Never Settle

Dear Chuck and Garland,

I’m so glad I’ve found your blog. I’ve read some of your posts and I’m impressed by the wisdom you provide to your readers.

I am 31 year old and live in Europe. Few months after I broke up with my first love back in 2003, he went abroad and started his own life in the USA. After this relationship was over, I’ve never found a long lasting and satisfying relationship with a man. I started some relationships and after less than 5-6 months I gave up pursuing them. I’m very confused and don’t know if there is love as I imagine it or love just doesn’t exist.

In the past 7 years we had many communication issues with my first love. Recently he contacted me and invited me to marry him and join him in the United States. Last winter we spend amazing time in Italy and we both started to organize the documentation for a fiancée visa. After some skype conversations I remembered the reasons why I left him 7 years ago. He has changed a lot, however some traits remain.

[I’ll give you a short example what makes me mad: he often says “I like you because you are independent and you can handle any situation. I like you because you are able to overcome any difficulties by your own.” That’s good for me, yeah? Unfortunately we both had some tough situations and his reactions were either nervously striking the floor with his foot or lighting a cigarette. Beside this he often jokes in a very inappropriate way so I’m offended and hurt]

I’m in doubt if I should commit with this man. If I decide to leave Europe and start a new life in the USA, there will be some big changes in my life and I would be ready to face challenges only for love. As I haven’t found a big love in the past years, I ask myself – am I doing [something] wrong? What do I want from a man? Maybe I should take him as he is… As I’m in doubt, I don’t know what to do – pretending I’m in love and marry him or staying where I am and waiting for the “BIG” love. Not to mention that I’m over 30 and many friends often say “It’s time to build a family and have children” !?! I don’t want to have false expectations towards love and to wait for Mr. Right for ages. But if I suspect I would be unhappy in this relationship, why should I start it again?

Thanks in advance for taking your time and answering me

GARLAND: Thank you for your great question and I apologize for the delay in getting it answered. That was my fault, and I’m sorry.

Now, as far as your situation goes, I truly see your dilemma. Let me give you my feelings on what you’ve said. First, I DO see how you could feel that ‘true love’ doesn’t exist. Actually, I’ve been there myself at one point. I was wrong. And I’m optimistic that you are wrong too. Let me share what got me through that time in my life. I don’t know if you are a person of faith, but I am, and what I did was ask God to let me know when that special person came into my life. I didn’t ask him to send me someone per se, I just asked that when he was ready and decided that I was too, that he just tap me on the shoulder, and say, “Hey G, she’s the one. This one right here.” And then I went on enjoying my life, enjoying my friends, enjoying the world around me and enjoying whatever came my way. It worked for me and I hope it will work for you.

As far as this guy here in the states goes. You sound like you gut instinct has labeled life with him as “settling” and let me tell you. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER – SETTLE. Life is far too short for bitter lemonade! Dump a scoop of sugar in it and enjoy the sweetness! Don’t settle for this rude, thoughtless, needy, petty little man. Don’t you dare come over here and marry some clown that tells you, “I like you because you are stronger than I am.” That is some foolish horse-pucky if I’ve ever heard it!

Let me tell you something that I told a good friend of mine one time – You give yourself to a good man that WANTS you, not a weak man that NEEDS you! When someone NEEDS you, they are addressing something they lack in themselves that you have. When that NEED is filled, they will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS find a way to let you go and drift away from you. When someone strong WANTS you, they WANT to share with you, they want their strengths to be with your strengths and together the two of you can take on the World!

As far as your friends and family go with all of the “When are you getting married foolishness,” few things in life piss me off more, than stupid people trying to set someone else’s “Life Achievement Clock.” Trust me when I tell you, I’m positive that trying to satisfy someone’s expectations in life, love and families leads to more sadness and pain than anything else a person could do to themselves. When thoughtless morons question your lifestyle or the things you have or haven’t done yet in life – ask them when they are gonna’ lose weight, or stop smoking, or get a job, or get a degree, or stop cheating on their spouse, or get rid of that piece of crap car they drive, or get their teeth whitened? I’m sure they won’t bring up your marital status again!

Best wishes!

CHUCK: Garland has got it right. We view our first loves through rose-colored glasses, and frequently with a sense of nostalgia that causes us to overlook that person's shortcomings. So the fact that you're considering this man's marriage offer, despite the fact that he's throwing up more flags that a July Fourth parade, is vaguely ridiculous.

Because, if you take him up on his proposal, I can see your future: You two have broken up. You're frustrated and rootless because you have left your home for him. You may have a child or two, so you are tied to him for years to come because of that. All because you ignored the signs when you saw them.

Forget about settling for this man. Forget about listening to the harrassment of your friends. Because it never ends. First, it's, "When are you going to get a man?" Then, when you get one, it's "When are you going to settle down?" Then, "When are you two going to have kids?" Then, "You've got a boy. Don't you want a little girl?" And on and on. But you have to live your life by your timetable, not someone else's.

So, hold your ground and be strong. It's my experience that, when you stop focusing on finding someone, that when you're most likely to meet somebody. Keep an open mind, don't sweat the clock, and just make a decision to enjoy your life. The right person will come to you soon enough.

