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Is FEAR keeping you SINGLE?


Many people who are seeking dates are limited by their fears of a lot of things in their life which they cannot affect, but are vainly trying to control. A naked fear of failure, of difference, of love, of hurt, of the consequences and even life itself, in the futile search for perfection. Worst of all, they fear commitment to someone for a long time. They might not get hurt by hanging back, but they stay stuck in their fear, fossilised and boring, doing the same old things, with the same expectations, but getting the same joyless results, while becoming increasingly unhappy and unattractive in the process.

The people who fear the most about potential relationships live in regret. They tend to be the ones who don't make use of the opportunity in the first place because of the constant fear of failure and hurt that dog them daily. They would rather dither over their decisions, or take no decisions, allowing the opportunity to pass, then berate themself later on for not acting on the moment. It is very easy to sit and fret, or to live in regret; to worry constantly about what might happen in the future while feeling sorry for ourselves. Constant regret about the relationship which didn't take off, the man or woman who hurt us, the partner who behaved badly or the person who rejected us, rather to chalk it up to life and use the experience for better growth. Living in fear and regret takes no skill or courage but it certainly keeps us single!

None of us is perfect, yet we spend our life in a futile effort to achieve such perfection through control. That little word control' accounts for the numerous regrets we have, especially when we fail to control our lives at every turn and regret our mistakes' and the hurt we had. Instead we use everything which goes wrong' to prove how terrible we are or how bad our partners were, fuelling our fear of the future, which then prevents us from getting new dates and moving on with our lives. Fearing a repeat of our hurt, the next person we meet is likely to suffer from our pain without knowing what they have done, and are then deprived of the commitment they rightfully deserve. Men are particularly guilty of this. Often a man will tell the next woman who treats him well that she has restored' his faith in women, as if the one woman who caused his pain represents the whole gender species!

The Importance of Commitment
The most important word behind love and respect is commitment. When we respect or love someone, we commit to them for whatever time required in the interaction. That's the price we pay for more happiness with someone else. We commit to affirming them, aligning with them, to reinforcing their aspirations and self-belief, to valuing them as a significant person we admire and to enhancing their happiness while expanding our own. Through commitment come enrichment and joy. So when we cannot commit to another person, we are only half alive without the contentment we seek. Regret and fear keep that commitment at bay.

Human value comes from interaction, affirmation and love. We do not need anyone to complete us physically, but we do need others to enrich the quality of our lives if we are not to become mechanical robots with fossilised emotions. Our life becomes joyous only when we are enriched by someone else, and vice versa. If we are not reinforced in any way, we are likely to feel excluded from the social contact we crave. People give meaning to our lives. Without them we feel invisible. When we fear people, fear commitment to them, or fear repeats of past hurt, they all negatively effect our living. Thus, if fear is keeping you single, you'll be missing out on a life.

How do I deal with unwanted attention?


Q. This boy at school seriously has a huge crush on me. He catches up to 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 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 am really flattered that you like me because you are a really 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. Maybe some time in the future, but right now I need my space to do my own thing and I am sure someone else would value your company too. I hope you can accept that as i am not enjoying your attention." Make NO apologies for your action.

Then listen to what he has to say, but continue to stick, politely but firmly, to your guns. 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 heart to heart should do the trick. I hope this is of some help.

How do you talk to your boyfriend?


Many people in relationships find it difficult to talk to one another, perhaps through a lack of social skills, and women, in particular, often find it hard to talk to men either because of their upbringing, their inability to stick up for themselves or to be assertive in what they want. The end result is that communication between couples is often stilted, frustrating and highly inadequate for their needs. But if five simple steps are followed by women, talking to a lover would not seem so arduous.

The first thing to remember in any communication is mutual respect. If you have no respect for your boyfriend, you will judge him before he speaks, you will assume his motives for him and you will also assume his behaviour before he does it, which only makes matters much worse. Mutual respect includes trust, sincerity and honesty between a couple. Often women might accuse their boyfriends of certain behaviour but when they defend themselves they are not believed either. That's an absence of trust and when trust is gone, only the shell of a relationship would remain. The heart of it would be gone. If both people seek to treat each other with mutual respect, that is a fine place to start the communication and it is likely to lead to a more satisfactory outcome.

Second is open and sincere communication - no lies, no half truths and no resentment. Often women don't reveal their feelings because they fear how the men would react, they fear not being listened to or they fear their feelings being trivialised and not taken seriously. This keeps them quiet instead of being keen to share their anxieties and experiences. However, if the couple can start off with honest and sincere dialogue between them every step of the relationship, no one should feel reluctant to talk to their partner or fear disclosing their feelings. Try not to give mixed messages and be clear in what you're trying to say.

Third is exercising sensitivity. Often women are not really sensitive to the men's feelings when they are trying to talk to them, not appreciating that different genders approach problems differently. Women tend to focus on how they feel, how they hurt and what they want without taking their boyfriends' feelings into account. Yet in any relationship, communication is a two way process. When we are hurt, or have a particular issue, we have every right to put our thoughts and feelings to our partner, but not to ignore or put down theirs in turn. Hence, sensitivity becomes an important aspect in communication if women are to get the empathy and results they seek.

