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Reader Q&A;

About every couple of months I answer readers' relationship
questions. I try to answer questions in such a way as to both
serve the person asking the question, while also sharing with
all readers some relationship truth or principle I see as the
underlying question. This month I am also adding a new highlight
to the Q&A.; The "Featured Question" can now be found at the end
of the Q&A;, and is picked because of its broad appeal. This
question will get a much more in-depth response.

Q. I am 23 and have been dating a guy for 2 years. Everything
is fine except that my boyfriend is very possessive, suspicious
and jealous. This type of behavior is killing me. I have openly
discussed it with him but he says it's because he loves me too
much. This puts me off. If you could please help…

A. Dear Rose,
I am not surprised your boyfriend's possessiveness and jealousy
is putting you off and making you feel stifled. I think you
already know this behavior has nothing to do with how much he
loves you, but has to do with his fear of being hurt, abandoned,
perhaps being cheated on. I am going to assume you have not done
anything to make him feel more insecure than he already is,
which means how he feels has nothing to do with you. The bad
news is that you cannot do anything to make him stop being
possessive, suspicious and jealous. The good news is that you
don't have to take it personally. The better news is that you
don't need to try to make him feel better, because you can't -
he will likely have these feelings for a long time, in any
relationship he is in. So go about your life, doing what you
need to do and stop accommodating his feelings. This is your
only hope of helping him ever get over them.
~Your Relationship Coach

Q. I really like this girl and I think she likes me. The
problem is that she is dating someone. The bigger problem is
that she is dating my friend. What do I do?

A. Dear Tommy,
As I see it, you have two choices - let the girl know you like
her, but lose the friendship with your friend. Or, keep the
friendship and go find another girl to focus on. It all depends
on how important the friendship is to you.
~Your Relationship Coach

Q. Can you offer any insight into achieving intimacy, openness
and honesty in a relationship without hurting the other person?
I see anger as the root of most intimacy problems.

A. Dear Krista,
You are right. Unresolved anger turned into resentment is the
root of most intimacy problems. Resolving anger and resentments
when they arise, as they will occasionally in any relationship,
is the surest path to intimacy, openness and honesty. However,
it's almost impossible not to hurt the other person, in any
relationship. The truth is, you will hurt your partner -
sometimes unintentionally and sometimes even intentionally.
Hurting each other occasionally does not have to mean the end of
the relationship. It is what the two of you do with the hurt
that matters. In an open, intimate relationship the two people
will talk about their anger and hurt, and learn to listen to
each other in such a way that the negative emotions will get
worked through.
~Your Relationship Coach

Q. I have lived with a man for a year-and-a-half, and I'm
really not sure if he's the one for me. My issue is this: Ralph
wants to do, literally, everything I do, and everything
together. He wants to wake up together in the morning, shower
together, leave for work together, spend all of our evenings
together, and go to bed at the same time. I feel like he's
infringing on my individuality, and I feel like he's clinging to
me in an unhealthy way. I've given up my morning exercise
routine because it bothered him that we didn't spend mornings
together. I'm a writer and I like to do some writing in the
mornings...I really enjoy waking early and having some time to
myself. Because I wake up early, he wants to wake up early too.
When he does this I feel like he's a little puppy dog who just
needs to follow me around all day and do everything I do. If I
say I don't WANT him to do that he feels rejected, and as if
something is wrong because I don't want him there all the time.

It's not that I don't want to do anything together. We're
taking a painting class together one night a week, and it's very
enjoyable and fun to share this time together. We have dinner
together every night, which I also love. On the other hand, I
also wonder if I'm making up this story about his lack of
independence...and perhaps I'm not allowing myself to "be" with
a man. I wonder sometimes if he's "good enough," and then I
feel guilty that I'm such a "snob."

I have anger that bubbles up around these issues all the time.
What do I do?

