As you may know, I spend a lot of time responding to the questions I am asked about dating and relationships on Quora.com and I thought I’d share some of my answers with you in case you are going through anything similar. It can be very difficult to repair a relationship as one of this week’s questioners has discovered.
Obviously, I am not an expert but I am a 50-something married mum of two with quite a few years’ experience under my belt. I take the view that, sometimes, you need to hear it like you would from your own mother – however tough the truth may be.
Here are just some of the questions I’ve been asked this week.
Q: My wife is accidentally pregnant and is saying I have ruined her life. She’s now so depressed that she’s threatening my life. Gone crazy. What should I do?
A: Your wife will be very hormonal and her moods may well be all over the place – that’s natural with pregnancy. But this sounds like a huge over-reaction.
Do you have any idea why she feels this way? What have you ‘ruined’ – her career? her figure?
When you say she is ‘threatening your life’ do you mean literally or is she just so angry she’s saying things like “I could kill you for this”?
I would suggest she needs to see a doctor for some counselling to help her decide what to do next but you also need some support for you too.
Do you have any relatives close by who could help? Could anyone come and stay with you for a bit?
Does she have a mum or sister who could come and help her?
You don’t mention contraception but if you were using something which didn’t work then that is hardly your fault.
If you weren’t using contraception then both of you are responsible – she had the choice to protect herself by using contraception too.
This doesn’t make it any easier of course but blaming you is hardly going to help her deal with the pregnancy.
It also sounds like there is a huge gulf between the two of you in terms of how you feel about each other and where the relationship is headed – I assume you knew she didn’t want children?
When things are calmer, I think you need to do some serious talking.
If you feel your life is seriously under threat then you must leave immediately.
I hope things work out for you.
Q. What does it mean when your boyfriend is always texting other girls but doesn’t tell you?
A: It may be that he has lots of female friends but it’s the fact that he doesn’t tell you that is suspicious unless you are very jealous and possessive and he is too afraid to tell you.
How do you know he is always texting other girls – are you checking his phone without him knowing?
If it were me, I’d be asking what he’s up to because, on the face of it, it sounds like there are other girls in the picture.
Q: How do I show my boyfriend that I want to be a bigger part of his life?
We’ve been dating for around 8 months. We’re both divorced and we both have some issues opening up but it’s clear we have a connection. Lately, we’ve been seeing less of each other, and when we do we don’t go out. In the beginning, we met the family, did a lot together, now he always seems to have an excuse – too busy with work etc.
A: I can tell that you are very keen on your boyfriend, but is it possible that you are coming on too strong and pushing for a commitment or at any rate more involvement than he is willing to give right now?
It sounds to me as if he is backtracking a little unless he really is busy with work.
You don’t say what the ‘issues’ are but I suspect these are at the heart of the problem. Was his divorce amicable? Is his ex-wife still around? Are there children?
Demanding to be a bigger part of his life won’t work if he is just getting over the trauma of a tricky divorce. He’ll want less stress, not more.
I think a heart-to-heart is in order – after all, it has been 8 months – to see how he is feeling and whether, rather than pushing for more attention, you might be better off seeing how you could offer support.
You also need to work out what the ‘connection’ is – because it may be that, on his side, it’s friendship whereas on your side it’s clearly more.
Q: My best friend and I can’t live without each other. She’s dating another who doesn’t treasure her. I am in love with her. What do I do?
A: Hard though it is, I think you need a little reality check. Your friend is dating someone else and, although you clearly think the ‘other’ isn’t good enough for her unless she has said she is unhappy you really shouldn’t interfere.
Does she know how you feel about her or have you not told her because you don’t want to lose her?
If she does know, then you need to decide whether being second best is good enough for you, unless you think there’s a chance the situation may change.
If she doesn’t know then all you can do is tell her how you feel – but if you do that, the nature of your friendship may well change.
I hope things resolve in your favour.
Q: Should I text this to the guy I have a crush on? “What would you say if I told you I liked you and wished we could hang out together more”?
A: If you are at the stage where you are prepared to risk being rejected then yes, but has this guy given any indication he likes you?
How well do you know him? Does he know YOU like him? If he doesn’t he may well find your text a bit odd.
It’s very easy to hide behind phone calls/texts/social media but real relationships are based on talking and face to face contact.
Why don’t you just ask him out for a coffee? If he says no thank you, you have your answer without having told him about your crush.
Q: How do I tell my girlfriend that I have enlisted in the army?
A couple of times when I have asked her opinion about “how cool do you think the army is?”, she has conveyed that she wouldn’t date someone from the army because of how hard it is. The thing is, I signed the dotted line before I met her and we love each other and have been together for more than 6 months and I leave in 2 months.
A: I think you have to be honest and tell her right away – otherwise she’s in for a big shock.
Tell her you fibbed because you didn’t want to lose her and give her the chance to talk about her fears.
It is possible she does not want an ‘army life’ but I’m afraid you are going to have to address this now because otherwise your relationship going forward will continue to be based on a lie.
Q: Let’s say I get a woman over 40 pregnant. What would be the odds of the baby having some debilitating birth defect?
A: The risks of abnormalities increase after the age of 35. I am not a doctor but I had my babies at 43 and 45.
With my first, I had a nuchal translucency scan to assess for the likelihood of Downs syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. With my second I had amniocentesis.
My point is that the risks increase but that the defects can be tested for.
