Dear Neil: I recently started seeing someone, and things were great. We talked to each other three times a week and saw each other twice a week. But over the last two weeks he has become detached and removed, and has seldom called. I have found evidence of him sleeping with someone else. What should I do? Confront him, or just walk away?
Some of that I can do—and do well. But the list continues. I am also to be an excellent communicator and a great listener. And to be attentive, generous and well-adjusted. And to make her feel valued or cherished. And to have a great sense of humor and make her laugh. I am also to be clean, well-groomed, well-dressed, honest, open, monogamous, faithful, have integrity, have good self-esteem, be fit, be good-looking, athletic, good with children, great lover—you get the picture.
Feeling Rejected in Wellington, New Zealand
Dear Feeling Rejected: If you just walk away, you will never know if your guess is right about him being with someone else. You’re likely to wonder what happened, and whether the relationship could have been saved.
Talk to him. Tell him you are confused and hurt by his recent withdrawal, and that you have reason to believe that he has been with someone else. Then ask him to come clean and address what’s been going on, and what he’s been thinking and feeling about you and his relationship with you.
Most of the time, you’ll know if he is telling you the truth, but even if you can’t tell, it’s wiser to attempt to address what is going on, than to just end a relationship and wonder why.
Dear Neil: How do I start a conversation with a lady I am very attracted to, but I’ve only talked to once? I get tongue-tied when I try to talk to her. What can I do to overcome this problem?
Tongue-Tied in Nigeria
Dear Tongue-Tied: Ask her questions about herself. Where is she from? How is she liking school? What classes interest her the most? What are her plans after she finishes school? What music does she like? What does she like to do in her free time?
You could comment on what she’s wearing if you like it (most of us like to hear that we have good taste and that we look great in our clothes). Also, you could tell her a little about you. What interests you? What are your goals and ambitions? What do you want to get really good at doing?
Of course, you could also invite her to go out with you somewhere—for lunch, a walk, a dance or whatever else appeals to you.
But I am suggesting that it’s a mistake to attempt to be all things to all females. Choose those traits you value, those you’re good at and those you’d like to improve or be better at. If that’s not enough for a woman, go elsewhere. Nobody is Superman. We’re all people, and we all excel in some things but not in others.
Dear Neil: I’d really appreciate your advice. A younger sister of mine says I am negative about her. I think I am protecting myself from her emotional onslaughts and hostility, which I find quite heavy. I am sixty now, and quite tired emotionally. My way of coping is silence and my music.
Protecting Myself in New Zealand
Dear Protecting Myself: Your way of coping is through withdrawal and distance, and that’s what your sister is reacting to. Take this opportunity to figure out what kind of relationship with your sister you’d like. In order to do that, you’re going to have to figure out why you’re withdrawn and distant with her, and what you would need in order to warm up to her.