Holiday Uncertainty

Hi guys,

I have being receiving mixed signals from my boyfriend of a year. I do not know if a year is long enough for him to bring me back home to meet his parents yet, so I may sound a bit ridiculous on the way.

The both of us are living in Canada, while his parents are in London. He goes back there every christmas for a traditional family get together.

Here is the deal: It's strange to me why he would not bring me back for this "family" event this year (hence my initial question on whether a year is a long enough period), neither has he offered at all. He has, in the past, indicated to me that Christmas is more a 'family' event whereas New Year's would be a more fun, lively and informal event spent with friends, and we will be spending new years together this year! He has also mentioned before that he would only bring the girl he thinks he might marry "home". I reckon it is because we have had certain issues in the past, which although are sorted out and fine now, that he might probably not be too certain about "us"? Im not rushing in marrying him... but just a thought on whether he is just uncertain about us having a future together, or whether he doesn't love me enough to bring me home?

And the thing that really stirred my mind was when he mentioned on two occasions, while we were out having a casual dinner/drinks and engaging on some serious couple-talks, that I should feel free to come and join them for christmas 'as part of the us (his family)'. Did it probably slip out of his mouth because he probably had a few drinks then, and was just being more "open" with his feelings- i do not know. Any piece of advise on that? DEEPLY appreciated!

To make myself clearer, he offered an invitation couple of months back, and never brought them up anymore afterwards.

God Bless you and your families!


GARLAND: Good question. I think you're jumping the gun with a lot of stuff here.

First - Going home for Christmas. Me and Chuck, when we were single didn't bring many women 'home.' I'll let Chuck speak on his perspective in a second, but for me - I just didn't feel like the post visit commentary from Mom. Was I getting engaged? Is she the one? She's so cute! She's not so cute! I liked Shelly better than her! Is she older than you? Blah, Blah, Blah...

For some guys - it's not you, it's them - when it comes to taking that special someone home to meet mom. Don't look too deep into it and for heaven's sake don't press him over it, it's not personal.

As far as ARE YOU THE ONE goes... you may or may not be. For some people it takes more than a year to be sure. Don't push the issue too hard and don't use your lack of Christmas invitation as a relationship barometer. You might not like the readings. Give him some room and let him visit his family for the holidays and you do the same. Try not to make his and his family's Christmas about you and what you want your relationship to be. We he comes back, take your time and enjoy what the two of you have don't worry about invites and weddings and all that stuff right now. Enjoy what the two of you have right now.

CHUCK: Ah, yes, Christmas memories. I've had Christmases where my family members misbehaved embarassingly. I've had Christmases where my girlfriend and I had a screaming fight in front of my mother. I had a Thanksgiving once where I was invited to a girlfriend's mom's house for dinner, and her mother, after being there for a couple of hours, told us, in effect, "Oh, we weren't planning on making a big dinner today." But enough about me. All I'm saying is, be careful what you wish for.

Like Garland said, some mothers, or other family members, will make any holiday guests visiting "a thing." That is, a catalyst for a lot of embarassing questions. And they might not wait until you're gone to ask them. He may be trying to spare you from some family quirkiness that might not be so endearing the first time out.

A year may or may not be too soon to make those kind of introductions, but what you don't think of as a big deal may in fact be to him. Maybe he wants you to meet his family on an occasion that isn't as loaded with meaning, like say, Easter. Then it won't be as big a thing.

Don't look for signs for what this means for your relationship. It may not mean a single thing. It's obvious he's thinking about you in that context, because of his slips, or whatever they are. But give him time, don't pressure him, and you'll meet them soon enough. Happy holidays.


WAMT: the Lost Files, Volume 1

This question was submitted late last year in the "comments" portion of a previous post. It was just discovered. Our apologizes to the person that submitted it. In the future, please drop us a line at our E-Mail address,

QUESTION: Hi, I was perusing the web and found your very insightful and cool site. I'm almost afraid to run this past you but here it goes.

I met a nice young man from Kenya, I'm older than he is, we became really close friends, it never occurred to me that it could be romantic due to age difference.

He e-mailed me one nite stating he was so into me, and to send him a sign if I felt the same. We dabbled in occassional intimate encounters, they were great. Then he began to act like it never happened for a time. Time passed, we again became close. He needed a place to stay, so I let him stay at my house. It gets weird here, as sometimes he would be with me upstairs, sleeping in my bed, other times, he'd sleep downstairs. Our sexual encounters were more frequent and he was always telling me that he loved me, and that he would always remember me.

8 months of him living here, I find out he has acquired a fu-- buddy off of craigslist. I become hurt, even though, on the one hand I know it's normal for a man of 29 to be exploring all possibilities and all the self deprecating, lack of confidence notions that can make a woman of 50 doubt her desirability.

Make it seem even more predictable he ends up telling me his mother is here from Africa. He goes to a city an hour away to see her, spends the night there a few times. I give him money to get there. Well, to cut to the chase, I discover his mom is in kenya, she was never here. I was so blown out of the water. I put all my trust in him, NEVER did it occurr to me it was all a lie.

For what purpose? To be able to eke out more time living here free? I kicked him out, and he now has the ho from craigslist renting him a car, he's living with his ex-girl friend, both of whom he says he doesn't like. Says he misses me blah blah blah....

I now really question my judgement as far as being a good judge of character, as I truly believed he and I would be friends for a very long time, no expectations about he and I living as lovebirds forever, but to be misled and deliberately lied to, has been painful, embarrassing and a tough lesson to learn


GARLAND: This started off like a question and then I think it turned into a confession. Often, the hardest thing to do is look in the mirror and tell the face you see "I'm sorry I treated you like crap." But I think you owe yourself that apology.

Uh, yeah. He did all that stuff to simply play you. He saved up his rent money by shacking with you for eight months and then got all the sex he wanted and then he toyed with your emotions. I wish I could explain in some deep thoughtful voice how it was all him and not you, but that would be a lie. Let me explain...

Okay, this blog is called "What are men thinking" so, when a man becomes a dog and thinks that a woman's heart, and body and soul aren't of any value to him he abuses them. This is what a dog does - nothing else. He humps, he eats and he craps - usually on the woman that fools herself into believing that he'll change and that "he loves me in his own kinda' way." He's thinking that you aren't worth a damn, so that is how he is treating you.

Then, to further ease his conscience he shows you, in your face, that he's got an F-buddy off of Craiglist. And, what do you do - you accept it because he's 29 and you're 50. Then you go and give him money to go visit his mother who can travel ALL THE WAY FROM AFRICA but can't seem to make it that last 50 miles to visit her Baby Boy. He is thinking that you are gullible. I'm sad to say that he was right. I'm pretty sure that at 50, you knew what time it was. But, you have the same flaw that everyone has - you're human. You have emotions and feelings, and he just played yours against you. The best thing for you from this point on is to not let that happen again. Walk away - well schooled.

Listen please - I'm not saying this to disrespect you. Chuck and I started this blog to shake women AWAKE to the bullshit some of these guys are serving you all out there. REMEMBER you heard it here first: "A man will only treat you the way you let him!" If you let a bum mooch your money and your home, and you knowingly agree to share sexual relations with him and X number of other women in a time of damn near epidemic HIV and AIDS cases, and you give him your cash and your dignity... your are commiting a crime against your personal self-worth. He will be thinking that you are worth NOTHING. Remember THAT in case he ever calls back claiming to be down on his luck.

And, that woman off of Craigslist that is renting him a car... DON'T CALL HER A HO! You don't know anything of her virtue, but there are too damn many women ready to curse each other out over no-good bastards like your African boy! You channel that anger to person that deserves it - HIM. Have a little fire in your belly where it counts. He dogs you out and YOU call HER a HO? No, DON'T DO THAT!!!

Thanks for dropping us a line. You go find a mirror, apologize to yourself, lift your head up high and stay the hell away from broke, busted, bamboozlin' bastards.

CHUCK: Your situation is the kind of situation that, if a girlfriend told you that she was going through it, you would say, "Girl, dump that bastard! He's playin' you!" But you could not see your way through it yourself. This man knew what he was doing. He got you all caught up in a vortex of sex, ego, and obligation, and worked you for all he could. Most of all, he took advantage of your insecurities over being a 50-year-old dating a 29-year-old.

As a sidebar: African men, I just don't know. I don't know how you're viewed in the rest of the world, but in the part of the US that I inhabit, anecdotes like this one get passed around, and women start to view most men from Africa as lying, cheating, opportunistic grifters. You African men conducting your relationships on the up-and-up, I don't know what you can do about this perception, I don't know what you should do. But you African men like the one descibed above: Stop being assholes.

