Reality Steve

Dr. Reality Steve

The Final “Dr. Reality Steve” Column of the Calendar Year

Hi Dr. Reality Steve,

I had something weird happen to me earlier this summer and even though I’ve gotten over what happened, I still think about it and have some questions for you.

I live in a place where we get a lot of people visiting for vacation and work, and being on Tinder/Match sometimes I will randomly meet up with someone from out of town if I have nothing better to do. This is what happened to me: I met a man online and we went for a harmless hike together and we ended up hitting it off so well that we spent 3 weeks straight together having some of the most wonderful moments and adventures I’ve ever had. It was an amazing 3 weeks and I felt like I was dreaming it was so good. Well, it actually was too good to be true. It all ended when I found his wife’s name on his luggage the morning I brought him to the airport and discovered he was married with 2 young children.

Steve, why do men do this? I am not a stupid person, in fact I have 2 masters’ degrees yet I was completely fooled by someone who was so good to me yet was hiding a huge secret. And, on the other end, his wife is equally as smart and wonderful yet he completely fooled her as well (we did talk and exchange stories after this happened). He was so good at lying to both of us and keeping his stories straight that it amazes me when I think back.

I’m worried this could happen to me again because the more I’ve talked to other friends about what happened to me, the more I find out about these awful stories about men cheating and getting away with it for a long time before they finally get caught. I’m against hanging out with visitors now, even if its harmless and meaningless, but in the back of my mind I worry about being lied to again by someone who does live in the same city as me. I don’t want to ever be a woman who needs to snoop or go through her man’s phone/social media, but I don’t want to be naïve and too trusting as well. I want to be able to take what someone is sharing with me at face value and believe them! But how do you really know someone is being their honest and true self? I think it is sad I even have to ask this question.

Steve in this world of online dating apps, it is not enough anymore for you to straight up ask someone if they are married and have children, because they will still lie and hide these things. I think it is sad how dating apps have changed dating in this way. It is so easy for people to pretend to be something they are not.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts.

Thank you!

Comment: I don’t do dating apps but I’ve heard stories like yours numerous times. How did he spend 3 weeks with you and his wife had no clue? Doesn’t he have to be home for anything? Why do men do it? Because they can. No answer is gonna satisfy you and it sucks that it happened, but you aren’t the first person it’s happened to, and you won’t be the last.

How do you know if someone is being honest? Well, just know when dealing with a dating app like Tinder, lets face it, it’s a hookup app, regardless of what people say. It’s perfect for married men who are out of town who want some action. So just know what you’re getting into with those, and now that you’ve been played, I’m sure you hate those apps even more. I guess you never really know until you spend more and more and more time with someone who isn’t just visiting from out of town. Obviously during that time, you never saw his place or anything like that, so I guess until you spend enough time with someone and get to see their place, technically you really don’t know if they’re lying. But not every guy is like that so don’t be too soured on men in general. However, I’d ditch Tinder. You’re only asking for stories like this.

Hi Steve,

I’ve reached out to you a few times already, since I really appreciate the male perspective on my neuroticism. My question for you today basically boils down to how/if you would like to be contacted by an ex in terms of considering getting back together.

If you google this topic, there is a lot of talk about basically not contacting a guy…letting him come to you. I don’t necessarily disagree with that, but also find it frustrating, and hate playing “games.”

A brief run-down of my situation: I was in a borderline abusive situation for a while. As a means to move on, I tried online dating. Early on, I met a great guy…we were comfortable with each other from day one. That said, the fact I was on the rebound, I broke it off pretty quickly saying it wouldn’t be fair to him to start a relationship. After about a month, we reconnected and dated for several months until I freaked out again.

This was about three months ago. Since then, I’ve done some counseling and realized I push people away as a defense mechanism because I’m scared of getting hurt. I now realize that is what I did to this guy who was never anything less than fantastic towards me. I’m not gonna sit here and say he’s definitely my soulmate…but I’d like another chance now that I’m in a better mental space.

I know I am at least still on this guys radar. I hear from him from time to time, and we ended up hooking up a few weeks ago after a few weeks of texting. That said, he is very clearly guarded towards me. I’m so worried about seeming “clingy” that I really don’t reach out to him whatsoever. Any contact we’ve had has been initiated by him. I’m starting to feel just immature…I’d like him to know I’ve realized the error of my ways and would like another chance, but don’t want to freak him out.

