Reality Steve

Dr. Reality Steve

Podcast #82 – Interview with “Entertainment Weekly’s” Dalton Ross, ABC Responds to the Lincoln Conviction, & “Dr. Reality Steve”

Hi Steve,

Not sure when you are starting Dr. Reality Steve again, but I wanted to get your thoughts on something.

My husband and I have been together 6 years and have been married for 2 of those years. He is 32 and I will be 30 next week. Even before we were married, people would ask when we are going to have kids. We are both from the upper Midwest and I feel that it is just kind of expected here that once you get married, you will start having babies.

Neither of us have ever had dreams of being parents and we decided pretty early on that it is not something we want. We have nieces, nephews and friends with children that we adore, but parenthood is just not for us. We are perfectly content being “parents” to our two fur babies.

We’ve been open about this with family and close friends. However, we have a difficult time when people we aren’t as close with bring it up. There is definitely the feeling that judgement is being passed when we say we don’t want children. It has come to the point where, when asked, we stumble on our words while trying to answer and leave it at “maybe someday.”

As a single guy (by single I mean not married), do you find that you get bombarded with questions about marriage and children? How do you respond? Why do you think there is such a stigma attached to people who don’t aspire to have children?

I guess we are just tired of feeling judged or like we are bad people because we don’t want to have children.

Thanks, Steve!

Comment: Tell them to mind their own bees wax. Kidding. Sort of.

I get it. You’re married, been together 6 years, people always wanna ask when kids are coming. Sure it’s annoying. I guess instead of saying “maybe someday,” you change that answer to, “We’ve decided we’re not gonna have any. We’re content with our family the way it is. It’s just not for us.” If they want to judge, let em’. It your life, not theirs. I’m sure a couple with kids, the first thing they’ll think to themselves is, “Well why don’t they want to?” Not your responsibility to provide them an answer. Like you said, parenthood just isn’t for you guys. There’s nothing wrong with that.

I get asked on occasion about marriage and kids, but it’s not something that’s ever become a burden or annoying because I don’t let it. I don’t know. Let me live my life and what happens happens. I’m not too worried about it and I really don’t get asked that much. But is there a stigma attached to people who don’t have kids? Absolutely. Why? I guess you’d have to ask the people who have them why they look differently at those who don’t. I don’t really know the answer to that one. But don’t let it get to you. Sounds like you and your husband have already made the decision to move on with your lives and not have children, and if that’s not good enough for someone else, that’s their problem, not yours.
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Hi Dr. Reality Steve,

My fiance and I have had a rough 2 years (been together 5 total), but we’ve really persevered through it and have fought hard to work things out and stay together. Long story short we were not kind to each other, which was driven by external factors in our relationship, and we just handled our feelings and our relationship poorly. There were many mistakes on both sides and we both know this.

I first sought individual therapy because I knew I wanted to work on myself (anxiety) and the areas I could improve in how I contribute to the relationship. I have since gotten light-years better and I am super happy with my life, I’m feeling confident, self-assured, etc etc.

I noticed that where I was improving, my fiance was still stuck in the emotional rollercoaster left behind by the tough year, and we talked and talked about it and I got lots of verbal empty promises, and it’s been another year of no real change. He has pretty low self-esteem and has for his whole life, but he has gotten by with a natural charisma and intelligence. He also has issues facing his emotions – he struggles with sympathy/empathy and his instinct is to block all emotions or to avoid/ignore them.

We then went to couples therapy for a few months, but as a last ditch effort at that point, and I noticed some improvements in the relationship and in him, and some stuff has stuck, but mostly it would get better for a few days after a session and we’d be back to where we started. Also, my fiance who was originally very uncertain about therapy (because of the stigma associated with mental health issues) actually enjoyed the sessions more than I did. Our couples therapist had to leave the country unfortunately, so we stopped going and haven’t picked a new one, but he did leave us with some referrals for a new one AND for someone for my fiance if he wanted to do individual therapy.