Sorry it took so long for us to recognize your story, but again I come back to my frequent mantra here: You got off light. You didn't get a disease, you didn't get run up on by one of this guy's other women, and you've been a whole lot smarter about who you've let in your life since then, right? And you even get a late word of moderate wisdom from Garland and myself: Who is a ho is in the Eye of the Beholder.

What Keeps Us Together

QUESTION: How can you tell if your man is REALLY satisfied? I got that Good, Good, but is it enough?

I have been married 12+ years and I wonder if my husband will tire of me. I hope that we grow old together, but I wonder do men feel the same? I continue to hear the term "Cheaper to Keep Her." Well, it would be nice to live knowing that someone wants and loves you by choice. There are a million beautiful, willing and able women around, so please tell me something more than just sex. What do you think about monogamous relationships? Just be honest... I can handle the truth.

GARLAND: Good question.

I think that first you need to keep in mind that there are not really a MILLION beautiful, willing and able women around, not a half million, or a quarter million, or a 100,000. I say that semi-light hearted, but don't let herself think that your man is just overwhelmed with hotties trying to take him from you.

I think there are a lot of men that love their wives and love the monogamous relationships that they share. There are also a lot of men who are married and looking for that next little cutie pie they can call up when the wife is out of town at her sister's house. But let's assume they are the minority and your man is majority.

12 years is a long time, congratulations. While men are very sexual and visual, without a doubt, we also have a fairly decent protective streak within us when we are truly being MANLY. We want to protect our women, our children and our families. Protecting these that we hold dear includes protecting the feelings of our spouses and the fidelity of our marriages and committments. Rest easy in the fact that YES, we can love our women beyond the "Good, Good" as you put it.

If your husband isn't giving you reason to question him, no weird behavior, no secret phone calls, no new habits that can't be explained - he's probably as loving and happy and faithful as he's ever been. WE CAN BE HAPPY AND SATISFIED WITH ONE GOOD WOMAN. We can.

CHUCK: Garland is right on here. Men are no different from women in their need to want to have someone to grow old with. The problem is, some men take forever to realize that, and lay waste to a lot of relationships before they arrive at that realization. We need to catch on quicker.

Just my personal opinion, but 've come up with a list of various factors that will keep monogamous relationships together. Some are positive, some not so.
- Love.
-Sexual compatibility. This person can turn you out, push your buttons, curl your toes, and press your laundry.
-Personal compatibility. She laughs at your jokes. He kisses you after you've eaten chitlins.You can both quote dialog from Pootie Tang to each other.
-Security. This person you're with enhances the financial quality of your life, either with you, or for you.
-Fear. The whole cheaper-to-keep-her element falls under here. Also the look-at-me-who-else-could-I-get element.
Most monogamous relationships contain smaller or greater parts of each of these elements, but when it starts to lean too heavily on numbers 4 and 5, that's probably a relationship that could be in trouble. Anyway, my theory here. It's the holidays. I've got a lot of time on my hands.
You and your husband have made it through twelve years. That is an accomplishment in itself. These days, people divorce because they don't like the same breakfast cereals ("You like HONEY BUNCHES OF OATS?! You B!#CH!"). I can't say definitively what is working for you, but it's working. So don't get too hung up over the next twenty years. Just enjoy the ride right now.


Fairweather Facebook Friends, or The Only Black Man in Toronto

About six months ago I was on Facebook and came across some pictures of a guy we'll call Paul. I was intrigued; besides being devastatingly gorgeous, we had a ton of mutual friends and he looked really familiar to me. So I added him as a friend.

A few weeks went by and nothing happened. I would occasionally check out his profile and look at his pictures but I left it at that. Then one day he posted a picture of his closet. This may sound weird but seeing that he was a clotheshorse just sent me over the edge. I posted a comment under the photo: "this picture just made me fall a little bit in love with you"; to which he replied "ha!".

Then that was it for a few more weeks. I was taking a break from the dating scene and hadn't really intended to pursue anything with anyone at that time. Then I happened to mention to a friend of mine that I had a crush on Paul and she started gushing about how he's such a nice guy and such a gentleman etc. etc. and that I was being a punk by not at least attempting to get to know him. Even more intrigued, I let that marinate for a week or so. Then I told my friend Mary who is a good friend of Paul's that I was crushing on him and she said I should write him a note on Facebook. She said be witty – he likes witty.

So I wrote a note. My friend Mary was on the phone with him while he read it. He said I was witty but wasn't I so and so's girl? She said no that it was long over between me and so and so. He asked what part of the city I lived in and she told him. He wrote me back that day.

Over the next couple of weeks we wrote back and forth a few times. But each time the conversation would end because he would stop replying. I was ready to put an end to things right there (bad communication habits is kind of a turnoff for me) but my friends told me I was being overly harsh and should just go with the flow – not everyone is an email person.

Then summer came and with it a flurry of events. We started bumping into each other fairly often. He was always very flirty, very solicitous, spent a lot of time talking to me each time I saw him. But it never translated into what I really wanted – a real live date. Being a liberated woman I decided to take matters into my own hands and ask him out. So I called him up one evening and asked him if he wanted to have drinks on the weekend. He said drinks would be cool but he had his son that weekend so he wasn't sure when exactly he could be free. We agreed to touch base closer to the weekend to firm up plans.

The weekend came and went and…nothing. I never called him and he never called me. The next time we saw each other neither of us mentioned it. And although he was just as flirty and attentive as he'd ever been, the crush was starting to wear thin. It was becoming tiresome to try to get (and maintain) his attention so I decided to relegate him from PNB (potential next boyfriend) status down to GILF (should be self-explanatory).

Summer came to an end and with it the endless stream of parties that defines summer in Toronto died down. So it was a couple of weeks before I ran into him again on a random Thursday night as I was on my way to a friend's house. We said just a quick hello before I went about my business. Upstairs I moaned to my friends about how tired I was of having a crush on him and that I just needed something to happen so I could get him out of my system. I said "maybe I should just ___ him? Yeah Mary tell him don't worry I don't want to wife him I just want to ____ him. That ought to do it". Mary just rolled her eyes at me.

But guess what happened? The very next night I scored a last minute all-access pass to a film festival party and whom should I bump into but Paul himself? He was drunk, I was looking hot, we were both there alone - it was an orgy of mutual admiration which culminated in a ride home and an incident in my driveway that can best be described as "parking lot pimping". When it was over, I strolled inside thinking "okay that's it. I got what I wanted and I can move on with my life". By this point I had already set my sights on my next "victim" and barely noticed or cared when two months went by and I hadn't seen or heard from Paul. I figured we both got what we wanted and could move on.

Well two days ago I had the opportunity to spend the day working for Paul's company at an event. I knew he would be there and was mildly concerned about whether it would be awkward, but it wasn't at all. He was just as flirty, attentive, and interested as ever. And I was just as smitten. After a blissful day of working together he paid me and told me how good it was to have me there. And then we both left.

Since then my crush on him as come back with a vengeance. I just cannot seem to get this man out of my system and to be honest I don't really blame myself; he's handsome, charming, funny, smart, articulate, cultured, and polite. And single. Granted, not to toot my own horn but I am all those things as well. But that is an extremely rare package to find in a black man in Toronto. But of course, being all those things he has no shortage of offers from women and I feel like I just haven't yet had the chance to distinguish myself from the pack. Chit chatting and flirting in clubs and Facebook messages only go so far to convey my wonderfulness; when I see him in person my nerves kick in and I'm always a less-fabulous version of myself. I just feel like if I could somehow get two good hours of his undivided attention for us to talk and get to know each other, he would see what a good match we make.

So my question for you oh wise men is this: do I even bother to try to make something out of this or do I just drop the pebble? Being that it's winter and we don't normally tend to frequent the same spots (and I no longer have his phone number), the chances of me bumping into him organically are virtually nil. His birthday is next week so I was thinking that I'd drop him a little happy birthday note on Facebook but I already know he's "not really a facebook guy" by his own admission so that will only get me so far. I do know where he'll be celebrating next weekend, so I could just show up there being my fabulous self and hope something comes out of it…

What do you guys think?

GARLAND: I think you should move on and leave both Paul and Facebook alone. You've wasted a lot of time on both from the sound of it and it doesn't sound like you've gained anything aside from a driveway hookup from either one.

I hate to sound crass, but the whole "Facebook" / "MySpace" thing is a cruel joke on dating. Folks read some blurbs online and check out some photos and suddenly they start filling in the rest of the blanks and start "pretending" they know the people they're hunting online. They start filling in blanks with little perfect snippets of data that makes Jimmy, Johnny, Janie or June that PERFECT PERSON that they want in their life. Frankly this is what it sounds like you've done with your Boy here. I don't think you REALLY have a relationship or a potential relationship or ANYTHING real with this guy "Paul."

