In Search of a Happy Ending | Loveahappyending Lifestyle magazine #LLm
2015 stripe

Category: In Search of a Happy Ending

Too Close for Comfort

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Q. I recently met my boyfriend’s grown (and married) daughter for the first time. He is 54 and she is 32, and he told me that they are very close. This wasn’t surprising to me since her mother died many years ago. However, I never expected what I witnessed the first time we went to stay with her and her husband on my vacation. First of all, the couple is living in my boyfriend’s house (he travels a lot on business so they moved in and are living rent and bill free). She works part time and he has a job that doesn’t pay very well, I gathered. However, I couldn’t believe how uncomfortable I was made to feel when I visited. Not only did she act as if she owned the house, but she actually bossed my boyfriend around like a henpecking wife, telling him what he could and couldn’t buy for the house and acting very territorial towards me. He told me that her husband does not have much money, and that she depends on her father, though he admitted the situation has probably gone too far. Instead of just supporting her, he now supports both of them and she expects the best of everything. I was really astonished at how she treated him (very disrespectful) and told him so in private. He understood and seemed to agree, but told me that at this late stage, he’d feel very guilty forcing them to take care of themselves, since he was at fault for getting her used to such a life. I really care for this man. He is good guy. But I’m afraid of what the future will hold for our relationship with this ungrateful albatross around his neck. Your thoughts?

A. Your boyfriend’s daughter has some serious entitlement issues, but for him to continue to enable her out of guilt is not the answer. Situations like this rarely get better and usually get worse. Is your boyfriend planning to support her kids if she has them, too? How does he think that will affect a possible future with you? And where will the two of you live if you want to marry or move in together? Obviously not at his home. The fact that she and her husband don’t pay rent or bills for the privilege of living there is just wrong. There is a time for children to become independent, and hers has clearly come and gone, but it’s never too late. Your boyfriend needs to be aware that he’s not doing her any favors by keeping her dependent on him. What would happen if God forbid something happened to him? Does she have a back-up financial plan? Many fathers, whether divorced or widowed, tend to spoil their children (particularly daughters) out of guilt, and don’t even realize how problematic it is until a possible mate comes along and points it out. You’ve had this talk, and he seems to agree with you, which is a good start. How and if he moves forward, though, is an open question. I’m curious to know how often he stays at his house and how often he interacts with her. This will indicate how much time in your life will be affected. I suggest sharing with him the points I made here and seeing if he is receptive to the logic behind them. He also needs to know how uncomfortable his daughter made you feel and how inappropriate all this is from the standpoint of a third party—especially one he cares for. Then you’ll just have to wait and see if he has the courage to become a strong father for her—and a truly available mate for you.

 

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When sexual ‘adventures’ go too far…

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Q.  My boyfriend and I are in our twenties and have been together for almost five years. We’ve always had an exciting and inventive sex life, but recently he’s been expressing a new fantasy that he seems eager to make a reality. The problem is I’m afraid it may be too adventurous for me because it involves a third person, and not for a ménage a trois. He wants to secretly watch me with another man of our choosing. The thought of this kind of freaks me out, especially when we discuss it OUT of bed when my brain is functioning properly. I don’t want to disappoint him since the idea really gets him going, but I’m concerned it will change things between us (though I’m not sure why). It’s not like I haven’t been with other men before him, but it’s been a long time since then, and something about this frightens me even if I can’t put my finger on it. What do you think?

A. Usually, my thoughts about sex between two consenting adults, is that if what they do in the privacy of their own bedroom doesn’t hurt anyone then it’s fine. In your case though, one of the adults is clearly reluctant to consent, and therein lies the problem. I realize that we now live in an age where sex is everywhere and, largely thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey, is more acceptably taken to extremes. It is only the people involved in the sex act though, that can say whether something is extremely hot and sexy, or if it is perversion. Each couple must decide for themselves. That said, the fact that you are so uncertain about this should not make you feel bad. I’m willing to bet most women in monogamous relationships would, at the very least, be hesitant, especially if the man the two of you pick is not aware he is being watched. When another person is involved in your sex life, you suddenly have an unknown quantity, and that can be dodgy. In fact, that element can become a danger to both you and your boyfriend should the man find out and become angry. Deceit is always wrong. As for your fear that it will change your relationship, I think that is valid. If you reluctantly agree to something you are uneasy with, there is a chance that you may later become resentful of your boyfriend for egging you into it. My advice is to share your concerns with him. Tell him you are uncomfortable with enacting this particular sexual adventure. Let him know there could be unforeseen consequences neither of you have considered. If your relationship is a loving and respectful one, he will abide by your feelings and stop pressuring you about it. Then you can keep this particular fantasy exactly that—a fantasy.

