About every couple of months I answer readers' relationship questions. I try to answer questions in such a way as to both serve person asking question, while also sharing with all readers some relationship truth or principle I see as underlying question. This month I am also adding a new highlight to Q&A. The "Featured Question" can now be found at end of Q&A, and is picked because of its broad appeal. This question will get a much more in-depth response.
Q. I am 23 and have been dating a guy for 2 years. Everything is fine except that my boyfriend is very possessive, suspicious and jealous. This type of behavior is killing me. I have openly discussed it with him but he says it's because he loves me too much. This puts me off. If you could please help… ~Rose
A. Dear Rose, I am not surprised your boyfriend's possessiveness and jealousy is putting you off and making you feel stifled. I think you already know this behavior has nothing to do with how much he loves you, but has to do with his fear of being hurt, abandoned, perhaps being cheated on. I am going to assume you have not done anything to make him feel more insecure than he already is, which means how he feels has nothing to do with you. The bad news is that you cannot do anything to make him stop being possessive, suspicious and jealous. The good news is that you don't have to take it personally. The better news is that you don't need to try to make him feel better, because you can't - he will likely have these feelings for a long time, in any relationship he is in. So go about your life, doing what you need to do and stop accommodating his feelings. This is your only hope of helping him ever get over them. ~Your Relationship Coach
Q. I really like this girl and I think she likes me. The problem is that she is dating someone. The bigger problem is that she is dating my friend. What do I do? ~Tommy
A. Dear Tommy, As I see it, you have two choices - let girl know you like her, but lose friendship with your friend. Or, keep friendship and go find another girl to focus on. It all depends on how important friendship is to you. ~Your Relationship Coach
Q. Can you offer any insight into achieving intimacy, openness and honesty in a relationship without hurting other person? I see anger as root of most intimacy problems. ~Krista
A. Dear Krista, You are right. Unresolved anger turned into resentment is root of most intimacy problems. Resolving anger and resentments when they arise, as they will occasionally in any relationship, is surest path to intimacy, openness and honesty. However, it's almost impossible not to hurt other person, in any relationship. The truth is, you will hurt your partner - sometimes unintentionally and sometimes even intentionally. Hurting each other occasionally does not have to mean end of relationship. It is what two of you do with hurt that matters. In an open, intimate relationship two people will talk about their anger and hurt, and learn to listen to each other in such a way that negative emotions will get worked through. ~Your Relationship Coach
Q. I have lived with a man for a year-and-a-half, and I'm really not sure if he's one for me. My issue is this: Ralph wants to do, literally, everything I do, and everything together. He wants to wake up together in morning, shower together, leave for work together, spend all of our evenings together, and go to bed at same time. I feel like he's infringing on my individuality, and I feel like he's clinging to me in an unhealthy way. I've given up my morning exercise routine because it bothered him that we didn't spend mornings together. I'm a writer and I like to do some writing in mornings...I really enjoy waking early and having some time to myself. Because I wake up early, he wants to wake up early too. When he does this I feel like he's a little puppy dog who just needs to follow me around all day and do everything I do. If I say I don't WANT him to do that he feels rejected, and as if something is wrong because I don't want him there all time.
It's not that I don't want to do anything together. We're taking a painting class together one night a week, and it's very enjoyable and fun to share this time together. We have dinner together every night, which I also love. On other hand, I also wonder if I'm making up this story about his lack of independence...and perhaps I'm not allowing myself to "be" with a man. I wonder sometimes if he's "good enough," and then I feel guilty that I'm such a "snob."
I have anger that bubbles up around these issues all time. What do I do? ~Jane
A. Dear Jane, People in relationships need time apart and need their own lives in order for relationship to work. So I am wondering why you have been willing to give this part of yourself up, giving up your time alone, your exercise, your writing, instead of allowing your partner to deal with his feeling of rejection? After all, you know you are not rejecting him when you want some space and time - you are taking care of yourself. If this brings up feelings of rejection for him, you can gently help him deal with feelings, instead of trying to fix situation so that he does not feel rejected. I suggest you try taking care of yourself and then help him deal with his emotions as they come up, by listening and being understanding, but not giving up yourself again. I think this will change how you feel about him. ~Your Relationship Coach