A bigger issue is the decision whether to continue a pregnancy where defects are indicated – and even then sometimes you don’t know until the baby is born.
Will you be able to stand by your woman and support her in the making of that decision if need be?
That’s the real issue here.
Q: If, on a second date, there is no kissing and no escalation physically or much flirting, but the date went well aside from that, is that a sign that a third date is unlikely? Or are some people just slower?
This is a general question, but it’s based on a real scenario. Our first date went exceedingly well, but on the second date, it felt like it had de-escalated physically. The girl was less flirtatious by far than on the first date, and gave no ‘chances’ or hints at all, compared to the first, for any physical contact. I’m trying to tell if some people are just like that, or if it’s a sign of disinterest / fizzling out.
A: Easy tiger! What happened to taking things slow and getting to know one another? It sounds to me that you are just after sex and not really interested in a relationship. Your description of “the girl” is less than flattering.
I’m not surprised she is pulling back if she senses you’re only after one thing.
Women aren’t machines you know. What about wooing, showing interest, complimenting her? What on earth do you mean by “chances”?!
I’d dial back your enthusiasm before you get yourself in trouble, otherwise, you’ll never get that third date.
Q: Is it unrealistic or presumptuous of me to think that people should take more consideration and time before they prepare to have children?
I often find that people (including myself) love our own children very much, but often refuse to admit any mistakes in regards to their upbringing because they’ve done “everything” they can for them. I find ourselves talking about how we ‘should’ do things instead of “walking the talk” so to speak.
A: A bit unrealistic. Until you have kids you really have no idea what it’s like to be a parent and you just have to feel your way day to day and learn as you go. We all make mistakes but we have to forgive ourselves and, in most cases, our kids do just fine.
I don’t know if you are familiar with the writer Louise Hay but she says that we should all forgive our parents because they were only doing the best they could at the time as they simply didn’t know anything different.
I’m obviously not excusing child cruelty here but I think there’s a lot of truth in Louise’s words.
I think one of the biggest challenges of parenthood is learning to live with guilt – but ultimately it’s the struggle to be better that makes us good parents and makes us grow as people.
Q: My brother’s girlfriend is harassing my daughter via phone, text and social media. I have all the proof so what can I do now?
A: How close are you to your brother? And how bad is the harassment? Are we talking constant badgering/insulting? Has there been physical violence?
If it was me and it was that bad, I would have told my brother in no uncertain terms that his girlfriend’s treatment of his niece is completely unacceptable and that you don’t want to play hardball with the evidence but if it doesn’t stop immediately there will be consequences (you don’t need to specify).
How has it been allowed to escalate to this stage?
BEFORE you speak to your brother though, you need to be absolutely sure that your daughter has no part to play in this situation. You don’t say how old she is.
I would make very certain you have ALL the facts just in case your daughter isn’t completely the innocent party in all this.
Whilst you have these conversations your daughter needs to block this girl on social media and her phone or change her phone number. I’m a little unsure as to why this hasn’t already been done, although I guess it’s to allow you to gather ‘evidence’.
I think with a bit of swift action and a few open conversations this could be swiftly nipped in the bud.
Q: I and my ex-girlfriend are still dating but she is not ready to marry me. She has told me that she is going to dinner with a man introduced to her by her parents. What should I do?
A: Firstly, how can she be your ‘ex’ girlfriend when you are still dating. She is either your girlfriend or she isn’t and the fact that she is not ready to marry you suggests she is stringing you along.
I think she is gently trying to tell you that she is moving on and you should do the same. Her parents have obviously decided her future lies elsewhere and it doesn’t sound like she is putting up much resistance.
This doesn’t sound if it’s going anywhere and you deserve better.
Q: Is it possible to repair a relationship after you’ve been cheated on?
A: Perfectly possible but the question is at what cost? If you can forgive that is one thing but I think a lot of people would struggle with the forgetting.
If this was a one-off, then possibly you can get over it, agree it was a mistake and move on, on the basis that the person they cheated with was completely out of the picture and you could rebuild your trust in your partner.
If this wasn’t a one-off or the rival is still around then, personally, I would leave and find myself someone I could trust who would treat me with respect.
I think you do need to look at your role in the relationship too though – did you do anything that led to your partner being unfaithful? It’s very easy to blame others and ignore our own part in the drama.
No, it doesn’t excuse the cheating but a bit of self-analysis may help you go forward to your next relationship in a stronger, more confident frame of mind.
Q. I have two ex-girlfriends who mean the world to me. I will not settle for letting go. How do I get one back?
A: Did they both leave you? In which case, I’m not sure you can and if you left them, why on earth did you if they meant that much to you?
It sounds like you are wallowing in nostalgia for happier times and possibly forgetting the reasons why these relationships did not work.
Why would things be different now?
You make it sound as if these girls were your possessions – were you perhaps a little too jealous or possessive?
You say you will “not settle for letting go” which is not a particularly healthy attitude towards your relationships. Do you have a fear of commitment or getting too close to people which leads you to push them away when you really don’t want to?
There is no reason why you cannot remain friends but I think you need to be honest with yourself about the reason why you want not just one, but two of them back.
Perhaps you need to work on your self-confidence a little and look to the future where you will meet someone who is right for you.
How would you have responded to these questions? You can find more dating advice on my problem page.
Want the answers to last week’s questions? They’re here.
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 healthcare providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom.