the Clock-Puncher

QUESTION: My guy has a routine. We have been going out for close to a year now, and I am confused by some issues. Right so he is older by twelve years, and I have four kids, three of whom live with me.

He comes over daily, by about 6pm, hangs around, sometimes helping the kids with homework, sometimes just watching TV. Then leaves promptly at 9:30 after I have put the kids to bed. (No attempts at intimacy here at all) He refuses to stay the night. He will send a text to say that he is home.

On weekends when the kids are there, he also comes over, spends lots of time with them talking, playing with the younger ones etc. But again he leaves at 9:30 - 10 pm...maybe sometimes 11:00pm if we are watching a movie, and is back at our place around lunch time the following day. Yes , we do go out all together on occasion.

The weekends that the kids are with their dad, he spends the night at my place, and then we may spend the Saturday night at his.

A few things bother me:
1) He puts new rules in place for the kids without consulting me.
2) He walks around putting things away and tidying up the place
3)He expects fair and equal share to things in our fridge (like he lives here)
4) He sometimes expects dinner...whether I am cooking or not..but will not help himself. Yet when the kids are not there, he has no problem making breakfast.
5) In discussion about issues sometimes, he literally tells me the "proper" way to do something; and I can really feel the mental block when I attempt to make my suggestions.
6) He discusses a "future together" when we are alone, but the minute the kids ask questions like "when are you guys getting married?" he responds in the negative all the time.
7) He never wants to face that he may have shortcomings.

I sometimes feel like a "kept" woman, yet he doesn't pay any of my bills. Basically, sometimes I feel like I am being played. Like he's only along for a ride as long as it would last. He discusses committment, and calls me future wife, but I get the feeling sometimes that its all a game to him. What am I missing?

GARLAND: So, you've actually been to his place? Well, that's great, because your 'friend' was sounding more and more married by the moment.

I hate to be a downer here, but it sounds like he is just going through the motions with you. He's in by 6 and out by 9:30... that gives him most of his evening to himself. This is of course assuming that he's not the kind of guy that has to be in bed by 10. If that is the case then, well... he's just an old dude that needs his rest.

But, I want to address the points you raised so specifically:

1) He puts new rules in place for the kids without consulting me.

THIS is absolutely unacceptable. Those are your kids and he's not your husband and he's not raising them. His behind-your-back influence is dangerous, especially if it is unwanted by you. I always have a gripe with people (men & women) that incorporate their kids so deeply into their dating. Sure, I know you're gonna' say he has to accept YOU and YOUR KIDS, and that is true. But YOU have to control [and sometimes limit] how much influence your 'friend' has over your children. If you let them get very close to this guy and he flakes out on you, then they have an emotional loss too! And, in worse situations, he gains their trust, and if he has a few screws loose, then he can become a physical threat to your kids as well!!! But, if he's making rules and you aren't involved, you need to lay down the law to him with the quickness - if you don't then you are doing them a grave injustice.

2) He walks around putting things away and tidying up the place

This could be his effort to be helpful OR it could be a little passive aggressive move to let you know your place is a mess. I really don't know. But if you don't like it - tell him to keep his hands out of your drawers... and closets and cabinets.

3)He expects fair and equal share to things in our fridge (like he lives here)

The next time he makes a sandwich, you could just ask him what he picked up from the grocery store, or you could just remind him that you are a single mom with a bunch of kids and you didn't factor a grown man into your grocery budget. He'll snicker I'm sure, then you tell him that you weren't joking, and "if he wants to eat at your place, a few bags of groceries once in a while would be appreciated."

4) He sometimes expects dinner...whether I am cooking or not..but will not help himself. Yet when the kids are not there, he has no problem making breakfast.

See my comment above. You have a real gem with this dude!

5) In discussion about issues sometimes, he literally tells me the "proper" way to do something; and I can really feel the mental block when I attempt to make my suggestions.

Hmm, this sounds like he's got some Daddy issues going on. And he thinks he's the Dad... The Bad Dad. The more I read here, the more he sounds like a crotchety old father. You say that he's 12 years older than you, maybe he feels older than that. That would explain why he leaves at 9:30; why he tries to tell your kids - his fake grandkids, what to do; why he doesn't make sex a big deal; why he cleans up after you; why he eats what he wants; and why he feels the need to correct you and tell you why the things you do could be better. He MIGHT think that he's your Dad.

6) He discusses a "future together" when we are alone, but the minute the kids ask questions like "when are you guys getting married?" he responds in the negative all the time.

