Problem Point: Why Do Some Men Cheat? 

Image by Tumisu

Question: Elaine, why do some men cheat when they have a good woman? Are they never satisfied with what they have?

Answer. Obviously, we know that women cheat, too. But as the question refers to men personally, and statistics prove they are the main culprit in this action, they will be dealt with here.

First, people cheat for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it is simply because they can do it, or the opportunity is available. But cheating is done primarily by three types of men: 

a. those with low self-esteem

b. those who are unhappy at home and 

c. those who are afraid of commitment and are seeking ‘fun’.

Low Self Esteem,
Cheating tends to be done by men with mixed, conflicting, or weak values. They are not firm in their commitment or in their identity of themselves, neither are they sure of what they really want in life. They tend to have low self-esteem and a lack of trust in others. No matter how ‘good’ or faithful the partner is, having one woman is seldom enough. In their eyes, there is always someone better outside. Perhaps being deprived of expressive love when they were younger, particularly from their mothers, there is always a doubt in their minds as to how worthy they are to women. Add to that, the competitive nature of their world, where they are always trying to impress their peers, and the usual answer is also to try to impress as many women as they can to uplift their feelings of self-worth, regardless of the quality of life at home. But that merely causes heartache for the chosen women, while reinforcing the men’s low self-esteem as ‘bad’ guys or ‘bastards’ in a never-ending circle.

The serial philanderer is marked by a strong desire to ‘prove’ something, though he is not quite sure what that is. However, it is usually about his virility, control of women, or ability to attract women. Men who go from one woman to another are also the worst at having that done to them, always feeling indignant at their women daring to fancy someone else because that is all part of what they are trying to prove, that they are the best lovers. Yet they are likely to be very poor lovers because it is always about them, no one else, and so they tend to take instead, finding it very difficult to truly give of themselves.

Image by Sam Williams 

Unhappy Men
Married men, and those in long term relationships, cheat mainly because they believe that having a short-term affair will temporarily resolve any problems they have at home and prevent them from ‘hurting’ anyone long term. The fact that their partner is already being hurt by their lack of attention and affection – and being prevented from finding love, too – does not seem to come into the picture. There are three problems with this approach. 

First, it stops the major conflicts in the relationship being acknowledged, explored and addressed. Second, it makes the situation worse because any liaison only proves starkly what is already missing at home, especially sexually. Third, it deliberately ignores the fact that the man is taking his affections elsewhere which begs the question: How does giving one’s self to someone else shows love and affection for the person left at home and, above all, accord her due respect for her love and support?

Finally, men in unhappy relationships stray through a conflict of perception. What their women perceive that men want from them might not be necessarily what those men actually desire, and women seldom seek to find out because they are afraid of the answers! So after the honeymoon period is over, when their heartfelt desires haven’t been fulfilled, spouses soon seek it elsewhere. In the meantime the women who are affected turn on the men and blame them for their ‘bad’ behaviour instead of looking into themselves to see where they have missed a connection and, at worse, getting out of their demoralising situation. 

It is always easier to vilify others because it stops us looking at ourselves, but women aren’t tied to philandering men. They can actually make a life for themselves on their terms by CHOOSING to act differently. Each person is responsible for their lives. It is fear which keeps them stuck while they wait in vain for the men to change.

Fearing Commitment
The next major group of ‘cheating’ men are the ones who fear commitment. They want a ‘secure’ home, with all the trimmings, one they can return to at the end of the day, but they do not like to perceive themselves as ‘married’ or long-term partners, stuck to one person. They like to keep their options open and so they seek ‘fun’, which carries the implication that marriage, or being in a relationship, is ‘serious’ business so one has to get the fun outside! They miss the supreme irony that if they are in a really great relationship, it would be automatic in fun and enjoyment because any relationship is supposed to make them happy. Not make them feel so terrible that they need to have ‘fun’ elsewhere. This category also contains ageing men who are worried about getting older and believe that starting again with someone else, usually someone younger, will give them a new lease of life and make them feel better, while they preserve the status quo at home to ensure the benefits from both sides.

