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TODAY contributor
updated 10/12/2012 10:51:07 AM ET 2012-10-12T14:51:07

Dr. Gilda Carle

Need a quick answer to a relationship dilemma? Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her relationship advice in TODAY.com’s “30-second therapist” series.

Q: I’ve been dating this guy for three months. He has a kid whose mom he left 4 months ago because they were unhappy. I try to be creative in showing how I feel. I wrote him a letter expressing my deep feelings, telling him I love him.

He tells me what he loves about me, but he never says, "I love you." So I thought I should let it out. It was killing me. At 28, after a bad relationship, I didn’t think I could love again, but I do.

Did I use the “L” word too soon? When he got my letter, he called to say how much he liked it and how much it meant to him. Am I moving too fast? —Fallen Deeply

Dear Fallen,
Timepiece, please!  It’s too late to ask whether you used the “L” word too soon.  And it’s too soon to place demands on a guy who recently left his woman and child. 

Granted, this man is hot. But you uttered words of endearment because masking them was “killing” you.  Cool off long enough to ask how he is feeling after leaving his family, and how he plans to navigate life with his child. He needs to work these out, despite “loving” your qualities.

Let your young affair progress naturally. As my Gilda-Gram warns, “Love that is not mutual is merely hero worship.” If you push too hard, you’ll inhabit the same outhouse as his baby’s mama. —Dr. Gilda

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Q: My boyfriend proposed to me last year. But he lost his job soon after that. I tried to be supportive and optimistic, but now, he is still unemployed after 1 ½ years. I ask him if he has been looking, but he does not give me a straight answer.  We are in our late 30s, early 40s, and I feel that I'm wasting time with him. I love him, but I’m frustrated, and not sure if I should leave or stay.  What's worse, he doesn't want me to tell my friends or family about his job loss or our proposal.  His immediate family knows about the job loss, but not the proposal. I get questions from my family and friends about why we aren’t married already, and it's hard because I can't tell anyone the truth about what’s going on. Leaving would be hard because he proposed to me. He does not treat me badly, but he’s not forthcoming about his job search efforts. What should I do? —Frustrated

Dear Frustrated,
When boyfriend proposed, he expected to begin a happy future with you.  But circumstances short-circuited his plans.  At midlife, when people ponder their achievements, he feels like a failure.  Now he wants to conceal this truth—from family, friends and you.  Most men still believe it’s their role to bring in the bacon, so they suffer from financial setbacks more deeply than their female counterparts.

Boyfriend needs your support. I urge you to watch for signs of depression, as suicide has now become America’s most prevalent cause of death by injury. If sustaining this caring is too stressful for you, it’s best you learn this now, before “for better or for worse” unwittingly reveals the latter. —Dr. Gilda

Do you agree with Dr. Gilda’s advice? Do you have your own? Share it in the comments below.

Want Dr. Gilda to answer your relationship questions? Click here to 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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