Fourth is to lower personal expectations when we are communicating in tricky situations. Allow the expectations to be mutually negotiated, not decided by one party. Often women will talk to men with all their needs to be fulfilled yet with no compromise in mind and a lot of assumptions and expectations around the men. That approach is too one-sided and will not yield much except from passive people. It is best to state the problem or issue simply, without too many expectations and then get a surprise as the two people come to an agreement, than to expect a lot and have them dashed, making the situation worse. We get the most from talking to partners with their needs in mind, not just with ours to be addressed.

Fifth, whatever you do, please avoid blame. it is so easy to blame a boyfriend for anything when a woman is looking for a scapegoat but that would be a bad mistake! The minute the blame is given out, the other party stops listening and assumes the role of victim. From that moment on, only more blame will be piled on without any real solution being reached. One has to remember that the purpose of any communication is to find solutions, not to find scapegoats. These solutions get the relationship back on track and keep the parties more in tune with each other's needs.

If a woman can talk to a boyfriend with sensitivity and respect, while being open and honest with her feelings and also taking his feelings into account while avoiding blame, the communication between them will be far more useful and productive.

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Help!! I am always being rejected. Why is that?


Q. I don't have confidence, I have very low-self esteem, but nobody really knows this, as I fake confidence. Everyone tells me i should be a comedian blahlahba.. girls always laff at my jokes. I flirt a lot, but whenever I ask a girl to catch a movie or something I get rejected...why is that??!

A. You almost answered your own question already when you said you had low confidence and try to fake it. If you have low self-esteem and don't like yourself very much, how can someone like what you reject? That is not possible because people pick up the negative vibes you send out and treat you accordingly. Until you begin to love yourself, stop trying so hard to impress, stop being a comedian and take yourself more seriously, you will keep getting rejected because people will continue to feel uncomfortable around you. They can sense you are not sincere, that you're being superficial, and that probably irritates them even more.

We shine best when we love ourselves, first and foremost, and enjoy being ourselves. You cannot please everyone, but by being yourself, those who like you as you are will gravitate towards you while those who don't will leave you alone. In that way, you will know who truly values you and you'll have friends who nurture, value and support you. In that way confidence in yourself will grow.

You have to stop focusing on what you THINK is wrong with you, and start the focus on your good points, your strengths and your likes. Remind yourself too, that up to 25% of babies do not make it past the first year of life and you have been blessed with a life that you cannot take for granted so you have a lot to celebrate by just being alive! You ARE showing signs of insecurity by your behaviour, otherwise you wouldn't be flirting a lot. Not many girls like flirts. They are interested in people who treat them with respect and who are seeking a soulmate. It seems they don't feel able to take you seriously.

Nobody is all bad or all good, so start appreciating yourself now, start selecting your friends instead of acting desperate for friendship, start valuing you much more and people will begin to value you too. People cannot value what you are ashamed of. So, if you want to stop the rejections, start to love yourself, be proud of yourself and your potential and stop being the flirt.

You might notice a huge difference.

How do I deal with my flirty boyfriend?


QBasically, there is a female where my boyfriend works who is after him. She talks to him on msn, xbox live etc. She randomly texts him, she flirts with him but he can't see it. She has volunteered on her day off to go into work because he would have been on his own. If there's something he wants the next day she will be there (even if it's her day off). He used to give her lifts and every time I try to tell him about her, he defends her and says its pushing him to her coz shes 'nice' to him and I'm just being mean. Am I?

A. I think you are missing a vital point here in your relationship: it doesn't matter how anyone treats your man. What really matters is how HE reacts, because it takes two to actually conduct an affair. Though this girl is openly flirting with a man who seems to enjoy the attention and doesn't want it to stop, the problem also appears to be with you. It could be that there is something missing from the relationship which this girls provides him, so he is reluctant to tell her to stop, while trying to hang on to you. The fact that he is ignoring your feelings and what you are saying about her says it all.

You said he used to give her a lift. He has stopped that, but you are still thinking about the present she gave him instead of noting that he is no longer giving her a lift. Jealousy is not a good thing. It destroys relationships and you need to let go off that jealousy because love is unconditional. If he wants her there is nothing you can do to stop it, and if he doesn't, yet still accepts her attention, he is obviously enjoying its effect on you, boosting his ego with two women. It is up to you to leave the situation or ignore it. Especially if you have talked to him about it already.

Another point to note is that he is with YOU, no one else. He chose YOU, and is still with you. Start the process of appreciating him by praising and valuing him more, instead of watching another woman and her antics. Then he won't care what she does because he will only have to think of you to get warm vibes. However, if all he has to think of is you going on about her, soon enough he will start seeing her in your light and go to her.

You obviously do not seem to have the trust and faith necessary in a relationship, perhaps through your own feelings of insecurity, perhaps feeling you do not match up to her, or perhaps feeling inadequate in view of her attention. So you are putting up with clearly unacceptable behaviour which only makes you unattractive in the process. No relationship can thrive under mistrust. Soon it becomes claustrophobic and then someone will not want to be in it anymore. It sounds as though both you and your boyfriend are nearing that point.

Insecurity comes from a lack of self love which leads to fear of losing the love of others. You need to start loving and appreciating yourself so that it doesn't matter what your boyfriend does. You'll be strong enough to wish him on his way or to love him on your terms, rather than being continually fearful on his. Start trusting him more, if you wish to keep your relationship, because no one else matters but the two of you. However, I feel he could be using you both for his own ends, perhaps, because of his own feelings of inadequacy.