Image by Victoria Model

Women as ‘Victims’
I believe women also condone such cheating by their behaviour in sustaining it through fear of the consequences of their own reaction, and the pay-off they get from having the men with them. Women who put up with such soul-destroying behaviour by constantly ‘forgiving’ the offenders, have no self-love or respect either. They are prepared to forgive for their own benefit, too. There is always some pay-off for doing that, otherwise they would not be living in denial hoping the men will change, when only self-change guarantees real alteration in such situations. 

Many times it is also to ‘punish’ the men for their actions, but they only end up punishing themselves through ongoing bitterness, resentment and pain, while becoming less attractive in the process! Negativity only destroys, it doesn’t build anything. So if your man is a serial philanderer, you really are only hurting yourself and need to get out of there. Everyone is entitled to a second chance. But if he is on his third affair, he has had two chances too many, and will merely continue doing it because your continued acceptance teaches him that he can get away with it.

Women in these situations usually believe that they ‘love’ the men who perpetuate such gross disrespect to them, and they are loved in return. But it has nothing to do with love. Love does not seek to hurt. Love appreciates, is unconditional, and at its heart is respect for the individual. Where there is no respect for a person and their feelings, there is no love. And wherever someone will continually put up with something that is detrimental to him/herself, while they keep blaming another for their predicament, you will find firm evidence of the absence of their own self-love and respect. 

There will also be the deep-seated belief that they do not deserve anything better. They are likely to believe that their man, as ‘bad’ as he is, will be the only one to love them. And so they stay put, trying to ‘love’ their partner, while dying inside from exclusion, hurt and neglect. Yet only they have the power to change their situation by seeing it for what it really is: simple, relentless emotional abuse which will damage them in the end.



Problem Point: How Do I Get My Girlfriend To Respect Me?

Photo by Courtney Kammers

Q. My girlfriend doesn’t think she “disses” me, but I can’t get her to understand what respect is. She thinks of it as courtesy. When we are together, we do the things she wants to do, even though I have told her plenty of times about this. I often wonder why she will not talk about her feelings to me, unless she is angry at someone. I feel very close to her when she does cry about something in my presence. I get so frustrated when we just have sex and there is no “pillow talk”–and then she will want to play Scrabble, or watch a movie. Have you any ideas how I can get her to recognise what respect is?

A. I don’t promise to have all the answers, because it is difficult forming opinions when one is judging from only one side of a situation, mainly your perspective. However, I’ll simply raise some scenarios, purely from a woman’s perspective, and see if they help in any way. A few things leapt out of your query and I’ll use these as examples.

1. “We do the things she wants to do even though I have told her plenty of times about this.”

You shouldn’t be just TELLING partners what to do, but negotiating a compromise. Only controllers dictate and expect people to follow. If you merely tell her what to do and leave her to act, or constantly complain about her efforts, she will keep doing what she has always done just to defy or punish you, especially if she puts her needs first. What you also don’t realise, is that when you do what she wants, and then tell her you don’t like it, you are reinforcing the very thing you dislike. Of course, it is harder to change it then. The time to express your feelings is BEFORE you both do it, then either join in on mutually agreeable terms, or not at all.

You have two choices here. Either to sit down together and have some genuine, calm dialogues about what makes you both happy, and mentioning how you feel excluded and undervalued at such moments when she merely pleases herself. Then negotiate some sort of compromise so that you BOTH get what you want as often as possible. OR you simply stop agreeing with her actions for a while, don’t try to please her or join in, and see what she does.

Photo by JD Mason

2. “I often wonder why she will not talk about her feelings to me, unless she is angry at someone.”

Often when people stop talking, or appear angry, it is because they feel they are not being heard and are festering with resentment, but lack the courage to say how they really feel. Your girlfriend seems to be keeping talking to a minimum because she probably does not find the process satisfactory, enjoyable or endearing. Instead she deliberately engages in activities which give few opportunities for talking and is also silent in bed (perhaps as a form of punishment for the way she feels). I am not sure how long you have been together, but something seems to have gone in the communication aspect and would need some genuine LISTENING on both sides to get it back.