He does this because he thinks you like to hear it. He keeps you on the hook with this bullcrap. Please tell me that he doesn't call you 'wifey.'

7) He never wants to face that he may have shortcomings.

He's an arrogant ass. (That one was easy)

I think that this guy just doesn't want to be alone. He probably thinks that you and your kids are okay to hang out with, maybe you all are better than his being all alone. But from what you are saying, he sounds like he is just going through the motions and giving you just enough attention to get you to open the front door each night. If all you want is a warm body to sit next to on the sofa - then he's your man, then again, you could just buy a German Sheppard. Sorry-

CHUCK: Garland and I were emailing each other, discussing your question (not something we always do), and I suggested jokingly that the reason for your male friend's 9:30 departures might be that he wants to play house, but needs to be back home in time to see CSI: Miami. We laughed about that, but, thinking about it, there may be something to that theory. Does he have a high-def television? Do you? Don't laugh, things like this can intrude upon a relationship.

You sound frustrated and confused by this man, and you have a right to be. Because he is treating your relationship like a cafeteria meal. Allow me to explain: Rather than just accepting your entire relationship as it is, he flits around, like someone getting lunch in a cafeteria, selecting the things he's prepared to accept, a la carte.

This is him: "Yes, I'll have the boss-the-kids-around-like-I'm-their-father, and the raid-the-refigerator-like-I-filled-it-up. What do I want the respect-her-opinion and the plan-for-the-future? No, thanks. And I'll that to go. Fox News is on at 10:00."

He is content to do just so much, and only extend himself so far (I will give him credit for helping clean around your house, though. There aren't too many men wiling to do that.). He's content to act like the head of your household, as long as he doesn't have to pay any money, or make a real commitment.

And why does he think he can get away with that? Because you have let him think that what he's doing is okay, by allowing him to get away with it. You need to let him know that ordering your children around comes with some dues that he hasn't paid yet. You need to let him know that your place is more than a rec center and a supper club. You need to tell him that he is fallible, and the sun has yet to shine out of his behind.

It's been said before, but a person will only get away with what you let them get away with. And as long you you allow him to set the terms of your relationship, you will have to continue dealing with this nonsense. Address your issues with him honestly, and see how he responds.


There's No Sex Like Drunk Sex - Literally

QUESTION: okay, here goes..... i am in a relationship with a man and we don't have sex....ever. its been seven months and we've had sex maybe three times. we've been together for a year and 4 months. our relationship started out as more of a friendship with lots of sex,always while we were drunk b/c thats what we did every night. he hadnt been in a relationship for 12 years (he's 34) before him and i got together. about four months in we officially became boyfriend and girlfriend and both agreed that we should take a break from the sex thing for a few months and kind of "start over" as if it had never happened and also both agreed we should try it out sober, which we hadnt done yet. so we waited 4 months then tried at it again, and it was great. he had some issues with staying hard though. that lasted for a few months. also you should know that i am never the one to initiate sex because i need to be turned on and also have a sence of being wanted. so then i realized one day that we hadnt had sex in a long time and deccided to talk to him about it. he said that there were a few issues with sex he was having and trying to deal with. one of them being he now realizes that he loves me and it is hard for him to do the dirty things that he used to do to me, but those are the things that really turn him on. another issue is that he feels like he doesnt please me..... hes always been really good in bed and had "one night" stands that last a few weeks. its been 12 years since hes had to keep someone happy sexually for more than a few weeks, and he says it makes him feel insecure. we talk about this every so often because it just makes me feel so insecure about myself. you should also know that he loves checking women out. that didnt used to bother me, but i guess because were not having sex, it does now. i just picture him picturing himself having sex with these women, and i can undress in front of him and he has no urge to fuck me. i guess what im asking, is there anything i can do in this situation?? do you think this is somethign he can overcome. I love him to death but i cant go the rest of my life wondering if the guy who loves me so much is ever going to want to fuck me ever again?? and he says he does, but i just wonder how someone can know if theyve overcome anything w/o at least trying it out to see if they still feel the same. the three times we have had sex in the last seven months, ive initiated..... which ive recently said im not doing anymore, b/c i need to feel wanted by him and i havnt in so long..........please help, any advise would be great.

GARLAND: Okay... WOW. Uh, that was a lot of information. I think when people give all of this extra information they're mainly venting, and the real question is lost. So, sadly, I just don't have it in me to read this a third time. After reading it twice, I finished with the same impression. This guy has to be drunk to sleep with you.

