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   Relationship Advice from Dr. TRuth
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I am a 29-year-old woman who has never been married.
I have had a number of fairly long-term relationships each lasting around 2 years. Some of been live-in, some live-out.
Here's my pattern: I seem to fall in love rather quickly. I get attracted to someone and before I know it, we're an item. All goes well for six months or so. Then "it" starts.
"It" is the weird behavior, the pulling away, the acting ambivalent, etc. So this goes on for a while and then I start to feel used and abused, neglected and rejected etc. so I put up with things and then I can't take it anymore.
This usually lasts for about a year and then I begin to separate which also takes me awhile.
After each of these experiences I withdraw for about three months. Then I come out of hiding, meet someone new, and the cycle begins again. The first one or two times this happened, I didn't think too much about it except that I picked jerks. Now, after 4 or 5 times, I'm beginning to wonder if all men are jerks, or if maybe I have something to do with it. Help me!


Dear Kathy:

I have two things to say to you: No! and then, Yes!

First of all, how could all men be jerks?

Do you really think that the world was created so dismally that one entire gender could fall into such a category?

Anyway, what is a jerk? Sounds like you are defining it as someone who doesn't meet your needs. After all, anyone can do the relationship thing for six months. That's the falling in love phase when your hearts beat as one and you spend your life in breathless anticipation of your next encounter.

How long can that feeling actually last? That is, in fact, not love, but romance.

Anyone can do romance because it is indeed a delicious high that makes the world sweeter while it lasts. But romance, by its very definition, is based on the fact that it must change into something else and it always does.

It either progresses into a more mature and sophisticated love, or it dies on the vine.

I'm afraid, Kathy that your relationships fall into the latter category. So let's ask ourselves why? I think it is because the teenager inside of you never matured past the age of 17.

You still are looking for the man who will make you feel like the perennial prom queen for the rest of your life. Believe me, this will never happen.

Just as no flesh and blood man can keep the romantic stereotype going, no woman can be the ongoing object of all his feelings. Unfortunately, real life always intervenes. People's reality concerns such as jobs, family, friends, outside interests, etc. begin to intrude on the romantic bubble you have created for yourself and, like all bubbles, it bursts.
Now Kathy, you have to decide whether you want real life or a story book romance.

My guess is that the men you choose pull away because they sense your unwillingness to allow them to have a life outside of you. Maybe when they start to pull away, it really is their way of saying, "Kathy, you are not my only concern."

It sounds like you interpret their need to pay attention to their individual realities as a rejection of you, which indeed it is not. Or are you so possessive and obsessed that they actually need to pull away in order to take care of the other priorities in their lives.

So here's the deal: you need to grow up.

This means that you need to look at love and relationships in general as partnerships, where two people share life goals and experiences along a mutually beneficial and pleasurable path.

What 'relationship' doesn't mean is an exclusive bubble where real life and other people can never trespass. Nor can any relationship fill up all your unmet emotional needs, past and present.

I have a feeling that when you begin to allow the men in your life some time and space of their own, they may not need to pull away so dramatically.

And Kathy, here's the good news. You had the intelligence to recognize that this is a pattern in your life and that is the first step to doing something about it.

As you learn to make yourself happy and fulfilled in your own life, others won't feel the burden of doing it for you. That way, you can be happy and fulfilled together, without pressure, without ownership, and without unreasonable demands for attention.

This is the beginning of real intimacy.

Dr. TRuth

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