Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,
I have been in a relationship with “Tony” for 13 years. We are in an LDR (long distance relationship) now but I am having second thoughts.
Since moving to Canada, I gave him options for how to legally join me; he hasn’t done anything, nor mentioned any plans of moving here even if it’s been 4 years
I am always the one to initiate contact; our chats/video calls only consist of good morning and good night. With the time difference, I tell him to wait for my call (usually 10 pm Manila time); Some nights he doesn’t answer my call, apologizing the next day because he said he fell asleep.
He works at a hospital, which is tiring, especially since he has no hours or fixed days off. On his days off, he goes drinking with his co-workers, sometimes sleeping over at their place; he doesn’t even allot 15 minutes to talk to me.
Upon my asking, he explains but gets defensive, angry, and shouts at me. I don’t complain, fearing he will shout again. We had one fight and it took a month before communicating with me. I don’t want that to happen again.
I can’t control whatever he’s doing while we are apart. He cheated once before when we were living together; I fear it is more likely now that we are in this LDR.
He’s 40; I’m 32. I expected more enthusiasm for us to be together again, to start our own family. He is my first boyfriend; we have been together since I was in college
I am going back to the Philippines for a vacation. I told myself that if he doesn’t propose or make his plans clear, I would stop this and finally move on, I tried many times to ask what his plans are; he just says he will come here.
What should I do?
Thank you for your email.
What is most striking is that you paint such a black picture of your boyfriend Tony. He barely communicates with you, he shouts at you if you attempt to get him to explain himself and he shows no interest in joining you in Canada.
You say that you are in a long distance relationship. Well, Canada is indeed a long way from the Philippines but from what you have revealed apart from distance there is little, if any, evidence of a real relationship between the two of you — no intimacy, no affection, no trust, nada.
Now, admittedly not everybody wants to go and work abroad. They may have a good and rewarding job here at home or be fortunate to have one or more family members abroad already and sending back regular remittances. You do not mention finances in your email so perhaps they are not an issue. Or they may not want to leave the tropics for a country reportedly with two seasons — winter and July! But whatever Tony’s reasons, they clearly outweigh his commitment to your relationship.
I can see no reason for you to persist in this relationship unless Tony has attributes that you have not mentioned but frankly even a big penis will not bridge the Pacific. Or maybe it is simply that he is your first boyfriend and you don’t want to write off a 13-year investment. But, truthfully, these are terrible reasons to remain with a man who as we have seen shows so little interest in you and therefore I suggest you say goodbye at the earliest opportunity.
Thank you very much for your letter.
I agree with Mr Baer that that there seems no reason to persist in this relationship.
This hardly seems a relationship of equals either. He shouts at you and rather than tell him in no uncertain terms he is NOT to do that again (the way one might in a relationship between equals), instead like a puppy dog who doesn’t want to be beaten by his master once more, you decide to ask him no further questions lest he become displeased and shout at you again.
You have the right idea about giving yourself an ultimatum. All I would suggest is upping the timeline. Do it now. There is no benefit in prolonging what you will end anyway.
Do it now, while your mind is clear enough and you have accurately described how you treat each other (as per your above letter).
Do it now, while you are still in Canada and he is where he plans to never leave, because when flesh meets flesh, reason may well fly out the window.
Professor Emeritus Milton Diamond was Director of the Pacific Center for Sex and Society within the School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii while I was there taking my Masters in Public Health.
Once, I had the good fortune to have a one-on-one conversation with him. I was having problems with my boyfriend. He told me practically the same thing I am telling you: Leave him.
But what struck me most was the reason he gave for his advice: “You have relationships to feel better about yourself. If being with him doesn’t, why stay?”
So, dearest Connie, if being with him makes you feel insecure — is he cheating? Why can’t he even wait for my phone calls? Why do I always have to call? Why isn’t he eager to start a family with me when he’s already 40?!!? Why won’t he come to Canada? Then why bother?
What I might suggest is that you write us again after your goodbyes to Tony so we can explore why it took you such a long time to finally see him for what he was. I think that will be a journey far more meaningful and helpful.
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.