There are two sides to this story. People don't leave a great relationship to go after second best. So, you might need to address what he is missing, or send him on his way to her for your own self-respect and inner contentment, and give yourself the chance to find someone who really values you.

Please help! I'm fed up with my date putting me down


Q. I met a 22 year old guy online and we went on a few dates, but I didnt feel it was working so told him (I honestly never insulted him once). He said that he lowered his standards for me and that the reason he wanted to be my boyfriend was cause he was desperate. I'm the shy and introverted type. I know I dont look good. I got rated mainly 4's out of 10 for some facial attractiveness activity at college. I got the lowest and that wrecked my confidence. He's the only guy ive dated and hes made me feel as though im too ugly to break up with a guy. I want to be more outgoing but the more I try the more people put me down.

A. This is so sad because all you are doing is allowing ONE person in the whole world, whom you don't even like, to affect how you feel, when there are many more waiting to like you. Just because that guy is low in confidence, and takes it out on you because you wanted to finish the friendship, doesn't mean you let his words affect you and become like him. Once you feel you don't like someone, you really should not talk to them anymore or hang around with them, because some guys can't take any kind of rejection and will then turn on you in any negative way they can to compensate for the emotional disappointment.

Everyone in this world is good looking to some degree because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There is no rule book that says you have to look a certain way to be regarded as beautiful. Appreciate yourself as you are. If you don't love yourself, how can anyone else love what you reject? 

There is nothing wrong with you. You might have got '4' in a past rating for your looks but they were probably rating your personality (especially if you were quiet and don't make friends easily) than your actual looks. it sounds as though you need to boost your confidence and self esteem, by accepting yourself fully and appreciating who you are, and not depend on others to rate you, or tell you how you look, because you will never please everyone. 

Most important, people can only reflect the value YOU give to yourself, they cannot create that value. So if you feel terrible they will only reflect that back to you, too, because you won't appear very attractive. Your attitude and behaviour will ensure that. It's a positive personality that makes us appeal to others, not just looks, per se. So try to build your confidence and esteem, smile more and be more interested in others, and more people will want your company.

Time to stop noticing what that loser guy is saying, to leave his negative orbit, and find someone who will appreciate and uplift you rather than put you down.

What would you do if your boyfriend/girlfriend is too busy to speak to you?


I would dump him fast. In a nutshell, that person either doesn't care for you too much, is trying to hint that he really doesn't want the relationship, or he has someone else. There is a basic lack of respect for you there perhaps because he no longer finds your company as attractive and stimulating as he would wish, hence the constant excuse. People do get busy from time to time but when someone really likes you, they are excited by it and actually make the time to keep connected with you.

Many people find it hard to break off relationships; they also change their minds about pursuing someone but lack the courage to say so. Instead they use work as a handy excuse to cool the friendship. The minute the excuses become regular, you should look elsewhere because that is not saying much about how valued you are for him to even make the time to speak to you. He is probably using the time to speak to someone else. You will always be able to tell if someone is really interested in you because they will actually SHOW it by being keen to call you.

I hate to admit that I'm desperate for a guy!


Q. I'm a 15 year old girl. And this is really hard to admit, but I'm kind of horny. I mean look, I'm extremely pretty, and I'm tall and have a curvy body. Sometimes I feel desperate for a boyfriend. But it's kind of a mixed feeling. It's like, i'm starving, and I have a big bowl of ice cream in my hands, but I don't want to eat it.

A. Anything that you are desperate for in life never happens, because there would be too much anxiety attached to it. Boys can often sense your desperation and then they are likely to avoid you like the plague because you would come across as needy and unattractive.

Stop rushing things in your life and allow your growth and maturity to take their place in their own way. When you are ready for a boyfriend, without all the desperation and anxiety, and MATURE enough to cope with a relationship, you will have one. But in your current state, you wouldn't know how to handle a boyfriend because anxiety and desperation do not build relationships. They actually damage them through needless angst and turmoil.

Things will start coming together when you feel ready to deal with them, not when you are fearful and desperate. Otherwise it could all end in tears.

Why is he not reacting?


QI've liked this guy for 4 months (I'm a teenager) and I'm good friends with him. I went on a school trip with him and I shared a bed with him. But that's a different story, then I went to a sleepover and he was there and I slept on him because I am obsessed with him like hell. He knows that I like him because one of his mates told him. I don't really care that he knows, but he's never acted on it. That's why I would never ever ask him out....


A. It doesn't sound as if he wants a relationship with anyone just yet, especially if he is aware of you liking him, yet has done nothing about it. After all, if you sleep on someone and they still don't react, then they are giving you a very strong message that they are not interested! That is not the way to show someone you like them, anyway. it would only give the wrong signal about you.

We cannot make people like us, and each of us also matures at different rates. You sound ready to date a guy, but he doesn't sound ready to date any girl. Yet by getting all upset and trying to get too close to him, you could put him off you and even lose his friendship. 

If he hasn't shown any interest, after all you have done, it seems that he isn't ready for anything just now and you would need to cool it a bit to keep his interest. When we are afraid to lose anyone it is because we really don't love ourselves and expect others to love us to compensate for that. But that kind of neediness is not attractive. It tends to drive guys away instead of attracting them. 

You need to build your confidence, to appreciate and love yourself first, before a guy can truly love and care for you. You will then be able to take him or leave him on your terms. You will also be able to pick and choose the right people for you, and in your own time too. You won't waste time crying over anyone because the right ones for you will come to you, not the other way round.

