Relationship Advice from Dr. TRuth
Dear Doctor TRuth,
I'm 19 and now a Sophomore in college.
I was in relationships all throughout high school and ended my "most serious" one the summer before going away to college. He had wanted to follow me and didn't take the break up too well at all and I somehow influenced him to go to school in Idaho to play football while I would be in Los Angeles because it was best for him. Who knows, it may have been but I really just wanted the space.
So anyway, since then I've been in and out of flings that last a few months or less maybe. I was really hurt by one guy who really did like me but was still in love with his ex girlfriend, who happened to be one of my friends unfortunately.. and that's how I found out. He didn't know I knew he was still texting her saying he liked me but if he could be with her he would... They had been over for about 2 years and she had definitely moved on but I think she just liked him being in obsessed with her so she never really helped the situation much. I ignored it at first but then I decided I couldn't take it and I just completely blew him off and told him I wasn't into him at all but at least we had fun. He asked me if I was a lesbian after that. haha. So anyway, I haven't talked to him since but right now I feel really confused.
I've been hanging out with this one guy a lot since I've been home for the summer. We connect really well and can talk about anything because we're both kind of ridiculous. I think I've made him mad lately because I won't show affection in public but I don't want to because he's not my boyfriend. I do like him but I don't want other people to know that. He's a 26 year old college drop out living at home with no driver's license due to a D.U.I. and he's pretty sure there's a warrant out for his arrest since he never served his time. He does at least have a job with the family business but he's not a very good influence on me because I'm pretty sure he's an alcoholic and I've been trying hard to be healthy because I've been having a lot of health problems in the last year. We have had sex but we haven't for a while because I'm afraid.
You see, I have an ultra sound coming up in the next few weeks because doctors suspect I might have an ovarian tumor of some sort or possibly ovarian cancer and it's been freaking me out. Even before I found out about that possibility I had been having dreams where I was completely bald. We aren't too close emotionally so I don't really want to talk about it and I've been very distant partying with my friends without him.
I hooked up with another guy not too long ago at one of my friend's graduation party and have been talking to him a lot. He's 23. I'm trying to play the field and I think I might like hanging out with this other guy who is my sister's friend's cousin.
My friends don't like him at all and begged me not to hang out with him but my parents love him since they are such great friends with his family. I feel really silly but I've been sneaking the first guy over for a while since I don't have my own place right now and he lives at home too. I would invite him over earlier but I don't want him to meet my parents or anything because then they will ask me questions and be really irritating.
I can't really talk to my parents about these things. I thought I was just hanging out with the first guy, Jason, because I was bored but now I can't stop thinking about him. I was rather rude to him last night but I was hanging out with him and one of his best friends Sean who is like 27 I believe but has always been in love with me and I guess hasn't gotten over it because he was really angry when he saw Jason and I together. Jason is also friends with another guy Gene who I had a fling with last summer but it was right after I got out of my longest relationship with the guy who went to Idaho and he still won't let me forget that I broke his heart.
I just got my apartment in Los Angeles about 3 hours away from here and I'm supposed to move in in the next few weeks so I won't even be near any of these guys.
Jason said he would only get his license if he could come see me... and I said well get it then. It's not going to be easy since he hasn't been to any AA meetings or served his two days in jail and has been avoiding it for so long.
I'm so confused.. and If I really am sick I don't even know what's going to happen. I can't commit or be satisfied with any of my choices. I'm obviously not ready for a relationship but then I find myself feeling lonely but I don't want to lead anyone on. I like a lot of people because I get along with most. I'm just a friendly outgoing person..
I'm tired of hurting people but I warned them all before that they shouldn't like me. They thought I was kidding.
It would be lovely if you could please shed a little light on this disaster I've created. Oh yea and Idaho boy isn't going back to Idaho and he does enjoy to comment on all my mistakes... but then turns around and tries to help. He needs to make up his mind whether or not he wants to be my friend or not. But I guess he just wants to be my boyfriend...
It's almost impossible for me to have straight male friends. Sorry for the novel but I tried to cut it short.
What can I do?
-Struggling in a small town
I am very glad you wrote to me because you do need help...You are going through a lot of significant changes socially and health wise and I think you need to get into some ongoing psychotherapy with a psychodynamic psychotherapist. I see by your letter that you are intellectually quite bright but that you are also behaving self destructively. Hooking up randomly with so many guys, being hooked on someone who is or has been very self destructive, choosing people who truly are emotionally available and can't possibly be there for you in any consistent way only tells me how ambivalent you are not only about relationships but about where you really want to be...
I think you are using these young men for temporary comfort but that you somehow don't believe that any one of them can provide the comfort and security you want.
You are still quite young and so I write part of this off to being in an experimental stage but I still think you are acting something out which probably stems from your childhood. Further, you are dealing with some serious health issues which of course must be making you quite anxious. Your dreams of baldness should indicate that. The possibility of ovarian cancer is not an easy thing to face and I hope that your tests prove negative. At this time, you should probably surround yourself with people who truly love and support you, not empty hookups which you just leave you disappointed
So I need you to answer the following questions for yourself..
1. What do you really feel about your behavior? Is it making you feel better or is it making you feel worse?
2. If it is making you feel worse, ask yourself why you continue to hook up with random people and get involved with people (Miguel) whom you know is probably not your best choice because he himself doesn't function too well.
3. What is your self esteem like at this point? Do you feel like you are taking the best possible care of yourself?
4. What was your childhood like? Did your parent's relationship teach you that relationships can work? Or quite the opposite?
5. Are you reaching out to these young men because you feel empty and are looking for some way to gain attention and affection from people who can't possibly provide it or are these relationships just temporary releases from anxiety?
Try to consider these questions and maybe to find a professional to talk to on an ongoing basis. From your letter and the confusion you feel, sometimes it is better to just hang out just as friends for a while and to stop being subjected to other people's needs and desires before you even know your own. If you feel like you are floundering, please give yourself the chance to look inside yourself and to introspect your own heart. The answers will be found there, not outside of yourself in meaningless relationships. I know you describe yourself as friendly and outgoing but I don't think you are truly close to anyone you've mentioned, not even your parents. Who knows the real you? You have so many guys around you but not one of them is someone you can really count on to be there.
This would really be a time to put yourself first and not worry so much about what other people need. If other people's demands on you are overwhelming, figure out what you need first and honor those feelings above all. While it is always nice to find so many people attracted to you, in the end, your needs are not being met. Right now, finding supportive and loving people to talk to seems more important than worrying about which guy got his feelings hurt. That is the very last thing that should be on your mind. If you can only be friends with gay guys, maybe that is because they feel more like girlfriends and don't make the same kinds of demands on you.
Start saying "No" more often when you feel this overwhelmed. It can work wonders.
Good luck, thanks for writing, and please keep me posted.