We have another live video chat at 9:00pm EST/6:00pm PST, so join in and ask all the questions you want about anything and everything in the world. Don’t you know I’m the Shell Answer Man? I have the answers to all of life’s queries. So bring it tonight. I will be taking your questions for an hour mostly on, I’m assuming, the “Bachelor.” But now we can talk a little Kaitlyn as the “Bachelorette” since it’s going to happen. I’ve heard a few things, I have a few guys for her season, but obviously things can change or guys get cut at the last minute. But I won’t be releasing those guys until I get their bios together which should be within the next 10 days. But of course there are other things to discuss so lets have a chat tonight for an hour and open up our hearts to each other. Or something like that. Wasn’t that a Madonna song? I’m rambling. Anyway, I’ll see you tonight and in a few hours you’ll be able to start asking questions once you see the video posted. I think today is the largest “Dr. Reality Steve” bag we’ve had in a long time. 11 emails to get to, so enjoy today’s therapy session. I know I did. I think I should start charging for this.
Dr. Reality Steve,
Okay I’m going to try to make the circumstances leading up to my questions as brief as possible though that might be slightly difficult. I’m currently on medical leave from grad school recovering from an eating disorder I’ve battled a number of years that took over my life. I was in a hopeless place trapped in a vicious cycle for a long time. Some of the things that triggered the eating disorder was the longing for emotional relationships/connections (friends and boyfriends). I’ve struggled with social anxiety my whole life so that also made making friends difficult.
Throughout middle school/high school I would only have one good friend at a time, they kinda fulfilled the emotional void in me that I needed and I would dedicate all my time and energy on that friendship but somehow would always get hurt in the end and be left alone with nobody until the cycle continued, which led me into a cycle of destructive behaviors (engaging in my eating disorder).
When I got out of high school I had still never gotten my first kiss or boyfriend and I thought there was something wrong with me, I thought that I was fat and needed to be “skinnier” in order to attract guys, so I got even deeper into the eating disorder. It was also around that time that I started dressing “sexier” and going out to concerts and partying. Eventually, I was hanging out with band members and lost my virginity to one of them (huge mistake). I didn’t know what a big deal it was going to be and I got extremely emotionally attached and surprise surprise i was just a one night stand for him. That led me even deeper into harmful ways… sleeping around, drinking, not eating at all, going on the treadmill for three hours a day, etc. I was completely out of touch with reality.
Finally, after years of this behavior it caught up to me and I was hospitalized for anorexia and then sent away to a rehab facility where I completely confronted it and I’m happy to say that I am healthy and feeling much better. But as a result of being home now I have doctors appointments all the time: nutritionist, psychologist, psychiatrist, gp, etc. Now that I’m not even going to school, I’m starting to get even lonelier. I don’t really have any friends and am still wanting to find friends and a romantic relationship but I understand now that before I was seeking attention. My psychiatrist suggested I do online dating (actually he suggested tinder… I think he was just trying to sound “hip”… lol). My social anxiety stops me from going out and doing a lot of stuff but I truly want to make the most out of my time off. I suggested maybe going to the gym to meet people but my psychologist thought it was a bad idea considering my past of over exercising. Also, I’m considering transferring schools and moving just to get a fresh start. Lots of negative memories/emotions trapped with where I am now.
Do you think that is a good idea? What are some things I should do to meet guys that don’t just wanna get in my pants right away and wouldn’t be triggering?
Comment: Are you saying you don’t have any female friends either? Do you have anybody that you can just hang out with and talk to if you’re feeling lonely?
Seems like you’ve been through a lot and you’ve had some really rough times. I sense that you’re not completely recovered from everything. I wouldn’t necessarily use that as a reason to immediately start dating again. I know you say you’re a lot better now, and you might be physically and mentally, but do you think you would even be emotionally ready to jump into a relationship? Or is it just the sense of feeling lonely so you just want to have anyone at this point?
