Dear Neil: I’m having much difficulty in believing my sick significant other. When we dated, he told me all about his past problems with drugs and alcohol. I was given to understand that he’d been in recovery for years. He moved in with me last year, and I immediately learned he was using pain killers to the extreme. He went full-blown with cocaine a year ago. After two weeks in rehab, he is supposedly back on track.
But he is in financial ruin, and I have supported him for a year. He has time for tanning, working out, watching TV and talking. He hasn’t said one word about getting married. I recently learned that he’s visiting questionable websites—stripper sites, the diva site, the lingerie site, etc. I hate to throw the guy out. He has nothing. His salary will not support him, but frankly he is draining me financially and I have lost all trust. I am not sure of what I should do.
Not Sure What To Do in Florida
Dear Not Sure: What would you need in order to be happy in this relationship? For him to get himself out of financial trouble? For him to stop visiting internet porn sites? For him be more motivated and ambitious career-wise? For him to stay clean with drugs? For him to propose marriage to you? Whatever it is—or whatever combination of requests you have—deliver them. You must communicate what you need from him in order for you to respect him and be interested in a relationship with him that could long-term.
Dear Neil: I was with a guy for five months who seemed very “into me.” He was doting, happy to be with me and was very affectionate. One night I got angry with him and snapped in a nasty way. After, when I began a calm conversation to explain my feelings of anger, he interrupted me and said out of nowhere that he’d been thinking that he didn’t want to be in an exclusive relationship with me anymore. I was shocked. Three hours before he was saying I was the way to his heart. After four weeks of no contact, he said he missed me, was very affectionate, began warmly kissing me and wanted to spend time together again. But he still said he didn’t see long-term potential with me. I ended things between us a week ago, and I’m hurt and very confused. I’m trying to make sense of it and would love some insight.
Hurt in Los Angeles
Dear Hurt: There is one thing you can do. Ask him if his withdrawal and lack of long-term interest is related to your angry outburst. If he says yes, then perhaps he needs a sincere apology, and just maybe he would still be open to the two of you negotiating a different way of communicating anger that is more respectful. If he says no, that the outburst was unrelated to his feelings about you, then there is nothing you can do to make this a long-term relationship.
Some men are looking for comfort and warmth from a woman and aren’t interested in anything more—although they may not communicate that to the woman. Get better at evaluating this early on—and asking the questions about long-term potential directly—so you’re not caught so off guard.