Dear Jane’s Advice Column -- FREE monthly email newsletter
Click Here to Sign Up:
Our Most Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
Lyn Kelley, Ph.D., CPC (AKA “Dr. Lyn”)
Virginie Sheldon, CPC (AKA "Janie")
Thanks for checking out our advice column! Here are some examples of email questions that we’ve received that are very common relationship situations. When we print them here, we’ve changed the names and details to protect the identity of the senders. This way you get a chance to see how we respond to “15 minute email snippets” and get to know us as Relationship Coaches a little better.
The guy I’ve been dating for a few months asked me out on Wed. for a date for dinner on Fri. at 6PM. At 4PM Friday he called and left a voice mail that he was very sorry but he would need to cancel our date tonight since some good friends of his came into town unexpectedly and he was going out with them. He didn’t mention if they were males or females, and didn’t invite me to join them. I was very angry that he would blow me off for “a better offer” and not invite me. I would never have done this to HIM! This is the second time he’s cancelled on me with a lame excuse. I sent him a text saying, “Call me when you can fit me into your life.” I haven’t heard from him in 3 days. He’s probably mad at me. Should I call and apologize for my snippy text?
--Angry & Confused
Dear Angry & Confused,
I don’t blame you for being angry! I can’t take away your hurt and anger, but hope I can at least end your confusion. First, let’s assume he was being honest, and that these were good male friends, and that he wanted some “buddy” time, which would preclude his new “girl” from joining. That’s okay….if it were not a pattern. Since you say he’s done this once before in just a few months time, I see this as a “red flag.” The fact that he didn’t ask you to join them says that he probably doesn’t see you as being in a serious relationship at this point, or doesn’t see you as his “girlfriend.” It also says he probably doesn’t want anything serious right now. Your response text said that you WANT something more serious, and it probably scared him away. He may be mad, but more likely scared and doesn’t know how to respond. I don’t know if you’ve had the “serious relationship” talk yet, but if not, you may have jumped the gun with this abrupt text. This is why I ask my clients NOT to respond impulsively. I have a 24-hour rule -- when you feel like you just have to respond immediately out of pure emotion, it’s best to wait 24 hours. This gives you time to think about your response and be more rational. I would have recommended not responding at all, forcing him to wonder what you’re thinking. Now you’ve put yourself into the “wondering” place, which is never where you want to be. Since you’ve already sent it, I would NOT apologize for it or retract it. A confident, empowered woman would not do that. In fact, your text showed confidence! I think it’s best you wait it out – let him wriggle. If he wants you bad enough, he will call and try to work through it with you – then you can have that “serious relationship talk” and find out exactly what he wants. If he doesn’t call, that’s okay – you have your answer! Have the courage and strength to accept it and move on.
My girlfriend desn't trust me and she has no reason not to. We've been dating a few months and last night we had a date and things were going really well. She was over at my home for dinner and when I went to take a shower she checked my phone texts and messages! She confronted me very angry and asked who are Debbie and Maria? I felt very violated and told her she had no business looking at my phone -- that is an invasion of privacy! I told her Debbie and Maria are work colleagues but she doesn't believe me. She accused me of being a "player," stormed out and now won't take my calls. What should I do?
---Not a Player
Dear "Not a Player,"
It sounds like you are involved with someone who may have trust issues that stem from past relationships. It is normal for you to feel violated and that she invaded your privacy, because she did. Understand that this is not about you, it's not personal, but rather the result of an old wound of hers that never healed. If you want to continue to date her (which I'm assuming you do), then resolving this issue is going to require a lot of patience and compassion on your part. My suggestion is that you leave her a message (if she won't take your calls) and tell her you would like to talk to her about how she is feeling. If and when you have an opportunity, let her know that you understand she's having a hard time trusting you, and that you would like to help her work through that. Ask her what you could do, specifically and/or differently, that would help her feel more trusting of you and more secure. If her request feels reasonable to you, and doesn't entail invasion of your privacy.... then let her know you are willing to do it. We all carry baggadge from our past.... wounds, fears, insecurities, etc., and it is usually in our intimate relationships
that they will surface. When we can talk about our fears, we are one step closer to healing them!