Give this guy a break for now. Let him come to you, if he wants to. But just following him around like a besotted puppy will only get you treated like one.

I need help with my friend and boyfriend problems


Q. I heard a lot of strange rumors going on about my boyfriend and my friend. People were saying that they slept together, but I don't know if it's true or not. My friend told me she didn't do nothing with him. But I know her better than that, because she's lied to me several times, and she said that my bf asked her to things with him. I dunno how true it is. Can someone help me?

 A. Do you believe rumours, or believe your boyfriend? When we are prepared to believe rumours this shows our insecurity and lack of self love. You need to value yourself first, regardless of what others think, because if you worry every minute about who your boyfriend is sleeping with, you will lead a very unhappy life. You need to think highly of yourself to trust that someone who really likes you will not be running around after your friends. If they don't really love or respect you, that's a different matter.

At the heart of any relationship is TRUST. If you feel you cannot trust him, or your friends, you will feel pretty isolated. You will have no real relationship, just a friendship in which you are scared of the consequences if he leaves you. That's not good. Better to find someone you can trust and who will make you happy than to feel insecure in a deceptive friendship. 

Trust carries RESPECT with it, and respect is at the heart of LOVE. So, if you believe your best friend is lying, your boyfriend probably doesn't respect you, neither does he love you. If your instinct tells you they both might be lying, then don't hang around to discover the evidence. You would be better off without their company.

If you wish to believe the rumours, you will only feel more insecure. However, if you feel the rumours might be true, then getting new friends you can trust seems to be your next priority. If you do nothing at all, you will end up feeling awful and unable to do anything about it, so it's up to you now. The next move is all yours.

Why is he never jealous?


Q. I have a boyfriend and he is never jealous of all my male friends. He gets along with them. I also get out with my male friends. He's just fine with it too. I wonder: "Does he love me?" But he cares a lot for me. He is very patient. However, it really triggers me to make him jealous. Is it wrong to do that?

A. Jealousy does not show love. It shows insecurity and possessiveness and not a nice trait to have. You appear to be insecure in yourself which makes you want to see his jealousy. But he probably loves himself a lot, is confident in him and you, and so does not feel the need to be jealous. The problem does not seem to lie with him. I think it is mainly with you as you need to be demonstrated love and jealousy before you believe that love.

But jealousy is not a positive quality in a relationship. It is a very negative one that lies at the heart of control and signals a lack of respect. He is actually treating you with respect, by appreciating your friends. He knows he loves you and that you love him, and does not feel he has to 'prove' anything, but you would like him to prove it by showing how jealous he is of you. Not good at all, and you could lose him by testing that love. He might come to think that you;re not worth it. Perhaps the best thing to do, if you feel he is not demonstrative enough, is to talk to him about how you feel. Tell him that you would like him to show you that love more often, especially if he does not openly show his feelings too much. Tell him that you like to feel wanted, valued and given attention, instead of trying to make him jealous.

Above all, start loving yourself, valuing yourself and appreciating who you are. When you have achieved that, you won't need to make someone jealous to prove their love. You will also be confident in that person's affection for you. You will know that even if they didn't love you, it wouldn't matter, because you had the greatest love of all - for yourself.

If you have a chat about your feelings with him and he doesn't do anything about it, then time to find someone else who matches closer to what you desire. Everyone likes themselves as they are, so we cannot change people to suit us. We can only change ourselves to get the change we desire. Don't make anyone jealous. That is negative and counter productive. Just seek someone else who matches you more instead. It will be far more fulfilling, loving and affirming.

Is it easy to really understand men?


Understanding men is not so easy to do, in view of the fact that men and women were made deliberately different, and complementary to each other for mating. It follows that they are going to see the world differently, have alternate perspectives from women and basically take a 'male' view of life. It means both sexes have to make an extra effort to accommodate and appreciate one another.

Understanding anyone comes out of our own perceptions and desire to learn, and the familiarity with which we gradually come to know them. However, as such familiarity with men is often denied women because of the social separation of the sexes and different lifestyles, understanding men is only possible through appreciating and accepting the following known elements:

1. Men tend to be more practical, women more emotional, and that difference has to be acknowledged. One can expect to bond with a woman, but not necessarily with a man, simply because the world of men is highly competitive. Men are always seeking the opportunity to prove themselves, to go one better, and to establish their significance and worth, hence any genuine trust and comradeship takes a long time to build and to accept.

2. That most men view everything around sex differently from women. For many men, for example, the sexual act is a form of release. Nothing more. Hence why they can have a 'one night stand' without even batting an eyelash and why many seek 'friends' as dates before anything develops. Whereas, for many women, sex is regarded as a prelude to something more emotional and meaningful. That's why some men can have an extra-marital experience and say how it means little to them, and women find that hard to believe and understand because women are judging men from their own emotional perspective on the issue.

3. That men do not converse the same general way as woman. Men's conversation serves a definite purpose: either to elicit an answer to a particular concern, like "Is something wrong?"; to provide an answer required of them; to boast or brag about something valuable (men's toys, possessions etc.); to compete in a given situation or to elicit basic information. It means very few men are interested in gossip, per se, unless it has a purpose which is useful to them, it raises their awareness or improves an opportunity. Hence why they might regard the emotional approach to chat by women as gossip or nagging.

