This week, one reader wonders why no one her age tries to pick her up, while another says she's sick of her boyfriend acting like a child. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.
Q: I'm 29 and haven't had a real boyfriend since college. I've tried online dating and the only people that asked me out were old and creepy. I had my friends (male and female) read my profile and the pictures I posted to make sure they were OK, and everyone said they were good! When I do go out, the only guys that actually come up to me are 45 and up. I'm not picky, but maybe someone in his 30s would be great for once. I'm not fat (at least I don't think so) or hideous. I have fun when I'm out, I go to the gym, and my job is secure. What's wrong??
--29 And Still Looking
Our chronological age is one thing, but it’s the “image age” we radiate that exposes who we are and attracts our partners. “Image age” is my term for the age we project, independent of the age we are. There are young people who impersonate couch potatoes, and older folks with chronological ages you’d never believe. A person feels most in sync with a mate of a similar image age!
If “old and creepy” 40-somethings usually scope you out, instead of asking your friends to judge your online profile, ask strangers to assess your image age. Perhaps you carry yourself “older,” or your expressions are not as hip as the guys you want to entice. Identify what you’re exuding, and you’ll know what renovations to make. --Dr. Gilda
Q: I feel stuck. I've been in a relationship with my boyfriend for five years and we have two beautiful baby boys. We live together, we're young, and we’re struggling parents both going to school to try to make a better life for our kids. Unfortunately, I feel as if I'm the only one with responsibility; I have three kids instead of two, since he doesn't work, cook, or clean. He just sits at home and plays video games when he's not in class. Also, he's always in a bad mood and angry. I've done everything to try to salvage our relationship, but it's taking a toll on me mentally, physically, and definitely emotionally. I'm starting to become an angry person, as well. We've tried couples counseling, but I'm pretty much the only one who says anything. He just sits there with his mouth shut and pouts the whole session, so we stopped going. He yells at me in front of our kids and now my oldest son, about to be 2 years old, has started raising his voice to me. Should I even continue to try to find ways to seek help to salvage what we had/have? --Third Child Mama
Dear Third Child Mama,
The answer to your dilemma is in your sign-off. You’re not only “mama” to your “two beautiful baby boys;” you’re also “mama” to your man! So, girl, he doesn’t “work, cook, or clean” because he doesn’t have to, knowing Mama will take up the slack. Unless he’s bonded to Oedipus, no man wants to sleep with mommy, and your man’s peeved about his shabby role.
Girlfriend, expunge “director” from your repertoire, and ask for your boyfriend’s help! As my Gilda-Gram™ advises, “For healthy relationships with men, lessen the mothering.” Leave some cooking and cleaning undone—until he does them. Everyone needs to feel productive. At least, give him the opportunity to become a strong male role model for his sons. --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.