Time to Fall in Love Yet?
Q: I've been dating this guy who has two kids with another woman. I'm really starting to have strong feelings for him. He tells me that he has no feelings towards his kids' mom and that he wants to have a serious relationship with me. But I wonder why he would want to take me serious if he didn't take his kids' mom seriously? He assures me all the time that he really wants to be with me and that I'm the girl he has been looking for. I know that it's too fast, so I'm not opening up too much towards him because I don't want to get hurt. He knows that I don't trust him and he is always letting me know where he is and what he is doing, which I know he really shouldn't be doing. My question is should I take him seriously and open up to him??? -- Alex, 18
Dr. Susan: It's not always possible to make a conscious decision to let yourself fall in love. You seem to be able to hold back at least some of your feelings, which to my thinking is a very good thing. This fellow is rushing you into a serious relationship that could end up hurting you badly. I don't mind that he's going all out to get you to trust him by telling you where he is at all times, but that doesn't mean he's dependable in the long run. The only thing that will assure you of that is time, and more time. The fact that he's already got two kids (count 'em: one, two), but wasn't married to their mom and has (had?) no feelings for her, should give you pause. Now, the flip side of all this is that if you don't open up to someone emotionally, you can't begin to develop a genuine relationship.
My advice, then, consists of two parts. Be as emotionally honest with him as you can bear to be. And expect the same from him, including details about his life with his ex and their kids. That will require an amount of "opening up" to him. Part 2: Don't have unprotected sex with him. Preferably, for now, don't have sex with him at all. You absolutely don't want to risk derailing your plans for your life by having a kid with this guy until you're in a fully committed permanent relationship. Oh, and you can tell him that although you may be the girl he's been looking for, what's much more important is whether he's prepared to make a go of a relationship, even when you don't always feel like his dream girl.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.