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The Love of My Life is Already Married

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Q.  I’m single, 32-years-old, and I’ve been seeing a man I met through work (he doesn’t work in my office) for almost six months. I’ve dated a lot of men, but I don’t think I’ve ever really been in love until now. The problem—and it’s a big one—is that he’s been married for almost 14 years. He says he’s been very unhappy at home and thinks about leaving his wife all the time. However, he doesn’t want to leave his two children and is afraid of making a mistake. He’s told me he’s falling in love with me though, and I definitely have fallen hard for him. I know it’s wrong to have let this happen, but I just couldn’t resist him. He’s romantic, funny, and treats me so well when we are together, but I can tell he is nervous whenever we are out in public and it puts a dark cloud over our time together. I understand that his kids have to come first, so I don’t know if he’ll have the courage to leave. I’ve thought about whether I’d keep seeing him even if he doesn’t, and considering my options, I’m leaning toward staying with him no matter what. I believe he’s the love of my life, so how can I give him up when he makes me so happy? What is your advice?

A.  You are right about one thing. Dating a married man is a big problem, not only for you and for him, but for his wife and his children even though they may not know it yet. I don’t believe infidelity is ever okay because it means someone is being deceived and betrayed. For the record, many, many people maintain healthy and happy relationships with their children after divorce, so I’m not from the “stay in it for the kids” school of thought, and don’t accept that as an excuse for cheating on his wife. (An unhappy parental relationship is not a good example for children to witness anyway.)

No matter how you feel, step back and think of the big picture here. If this man is truly the love of your life, then you should be the love of his life, too. If you are, then he needs to man-up and find the courage to divorce his wife before continuing on with your romance. This would show his emotional maturity, good faith, and his ability to honor you as a partner. If he thinks it is okay to offer you less than a healthy, open, and monogamous relationship, then he may not think as highly of you as you imagined, and neither do you! This could be a sign that you need to work on your self-esteem. You are only 32 years old, yet you seem to believe you are out of other options, hopes, and possibilities. I’d venture to say your perspective is skewed due to your present feelings about this man.

My advice is to have a heart to heart with him and tell him that as much as you care for him, you don’t want a relationship based on deceit where you have to skulk around while out in public. If a man sees you setting appropriate boundaries, and standing up for yourself and what you deserve, he will have much more respect for you no matter his decision. Right now, as well as you think he treats you, he is not honoring you. He needs to have the audacity to do the right thing, and the fortitude to accept the consequences. If he cannot, or will not, then maybe he isn’t as unhappy at home as you think. If you stay with him anyway, expect to always play second, third, or fourth fiddle in his life. How long do you really think your happiness will last then?

 

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My Boyfriend Wants Kids, But I Don’t …

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Q.  I’m 28 and have been seeing a special man for almost two years. Things have been great and we recently broached the subject of marriage. I think we are compatible in so many ways, but the one issue we have is that he wants to have kids, and I don’t. I know it is often the other way around. I have several girlfriends whose boyfriends don’t want families, or aren’t sure about it, but somehow I managed to find a man who is dead set on it. He sometimes tries to talk me into the idea, sharing his feelings about how wonderful it would be to have a family of our own, and that he’d love to see what a child of ours would look like. I feel guilty and try to let myself be swayed, but ultimately, I know it’s not what I really want. The thing is, I love him so much and don’t want to let him go. It’s so hard to find a great guy these days. What would you do?

 

A.  This is not an uncommon occurrence, but it is a heartbreaking one. The facts are the facts. When two people disagree about the most important decision a couple can make—having children—there is no good way to reconcile the problem. You love each other, but you want very different lifestyles. Having children is an enormous responsibility. So many people take the decision lightly and barely question it beforehand, probably because society expects it of us, especially of women. It’s not until the baby comes that people realize the immense undertaking they have chosen—and those are people who wanted kids. Therefore, know that you can never pretend to want something as all-encompassing as children no matter how hard you try, and don’t feel guilty about it either. Your decision is just as valid as his. Just remember, if your boyfriend allows himself to let go of his dream of a family by marrying you, he’ll most likely end up resenting you for his loss. That’s why I believe the only wise decision you can make is to part ways now, and give each other the freedom to find the life each of you truly wants. It’ll be tough in the short term, but in the long term you will both have a chance to follow your hearts and your dreams with partners who will support your choices along the way.

