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 three 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 am in an LDR relationship. I asked my foreign boyfriend (a Mexican-American who lives in the US) to message me as soon as he wakes up and tell me good morning. I also expect him to message me before he goes to sleep, to wish me good night. He does this most of the time, but sometimes he does not do it. This hurts me very much.
The reasons he gives for not being able to do so are too painful to me: Ang dahilan nya ay sobrang naaantok na daw siya, hindi makahintay hanggang matapos ako, so nakakatulog na siya. (Because of the time difference, he cannot call me until after I finish work, but sometimes he falls asleep).
I told him, why not message me if we cannot speak? Message me before you go to sleep. But he said “I’m just a human…I’m sorry….we’ re almost 1 year and 5 months, we speak twice a day, every morning and before I sleep…I’m doing everything above and beyond what I’ve ever done, I do 99% of what you want, but sometimes I forget. This is the 1% that you notice.”
I tell him I have a routine; I pray then I text him, so I never forget. I tell him he should have a routine too, where calling me good morning and good night just becomes a part of it. He says he has a lot to do and it’s only when he finishes all his tasks that he can relax and call me. It’s just that sometimes, he gets so relaxed, he falls asleep before he can do it.
What I’d like is that I am the last person he sees before he goes to sleep. But sometimes he calls saying he’s sorry but that he “fell asleep.” How can he forget something so important to me?
Dear Beautiful Pinay (BP),
It is not always the case that partners in a relationship have the same priorities, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. In your case, BP, it is important that your boyfriend (let’s call him Miguel) demonstrates his commitment to your LDR by calling or texting first thing and last thing every day.
For Miguel, it seems that pleasing you is his priority and if he is doing “99% of what you want” he is doing an excellent job. There is therefore a potential mismatch which needs to be addressed if you are to avoid further disagreements on this issue.
Perhaps a helpful way of beginning would be for both of you to refer to the book 5 Love Languages by Dr Gary Chapman (available on Lazada and Shopee). In it he identifies Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch as the principal love languages and suggests that getting to know each other’s language is a useful way for partners to get to know each other better and thus to improve the quality of any relationship.
Based on your letter it would seem that acts of service and words of affirmation are important in the context of your relationship. However, investigating further can be both fun and an easy way to deepen the understanding between partners, especially in the case of an LDR. It isn’t a panacea, of course, and you will both still have to put in the hard yards to make it work, but with so much going for your relationship already it seems a useful tool to navigating this glitch.
Best of luck,
Dear BP (Beautiful Pinay),
Thank you very much for your letter. Thank you too, Mr. Baer, for sharing Dr. Chapman’s book, which provides a framework both BP and Miguel can use to negotiate both their needs (in this case, BP’s need for the “first-thing-in-the-morning-last-thing-at-night” scenario and Miguel’s desire to please you, in the light of everything else he has to do before his day is complete).
You have been able to accommodate having this LDR without disrupting your schedule too much. But, Miguel, either because his situation is different — for example, he has to wait for you to ring him back once you come home from work — is unable to do this quite as easily. It seems unduly harsh (but this is merely an opinion, on my part) to penalize him simply because he does not have a schedule or a personality like yours.
He could make things easier for himself by lying: by not admitting he “fell asleep” (which the romantically-inclined might feel a paltry excuse) and pretending, instead, that it was only a really big deal that would’ve kept him from calling you. This would not hurt you, but it would not be telling you the truth.
Because Miguel seems to want to please you, he may suss out that you prefer sweet nothings (even if they are disguised as “words of affirmation”) to the truth, and men usually learn easily enough how to fabricate those.
It is your call. Rather, I think it’s your call, but you have to ask him about it first, okay? Would you rather he told you the truth even if it hurt somewhat, or he learn to be more of a bolero (which can also be fun), and hurt you less, though not be 100% true.
You are in the first throes of love and I am sure each of you will accommodate the other’s wishes. Just please, please, please, dearest BP, be careful what you wish for, as sometimes the more pleasant choice is not necessarily the wise one.
All the very best,
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