4. Many men tend to like intelligent women, as long as they are not 'too intelligent' and in control. Being competitive, the concept of power means a lot to men and most men wish to retain that difference in their relationship. Thus an intelligent woman is fine, so long as she still has to defer to her mate for some answers!

5. Most men have a different perspective of their role in the home. They are likely to feel that their main role is still the protector, hunter-gatherer, providing a secure foundation for their partner, regardless of whether they are there every day to love and affirm that partner, while many women just want to be loved and affirmed above all, with the protector role coming further back in their expectations. This is why many relationships go to the wall trough a lack of understanding between the sexes regarding their differing expectations within the partnership.

Generally, it is very hard to understand men when one is not a man. Unless one has walked in a man's shoes, bearing in mind that men are also unique individuals, it will never be possible to know exactly how they view the world and how one can please them, unless they actually say what matters for them. As most people are basically selfish anyway, caring mainly about their own needs, trying to understand someone else is usually last in their priority. One can only assume that men and women will always remain fascinating enigmas to each other, unless they take the trouble to genuinely increase mutual understanding between them.

I am 19 Years Old But Parents Are Not Allowing my Girlfriend To Sleep Over


Q. I have been with my girlfriend for nearly 4 years, we are both 19 now and we clearly love each other. We are unable to move out right now as her parents dont want her to and we really need to progress on the career ladder. My parents and her parents will not let either of us sleep with each other. I have explained to my parents that it is nothing to do with sexual thing, it is clearly to love her, cuddle. I personally see nothing wrong with what I want to do. What are your views as a parent to actually explain the reason they wont let me?

A. Many parents have hang-ups about sex, especially the more conservative ones. All they can see is sex, even when the couple involved might not care about sex. They fear it for a variety of reasons, not least the consequences of it in STDs, unwanted pregnancies or having a succession of sleeping parties, none of whom might turn out to be 'Mr/Ms Right'. Parents feel they have to protect their childrn at all costs from such consequences, while shielding themselves from the embarrassment of having to deal with the sexual activities of their children. That has always been the case for many parents the world over.

Most of all, parents tend to keep their children as young as possible, refusing to acknowledge their maturity or to let them go. So when sex rears its ugly head in their home, that is an unwelcome reminder of the fact that their kids are grown up now and is likely to be leaving home soon. That realisation is often difficult to deal with so they try to delay it as long as possible by imposing unreasonable rules. Obviously, feeling uncomfortable about sex, and remembering their own furtive early days, some parents are not good at coping with the intimate needs of their own children. The answer for them is to deny it, ignore it and pretend it isn't there while keeping the couple apart from each other.

Unfortunately, you have to respect their wishes. It is their house and they have to feel comfortable within it. However, there are two answers to this. The first is to discuss a compromise by explaining that neither of you wants to leave home as you love your parents very much and prefer to stay until your career is sorted. They would want that too. However, impress upon them that you are adults with natural needs and, to prevent you having to find somewhere before you are both ready, you would welcome being treated like adults because it helps you both to make better decisions about your life. Ask if they would consider you sleeping together just one night each in both houses, then one night elsewhere. That would give three nights together while you can sleep apart on other nights. That would show the parents that you are considering their needs too, you are being mature about it and it might sound more acceptable to them.

The other answer could be to spend the odd weekend together somewhere and spend as much time together during the day at home. Then all parties might feel more comfortable. But, if you are both 19, you are adults and the mark of a real adult is sensitivity to how others feel, understanding of their predicament, especially when they are paying the bills, and working out compromise solutions which could then benefit everyone.

As liberal as I am, I did not accept my daughter sleeping with a boyfriend in my home until she had clearly settled with someone in her early 20s. So I can understand how your parents feel. I think once there is clear commitment, like a marriage, parents tend to feel better about it. They can then commit themselves to that relationship too. But without that kind of clear situation, many parents are often wary of encouraging it in any way and hedge on the side of caution.

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Is it normal that I'm 15 and never kissed a guy?


Q. I'm a 15 year old girl, and I never had a boyfriend, or french kissed a guy, or even a small peck on the lips... never! All my friends kissed guys and did a lot more. I mean some idiots try to pressure me, but all my real friends tell me to wait until I'm ready to kiss a guy. I just turned 15 a week ago, and I feel that I am old enough to at least have a kiss? Am I right or not?

A. It is perfectly normal not to have kissed a guy at 15 because our emotions and feelings are not entirely dictated by age. People mature at different ages and when it comes to relationships, no one can predict the exact moment anything will happen.

Sometimes young people will boast of things they might have done sexually because they are afraid to admit they haven't done it, or they do not want to feel left out of the crowd or to feel abnormal. So just because your friends SAY they have kissed someone doesn't mean they all have done it. Some could just be saying it to impress or because everyone else is saying it too!

Whatever is happening in your life now is 'normal' for you. Allow yourself to develop in your own way and things will fall into place in their own time. Don't allow yourself to be pressured. Just keep going by your instincts and not by what others do. You will feel much happier for it too.

Is my friend wrong to date a man who has returned from prison?


Q. I'm really worried about my best friend and her new relationship (of course, it shouldn't be my business, but..) He returned from prison only a month ago and she met him in the club. He claims he's madly in love with her and she doesn't care that he spent 14 years in prison. My friend thinks I'm jealous because he makes her feel "like a queen" and that's what I have never experienced with my ex. I feel like I'm losing my friend...What if he killed or raped someone? I can't imagine myself sharing a bed with a criminal!