Interest-free Relationships

QUESTION: I’m sure this is a question you get often, but I would love an honest answer. My boyfriend of 9 months has lost interest. He lost interest about 2 months ago. Before that we texted all day, he was very affectionate with me, everything couldn’t have been more perfect. Now he never texts me, only answers my texts back and when he does it takes hours to get back to me & the messages are just cold. He hasn’t given me a compliment in 2 months, no longer calls me baby. he hardly even looks at me and all affection is gone, any affection I get, is because I am giving it to him, I feel like hes forcing himself to wrap his arms around me.

When I ask him whats wrong he says nothing, but I know he’s lying.

When I suggested to him that maybe we needed some time apart, he got angry, then was affectionate for about a week, but is back to being cold again. I don’t know what to do, this is really taking a toll on me. I really think this guy might be the one, and he has told me before that I am the one for him, he’s even spoken to me about wanting to possibly start a family, which came as a complete surprise to me because I know that’s something he hasn’t discussed with previous girlfriends (the last 2 gave him the commitment ultimatum, and have all lost, the relationships ended) I don’t want it to end, I want to fix it. (just FYI we are in our 30’s).

I know we have gone through some tough things recently but my feelings for him haven’t changed, but his have seemed to have changed drastically. I have heard that the best thing to do when a guy has lost interest is to break up and drop all contact with them so they have some space & he can take some time to realize that life sucks without me, but I know that back fired to the last girl that did that to him, it sent him running straight into my arms and we have been together since lol. I def don’t want to send him into the arms of a new girl. Please help!!

GARLAND: Thank you for your question! I sincerely apologize for the delay in getting you this answer!

Let me start by hitting two points right off the bat:

#1 Please don’t fool yourself into thinking you know anything about his previous relationships! You know ONLY what he has told you. You know ONLY one side of a story, and that is ONLY if he is not lying! So, please please please - drop the whole perspective of thinking that you know about ultimatums that prior girlfriends gave him, or statements that he did or did not make to them. Once you start taking his word as gospel, you’ll start forming opinions that might be way off the mark, so let’s ONLY work in the realm of what you can see and touch. That will save you a ton of drama later in this relationship. If you listen to nothing else I say, LISTEN TO WHAT I JUST SAID.

#2 The Best Advice is NOT to cut ties with him until he changes his mind. Cutting ties may be the best thing to do, but don’t do it under the assumption that he’ll ‘come to his senses’ and come running to you begging that you’ll take him back. That leads to all kinds of emotional foolishness and was probably started by someone who was not a man. But again, I don’t rule out cutting ties, as you’ll see in a minute.

Now, onto the issue – your man is drifting away. That could be any number of things. He could be experiencing some medical issues and maybe he doesn’t want to talk about them. That would make someone seem distant. He could have some problems going on at work, or he could simply be over-worked. Or, he could be losing interest in you, or any of five dozen other things.

If you’ve called him out on being distant, and he threw a hissy fit, followed by Mad-Love, and then distance again… he’s got some issues. I’m gonna’ be honest with you and I’m gonna’ quote one of my favorite WMAT readers, “Clarice”, and I’m gonna’ tell you “don’t borrow drama.” If this guy is shutting you down and shutting you out, just walk away now. Just walk away. If he can’t stay focused on you and your feelings after seven brief months, how do you honestly… HON-EST-LY… expect him to stay focused on you for a year, or two years, or three or five? If he has something going on and he’s not equipped as a mature person to discuss them with you intelligently, then chances are, he’s NOT ready for a grown up relationship and all the WANTING in the world from you is NOT going to prepare him for it. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but I talk to questioners just like I would talk to my sister. I wouldn’t soft pedal her, and I’m not gonna’ soft-pedal you. He’s probably a nice guy and a fine human being, but if he is shutting you out, and won’t talk about it – move on and don’t look back.

CHUCK: There is another possibility with this guy you may need to consider: He may not know how to follow through on a relationship. He's courted you, won you, and nine months later, he doesn't know how to be around you. Some guys like the chase, the pursuit of a woman into a relationship, but don't know how to be in a relationship. It's an emotional maturity thing.

Garland's right about taking what he says about his past girlfriends with a grain of salt. As a matter of fact, here, take this salt shaker. He may be giving his past relationships a spin to make himself look good. And to discourage you from doing something he wouldn't like.

Anyway, you cannot trouble yourself with whether you expressing your dissatisfaction with his behavior is going to drive him away. He sounds as though he has essentially left you already. Responding to you only out of a sense of obligation alone is far from desirable, for you or him. So, it is worth it for you to address the issue with him one more time. Put the onus on him this time: "It seems as though you've been unhappy lately. Is there something going on that I can help you with." Give him the opportunity to be honest with you.

But be prepared. If he blows you off, and is attentive for only a couple of weeks to shut you up, then goes back to being an uncaring lump, get out. You and your self-esteem deserve more. Good luck.

