Love and Relationships

[Two Pronged] Why can’t I find the right man?

Margarita Holmes
[Two Pronged] Why can’t I find the right man?
'Is the problem me? Every time I meet a guy, it's the wrong one.'

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’m 29, an OFW in Saudi, with one son and an ex-husband. We separated in 2014 and I am now working on our annulment.

2014, I started longing for a partner. I met some guys, but not feeling ready, had no relationship or sex with them. I keep on praying that whenever Lord gives me a man, it will be the last.

In mid-2014, I met a single guy working in the same company as me. He was interested; I introduced him my life, including my past.

He didn’t mind at all; he even helped me initiate annulment procedures. We talked about us and we agreed that we remain friends and when I finalize my annulment, then we will decide.

I was devastated when he later told me he was getting married.

I was no longer depressed when I met a foreigner and fell “in love.”

I treated him as my real boyfriend, but it never lasted long. It was emotional torture when we fought. Again, I failed. We called it quits. My hopes are gone. I know I lost. Deep inside me, I still love him. I send him messages hoping he’ll reply.

My career is fine; I got a better job. I tried to move on, but my heart can’t let it go. I keep on praying, on longing… then suddenly, I met new guy. He’s 32, single, Muslim.  

He is almost my ideal type, but I am Born Again. This is a big factor. I should know where I stand… but I found myself liking him. We are working in the same company. I found out that he is not for a relationship thing and that he’s just in it for sex. I am not into it.

There are times I feel shaken. I almost gave in, but reminded myself not to fall in the trap. He was honest about what he wants. As long as I resist, he is very persistent. I tried ignoring his messages, but I can’t control myself. Every time I resist, the more I like him. I miss him when we don’t see each other.

Maybe this is something I have to conquer, but I don’t know how to accept things. I long for a partner but it’s “so mailap” (difficult to hold on to).

Is the problem me? Every time I meet a guy, it’s the wrong one. I am depressed, but cheering myself up.


Dear Anne,

Thank you for your message.

It seems as though there are two significant contradictions in your life.

Firstly, you believe in a romantic relationship with the man of your dreams and then try to persuade yourself that the man you are currently with actually meets the job requirements when this is not the case.

Secondly, you highlight that you are Born Again, and that this is a big deal in your life, yet you consider a Muslim as almost your ideal type, which suggests that your romantic life is not fully integrated with your spiritual life.

Perhaps you need to approach your romantic life a little less feverishly, just allowing relationships to develop, or not, without investing huge amounts of hope until hope is actually justified. I know this is more easily said than done, but practice is invaluable and leads to success.

Religion is not within the ambit of this column but from my limited exposure to evangelicals, they seem to have very clear views on sexual behavior (churches just love to control our sex lives, don’t they?). Also, some, but not all churches strongly encourage their brethren to form relationships within the congregation, presumably so that the purity of a member’s faith is not sullied by heresy from without. Is it feasible for you to try socializing with like-minded folk and see what transpires?

I realize that as an OFW your social options are perhaps severely reduced but maybe love will blossom unexpectedly.

All the best,

JAF Baer

Dear Anne,

Thank you very much for your letter. You wrote: “I long for a partner but it’s ‘so mailap.’ Every time I meet a guy, I’m having the wrong one. Is the problem in me?”

Mr Baer suggests you not invest in any relationship (no matter how good it looks in the beginning) “until hope is actually justified.”

His advice makes perfect sense for women like us: Women who are hopeful without justification when it comes to relationships (and get deeply depressed when the guys we trust don’t “get” us); women who have been advised by true friends not to be too honest too quickly (but we don’t listen and are surprised when things don’t turn out the way we want them to); women with men who claim they love it when we’re available at the drop of a hat (and yet take us for granted when we are).

That’s because we don’t bother to play the male-female game (MFG), Anne. This is very ok if we can deal with the consequences, but if we prefer not to, perhaps it’s best we learn a few of MFG’s rules:

Talk is cheap.  Just because he says he feels this way doesn’t mean he does.  This isn’t always because he’s a bloody liar either. It’s just that… well, talk IS cheap. As if all you have to say is “I’m sorry” or “I changed my mind”  and that’s supposed to make things all right. So… no matter what he says and how earnestly he says it, anything less than a contract means nothing…except maybe for time. Time spent together, over more than a week, a month or even a year can mean something deeper. Especially if it’s time that need not have been spent with you, but was.

BUT the biggest rule of all is that you need meaning in your life that is beyond any M-F relationship. So that when things go wrong, as they sometimes will, and you fall apart like you sometimes might, you won’t give up fighting because whatever gives you meaning still anchors you. 

All the best,

MG Holmes  


Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.