Now we have had many discussions about him going to individual therapy. I cannot praise therapy enough (if you find the right therapist). But I understand he has to want it for himself, but he has verbally told me he will make an appointment for months now, but nothing. Then, a few weeks ago he again said he would book one by the end of the week. The end of the week came and went with no appointment. I asked him why and he said he didn’t have time to make the call at work, and that he was feeling better so wasn’t sure he still needed it and was thinking about it, which are both bad excuses. It’s been another week that he hasn’t made an appointment and I am losing patience, because I’m dealing with the same empty promises as always, that I’ve had to deal with for the last two years.

I’ve now concluded that he seems to move the goal posts on himself, and he never suffers a real consequence from failing to follow through on his promises. I am still here doing everything I always do around the house and emotionally, and he still gets what he needs from the relationship without needing to fulfill his responsibilities towards the relationship (my needs). I’ve debated living at my parents short-term to show him the true consequence of his actions but I don’t know if this is going to be more damaging or petty. I feel like we’re at the point where he has to hit some kind of rock bottom to really take action? I have no idea. He doesn’t seem to own up to the fact that his choices and actions are directly leading to the failure of his relationship. Again, I completely take responsibility also for part of it but I have taken concrete steps to better myself for my sake and for the relationships sake.

We are balls deep in wedding planning and have a lot of our deposits down, a date for 2019, and I am of the mentality that I am committed to this man even if we aren’t married yet. I’m wondering if you have any advice from a male perspective of how I can approach this behaviour, or if maybe I should just give up once and for all, or if I need to step back and give him space. But I don’t know how to give him space without holding back on my end, because if he isn’t fulfilling my needs in the relationship then I don’t think I can continue to fulfill his. Or maybe I sound like a frigid bitch (hello Legally Blonde), which please tell me if I am. There is honestly a lot of love in the relationship, really, and there is no malicious intent on either side, it’s just sorting out our own issues to be better together..

Thanks,
Sorry I feel so defeated I can’t come up with a clever alliteration for you

Comment: There’s a lot here, but I don’t think there’s a giant black and white solution either. If I were you, after numerous false promises on his end which seemingly lead to no consequences for his actions, that needs to change I believe. Doesn’t necessarily mean you need to leave him or move out (although that’s certainly something that should at least be considered), but you have to put your foot down. He says he’s gonna do a bunch of things, he doesn’t, and suffers no consequences. So of course he’s going to continue doing what he’s doing, because he knows he’s not getting in any sort of trouble for them. Maybe just the threat of you saying you’re going to separate, or put a halt to the wedding plans – something that might light a fire under this guy’s ass because it sounds like he needs one.

You’re in a position of power right now I think, and you need to use it. If what you’re saying is true, and you’ve done your part to be better and move on and improve yourself from your earlier relationship struggles with him, and he’s doing nothing to change, then you need to force the issue. I think there are numerous ways you can do that, but I don’t think it’s my place to tell you exactly which route to go. I think you know the biggest options out there and it’s how you choose to deal with it. Just know that what’s happening right now isn’t working. Sounds like this guy has countless times not followed through on what he’s said he was going to do. And these aren’t just “Oh yeah, I’ll remember to pick up after myself” kind of things. We’re talking about things that are clearly affecting your relationship, and if he’s not willing to do what he can to make those better, is it magically going to get better once you’re officially married? You need to really look into that and ask yourself the tough questions. Because by all means, it doesn’t look like he’s there yet. Could he be? Sure. But nothing you’re doing right now is making him think he really needs to follow through on what he says, and that’s a problem.
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Hey Doc,

So I have been dating my boyfriend for nearly a year, we live together, and you have helped with relationship drama in the past including getting him to clean & not play so much Fortnite. #ManChild

Lately, I have been wanting to move back to Colorado. Back story, I lived there for three years but returned to LA due to some family issues. I have always wanted to return to Colorado but this has been really pulling on me a lot lately. My boyfriend is from LA as well, but likes Colorado. We’ve talked about moving there eventually but last week I told him I want to be in Colorado within a year. He is absolutely shocked but this news, saying that it came from nowhere and he doesn’t understand why I am in a rush to move. He said he wants to move but feels that within a year is a harsh timeline.

Should I just make the move on my own? I would want to stay in a relationship if I moved, but I am not really willing to compromise.