What Happens in a Vegas Strip Club, Comes Home 3 Years Later, Or There Ain't No Sex in the Champagne Room

QUESTION: Hey, I just found your blog and thought what the hey I will ask you the questions i have. I have been married almost 8 yrs and have 3 beautiful children and my husband has been keeping something from me for awhile and I just got it out of him, maybe. He just told me that he went to a strip club 3 yrs ago and that's all he said. I want to know what happens at strip clubs in Vegas and what can I expect that he did while he was there. I think the most upsetting part to me about it is he went with some business colleagues who all know that he is married, and i think it is pretty embarrassing for me that he did that. i have seen these men and they all makes me feel like i'm not good enough and i wonder if thats what all the other guys were thinking. should i drop the whole subject since it happened 3 yrs ago or should i demand to know what all went on that night at the club?

GARLAND: Wow, great question. First – let me apologize for the delay in answering your question, I’m very sorry about that!

I’ve always heard about the mystique of Vegas strip clubs, but I’ve never been in one out there. I have however, been in a few strip clubs in my time. So, I have to tell you, there are a LOT of things that can happen at a strip club.

-Men [and women] can see a lot of beautiful women in various stages of undress,
-People can have a lot of laughs and enjoy a few good drinks with their friends,
-People can get some serious business done in the relaxed atmosphere,
-People can get lap dances, some with clothed women, some with naked women,
-People can also have sexual encounters under the right circumstances.

I don’t mean to freak you by that last one, but I don’t want to keep anything from you.

Why he brought this up after three years is very odd to me, and then to say it and walk away without further comment is kinda’ strange in my book. Strange, but NOT The strangest thing in the world. So, I’m not sure what’s up with that. As his wife, I’d rather you go ahead and just tell him, “Look Babe, you mentioned the Vegas strip club and my mind has been racing since then. I want to know what happened, not the grizzly details, but I want to know if you messed around or where unfaithful to me?” Say it that way! Don’t go in guns-a-blazing, and accusing him of cheating, and demanding to know every single detail, that makes you look a little crazy and very insecure. Nobody wants that. And I don’t want you worried that your husband was unfaithful when he probably wasn’t. There is a good chance that nothing serious happened and that is why he mentioned it and didn’t say anything else I because simply put, there was nothing else to tell.

As far as his co-workers go, please don’t make something out of nothing. Going to the strip club was not a personal assault on YOU as a wife and a woman. It was simply some guys, having “guy time”. They were away from home, away from the wives and kids and just having some harmless fun probably. They didn’t say, “Hey Sam! Let’s go and be spiteful towards your wife! We’ve been waiting all day to do something that would make her angry!” They were just guys hanging out. We men are visual creatures, and even though we get married, we still are testosterone driven heterosexuals. Most guys enjoy seeing attractive women, and if we can do it while having a few cold beers and some laughs with our friends, then no harm done. And, please stop making his trip to the strip club an attack on you. That is stressful and will eat away at you. And also, trust me, his buddies weren’t sitting up in the club spending any time thinking about you and what kind of wife you are or aren’t, they just wanted to have a good time with their friend, your husband. It had nothing to do with you personally.

Now keep in mind that I’m speaking from what I consider average morals among average guys. I don’t know anything about you and your husband and what your family morals and codes are, but chances are, I’m right on point with my assessment. Just take a minute and ask him if he did anything that you all need to talk about. Chances are that he had a few drinks, slipped a few dollars in a garter here or there and went on to lose money on the Blackjack tables.

CHUCK: I'm with Garland here. This need not be a big deal. If you have questions about the specific events of that night, definitely ask them. This thing should not be something that comes between you, or eats away at your marriage. He felt comfortable enough to tell you about this (albeit, three years late), so the assumption is that he behaved himself. Like Garland says, don't approach with an accusatory tone, just tell him you're curious and would like to know what happened that night.

Just speaking for myself, his visit to the strip club may have come from nothing more than curiousity, or simple tourism. I'll put it like this: If you go to DC, you may want to visit the Washington Monument. If you're in NYC, you might want to see Times Square or the Empire State Building. And if you're a man in Las Vegas without his wife or girlfriend, you might want go to a strip club.

When I was single, I went to Vegas on a business trip. I gambled until I got bored. I had yet to meet up with any of my co-workers. So I decided, first time in Vegas and by myself, I'll go to a strip club. I paid at the door, bought a drink, and had a seat. There were some attractive women there, not to my particular taste (I prefer more natural women). The club seemed on the up-and-up (i.e., there seemed to be no threat of gunfire breaking out at anytime). There also seemed to be no threat of an orgy breaking out either. If that's what someone is looking for, they can just stay in there room and consult the phone book there. After a while, I caught a cab and rode back to my hotel. I had to get up early the next morning. Are these the lurid, seamy details you were expecting?

Another thing Garland got right: Men are visual creatures, and we do not cease to be attracted to other women just because we're married to one. Yoiu can't tell me you've never watched a movie on cable for no other reason than, say, Idris Elba was in it. However, you have to be smart enough and committed enough not to act on that attraction. And if you need to ask some follow-up questions to assure yourself about your husband, by all means, do.