A.The danger of judging anyone from afar when we don't know them closely is that we haven't walked in their shoes, haven't shared their pain, don't know their adversities or how they overcame them. Just because this man has gone to prison doesn't make him any worse or better than anyone else, especially if he has been rehabilitated and wants to get on with normal life. It all depends on what the crime was, whether the person has paid for it sincerely and genuinely wishes to have a new life. As long as your friend knows the details of his past, it is up to her to make that decision.

We should be giving prisoners as much chance as they can to get back to normal life in society. The only alternative is to shut them out and treat them like pariah, which then forces them back into crime and, in turn, affects all of us in the end. If we help the genuine ones who need rehabilitation to lead normal lives, we not only lessen the risk of re-offending, but the limited resources the government has can then be used to track and deal with the real hard nuts who are a far bigger danger. It is LOVE that changes people's lives for the better, not hate and exclusion.

Don't begrudge your friend some happiness. And, most important, don't be too quick to judge him either until you know him. It is a sign of your own fear and insecurity why you would deny them a chance of happiness just because of his past. Your girlfriend seems very happy, and that's all that matters. A real friend will be happy for her and be there for her, not be jealous of her attentions to him. Talk to her about your fears, advise her of the dangers and leave it there. It is her life and true friendship is all about trust and support.

Speaking personally, I have two nephews who were caught up in a horrible situation when they were 16 years old in which someone died (a big gang fight involving seven youths), with them being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It came as quite a shock to the family at the time, especially as we are a law-abiding conservative type of family. They were both sent to prison for a few years. Yet two nicer, mature, gentle young men you could never meet now. They lost their youth in prison but have emerged all the better and stronger for it and are trying their best to make a new start. One of them has been fortunate to find an amazing girlfriend who visited him in prison and has been with him since his release. She thinks the world of him, and he of her, and I am sure her love, faith and encouragement have done wonders for his self-esteem, self-perception and, above all, his future aspirations.

Please remember, the past is always for reference, not for residence. He was open and honest about his prison stint. Give him a chance to get his life together by seeing the man himself, and what he's doing now, not just his past actions. That is not relevant unless it is repeated.

As a teenager, why do I become so overly obsessed with guys?


Q. I'm a 15 year old girl, and anytime even just some random guy makes me feel "special" for like a minute, I automatically become obsessed with them. It's horrible and I really need to know the reason why I become so overly obsessed with guys, just if they like give me a friendly kiss on the cheek or a friendly hug. I take everything so deeply and make things into such big deals, so I always become like obsessed with different guys every month. Aside from this horrible trait, I'm actually a very mature young woman, and I'm really good and cool about dealing with things besides for this.

A. You have the answer in your own statement: "anytime even just some random guy makes me feel "special" for like a minute, I automatically become obsessed with them. "

You have a natural desire to belong, to be wanted, to be valued and a yearning to feel significant ('special'). You obviously do not get these enough where it matters to you most: whether from parents, relatives, friends or otherwise, and you feel undervalued and lacking in positive attention. Hence when you get it from someone you also like, it becomes a big deal for you.

The second reason is because you have little self-love, perhaps caused by a lack praise, affection and affirmation in your life. When self love is lacking, the idea of someone else loving and appreciating us becomes very significant so that we are inclined to interpret every kind act as something major and unwittingly send out needy signals. Unfortunately, guys are quickly turned off by neediness or any kind of 'obessesion'. It becomes claustrophobic for them, which gradually turns your actions against you by making you seem less attractive.

Your actions stem from low confidence and low self-esteem, which obviously need building up so you need to start valuing yourself more, to make yourself feel special and not wait on others to do it for you. Perhaps you have become too self-critical, a perfectionist or always finding fault with yourself. When someone admires you, that then assumes great importance and you start putting them on a pedestal which is not good for your esteem in the end.

Always remember that YOU are the cake, guys are the icing, and icing is NOT mandatory. You don't have to have icing, but it's lovely to have it in moderation. The minute you start treating others as if they are the cake, as if you cannot do without them, and as if they mean the whole world to you, you put them above you and then make yourself feel inadequate.

As to being 'mature', yes, you are obviously bright and intelligent, intellectually mature perhaps, but you are still immature emotionally, which is why you are experiencing this need to be valued on such a high level. An emotionally mature 15 year old would realise that this is a crucial point in her life when she has to prepare for her future: educationally and professionally; to concentrate on studies, in particular, the kind of stuff to get her into college and into the career she values. Boys would take a back seat at this time until later. The fact that they are at the forefront for you suggests strong emotional needs of self-value which are not being fulfilled at present.

Start learning to value yourself, by not being so critically self-focused. Look outwards to others instead. Hang out with friends who appreciate you, and to appreciate your talents, your looks and who you are. Join clubs and activities where you can start doing things for others and building your confidence in that way; find friends and opportunities where you can be valued and accepted as you are. It's not an easy thing to do at the beginning, but if you do something to value yourself every day, no matter how small, and to treat yourself as a unique and important person - which you are! - you won't then feel you have to become 'obsessed' with anyone. Above all, you will learn when someone REALLY likes you and how to react to that.