I would take it slow. Dating can be hard, and the first guy you meet is probably not gonna be your knight in shining armor. You’re going to probably have a lot of crappy dates and weirdos and pervs that you meet. It’s all part of dating. So if you think you’re ready for that, then I guess try out online dating if you’re having trouble meeting men other ways. Good luck.
I am a 30 year old woman and I have been having an emotional affair with a married man for over a year now. I knew he was married from the start but he made it sound like they were separated and not living together (which was a lie).
The problem is that I have never loved anyone like this and am afraid I never will. I never in my 30 years of life have experienced a love like this. I tell myself that his marriage is clearly broken and he loves me and only me. He also tells me that he is working to be with me one day and I am the true love of his life (I know this is probably a lie). We do spend a lot of time together and talk throughout the day.
I tried to quit him cold turkey but I just cannot stay away. Sometime I feel like this is better than not being with him at all even though I will never be his main focus.
I guess my question is should I just try to forget him and move on with my life even though I am very afraid I will never feel like this again?
Thanks for your help,
Confused in Miami
Comment: First off, immensely disappointed you didn’t go with the alliteration in your signature. Couldn’t have gone with “Miserable in Miami?” C’mon…think outside the box.
As for your situation, clinging on to hopes that a married man will leave his wife for you is begging for trouble. You say you’ll never feel like this again, but it’s just because your hurting now. I guarantee once you’re over this, and you do finally meet someone who hopefully doesn’t have a wife and you’re in a new relationship, you will look back on this and say, “I can’t believe I was so crazy about a married man. How stupid was I being?”
Ask Valerie Malone. She was dealing with the same thing once she started sleeping with that guy Kenny. He kept telling her he’d leave his wife and never did until Valerie ended up blackmailing him. And oh yeah, faking a pregnancy and dropping diapers off at his front door to his wife. Please don’t do that.
Dr. Reality Steve,
Seeing another reader’s email last week about her fwb situation gave my girly heart hopes it shouldn’t have; I need you to tell me the straight up brutal truth about my fwb situation so I can hopefully get over it. I’ve been hooking up with this guy for five months now. He pursued me hard in the beginning but has since let it become a once-a-week kind of thing (and I only initiate every now and then because I’m kind of old fashioned and believe a truly interested guy should and will pursue the girl). Initially his reason for not wanting a girlfriend was having gotten out of a long relationship two months before we started seeing each other. Now he says he’s too busy (I call bs). Given that we go on dates and have a great time in each other’s company, and then have amazing bedside sessions, it’s like we basically are in one. So this is where I need your brutal honesty Steve: he’ll never change his mind, right? What is the problem in situations like this?
I would say he’s just not that into me, but I truly believe he likes me. He’s even said as much and I don’t think he’s acting. Maybe he’s just keeping his options open? I guess possible, it’s just we have inside jokes and a way of being that I can’t believe he’d find with someone else. See, I’m driving myself crazy! Please help. Also, to the reader from last week, I’d love to know how you mustered up the strength to end the physical part. I want to see what would happen, but our hookups are so good…and I also don’t want our friendship to change if we stop hooking up. Oh and context: we’re both in our 20s. And before you tell me to move on, I should mention I have a really hard time meeting guys where there’s a mutual interest so that’s why I’m so stuck on him…if I cut him off in this town he’ll have a hot, cool chick or 3 at his door in minutes, whereas my options will be nerdy trolls or douchey womanizers. Seriously, I was single for a looooong time before I met him. Well and I guess I still am huh. Anyway thanks in advance for a reality check on this situation, Dr. Reality Steve!
Comment: You know my stance on FWB. Sure it’s fun in the moment, but ultimately, someone ends up getting hurt. The thing is, you agreed to the FWB with him. So you kinda can’t agree to it, then ask questions during it. For whatever his reason is, one that you agreed to, you’re in that situation. If you want more, or want to know why he doesn’t want more, then you cut out the benefits and tell him that. You’ve heard the expression “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free” right? Well, that’s what’s happening. Also that he’s having his cake and eating it too. If I think of any more 30 year old clichés I’ll be sure to tell you.