I think you need to move on and find someone real that you can sit down with and talk to and not have to chase after online. I hate to sound like a dick, but you're giving off a bit of a NetStalker vibe here. This Paul is probably not all that you make him out to be and you're really doing yourself an injustice sweatin' him so hard.

The woman in the mirror deserves more than you're giving her by chasing after this dude .

CHUCK: This guy's behavior strikes me as typical for the kind of man who thinks that he has more options than any woman he runs across. And the reason for that is because the talk going around says there's supposed to be a three-to-one female-to-male ratio where you're from, or Paul is "the only Black Man in Toronto."I don't like to hear about these measuring standards, because they always seem to favor men. And if there's a kind of man who is lacking in character, he may try to take advantage of the "fact" that there are more available women around than men.

I'm not suggesting that Paul is out to take advantage of you. You have offered him any number of opportunities to do that if he wanted to. But as you seem to believe yourself, this guy's got too much going on to pay you any long-term attention. Is that bad? I don't necessarily think so. He's not acting as though you mean the world to him one minute, and neglecting you the next. When you're near him, you're cool, but out of sight, out of mind.

A crush is fun, but a real relationship is more fulfilling in the long term. This man, barring some epiphany out of a Sandra Bullock romantic comedy, is not going to suddenly change and realize that you are bright, witty, and beautiful enough to be the woman he focuses all his love and attention on. If you've got a "next victim," see what's up with him. Paul's a non-starter.


Good Neighbors Get Better

QUESTION: How do I know if a guy is interested in me or just being friendly?

My neighbor across the street always waves and talks to me when we are both outside. Sometimes he will hold my gaze just a few seconds longer than necessary. My ex husband (whom he knows) comes over often and my neighbor may think we are still involved, but that's not the case. How do I let him know I'm interested without seeming too forward?

CHUCK: You have an interesting situation here, because I think that your neighbor may, in fact, be interested in you, but because of certain male protocols, may be reluctant to approach you.

There are two possible factors at play here. First, you say he knows your ex-husband. But you don't say how well. Are they friends or just passing acquaintances? Because if he's your ex's friend, and even if he's not, he may feel it bad form to make a move on you. A friend of mine, when she got divorced, had to fend off advances from her next-door-neighbor, who saw her husband's departure as his chance to move in. And this dude was married! All men don't conduct themselves this way, though. Be thankful that your neighbor's not that predatory.

The other factor may be, as you said, he sees your ex-husband over occasionally, and might think that you two are still hitting it off. It has been known to happen. Not too many men are going to intentionally put themselves in a dicey situation like that. Short of meeting your ex at the curb with a hand-painted sign that says, "WE'RE NOT SLEEPING TOGETHER," I can't think of a really inconspicuous way to get that information out. Anyway...

Given these factors, I have to say, if you're really interested in this man, you may have to take the bull by the horns. I think he's trying to send you some subtle signals. You have to let him know you're receiving him. Here's what you do: If this man seems the least bit handy around the house, ask for his assistance with some project around because you're "trying not to depend on your ex so much." See how that works? Ask him if he'll go with you to Lowe's or Home Depot for a little while one Saturday. And after you do that, offer to buy him a coffee for his help. If he is as interested in you as you are in him, you'll find out soon enough. Good luck.

GARLAND: I'm with Chuck. He is giving you one of the key signs of interest - that longish gaze. You ladies do it and so do us guys. I think he's feeling you.

Unless you have kids with your ex, his "coming over often" is keeping your neighbor at bay. I once knew someone who's ex would come over and just wait across the street on a Friday or Saturday night and wait for her to come home from a date and then jump out and start a big argument over their kid. This would almost always scare off potential suitors. So you might want to find a way to scale back ex-hubby's visits for a few weeks while you seek the neighbors help with your computer, your oven, your sink, your squeeky basement step, your new grill, your dishwasher OR your lawn mower.

This will give him a two fold benefit - he gets to fix something in front of you and he gets to see where you stand on the dating scene. But the ex has got to give him [and you] some room.

One more thing - if you do get together with him for coffee or lunch or Lowes, try to gently feel him out to make sure your ex hasn't put anything in his head. I don't know how close they are, but you want to make sure that the ex hasn't told him how, "...she still can't get enough of me. She wants it all the time," because this will corrupt his impression of you faster than a vacant Senate seat to an Illinois Governor.

(That last line was supposed to be funny, but I may have missed the mark)

Best of luck to you! Let us know how things turn out!


the Deal-Breaker

I just found your blog and you're both awesome men to help us women. I love reading your thoughtful and insightful answers. I hope you'll have time to help me.

QUESTION: I have been seeing a man for four years off and on when we are both in town. He was persistent and approached me a few times to ask me out but I waited several months before I finally agreed to go out with him. Neither of us wanted to get into a relationship because both of our jobs keep us traveling a lot and we are way too busy to settle down. (He works in government intelligence). We were both interested in a sexual relationship and nothing more. The sex has always been great and he is a very giving lover.
On more than one occasion he told me I was his only lover and that he was addicted to me. He also made it known that he did not want me seeing other men (although I never requested he only see me). Later, unfortunately, I started having feelings for him and I told him this. He told me couldn't help but have feelings for me but then a few months later said he that he didn't know how he felt. We continued seeing each other sexually until recently when I again told him I was in love with him.

Now he says we can no longer have sex together but that he still wants to be friends. I have reassured him I don't want a commitment but he says it's not fair for me if we continue seeing each other. Now I wish I hadn't told him how I feel because I really miss him and the sex. I've told him I don't want a commitment so what could he be worried about? (by the way, I'm in my late 40's, have already had children, and he also has grown children from his first marriage). He knows I'm independent and has always been attracted to that.

What is the problem - I've only told him I have feelings for him - I don't expect reciprocation of those feelings. So why does he want distance now? Also, another thing that has bugged me recently. I caught him in a lie and although I didn't make a big deal of it - he became very offended and denied it. Although I had proof, I let it slide because it was such a small thing. I only found it interesting that he became very upset and denied lying about such a petty thing. It seemed very important to him that I not think he was a liar.

I've felt loved by this man in action if not in words but still it is pretty strange that I have been intimate with a man for four years and still do not know him very well. I hope you can give me some objective insight. Is he serious about being just friends or was he trying to find a nice way to break up and move on? Does he really have any interest in ever seeing me again? He is very reserved - a man of very few words so it's difficult to figure him out. How do I handle this? Are there signs I should look for that would suggest I should pursue this any further or should I leave him alone? I'm heartbroken, I really miss him, and I want him back in my life.

Thank you for your help.

GARLAND: Thanks for your question.

I hate to say it, but I think the "Let's be friends" is a prelude to the breakup.

What you all have had - to most men, and probably your beau in question also, is a long term friends with benefits situation... great sex, random dates, no strings, no morning after phone calls, just sex for the sake of pleasure.

Then you caught feelings. You said, you 'loved him' - oh, I'm sorry... you said you "are IN LOVE with him," which is even scarier to most guys doing the FWB thing. No matter what you say in your question to us and no matter what you say to him, when a man hears "I'm in love with you," he KNOWS that you will want a relationship VERY soon. Sure, you can say that you don't want one, you can write it down, you can tattoo it on your forehead but we will always believe and know that eventually you will want a relationship. And, it's not that you don't DESERVE a relationship... I'm not saying "relationship" like its a dirty word! It is simply... how can I put it?

It is a CARDINAL CHANGE in the terms and conditions of your FWB situation. It is a change in the scope of an agreement, a change that is equal to a breach of contract.

If this guy hasn't pushed towards a formal, monogamous relationship in four years - then he most likely isn't going to. You've dropped the "L-Bomb" on him and there's a good chance he's gone for good.

This is where men and women's differences come to the surface - you thought it was harmless to tell him you were in love, and quite frankly, those are the last words a guy in an FWB situation wants to hear. Sure, it sounds pretty shallow from a man's perspective, but this guy knows his limits and his limits are "hot sex with you once every blue moon" that's it, he doesn't want to date and he doesn't want your love, he just wants your sex. I hate to sound so blunt, but don't bank a lot on the whole "lets be friends thing" - he's ready to leave the roost.

CHUCK: S..., may I call you S? Garland's got this one pegged. I don't know for sure who devised this whole FWB concept, but I'd bet you a paycheck it was a man. Because these relationships play more to what men stereotypically want (hot sex, no strings, hot sex, little commitment, hot sex, limited cash outlay, hot sex) and less to what women stereotypically want (emotional connections, commitment, a planned future). Now I'm not saying that there are women who do not crave some of the same things men do. Not at all. But there are women like yourself, S, that enter into an FWB relationship and want more than it offers.

It's not your fault. Even despite the agreed-upon boundaries of your relationship, emotions are not something that can be regulated or controlled. But after four years of happy, uncommitted bliss, telling your friend "I love you," was effectively breaking your deal. By confessing your feelings, you made clear to him that, regardless of your assurances, you would not be content with your relationship as it's played out thus far.