Now THAT has been a running joke with guys for the last 400 years, but in your case - IT'S TRUE! If you have sex like horny, Red Bull fueled, teenagers when you are blitzed out of your mind and yet when he sobers up, he's so blown away by this heavenly love he has for you that he wouldn't dare defile your virtue by touching you with an erection... I can only say, "Give me a break, please."

I don't know what his deal is, I don't know what he's thinking, but I can tell you that your future, at least your sexual future with this chap is going to be pretty bleak unless you BOTH change. He's got to stop being a frilly prude when you want to get your swerve on, and sometimes you are going to have to stop waiting to be hunted and become the predator!

And by the way - to quote our beloved reader "Clarice" - Please stop "borrowing drama!" The whole - 'picturing him, picturing himself having sex with these women,' sounds really... uh... dangerous. Please don't let your fears lead you down the road to serious paranoia. 99.9% of all straight men, even those in relationships, look at women! We are visual creatures, we see a fine looking woman, we are going to look at her - hopefully in a subtle and respectful manner to everyone involved, but we are going to look. Don't make a man's natural urge into something overly dramatic when it doesn't need to be - please don't 'borrow drama' and insert it where it doesn't really exist.

The two of you need to have a serious and heart-felt talk about your relationship, but until that happens, I say, get your guy a six pack of Dos Equis, a couple of condoms, a tub of cool-whip, a pair of handcuffs and a squeeze bottle of Smuckers grape jam and GET BUSY!!!

CHUCK: I'm going to get Psych 101 here for a minute, and talk about something called the Madonna/Whore Complex. Basically, it's a psychological principle that states that men either view women as a Madonna (no, not her): pure, virginal, and untouchable; or as a Whore: approachable, sexual, nasty.
Of course, most real women are human beings who can't be defined so easily. So men who adhere to this complex usually find themselves facing problems in the real world. Such seems to be the case with your man.
He feels as though he needs to be drunk to have sex with you, since he feels unclean doing "dirty" things with/to you sober. He feels as though he cannot approach you in this way without being altered. That's really unusual.
What's mainly happened, though, is that he isused to having sex a certain way, and doesn't feel as though he can change. During the 12 years he was not in a relationship, he evidently got used to drunken, short-term flings. He's evidently turned on by that kind of thing, and doesn't think he can change. So he doesn't even want to try.
He can change, though. You can, too. Given some time and patience and understanding, you can learn to be together and appreciate each other sexually. Sober. One problem men have, and I've written about this before, I think, is if we have an episode of impotence, or are unable to perform once, we dwell on that occasion, and let the anxiety build up until, DAMN, we're not functioning again. And for some men, the fear of facing that kind of situation again will lead them to not initiate sex at all.
You two need to approach this topic again, and agree to help each other with the issues that you both have. Because you have some issues to address. too. You are insecure about him looking at other women because right now, your sex life together is not good. But let me assure you, even if you two were going at it two or three times every night, he'd still look at other women. That's just how most men operate. We are visually oriented beings. The main problem I see would HOW he looks at other women in your presence, and is he respectful to you. Remind me to write about this at length sometime.
The other thing is, you need to get over your reluctance to initiate sex. I know it makes you feel desirable to be pursued, and all that, but to have you kick things off might be just what he needs. You can see that waiting for him hasn't been very productive. So as I say, talk to each other, make a decision to try to change things between you, without using liquor as a crutch. What have your livers ever done to you to deserve such punishment? And please, keep in touch and let us know how things are going.


You're all by yourself, but you're not alone

QUESTION: I'll get right to the point. I have been in a commited relationship with a man who has been married twice and according to all his banterings and extreme number of other relationships and encounters.

The latest bomb dropped was the statement that he was sued for patenity about 19 years ago. DNA showed he was most likely not the father but lost in court. (This was the result of a three night roll in the hay) His second wife moved in on thier second date and since she would not leave they got married. The marriage was going south so they had two kids, go figure? He says if he had it to do over the first date would never have happened.

Now I really do not consider myself as the jealous type. I am VERY easy going. But everything we do including travel he always brings up someone else with whom he has been there before or fished with or camped with or dined with. I am NEVER alone with him! He constantly drags them along. I can't imagine how many are and have been in my bed! One story after another.

We have been together for 9 years and living together(in his house not mine) for the last 5. I love him. But, does he have any idea what he is doing to me? Is it malicious? Am I being too sensitive?

I have told him that I do not walk around talking about every person I have ever F**@%ed. Nor do I ever brag about experiences with my ex or past boyfriends. I also told him it makes me feel "disposable".

I am feeling totally disrespected. Is it just that he does not think? It just seems to be a pattern of not thinking anything through including what he says.