I know it might be difficult, but you’re well aware of the situation that you put yourself in. You have control of what to do. If you don’t like the situation that you’re in, change it. Might not be easy because you’re enjoying the benefits, but it’ll ultimately make you happier.
Hi, Doc RS,
What I’m hoping to gain here is a man’s perspective. To set the stage: My boyfriend and I are in our late 20s and have been together for three years. I’m aware that he plans to propose this year.
But this story/question doesn’t start with him. About this time last year, I made the unwise decision to post a “strictly platonic” Craigslist ad. I was new to my city, my boyfriend lived far away, and I was lonely and desperate for friendship. I got several emails in response, mostly from men, and struck up a good conversation with one in particular. He lived nearby and had a girlfriend and young child, so I figured he was a “safe” friend to have. Over the next couple of months, we became confidants for each other. He wasn’t happy in his relationship, and while I was/am happy in mine, I’ve also long considered the possibility that I’m simply not built for monogamy.
My friend and I weren’t intimate physically, but we knew more about each other’s feelings than our respective significant others did. We only met once in person; I was hesitant to hang out with him because we’d had a few conversations that were inappropriate: He made his interest in me known, and I didn’t trust myself not to reciprocate. I wrote in to another relationship blog and was told I should break up with my boyfriend because I’m destined to be a cheater, more or less. (I did cheat in relationships in my early 20s, but I’ve tried to make amends and put that behind me.)
That wasn’t what I wanted and it made me feel horribly guilty, so I chose instead to eliminate the temptation. I blocked my friend’s number and nuked the email account I used to communicate with him. This was nine months ago. I haven’t talked to him since, though we did see each other once around town and made eye contact. He smiled before he looked away. I never told my boyfriend about the friendship.
One actually platonic thing my friend and I used to talk about was writing. I sent him a short story once, one I planned to send out to literary magazines. Well, my computer crashed a couple of months ago, and I lost all the work I’d done in the past year. Everything was in my main email account or on Google Drive except that one story. I thought about it for a long time, but eventually bit the bullet and emailed my former friend to ask if he still had a copy. I also apologized for handling things the way I did and said I hoped he was doing well.
That was Sunday. I haven’t heard back. I don’t even know if he still uses that email account; it was one with a fake name. If he never replies, should I text him or just leave him alone and try to rewrite the story? My boyfriend and I are doing great—he moved in with me between then and now—and I don’t want to do anything that might screw with that, but I still can’t shake this whole thing. I have consciously decided to be monogamous, but I question if I’ll be able to correctly handle temptation if it arises like this again. (Is there even a correct way to handle temptation?? This is probably the most important question I have.) It seems crazy to even consider bringing any of this up with my boyfriend now, but is it something he needs to know? Would you want to know if you were him?
Please tell me what you think about the situation in general, as I’ve never told anybody about it in full. Thank you for being here—it feels good to write it all out.
Comment: I wouldn’t bring it up to your boyfriend since you are no longer having any sort of friendship with that guy. No point. Will only lead to an argument I’m sure.
As for temptation, I mean I guess you only know once you’re in it. Do you think it’s that hard to resist? Why do you consider yourself not built for monogamy? If you say you and your boyfriend are fine, then why are you already thinking of scenarios of where you might not be monogamous? Seems like some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe there’s something in your past that I don’t know enough about yet, but if you’re already thinking about resisting temptation, something’s wrong.
Is there a correct way to handle temptation? Of course there is. Don’t give in. And if you don’t think you’re capable of that, then never put yourself in the situation to begin with. If you’re on track to get engaged soon, you need to be 100% sure that’s exactly what you want. If you’re still struggling with the thought of being monogamous, then maybe you shouldn’t get engaged/married.
