This week, one reader says she's upset that her boyfriend won't marry her until she stops smoking, while another says she can't get over her ex messing around when they were on a break. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.
Q: I’m in a relationship with a guy I have known for more than eight years. We get along great and like to do the same things. Before we got together, he came from a bad relationship with a child, and I came from a divorce. We have talked about marriage (he brought it up) and getting engaged. He has always said he would never get married, but now he tells me and others I am the one. I have had an issue with smoking over the last couple of years and have started back up. I am trying to quit again since he has told me he will not marry me if I smoke. I am not sure how to feel about this. I think if you love someone you love them for all the good and bad. I have never tried to change him nor would I. I know he does not want me to smoke because he’s scared I’m going to die. It just hurts that because of my smoking, he’s not willing to make a commitment to me. Am I looking at this wrong, or is this a red flag? I love him and want to grow old with him, but don't want to feel I must change, as my ex-husband always demanded I do. —Up in Smoke
Dear Up in Smoke,
I just attended two consecutive days of funerals for two smokers. So you won’t get buy-in to smoke from me. You say you “want to grow old” with your boyfriend. What are you smoking? You won’t reach old age in an early grave! Also, you’re unfairly reacting, not to him, but to the memory of your controlling ex.
A lot of ladies would love to have a guy as concerned about their health as your guy is about yours. Stop reacting (to the wrong dude) like an obstinate adolescent. He is not your ex, and he’s wise to insist on good health boundaries for the woman he loves. Besides, he intuitively knows my Gilda-Gram™: “If you don’t care about yourself, you won’t care about a mate.” Girl, grow up! —Dr. Gilda
Q: I'm very young and I believe I'm in love. I've been with my boyfriend on and off for four years and when we broke it off the first time, he started messing with a girl. We got back months later, and he knew it bothered me. We broke it off again and he went back to this girl and took it further. I can't get over it. I get very jealous of her. I play these images in my mind and I start feeling ill. I've seen old messages from her and saw that he told her the same things he tells me. Then I don’t feel special. What advice can you give me? —Upset by the Past
Your boyfriend is not a yo-yo. When two people break up, they’re free to do whatever they want. When a couple tries to return to where they’ve been, they need to have a discussion about how they’ve grown while apart. Just because you didn’t hook up during “spring break” doesn’t mean he kept to the same standard. For you to resent his actions during that time is an impossible attempt to re-write the past. Get over it!
If you want to feel “special,” treat your boyfriend as special. Tenaciously quit breakups that continue to result in makeups. Yo-yos are meant for game playing, not for loving! —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.