Dear John: I have been dating “Mike” for seven months now. I couldn't be happier, except that we sometimes have trouble communicating. Perhaps it could be that I have very high expectations when it comes to people reading me and knowing when I am upset or troubled. With Mike, I sometimes feel that my feelings are overlooked. Is it too much to ask that a person you have been with for seven months have a keen sense of when something is wrong, or should it always be my responsibility to address issues, potentially causing me to seem like a bother? The last thing I want is to be a nagging girlfriend.
— Communication Skills Needed, in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Dear Skills Needed: The top complaint women have in relationships is, “I don't feel heard.” Commonly, a woman will ask a man: “Do you hear me?” and her partner will respond by repeating what she just said. But her use of the word “hear” really means “understand.”
So that you don't have to repeat yourself several times in the hope of reaching him, try making your point differently. For example, don't say, “I hate my job” and then launch into a list of things that went wrong. Instead, say, “I want to tell you about my day. I just want you to listen. Thanks for being here for me.”
Men in a loving relationship learn over time how to interpret a woman's feelings. Still, it's great to have some direction from his partner. Tell him when you want his opinion, or when you prefer to just have his attention. It may take more than seven months for him to learn Venusian and you to get more adept at understanding your Martian, but it will happen, so be patient.
Dear John: I have been dating “Don” for four years. Now he is getting ready to buy a house. Although we are both 23, there is no doubt in my mind that we are meant for each other. However, I am nervous about my boundaries in his new house. We've discussed it, and he has told me that the day he closes, I am moving in, too. I couldn't be more anxious and excited. I don't work because I'm still in school, so I am concerned he will one day soon say, “This is MY house, I pay the bills, so you will ...” He's already done that on a few occasions. How do I ensure that this will not be an issue between us?
— House Guest Cautions, in Roswell, Ga.
Dear Cautious: Early twenty-something relationships have a high failure rate. Still, given that you two have put four years into your relationship, I think it's more than reasonable for you and Don to have certain expectations at this stage of your relationship, and so do you. Now is the time to clarify what these are. What are Don's future plans? What are yours? Are you roommates, lovers or both?
If he agrees with you that this moving in may mean marriage in the future, then the “I pay the bills” line is an unfair card for him to play because he knows the limitations of your current situation. If the plan is for you to pay for part of the expenses later on when you have finished school, come to an understanding about that now. Clear expectations lead to fewer misunderstandings later on. Good things are possible when you both play by the same rules.
2012 John Gray's Mars Venus Advice. Distributed by Creators Syndicate. 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.