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TODAY contributor
updated 10/19/2012 10:21:09 AM ET 2012-10-19T14:21:09

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: When I first met my fiance, she was a struggling single mom.  She wanted to become a stripper to survive, so I was supportive. After 7 months, she’s making less as a stripper than in her old job. It’s causing stress for both of us, and she's too proud to quit. She's not cheating, but each time I broach the subject, we fight. When we argue, she uses similar tactics as she did with the father of her child.

Her bills are covered through her child support, but when she does make extra money, she blows it. If I could cover her bills, I would, but it’s already starting to drag me into debt. How do I convey that our relationship is starting to fail? I care for her deeply and don’t want to leave. Please help! —At A Loss

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Dear At A Loss,
What rock have you been under? Your fiancé is “too proud to quit” a stripping job that pays poorly? Huh? You’ve been a co-dependent to this woman, was once supportive of her job, and now are attempting to bail her out. But the plot has backfired in your own debt!  Moreover, she doesn’t want you legislating her employment—or her money management.

Engagement marks a couple’s move toward togetherness. But you two are at war, and her kamikaze arguing tactics fuel the rage. This fiancé is certainly not grounded for marriage. But you must discover why you “don’t want to leave” this unstable charade. —Dr. Gilda

Q: I love my boyfriend very much, and we've been together for 10 months. His ex cheated and was mentally and physically abusive, and he was with her for 2 1/2 years. They broke up, he was distraught, and he tried to win her back, but she had already moved on to someone else. He keeps pictures of her, and constantly checks her Facebook page. 

He's very good to me. We talk about a future together, and he tells me he loves me more than he ever loved her, but I feel he’s still in love with her. It’s not fair to me to be the consolation prize. I question if he wants me only because she doesn’t want him. We jumped into this relationship quickly. I've only had one other guy at it lasted six years.  He died a year after we broke up. I started dating my current boyfriend when I was still grieving. I think I’m putting up with a lot because I’m scared to be alone. —Accepting Less Than I Should

Dear Accepting Less,
At the beginning, you and your boyfriend were both needy for love, and became a matched set with grief in common. My Gilda-Gramcautions, “Beware the mate that projects, ‘Desperate looking for Pathetic.’” This warning escaped you. Now the lust dust has settled, and you’re wisely pondering your relationship’s shelf life. Of course you’re upset that your guy is still holding a torch for his ex. But he, too, should be wary of your hanging in because you’re “scared to be alone.”

Neither of you has recovered from your histories. Seek counseling to understand why, and to grow beyond your ghosts. It’s essential to guard that ten desperate months don’t morph into ten pathetic years. —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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