30 second therapist

I'm in love with my best friend, and others disapprove

Aug. 9, 2013 at 10:34 AM ET

This week, one reader says family and friends disapprove of her new relationship, while another reader says he's addicted to phone sex. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.

Q: I am recently (three months) divorced and I have fallen in love with my best friend. He is divorced about a year and he feels the same. We have been friends for 25 years. While our feelings for each other didn't cause our divorces of long-term marriages, in the past few years, we've spent more time together — as friends — but I think it awakened us to how misfit we each felt in our relationships. When we each turned 40, we decided to make changes in our lives.

We both have teenage children and some very close family (parents, siblings). We've started appearing in public together as a couple, but the disapproval is strong — not for each of us as people, but because it looks like something was going on before the divorces and that's what caused them. I know I didn't leave my husband for him, and I feel lucky to have found love again. Should we put it on hold for the sake of appearances, or do we tell them life is short and we're happy? Help! —Best Friends & Lovers

Dear BF&L,

Who’s running your lives? My book, “Don’t Bet on the Prince!,” distinguishes between internally controlled people and those who are externally malleable. For externals, onlookers always have something to say — once you give them a bullhorn!

To put your romance on hold, or even respond, “for the sake of appearances,” invites further judgments. Instead, show who you are and what you deserve by following this Gilda-Gram™: “Praise and blame are both the same.”

Internally-directed people ignore both! Smile at objections, as though you never heard them, alter your body language, and change the subject. Commentators will either get it, or get going. Either way, you’ve learned the valuable lesson of asserting your power. Congrats! —Dr. Gilda

Q: I tried phone sex a few years ago, and it's now become an addiction. I'll have it once or twice on the weekend, and it's a financial burden. Sadly, I enjoy the phone sex sites, not just with women, but with men as well. Do you have tips as to why I keep pursuing phone sex, and what I can do to stop? —Addicted

Dear Addicted,

We are sexual creatures, so of course phone sex turns us on! But you’re soliciting anonymous sites because you feel inadequate with real women. After a while, the thrill of the turn-on to your genitalia alone wore off. So you upped the ante with same sex encounters.

Your wallet is shrinking, and you still feel empty. Obviously, you’re missing the emotional connection and the vital integration of your senses. To wean yourself of one-way pleasure, start to date people in the flesh. Begin slowly, with coffee and conversation. When you feel secure with one special person, the phone sex you’ve had will pale compared to its combination with a deep and sincere romance! If the phone sex is still impeding on your life or preventing you from seeking out a real relationship, then it's time for professional help. —Dr. Gilda

Want Dr. Gilda to answer your relationship questions? Send them in!

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.

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