 

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Torn Between Two Loves

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Q.  I have a big dilemma. I’m 25 and I’ve been seeing a really nice guy for eight months, but my ex-boyfriend (of four years) wants me back. Both are good men, but I feel more attracted to my ex-boyfriend. We had so many good times. My current boyfriend is fun to be with, but I’m not sure I’m as in love with him as I was with my ex. Do you have any advice that could help me make a good decision?

 

A.  First of all, I’d like to know why you and your ex-boyfriend broke up. Was it due to one of you cheating? Long distance between you? A fight? General malaise about the relationship? This is important information because it may be the key to whether or not a future relationship with him would be successful. Some issues are workable; others are not. Think long and hard about what caused the break-up and whether or not common sense tells you the problem may rear its head again in the future. It’s also important to keep in mind that sometimes we only remember the good times we’ve had with someone, while blocking out the difficulties. It’s human nature. So is wanting someone when you think you can no longer have her. Is your ex possibly guilty of that? Weighing a four-year relationship against an eight-month long one may not be a fair comparison due to your longer history and attachment to your ex. Is it conceivable that you don’t feel as “in love” with your new man because you never really let go of the last one? If that’s the reason, then your feelings could easily change when you truly move on. In the meantime, ask yourself which man is more reliable? More attentive and kind? A better friend and partner? Which one wants a similar future to the one you imagine for yourself? Who makes you a better person for having known him? If you can answer those questions, you will have a much better chance of choosing your Mr. Right. Good luck!

 

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How can I recharge my sex life?

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Q. My boyfriend and I have been dating for about seven years and our sex life is pretty much gone. Although there is no excuse for it, I had an affair with someone else who I considered leaving him for. Anyway, I ended that affair when I realized that sex isn’t everything and that my boyfriend is so good to me in every other way. He’s been under a lot of stress for the past year, and I know this has a lot to do with it. I know that he feels terrible about this too, but he does not know how to approach the situation. The last time that I initiated sex, we were both so nervous that it didn’t work out, and it’s making me scared about trying again. I don’t know what to do. I love him very much, but lately I’ve been sexually fantasizing about other men a lot and I want to stop. I’m trying to hold on, but what do you think I should do? Is it possible to recharge my sex life?

 

A. Since it’s clear that you love him and want to make things work out between you, I say hold on tighter. This could be a temporary situation that could reverse itself with a few positive changes. I don’t know what is causing his stress, but he needs to address whatever problems he’s facing and try to correct them. If he can’t, he needs to learn how to deal more effectively with the stress they are causing. A good therapist can find ways to help him put things in perspective, feel stronger, and take control of his life again. A medical doctor may subscribe some medications that can help him temporarily. There are also many books that deal with all sorts of specific issues, as well as general stress management. For your part, let him know how much you miss the sex life you’ve shared with him. Tell him that since you love him so much, you’re willing to do whatever it takes to recapture it and you hope that he is, too. As hard as it is to stop fantasizing about sex when you are feeling extremely starved for it, try focusing your efforts on fixing the problem between you. (Or if you do fantasize, make it about him). Offer him understanding, patience and little tokens of affection. Give him assistance with things that may reduce his stress load or take the edge off of it. If he’s a good man who’s been a loving partner, he deserves that much. However, if you find after a prolonged period of time that nothing has changed because his efforts have been lacking, then it’s up to you to decide what is best for you in the long run. I think we’d all agree that life is way too long to resign yourself to a celibate existence. But if you decide to pursue other sexual options, do it the healthy way this time: break up with him first.

 

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My daughter is neglecting her kids

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Q. My daughter was recently divorced from her husband of 12 years who often travels on business. They were high school sweethearts and married young. He is a good man, but they just didn’t get along anymore. They have two children, 10 and 7, who I’m very worried about. I see them cry and act out when they are with me. It’s not just a divorce that the kids have to deal with, which is hard enough, but to make matters worse, my 35-year-old daughter seems to have reverted into a selfish child. At first she dated like a 16-year-old would, then she met a man who made things worse. He is very controlling and a negative influence on her. The kids (who sense they are unwelcome in his presence) do not like him, and neither do I or my husband. There is something very cold and unfeeling about him. I can’t figure out what she sees in him (nobody can), but he has a Svengali-like spell over her. It is causing her to be extremely selfish, neglect her children, and think the world revolves around her. She expects me to drop everything and babysit whenever she wants so she can gallivant around with this man and take romantic vacations with him. Of course I love the kids too much to turn her down, and am concerned who they’d be left with if I did. On top of everything else, she shows me no respect, gratefulness, or common courtesy and seems to think she’s entitled to everything I do for her and the children. When she was sick in the hospital recently, I was the one taking care of everyone, while her boyfriend never even came to visit her. I’ve tried to get her to seek help, but she refuses to talk to a therapist. Do you have any ideas on how I can better handle the situation?

