Bruce Wademan gives some sound relationship advice...
I was once involved with a man for three three years. A couple of months after we broke up he got married to someone else, and then I found out that they were seeing each other while him and I were still together.
To be honest since then I have serious insecurity issues, to a point that I sometimes think it is best if I just don't date at all.
I recently met this guy I know from back at home. My main problem with him is that he never takes me out on dates and over weekends he spends the whole entire weekend with his friends. I feel like he takes advantage of the fact that he knows me from home, because I feel like for a new relationship, he is just not making any effort. Am I being impossible?
What a great question! It's a question that every woman has asked themselves at some point in a relationship. Should you confront him or should you just let it ride?
If you confront him, you stand the risk of losing him but if you don't, will it ever change? Although the circumstances may differ, the question is quite generic for most women (I say women because, although not exclusively, women tend to have more self-awareness than men in relationships and whilst men may also want things to work differently, they tend to try be stronger and pretend they don't need anything, particularly from women, unless of course it is sex).
So some women may ask their spouses to help around the house, or some ask for help in the garden. Others may want their other half to go shopping with them or attend a dinner with some of her friends. But at some point or other, the question will get asked, am I being impossible?
So you want to get out more and see new guy over the weekend? But you wonder if you're being impossible?
Most women who ask themselves this question will answer themselves in the affirmative and consequently not broach some of these issues. In so doing they often err on the conservative side and let things that are important to them slide and as a consequence, their relationship too.
Of course, many men will say that that is all that women do? nag about their issues. It is important to have balance in your relationship and not demand all the time. Is it simply a matter of having the discretion to know which are worth pursuing and which aren't?
My wife calls it "picking your fights". Don't fight about the things that will make little difference to your relationship in the long run and do fight about those that do.
So often men and women have told me that they regret fighting about silly little things long after their spouse has left. Those silly little fights can also be symptoms of deeper issues though. Be that as it may, which issues do you choose to fight about and which do you let go? What if you scare him off?
The answer lies within
The answer is: you have to be real. It will all become clearer to you if you read your question again. In fact, the clue lies in your first paragraph ? "To be honest since then I have serious insecurity issues? ".
You might recall that in my previous article, I described how unlikely it is for two people to be the same. What I never mentioned is if, in any of those influencing factors, there was some or other kind of dysfunctional or abnormal influence(s). In fact, in my view, I think all of us, at some point or another, are exposed to some distortions of perfection because life itself is not perfect.
If this was not the case, there would never be war, divorce or any fighting for that matter. As a result of these influences or experiences, we all have some or other 'scars'. These 'scars' trigger a fear of experiencing the same event and we act out these fears in sometimes the most peculiar ways.
In your case your trust was broken and you were rejected. That is real and you had every right to feel betrayed. A three-year relationship terminated under those circumstances will rock even the most secure of people, so there is little wonder why you have misgivings about another relationship.
It is important to understand that the nature of your insecurity stems from the fear of experiencing the same rejection and betrayal. This is instinctive and natural but you need to be aware of when it is real and when it is not real. In other words is it real to assume that new guy is the same as old guy and that his behavior and subsequent consequences will have the same result?
I'm not saying it is easy to separate yourself from your fear by any stretch of the imagination, but if you don't force yourself to be aware of it, you will become a paranoid spouse with a long list of private investigators checking up on him perpetually.
You have to be real with yourself
So you have to be real with yourself and ask yourself if it is unrealistic to sit him down and tell him what is on your mind? If it is the fear that he is going to bolt, then is that fear real?
Ask yourself what the alternative is? Getting married to new guy, sitting at home on weekends and on the sidelines for the rest of your married life? Is that what you want? If not, then clearly you need to call the fear unrealistic, be brave and address the issue.
But how do you address the issue? Stephen Covey has a fantastic analogy in his book (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) when he talks about picking up a stick.
He explains that you can pick up a stick that looks straight and strong on the one side only to discover the other side is gnarled up and ugly. But, if you pick up the stick, you get both sides. Simply stated, if new guy dates you, he dates all of you, 'warts and all' and the converse is also true.
It is perfectly natural for men to spend times either with their friends or to watch sport or both. He needs this, but the difficulty some men have is where it comes in on the list of priorities.
On the other hand, you enjoy spending your weekends going to movies and spending time with him; that's high on your list of priorities and part and parcel of who you are. But, on the condition that you both want the relationship to work, neither of you can have it all your way all the time. It goes back to that dreaded word ? compromise!
My suggestion then is this. Sit down and consider if that is the potential life you want. If not, then tell yourself that despite your fears, for your own sake, you need to talk about it. Here are some guidelines to win him over:
- Get his attention and sit him down; (do not do this when there is anything that can distract him)
- Thank him for taking time out to listen to you
- Explain to him how you feel and what you want
- Tell him you appreciate him
- Help him to understand that you are prepared to compromise and take a back seat when he wants to watch his sports sometimes but that you need him as well
- Tell him you miss him and enjoy his company
- Suggest a trial run for the next weekend and suggest to him what you'd like to with him
Tell him you're excited about the prospect of spending time with him. If you do not get any response or he is not interested in compromising then you need to decide if that is the kind of man you want to be married to "till death you do part?". Chances are if he doesn't compromise for what is important to you now, you're on a hiding to nothing in a marriage.
Bruce Wademan is a FAMAC accredited mediator and counsellor. He studied counselling at BTC and Family Law at UNISA. The response to the question covers some of the issues in marriage and does not constitute advice. It is important to consult with a counsellor or therapist who through therapy will be able to provide comprehensive and appropriate advice.