They say we cannot truly love another until we love ourself. The same with respect. We cannot expect it if we don’t give it, neither can respect be demanded. It has to be earned, too. So the first path towards getting your girlfriend to recognise respect and to treat you accordingly is to do some self-examination of your way of giving respect because the ability to say NO is as important as saying YES.

3. How much do you really treat her with respect? How much does she feel valued and respected for her contributions and opinions? How equal is the partnership? Do you just notice her weaknesses and flaws with little praise for other things?

4. You say that when she cries you feel very close to her. Is it because she is more vulnerable then and more easy to control? You then feel more in charge and less threatened, more protective as the ‘man’? What about closeness at other times? Do you feel as close when she is not crying? If not, why not? Do you feel ‘useless’ at those times? 

Those questions need answering because, if you perceive your girlfriend to have a strong personality or independence, some men can find that difficult to deal with as it threatens their feeling of value, status and even their identity, especially if they have specific cultural references relating to how men and women should act. However, apart from getting her to read my reply, you cannot teach someone about respect. They have to FEEL they want to give it because it usually comes naturally when we truly care about someone and feel at one with them.

As I said, it is difficult for me to advise when I do not know your situation from both sides. Nevertheless, it is surprising what a little bit of listening rather than just telling can achieve. You might not hear what you want to hear, but at least it will provide some clues as to the root causes and also how you can both begin to remedy the situation. Or, more ominously, it could be that either one, or both, of you has lost your appeal and, when that goes, sadly, it seldom comes back which then keeps respect at rock bottom. It sounds as though there is physical appeal between you, but no emotional bond, hence the lack of ‘pillow talk’. If that is the case, or if all else fails, you might have to let that one go and seek someone more affirming, respectful and reciprocal.


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What Causes a Person To Seem immature?

Maturity depends on personal development. The same person can seem immature at different stages of their life for a variety of factors relating to their situation, and the most common ones tend to be:

  1. Lack of experience, which leads to a narrow viewpoint, perhaps a refusal to accept the views of others due to this limited perspective, and being stuck at a specific point in time without really moving on.
  2. Lack of knowledge and general awareness about life. It is difficult to be mature without appropriate knowledge and information which tend to enhance intelligence.
  3. Lack of intelligence and the inability to grasp issues that other mature, experienced people might easily appreciate.
  4. A desire to act younger than they are in inappropriate contexts, like people who wish to imitate others instead of being themselves, or try to be what they are not to feel included and part of a specific group.
  5. Fear of being an adult with responsibilities. Staying at an immature level helps the person to feel secure without needing to feel anxious about anything they are not quite ready for.
  6. Being kept at an immature and childish level by parents who are reluctant to let go of their children, and who deny them access to adult knowledge, action and experience.

Maturity is basically an awareness of, and readiness for, required communication and action at each new stage of life. Thus the core of immaturity is ignorance of behaviour in a given context through lack of knowledge, information and experience, which can also include a desire to play the fool, or use excessive humour, to attract attention.


PREMIUM: 10 Tell-Tale Signs Of Low Self-Esteem

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Many people are not aware that they might have low self-esteem which could be hampering their desires and progress, because they lack awareness of the root causes of their mental and emotional health. But low self-esteem manifests itself in many ways, some of which are often suppressed by other aspects. However, the most significant ones are the following, in order of importance, and their ability to cause blockages, recurring unease, and even emotional damage:

  1. Guilt. The other side of this emotion is shame, which is usually associated with less confident people. Guilt tends to emerge from a feeling of impotence, especially regarding the inability to change a particular situation; and of not living up to the expectations of those who matter to us most. Extremes of guilt often show themselves as self-torture, seeing personal actions as unforgivable, imperfections as permanent, and believing improvement is impossible. Guilt is especially pronounced when there is hurt and betrayal in relationships, and in grieving for loved ones.

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PREMIUM: How Do I Get People To Like Me?

