After a refreshing summer break, Relationship Dilemmas is back. As usual, the questions I am asked can be about any aspect of relationships, and sometimes parenting and health.
If you would like any advice, feel free to message me or pop a comment in the comment box at the end of this post. I promise to be gentle.
Here's just some of the questions I've been asked this week.
Q: How honest should I be with my kids about their father’s drinking?
I feel like a traitor to my husband when I lie for him and a traitor to my children when I don't, when the children ask me about his drinking and other behaviors that concern them. What is right? They are 17 and 21 and still living at home. I am so confused. I don’t know how to handle this.
A: Your kids are old enough to hear the truth but it depends how you tell them.
If you are saying their father is an alcoholic then you need to tell them that he is ill - because he is.
If your husband is a heavy drinker and his drinking is starting to impinge on your daily life together then he needs to be encouraged to seek help (easier said than done I know).
If he is an occasional drinker and comes back drunk from time to time, then that, despite being annoying, is quite a frequent occurrence in many homes.
Your husband may need help.
By keeping quiet you are just letting the problem continue and, over time, it will get worse.
I understand that you want to protect your kids but they are young adults now and probably well aware that their dad has a problem - even if they aren’t sure exactly what it is.
But you also need to make sure that your attitude to alcohol isn’t colouring their perceptions too.
If, as I mentioned, your husband only gets occasionally drunk, then many people would not class that as problem drinking.
Only you know whether your husband has a real problem with booze or not but addressing the issue as a family may help your husband as well as your kids.
Q: Why would a significant other choose to lie to their partner? Especially if the question has nothing to do with cheating?
I’m married to someone and, over the years, I’ve noticed that their answers to questions seem a little off. I’ve even got into the habit of asking questions that I know the answers to, and most of the time, they miss their opportunity to not only be honest, but to build trust and connect with me.
A: Why do you put up with such awful behaviour?
Never mind missing the opportunity to ‘be real’, how about treating you with a bit of respect?
It may be your partner is bored and lies for a bit of excitement. It may be that they are a habitual liar - in which case I would suggest that little lies lead to even bigger ones.
The reason why is not the issue here.
The issue is that you know they are a liar and you are not calling them out on it.
At best it’s extremely childish and at worst you need to question their behaviour on a wider scale.
You say that the lying is nothing to do with cheating but even if that is the case, it’s time for them to grow up and start treating you with respect.
I certainly wouldn’t put up with it.
Q: Do girls like sensitive and emotional boys?
A: Why wouldn’t they?
I don’t think that stereotyping boys as “hard, macho, tough,” for example rather than “sensitive, emotion, soft” is very helpful these days.
Most of us are a mix of both sensitive and insensitive traits - it depends on the situation.
Some will cry at wildlife programmes, some won’t. It’s often arbitrary and random.
I’m not quite sure what you are asking.
Are you asking if it is OK for girls to like sensitive and emotional boys? In which case, if he makes you happy who cares what others think.
The key question is whether you get on OK and whether you find the ‘emotional behaviour’ acceptable or a bit grating.
There is no ‘checklist’ you know. You just have to find someone who makes you happy.
Q: How do you get over someone you never had?
I first started to have feelings for this guy in junior high. He was my senior and was a cute popular kid with so many fans. I wasn't one of the popular kids nor am I pretty so I didn't think I stood a chance. We never really talked. For years I'm not even sure he knew I existed. But as it turned out, he did.
When I met him 2 years ago at a school reunion, he asked me some basic and polite questions such as how am I doing or what I've been up to .That's the only conversation I've ever had with him. To begin with I thought it was just a crush. But here I am, 10 years later, unable to stop thinking about him.
And no, he's never been a jerk to me, never acted rude, taken advantage of me or given me false hope. And if the story isn't pathetic enough, I've just found out that he's seeing an old school friend and they're about to get engaged.
How do I get over this feeling? How do I get over someone I never had? How do I get over this heartbreak, this misplaced feeling of something that never belong to me?
A: It sounds as if you have build up a little romantic movie which you play in your head every time you hear his name.
He has come to represent your perfect man when, in reality, he might be a complete sleazeball with all the personality of cheese. Nobody is that perfect.
You have to be strong and say to yourself “no, I’m not going to replay that old movie” and focus on the future and the men around you.
Isn’t there someone who makes your fantasy man look less attractive?
