arrival.

Getting back together with Kendra was the easiest way to prevent that, but breaking up again is not dirty work.  It is solving a problem you created.  People say the grass is always greener on the other side, but that is not quite right.  It is only when things are wrong in our own yard that the other side looks more inviting. 

What gives things value is our emotional attachment to them.  It is what makes a job not a job but a calling.  But without that emotional connection things always get boring.  Without love there is no lasting passion. 

What you love you can do again and again, never getting bored.  It isn't boring to be with someone you really love.  If your passion is horses, you never get bored with horses.  The movie you love, you have seen more times than you can count.  But movies which are no more than special effects are boring.  There is nothing to care about.

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

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