As for the guy and your story, I’d leave it alone. It almost sounds like you want him to respond so you can test yourself. I wouldn’t, and I’d re-think if monogamy is something you really believe in. Sounds like you have doubts and I don’t know why.
Hi Dr Steve,
I met a guy while I was travelling in Peru near the end of my trip and we really hit it off. Long story short I met him at work in his city, he ended up travelling with me for a week. I am 28 and he is 31. We talked everyday once I am back in the US and agreed we will move to each other’s cities for 3 months each to see how it would work in real life and if it works, were we would settle in the long-term. Originally he was going to come to the US first, but we decided I would head to Ecuador first and he would follow. So 1 month later after I arrived home I moved to Ecuador for 3 months to be with him. We had agreed that he would move out of his parents’ place and set up a new place for us, he would pay half of my flights and provide all the living expenses during my stay, and I would do the same to provide for him when he comes to the US.
When I met him he had told me he worked in the family business (supermarket) said to me that if I moved to Ecuador he would be able to support both of us (important as I do not speak Spanish and will take awhile to set myself up to find a job) as he is on a modest but good salary and able to take me to places etc and good life. He had a degree in journalism and has written a book, and has many interests. I had met his family and his brothers seemed to have a good lifestyle. I live a comfortable but modest lifestyle, so I thought we were on the same page financially.
When I arrived I found out that he fact works 13 hour days for 6 days a week for a mere $1000 a month, which is low for even Ecuadorian standards and certainly not enough to support both of us. The place he had got for us was bug-infested and appliances kept on breaking down because he had bought everything on a budget. I therefore spent the first 2 weeks solidly cleaning trying to set up the place. Our budget was so tight that we couldn’t even buy the basics such as kettle or a toaster, let alone a TV or basic things like vacuum cleaner and internet. It turned out that I had assumed he worked in the family business as a partner, but in fact he was only an employee while his brother manages the business and was getting paid peanuts to work back-breaking hours. I get this is not the US and life is different here, and it is wrong to expect someone to provide me with the lifestyle I am used to back home. However this is not what I signed on for to be alone for than half of the day in a foreign country out in the suburbs and can’t do anything because I am scared to spend money that we don’t have and cleaning the house all day. To his credit he is trying his best to do everything in his power to make me comfortable and spend as much time as he can with me, and he told me that due to unforeseen circumstances he lost his job and came back to work for the family, and he feels like he has failed in life. I offered to take pressure off him by paying my full airfare and help to pay some of the things in the house using my own money. All of this came as a shock to me as when I first met him he was generous and shared the costs of travelling and demonstrated he was financially able.
I don’t want to give up after 2 weeks and know things weren’t never going to be easy, but I am starting to have doubts on how our relationship is going to work. It is clear that we will not be able to live in Ecuador given the high living cost and low salary, and I would like to return to the US because there is nothing for me here. I felt that although he did not intend to mislead me, he had led me to believe he lived a different lifestyle and a good job but this is not the case. We love each other and I am not asking for a big nice house, just to be able to enjoy life and have the necessities. I am isolated from my family and friends and do not know the language and it is hard for me to get around, and I am miserable. All of this is putting stress on our relationship. I would like to tell him I want to leave and go home, but feel so guilty as he had spent a lot of his money in setting up the place, and this would hurt him as I am essentially telling him he is not a good provider. At the same time love can only go so far and I do not think it is unreasonable for me to want a partner who matches me financially and in the lifestyle I lead in my hometown. It is also not fair I now have to pitch in my own money just to help us survive in Ecuador. If he were to come to the US I am happy to support him for a couple of months and see whether our relationship would work without all this pressure and stress (he has some savings he can bring with him to US and speaks excellent English) When I try to start the conversation with him about all of this he gets very upset and doesn’t want to discuss any further.