It’s also very easy to avoid going out and rejection by living in your fantasy world.
You are safe, cocooned but, if you are honest with yourself, a little bit lonely.
Don’t be lonely. There’s no need.
It is nothing to do with looks; it’s to do with being a kind, caring human being who is interested in others - as they really are - not as you dream them to be.
Time to leave your ivory tower and let Prince Charming canter off into the sunset. He was probably a rubbish dancer anyway.
Q: Should I tell my parents about my boyfriend's past?
We’ve been dating for over 2 years now. He's told me about his past. In his high school, he was a weed smoker and he also had sex with several women. But now, he’s completely changed. We've commited to never having sex before marriage. I've only told my parents he used to be a very bad student and a thug.
A: This all sounds a bit too good to be true and as a parent, I’d be naturally highly suspicious about this change to whiter-than-white behaviour.
He may well have changed but lots of women subscribe to the “my love is so powerful it will change him” fantasy.
I think you don’t need to say any more to your parents but it sounds like you really want to discuss this with them for their advice and counsel.
This leads me to suspect you’re not all that sure that he has really changed.
Everyone deserves a second chance, it’s true. You need to make sure that you aren’t having the wool pulled over your eyes.
I bet you know that if you talk to your mum and dad about this they’ll tell you to get rid of him.
To be frank, I think you should talk to them anyway.
Talking about smoking weed really polarises people. Some are OK with it. Personally, I think it’s a short route to taking something harder. That is of greater concern to me than the sex but you’ll find others say this is nothing to worry about.
You have to make that decision. And I think you’ll find it easier with your parents’ help.
Q: Why did this girl call me a pervert for just asking a question?
The other day I asked a girl I know why girls wear spandex shorts under their skirts and dresses and she said “pervert stop looking up girls skirts and dresses” then walked off. She also told other girls I was a pervert who looked up girls skirts and dresses.
A: Well have you been? If you have then the girl is right to feel that your behaviour is a little inappropriate - or at least openly admitting it is.
If on the other hand, you have just read or heard about spandex and were asking an innocent question, this is a huge over-reaction from her and it was very immature to tell the other girls this.
Next time ask someone you can trust if you’re curious - like your mum or sister.
Asking women about their underwear is not the wisest conversation starter in any situation.
The actual answer to your question is that spandex shorts suck in any wobbly bits and give a smooth line under tight fitting clothing. It’s considered a no-no by some to be able to see your knicker line through your clothing.
I’d just ignore this girl and the furore will die down soon enough when she finds something else to be outraged about.
Q: How can I make sure my network admin is not monitoring me?
A: I’m not sure you can and, in any case, what are you doing that you want to keep hidden from them?
It is not clear from your question but I’m assuming you are talking about computers and a work situation.
There are many sophisticated programs used by employers these days to monitor their employees use of inappropriate websites (porn, gambling etc) and social media sites can also be blocked, as can games.
If you are using these then you risk disciplinary action and possibly the loss of your job.
If you are saying that you are being picked on and your work is being monitored closely then you need to talk to HR about your worries and to find out what is going on.
Q: What does he mean by telling me that he is like my brother?
My best friend who I have feelings for is a far friend of my brother who died 5 years ago. He used to send signals but became cold so I tried to move on with my life. But last year he came back and is doing everything he can to gain my attention and trust - but he always says he is like my brother - why?
A: Firstly, I am so sorry for your loss. It must have been enormously difficult for you and I can understand why you have become so attached to someone who has a link to your brother via a mutual friend.
There are two possible reasons why this guy is telling you he is like a brother.
Either he wishes you to rely on him the way you did your brother and he wants to be a part of your life
Or he is gently trying to tell you that while he is fond of you, there is no romantic spark there.
It sounds like he is rather confused himself and is unclear whether he wants a romantic relationship.
The fact that he went cold suggests he does not but because he showed you lots of attention afterwards, he may just want to keep you as a friend.
My advice would be to worry a little less about this guy and concentrate on finding someone else who clearly wants to be with you.
If you date other guys or express an interest in them, it may also prompt this guy to make his mind up.
I know there is a slight link to your brother with this guy but you deserve to be happy and if this guy can’t offer anything other than friendship, it may be time to move on.
How would you have responded to these questions? I'd love to know. You can find more advice on my problem page.
All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom.