Reality Steve

Dr. Reality Steve

Podcast #6 with Special Guest Juliet Litman Along with “Dr. Reality Steve” Emails

Only 2 emails this week, but I’ll cut you guys some slack. The new year just got underway, Monday was considered a holiday, you’re probably just getting back into your weekly routine, and you’ve been busy. I get it. Just never let it happen again or I’ll hurt you. We’ll strive for 6-8 emails next week, so get them in ASAP. Enjoy…

Hey RS,

This is going to be a long email so I apologize in advance. I don’t even really know how to start with this one, but here is my best attempt.

Basically, I have two issues happening here that I am needing advice on… I’ve been single pretty much since high school, so for about the last 8 or so years of my life. I’ve dated a lot of guys, but never anything serious, nothing really more than a month or two or couple dates with any of them, but for about a month now I have been seeing someone. I really like him and things seem to be moving in the right direction… we’ve had a few chats about the fact that we both want this to turn into something. He makes comments about how we’re “basically dating” and how he wants me to be “his”… but we haven’t really had a major talk or made things “official”. I don’t know that I would call him my boyfriend yet. Despite him making these comments, I am still unsure as to where I stand with him. We’ve been spending quite a bit of time together though and he invited me to one of his family dinners over the holidays (I was unable to attend, however). Not having been in a serious relationship in a long time, I really don’t know what I am doing when it comes to being in a relationship. I am so used to being single, and content with being single, that this is like a whole new world to me… I have so many unanswered questions that I want to ask, like is he still open to seeing other people? He told me he isn’t talking to other girls but to be honest, I don’t know what to think or how to act, or if I can even trust him?

Part of me also doesn’t know 100% if I even want to date this guy, which brings me to my next point… I live in a small town where everyone knows everyone and words, rumors and reputations travel fast. Let’s just say this guy doesn’t have the best reputation in my city when it comes to dating. I know he has been with a lot of girls, and probably hasn’t been the nicest to them. I have not told any of my friends that I am seeing him because I am scared of what they think and that they will judge me. To be honest I am a bit embarrassed I am even talking to him in the first place, but deep down I really do like him and think he is a good guy. I am so scared of what other people will think and how my friends will react that I can’t bring myself to tell anyone that I’ve been seeing him for a month now.

Basically, my questions are this: how will I know when it becomes official? Do I need to, or should I bring it up and just straight up ask? How will I know if I am just settling for him because I don’t want to be single anymore? And most importantly, how do I break the news to my friends and deal with the judgement and opinions of others? As you can probably tell, I am really struggling with this situation and I just don’t know how I should, or how I can move forward.

I know I didn’t give you much background on the situation, but any advice you can offer is welcomed and appreciated.

Thanks RS!

Take care.

Comment: Lets address your first issue and that’s “What are you guys?” That one you really can’t answer unless you have “the talk.” I know you said you’re used to being single, and you’re content with being single. But now that you’re seeing someone semi-regularly I suppose, and you making hints making this more serious, if you feel this is the right time and you’ve been casually seeing each other long enough, it’s time to put your cards on the table and get a direct answer. Because the longer you don’t, the longer you remain in limbo where everything will seem to be in a gray area. And I think one thing that does making dating hard in the current world we live in, is we really don’t know who the other person is seeing/talking to when you first start dating. And if they are, what’s the extent of it? Basically, you should go into it and assume that they probably are, then adjust your thinking by how they treat you. And unfortunately even then, it could still be confusing because some guys have the ability to juggle multiple women, but still have each one of them thinking that they’re the only one he’s seeing. This is a talent I do not have. I’ve never understood how guys can do that, but I’ve heard story after story about women who were being led on, and they had no clue.

As for the whole him having a not-so-great reputation, yes, that is a red flag. And could possibly put you into the category of one of the women I explained above. He might be playing you and telling you what you want to hear, knowing there isn’t any serious commitment yet because you haven’t talked about it. Hence the reason you should probably bring it up sooner or later. So once you guys define your relationship, then worry about dealing with what others think of it and him. That’s never fun when someone you like and you’re with isn’t accepted by friends and family, so, that will take time. He’s gonna need to prove himself to them. You can tell them what a great guy he is til you’re blue in the face, but until they see it for themselves, they’re not gonna believe it.

Have a talk with them, tell him how you feel, try and clarify the relationship as much as you can, then I think you’ll have a clearer picture of how serious he’s into to you and take it from there. Good luck.

Hi Dr. Reality Steve!

I’m new to your site. I’ve never been into the reality tv thing, but I’m currently in graduate school and since I live over 2 hours from school, I have an apartment where I stay during the school week. My roommate is addicted to the Bachelor franchise and I watched it with her on Monday. Since I can’t handle enduring the superficial drama, I immediately sought out your site because I definitely won’t watch the rest of the season. Well, maybe I will watch the episode when that particularly heinous and entitled blonde chick who looks like Miley Cyrus gets eliminated just to see the smug look get wiped off of her annoying little face.

Last night I found myself feeling very smug watching all of the silly people with their frivolous drama. Obviously very few people will find real, lasting love in a situation like that. I was feeling very glad and grateful that I hit the jackpot with my current husband. He’s intelligent, kind, caring, and handsome as well as a talented musician and a respected engineer. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have him.

However, even though I’m so grateful every day to have him in my life, I have to admit to myself that all is not perfect in my little paradise. When we first met over 6 years ago, we were well matched sexually, but as the years have passed, my libido has waned. At first, I just figured that it was a side effect from the PTSD after my year in Iraq that got me medically retired from the military. Or maybe it’s that I’m getting close to 40. I still love cuddling and being affectionate, but anytime he reaches out in a sexual way, I have to steel myself to keep from cringing. I don’t enjoy kissing or being touched in a sexual way anymore. I make a concerted effort to have sex weekly because I know it’s important to him, but it’s just that… an effort. My heart’s not in it and I know he feels it.

For the longest time, I just figured that something about me was broken, but then I started school. One of my classmates was also a combat veteran and he was even more damaged than me. We became friends because of our mutual background and interests. We even ended up living in the same building at school. One night, a big group of us had a potluck. He got really drunk and at the end of the night when we were cleaning up, he tried to kiss me. I was completely sober and managed to duck and quickly escape back to my room. However, at that moment, I realized that my libido was not broken. Even though nothing had happened and I stayed faithful to my husband, I found myself wishing that I had not been so adept at escaping. My husband is very sensitive and noticed a change in me and I admitted my attraction to this friend, but unfortunately I can only control my actions, not my feelings. Due to other drama, that person no longer attends school with me, which is good news for my marriage.

My husband and I really struggled for a while but he forgave me for my transgression of being attracted to someone else. However, I am now back where I was before with an almost nonexistent libido. I love my husband very much, we have good communication and I think that he’s very attractive, but I just don’t know how to rekindle the spark that we once had. We just went on a 3 week trip to Italy and Germany and it didn’t help at all. Every once in a while, I will feel desire, but most of the time I don’t.

Any ideas on how I can try to rekindle the spark?

Sparkless in Seattle

Comment: Ahhh, the ol’ sexless marriage deal. We’ve gotten a few of these over the years. I guess the good thing is you didn’t follow through with and cheat on your husband with the classmate. The bad news is, as you said, you haven’t lost ALL your libido, just the libido for your husband which sucks.