Thanks,
Confined in California

Comment: Well, the minute I heard “I’m not really willing to compromise,” I thought “Uh oh.” That’s going to put a strain on any relationship since that’s what relationships are mostly based on. There’s just no two people in the world that come together, date/live togheter/get married, and everything fits into place, neither side has to budge in the relationship, and there are no compromises made. That’s just not realistic. And on something like this of where you should live is the thing in question, I’d say yeah, that’s kind of a big deal. If you want to move to Colorado, by all means you have every right to. I think putting a 1 year ultimatum on it is a little extreme. I know nothing about your finances or his finances, but you’re asking a lot of him. Maybe he can’t just up and leave for job/money purposes. Or family matters. I don’t know. Ultimately you do what makes you happy. If living in CO is what you want, then do it. But know that he’s not being unrealistic saying that’s a harsh timeline. Uprooting your life to move to a new state may be easy for some, but for most, I’m guessing it’s not. You might want to stay in the relationship if you move, but he might not want to. Understand that going in as well. Then again, I guess as long as he can play Fortnite in Colorado, maybe he’ll be happy to move. Kidding. I think.
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Hi Steve,

I’ve been a really longtime follower and love reading your site. This is the first time I’m emailing you but need some dr reality Steve advice…

Ok, so here goes…I’ve been dating someone since the end of December. I had broken up with my long-time boyfriend about 2 weeks before we met and I wasn’t looking for a relationship but we hit it off. We’ve been taking things VERY slow. We’ve done a ton of “couple” things together…I’ve met his family, he’s met mine, and recently traveled to my hometown for a wedding together with his parents. One (sadly) drunken and emotional night in April we said I love you but haven’t said it again. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I have fbi level snooping skills and ended up finding an Instagram page for a girl who’s pictures he’s been liking regularly. I happened to notice a month or so ago her name pop up on his phone. I didn’t say anything but remember being frustrated. Anyway, after a day of drinking yesterday I decided to look through his phone while he was in the shower. I found the texts from her and let me just say they are not the most platonic. He said a couple weeks ago “let’s grab a drink” but she was busy. Based off what I read they haven’t seen each other since March. She definitely does not seem as interested as he is in the messages. Needless to say I was really upset but chose not to confront him. At the same time he had made a comment about me having my own key to his new apartment- many mixed messages. Also going to add that he never guards his phone, I know the passcode and he will leave it if he gets up or showers (I know from personally having cheated on someone else that if you have something to hide you’re definitely going to guard your phone). Lastly, we were looking at his app usage on his phone last night and I noticed that a dating app was ranked up there for data usage. When I asked him about it late last night he said he wasn’t dating anyone else and then turned it on me by saying he’s seen that I still get matches via email for another dating app. Basically- I need some advice…how would you handle the texts I saw? How do you bring them up without looking like a lunatic? And do I even believe him?

Very sorry for the long winded email!
Thank you!!!

Comment: Seems to be all sorts of trust issues going on here, and you’re 6 months into the relationship. That’s never a good sign.

I think you need to stay away from his phone. And he needs to stay away from yours. Just because someone is private with their phone doesn’t mean they’re cheating. I’m the same way with my phone when I’m with someone, but it’s more for work purposes. I don’t see the point of them reading my texts/emails as I would never care to read the ones of the person I’m dating. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just different, but I find that a total invasion of privacy. You asked me how I would handle the texts you saw, and my response is, it doesn’t seem like you saw were all that bad. If you guys have been together six months, why are you both still on a dating app in some form? You’re getting matches via email and he’s having a lot of dats usage on an app. Are you guys exclusive? If so, why are you both still signed up for these? I’d basically both unsubscribe or whatever and focus on yourselves and not what the other person might be texting or saying to someone else. You’ll drive yourself batty doing that. But to be honest, this “relationship” seems to be on thin ice since neither of you seem to trust the other one. You have to get past that if you’re going to have any success whatsoever.
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Send all links and emails to: steve@realitysteve.com. To follow me on Twitter, it’s: www.twitter.com/RealitySteve. Instagram name is “RealitySteve,” or join my Reality Steve Facebook Fan Page. Talk to you next week.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. shenanigans

    June 14, 2018 at 8:51 AM

    This is for the last letter writer, who is checking her boyfriend’s phone: you already know from his text messages that he is not exclusive with you. In fact, he has blatantly asked another girl out. Further, your gut is telling you not to trust him. Tread carefully and protect your heart.