A. Dear Jane,
People in relationships need time apart and need their own
lives in order for the relationship to work. So I am wondering
why you have been willing to give this part of yourself up,
giving up your time alone, your exercise, your writing, instead
of allowing your partner to deal with his feeling of rejection?
After all, you know you are not rejecting him when you want some
space and time - you are taking care of yourself. If this brings
up feelings of rejection for him, you can gently help him deal
with the feelings, instead of trying to fix the situation so
that he does not feel rejected. I suggest you try taking care of
yourself and then help him deal with his emotions as they come
up, by listening and being understanding, but not giving up
yourself again. I think this will change how you feel about him.
~Your Relationship Coach

Q. I've been with my boyfriend for over 9 months now. We were
engaged and broke off the engagement on the grounds that it was
just too soon for the both of us. Lately I've been feeling like
he's lost interest in me. He spends most of his time on the
computer or asleep and we hardly ever speak to each other. He's
very snippy and when we do speak, one of us always gets angry or
we start an argument. I'm beginning to stop loving him, and I'm
not sure how to bring up any conversation about this without
starting an argument. He always says that I'm putting words in
his mouth or what I'm saying is a lie, when I know it isn't.
Even our close friends have realized that our relationship is
falling apart. Should I try to discuss this with him or should I
decide to end things and see if that is for the better?

A. Dear Anonymous,
I think it is always better to try to talk things out with your
partner. How about you try to talk to him about what is going on
between the two of you and try to listen when he responds. Most
of all, refuse to get into an argument with him. Arguing is
often one way to avoid dealing with the real issues, so if you
refuse to be pulled into an argument, you might just have a
chance to get to the truth.
~Your Relationship Coach

**Featured Question**
Q: I'm just at the point of bringing a new email "relationship"
to the next level of an actual date. Any tips on making our
first encounter work? Or tips in general?

A. Dear Anonymous,
I would like to offer you some tips for meeting people online
and then dating them. Specifically, it is important to remember
that meeting someone online is different than meeting people
during the course of everyday life. Therefore, relationships
formed online need special handling while you get to know each

1. If you meet someone online and either feel chemistry or
think there may be a potential, set up an in-person meeting.

I suggest you do this sooner rather than later, as soon as
possible in fact. You want to really meet the person and perhaps
form a relationship with him or her, and not form a relationship
with his or her online persona only. No matter how honest and
forthright a person is, you cannot fully experience someone
while solely interacting online - you only get a one-dimensional
take. Too many times I have seen people falling in love online
or by email, only to meet and find out they are not very

2. Have low expectations and see if you can be detached from
the outcome of the first meeting.

It is stressful to meet someone new, even more stressful if you
have gotten to know each other in the artificial environment of
online dating. Don't add to either of your discomfort by having
huge expectations about how things will turn out. See if you can
allow for chemistry, perhaps a relationship. But if not, allow
for friendship or some other significant connection.

3. Stay safe during the meeting.

This almost goes without saying, but I will say it anyway. Meet
this new person in a well-populated public place only, and
remain in the public place for the entire date. If there are
more dates with this person, meet in public place until the two
of you really get to know each other. And while you are out on
these dates, have your cell phone with you, have a back up plan
to take care of yourself and let a close friend or family member
know where you are and who you are with.

4. If you meet online first, then meet in person and like each
other, you still need plenty of time to establish the

When everything goes right and the person you met online turns
out to be just the person you like/want/are attracted to, still
take time to get to know each other in everyday, real life. As
far as I can tell from coaching hundreds of singles, the biggest
predictor of a successful relationship is the amount of time a
couple takes to get to know each other, in person. In other
words, if you take three months of real life dating to get to
know each other, you are more likely to have a successful
relationship than if you got to know each other mostly online,
or if you jumped into a relationship quickly.

5. Do not get physically intimate until you know each other in
real life.

To follow up on the above, the second biggest predictor of a
successful relationship, as far as I can see, is establishing
intimacy slowly. Really, there is nothing wrong with sex between
consenting adults, except that it creates a false sense of
intimacy. Once you sleep with someone, you will often feel close
and endearing toward each other. You will tend to overlook
incompatibilities, which may otherwise make this relationship a
"no go." Unfortunately, this sense of intimacy will last at the
outmost for about 3 months, at which point all things you could
not see or refused to see in the beginning will reveal
themselves. It's better to see things as they are at the start
and have a choice about whether or not to go forward with the

Your Relationship Coach,
Rinatta Paries

(c) Rinatta Paries, 1998-2002. Do you know how to attract your
ideal mate? Do you know how to build a fulfilling relationship,
or how to reinvent yours to meet your needs? Relationship Coach
Rinatta Paries can teach you the skills and techniques to
attract and sustain long-term, healthy partnerships. Visit where you'll find quizzes, classes, advice
and a free weekly ezine. Become a "true love magnet(tm)!"

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