Are you single? Why a focus on the future could be spoiling your today


I have read so often the desire of many single people to find the 'right' person to love. Not right for now, for two weeks, or for a couple of years but for the ideal 'rest of my life'. Yet they actually pronounce a life sentence of singledom on themselves with that little recurring phrase because it keeps them searching for that perfect person who should last the rest of their lifetime while they miss the imperfect ones they could enjoy TODAY!

We will never get what we totally want in any person because no one gets what they totally desire in us. We have to assess what we are looking for, make a list of them, prioritise them and then settle for the few we couldn't do without while we compromise on the rest. it's a lack of self knowledge about what we really want which helps us to seek perfection instead of valuing a person for what they might bring to our lives.

When I met my ex-husband at 20, and he proposed, I never thought I was getting married for the rest of my life and told him that whatever years we had, I would be thankful for it. Worse still, after he proposed, I used to tell him that "If we are still going next year, then I'll marry you'. He used to find that very strange and unsettling, and was unhappy and insecure with it because marriage was for life in his world. He also couldn't understand that, if we did love each other very much, why shouldn't we still be going together then? His perception of long-term love and mine were different. He wanted someone to share the rest of his life while I wanted someone to share today. Somewhere in my psyche, I dreaded the thought of anything lasting 'forever'. It sounded so long and foreboding, so stale, still and stagnant, on without end.

Yet I was an evolving human being, not a robot. What I liked, wanted and desired at a very naive and youthful 20 years I guess would not have a place in my 40 year old experienced and mature world. And that is the main problem with seeking anything for the rest of your life, especially when you don't know what the rest of your life will mean for you - this desire for unchanging perfection

When it comes to relationships, the best ones work without a set timescale. It means we leave ourselves open for some surprises, we do not have time to take that partner for granted, and we have few expectations of how long it will last. We will also work harder for its success and enjoy that relationship much better because we will treat each day as if it is the only one we will have. Relationships should be long term, but as we tend to change personalities, aspirations and direction over the years, very few last for more than 10-15 years and the average is now 7 years.

There is a lot of angst when the relationship ends but the nature of humanity is constant CHANGE over a set and predictable cycle: birth, growth, death, rebirth. When we ignore that natural cycle in our lives we open ourselves to some recurring pain because we are not prepared to deal with any loss. We expect too much from the relationship and are then surely disappointed when the attraction wears off or we simply fall out of love with partners. We cannot deal with any break-up because we expected the union to last 'forever'.

Utopian Dream
Having someone a whole lifetime is a Utopian dream, no matter the degree of love between you, because within, say, five years of marriage, one of you could be dead, an unplanned but very likely eventuality. It is always best to let life unfold. To seek someone for NOW and enjoy that person for however long it may last. It means you won't burden your search with unhelpful thoughts of 'forever' which then would demand a near-perfect being to match that longevity.

The aim of life is not to spend it searching for someone but to spend it WITH someone from now because today could be your last. Whatever the person is like, if you really desire him/her, just go with the flow and propose. What looks short term might very well turn out to be a lifetime because you would not have killed it with unrealistic expectations. Don't let thoughts of the rest of your life ruin what you could have today because the rest of your lifetime could be just one more week!

And my marriage? I gave thanks for every new year and enjoyed 35 years with him, some of them truly awesome. We both evolved into different people and, sadly, the old magic gradually disappeared. Five of my friends who married 'forever' lasted between 6 and 14 years each. There is a lesson there somewhere.

The Gender Perspective Which Prevents Finding a Soulmate


Today we have more people searching for new partners than ever before with even more stories of them failing to find the right ones, without anyone really appreciating why the constant mismatch goes on. Obviously we can all point to various reasons why two people do not hit it off at the beginning, but I have been doing some quiet research on what people put into their online profiles regarding their search for soulmates and have come up with a fascinating answer for the lack of success in this regard.

Men and women advertise their needs and desires erroneously thinking they are speaking the same language of love, but they are not. They speak conflicting languages of expectation which often get lost in translation. Women are inclined to believe that men are seeking the same things as they are: romance, love and the usual trimmings. That is not quite the case with many men who are more practical and less emotional in their desires. In fact, men appear to be seeking two things in a partner which women seldom mention: understanding and an activity mate. It is NOT the same as seeking love. In fact, where the word 'love' comes as varying levels of a check box, men very rarely put that they are 'Extremely loving, or very loving'. Often they put 'quite loving' or nothing at all.

Men seem to have a deep-seated need to be 'understood', and it comes out as a consistent priority on their profiles. Whereas women have this need to be romanced and loved, with as much affection as possible. A man might say that loving is part and parcel of being understood and sharing activities, but that misses the vital point of coming together - to be loved and wanted in an emotional way. Many men appear to be seeking an activity partner who just might bring some love with her, because they constantly mention how they want a companion to share the various fun activities they like to enjoy. Many women, on the other hand, are seeking a very loving and romantic man who might wish to do some things together. The two perspectives are really not the same! They carry a major difference in expectations within them.

Conflicting Gender Speak
Often women simply want someone to love them; one they can love in return, who makes them feel valued and with whom they can do whatever they please when the moment arises. Activities are not essential in this oasis of love and desire. If they never go away for a weekend, for example, it doesn't really matter, so long as the man is there for them. Whereas, 'activity' people are simply seeking company for their activities with a little love thrown in, if they can get it. The emphasis is in going away and doing things regularly. Not just staying at home to be loved! If they can be 'understood' too, that's a great bonus as well! That is also why many men select 'being energetic' as a vital requirement in their partner, whereas far fewer women state that attribute in their choice of soulmates.