  2. rob22

    June 14, 2018 at 9:36 AM

    Defeated: There’s only one person you can change, and that’s yourself. Do you want to know why he hasn’t improved or made another appointment? Because he doesn’t want to. He doesn’t intend to change. He may have pacified you for a while, but he’s revealed his intentions. And they are to do nothing. So, I think you’re looking at this wrong. Instead of coming up with a manipulation to get him to change, and that’s what it is, a manipulation. Decide whether you want to accept him as is, and not change him, and still get married. It’s a yes, or it’s a no.
    If it’s a yes, then you know how marriage is going to work out. Pretty much like it’s been working out. He might get forced into going to counseling. He might make some short term changes. But in the end. He is now the same person he will be when you get married & forever. And here’s a news flash. Most people don’t get better with marriage. They settle in and get worse, if anything. But you should expect the same person. If you can’t accept who he is, then cancel the wedding and move on with your life. It’s pretty common for women to find “kinda” the guy they want & believe they can fix them to make them the man of their dreams. It doesn’t work that way. Sorry. In the real world, people don’t change all that much. So decide. You either want him, as is, or you don’t. There is no other real choice. Well, there is another choice… it’s called delusion.

  3. rob22

    June 14, 2018 at 9:47 AM

    Confined in California: you’re not married, so you are free to do what YOU want to do. But committed couples don’t function the same way single people do. Committed couples discuss big changes and come up with a decision together. In fact, both people should have veto power over a decision like this. It’s either a win-win (both agree) or no deal. People may not want to move for a variety of reason like job, family, local roots, friends, etc. So you have definitely violated this principle. The “no-compromise” approach is nowhere near the right approach. So, if it’s not a committed relationship, do as you please. But if this is a committed relationship, you are acting very inappropriately. He has a right to be pretty put off by you and feel like you dropped a bomb on him. Because that’s exactly what you did. So, make a decision. Is this a committed relationship, or not. If it is, you need to rethink your position. You’re way out of line.

  4. sc07

    June 14, 2018 at 10:00 AM

    Reality Steve just loves taking the credit for stuff RS, if you hadn’t been tipped off Ashley wouldn’t have found the information. It only took her an hour because she knew exactly where and what to look for. So don’t act like she or you are now background search experts. LOL I’m sure now that Lincoln has been convicted of a crime it would show up on about every background search. To know if someone has just been charged, they’d have to do a records search for every court house in the country, since being charged is totally different then an actual conviction.

  5. rob22

    June 14, 2018 at 10:10 AM

    Double Income/No Kids (DINKS) – you have a right to your position on kids. The fact that 90% of the world takes another position doesn’t make your decision invalid. That does, however, put you in a contrarian position. So, you have to expect that people will question you. Whenever you don’t go with the herd (or sheep, if you prefer), you end up being asked to explain yourself. The best way to go, is with complete honesty, but without anything juicy attached to it (read: boring). If people ask you when you’re going to have kids, tell them no, you’ve decided not to have kids. If they ask why, it’s fair to say, “that’s just what we decided”. If you elaborate, you’ll just get more questions. So, keep it short, honest and sweet. If they say, for example, “don’t you like kids?”. You say, “no, we like kids, we’ve just decided not to have kids ourselves”. Answer every question repetitively with some form of “no, we’ve just decided not to have kids”. It’s the broken record technique. Every time. Make a game out of it. Laugh about it when you get home. Eventually the questions will taper off. Don’t give them anything to hang their hat on to argue with you more. Just, “we’ve decided not to have kids”. No elaboration, no frustration, no anger. Just, “we decided not to have kids”. (see how that’s becoming really boring?) Also, your dodges of saying “maybe someday” just invite more questions in the future. Some day might be tomorrow, so they’ll probably not be shy about asking you all the time about it. Be honest. Don’t insult them. Don’t get defensive. Don’t feel the need to explain. And don’t explain even if you feel the need. They’ll get it eventually. Not instantly. But it will happen.