Is there a way to get it back? Hmmm…how long has this been going on? Are we talking years? Or just the last few months? Could it be because you’re approaching 40? I don’t think that has anything to do with it, because then that would mean it’s a universal thing, and there are plenty of women approaching 40 who probably enjoy having sex with their husband. It’s a case-by-case basis, and it looks like this has struck you for whatever reason. I don’t think there’s some magic potion to immediately get it back. This would be something that builds over time. Have you guys been fighting a lot? Have you been distant? Is stress from school causing it? It could be a variety of factors. The 3 week vacation not rekindling it was probably a bummer. There is a possibility that it may never come back. Impossible to tell right now. But is this something that’s a deal breaker for you? Say like in 6 months you still feel the same way – does that mean you’ll leave him? A year? Two years? And on the flip side, how is he feeling about this? Is this a contention that’s constantly brought up, like, “Why aren’t we having sex anymore?” Or is it just going unspoken? I would suggest bringing it out into the open with counseling. As brilliant as Dr. Reality Steve is, unbelievably enough, I’m not a licensed therapist. I would suggest going to one, throwing everything out there from both your ends, and see what their suggestion is. Because as of now, I don’t see you just waking up one day and the libido will be back with him.

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

    January 5, 2017 at 1:21 PM

    Sparkless in Seattle: There is an ebb and flow to attraction within a marriage. Anyone who tells you that they’re always feeling the hots for their spouse is probably lying. At the very least, anyone who DOES always feel attracted to their spouse is a rarity. Feelings come and go. That’s why acting on feelings can be so damaging. Today I don’t feel “in love” with my spouse, so I recklessly act on an attraction to someone else. We don’t get that kind of decision back, even when we again start to feel attraction to our spouse. The damage has been done. In a lot of cases, that’s permanent damage. So, the good news is that you didn’t act on your feelings. Having “thoughts” is not the same as doing something. Probably you shouldn’t have shared that with your spouse. We don’t need to share every time we have sexy thoughts about someone else. That’s not honesty, that’s trying to relieve ourselves from feeling guilty & serves no real purpose other than to cause hurt. So, I’d refrain from doing that again. But still, it’s almost universal for people to have these types of feelings. So that should be something very recoverable with a good apology. Don’t think that your husband never has those feelings either. They mean nothing. And feelings can lie to us, so keep that in mind & continue to not act on feelings that could damage your marriage.

    In many cases, spouses can communicate more directly about these things (without blaming one another) and figure out how to reignite the spark. In a lot of cases, it just might be a tweak to what you’re doing/not doing together, and in other cases, maybe it’s more than that. But the point is that communicating can alert both of you to things that are not hitting the mark in the bedroom…. and, of course, make changes. Normally I’d start there. In so many cases spouses are not communicating, and not just about sex. And that could be a big part of the problem. Lack of communication has so many impacts & could very well impact your sex life. Another point: women often expect their men to just “know” what they like. They don’t know. Most would appreciate a little pointer. “Hey, you know, before we get into it, can we have more than a minute of foreplay?” “Maybe rub my back for a few minutes to help me relax”. Whatever it is. I think you know what I’m saying. Many women can heat up much more slowly then men. There are plenty of differences between men and women, and from individual to individual. He’s not going to know what floats your boat unless you talk to him about it.

    The one word, however, that gave me pause was “PTSD”. That opens a whole can of worms. If you have PTSD from a war time experience, that changes everything. I can’t begin to estimate how much of an impact PTSD could play in all of this. My guess is that it could be a HUGE impact, especially since you used words like “cringing”, not normally words used to describe sex between two healthy consenting, and married individuals. Certainly PTSD is something that only a therapist could unwind. So, my best advice is to start there. Stresses caused by basic life issues like work, money, children, etc. by themselves can have a big impact on your sex life. PTSD is a stress way beyond the basics. I could see where this could really shut you down, and yes, that shut down might be directed at your husband specifically. So this should be discussed with a professional who can help you work through the PTSD and the sex concerns that you have. Good luck! This might not be a quick fix, so continue to not act on feelings for other people & be patient. A good marriage is worth the time this might take to fix.

  2. rob22

    January 5, 2017 at 2:02 PM

    To the first emailer. I was really struck by the panic you seemed to be in after a month of dating. I guess in some ways that’s not unusual. When we’re feeling a strong attraction to someone, our minds don’t always work properly and we’re experiencing very strong feelings.

