I spend a lot of time responding to the questions I am asked about relationship problems on Quora and I’m not shy about sharing my thoughts. 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 are just some of the relationship problems I’ve been asked about this week.
Q: If a girl tries to ignore you yet is always looking at you, can this mean she likes you? Whenever I look at her from afar, I can see she is looking at me, but whenever I get up close she starts to ignore and avoid me.
A: I would say she does like you but is too shy to do anything about it.
What other behaviours does she exhibit when she’s ignoring you? If there is much preening, hair tossing, lip licking and giggling, I would say she is a rather unaccomplished flirt.
When she ignores you does she make absolutely no eye contact at all or does she shoot surreptitious glances your way? – again, this is flirting.
If on the other hand her ignoring you is cold and borders on the rude, then you may have misinterpreted her interest. The only way you will find out is to strike up a conversation and take it from there.
Q: What does it mean when a guy you’ve just met asks you for your photo? We’ve only met once, although we’ve spoken on the phone many times in an official capacity. I thanked him on Whatsapp as I couldn’t meet him. He replied, addressing me as “my dear” and told me that he would like to spend some time with me. I’ve discovered that he has a girlfriend and is going to get married soon.
A: It means he’s a flirt who is already spoken for and you should avoid him.
Calling you ‘dear’ is very old fashioned and a little patronising. Is he much older?
Why would you be chasing another girl’s fiance? I suspect if his fiance finds out he’ll be for it – as will you if she gets hold of your number. I’m sorry but I would avoid this guy no matter how flattered you are by his attention. If he’s flirting with you despite being engaged, you can bet you’re not the only one.
Q: When someone who is attracted for you for months, finds it hard to look at your eyes but prefers to look at your lips, why do they do it?
Someone has been attracted to me for 9 months. They smile, occasionally communicate and show subtle signs but why do they find it hard to look me in the eye when I am nearby, but instead look at my lips?. On the other hand, when I’m further away, they look at me as much as they want.
A: Usually staring at your lips is a sign that they are sexually attracted to you but I’m more intrigued by the fact that you say this has been going on for 9 months.
Does this mean that they are with somebody else and this is an illicit attraction?
Either that or they are incredibly slow to take the initiative and, if you are interested in them, you need to take the bull by the horns and find out what is going on.
If they are with somebody else then I would let matters lie unless they make a move in which case you can address the fact that they are already in a relationship.
Bear in mind that looking is harmless (generally!) but it doesn’t always mean they are going to do anything about it. 9 months is a very long time to have a flirtation that doesn’t go anywhere.
Q: How does one approach a girl from a state of complete presence without planning the perfect moment to do so? I find that I constantly try to look for a perfect moment to do so. It, however, takes me out of the present moment when I do so rather than using the opportunities presented to me. I guess I just fear to do it at the wrong moment especially with someone that shows mutual attraction towards me.
A: I think if you spend more time analysing this you may lose the opportunity altogether.
You are asking a girl out – you don’t need to stage it, script it or plot it down to the last detail.
I’m not sure what you mean by “a state of complete presence” – other than you want your questions to appear spontaneous.
If she likes you she won’t care when and how you ask, she’ll just be happy that you did. There may never be a perfect moment so stop wasting your time trying to find one.
Q: Why do men in their 40’s want to date women in their late 20’s?
A: The rather stereotypical answer is that a 20 something is a massive ego boost for a 40 something man.
Sadly, this very often screams “I’m having a midlife crisis”. But, life’s not always like that – sometimes 40 something men just fall in love with 20 something women and vice versa.
If they’re both single then where’s the harm. If the 40 something man is dumping a long-suffering wife and kids to sow his last few oats, however, that is something else entirely.
Q: My 12-year-old daughter loves drawing and dreams of being an artist, but she’s REALLY bad at it. What do I do?
A: You may think she’s really bad at it but art appreciation is entirely subjective. What appeals to you may not appeal to other and vice versa.
I’m not sure any child takes the art world by storm at 12 so why don’t you just be happy that she has found a hobby which absorbs her?
And if she is bad at it, why on earth does it matter? I wanted to be 20 different things at her age – journalist, vet, nurse, beauty therapist. She is just exploring different facets of her personality at this age.
If I were you I’d encourage her, buy her a couple of books for children on how to draw the basic shapes of things like animals, machines and buildings and praise her efforts. That’s the basic job of any parent, no matter what the hobby.
Please don’t teach her that you can’t do things unless you’re good at them. That way a lot of unhappiness lies.
And I’ll bet there were a few who thought Picasso wasn’t that hot an artist when he started painting.
Q: Am I able to find true love? I want a warm boyfriend more than anything. But I am told there isn’t true love. And boys around me have low EQ.
A: I think you have been reading too many self-help books and romantic fiction. Of course, love exists but it may not take the form of a strapping hunk cutting swathes through the forest to find you with his sword.
And EQ is a relatively new idea – that you can measure how emotionally astute people are in various situations.
Our EQ increases as we age and with experience. Expecting young lads to think about romance is a bit of a non-starter.
It sounds as if you are picking the wrong boys – if you are chasing the best looking ones who are ‘cool’, you will probably find they don’t have much ‘eq’ because they will be chasing as many girls as they can.
Choose a boy who is like you, shares your interests and shows a genuine interest in you to spend time with.
Don’t focus on ‘the grand romance’, focus on developing a friendship which develops into something more.
But while you’re young, why not just go out and have fun without worrying whether this is a big passion and it ticks all the boxes.
Q: Can you be over a relationship but not over the person you were in the relationship with?
A: I think when you have had deep feelings for someone, very often they endure for years, even if you recognise that the relationship just wasn’t working.
That said, I do think you need to be sure of that before you leave a relationship. Obviously, if you are being badly treated or cheated on then it’s a no-brainer.
If you leave because you’re a bit bored, or the spark has gone then it’s often worth putting more effort into things or at least having an open conversation with your partner to give them the chance to change.
If you are the one who has been left, often people will carry a ‘flame’ for that person no matter how badly they were treated – it’s the “one who got away” thing – some of us are programmed to always want what we can’t have even if it’s bad for us.
If you are miserable, take heart that time will fade these feelings and once you meet a new love, the problem will cease to exist. You may have one or two nostalgic feelings about your first love from time to time but that will be about it. How would you have responded to these questions? I’d love to know.
More advice on relationship problems and dating 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.