  6. shenanigans

    June 14, 2018 at 11:20 AM

    Rob 22. I am childless by choice. I purposely married a much older man with adult children because I didn’t want to have or raise kids. And, guess what? People still asked. LOL

    I eventually realized that the question reflects upon them, rather than me. Their own lives are so child-centric that they can’t imagine anyone making a different choice. However, you are wrong if you think that the “we just decided not to have kids” answer is going to end the conversation. It won’t. Instead, the person will be treated to a long list of all of the things they are “missing” by not having kids.

    The smart breeders know when to shut up. Unfortunately, the ones who are trapped in their own vision never will……

  7. rob22

    June 14, 2018 at 1:33 PM

    @shenanigans: I’ll have to go with what you said. But I do think it will cut down the comments because, as you noted, some people are a little quicker on the uptake. Some, not so much. Nothing is 100%. People often don’t know when to STFU.

    My kids are grown now, and I loved having kids and doing all the kid stuff. But I can now relate to the not having kids thing too. I love my kids and all, but man, my wife and I do enjoy our childless time quite a bit. We don’t even necessarily want lots of visits either. Come over for dinner, yes. Spend a weekend, yes. Longer than that, ehhhhh…. I think we’re busy that week. Ha. So, I can relate a bit more to why people don’t want to have kids at all. I also had a colleague who didn’t have kids and retired at age 42. Kids are expensive. So, there’s that too.

  8. jesmlet

    June 14, 2018 at 1:34 PM

    Not to defend ABC, but I think it could be argued that Ashley couldn’t have found what she found if Lincoln hadn’t been seen that day and convicted already. Might not have been that easy with the case pending. Doable with a full-blown FBI background check, but clearly they don’t go that far which is the decision they now have to defend.

  9. jlal

    June 14, 2018 at 5:02 PM

    Rob22 great response! I hope she takes it.

  10. jlal

    June 14, 2018 at 5:07 PM

    Damn Rob22 you’re on fire. Nailing every single one.

  11. taxionna

    June 14, 2018 at 5:09 PM

    To “Desperate”: I am in almost the EXACT same position you are in: 4.5 year relationship, live together, lots of external stress factors – his wacky family, stressful work situations, etc. – a breakdown of communication that is primarily due to his lack of empathy/emotionally dismissive way of dealing with problems due to a lot of traumatic childhood/family stuff, therapy, and of course, the promises to do and be better with less-than-stellar outcomes.

    I recently spent a week at my parent’s place, and its like a lightbulb FINALLY went off in his head. I had been saying for 1.5 – 2 years at this point that I was emotionally unfulfilled/felt like I was doing all the relationship work, with little to no change on his part. Then, I leave for a week, and suddenly he realizes that I am unhappy.

    I made the mistake of coming back home to quickly, and things have predictably devolved again, but I truly do think that there is a lack of full understanding/really LISTENING that is not accessed unless the proverbial line is drawn in the sand. You are continually letting him get away with it (because you love him, respect him, and don’t want to be a nag, etc.), and he is continually taking advantage of that (not intentionally, mind you).

    Have the men in your lives in healthy, committed relationships where needs are fulfilled speak with him frankly. As annoyingly sexist as it is, men really do respond to advice from other men.

    And give yourself time away from him to really assess whether it’s worth staying in the relationship. Because, honestly, the thing that might have to change in order for you to stay might be less about him, and more about what you are willing to put up with or let go.

  12. jlal

    June 14, 2018 at 5:15 PM

    People so don’t know when to STFU. I was widowed young and when people ask if we had kids and I say no, they answer that it is a good thing. WTF I would have given anything to have had his child. People are just stupid sometimes. I never let it bother me too much, just smile and move on.

  13. lane

    June 14, 2018 at 6:37 PM

    rob22 – your advice for all scenarios was spot on. It’s hard when you are involved in an emotional situation to see things objectively. I agree with everything you said.

  14. LynnS

    June 14, 2018 at 6:52 PM

    I’ve been married for a long time. In the beginning, I learned that I needed to make all my husband’s doctor appointments. My mother did the same as well as my friends.

    This probably sounds old fashioned, but it worked all the time. Most men hate having to make appointments.

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