I need insight on how to deal with him and my feelings.



GARLAND: Thanks for your question. Hmmm, living together for five years - have you been tired of his crap for the whole time, or have you just grown weary of his foolishness. That's what you have here, a man with a lot of foolishness and drama.

I think most guys that have gone through two wives have some serious issues with themselves. Let me tell you why - I know a lot of guys, some married, some divorced, some never married at all, but the general consensus among all of us is that once is enough for marriage. For guys that have gone down the aisle twice and both times come up with zeroes, they either have poor taste in women or they are poor men in a relationship. I think your guy is poor in relationships.

If he is so dim-witted as to think that he can bring up all of his ex lovers and ex girlfriends and ex booty calls and basically REMIND you that nothing you do is special to just the two of you - then your man is screwed up. I'm just going to put it out there to you. Your guy has some real issues and guess what - he's not going to get any better!!! If he's been married twice and is still so immature and ignorant that he will not look into the mirror to see what is wrong with him - then he is a fool.

You are dating an inconsiderate and thoughtless fool. Prepare for continued heartbreak and disappointment, because you have a lot more headed your way.

Chuck, can you find a silver lining here? I can't. This guy is a bum.

CHUCK: (Answer will follow)

Friends, But Not With, You Know, "Benefits"

QUESTION: Hi Chuck and Garland,

I love your site and appreciate your dedication to speaking truth to women and providing insight in the minds and behaviors of men! Okay, so here's my situation. I met this guy last summer and we were feeling each other out for a potential romantic relationship. And by "feeling each other out" I mean getting know each other through conversation and doing activities together...the old fashioned way :-) A couple of months into it, his ex-girlfriend came back into the picture and started messing with his head (i.e., "she still loves him but is in love with her current guy too" type of stuff (or so I was told)). She's been dating someone else since a few weeks after their breakup a couple of years ago. Needless to say, her resurfacing brought up some old feelings for him and we backed off. We remain friends, his ex is still in the other relationship, and he says that he has let the situation go and moved on. I provided the background info about his ex in the event that it's useful in helping you figure out what's going on in his mind.

My question concerns his behavior towards me throughout our friendship (pre, during, and post his situation with his ex). He cooks/bakes for me, bought me gifts (just because), flowers and dinner, introduced me to his friends/family (local and long-distance), brings me lunch at work (offering himself), and calls me regularly (I do not have to call him). He calls to see how my day is going and calls me when he goes to work and when he gets off from work. He recently just called to let me know that some of his family members are coming in town to see if I can come over for a cookout with them. He also makes plans for us to do things with his friends and their wives/girlfriends. Did I mention that we ARE NOT dating...and more importantly, we have discussed dating on multiple occasions (most recently around New Year's) and decided not to. During those discussions, I was open to dating simply for the fact that we obviously enjoy each others' company and our behavior in time invested in one another resembles that of a romantic couple. It is also important to note that we have never been sexually active and have only kissed a couple of times (the last of which was around New Year's). He's even shown some jealousy when I've dated other guys and even tried to make me jealous by mentioning that a mutual acquaintance who had expressed interest in him...however, I was not jealous and encouraged him to pursue it if he was interested. Why? Because we are not dating and therefore, we are free to do as we please.

I have platonic guy friends who are in no way shape or form this attentive/generous to me and do not demonstrate jealousy behavior so I don't understand what's motivating his behaviors towards me. You and I both know that a guy doesn't have to do all the things that he does in order to maintain a friendship a woman. Also, since we are not physically intimate I don't feel like I'm being maliciously taken advantage of. While I do appreciate and enjoy his friendship (he's a great guy), I don't understand why a guy would want to spend so much time with a woman, engage in boyfriend-like behavior, but not want to date? Simply, it's like having a gnat hovering around your plate that's never willing to land on it! What's the deal fellas?


GARLAND: WOW! What a great question! I've got about four answers!

#1 - "Congratulations, you have a boyfriend that's waiting until you get married!"

All of the behavior you just described equals "dating without sex." Flowers, friends, phone calls, cookouts, gifts, lunches, dinners... it's all dating. You are spending quality time together and maybe YOU don't know it - but to the rest of us, you guys are dating. At least that what it seems to be, using the traditional parameters of courtship. Just off the top of my head, he seems to pay you more attention that a lot of the 'official' boyfriend's some of our questioners! Maybe he wants to get married before he brings sex to the table, or you consider my next answer...

#2 - "Congratulations, you've got a buddy to hang out with!"