    So, let’s set some facts in place. It’s attraction. It’s infatuation. It’s not love. It’s a feeling and has nothing whatsoever to do with walking down the aisle in a pretty dress, having babies and living happily ever after. The guy is inducing some pretty strong feelings in you and your hormones are wide open. So, don’t read too much into it either way.

    The big danger, of course, is that he may or may not be feeling this way. And, a guy with a bad reputation, might just be good at inducing women into these feelings and then playing them for all they’re worth. And of course, dumping you in a very bad and memorable way when he’s done with you.

    So, take a breath. Slow down. And don’t fly into a panic and thinking about a million little things. I’d just say, go slow & in a couple of months if your relationship hasn’t been fully clarified as exclusive, then you should have that talk. But DO NOT assume that you are exclusive until that’s been clarified. Don’t accept sort of vague pronouncements from him, and until he’s specifically saying you’re exclusive, you should assume you’re not. Based on what you’ve said so far, in fact, you’re not exclusive. And I don’t like the way he’s going about it. It sounds manipulative when a guy is vague about things. But it also could be his way of just not being ready to answer the question directly. You’ll find out which it is soon enough.

    I’m saying to wait a couple of months because if he’s a player, he probably won’t want to go slow that long and things will naturally work out because he’ll take a hike. If he’s not a player and is really into you, he probably won’t want to even wait a couple of months before HE initiates “the talk”. That’s what I’d look for if you want to be certain. Also, forcing a guy into “the talk” after one month might serve to drive him off. It’s too soon in my opinion. Even a good guy might start having second thoughts if the girl is getting too far ahead of him. It’s like “whoa, whoa, we’ve been together a month & things are moving too fast”. That’s not what you want to have happen. But, not all relationships move at the same pace. So, if “the talk” hasn’t happened in a couple of months, I’d simply sit down with him and ask if what you have is an “exclusive relationship”. There’s nothing vague about that. It’s either yes, or it’s no. But in the short term, relax. It’s been one month. You’re dating a guy and you’re not exclusive. Treat it that way. BTW: what everyone else thinks is irrelevant. Put it out of your mind. Now, if you go throwing yourself at this guy & he turns out to be a dirt bag, yes, that will not look good. So, do yourself a favor and don’t throw yourself at him. Take it slow and enjoy the process. Projecting a current situation into what it might be some day is not a recipe for creating joy in your life. You’re stressing out needlessly.

  3. beapancake

    January 6, 2017 at 3:38 AM

    Super bummed you’ll only have reality Steve via a podcast??! No offense but I don’t really want to listen to a podcast – I’d rather read especially when I’m on my phone at 5am .. not ready to hear voices yet! And I adore your reality Steve column (I love the bachelor – well love to hate) but that column is the only reason I really come to this site 🙁 Please consider us that just want to read – thanks!

  4. rob22

    January 6, 2017 at 7:31 AM

    @beapancake. The podcast only replaces the former Thursday webcast/chat. The blog will still be here.

  5. nurseliz165

    January 7, 2017 at 12:37 AM

    Wow! Very insightful and concise response. You have a gift for understanding the human condition, especially as it relates to marriage.

  6. rehm

    January 9, 2017 at 9:05 AM

    rob22 i only created an account to say how much i appreciate reading your comments

  7. kitt0nmitt0ns

    January 9, 2017 at 9:41 AM

    Agree with the above. Can Rob22 start a blog?

  8. j1scarlett

    January 10, 2017 at 7:16 AM

    To Sparkless in Seattle, I agree with Rob22’s advice, but in addition to that, I’ve heard on the Sex with Emily podcast that there is a device you can buy called Fiera which is used to increase arousal for women, and a lot of women really like it. So you might want to try it if you just arent ever in the mood, but really want to make it work and be into sex with your husband.

  9. rob22

    January 10, 2017 at 8:12 AM

    Thanks for the very kind comments. I am thinking about doing a blog.

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