Dear John: I am a 34-year-old man. Through the Internet, I met “Anna,” an intriguing 33-year-old woman. We hit it off, and our first date ended up being a three-day date.
It's been six months now, and we've had our growing pains with trust and communication. Unfortunately, our arguments have grown more frequent over time. She does little things that annoy me, like leaving food or clothes all over the place. Also, she likes to joke, but when I joke back, it seems like she doesn't like it.
Today I was to meet her at her house, and then we were going out to grab some dinner. Unfortunately, she was late getting home. I would have appreciated a courtesy phone call from her so that way I wouldn't have had to rush, but apparently that was too much to expect. We are both stubborn and sensitive, and it's obvious that we both have some pent-up anger over these issues. We have tried talking things out, but nothing seems to work.
— Failing in Love, in Charleston, S.C.
Dear Failing: Dating has five stages: attraction, uncertainty, exclusivity, intimacy and engagement. Despite the fact that you leapt into stages three and four at that start, it sounds as if you are both truly stuck in stage two, uncertainty.
If you both want this to work out, do yourselves a favor and put on the brakes. That means focusing on the things that attracted you to each other in the first place. These traits will help you see beyond petty annoyances to the potential you have as a couple. Then you can be honest with each other as to what bothers you, and set ground rules. Love begins with promise, but successful long-term relationships are built on compromise.