Photo by Helena Lopes

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This is a very common question because our greatest wish is to be ACCEPTED, especially for who we are, and our greatest fear is tone REJECTED and excluded because our innate feeling of belonging, and wanting to be included, is very powerful. Some people do have genuine difficulty getting others to like them, while others find it almost effortless.  If you are worried about whether people like you or not, or whether you are lovable or not, you have low self-esteem and place people’s approval of you above your own self-value. Not appreciating yourself, you hope people will like you to compensate for your own  lack of self-love. But the best way to get people to like you is to start with loving YOU. 

How do you feel about yourself at this moment? Do you really like what you see in the mirror? 

We all have the potential to be well liked right there within ourselves. It is just a matter of finding it and acting upon it, which is not that easy to do, because there is no magic way to make them like us. When you love yourself, that self-comfort is obvious to everyone else, which is likely to make them feel more comfortable around you, too. You are able to take people or leave them. You also do not depend on them for your approval, because you feel confident in who you are, regardless of who likes you. 

In fact, there are four sure ways of getting others to like and appreciate us more, and they start with the key one, self-love.

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I’m Heartbroken, How Do I Remind Myself That I’m Worthy?

Photo by Marah Bashir

Broken hearts are mainly caused by unfulfilment of expectations coupled with low self-esteem. Often we think so low of ourselves, we put our whole life in the hands of one person to get ‘happiness’ and when that happiness is withdrawn, the pain of losing it is too much to bear. We meet someone, we like them a lot, we come to trust them and believe in them, then start to weave our dreams and life around them, too. When they fail to conform to those expectations, we are often hugely disappointed and devastated.

It is natural to feel some loss when a relationship breaks up. But any break that causes us to feel really badly about ourselves, and lasts for too long, is self-inflicted. If we really love and value ourselves, everything in life – whether happiness or heartache – becomes part of our natural routine, nothing extraordinary, because life has two natural sides: good and bad, up and down, birth and death. We can’t have one without the other. Most of all nothing lasts forever. Everything is temporary. Accepting that fact is an important part of loving someone.

To mend a broken heart and restore your self-esteem has five stages:

First, take time out for you, while you slowly detach yourself from your lover. Often the hurt is prolonged because you still keep yourself in their orbit. Do NOT continue to be ‘friends’ until the hurt stops and you feel better. Make a complete detachment otherwise you will be constantly reminded of the situation, especially at the early vulnerable stage when the pain is worst.

Second, accept responsibility for your part in the break-up. Nothing is ever one-sided and only blaming the other person merely prolongs the pain. By acknowledging and addressing your part in the process, the grievance will be lessened even quicker because you won’t just be simply judging your mate on his/her actions, you will be addressing the quality of the relationship between you. The moment you put bitterness, resentment and anger above forgiveness or compassion is the minute your prolong your pain and agony, because all you will be thinking about are negative things that will make you feel even more inadequate and crappy.

Photo by Belinda Fewings

Speeding up the Healing Process
Third, reinforce your self-love because you will feel unwanted and undesirable at this time, hence why you feel less ‘worthy’. It is easy to believe that no one will want you anymore, that you are no longer attractive and you will not find another relationship like that. But to love and be loved, you have to love yourself first. You cannot give away love if you have none for yourself. Nurturing your self-love is crucial to mending a broken heart quickly because you will chalk it up to experience. It also takes the focus off partners and puts it squarely on yourself. That tends to speed up the healing process and re-affirm your esteem and worthiness.

Fourth, accept the situation as a natural part of the pleasure/pain cycle of life, important for teaching us lessons we need later on to live our life satisfactorily and to build our resilience. Life consists of both pain and love, manifested through death and rebirth, being two sides of the same coin. The love is there to nourish and sustain us while the pain helps us to develop our experiences and to face our challenges with resilience and new knowledge. It is best to learn the lessons they give and move on without grieving too long, knowing that there is likely to be someone even better and more deserving of you in the future.

Fifth, remind yourself daily of your natural appeal and value and do not judge the rest of your existence by this ONE occasion. Moving on is most important. Just because someone is not keen on you does not mean your value is any less in everyone else’s eyes. Your life is a journey, made up of numerous experiences, not based on one particular event.

