Mitch Darnell offers advice on personal matters to readers. Contact Mitch with your questions via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mitch Darnell, MA
Inspiration Wedding Officiant
I’ve been dating my current boyfriend for almost three years now, living together for the past 14 months. Over the past six months, however, I’m noticing I’m getting kind of turned by some of the things “Steve” and I fight about… and I’m having major feelings for my best friend “Joe”!
I’ve told Steve about my feelings for Joe, hoping he’d get why I’m feeling alienated from Steve. Steve’s sadness at learning about my feelings for Joe moved me – I truly care for this man after three years, Mitch… But Steve wants to be a photographer and a childrens’ books writer. Joe has the drive for something more, and I want a family man and someone who can contribute financially.
I’ve told Joe I love him, and I spend tons of time with Joe because he treats me better than Steve ever has. But, I worry about Steve. He’s not too social, and if he’s not with me, he doesn’t seem like the type to date again. At least Joe can find someone else later.
Please help! I’ve been pondering this for the past six months!
Foolish & Fretting
I bet a lot of your friends have been in this spot!!
When we’re feeling overwhelmed and struggling to sort through “stuff”, best to break it down into manageable pieces…
° Take that D-E-E-E-E-P breath… And a couple more… Then…
° Pretend you’re looking at three people you don’t know. Allow none of them to be “bad”; all to be “normal people trying to find their way through life”!
° Write down what, for you, are the elements of a “good relationship”… Maybe include: Trust, Affection, Commitment to stick with it; fun; good sex… - Whatever are truly important to YOU!
° Are you finding that, when you and Steve are both present (not off spending lots of time with another love interest) those elements are/were present?
• If Steve & you did have those elements, time to first look at yourself for “what happened”… Maybe, deep down, you really always knew that Steve wasn’t “the right one”…
• If Steve & you didn’t have those elements, time to first look at yourself for “why did I accept that”? Maybe you just needed to have a little fun back then, or maybe you weren’t ready for “the real thing”!
• Don’t seek a “right” or “wrong” person in this. Seek insight into yourself – your motivations, needs, expectations and values.
° You know deep down that you’re not giving the relationship with Steve what it needs to succeed by carrying on with Joe.
° BOTH Joe and Steve will live without you! They get to make choices about any loss of relationship with you, and about their lives. You’re only responsible for your actions in and out of the relationship(s)!
° Examine what “LOVE” is to you… What’s “unconditional love”.. “commitment”..?
… You’ll have your answers if you truly take those steps!.. You’ve started the process to learn here – don’t step out – STAY ENGAGED IN YOUR LIFE!
~ Namasté ~
My friend recently was dumped by his girlfriend. According to him they talked it out and they agreed to still be close but not have a sexual relationship. I asked whether or not he’d still want to be in this relationship if she (most likely) finds another boyfriend, and is sexually active with him. He said yes!
The circumstances of this situation are still somewhat unclear to me, because he promised her he wouldn’t tell anyone about them breaking up. And, he makes ambiguous comments such as, “I’ve got to accept the fact that I’ve been replaced!” He said this even before they broke up, which makes me think she cheated on him. He says they “talked it out”, and that he still wants to be close with her.
I’m his friend, and he was open to support, but I don’t think this is a healthy relationship for him to be in because it looks like he’s going to have trouble moving on. It almost seems to me like she just said she wanted to be close so that he doesn’t act out.
He’s obviously really torn by being disengaged. Is this a healthy relationship?
Friend Trying To Help
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Hard to find something... when you don’t know what it is!
Maybe this IS OK for him! Any chance you’re projecting YOUR intentions, hopes, or fears onto your friend?! Alright, so you’ve contracted (verbally, spiritually… somehow) to caretake for your friend a little! Hey, we all need at least one friend who cares!..
It’s hard to discern what’s truly happening in any relationship because, even in our own relationships, we’re never aware of 100% of the facts! Meanwhile, these ambiguous tidbits suggest your friend’s confused, don’t they? Is this a “boyfriend-girlfriend” relationship now? A “we both feel we’re better friends than lovers” deal?
¤ The first thing I’d do is ask your friend what the definition/title of the relationship is. Does he still feel she’s his “girlfriend”?