"Hanging out" is a term that a lot of people use. To me, I've had female friends that I've 'hung out' with before and never formally dated or had sex with. Looking back - maybe dating or sex could have happened with some of these women if either of us had wanted it more - but what we had going on was cool enough for us at the time. Maybe in your guy's eyes - the two of you are "hanging out!' You spend a little more time together than normal platonic friends, and you're very close, but the dating chemistry, the sex and emotional intimacy and monogamous nature of a 'boyfriend / girlfriend' relationship just isn't there. So, maybe in his eyes you are just his 'special friend' his 'homegirl' his 'hanging out buddy," or you could consider my next answer...

#3 - "Congratulations, your good friend is confused as hell!"

Okay, this really isn't worthy of a 'congratulations' but I was on a roll - sorry. Maybe this fella' is just confused. He wants you close so he won't lose you; He doesn't want you too close because the verdict is still out on his feeling for his ex; He wants you close because you are probably great to hang out with; He doesn't want you too close because if the ex comes running with arms wide open he doesn't want to hurt your feelings by pushing you aside for her, or you could consider my next answer...

#4 - "You're his beautiful window dressing."

Maybe, just maybe this guy hasn't gotten over his ex, but he wants everyone, including himself to think that he has. Bear with me for a moment here.... there was an episode of 'Seinfeld' where this fellow kept making casual 'get together' plans with Elaine, but he never made a formal date request with her. She would reluctantly go out with him and then she'd ask, "Are we on a date?" He'd say, "No. Can't two friends have dinner without it being a date?" She'd accept it. Then on about the third 'un-date', he invited his parents to dinner with them and they were so impressed to meet 'his girlfriend.' The guy didn't tell them otherwise. This may be where you are. Maybe he needs you to give his life the appearance of normalcy. To him, he has a woman to show affection to, he has a woman to take out and spend time with, he has a woman that makes him feel like a normal guy and not some guy that can't get past a woman that has left him and moved on. To the family and friends around him, you are Johnny's new girlfriend; to them, Johnny has moved on so well; to them, Johnny is doing real good with his cute new girlfriend! So, there's a chance that you are an emotional crutch to him. That sounds pretty bad, but it might not be. He probably does care about you.

My gut tells me that he cares about you. While his actions seem thoughtful and warm, he just won't commit to dating on the terms you use to define that. If you are having a hard time with his halfway behavior or you are feeling that he's getting a certain level of emotional fulfillment greater than what YOU are getting out of your relationship, then I suggest YOU be the grown-up and back up off the situation. You control what he wants the most - YOUR TIME. Just start backing away and being less available to him and move on, either he'll accept that you are a ship that has sailed on and he'll do the same, or he'll realize that he's been foolish and step up to you with terms and conditions that only you'll accept.

Best wishes and best of luck to whatever decision you make!

CHUCK: You know, if you didn't already say that this man had an ex-girlfriend, I'd wonder if he wasn't gay and using you as a beard. But just from what you've said, it seems as though your relationship is a little more sincere than that.
What is this relationship? I've gotta say, damned if I know. Years ago, I was in a similar friendship relationship with a young lady. We hung out for a little while, and I hoped, that by being a friend to her, she'd eventually see that I wanted something different. Anyway, that didn't work out. She just wanted a friend, albeit a friend to go out on dates with, to be at her disposal, to call at 1 am NOT to have sex, etc. No, no, it's all right. I'm not bitter. Not at all.
Seriously, though, you are correct in your understanding that this friendship is NOT conventional. You are getting consideration from this man that women in long-term romantic and/or sexual relationships are not getting. Please scroll down the page. There are at least a half dozen women down there that would be envious of you, for the fact that he calls you regularly, alone. So make no mistake, you've got it good.
How good, however, is dependent on what you are looking for. Judging from your question, it doesn't seem as though you are pining away for this man, or are desperate to start a relationship with him. You seem more curious than anything else. But I'm curious, as well. Would you like to be in a relationship with this great, attentive guy?
I don't know how well you got to know his ex, or whether you did at all, but I'm tempted to suggest that you feel her out on him. If just to find out how he was in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Because it could be that she chewed him, spit him out, and turned him into the gunshy basket case he is today. Or if she didn't do it, she might know who did.
That's what I believe has got him in the state he's in today. He may want to be involved with you, but it seems like he can't make that move. And because you're not placing any demands on him, one way or another, you are comfortable to be around. But as I have said before, men can live in a state of limbo for years, until they're forced out of it. But women need to feel that sesnse of progression. At some point, you're probably going to want that. And then you'll have to decide if you can get it with him.