There is ALWAYS a good reason behind why someone isn’t right for you. It’s just that you cannot see it at the time. Use rejection as a lesson in finding the right partner and move on to a more fulfilling experience. If you really love yourself, you won’t really care about another person’s actions. You will be thankful for the moment, looking ahead positively, without living in regrets or in the past – and feeling much better for it, too.


Podcast of The Day: What Are Some Obvious Signs If I Think My Spouse is Cheating On Me?


Cheating can be pretty devastating for some couples because it tends to shatter the trust, credibility and appreciation within the relationship which seldom recover from external affairs which are discovered because trust is essentially destroyed. This leads to insecurity, resentment and continuous feelings of being unappealing and rejected by the offended party, along with a lot of guilt and negative feelings by the offender.

The couple will limp along with the open secret between them, especially where one party is passive and accepts the situation, with or without conditions. But the offender will seldom change, unless he/she stands to lose a lot. This guarantees a repetition along with a gradual decline in the quality of the interaction and the feelings between them.

But how do you spot the early signs of someone who is being unfaithful? Are they easy to see? Or should you trust your instincts at such time? 

Elaine Sihera talks through the key signs to watch for and how it affects the sexes.

Problem Point: How Can I Be Happy With Myself?

Photo by Kayla Koss

Basically, many of us are unhappy with ourselves because of a futile wish to be ‘perfect’. We mustn’t have a blemish, the wrong shape in anything, be thought of as different. But achieving such perfection is not only useless, but impossible, especally as each of us is perfect as we are. that’s what makes us unique: BOTH our strengths and perceived weaknesses.

So how can you be happier with you? mainly by not comparing yourself to others, not focusing on what you THINK you lack, or trying to be perfect.

You are not happy with yourself perhaps because of how you have been treated since childhood. If you have not had the affirmation, reinforcement and value you seek from those you care about, you start believing that something is wrong with you and you have to act in a certain way to win their approval, instead of accepting who you are. Furthermore, if the relationships you have had as an adult have not reinforced you either, or you have been disappointed in love, that would confirm the low self esteem you have, and make you feel inadequate. It is very hard to be happy with yourself at such times, especially when you see others who seem happier than you, and you feel so imperfect.

When we are unhappy with ourselves, that projects on to others, too. We become unhappy with them as well because we cannot give away what you haven’t got. You have no self-love, so you cannot genuinely love and appreciate anyone else, either, which makes you appear self-focused, selfish and uncaring, because you are seldom likely to appreciate anything or anyone in your life enough. You are always striving for something else to feel good. Yet you cannot be happy unless you start with self-appreciation.

Time to start valuing who you are: your faculties, your blessings, and the people who care for you. These three key tips should be useful:

  • Start allowing your weaknesses by focusing on your strengths and building those up.
  • Stop beating yourself up every time you have a disappointment or things don’t go as expected, and view setbacks as a natural part of your learning, growth and development.
  • Stop focusing on what you might not have and appreciate what you do, and others might be able to appreciate you, too.

The tragedy of not being happy with yourself is that your constant discontent will make others you associate with uneasy around you. No one will ever satisfy you either, because, quite simply, no one can love what you reject, or treat you better than you treat yourself!

Perhaps my book, The New Theory of Confidence, might be of some value?


Problem Point: How Can I Make Things Right So That Everyone Wins?

Image by Sven Lachmann

Question: I asked a friend and her son to come on vacation with me. The problem is that one minute she wants to go and I had better not change it, and the next minute she can’t go and is scared to leave the boyfriend for a couple days. Or I want to leave one day and she wants to leave another. The way she talks to me sometimes and the way she just acts around me just makes me mad. Did I do the right thing inviting her?

A. Your friend sounds terribly insecure. If she cannot leave her boyfriend for a few days she will lose him soon by being too clingy and fearful. It sounds as though you have been very patient, but you also need to act in a certain way which won’t make people take advantage of you. Once you invite someone to accompany you, and you have changed the details for them once or twice, that’s enough. You cannot continue to change every minute, otherwise your friend will just keep changing because of her own fears and lack of respect for the consequences for you.

