I just started dating a guy who is really great. He’s smart, stable, has a great sense of humor, and knows how to treat me. We’ve been dating for about two weeks and have seen each other about eight times for long dates (that usually end with us getting a little physical). Even though I love spending time with him, I still feel like I’m on the fence about him. Things keep springing up about him that make me wonder if I’m actually falling for him. Insignificant things like his chin and his video gaming habit. My friends bring up other minute less-than-stellar qualities about him and tell me that if I’m on the fence still, I must not be into him. I’m a pretty cautious person. I’m 21 and still new to dating. Is that nagging feeling telling me I shouldn’t be with him or is it normal to not be head over heels for a new beau? — On the Fence.
Right off the bat, I’d say your best bet is to keep the guy but dump your friends. Seriously, what’s wrong with your pals that they’re dissing your date, a guy you say is “really great”? Unless they have reason to worry about your physical well-being or if the “minute, less-than-stellar qualities” they’re pointing out aren’t actually minute, but bigger dealbreakers like misogyny or racism, my guess is they’re jealous you’re seeing someone smart, funny, and stable who knows how to treat a lady.
My question for you is: why are you in such a hurry to figure out how you feel about this guy? It’s only been two weeks. It takes time — months, usually — to establish a connection with someone and decide whether you might have a future together. You’re enjoying spending time together, right? So, what’s the problem? Keep enjoying his company and sooner or later, you’ll feel in your heart whether this is someone you want to keep dating or if he’s more of a friend than a romantic connection. Are you seriously going to throw away a potential relationship because you aren’t in love with the guy’s chin? Really? You know, when I wrote that dealbreaker post yesterday, I have to admit I was astonished by some of the things I discovered people were willing to dump people over. You’d think common interests, compatibility, and shared values would take precedence over the type of jeans a guy wore or whether he came home with frozen cod after sending him to the grocery store. (Full disclosure: I’m honestly not sure what’s so wrong with frozen cod. Would frozen salmon have been better?). A chin is just a step away from the frozen cod in my book. So inconsequential, it’s pretty laughable.
What if, instead of focusing on these stupid little things about your new guy that you admittedly call “insignificant,” you pay attention to the larger details, like how you feel when you’re with him and what you think about him when you’re not. Does he give you butterflies? Are you happy when your cell rings and it’s a call from him? Do you find yourself talking about him when he’s not around (if you’re talking about him too much, maybe that’s where some of your friends’ resentment stems … )? The answers to all of these questions are a far more important measure of your true feelings than what you think of his chin or what dumb stuff your friends say behind his back. Give this guy and the relationship a chance before you go breaking things off. If you’re looking to change anything, though, I’d suggest cutting back a little on the amount of time you spend together. Eight “long” dates in just two weeks? Give yourself a little time to miss the guy — and for him to miss you. It’s amazing how just a tad more distance can bring your perspective into much clearer focus.
I’m a 27-year-old man who’s been married for almost five years. We bought a house in the suburbs last year and recently my wife expressed interest in attending one of the numerous nearby churches. As a happily lapsed Catholic, I have zero interest in attending any church of any kind, ever (especially in an area where most church signs read “evangelical”). Going to church used to be an important part of my wife’s life but it fell by the wayside several years ago. She says she wants to start attending again to try and become a better person (less of a complainer, less gossipy, less resentful of annoying people, etc.) more than for scripture and communion but I have to believe there are other ways to go about it. I love how we spend our Sunday mornings now, i.e. drinking coffee, talking, listening to music and planning the day’s activities. Spending them in a church I don’t care about while listening to a message I don’t believe in seems like a waste of time, though obviously she would not feel the same way were she to find a church she liked. This hasn’t become a big issue yet but I’d love some advice on how to nip it in the bud before it does. — Lapsed Catholic
Easy: you stay home drinking coffee, listening to music and doing anything else you wish you had more solo time to pursue while your wife checks out churches on her own. Just because she has a renewed interest in spending her Sunday mornings in prayer and fellowship, doesn’t mean you have to. But if you can’t stand being apart for an hour or two each Sunday, why don’t you suggest other activities you can enjoy together that will nurture her desire to “be a better person.” Volunteer at a pet shelter together, visit retirees in a nursing home, plant trees in a park. Think about interests the two of you share and how you can use those interests to “give back.” If it’s the spiritual component of church that’s drawing her in, why not explore alternative ways to feed the soul that don’t aggravate your lapsed Catholicism as much as attending church might. Try yoga together, go for a hike (nature is as holy a place for some people as church is for others), take a meditation class. But if your wife decides that church is where it’s at for her, it’d be less trouble to just support her than figure out how to change her. It’s an hour or two a week (if she even goes every week); if it makes her feel better, what’s the real harm?
*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.