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Carly wrote to me asking for love advice. She is twenty one and a professional young woman living in Boston. She e-mailed me twice and really touched  me with her honesty. Here is a brief summary of what her relationship question was:

Dear Michaela,

Right now, I fell like this romance relationship really stinks! Every time he gets around his friends, he turns into a different person and just ignores me. Why? He is a different person when we are alone! What can I do?”

Carly,

I have carefully read what you wrote to me. You have clearly said that Jason (his named changed too) treats you like a ghost every time you both get around anyone he knows, family AND friends, not just his football fan buddies.

Carly, you admitted that you never sat down with Jason and explained how you felt. In all fairness to him, have you done this yet? You stated how sweet, thoughtful and unselfish he was when the two of you were alone, but I have to ask you: do you plan to never leave the bedroom?

Your life with him, however casual, has to have more components than what you do when you alone with him. (Unless that is what you both want.) Another thing, I want to bring up, is that you started a physical relationship with him right after you met him. Why does it surprise you that the physical part of your relationship is what you are most proud of and everything else is a disappointment?

Really Carly, you need to be honest with yourself. Maybe the only thing that Jason wants is a physical relationship with you. Actions speak louder than words! Think back carefully! How did he represent himself? What were you looking for in him? Don’t ever try to put a square peg in a round hole! It may not be possible for your relationship with Jason to be anything else but what it is. Is that what you want? Is that what he wants? I am sorry, but, it looks like to me, you and Jason are not on the same page when it comes to expectations of your dating relationship, if that is what anyone could call this.

Bill in Kentucky, a house painter by trade, wrote to me about his girlfriend Paige and her best friend, Debbie.

Dear Michaela,

Paige’s best friend, Debbie HATES me! Every time I get around her, she makes little cutting remarks about me to Paige, and openly talks about me as though I were not even there. Debbie is more than mean. . .She is a real b….. They are best friends, and I know that Debbie, her best “friend” is poisoning Paige’s mind against me. I don’t stand a chance to really have something with this girl as long as her “friend” Debbie is talking behind my back. They share an apartment, so I can’t avoid her. I wish I could. What should I do? I really like Paige!”

Bill,

I have to wonder about something. You already told me that except for one time, at a party, and a few times at the apartment, you never really spent a lot of time with Paige’s best friend, Debbie.

Now, I want you to stop for a moment and think: the only thing that Debbie really knows about you is what Paige tells her. They of course talk, they live together! Now, Bill don’t get me wrong here! Debbie could be really jealous of Paige having you for a boyfriend and finding some happiness.

It sounds like you and Paige get along well and really laugh together, as well as satisfy each other. On the other hand, you also said that Debbie doesn’t have a boyfriend, just dates a lot. Debbie could feel threatened by you and doesn’t want to see her best friend get too close to any one guy. Big intimacy issues surrounding Little Debbie!

However, I have to wonder why you would think so little of yourself to give yourself to a woman who doesn’t take up for you in front of others that cut you down? If Paige had any regard for you she would not allow her best friend, (or anyone else) to cut you down and make you feel small. What is Paige’s TRUE opinion of you? I would move away from these two twisted sisters!; Don’t be afraid to move away from Paige to make room for someone new! We all have enough challenges maintaining a healthy self-esteem with being continually beat up! Think about what I am really saying here! Then make up your own mind! I feel no apprehension about Paige writing to me either!

Lori, an administrative assistant in Spokane, WA needed love advice regarding her newest love interest, Raymond.

Dear Michaela,

At first, everything that he did, when we were alone, thrilled me? Then he wanted to do, what I considered some really strange things, and now, I am lost as to how to talk to him about it. I don’t know where we went wrong, and I have no idea how to tell him without sounding critical. Please help me! I don’t want to lose this guy! He is just about perfect…except for this! Please….help me! Please help me fast! WE HAVE ANOTHER DATE TOMORROW NIGHT!

Lori,

I have read your e-mail carefully.  Lori, it sounds like you have something very special with Raymond. It sounds more like love than just casual sex.

When we get close to someone that we want and get the chance to express the way we feel physically, a genuine braveness fills us up. The sun seems a little brighter in the morning, and we feel like climbing Mount Everest. We are like flowers that are just opening up inside. A for a time, the usual trepidation to keep others at arms length drops down and we let go inside.

Lori, Raymond is letting go with you. No doubt, it is the scariest thing he has ever done. I bet, if you ask him, he’s never tried any of the playful sexual things you described to me. (You can trust me to never tell a soul) He fells brave enough, trust you enough to open up and suggest them. How divine! How complimentary to you!

Yes, his suggestions are different, and perhaps strange to you, but not actually abusive, physically harmful, demeaning, or whorish in nature. They are just unusually playful! Lori, we live in such a hard crusted, selfish age! It saddens me to see everybody displaying the ME FIRST outlook! Giving is such a strange concept nowadays! Let me ask you something: Would it be so weird for you go along with Raymond’s playfully strange requests? Is it possible you would get a kick out of seeing him happy?

Is it so unthinkable that if you accommodated him in these unusual little ways that he would return the favor and let you try to some secret things that you have hidden inside of you? These are the mysteries of love! Of course, if you feel like his requests would in some way demean you, or cause you to think less of yourself, by all means back away! If your accommodation of him would make you feel less than who you really are, then at least make him leave his money on the bedroom dresser, because at that point, you will fee no higher than a common prostitute. You have a choice in all of this!

Robert, a commercial real estate agent in Houston, Texas wrote to me about; Pamela and how clingy he felt she was being.

Dear Michaela,

Why can’t I make her (Pamela) understand that just because I don’t call her ALL of time and answer EVERY e-mail, doesn’t mean that I don’t  like her, or don’t want to be with her. Why can’t she understand my need for some personal time with my friends? I really like this girl, we really click, but I don’t understand her incessant need to suffocate me! Please help!

Robert,

It is an awfully good sign that you have devoted time to sending me three different e-mails about you and Pamela. As I have told you, and many others, my role is not to judge you, or anyone else.

Robert, it is clear to me, after reading all of your e-mails, that you want a casual, loose relationship with Pamela, and she wants a romantic attached relationship with you. Pamela sounds like a very unselfish girl, and I don’t believe she is going to stick around much longer! However, this may best for you! It is not a crime not to want a deep relationship with someone.

You are just being honest, but I think you need to get the pressure off of yourself AND Pamela. Her constant spurning you on to be more to her, is in fact, making her miserable too. Do any of us want to be patronized? This polite cruelty between you two is making both of you sad. I feel your sadness. Robert, take her by the hand and tell her honestly, no matter how much she cries, that you simply cannot give her any more of yourself.

Let me go and be with someone who wants the same attentive response that she wants to give them. And you, go on and link with someone who does not mind if you ever call, or not. Someone with a freer, more loose idea of a relationship with you. What do you REALLY like about Pamela, anyway? Is it the fact that she is always chasing after you and craving your attention? Robert, somehow I feel that you need a more free spirit. This is my love advice to you. Take it and let Pamela go, or sit down and quietly think about if you want to go with her, or not.