I know for sure that Ecuador is not the place for me now and future, and even though I don’t want to give up 2 weeks in, I really think the best thing is for us to pack up here and move to the US where life is more comfortable and where I can provide a better lifestyle for us.. I am aware that our relationship may end because I would look like I have ‘bailed’ on our relationship, but at the end of the day I am out of my comfort zone and this is starting to change how I feel about him and our relationship. I would like an unbiased perspective please on the situation and any certain aspects of the situation I may not have thought of or considered, before I talk to him about this, or whether I am being too soft and need to give this country more time.
Thank you so much for reading and replying to my email.
Comment: You’ve answered your own question. You’re miserable. Staying the remaining 2 ½ months isn’t going to change your situation. You’re not happy, so get out.
The question then becomes what to do about him. I would just tell him what you just told me, and say it’s not working for you, and why doesn’t he come try living in the states. He should know that Ecuador is not the place for you and a future with him. If he’s tied to that place, then looks like you guys are done. But he said that you guys would each spend 3 months in each other’s cities, so now you just need to speed up the process since living in his city basically sucks ass and you’re miserable and you’re not even having an average lifestyle.
I am not one for writing to advice columns or asking strangers for advice, however, I have been reading your site for a while now and I have to admit, you seem like you know a thing or two about relationships and this recent incident that happened to me as got me SO UNBELIEVABLY CONFUSED!!!!
So last friday, I went on a date with this guy I had met the weekend before at a wine tasting event – he’s a bartender. Everything seemed like it was going flawlessly well… we had texted the whole week since meeting up until we got together on Friday night… We had great conversation, I didn’t feel awkward about talking to him, he seemed like a really nice guy, not a loser etc… Although we don’t seem to share a lot of common interests, we had no problem making conversation and there seemed to be good chemistry happening too. He made me laugh, I was attracted to him, and he was easy to talk to.
We ended up having a hot and heavy high-school style make out session in his car before he dropped me off. And I could tell he probably wanted to go further but I had to step in and resist. I don’t do that on the first date. Plus, I actually thought there was potential with this guy so I was trying to not ruin my chances of getting a second date as in the past I have done this by sleeping with the guy too soon..
We brought up seeing each other again. I mentioned that I would like to see him again and I thought he was really cute, liked kissing him, etc, and all of which he concured with and said the same things about me! Everything actually seemed really good and I was surprised by how well things went… or so I thought…
I got a couple texts from him the next day, but nothing major at all and he seemed totally uninterested in talking to me… much different then he was prior to our date. ..and now I have not heard from him since!
I’m super confused because it seemed like it went SO well, and the way we left things I totally thought I would be hearing from him. And I know he isn’t “just busy” because I social media stalked him and noticed he uploaded a selfie to instagram monday morning… so he has clearly been on his phone.
Should I text him? Oh should I just let it be? At this point I am just assuming he either only wanted to get laid, or thinks we have nothing in common, i’m crazy, and lost interest… or he didn’t want to put in the effort? since I made it clear I wouldn’t be sleeping with him anytime soon…
just don’t understand why he would not want to see me again or talk to me. Like I said, I thought things went very well… Now I am so confused and frustrated because he made it seem like he was interested and defintely wanted to hang out again. Looking for some insight and a males perspective on this…. not sure how to proceed and don’t want to make a fool of myself and look crazy if I send him a text. I’m trying to play it cool on this one.
Thanks a lot.
Dazed and Confused…
Comment: Dammit, another missed alliteration. Dazed and Distraught would’ve been better. C’mon people…work with me here.
Just chalk this guy up to a douche who’s not that interested. Plain and simple. There’s one date invested into this thing and a week of texts. I’d just forget him. Don’t text him. If he wants to see you again, he’ll let you know. But if you don’t hear from him for a month and then all the sudden he comes back, I’d blow him off. You just had a date. Normally unless there’s crazy circumstances, if he wants to see you again he’ll ask you out the next week – two weeks at most.