All of the indications I get here suggest that you should leave him alone. He doesn't want to be in a love relationship with you. What I find unfortunate is that he is not being fully honest with you, either. That little lie you caught him in was probably just the tip of the iceberg. And he had such a strong reaction to being busted because he was feeling guilty. I can only speculate as to what he's keeping from you (another woman). And because of the casualness of your friendship, you're not even allowed to be angry about being lied to, or having information hidden from you.

I know it doesn't feel like it now, because you're without the friendship and the sex, but he did do you a favor. He could not return your feelings, and rather than string you along, he let you know it. I'm sorry things didn't work out for you. You've learned something about yourself, though. Before you consider entering into a relationship like this again, you'll probably give it more consideration, because you know that, for you, love and sex aren't that easy to separate.


Ball Out of Play!

QUESTION: Dear Chuck and Garland,

I just came across your website and thought I could make use of your wonderful insight.

I have a crush on a guy who works in my building. He is not a co-worker. My building consists of several different agencies. Anyway, I cross paths with this guy semi-frequently. I felt like I was getting the go-ahead cue from him; i.e lots of eye contact with no turning of the head when I caught his eye.He was also selling candy for his daughter one day and I found out his name and a little bit about him.

To make a long story short, a friend (female) who sort of knew him from another place he used to work called him at his desk described me to him and asked if he wanted my number. He told her that he knew exactly who she was talking about and if I wanted him to have it then I would give it to him myself. So I took it upon myself to call the same desk she called and dialed his extension. It was his voicemail and I left a message leaving my number. It was a professional message just telling him to feel free to call if he would like to.

The very next day the building had a safety-drill. Believe it or not I'm kind of shy and nervous acting, So when he was nearing me, I would unconsciously walk the other way. Other co-workers noticed this stating that he was close enough to kiss me and I walked the other way.

So months passed and he never called. I still see him around all of the time. We are always very cordial. I'm not the type of girl thats going to act stank because a man didn't call me. There was a time when I thought I lost my phone around where his office is. He heard(not saw but heard, meaning he knows my voice) me asking someone in the office and immediately jumped up out of his cube and tried to help me look through the trash and so-forth.(That was a couple of months back) So anyway, I'm starting to notice those looks again. He will look at me and when I catch his eye he will not look away. There was one specific time when I was in my car and he was walking with someone in the lot. His lips were moving and my windows were down. I literally thought he was talking to me because he was staring at me while his lips were moving, but I figured if I couldn't hear him then he must not be talking to me. I am 26 and I'm willing to guess he's 6 or 7 years older (okay I know he is a wonderful tool) My first impression of him is that he is shy. I am not the only person who notices his behavior. One guy that I work with has observed all that I'm telling you now and says he has no doubt that this guy is interested. So my question for you two is is the ball still in his court? or should I try a different angle? Sometimes I think that he thinks that if he stares at me enough I will be bold enough to pursue again, but after being rejected by him, I'm twice shy


P.S. No ring on the left hand

GARLAND: Thanks for the question Shy One.

I personally love the whole, Ladies makin' the first move. My wife did that with me and I've been happy ever since. I like to think she's been happy ever since too!

Is the ball in his court? Actually, the ball isn't even in play anymore. He sees you, you see him. He smiles at you, you smile at him. He stares at you you stare at him. He passes you, you pass him back. Days go by, weeks, months...years?

Sweet and innocent is cute by both of you! Honestly! But one can only put but so much sugar in one's coffee before it becomes undrinkable. It is time to set this party off!!!

As a guy, I'm not going to play visual touchy-feely for weeks and months and be too shy to formally introduce myself and strike up a conversation. Life is just too short for everyone to be gun-shy. Take the shot! This cutesy, bashful non-sense is a little weak.
The ball is not in his court and it's not in yours either - it has bounced off the court and rolled across the street and is now sitting in some bushes. Go pick it up and spike it on him! Okay, okay
- first, ask yourself are you ready for a shy guy. Because if this guy is so timid or so intimidated that he can't even strike up a conversation with you - how in the world are you ever going to get a first kiss out of him? And let's hope that 'other' things don't require this much prodding.

But if you think he's all that and you want to see what's what - then go take the ball and put it in your court. You know that YOU'RE all that [and he does too] so, just walk up to him and say, "Hey Kevin, I need some coffee and some company, you up for a quick walk over to the Starbucks?" (How do I know there's a Starbucks near you? Because there's a STARBUCKS near EVERYONE!!! ) Have some conversation planned so you won't freeze up in case he tries to act cool and unphased, and just see where things go. But go ahead and take the ball into your court because obviously this chap isn't going to.

CHUCK: Garland, this ball didn't just roll into the bushes. Old Man Johnson next door found it in his yard and took it into his house! Now somebody's gotta go get it.

Okay. Enough with the ball metaphors.

It does seem like this guy is shy and hesitant to approach you, ShyinSeattle. However, let's acknowledge the part you've played in this fiasco. During the safety drill, when he was physicaly approaching you, who knows what he intended to do? Most likely, he was going to try to talk to you. But when you moved away from him like he had oozing sores or something, that may have confused him.

Two shy people are going to have a rough time kicking any relationship off. And engaging the services of third party facilitators, like your friend, just makes me think (forgive me) of high school. Unless somebody takes things further than just being cordial and maintaining eye contact, you guys will be at retirement age before someone makes a move. You don't want that, do you?

I'd say, take the bull by the horns. I know no one wants to be rejected. That's why he retreated so far after the Safety Drill Snubbing. But it seems as though you are both feeling one another, so why no just commit to it? Rather than doing yet another Google search on Shyboy

(internet= Devil), take Garland's advice, and ask him to join you for coffee. If he runs away screaming, oh, well. But he will probably surprise you.


Economic Inequities?

QUESTION: Hi, fellas. My issue relates to finances in my marriage. I've been married for 13 years. For the past 10 years, I've made significantly more money than my husband and have contributed more money to the household bills. At first, this didn't really bother me, because I feel that's what married couples, or anyone in a committed relationship, should do to support each other. Now, however, I'm having a problem with continuing to pay more of the bills.

My issue surrounds what I see as my husband's lack of ambition. I've been driven to continue increasing my earning potential, while my husband has been fine with staying in the same job for the last nine years because he's happy there, though it doesn't have a lot of potential for him to earn more money or get promoted. He gets an occasional raise here and there, but it's never enough to allow him to pay half of all of the household bills without being flat broke afterwards.

I've tried to talk to my husband, and even nagged him, about finding another job that pays better and has higher promotion potential, but he just shrugs off the idea and states that he's happy where he is and doesn't want to leave. He likes his boss, he can come and go as he pleases, can work from home when needed, and the job is low stress. Now, don't get me wrong, I can see why he stays; I wish I had his working situation. But, it angers me that he seems to be being somewhat selfish. What I mean, is that he's not thinking about the fact that his "happiness" means that I have to cut my funds short and keep kickin' out part of his share of the bills, which is making me unhappy.

You may be wondering why I'm upset about this now since I've allowed the situation to go on for 10 years. One, I love my husband and don't want to see him broke by forcing him to pay half of the bills. Two, I do realize the value of having the type of job he has since my job is highly stressful, requires occasional travel, and not as flexible. His job has been great for us when it comes to certain things with our kids. Three, before last year, I could easily afford to pay the extra money. My investments were doing great (my husband and I have both joint and individual accounts), and I had a lot of money saved. However, last year, I suffered a serious medical issue that required me to use a large part of my savings, and I now have medical bills that weren't covered by insurance. I had to liquidate all of my investments, which took signficant losses due to the stock market crash, to pay off some of those bills, and continue paying my part of the household bills. But I still have about $20,000 in medical expenses that need to be paid. (Note to everyone reading this: Get disability insurance, no matter what age you are.) I normally pay cash for everything and don't live above my means, so having this debt hanging over my head is driving me nuts. I'd like to contribute the extra money I put in for my husband to my medical debt.

How do I get my husband to see that his complacency is having a negative effect on me? I've told him that I need to pay off some bills and could really use the money I put towards his share, but I haven't seen any signs of him trying to move up the ladder. Except for this area, we have no problems. In fact, I don't know what I would have done last year without his love an support in taking care of me, but I still have trouble getting past this issue now.

My mother comes from the "old school" of thinking where a man is supposed to be a man and take care of the house financially. In her day, it was unheard of for a woman to pay more into the house than the man, so she thinks my husband is a bum for letting me pay more of the bills. She's never said that directly, but I've inferred it from a few conversations we've had. I'm more realistic and know that we live in different times where both partners have to be willing to pitch in. However, if I'm honest, I do sometimes have the thought that my husband is being "less than a man" in continuing to allow me to pick up a portion of his share of the bills, especially knowing the situation with my medical bills.

