Friday, March 21, 2008

To Key Or Not to Key ? That is the Question.

Dear Dr. Medic:

My boyfriend and I have been together for about five years. We don't live together and find that works for us both. We have both been married and have adult children who are on their own. About two years ago I gave him a set of keys to my house. If he is scheduled to come over and gets there before I do, he can let himself in. He has never offered or given me a key to his home and I have never asked for one.

Recently, I spent the night at his home, as I sometimes do. It was my plan to go to work from his place in the morning. It happened, however, that I did not have to leave until close to noon. He leaves about 7:00AM. I mentioned I wanted to sleep in for a while and he immediately said no. He stated I had to leave when he did and he was very firm and matter a fact about it. Until this incident, we had never actually had and argument or even harsh words for each other.

Well, I was very angry but made no fuss. I simply got up, got dress and left, taking some of my "leave overs" with me. I was gone by the time he got out of the bathroom. I was hurt and angry.
I work about 14 miles south of his town and spend the 8 hour day driving. I live about 10 miles north of his town and decided rather than sit in my car for the 4 hours, I would drive back home.
I am ready to confront him about the issue but I have not yet decided how. I need some advice.


Dear Disappointed:

I am sure your boyfriend felt he had good reasons for denying you the privilege of staying in his home after he left for work. So, let's take the high road and explore some of the possibilities. (1) Since your boyfriend never reciprocated to his "keying" by doing the same...assume he didn't want to provide you equal access, or (2) Perhaps, he is a very private person who has created an image he feels he must protect, or (3) Maybe past negative experiences with women who "nosed" into his personal belongings left him distrustful. On the other hand, on the low road, (4)Maybe he's leading a double life and failed to secure the evidence before your visit. But if the worst is to be thought, put yourself in his place, he may have been concerned about what could have "popped up". After all, it might have been bad, wrong, or different; an impression but not the one he wants you to have of him. And, after all is said and done, the best next move is to ask your boyfriend why he declined to let you stay. Don't forget, this is an issue of values, ego, and self-esteem but the answer may be quite simple and quite clear. If this is your first "fight", then decide just how heavily this incident weighs against the five years you have invested in this relationship.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How Much Should I Tell My New Partner ?

Many people have the need to tell all, to be honest to the core, to spill their guts, to get it off their chest. The question is ....why ? How much does a new partner need to know about your history ? How much do you want to know about theirs? How much is personal and has nothing to do with the new partner and your short or long term future together ? How much information can you handle ? What information do you need for safety and health reasons ? What information is out there that everyone BUT your partner knows ? How much of that information could prove to be embarrassing to you and your partner if someone else tells your partner before you do ? These are all important questions because some people tell everything they ever did and who they shared those experiences with. Others seem to live in a world of secrecy and half truths.


Honesty is important but the rate and extent to which one shares one's history is also important. That being said, my guess is that no one really ever tells any one person everything about themselves; their experiences, their feelings, their fantasies or their fears. Hence, after all is said and done, we probably know a lot less about most folks than we think.

Most guys really don't want to know how many jocks his sweetie has slept with before him. Knowing their names just adds more pain to the bruised ego. So, hold off on giving him the long list of flings, mistakes, and experiments you have had with other men. He may know you are not a virgin ( or not) but he is certainly not yearning to be with the "community worker."

Your history of abuse is also information you may need to seek counselling about before sharing it with him. Your goal maybe to get his "pity" but the impact may be very different. If you see yourself as a victim, perhaps it is too early for you to look for a new partner. If he is an abusive person, he may be happy to have you identify yourself as a prospective new target. Step into this new relationship as an equal partner who can stand on her own.

Women often feel they need to know a guy's history, and who their former lovers have been. It's important to have the pictures in their heads of who they have to worry about or NOT. Was she good looking, fashionable, sexy or what ? Why did they break up ? Did he leave her and does he still have the hots for her ? What was their relationship like ? And does hearing all the details make you feel more or less secure. Most women, after getting the information, feel they could have have managed without the "crib notes."


Try establishing a connection with your partner on your own merits by developing an interesting you. In other words: (a) Check your sense of humor meter, (b) Cultivate a wide range of interests ? (c) Work at being a positive person, (d) Improve your listening skills, (e) Maintain good personal hygiene (f) Develop some skills in using "alone time." and (g) Get some self-help books to improve your knowledge of relationships and sex. Remember, nothing much comes naturally.

