Do I love my boyfriend, or am I just using him?
This week, one reader says she's not sure if she loves her boyfriend, or if she just enjoys that he loves her. Another says she's upset her boyfriend of four months isn't excited that she's pregnant. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.
Q: I really don't know if I love my boyfriend, or whether I just love that someone loves me. I have always chased men and the "making him like me" was my infatuation. I went for unavailable guys because I thought I could be the one to change them. From the beginning, my boyfriend always showed he liked me. He came on really strong and talked about marriage within a few months, not even asking to be exclusive. He just assumed I felt the same way. I find his personality annoying, because he is not like the witty, cocky guys I've always chased. I am torn. There’s no one better than he, and I know I'm being immature. He is financially stable, wants kids, won't cheat, and believes in working on a relationship. But I want him to make me laugh more, and I want the feelings to be mutual. My friends and family like him, and think I am nuts for focusing on his faults, and are happy that I’m no longer single. —Confused and Unhappy
Dear Confused and Unhappy,
Since you believe love is out of your league, you feel undeserving when someone expresses it to you. So you sabotage its possibility with unattainable bad boys. If a guy surprises you with kindness, you ego-stroke yourself to think it’s you who’s been able to charm him to come around!
In the real world, my Gilda-Gram™ warns, “What you fight to get, you’ll fight to keep.” Girl, difficult dudes usually don’t stay. But your stay-worthy boyfriend doesn’t warrant the inevitable pain you’ll bring him. This is what you should do now: 1. Put your personal wants and needs before the wishes of your friends and family. 2. List the great qualities your boyfriend has. 3. Each time you find yourself drifting towards the negative, take out the list of positives and note how it makes you feel. 4. Follow these steps for a month. If you still can't appreciate your guy, move on and seek counseling. It's obvious you want love; but you must learn how to manifest it. —Dr. Gilda
Q: My boyfriend and I are having a baby four months into our relationship. We're both very excited and can't wait, but he doesn't show his excitement at all, he just says he is when I ask about it. I feel as though he doesn't care about me anymore. All he wants to do is play video games all day and barely says a word to me. What can I do to get his attention and get him excited for the baby? — Feeling ignored
Dear Feeling Ignored,
You know your boyfriend for a sparse four months, and you’re already inviting a child into this mix? Maybe video games are the way your guy copes with stress. Maybe he really isn’t that excited about his new daddy role. Maybe he doesn’t want to be there anymore. But you wouldn’t know how to read him so soon.
You’re playing house with poor communication, and you’re both in need of learning to transition from being self-centered to baby-centered! Get counseling now to get the skills you lack in preparation for healthy parenting. —Dr. Gilda
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Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor emerita, has written 15 books, and her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”—Second Edition. She provides advice and coaching via Skype, email and phone.