I haven't discussed this topic with my husband in awhile, because I'm trying to avoid an argument. But, this is an issue that's been simmering in me for awhile now and needs to be addressed. I don't want it to come down to me insisting that my husband pick up his full share of the bills and just decreasing the amount I contribute, but I think he needs a serious wake-up call. What are your thoughts? Am I being unreasonable in trying to change the playbook this late in the game, or is my husband being selfish in only thinking of his happiness? Or is it a little of both? Sometimes I think I'm the unreasonable one since, in one sense, I want the benefits of my husband's great work schedule and flexibility, but on the other hand I want to complain about the downside--lower earning potential. Please help me sort this mess out with an objective opinion. Thanks

GARLAND: This is such a great question and I thank you for sharing so candidly.

Let me start by saying a few things up front - No, I don't think that 10 years is too long to reach the point where you are now. Asking for changes / improvements in your husbands earnings is not a bad thing at this point or at any point in your marriage. I'm a little old school in my thinking too as far as men pulling all if not most of the financial weight in a household, but I understand the job markets and I see intelligent, talented and capable women climbing well higher than a lot of men in the current professional scene so it isn't unusual to see women with the fatter paychecks. I salute you!

But, let me speak about your husbands situation / position... as a man, I'm a bit disappointed that he is content to hover on the job ladder, especially knowing that you all have encountered some significant financial expenses in the last few years. Now, I can certainly appreciate a steady and easy job, who wouldn't like that - but in the REAL WORLD, folks have bills, and I believe that a man has to step up especially when times get tough! And you are NOT even saying "My husband needs to make MORE than me." You are saying that you just want him to earn MORE than he is now. You are commendably patient.

To me, a man is supposed to step up. Sure, sometimes that may not be easy, it may mean stepping way out of ones comfort zone, but that is something that a man should be willing to do! Folks don't say "Man Up!" for their health. Your husband needs to MAN UP and he shouldn't have to be prodded! He should be ready and willing... that is just what a man should do - in my book.

I hope you have a reasonable man, one that is just missing some social ques, if he is reasonable if you sit him down and really explain to him that Your Household needs extra money and you are pulling far more than your share and the time has come for him to step up. Maybe he'll respond. But it sounds like you've tried this and Old Boy still won't budge.

I hope he's not one of these MAN-CHILD kind of men... the kind of guy that takes a deep pleasure in being taken care of by a woman... the kind of guy that boasts to his Boyz , "Yeah, my wifey knew I worked in a warehouse when she met me. I'm just keepin' it real. If she wanted one of those Fortune 500 dudes, then she should have married one!" Of course all of his Boyz will give him dap and tell him how right he is. Honestly - he is partly right as much as I hate to admit it. If he was doing mid-level work and making mid-level money and NEVER told you that his ambitions went beyond that, then you may have got what you paid for. I really hate to admit that, because I feel your pain.

BUT - WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT THIS? Let's see, if the sitdown and talk doesn't work. My next best suggestion would be - make it uncomfortable for him. Just take away the comforts you are bringing to him. If you are handling the bulk of the bills, then you are setting the lifestyle. Stop paying the cable bill for one, that will get ANY man's attention! Take away his NFL or NBA season pass on your cable provider too! Get a credit for it! If you are paying his car note and he's pushing a Lexus or a Beamer or whatever - tell his butt that YOU cannot afford to have him looking fly on his way to his $7 an hour gig. Okay, okay DON'T say that - but let him know that YOU can't afford his note anymore... be sure to keep your Beamer though. What else - if he gets a spending allowance - tie it up before he gets to it - no more new Jordans or oversized throwback jerseys anymore. And that weekly dinner to the nice steak house down the street - NA-DA cut it.

Yes, you will suffer a little too, but this dude has to be shown just how much money YOU are kicking into HIS lifestyle - his eyes have to be opened! And if after talking, and pleading and cutting off his luxuries if he still wants to keep the same job he's had since high school, then you may have to talk to him about the real value of your family to him. You both may have to face some harsh realities if he is doing nothing to try to better and or secure your family's financial future.

Best of luck. My fingers are crossed that he steps up.

CHUCK: Thanks for the question. Your question brings up what I feel to be a double standard that some women have, and I think you acknowledge it. Women feel that they should be financially capable, savvy in their jobs, climb the ladder, all of that. But they are still conditioned socially to expect a man to be the provider. These women go back and forth in their expectations, and for some men, this contributes to some confusion. Maybe that's the case here.

We all view our jobs different ways. Some of us have careers that we can pour our hearts and souls and ambitions into. Some of us have time-killing, soul-draining jobs that we keep just to pay bills. Speaking just for myself, more often than not, my day job is the latter. And in this economy, we are left feeling we should be thankful even for a bad job. Your husband may feel that way.

Do you think your husband is a bum? Do you truly feel that he's not carrying his weight in your household? Either way, you seem to be nursing a resentment for your husband that needs to be addressed, and so it should be. As it seems that the two of you maintain separate finances, he may not be completely aware of how serious things have gotten for you. Or he may think you've got a handle on it. Or he may not care. Who knows? You need to find out.

Talk to him, and more importantly, listen to him about what his feelings are about his job and why he hasn't been seeking advancement. Maybe you can provide some assistance in getting a better job, if he's willing to do so. They say marriage is a partnership, so two obviously need to work together better to obtain your objectives.

Totally Crushed Out

QUESTION: Thank you so much for making this blog, I'm sure all the women who have ran across it have definately appreciated it. I hope that my question has not been asked before, but I will take my chances in asking it.

As a female, I believe that I have a well rounded knowledge of how the average woman acts when she is interested or "has a crush" on a guy, if you prefer. Girls with obsessive personalities enjoy "obsessing over" and think about the guy constantly, fantasizing, reminiscing, etc .... Girls who are more shy cherish every moment they see him as he passes in the hall despite having seldom exchanged words.

But I ask; How do guys act? This does not mean "how do you tell a guy likes you?" I'm merely asking the rituals, the habits of a man with a crush? Does he reminisce about the "hi" he exchanged with her in the hallway, does the an obsessive type of male "obsess" as much as the average female? I am very interested in knowing.Many thanks for your time. - Lady Curious.

GARLAND: What an interesting question. Thanks for asking.

I guess I can mainly speak from my own personality and from general conversations I've had with my buddies. For me, I tend to be a little more obsessive about things - when I met a woman that caught my eye, I tended to replay the moment we met in my head. Did I speak clearly to her, did I smile, did my eyes tell her that she struck me, was my zipper down? I also made it a point to check my watch and make note of where we were in case she happened to pass by that same spot the next day or at a time where I could better prepared... you know, with that perfect necktie or the perfect shirt or with just the Right way to approach her. So, to me - Yeah, when I encountered a new woman I thought about her and the meeting a lot.

As far as my friends go - I've had some of my buddies talk a lot about the details of encountering certain women, sometimes to the point of driving me a little crazy about the whole thing. And still, I know some guys that dismiss meeting a woman as just something that is going to happen today, tomorrow and the next day.

So, I have to say that I don't think that gender is a big deal in how people think about their encounters, I think personality is the BIG factor. Good question though.

CHUCK: Yeah, good question. Something we don't get asked every day. But I find guys don't really have too much honest, BS-free discussion about how we're prone to react when we are first attracted to someone. Because frankly, we are never at our most composed, or coolest at that time.

Take me, for example. I try to create a calm, easygoing image. I have what I think is a good sense of humor. But when I was single and in the presence of a woman I had a crush on, my composure was not its best. And worse, trying to appear effortless and cool would sometimes lead me to some behavior out of some bad comedy. Stuff like diving into a pool with my glasses on, and having to get them fished out. Hey, I was a teenager at the time!

So what other feelings did I have? I remember nervousness, finding excuses to see that person at different times of the day, poring over my memories to think of anything that might prove that she had the slightest similar feelings about me. And oh, the embarassment.

If I'm to be honest, quite a few of those crushes that I had went unrequited. That's probably true for a lot of guys. At least those that don't slide over into Stalkerville. Bu thinking about it, it's that feeling you get, that excitement, that fascination, that basically makes those experiences worthwhile. Anyway, I hope that we've answered your question satisfactorily.


Ex Girl to Text Girl

QUESTION: i have this ex and we split up bout 2years agoand we dont really talk but if we do its friendly and chattyand he split up with me because he felt he was to old for me as he is7 years older!my problem is that everytime i feel that my life is good enjoying myselfhe will txt me asking me to meet him even though he is in a relationship!
GARLAND: I can only assume that he wants his cake and wants to eat it too. If he's seeing someone and dumped you and wants to keep you at arms length until HE wants you closer then I think YOU already know what HE's THINKING.