I’m in a new relationship with a guy who says he wants to be exclusive and committed with me. He’s great, and a lot of fun, and treats me well except for one thing. I’ve noticed he is very frugal and we only go out to places that are inexpensive, like pizza, matinee movies, drinks with no offer of food, picnics on the beach, etc. After a few weeks of dating he asked me to dinner and when the bill came, he asked me if I could cover it. I did, willingly, but it didn’t feel right. Then after a few more weeks we decided to cook dinner together at his place and went to the grocery store together and when we were checking out he said, “It’s your turn to pay.” I looked at him stunned! I said “Okay,” and paid, but when we got in the car I was angry and asked him, “Is this how it’s going to be? Do you want me to pay every other time or what?” He said he felt that was only fair since we both earn about the same amount of money. I don’t know why this bothers me so much! I was raised to believe that the man should pay the majority of the time, especially in the first few months of dating. I don’t know if he earns the same as me, all I know is, I cannot afford to pay for half our dates, nor do I want to! This makes me think he won’t be a good provider for me and our family. I feel he’s being “cheap.” Am I off base?
Dear Cheaped Out,
No, you’re NOT off base! This is one of those times when you need to trust your instincts and your gut feelings. It didn’t feel “right” to you the first time, and it felt “awful” the second time. I wouldn’t wait for a third time! This man may have all kinds of amazing qualities, but it’s clear that his “frugality” doesn’t work for you. There is a difference between frugality and cheapness. Since it feels like “cheapness” to you, it probably is. Trust me, if money is an issue this early in your relationship, it will most likely be a HUGE issue down the road – and could ultimately destroy your relationship. He may want to have a woman “on the cheap” so you need to politely let him know you aren’t that type of woman. Here’s my rule -- if he invites me out to dinner, he should pay. If I invite him, I should pay. I do not want to be told by a man that “it’s my turn to pay.” I would have a talk with him about it, face to face. If you think this might become a serious relationship, better to get it all out in the open now. Tell him how you were raised and what your idea is about paying and sharing money in a relationship. Let him know that you are looking for a man to provide for you and a family, maybe not everything, but most likely contribute more than you most of the time, generously and without resentment. Be strong – never be afraid to tell a man who you are and what you want – and never apologize for that!
I think the guy I'm dating is a commitment phobic. He doesn't call regularly, and often calls at the last minute to ask me out. When we do go out we have a great time and there is lots of sexual chemistry although I haven't slept with him yet. He wants to but I tell him I need to get to know him better. I really like him a lot --he's a lot of fun, and I can see that he has lots of potential as a provider. Last week he told me his ex-girlfriend keeps calling him and wanting to see him for "just lunch" which he did. The week before that he broke a date with me at the last minute because "something came up at work." He has a history of a lot of short term relationships. He is thinking about changing jobs which might take him out of state. Is he trying to push me away? Then why does he keep calling? I'm 35 and he's 45 -- neither of us has been married or had kids. I want to get married and have kids and feel I'm running out of time. Am I wasting my time with this guy?
Dear Going Crazy,
I can understand how frustrated you must be. Yes, there is a possibility that this guy could be commitment phobic, based on his history of short term relationships, but I wouldn't jump to that conclusion just yet. Women tend to "diagnose" this behavior as commitmentphobia, very quickly, because it's the only thing that makes sense to them. This behavior could very well boil down to the fact that he simply does not have the desire or need to be in a relationship, and/or get married any time soon. This doesn't mean he's not a nice guy, but just that you may not want the same things. What I would try to do, is focus more on how all of this is making you feel. The "not calling", canceling dates last minute, having lunch with his ex. etc., shows that you are not a priority to him right now, and you need to decide if this is the kind of situation you want to be in. It also sounds like you haven't known him very long, and if you are already feeling badly about things, that's not a good sign. I commend you for not sleeping with him yet! Chemistry is usually higher when we're dating someone who isn't "available." You mentioned that you felt he had potential, and he probably does, however falling in love with someone's potential can lead to extreme disappointment and heartache. 9 times out of 10....what you see is what you get! Have you tried talking to him about this? An important thing to remember is this: The first 3 months of dating, are generally when a man will display his best behavior. If this is his best behavior, then this is a very good indication of what you would be dealing with in the future. If what you want is to get married and have children, and you don't think he's on the page, then my answer to your question would be yes..I think you are wasting your time.