Should I let him continue to come to me? Or is it okay to be genuine and let a guy know how I’m feeling even if he isn’t 100% on board at the moment?

How should I go about this?


Comment: You said you still see him and hooked up as of two weeks ago, so that’s good. And good to hear you’re working on yourself. You just need to spend more time with him. And I’m sure in those times, possibly laying in bed together, the heavy stuff will come up and just tell him what you told me. There’s nothing wrong with that. He needs to hear that. But more importantly, he needs to see it too. Don’t push him away, don’t be afraid to talk about your past relationship that was abusive, and if he’s serious and wants to pursue something with you, he’ll understand. If he’s just looking to get laid, then he’ll find any “clingy” thing you do and use that as a way to get out. But I suggest continuing to hang out, let him contact you, maybe send a flirty text here and there to maybe initiate conversation, but keep it pretty mellow at this point. He obviously has reason not to believe you’ve change – until you prove to him you have. And that only comes with more time together.

Dr. Reality Steve,

I normally wouldn’t bother to write in, but something in the reader emails struck a cord with me today. There’s been a lot of attention given to Ashley I’s virginity (makes sense given her own tendency to talk about it) and someone mentioned that at 26 and willing, it doesn’t make sense that she hasn’t lost her virginity yet. All of this is to say, I’m a 20 year old attractive woman and I’m still a virgin, by my own choice. Is this something that is odd or is going to be held against me by men I might date? I’m not opposed to sex but I feel that I need to have a strong connection with someone before I have sex with them and I haven’t found that yet. In addition, I have some severe PTSD that makes it hard to just jump into the current dating world of Tinder and random hookups. I’m not entirely sure this is something you can answer, but it bothers me to think that my potential dates would find something to be wrong or not up to snuff simply because I haven’t had sex even though a majority of people my age have.


Comment: Like an email from earlier, it all depends on the guy. Some will see it as a turn off or red flag, and some won’t. You need to find the guy who won’t. And you’re only 20. That’s light years different from Ashley who’s 26 is ultra flirty, and exudes sexuality wherever she goes. Don’t build it up to be anything more than it is. You have plenty of time. Do it when you feel comfortable with a guy. You’ll know when it’s time. I don’t think you have much to worry about, although yeah maybe in your circle of friends you’re one of the few, if not the only remaining member of the V-club. It’s your choice. Nothing wrong with that. Just date around and find a guy who isn’t bothered by it. They’re out there. Especially at 20. Good luck.

Send all links and emails to: To follow me on Twitter, it’s: Instagram name is “RealitySteve,” or join my Reality Steve Facebook Fan Page. Talk to you next week.

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  1. rob22

    September 8, 2016 at 8:56 AM

    To the woman with a disrespectful Boyfriend’s sister: This is not an uncommon problem. There’s always someone in the family that’s not well liked & adds to the drama factor. But it’s an easy problem to solve. In short, minimize contact. When you have to be around her at holidays, be polite but keep conversations to a minimum. Do not seek apologies, explanations, etc. Do not tell her parents what they should/should not do with their daughter. Do not talk with them at all about it. That just adds to the drama. If she brings up anything to your boyfriend, he should just tell her he’s not interested in talking to her about his girlfriend. If his parents bring anything up, just tell them you’ve moved on & are not concerned with what the sister says/doesn’t say, etc. There cannot be drama and a fight without two participants. Stop participating. Most likely the family will eventually move in the same direction, but if not, just keep your distance, stay polite and life should be fine.

  2. maddie17

    September 8, 2016 at 9:51 AM

    Hi Rob! I sent the question on page 2 about an ex coming back into my life and if he’s really changed. You always seem to have great insight, it’d be great to hear your thoughts on the situation.

  3. rob22

    September 8, 2016 at 1:08 PM

    @maddie17- I’ll take a crack. I’m not sure that I’m going to be too far off what RS already noted. Right now you have some statements that your ex has made and that’s it. There is no info presented in terms of him actually acting different, so to guess how he’s going to behave is speculative. But, past behavior does tend to predict future behavior. So, the odds are that you will see many of the same behaviors repeated. I deal with change for a living. And the number one takeaway is that people don’t change unless they are highly motivated to do so.

    So, in the past, I did take back some exes. Most times, especially when you’re talking about jerky behavior, that didn’t change.

    So, putting on my fortune teller hat. I could see the level of commitment changing. People grow up and want different things. However, I find it highly unlikely that the self centered, disrespectful, d**k behavior will change.