A. I’ve noticed that many people who get married very young and then later get divorced, have a tendency to regress for a while and revert into another “childhood” of sorts, whereas people who marry at an older age are often more content with their partner because they have already sowed their oats and experienced several romantic relationships. You didn’t say how long she has been divorced, so I don’t know if you can chalk this up to such a phenomenon, but it’s an important point to keep in mind.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much room for children when one is “gallivanting” around on dates and romantic vacations, and I’m sure it is very hard on them to have a mother who is doing just that, especially when their father is often out of town. Pat yourself on the back for being such a doting and caring Grandma. You are putting the children first, which is something your daughter has not chosen to do. It’s unfortunate she has picked a man who separates her from her kids instead of sometimes including them as part of the package. It’s also quite distressing that she doesn’t think there is anything wrong with her behavior and therefore has no desire to seek help, but there is nothing you can do about that fact. Learning to deal with things that are out of your control is very difficult, but it is a necessary life lesson. Better to focus on what is in your control. As I see it, there are two things that fit the bill, and here are my suggestions.

1. Tell your daughter you cannot watch the kids whenever she wants to leave them. She is clearly taking advantage of you and it’s your right to put your foot down and let her know that you have a life, too. However, if you are worried they may not be left with a suitable babysitter, I can totally understand why you choose to be there for them. When you babysit, put a positive spin on it. Use that time with them as bonus time. Plan fun activities to do with them. Not only will they grow up knowing just how much you love them, but your home will be the safe and stable port in the storm.

2. I also think you should sit your daughter down at a time when neither of you are in a rush, both of you are calm, and no one else is around. Then approach the problem in a constructive way. That means a civil, respectful, and non-emotional discussion of what’s on your mind and what is worrying you. This is not the time to insult her boyfriend, reprimand her, or raise your voice. Approach her from a place of love. Let her know how her children are feeling, as they may not be acting that way around her. Appeal to her sense of motherhood without pointing out her deficiencies. If there’s hope for changing her ways, that discussion may be a good start. If not, then hopefully with some time she will see her boyfriend (who may just be her “transitional” man) in a realistic light and realize that not only would he be a poor stepfather, but he’d make a lousy husband, too. Good luck!

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Is my boyfriend a cad?

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Q. I’m 24 and have been seeing a man I really like for the last few months. I met him at a singles’ party. He’s 27, good looking, smart, and I have a good time when I’m with him. I assumed because he went to this party that he was looking for a relationship, but there’s a problem. He isn’t very reliable. He’s canceled dates last minute, forgotten to call me when he says he will, and doesn’t always ask me out on weekends. My friends say that he’s probably seeing other women, but we’ve already been intimate and I really didn’t think he was the type to sleep around. I’m not sure what the best way to handle this is, but I’m tired of waiting by the phone and not knowing if or when I’ll have plans with him. I’m not comfortable with confrontation, so what do you think is the best way to find out whether he’s playing the field or if he’s just not the responsible type? Should I be checking his phone texts when he showers, like my friend suggested? Or follow him to see where he goes when he cancels on me? I would hate to have to do either. Would love your advice on this.

 

A. You bring up a slew of concerns so I’ll address each one independently.

1. Just because you attend a singles’ party, doesn’t mean you are serious about finding a relationship. He could have gone for countless other reasons. Some people use those parties as merely another conduit for meeting people or socializing.

2. I know it’s not easy to find a man you really enjoy being with, but that’s not an excuse to accept bad behavior from him. Canceling dates last minute, leaving you hanging by the phone, and not making weekend plans with you are not the signs of a thoughtful man who wants a steady, solid, and honest relationship. These are the signs of an immature and selfish man who hasn’t learned the proper way to treat people.

3. If you want to know where someone is coming from (i.e. if he’s dating others), you cannot be afraid of confrontation. Confrontation doesn’t have to be dramatic. It can be as simple as asking the important questions—and that should be done before you become sexually involved. You cannot just assume that he’s being monogamous unless he tells you he is, and plans to be, while you are together. That said, since you are already sleeping with him, you have the right to know if he’s engaging in sex with others. The way to find out is NOT to snoop in his personal things or to stalk him. The way to find out is to ASK him. If you have a strong sense that he’s lying to you, then it’s time to say good-bye.