Some time ago, I had a similar situation. i wanted to go to Holland for a week and asked my best friend to accompany me and she agreed. However, she changed her mind at the last minute when I couldn’t really cancel the holiday plans. I took a deep breath, masked my fear of going alone, and found the courage to go ahead, regardless. i had the most awesome time in Ostend, finding my way around, meeting new acquaintances who were keen to show me places, and had some photos to remind me of a truly enjoyable trip.

The best thing to do is to arrange a date to suit you, invite your friend and stick to the date. If she cannot go, fine. You go off and enjoy yourself because you are bound to meet people like you. If you live in fear of going off on your own, your friend will always mess you about and you will never go on your holiday. Absence makes the heart grow fonder so your friend should go away with you and allow her boyfriend to actually miss her sometimes.

You can NEVER please everyone and make them happy because everyone has different needs. You can only please yourself, and those who like what you are doing will also be happy, too. Perhaps you have been trying to please her too much because you really want her friendship, and she is taking advantage of that, which can only lead to disappointment all round.

Stop changing your dates and start making your arrangements. Your friend will then see that you mean business and will either go with you or hang back. If she doesn’t go, it’s her loss. But don’t let her spoil it for you anymore.

(NOTE: Paid subscribers, or significant Donors, can have their questions answered publicly. A private service is available separately.)


Problem Point: Why Can’t I Have A Meaningful Friendship With Someone? Am I Normal?

Image by Sven Lachmann

Question: I honestly can’t recollect a time in life in which I have had a meaningful friendship. All my interpersonal interactions are shallow. I simply can’t seem to relate to my peers. It seems as though the average 16 year old isn’t interested in intellectual discussion. Though I try my hardest, I simply can’t discuss shoes and cars for more than five minutes without drifting off into my own world. I think most of the problem lies with me. I’m shy and appear emotionless to others. I don’t really reach out to anyone. I never know if they actually want to talk or not. This is why I wait for others to initiate conversation. Is there something wrong with me?

A. There is nothing wrong with you, but two things might apply to your situation which would keep you isolated. 

First, you appear to be very mature and intellectual for a 16 year old. You cannot ‘relate’ to your peers because you are too mature and knowledgeable for them. You sound like an adult already inside your young body, judging by your vocabulary and thought process. Of course, not many people would be like you, which you would need to accept. Just as how small talk about ‘shoes and cars’ would bore you to death, discussing the heavy subjects would bore them mightily, too. You perhaps need a compromise where you begin by taking an active interest in others, instead of just caring about your needs. Get to know that person through sharing activities or information and you will seem even more attractive yourself, because others will want to know about you, too, and even want to discuss your subjects. But, if it is all about you, they will just keep away from you.

Second, if you appear ’emotionless’ to others it could be that you are masking some hurt in your life that you have gone through, protecting yourself from future hurt by being detached and guarded. That would not endear you to anyone because TRUST is at the heart of relationships. Unless you can trust others, make friends with them in an expressive and open way, without guarding yourself too much, or being too detached in your interaction, you won’t have many friends. They would always be suspicious of your motives. People can’t react to coldness. It is warmth and interest that draw them near.

Perhaps if you start sharing your feelings with others, to talk about what has affected you, and to empathise with them as well, people might come to see that you are as human as they are,  and come to trust you. Most important, you won’t appear too ‘robotic’ and ’emotionless’.  Furthermore, don’t wait for others to talk first. Start off the process with simple questions about them when it feels okay. That is the only way you’ll know if they wish to talk because they will either answer eagerly, reluctantly, or not at all.

It sounds as though you need intellectual stimulation from other bright people of your own age or older. If you take an interest in others and trust much more, in time you will gradually find the type of people who matches you, as well as the friends you seek.


Problem Point: How Do I Deal With Unwanted Attention? 

Photo by Metin Ozer

Question: This guy at school has a huge crush on me. He catches up with me in the hallways and keeps talking to me. He also pretends he needs the homework so he could find an excuse to sit near me at lunch. What’s most annoying is that he gets mad if I talk to other guys and keeps instant messaging me. I don’t know how to tell him to leave me alone without hurting his feelings. What should I do?