    If you decide to take him back, I would have him on a very short leash as far as behavior goes. Things can spiral very quickly & there is no need to prolong the agony.

  4. rob22

    September 8, 2016 at 2:22 PM

    In Texas with no Exes. So, you don’t date, at all. And your main concern is that your not dating will be a red flag? Presumably to people you never speak with or actually meet because… well…. you don’t date anyone…. at least not to the point of them actually being a boyfriend.

    Let’s stay on point. The issue is getting you on the horse, not what people might think because you’ve never been on a horse. I’m not a psychotherapist, but there is a lot of fear in your commentary. You had fears of lack of money growing up, and some trauma around your Dad’s illness that obviously impacted you. Dad and money are things that, if they are right, make you feel secure in life. You’ve never felt secure because Dad was sick and money was a big problem. So, somehow that lack of security has led to the fear of dating and, no doubt, other things as well.

    It seems like you need some counseling to get a grip on your fears. Otherwise, fears can really put a crimp in personal growth, which includes dating, marriage, etc. I’d say that’s the place to start. Work on your fears & security issues & then work on getting dates. With your current level of fear and anxiety, even if you get dates, my concern would be that healthy men would not be drawn to you. You’d get the “other” types of guys. All that will do is feed your fears and make dating & long term healthy relationships nearly impossible. It feels like you’ve got too much going on in your psyche to just tell you to “go do it”. Get some counseling first, and then go from there.

  5. rob22

    September 8, 2016 at 2:48 PM

    Insecure-ish in Idaho: So, cheating is a big deal. Some people never get over it, so I can understand feeling insecure with this guy. And, it’s not really normal to feel insecure every couple of weeks. Normal, healthy people, in healthy relationships don’t feel insecure very often. Maybe never. So, your insecurities are an issue. I’m not saying there is no reason for your insecurities. The guy cheated. And now, things have changed. He’s walking on egg shells around you while (he hopes) trust is rebuilt. So, I disagree with RS. This is a very big deal.

    When someone decides to forgive someone for cheating, it is a herculean act. Because to really forgive someone means letting go. Letting go of what he did, letting go of the anxiety that he might do it again, and letting go of the distrust. That’s not easy and most people can’t do it. This is not a snap your fingers thing. It takes time. But you’re either going to get all the way there… and no longer be feeling insecure every few weeks. Or, you’re just never going to totally trust him ever again. It’s a process and you’re not there yet. The question is whether you ever will get there.

    You do have to talk to one another & discuss things that are on your mind. But you have to also reassure him that you are working on the trust, have made progress, still love him and want things to work. I suspect that some couples counseling would help surface the issues more quickly and a good counselor could help you work through them. I’m just not sure you’re going to get there without some help. You’re acting like you’ve forgiven him totally, but you haven’t. That says to me that you have unresolved issues you need to get to. Cheating is a tough one to get through. Good luck!

  6. RaRa

    September 11, 2016 at 5:49 PM

    To “In Texas with no Exes”: I was in a similar situation as yours although for a different reason. I have some caveats for you, for whatever they are worth. First of all, you need to be aware that if you have not started dating until your 20s, it can be difficult to spot a “pick-up line” and you will quite likely find yourself in some situations in which the guy (especially if he is in his twneties) expects relationships to progress more quickly than you are comfortable with.

    My advice to you is to become active in some sort of mixed-gender social group which meets and goes out together for the purpose of engaging in an activity or hobby. It could be a church singles group, signing up for a ballroom dancing class, joining a sports booster fan club, working for a charity, etc., or joining friends at work who get together after work. Fraternizing in a small, intimate group setting allows you to practice your social skills with the both women and men, in a no-pressure situation, and to learn by observing how other, more experienced women and women interact with each other and among themselves. Also, you can take things as slowly as you like if you meet a guy in the group you like, since it is a group and not a date. And as you make friends in the group, you can have female friends bring guys to the group get-togethers for you to meet. Good luck!

  7. maddie17

    September 12, 2016 at 11:37 AM

    Thank you! And you were right! He basically immediately went back to being a jerk. He was consistent and communicating regularly, when I believe he thought it was a done deal, he went right back to being the person he used to be (or always was). It’s weird to me the concept of getting back with someone only to hurt them again. He thought posting on social media was better than just saying a quick hi during the day. I learned my lesson!

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