Featured Short Letter

This Week - Finis

I'm in my 40s, never been married, with long-term relationships over the years and casual dating in between. My current eight year relationship has evolved into a state of inertia. While I've done it all—dating services, personal ads, fix-ups, taking classes, hobbies, you name it—the One just hasn't shown up.

Oh yeah, one or two made me feel the earth move and the angels sing, but in the end, it never worked out. My best chance occurred when I was 25. He was 45, and I've never met any man since who was as kind, funny, intelligent, or honest. But he felt our age was a problem. I would want children, and he already had two of his own.

Here I am, almost 20 years later, no marriage, no children. His old assertion makes me laugh when I look back on it, but I guess he had his reasons. I am physically attractive, educated, own a business, and love to learn. My current relationship has been nice, but he isn't as mentally stimulating as I would prefer.

I think I know the answer, but would love to hear your version. It's either not in my future, or I have to be open for the one to show up. I read the book The Law of Attraction, and maybe I need to be more positive and create a better environment for him to appear.

My current boyfriend knows the state of my feelings, and is okay keeping things as they are. He knows we are never getting married. I can only marry if I truly believe the man is the love of my life. There's just no compromise for me in that area. Should I break up, or remain in a holding pattern?

Kari

Kari, a ship tied to the wrong dock can't get under way.

A woman in a relationship walks around with the aura of a woman in a relationship. She knows who she is spending the weekend with. In addition, her friends don't think of her as single. It may feel awkward to introduce her to someone, and if her friends like her boyfriend, they won't want to hurt him.

Looking outside a relationship damages your character and puts doubts in the mind of others. The right sort of man doesn't want a woman who is looking while in a committed relationship. A relationship is not an exchange of goods and services.

You have to be actually open, so the other person can sense that, feel that, and know there is a place for him. Thinking positive thoughts is great, but positive thought without action goes nowhere. You can't think yourself into physical fitness or a college degree.

Look at how much would drop away if you were available. Your present relationship is over. You just need to do the "over" part.

Wayne & Tamara

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Last Week - Speed Dating

I am a 19-year-old college freshman who has never been married. I am actually dating my first boyfriend, but that is by choice, because I never wanted to be a part of the high school drama scene. I wanted a mature relationship that transcended all that.

However, I seem to have gotten myself far too deeply into something I am not ready for. I have been dating my boyfriend for almost three months. He's 21, and we get along wonderfully. I am not his first girlfriend, but the first girlfriend he "really wanted."

Just a few days into our relationship, he told me he loved me, and kept saying it, though I never responded in kind. After four weeks, I did finally tell him I loved him. I thought I meant this. However, since then, he's come to mention quite often plans for the future. Plans such as marriage after we both finish college, children, names for those children, and more.

I am not ready for this. I cannot definitely say I want to spend the rest of my life with him, though he is completely enamored with me. I'm also worried, because I have not known how to respond, and in saying nothing, I believe he has read my assent.

I am truly scared I've led him on. This is not something I can accept of myself, since I honestly do care for him. I don't want to hurt him, but I will continue to lead him on if I don't say anything.

Bobbi

Bobbi, ancient artists drawing on cave walls didn't sign their work. They couldn't because they didn't have a written language. Instead they put their hand against the cave wall, took color in their mouth, and blew. The outline of their hand is the mark they left for us.

Lovers also leave a mark—on each other. When your boyfriend said "I love you," he put his mark on you. When you said it back to him, you put your mark on him, even though you had your doubts. The problem with marks is, if love isn't there on both sides, then the relationship has missed the mark.

In sociology there is a term called the "norm of social reciprocity." That simply means we feel obligated to give back to others what they give to us. It's called a norm because if we violate it, if we don't give back, we feel we have done something wrong.

When social reciprocity involves sharing or being polite, there is nothing wrong with it. But it has a dark side. It can be used to take advantage of us. When your boyfriend kept saying "I love you," it created the expectation that you had to say it back to him. Eventually you succumbed.

"I love you" is also an implied promise. It says I will behave in certain ways toward you, now and in the future. Since people are supposed to stick to promises, you feel bad about pulling back now. But if you don't, you will grow weaker as a person, and farther from your true feelings.

You went to college to learn things, and one of the most valuable things you can learn is how to say no. You have a chance, through your education, to secure your future. That is an opportunity many young women don't have. So grab that brass ring and put it in your pocket, knowing that economic freedom gives a woman the power to make wise decisions all of her life.

One of the marks of maturity is the ability to do the right thing, even though it is a hard thing. We totally understand not wanting to trifle with another, but if your boyfriend has moved too far forward, that's on him. The norm of social reciprocity is no substitute for the mark of genuine love.

Wayne & Tamara

Send letters to: DirectAnswers@WayneAndTamara.com


Two Weeks Ago - Buckle Up

I am a married woman in my 40s. Through the years I've thought about the first guy I ever loved. We met in college when I was 18 and he was 20. We loved each other, but I was young and scared of commitment, so I kept running away from him and our relationship. Through the years, I've often fantasized about what might have been.

A few weeks ago I located him on a website and wrote him a letter. I said I still think about him and wonder how he is. I did tell him that I'm happily married, but wonder what might have been.

He wrote back and told me he's glad I'm happily married. He's also married, and he wrote about his life, career, and family. He said he has to admit he's also wondered what might have been. He wrote that given the place and time we're both at, he doesn't see anything wrong with two old friends catching up and corresponding.

Is it okay for us to continue writing to each other, or is this just asking for trouble?

Suree

Suree, there's a difference between thinking you might rob a bank and reconnoitering banks. Idle thoughts are one thing, but real people—and real banks—are another.

You've taken a step toward bringing a fantasy into the world. What's next? Chatting on the phone, exchanging photos, finding a shoulder to cry on? If your husband catches you, will you tell him you had a legitimate reason—closure—to contact this man. He may buy that, but we aren't.

If your marriage is that happy, why would there be thoughts for another man? You've checked off a box on a form in your head which allows you to move forward, but your husband and his wife haven't seen the form, much less checked off the box.

We tell ourselves lies, and the lie that goes with this man is "we are just old friends." You aren't. You were two people who were sexually attracted to each other. Sexual attraction sparked the contact, and the element of friendship didn't survive that.

There is a reason we don't vacation in a war zone and a reason we fasten our seatbelt. We want to be safe. But you are taking off the seatbelt on your marriage. You wrote because you are pretty sure you've already stepped over the line.

If there is a big enough gap in your life for another man, deal with that first.

Wayne & Tamara

Send letters to: DirectAnswers@WayneAndTamara.com