A. You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs so you have to accept that you ARE going to hurt his feelings whatever you do, unless you accept his attentions. Nobody likes rejection of any sort and he will be no different. So decide what matters to you most: not hurting him, or getting him off your back, because it will affect what you say, and you can’t have both. You are not responsible for him getting mad. he is solely responsible for his reactions. Moreover, if he was mature enough for a relationship, he would be respecting your wishes, taking things more in his stride, and not getting upset about your friends.

If you really want him to stop, then you have to also acknowledge that you have a RIGHT to him not pestering you. So, one day when he comes next to you at lunch, or at a convenient place, say something like this, in your own words:

“I’m flattered that you like me because you are a cool guy. But, just now, I am not really keen on a friendship and would prefer if you give that attention to someone else, because it is rather wasted on me. Right now I need my space to do my own thing but I’m sure someone else would value your company. I hope you accept that as I’m not enjoying your attention.” 

Make NO apologies for your action.

Then listen to what he has to say because being attracted to someone is not negative, or a crime, unless they are stalking you. However, continue to stick, politely but firmly, to your decision. Don’t be persuaded. If he still tries to home in on you after that, just completely avoid him when you see him, or remind him of what you said. If that does not work either, then time to seek help from someone in authority. Hopefully, your first frank comment should do the trick. 

I hope this is of some help.

(NOTE: Paid subscribers, or significant Donors, can have their questions answered publicly. A private service is available separately.)


Problem Point: Why Is My Fiancé Pretending We’re ‘Just Friends’?

Photo by Michael Fenton

Question. We are in relationship for more than a year now and we have already planned to get married. But I was taken back when he introduced me to his friends as his ‘good friend’. Why should he hide our relationship? Why he has not introduced me as his fiancee? It hurt me so much because it’s totally unfair. Any advice from your side?

A. That is not good or appropriate behaviour, if you are getting married. This is the time you would both want to shout your relationship to the world. It shows a great deal of fear or a desire to live a pretend life, especially regarding his friends.

Let’s take the fear first. Sometimes when people fear commitment they will drag out the plans for settling down, like the way the plans for the marriage is going; they will make all kinds of excuses about why the time is never right to settle down, and they will be behaving differently from their partners. People who fear commitment also fear the responsibility of love: the caring, sharing and partnership side, though they love the idea of it, the excitement and the sex that might be attached to it. They do not live in the present and enjoy the moment. Instead they tend to fret about the future, and what effects taking that final step might have on their life. They also dread the consequences of their actions, and any ‘mistakes’ that might come from what they do today. Hence they live in fear of what could happen to pin them down to one person, which then affects everything they do, especially living in a kind of denial.

It means that one partner is having to walk on eggshells to preserve the relationship, always having to go by what the other person desires instead of it being a mutual friendship. One person is always calling the shots, which leaves the other party feeling insecure, vulnerable and often unhappy, yet feeling impotent to do anything about the situation. As the other party is never in control where commitment-phobes are concerned, such a relationship is likely to be fraught with difficulties.

Secondly, if he is living two lives – a pretend one with his friends where he probably acts the eligible and available bachelor, while acting the potential groom with you – of course he would introduce you as his ‘good friend’. That is what he probably told his friends when he is with them, that he has no real girlfriends. So when he is with you, he has to keep up the pretence and appearance of being single, otherwise he will lose credibility with his friends. Worse still, he could have another girlfriend/wife already which the friends know about so he has to explain your presence in a non-threatening way.

Either way, his action shows disrespect to you and your feelings. The only answer is to break off with him and let him know that you are prepared to take him back only when he is ready to commit or to acknowledge who you are in public. Otherwise you really should be seeking someone else. 

Relationships that start off badly do not get better on marriage. In fact, they get worse, so you would be better off out of there. If he has so little love and respect for you that he would not be proud to show you off in public, to acknowledge what you means to him, or he is being deceitful, that is no relationship at all, and it does not augur well for your future together.