Love and Relationships

[TWO PRONGED] I have a cold, unaffectionate boyfriend

Margarita Holmes, Jeremy Baer
[TWO PRONGED] I have a cold, unaffectionate boyfriend
'I was down with the flu once. He didn't even ask me if there was anything he could do for me.'

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.

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Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer:

I’m in my late 30s, living with “Wade,” who is in his forties and single. We work in the same company. I am a manager; he isn’t.

We work together with a team in different provinces. After three months, we live together in Manila for two weeks then repeat the cycle. In the province, we have separate quarters. Relationships are discouraged in this company.

I am frustrated with him. 

He warned me he wasn’t affectionate, but I never thought he would be this cold. I was down with the flu once. He didn’t even ask me if there was anything he could do for me. I complained that I even had to tell him to buy my medicines; he said, “You told me you could handle things.”

We obviously came from different family backgrounds, have a different financial status, but this is too much.

Once, we had sex and I was on top.  He said “I love you.” But when I got off him, he blurted “Ang bigat ng balakang mo! (Your hips are so heavy).”

That pissed me off to the max! I told him how offensive his words were. He answered; “What’s so bad about what I said? You should get offended if I lied to you and pretended you were light as a feather.”

I read self-help relationship books that say, “Women shouldn’t expect men to love like women” because they are made of different stuff. I gave him an article on “How to have a successful relationship,” with a note saying I hope he understands my feelings. Several times he says, “I will just go home if you always blame me for things I already warned you are not in me.”

This frustrates me more. Instead of trying to appease me, he makes me angrier.

Please help.

Carmen

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Dear Carmen,

Thank you for your email.

When two people begin a relationship, they generally set out to understand who the other person is (likes, dislikes, opinions, prejudices etc.) while at the same time they start to reveal who they are. The more each discloses, the more they can learn to appreciate each other, trust each other, and love may follow. Of course if some of the revelations are unwelcome or disclosure is unequal, the relationship may founder. At the end of the day, a relationship is like getting fit – you have to work at it regularly or you are in danger of backsliding.

Critical elements in all relationships are mutual respect and communication. Sarcasm, contempt, a refusal to compromise, are all obstacles to growing a strong and healthy bond between two people. In addition, since very few people are mind readers, a willingness to discuss feelings, thoughts, ideas on an equal footing is a very positive contribution to realizing the full potential of a relationship. Wade showed his true colors when he defended himself saying that he had already told you his limitations. 

In other words, what you see (and hear) is what you get and he has no intention of changing just for you. This demonstrates very little, if any, regard for you and bodes ill for your future together, unless you are willing to accept an unequal partnership in which he calls all the shots.

His comment about your “heavy hips” was also very revealing. First, it was at the very least tactless, disrespectful, and ill-timed. Secondly his justification was to resort to a false dichotomy, suggesting that the alternative to “his truth” would be to tell a lie. Refusal to face the reality of the situation and an unwillingness to face an honest discussion of mutual problems do not inspire confidence in a happy future together.

In summary, you portray Wade as someone who has no respect for you or your opinions, demanding that you adapt to him and not vice versa, and threatening to leave you if you do not accept him on his terms. It is time to take him up on his offer to go home.

All the best,
JAF Baer

Dear Carmen:

Thank you very much for your letter.  No doubt you feel your relationship would be less fraught if Wade were only more tactful, maalaga (caring), and sensitive, and you are right. However, it is you, and not he, we are writing to. Thus, I will focus more on your behavior and (possible) beliefs, and not on his, ok?  

I content-analyzed your letter. Your sentence “We obviously came from different family backgrounds, have a different financial status, but this is too much” – actually says it all: You feel you are better than him. 

To decide your backgrounds are different is no problem. It shows an ability to make accurate observations and to draw conclusions based on these.   

However, by concluding you are more “sophisticated,” and that your urban, wealthy upbringing is better than his, you have gone one (unwarranted) and questionable conclusion further.   

True, your background gave you the exposure, skills, and resources to be manager in the company you both work for; his (perhaps) gave him just enough so he can be your subordinate, but not much more than that. 

Is it possible that you feel superior to him, dearest Carmen? Because if you do, I am afraid that does not auger well for your relationship. If that is the case, the sooner you break up with him, the better it will be for you both.

Just think about it: You are frustrated because he won’t do as you ask. In fact, I can almost hear the wheels turning in your head; “Why do I even have to ask?!!? Shouldn’t these things be taken as read?!!?” 

Absolutely! But only by someone who has a similar background to yours, and that is not Wade.    

If you can revel in your differences, thankful that Wade can expand your horizons, then terrific! Welcome to a relationship that will still have many challenges, but one where you are both equally loved and cherished.

However, if you feel the only way to  deal with your differences is to teach him to be more like you, then it won’t work, Carmen. Best to do as US Senator Laxalt told President Marcos in 1986: “Cut and cut cleanly

The relationship where you and Wade will be happiest is the one where you can each be your most authentic self, whether that be with each other or not. That sort of relationship is what I wish for both of you. 

All the best,
MG Holmes

Rappler.com 

Please send any comments, questions, or requests for advice to twopronged@rappler.com.