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. Very often these will centre around a relationship with an ex – and this week is no different!
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: How can I be a good boyfriend?
A: Be kind, listen, be supportive. Number one requirement – don’t cheat. It’s quite simple in theory – less so in practice.
What is important is that you pick a partner who makes YOU happy and who feels the same way about you. Make sure you have shared interested and talk about things together.
When the initial romantic phase dies down a bit (as it often does), it’s the shared interests and conversation that keep a relationship ticking over.
Roses and chocolates are nice, but someone to make you a cup of tea and fetch you an aspirin when you have a headache is much better.
Q: What do girls want in a boyfriend? I’m insecure because I can’t dance and I don’t drink.
A: Do you not dance or party because you don’t have the confidence to do these things?
When you’re young it’s very easy to tell yourself you’ll never fit in or find a girlfriend or boyfriend because you are not madly outgoing or a ‘party person’.
Actually, you may well be a lot more fun if you find a way to boost your confidence and learn how to relax in social situations.
Everyone struggles with this at some time or other and it can take years to master being at ease in a crowd.
And if you are quiet and would rather stay at home with a book, then that is fine. You just need to find someone who feels the same way – and there will be plenty.
Your challenge is to find when they hang out so you might be better spending time at your local library rather than at the nightclub.
If you don’t want to drink, there’s absolutely no reason why you have to. If you are of legal drinking age where you are but are scared of being out of control or drunk then that is also understandable but one small drink won’t hurt you (of course you wouldn’t drive) and might help you relax just a little and enjoy yourself.
Just don’t go mad and overdo it.
I read here that you are someone who would really like to go out and have a good time when you muster up the confidence.
One great technique is called “acting as if” – you simply pretend to be the person you want to be right now. Why not pretend you are your favourite celeb. How would they act or behave?
You can ‘fake it till you make it’ as they say and I’ll bet nobody would suspect a thing. I bet loads of other people are doing it too.
Q: Where do I stand with my ex-girlfriend?
My ex-girlfriend and her child live in the UK. She doesn’t want to be with me but talks to me every day and if we don’t, she gets mad. Recently, she went on a date because she got mad at me for something I said. Now she regrets the date & wants to live with me in LA. But I told her it’ll take time & now she gives up.
A: It’s always tricky to navigate a relationship with an ex. Let me start by asking you how the relationship ended? You say she doesn’t want to be with you. Did she just leave and return to the UK with her child (not yours I’m assuming)?
How long were you together? If you were together for a lengthy period of time I am assuming you developed a relationship with her child? Might that be the reason why she wants to talk to you every day?
What was it you said that got her so mad? It must have been something pretty hurtful if her response was to go out on a date. Were you arguing about the future of your relationship?
There seems to be a lot of game playing going on between you both without either of you being really honest about where the relationship is going.
Do you want her or not? If you did offer her a home in LA do you think, in all honesty, that she would come?
I think the pair of you really need to sort this out – not least because it must be really unsettling for her child. I’d suggest that’s what you should be concentrating on.
Q: Should I tell my acquaintance that I like her?
I met this lady living in the same building when I was selling my car online. I sold her my car for a big discount because I liked her. She in return bought me a couple of lunch. Should I tell her I like her and want to ask her out?
A: I don’t think you have anything to lose – unless the car you sold her was dodgy of course!
Seriously, it sounds like she is interested but unless you ask her out you won’t know. Why not keep it casual and just ask if she fancies joining you for a coffee and take it from there.
Q: Do guys who have a better sense of cleanliness make better husbands?
A: If cleanliness is really important to you, it makes sense that you would want a partner who prioritises this in the same way.
In that sense, they may make a ‘better husband’ than someone who slobs around the house in fried chicken stained tracksuit bottoms and never showers.
But I think to most women, a ‘better husband’ is one who is kind, caring, considerate, supportive and faithful.
I think many women would rather have a man who occasionally misses a shower than one who showers away all the other women he’s been dallying with.
Q: Why do they say your man must love you more than you love him? And how can I make him love me more?
A: This is the stuff of romantic fiction where the man always has to chase the woman until he wins her heart.
In reality, every relationship is different and there are really no rules nor a way to measure who loves whom more.
A relationship shouldn’t be hard work where you are constantly calculating the amount of love each has for the other.
In the same way, trying to get someone to ‘love you more’ is a bit of a fruitless task because whilst you can be kind, caring, supportive and faithful, there is never any guarantee that your partner will increase his level of love for you.
I do think (old fashioned as it is these days) that men prefer to do the chasing and find women who pursue them relentlessly off-putting.
A better ‘strategy’, if that is what you are looking for, is to concentrate on you and what makes you happy.