4. If you find out he’s not seeing others and may just be spending time with friends or family, there is still a rather large problem: his inconsiderate nature. If you don’t demand that men treat you with respect and thoughtfulness, you could easily end up with a cad who throws crumbs to you when it suits him. Is that really what you want in a partner? I doubt it. If I were you I’d ditch this guy like yesterday’s rubbish and move on knowing that I didn’t settle for less than I deserve or let someone else define my self-worth. If you’re not ready to give him up, then I strongly suggest you have that important conversation and share your feelings and concerns with him. If he truly cares about you, there’s always a chance he may learn the error of his ways and make some drastic, positive changes. If he doesn’t, then you have your answers loud and clear.

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How much is “enough” sex?

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Q.  I’ve been married to my husband (who is also my best friend) for nine years and we have a very good marriage. It is the second time around for both of us, and we have children (all over 16) from our first marriages. There’s lots of love between us, but over the past few years, the number of times we have sex has dwindled down from a couple of times a week to a couple of times a month (unless we are on vacation and therefore very relaxed). We both work, are tired, and have our share of daily stresses, and unfortunately our sex life often takes a back seat. Although in theory we’d like to spend more non-sleeping time in bed, we are both usually satisfied with the amount of time we do (or don’t) spend there. However, after seeing how obsessed the world seems to be with sex, I’m wondering if there’s something wrong with us that should be worked on. Are we unknowingly doing damage to our relationship? Should we be being more adventurous? Is having sex two times a month enough for two caring partners? I would love to know what you think.

 

A. In my observation, it’s the couples that don’t agree on how often they want sex that end up with problems in their relationship. When one partner’s sexual urges greatly outweigh the other’s, unhappiness, resentment, and insecurities can result. Sex is a wonderful way for a couple to bond and reconnect, but how often you feel you need to do this is up to you and your husband. When I read your question, I noted a few things. First, you and your husband are best friends. Those are the best kinds of love relationships because you truly care and look out for each other while making a great team. Second, you said, “there’s lots of love” between you. Therein lies the most important thing in a healthy marriage—love! And third, you are both on the same page when it comes to your carnal desires, so there isn’t strife between you because of the amount of time you spend in the bedroom. Therefore, I really don’t think that having sex a couple of times a month should worry you. I’m willing to bet more couples than you think do the same and just don’t talk about it because they, too, have let our oversexed society dictate their feelings of inadequacy. As long as you keep the lines of communication open with your husband to make sure you both remain on the same sexual wavelength, your relationship should stay strong. And if either of you should begin to feel that you truly desire more sex, I say plan one of your relaxing vacations and go!

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The Case of the Disappearing Date

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Q. I’m a 25-year-old woman who lives in a big city where it should be easy to find a mate. Unfortunately, though, I’m finding it almost impossible. I’m attractive enough that I can get dates pretty easily, but they don’t ever turn into solid relationships, even when I think they are going really well. For example, I recently dated a man I met at a restaurant. He was so attentive and seemed very interested at first. I went out with him four times. We kissed a lot, but didn’t have sex. He told me how pretty I was, and how much he liked me. Then, out of nowhere, he stopped calling and texting. It’s not like he was pressuring me for sex and I said no, either. This is not an uncommon occurrence. It’s happened not only to me many times, but to several of my friends. We are baffled. We know there is supposedly a man shortage, but does that mean that they just all want to play like kids in a candy shop? Any ideas on what these men are thinking, or if they are thinking at all?

A. Well, I guess things haven’t changed much in the last 20 years, unfortunately. Yes, I’ve been a “victim” of the mysterious, disappearing man, too. In fact, this “common occurrence” is probably even more pervasive than you might think. I have two bits of good news. The first: My many experiences have afforded me a more useful perspective I can now share with you. The second: I finally found a man who never stopped calling so they do exist!

There are many reasons a man who seems interested in you may suddenly go astray. Here are my TOP 10:

1. There’s someone else in his life you don’t know about.

2. He’s got too much going on right now to get involved more seriously.

3. He’s starting to have real feelings and is too frightened to pursue them.

4. He’s unsure of his feelings (or yours) and stepping back out of fear.

5. He likes you, but not romantically, and wants to avoid confrontation about it.

6. He’s selfish and doesn’t think beyond his own desires at any given moment.

7. He’s inconsiderate and unreliable, in which case, good riddance to bad rubbish.

8. He may have realized before you did that you’re just not right for each other.

9. He likes to keep things light and fun and sensed you wanted something more serious.

10. He’s been abducted by a UFO.

Whichever one of these reasons makes you feel the best, grab onto it and assume that’s the right one, because ultimately it really doesn’t matter why he never called you back. The fact that he didn’t means he wasn’t Mr. Right.

 

Read more advice from Bonnie HERE

If you would like Bonnie to offer some advice on your personal relationship issue, contact her at

loveahappyending.com@gmail.com

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