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.
Dear John: My boyfriend “Ron” and I have a great relationship. Our only problem is his ex, who is also the mother of his children. She will not let him go, and insists that I stole him from her. If I try to talk to her, she only wants to fight, which I feel is silly because we are both grown women. Ron feels it is not his problem and does not want to do anything to improve the situation. I think maybe he should give her closure on this issue.
— Hoping to Do the Right Thing, in Daytona, Fla.
Dear Hoping: Ron walked out of her life. This action spoke volumes to his ex, and at this point in time, anything he says to her will only add more pain to that wound.
She is angry and bitter. Until she chooses to address these feelings, all of you — Ron, his children, his ex and you — will feel her pain as well. Sure, you might find it comforting if Ron set her straight, but you should know that he is reluctant to confront her on her treatment of you because he wants to keep his relationship civil most likely because of the kids.
This may not be pleasant for you, but that is the reality of your relationship right now. If you and Ron are meant to be together, think of this as a test of your love, and do your best not to make him feel as if he must choose between the two of you.
John Gray is the author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” If you have a question, write John in care of this newspaper, or by Email at: www.marsvenus.com. All questions are kept anonymous, and will be paraphrased.