CHUCK: First of all, he felt that a seven year age difference was a good enough reason for you two to break up? I'm sorry, but come on. That might be a good reason if you were Hannah Montana, but I'm assuming that you were a little older than fifteen when this took place. There had to be something else going on there.

And obviously, because he is constantly trying to get back together with you. Apparently, his reservations over your age difference dissipate when he's trying to use you for some extracurricular activities. There's no point in mincing words here. He has no interest in you as girlfriend, only as the proverbial booty call. The next text you get from this guy, erase, ignore.

Same Old Game

QUESTION: Hi what are men thinking team, I am a little confused what are men thinking when they are around you for a few years nothing has changed and suddenly this year he says I am important in his life more than I know. Yet it goes for weeks having no time to even speak for a minute on the phone.

What does he want? I have tried asking this question he said we will chat, that was weeks ago. I do not push quite happy if he just pisses off if that is what he wants.

We are intimate only sees each other when he can spare an hour in a blue moon. Yet we are close when we are together. Sounds blooney to you I am sure. I am giving up. Do I have to tell him I am moving on or do I just close this door and move on?

He tends to suddenly sms me out of the blue once in awhile not yet this month. He did sms and said he did not want to lose me. Does he mean he just wants to string me for another year and another? I am a young 49 yr old, and he is a fit 54 yrs old. I am well balanced emotionally easy to live with and loving, have an independent 21 yr daughter. I do not need him at all. But I like him a great deal and we are good together. I am happy to let go but I do not understand silence and cowardly motives. Can you help?

GARLAND: Uh, okay. Thanks for the question. Honestly, I'm having a bit of a time understanding your question: You have a guy that you've known a while, then he changes but won't tell you how he's changed, but you're intimate with him and you don't need him but you're good together but he's a coward. I'm so sorry - but I think I am completely lost.

I think from what I can piece together, your man is all over the place with his feelings about you. If this is the case, then you need to sit him down alone and make him talk to you. If he keeps putting you off then tell him that you can't be bothered with him anymore. If he can find time to be 'intimate' with you, then he can find the time to be respectful enough to talk and listen to you! We only do what you ladies allow us to - REMEMBER THAT!

CHUCK: Yeah, it's kind of like that old joke: How do you keep a nitwit in suspense? I'll tell you tomorrow. Ah, yes, comedy...
I'm not trying to call you a nitwit, by any means, since you are aware you're being played on some level. But his principal is the same as the joke: Lay some vague bait out for you, and see how long he can string you out for it with no payoff. You are more important in his life than you know? But he can't even spare you the time for a phone call? Come on. You know this guy's full of shit.
Simply, he wants you to endlessly wait for him to tell you what he really wants, while you give up the goodies to him on demand. This is nothing new. What I find distressing, however, is the fact that this man is 54 years old, and you are 49. One of the beliefs that I've held onto since Garland and I started this blog, was that, at some point, maybe by the time you hit the half-century mark, all these deceitful games would fall by the wayside. But obviously, in your case, they haven't. This fifty-plus man is running the same weak game as the peers of your 21-year-old daughter. Sigh.
Anyway, I'll be brief. If you are fine with continuing to see this man, only on his terms, Then by all means, do so. You're a grown woman. However, unless he makes a serious attitude adjustment, you have no reason to believe that he has stronger feelings for you than any other booty call. Your instincts say give up. Your instincts sound good to me.


Failing Chemistry

QUESTION: Hi, guys. I'm a little embarassed to admit this, but the chemistry between my husband and I seems to have become zero based on the amount of sex going on in our bedroom. It's colder than the North Pole in there. Because of our kids, we're both exhausted, so I know that plays into part of it, but neither of us have attempted sex with one another in months!! And I'm not exaggerating. At this point, I don't know what to do. I do still love my husband, but I'm tired of sneaking and using my toys and having to turn to self-gratification to get things done. How should I approach my husband about this? I've suggested counseling, but he scoffs at the idea as nonsense. Plus, I'm beginning to wonder if there's another woman involved, or if I just don't turn him on anymore, especially since I've gained weight in the past few months due to pregnancy.

We desperately need help at this point, because I'm not willing to keep on going in this direction. I don't need it several times a week anymore but, hell, can we at least start with once a month!!

GARLAND: Thanks for sharing this great question with us. I'm pretty sure that a lot of people are going through the same things in their own lives as well and may be embarrassed also, to ask.

I'm married too, with kids, so personally - I understand the strategy behind marital intimacy and the covert operations sometimes needed to achieve it. Chuck is in the same boat - family and marital status that is - so I'm looking forward to his answer on this as well.

I'm pretty hesitant to agree that another woman is in play in your husband's life. I don't know anything about him beyond the few words you just typed, but if he hasn't had any dramatic changes in his schedule or his routine, he hasn't re-vamped his wardrobe, he hasn't started grooming unusually different and he hasn't gotten real secretive over his cell phone or the home computer, chances are he's not cheating on you.

From a married man's perspective - I think you may have slipped from the role of wife / best friend to the role of children's mother / children's nurturer. That happens. Is it fair? No, but it happens. I think sometimes us men just transition the women we love from our hot and sexy girlfriends, to our hot and sexy wives to our loving and caring children's mothers. Sometimes a busy life with jobs and bills and loss of sleep and changes in eating habits and the stress of a two year presidential election campaign changes us. It changes us and shifts our perspective around when we're not looking.

My humble suggestion is this - get a sitter for an evening, or overnight if you can. Talk to him beforehand and let him know that some alone time is way overdue. Light some candles, order some takeout from that nice Chinese place around the corner and get to know each other again. Make him remember that you are still his hot and sexy girlfriend beyond all the stresses of the lives you all now have. But you have to get rid of the kids and get some alone time. Don't go to the movies or dinner - get home or get to a hotel and be ALONE!!!!

And two other quick things - 1. NO, we are NOT going to a counselor to talk about sex. Sorry, that just isn't happening. TALKING about negative things that may involve our genitalia is JUST not the way we are wired. Nice try. And 2. Don't stress over the extra weight you may have gained because of the kids. I think if your husband is a decent guy, then he accepts any changes that may have happened to your body as YOUR sacrifice to build your family. I think its a beautiful thing. You ladies do all of the hard work bringing life into this world and you have to sacrifice your bodies and sometimes your lives to make us fathers. Don't look at that as a negative, and if your husband has a problem with it, then shame on him.

CHUCK: I have to say that this kind of sexual drought in a marriage can be common, especially for people with young kids. There's only so much time in the day, the kids have to take priority, and when they're taken care of, you're probably wiped out yourselves. And the feeling is, generally, it's okay, I'll make time for my spouse later. He/she isn't going anywhere. I hate to say it, but I've been there.

I have a theory here, so bear with me for a moment. For the average married person with children, there are three separate selfs. I'll call these selfs "yous." There is the you that is the parent and caregiver to your children. There's the you that exists in a couple with your spouse. And there is the personal you, concerned with pursuits that you enjoy alone, like books or music. It's my feeling that when you're taking care of one or two of those you's, one must be suffering. And apparently, it is you and your husband as a couple.

You say that you think that your husband might be cheating. That's a pretty easy thing to determine, if you ask me. Is he devoting a lot of care and attention to his appearance at weird times, like Saturday afternoon, or Wednesday night? Does he spend a lot of time on the phone or the computer, but reacts furtively when you enter the room? And finally, does he have a lot of unaccounted-for time away from the home? These are some of the signs you can use to see if he might be cheating, but he doesn't need to be. He may be taking care of himself the same way you are.

I think it's obvious that you care about your marriage, so you two must make a greater effort to reconnect. Unfortunately, these situations feed on each other, and days turn into weeks turn into months. And then you feel funny even bringing it up. But you can't give up. This is something you need to continue to address. If you can stay on your husband for stuff like putting out the garbage and changing the furnace filter, surely this is of equal importance. See if you can find someone to watch your kids for a couple of days. Hell, even a night. Maybe that could help reignite the sexual chemistry between you. I used to scoff at counseling as ineffective, but now I say anything that has a chance of working should be looked into. I believe with some work, though and a full commitment from you both, you can work through this. Good luck.


I Just Want Your Extra Time and Your...

Hey guys, I ran across your site and fell in love with it!. You guys serve it up "real" something most people say they want, but can't handle.

QUESTION: My question is this when a woman is involved in a "friends with benefits" relationship and the man has made it clear he isn't ready for a commitment/relationship, but continues to accept the benefits of relationship (i.e, sex, spending time together, dinners, movies etc.). While being intimate he iniates kissing. I would prefer we leave the kissing out because I feel that creates a special bond. Its all very confusing because we function as a couple without the title?