» If he DOES say she’s still his “girlfriend”, then what’s his definition of that?! If “girlfriend” means “my buddy who’s available for intimate relationships with other people”, then we have a match! “Healthy”? Well, not if he truly wants what most of us expect out of a “girlfriend”!
» “No, NOT a girlfriend anymore”? Then, what IS she? “Buddy Pal I Used To Date, But I Don’t Care She’s Moved On”?!
¤ As your friend talks, watch to see if his title & definition of the new relationship match his behaviors and emotional appearance. Does he act upset about the circumstances? If he seems to be cool & calm & says he’s moved onto being her “friend”, there is a chance they are on the same page, and that may be healthy for him!
… Yet you could be worried because he’s truly not acknowledging this deal’s not good for him! Intuitively, you may have a clearer picture than the person caught up in the relationship…
He says he’s “been replaced” – If so, why’s he standing around to watch the next episode of this drama? Confirmation that he’s “not worthy”? To try to “make some sense of it”?
Whatever your friend’s seeking… it’s NOT found hanging around his ex! It’s within his own heart! No person can ever be “replaced”. Something’s not there for these two to remain boyfriend/girlfriend. What’s been replaced is what he thought they had together. Now, what’ll he replace that with?
It sounds to me like he’s looking toward her post-relationship life to replace something in him. Healthier for him might be:
a. Pulling away from her, and going through the grieving process – honoring the end of the relationship…
b. Identify what it is he truly needs in a good romantic relationship! Starting with: one where he doesn’t have to promise to “not tell anyone” about what’s going on…
c. Determine his lessons from this relationship, so he can be himself, truly be her friend, be present to others in his life (like you), and be receptive for his next romantic relationship!... Stay involved in HIS LIFE!
Spiritually, your friend and this woman contracted to learn lessons from each other. Either they’re done with their contract in this lifetime, or there’s more to do in a different phase. He has a glorious opportunity here to learn, and your support to inspire him. It’s time he stop emotionally stalking his past!
~ Namasté ~
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I need your help. I was raised in the Catholic Church, but I’m no longer Catholic, or even spiritual. My wife was raised an Athiest, and we’re comfortable with our decision not to belong to, or raise our children with, a religion. The problems come from my parents.
My parents disapprove of our belief and show disregard for our decisions. They disapproved of my marriage outside the church, and they strongly opposed our decision to not baptize our children. Despite our repeated requests to respect our decision, my parents try to incorporate religion into my family! They give my family religious gifts (like our ever-growing, never-displayed nativity scene). Every Sunday, they call and invite us to church. We can’t leave our children with my parents because they are receiving conflicting messages.
I don’t want to sever ties with my parents, Mitch, as I appreciate everything else about them. However, we’re rapidly approaching a point of no return. What can we do to help my parents respect our beliefs and our decisions?
Amazed at This
George Burns said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city”!
So, juggling conflicting family roles!...
• Your prime responsibility: powerful unity with your wife, establishing and maintaining a powerful foundation for your marriage and for your childrens’ future.
• Communicating – Keeping “on the same page” with your wife – empowering your decisions, and your communication with your parents. If your parents can see you and your wife as strong, they may feel you have what they want for you, and drop the proselytizing!
• If you haven’t already, please acknowledge your parents for the fact that they care enough to eagerly advocate for… well, whatever they’re advocating for.
• Once you’ve determined the role of extended family like your parents, you may wish to sit them down and explain that in your nuclear family, you and your wife have established your values, and that your parents gave you core values which you honor in your marriage family (credit your parents for teaching/modeling some values you can name).
• Explain to your parents that you and your wife feel uncomfortable with the constant messages about their religion, and that this makes you feel alienated from your parents, and unable to trust that they’re supportive of what you want for your family.
My friend, you can only learn and speak your truth. What your parents do with it is their choice. Hopefully, they want you to have a marriage and family grounded in good values and love, versus needing to enroll you in their religion. They may make it evident that your family’s strength and happiness is secondary to their need to enroll…
Your charge is your current and the younger generation – Live consciously, and listen with your heart ~
~ Namasté ~