If you are confident, happy, having fun and taking life as it comes, you are more likely to keep a man than a woman who is obsessing over checks and balances of love and constantly stressing about whether she is being ‘good enough’ to win that extra bit of love.
Concentrate on being an individual and then, ironically, you’ll get a better partner.
Q: Do you think it’ll creep him out if I asked him if he wanted to hang out or at least ask for his number?
There’s this guy that works at a firework booth and last year my friends and I went to his booth, and he seemed pretty cool and this year we’ll probably go back & I wanted to ask if he wanted to hang out sometime or at least for his number but I don’t know if it will creep him out.. Should I take the risk?
A: I get the feeling that you are not very old so my first question is:- is this guy much older than you? I’m also assuming that you haven’t seen him for a year.
It sounds like you have got a crush on him and are enjoying a little romantic fantasy – nothing wrong with that.
In reality, however, you know absolutely nothing about him – other than that you find him attractive.
He probably has a girlfriend, partner or even a wife.
He is probably approached by quite a few girls over the season so unless he makes a concerted effort to get to know you, I would enjoy your fantasy but leave this guy as just that.
Q: Why does my ex-girlfriend lie to me and confuse me about what she wants?
I broke up with my ex-girlfriend last year. She is with someone else but tells me that she is single. Just last month she told me that she loves me, misses me and wants to be with me. A week later she says she now doesn’t know. Today I got a text from her saying ‘I do miss you’ but now she’s acting as if she didn’t send it.
A: This girl clearly doesn’t know what she wants and is keeping you dangling just in case she changes her mind – which is not fair on you.
It sounds as if her new relationship is on the rocks and she wants to keep you in the wings as the fall-back guy.
Rather than wait around to see if she changes her mind, why don’t you concentrate on YOU? Go out and have fun and date someone new.
Don’t rush to respond to her texts or get into lengthy conversations about the state of your relationship.
You don’t say why you broke up but if she instigated the break-up by going off with someone else, then in your shoes, I’d be looking for someone else.
If you love her desperately and think she has changed and you want to give your relationship another try, then you need to put this to her and see what she says.
But playing text-tag is getting you nowhere.
My reading of this is that she just wants the reassurance of someone who she thinks would take her back if her current relationship fails.
Is that what you want? We do have a say – especially in a relationship with an ex you know.
Q: What does it mean if you run out of things to say to your girlfriend?
A: If there is an occasional silence between you where you are both happy to just be together then that is one thing.
If that silence is awkward and filled with desperate efforts to make conversation then that isn’t quite so good.
If your relationship is fine in all other aspects, you find each other attractive and you enjoy being together then it’s time to find some shared interests and to make the effort to get to know one another better.
Relationships take work. They won’t evolve unless you put the effort in – and that means both of you.
Does your girlfriend try to talk to you? Are you both shy, introverted people?
If you are realising that you have nothing in common with your girlfriend then it may be time to say goodbye.
But if you are happy and just want to get to know her better then take the initiative and plan a few dates doing something new which will spark conversation. An arty film? A visit to a gallery or museum? Why not try to cook a dish from a different cuisine at home.
There are loads of things you can do to create conversation. Good luck.
Q: Should I tell this guy to stop being so sweet and nice to me because I have a boyfriend?
I started college and halfway through the year, I met this guy who I have so much in common with. From the first day, I met him I knew that he liked me but I told him that I was in a relationship that made me happy and he backed off. He’s very nice and goes out of his way to help me through my troubles. He keeps on doing this stuff for me so one time I decided to test it by being mean to him. He said I want to get you back but I really can’t help but be nice to you. I am happy in my other relationship but I still care enough about my friend to let him know that he’s wasting his time waiting for me because I can’t just leave my boyfriend who hasn’t done anything to deserve that. What can I do? When we were talking about relationships he told me he’s trying to get over some girl because nothing is going to happen and I’m pretty sure that’s me.
A: I think you need to be honest with yourself. You are really enjoying the attention from this other guy.
Why did you feel the need to be ‘mean’ to him just to test the depth of his affection? Surely he didn’t deserve that. If you are really not interested there is nothing for you and him to fix.
You need to state quite clearly that you are happy in your relationship and that there is no future for you and this guy.
Then you need to stop hanging out with him for a while to give him a chance to get over you and find someone who does want him.
When the dust has settled a bit perhaps you can go back to being friends at some point.
Incidentally, what does your current boyfriend think about this? Is he not as sweet and nice as this other guy? If he isn’t, perhaps you are actually with the wrong man.
Either way, you are playing with two guys’ feelings and that’s not really fair.
You run the risk of both of them getting fed up with it and leaving you alone.
How would you have responded to these questions?
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.