For me, I must say a woman cannot engage in this activity without getting emotionally tied into it. I would lie and say this type of relationship works for me, but I am emotionally bonded and can't seem to break away. I do date other men which helps build a little distance, but in reality I understand a new relationship can't survive if one party is emotionally unavailable.

What's confusing is the kissing, the dating because we do the typical date stuff and his admission that he isn't ready for a relationship. Does a man ever change his mind or how can a woman read between the mixed messages/lines?

Seeking truth!

GARLAND: Thanks "Seeker" for this question.

The whole "Friend's with benefits" situation is always interesting. It's the only game in town where the first one to 'catch feelings' is the loser. I'm with you when it comes to kissing - it's a VERY intimate thing and when it comes the to FWB rules - it should be a major PENALTY! But that's MY opinion...uh, and yours too I guess.

I think YOU need to set some rules if you're going to play in the FWB arena. And, you are going to get your heart broken if you don't set them and HE doesn't follow them. Yeah, yeah - it sounds so simple... "Hey, no kissing! You can lick that, tickle this and rub on that - but when it comes to these - NO KISSING!" Will he follow in the rules during the heated action? NO. So, that leaves the ball squarely in your court. He wants all the perks and you're left paying the emotional bill.
He wants it all, with no fees. He gets you, your time, your sex and your lips and yet he remains free and clear to do whatever he wants with whomever he wants. It is just about the best of both worlds. Sit him down and tell him what is what - either you all are going to stay FWB's with no kissing, or he's going to have to make some real promises to you. If he doesn't want to do either - then start waving your hand in the air frantically, because FWB's are just like cabs... there's always another one just around the corner.

CHUCK: Ah, yes, friends with benefits. When one person tries to deny that they have entered into a relationship with a person who will not be available to them any way but sexually. It all sounds so mature at the beginning. Both of you will enjoy each other's company with no emotional strings attached. And it goes fine for a while. Until some starts catching feelings. Or one partner starts getting more, or better sex on the side than the other. Or one partner likes kissing with his impersonal sex. FWB can work, I think. Just not for very long.
At any rate, I would think that, just because of the potentially raw emotional territory that you and your FWB have ventured into, that you set some rules for yourselves in the beginning. Maybe you didn't. But you should have. Because that is the best way to avoid the kind of confusion you're experiencing. So if kissing holds that great an emotional connection for you, you should have taken that off of the table right off the bat.

So does it mean that your FWB is considering a change in your relationship because he has kissed you? No. Let me repeat that: No. More likely, he got swept up in the heat of the moment, and either forgot, or disregarded your no-kissing policy. To assume that he wants a more substantial relationship, you would need to base it on something more concrete. Like a conversation.

Approach him about this kissing issue again, before you two hook up again. Emphasize again to him that you feel that kissing should be something restricted to a more intimate relationship than the two of you currently have. If he wants that kind of relationship now, he will tell you. If not, he should tell you, too. And then the ball is in your court as to whether you want to go on with him.


The Baltimore Book Festival - SEP. 28th 2008

This Sunday in Baltimore...

We will be co-hosting a panel discussion entitled "Visions of Love" featuring the Best Selling authors Zane, Donna Hill, Bill Holmes and Victoria Wells!!!

The Panel is brought together and lead by the Great Brothers that bring us the Relationship Dialogue at
The panel begins at 3:00PM at the Festival Stage in Mt. Vernon Place - 600 block of North Charles Street, North Park in Baltimore!
Hope to see you there!


Break Up to Make Up (the Long Version)

Hi. I just read an answer on your site regarding a woman's question on moving too fast in a relationship, and I wondered if you'd also give me some advice about my own situation.

QUESTION: About three and a half years ago, I started chatting with a guy I'd met on a site similar to myspace. We were just friends though, and didn't bother meeting for about eight months. We began talking more and more after that and began dating shortly afterwards. I took a summer job in a different state right after that, but we continued our relationship. It was very romantic, as we wrote each other letters and sent each other gifts and pictures and audio tapes with our thoughts on it. I fell for him very quickly, and he told me he loved me about two weeks after I'd been gone. I went to see him a couple weeks later, and I told him I loved him too and we shared our first kiss. After that, we talked about marriage constantly, and when my job ended, we began telling everyone we'd be getting married very soon. We wanted to wait until marriage before getting intimate, mostly because of our faith, but it became harder and harder once I'd returned home and we could see each other more often. So we agreed to get married two months later at a justice of the peace and until then we enrolled in pre-marital classes. But things started getting very tense; we began arguing alot, about where we would live, how much we would spend on the wedding, even whether to waste money on an engagement ring (I said use the money for the honeymoon, he said he wanted to get the ring out of principle).

After the first pre-marital class, he turned to me and told me he did not want to marry me because we wanted different things. We argued for hours, and it was terrible, especially since I didn't feel he was giving me the real reason. Finally he shouted at me that he didn't love me, to which I responded by grabbing all of our pictures and cutting them up in front of him. I cried myself to sleep, but he didn't leave, he slept on the floor by my bed, stating he was sorry for hurting me. The next morning I did not want to continue the breakup session, and since he hadn't changed his mind, I asked him to leave. We hung out a few weeks later but he was still stubborn and refused to work things out. I cried and pleaded with him, but it was to no avail.

About a month and a half later, we spoke on the phone and he apologized to me, confessing he became afraid when we'd starting arguing about money that we'd end up like his parents. He said he forced himself to be stubborn so that I'd move on and save myself future grief. He also said he'd always love me and that he missed me a lot. I thought that meant he wanted to get back together, so I told him I had to think things over and get back to him. When I called him a week later, he acted like he had no idea what I was talking about and stated he still only wanted to be friends. I called him one more time, after visiting his mom and sister for the last time, because I was offended that he had avoided me when he'd known I was there. We spoke for a little while. I don't know why, maybe out of hurt or the embarrassment the whole fiasco caused me, but I told him that I was going to move forward, and that I wouldn't bug him about getting back together ever again. He seemed a little weirded out but reacted coolly and said he would call me in a few days. He never did.

During the first year after, I still felt very deep pain every holiday that passed that he didn't call. After my next birthday, I accepted that he would never call again, and refused to allow myself to think about it again. I convinced myself I was over it, although after the second year passed I realized that couldn't've been totally true, since I would not allow a guy to get near me and I hated marriage and all things having to do with it. Finally I broke down and cried about him never calling me, and there was still very real pain there.

So I emailed him. Two years had passed and I just needed the closure. I told him no hard feelings and I wished the very best for him. He responded right away, to my surprise, and we quickly became friends. At first, it seemed like we were flirting with each other, but I started to notice he was evasive on many subjects, and kept our conversations very shallow. Still, it felt good to speak with him, and we got along really well. He'd send me funny ecards and spend hours on the phone with me, joking and make me laugh. When I asked him why he never called, he said because each time he wanted to, he didn't know what to say because so much time had passed. We spoke about what had happened and he said he was very sorry it'd gone down like that and admitted that he had a lot of issues. We agreed that things had moved way too fast anyway and that it was very good that we didn't get married back then since we were both totally not ready. We talked about meeting for lunch, but when I came around his town, he wasn't there. Almost like he'd forgotten. I found this suspicious and upsetting. But then two weeks later, I came back into town and he rushed to see me and have lunch. It was weird seeing him, but honestly, I was surprised that I wasn't blown away with attraction. He couldn't believe how beautiful I'd gotten though, and lunch went really well.

After that I finally began dating other people, but both relationships I got into ended in disaster right after they'd started. He and I, however, remained friends and shared our stress and pain about our failed relationships. He was a really great support, and encouraged me to stay positive. We tried to meet a couple more times throughout the next year but he blew both meetings off again, with no explanation. After February of this year, I stopped trying to make plans with him, calling him a fronter (which he didn't like). I thought maybe he was scared that I was trying to get back with him, so I did let him know that I wasn't, but he said that's not what he thought at all. I now think that he had been seeing someone at those times and probably didn't know how to tell me, although I could be wrong. Anyway, we finally settled into a friendship where we'd talk every few weeks, laugh and enjoy a few hours of conversation and then go about our life as usual.

This was a-ok with me right up until about a month ago, when it dawned on me that I still idealized him as the perfect man and still had a teeny inkling of hope that he'd "wake up" and realize I was the perfect woman. I confessed this to him about three weeks ago, telling him that I wanted to be able to move on and didn't know what to do. He took it well, stating that he didn't know why we were friends again but that it was a good thing. He said he rarely ever befriended exes but that we were in each other's lives for a reason. He didn't seem affected by my confession, and we continued a long and enjoyable conversation afterwards. The next day he texted me out of the blue and seemed to be flirting with me and invited me to blow off work and hang out with him. Of course I couldn't but it got me wondering. When I was disappointed that he didn't text the next day, I realized that I needed to do anything I could to let him go from my heart. So I didn't call him for a week, and it irritated me that he didn't call either. He did text to "just say hello" but I didn't respond.

My birthday is next week and I asked him a month ago to take me out to dinner to celebrate it, since I'd be in near his town. He promised he wouldn't front, but when he didn't call all last week, it irritated me further. So I texted him about it and he said he didn't know the dates I'd be in town (even though I had given them to him a month before!) but that he still wanted to meet. We spoke on the phone, and agreed to meet two nights ago. I was going through a lot at the beginning of this week and I called him on the day before our dinner and cried on his "shoulder" about it all, and he once again was very encouraging and it meant a lot to me. The next night, we met up and I felt very attracted to him. He complimented me several times on how gorgeous I'd become, "way better than before and I was beautiful before", and he touched me a lot. He put his arm around me quite a few times, hugged me, grabbed my arms and fingers, and rested his hands on my hips. I thought it was all a little strange, but I didn't investigate it. When he called his roommate later on and I distinctly heard her ask how his "date" was going, that really made me wonder. He stayed on the phone with me the whole time I drove home and finally confessed that he'd wanted to kiss me but decided to "keep himself in check". He seemed disappointed when I said it would've caught me off guard, but pleased when I said I would've kissed him back.

The next morning I couldn't stop thinking about him so I texted him and asked if he wanted to see a movie. He replied yes but didn't call til almost evening and that bothered me. He offered to come by me but I felt like it was a better idea to go out there. I drove out (an hour) to meet him and we had a great time. I didn't want to leave him though, and we ended up kissing in his car for about an hour. By then it was very late so I, against my better judgment, went to his house to sleep for a few hours before heading back. Well, let's just say that things went very fast at his house, and he was very affectionate. I was very surprised at myself for even getting (and staying) in the situation (as it is completely out of character for me!), but I just didn't want to be away from him. He told me he'd missed many things about me and that he could "get used to waking up next to me every morning." I was wary though, and tried to stay objective about it so I could better evaluate the situation.

I just got off the phone with him, after having a whole day to think about last night, and we both agreed that we did NOT want to have just a physical relationship. We also agreed that neither of us were ready for a relationship right now and we didn't want the other to feel pressure to be in one. I told him I felt we had really good potential but that it couldn't start like this, and he agreed, adding that he feels like he's still sorting through some things in his life and didn't want to start a relationship with me only to withdraw/push me away again. He said one thing he learned about our first relationship was that if we ever got back together, it had to be taken in steps, and he wanted to do it right so as to avoid what happened the last time. I agreed. We didn't get to finish the conversation because he had to take a call from one of his family members, but he said he'd call back.

Now I'm sitting here wondering what to do, because we acknowledged that we had to be super careful not to get physical anymore, and to feed our friendship while both of us continued to grow. But I'm thinking, how am I supposed to do this? Do I go back to the calling every few weeks and acting like this never happened? How do I hang out with him again as just his friend with last night running over and over in my mind? What do you think is going on in his mind, and what do you think is the best way for me to handle this so as not to come off needy but still be desirable? He's very hard to understand. Anything you can offer would be great.

Thank you!

GARLAND: WOW. This is the longest question that we have ever seen on this blog. You have SHARED today! WOW. Okay, thanks for coming to us and let me see if I can tackle this bear.

First, I was tempted [and probably Chuck too] to E-Mail you back and insist that you shave this down to “Just the facts Ma’am” I printed this out in Times New Roman 12pt and it was 3 and 1/3 pages long!!! I left it alone because you sounded like you needed to vent and maybe this was a catharsis for you. I can only hope that we can see your question and more importantly I hope that you TRULY understand what your REAL QUESTION is.

Meeting and wanting to start a life together was a wonderful thing, too bad you had the wrong person. I think your boyfriend was simply overwhelmed with the pre-marital counseling. That, to some people is like looking down the barrel of a loaded gun. While he hurt your feelings, he did you a favor. HE knew his limitations and threw in the towel. Sure, I don't doubt that it hurt, but that pain was nothing when opposed to being stuck in a loveless marriage built on lies.

The whole E-Mailing him two years later and saying "No hard feelings. I wish you the best." is baffling. See, these are the kinds of lies that people tell themselves so they can feel good. I wish you had E-Mailed him and told him the TRUTH, that way, you would have felt GREAT [not just good]. You should have told him, "You sorry bastard, you broke my heart. I've been miserable over the sh*t you've pulled on me and I hope you slip and fall in the shower and break your damn neck." Yeah, that's pretty nasty - but tell me that's not what you wanted to really say?

And, let me back up for a second – you asked what is on his mind and what can you do to seem desirable and not so needy. Let me tell you – the ONLY thing you can do to not seem so needy IS STOP BEING SO NEEDY! You ARE needy. Sorry. You just spent over 3 pages recalling the phone calls, the text messages, the E-Mails, the broken dates, the heartache, the tears, the concerns, the kisses, the laughs, the rejection, the games and the suffering you have experienced over the last three years with a guy who really doesn’t care about you. If he did, you wouldn’t be miserable. You ARE needy and guess what – HE LOVES IT. He sounds 100% like the kind of guy that takes sick pleasure at toying with a young woman’s emotions. He is a bum and he’s not worth it. You are PLACING his value above YOUR OWN. Every time you get upset that he doesn’t text you back right away, and every time you get giddy because he texted you first, and every time you accept the fact that he’s forgotten you yet again, you are wasting your time and your value as a woman. Get out while you can and go find the joy in the world that is still out there waiting for you!

Okay, let me crack my knuckles and let you know what else this man is thinking. Stop wasting your life on this guy, please. Okay? This guy is either married or dating or cheating on his wife or girlfriend and you are doing little more than providing mid-card entertainment for him.

You used the word "friend" in one form or another 9 times in your question. Please understand that this man is NOT your friend. He spoon-feeds his time to you like someone placating a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman and you refuse to see it. The whole, "lets be 'friends' as long as it's on my terms and I can treat you like crap whenever I feel like it and you never come to my home unannounced and you can't stay too long when you do," is simply unhealthy. I really hate to be so blunt - but you have gotten yourself into a losing situation with this bloke.

And, please stop trying to call what you have “Friendhip.” If there was one thing I could truly achieve with my role in this blog, it would be to convince women to truly understand what a ‘friend’ is with regards to a man. And every man that a woman once loved, liked or wanted to love or like should NOT be classified as a friend because it makes her feeeeeeeeeeeeel good. “Friends” truly care about you and give a damn about you as a person! “Friends” do not ignore you, manipulate you, tease you, taunt you, or treat you as an emotional punching bag!

Sorry, I digress.

Any man that REALLY cares about you or wants to REALLY be in a loving relationship is not going to play around with your time and forget dates and get off the phone with you because his Aunt Emma is calling and he's not going to check in with his 'female' room mate. Unless you have sat down, broke bread, and talked openly about the deep feelings you had [and have] for this guy in front of this ROOM MATE, then SHE is his wife or his girlfriend. The whole thing about hearing the woman on the phone ask "How his DATE was going," was either some staged non-sense, or he told his WIFE/GIRLFRIEND that he was 'innocently' having a drink with an old friend from high school or college, and what you heard was her jokingly asking about his "date."

The bottom line is this: This guy does not care about you on the levels that you want him to, need him to or pretend him to. He keeps you amused and attracted to the flashing lights just enough to have you around - Why, I don't know. But you are wasting your time and your life calling him a friend and pretending that you mean something to him.


CHUCK: Wow. No one could ever accuse you of not being thorough. I'm not even sure there's room left on the page for me to answer.

Where to start? You two are either one of the worst-matched couples in the Milky Way Galaxy, or you're made for each other. Just the very fact that, despite all reasons not to, you continue to gravitate to one another. I find it particularly puzzling that you keep going back to him, as whenever you seem to give this man the opportunity to do some follow-through and meet with you another time, he deliberately flakes out on you. And you know what? As long as he does that, and you continue to give him second, third, forty-eighth chances, that probably won't change.

But when someone constantly acts against their own best interest, what can you tell them? Take your email for "closure." I've said it (and said it, and said it...) before, but closure after a relationship is rarely found. But in your case, you really didn't want it. You wanted to get back in his head again, and I guess you were successful. Only you weren't successful enough to make him treat you right consistently.

And why is that? Maybe he has someone else. Or maybe he just realizes that it is not necessary for him to treat you like a boyfriend, lover, etc. should. Sure, you'll get mad and talk a good game, but eventually you'll come around.

What should you do about him, with the memory of your night together running through your mind? Go ahead and be with him. You're an adult. Have a good time. Maybe he'll treat you right after nearly four freakin' years. But I'd keep my expectations low. And I would consider, am I getting what I deserve here?