Apart from seeking perfection in potential partners, the gender view of the whole dating process is an important factor for failure, yet has not really been examined and explored in enough depth. One only has to look at the words used by men and women to realise that expectations clearly go along gender lines which then creates a problem in interpretation. For example, while women tend to be more emotional in expression, stressing personality and idealistic characteristics, men tend to be more physical, particularly requiring definite types in height, build and hair. This difference in language also ensures that what one party thought would clarify and define their desires merely obscures it in conflicting gender speak for the other. It also keeps the genders from appreciating the needs of each other.

Are dating and relationships the biggest causes of stress?


Finding someone to share our lives is a natural part of living, like eating and drinking. Yet the stress of actually seeking that person, dating a stranger and setting up home with them is often entirely underestimated. People are just expected to take any fall out or break up in their stride, often without support, while getting on with their work or other aspects of their lives, seemingly unaffected.

Stress affects everyone to some degree, but severe stress is a feeling of being unable to cope and is a reaction to excessive demands and pressures made upon the individual. It is most likely to be maintained by a feeling of personal rejection, insignificance and worthlessness. National Statistics in Britain have reported that approximately one in six adults (excluding those in institutions) has some form of mental health problem, the most common being anxiety with depression caused by stress.

Stress is usually short, sporadic or intermittent, designed to sharpen up our capabilities in coping with life and to improve our resilience. In most cases we do just fine in reacting to it. However, it is when stress continues for long periods that trouble looms, especially when it is caused by the presence or absence of someone else. Stress can rob you of your good looks, your disposition, your health, your youthfulness, and can even take your life.

It is particularly unpleasant and harmful when:
* pressures build up or are prolonged indefinitely;

* we are unable to control the demands placed upon us;

* we are constantly anxious;

* we feel alone and unwanted;

* support is not there when we need it.

However, what has escaped everyone's notice is the lethal level of stress caused by simply moving between relationships, especially where the desire for a break is not mutual, or where one is stuck in a relationship which makes one or both parties feel impotent, unhappy or simply miserable. Add to that, the constant search for a partner in the first place, when the rules of engagement have changed beyond recognition, and we have a never ending cycle of emotional discomfort which can lead to extreme forms of stress. Because of their continuing regularity, these situations are often taken for granted as a necessary part of life but their actual effects can be most debilitating in people ill-equipped to cope with their emotional needs.

Sadly, wherever stress is recurrent and overwhelming, it can become life-threatening and does affect our health, particularly in lowering individual resistance to fighting illnesses. If nothing is done to reduce such emotional stress, we can be affected by a whole range of ailments, of which the short-term ones may include headaches, sleeping difficulties, irritability, depression, forgetfulness, lack of concentration, increased consumption of alcohol, aggression or social isolation. Long-term stress is likely to cause stomach pains, panic attacks, worsening of asthma, strokes, mental breakdown, heart attacks, family breakdown or suicide, among numerous other problems.

Considering the relentless increase in states of depression down the years, stress, especially emotional stress relating to dating and relationships, is certainly not a subject to be taken lightly.

Is Valentine's Day a stupid idea? What do you think?


Q. My ex always used to refuse to buy me anything on Valentine's Day, and if I bought her anything she'd be mad. The only exception was the one time when I bought her two acres of rain forest through a nature conservancy. She liked that. She always told me that Valentine's Day was created for workaholics like me. It gave us permission to take make the other person a priority, hang out with our significant others, and buy them sappy cards. What do you all think?

A. There is no harm in celebrating any day of the year. You are right, we don't need anyone to tell us when to celebrate our love. But we seldom complain about celebrating Christmas or Thanksgiving. No, most people accept them and have a great day without any fuss. Yet they are the same evolved social holidays that we all agree to celebrate. Valentine's Day is no different. It is probably an excuse for the shops to sell things, but it is something wholesome, something positive, something that uplifts us and reminds us of our priorities. The key is not to worry about celebrating Valentine's Day as a one off. The main thing is to make everyday a Valentine's day for you and your loved one. In that way, no one would be dictating when you show your love or how to show it.

People who complain about celebrating anything nice forget a key thing about our world: we are validated by others. We relate to others to survive. When we selfishly just think of what we want, we rob someone else of a goodwill feeling by ignoring how they might feel about the issue. We take the joy from their world too. You sound a very giving person. Was your ex just taking in return? As you said, she didn't mind the rain forest, so she seems to be selective in what she will celebrate! Perhaps that is why she is now your ex!

A relationship is about two people, not just one. It is about compromise, give and take, mutual agreement. When one person is dictating the issues, that is not conducive to harmony because it means the other person's feelings are always being ignored. It really doesn't matter about superficial celebrations like Valentine's Day. The key is whether we love our partners enough to treat them really special at other times too. Whether we merely notice what they give, while all we do is take.

There is nothing stupid about any celebration of love. Most people don't need a special day to tell them when to love, but for very busy people, or those who are reticent in showing their feelings, this is a welcome reminder to stop and give some attention to their partners. To give some time to smelling and enjoying the roses.

I wish you a great Valentine's Day, whatever you do, and hope it is simply magical!