Jealousy can damage a relationship if one feels the need to compete with an "ex." For this reason the information shared should be selective and measured. Don't get in the habit of bad-mouthing an ex. The only thing it proves is that you had really bad judgment; an attribute you may not want to underscore. The terrible things you allowed to happen to you speaks more loudly to your boundary issues and poor self-care. So, if you want to paint a more positive image of yourself, speak to the good aspects of the relationships. That is, identify the things you respected in the past and expect in a future relationship. Use this approach gingerly.


If you start a new relationship and you are married, state this fact from the start. The risk of getting involved with some one's spouse is serious and can be dangerous. If you are separated but not divorced, that is something that also needs to be clear up front. If you are still at home with that mate, set that straight as well. Your partner ought to know you are a probably a serial cheat from the "get go".

If you have been tested and told you are HIV positive, you need to establish that from the beginning. Your partner needs to know the risks involved in becoming intimate with you from the beginning and become better educated about the prospects of that relationship and what is to be done to take care of partners if the relationship is to continue.

If you have been tested and found to have Hepatitis C, you must tell your partner. HIV and Hepatitis C are different but each carries with it risk of infection and transmission to a partner under intimate conditions. Exposure to these infections can result in death.

Sexually transmitted Diseases (ST D's) are a risk in unsafe sex. Some young people have had exposure to one or more ST D's and have been successfully treated and are no longer infected. But, unlike true love, Herpes is for life. These little nuggets of gold are the secrets you may want to share with your partner. It is reported that genital warts, despite the use of condoms is transmitted through sex. It is reported that dental dams may work to prevent the spread. In any case, the need to protect a partner is probably important to talk about.

If a new partner has changed gender, or is in the process of doing so, this clearly may require some prior discussion before the relationship moves to petting and sex. This is also appropriate if partners have interests in more risky sexual explorations. Swinging couples, and groups sex movers should be clear about their interest and expectations of new partner.

Moving into a more serious stage of the relationship and commitment means reaching further into the one's family or personal closets. Histories of mental and physical illnesses should be discussed if children and permanency is a consideration. The offsprings from previous relationships should be identified and introduced. Health issues that effect sexual functioning and reproduction should be discussed. Emotional and physical traumas that impact normal functioning must be opened for discussion as well.

Again, information that is difficult to share can be discussed with professional help if you are finding it hard to present facts to a partner. Talk the issue over with a professional and then decide if, when, and how this can best be shared. As a matter of fact, consulting a professional is helpful when deciding what you should be sharing with a new partner. Remember, the truth may set you free.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Stages of Relationships

Just as children go through normal stages of development, so do relationships. Social scientists don't all agree on the number stages there are in a relationship but they pretty much agree on how relationships evolve over time. Understanding the route relationships usually take helps the couple to anticipate the changes they will be undergoing, individually and as a pair.

It doesn't really matter much about the names of the stages, though some are quite telling. Several of the stage names are pretty descriptive, leaving little doubt as to what the couple will be encountering at different points during this journey. Just note, the biggest difference between a relationship that has 3 stages and one that has 20 stages is the amount of detail given about what you can expect to hear, feel, and see from start to finish.

Lets think about four stages in a relationship. I will attempt to summarize most of what you can expect after stage 4. I'll even suggest some sources for further reading and greater detail. You will, no doubt, begin recognizing the first few stages and if you are currently in a relationship, you may be able to determine what stage your relationship is in now.

Lusting, Disenchantment, Indivduation, and Launching are the four the stages on which I will focus. Now, the rate at which one moves through the stages of a relationship may vary. Some people lag behind their partners and others move ahead rapidly from stage to stage as a couple. Some partners must be dragged into the next stage. Sometimes we are just not emotionally ready to go the next round. At the same time, long distance relationships may move more slowly through some of the first stages. On the other hand, the couple that lives together may move through the stages quite rapidly. Whatever the case, the successful couple gets to the finish line and holds on for dear life.

Lusting is the first stage of the relationship. This is the stage when hot passion is high and good judgment is low. The fantasies, fears, inhibitions, and voices of mom are in your head competing with thoughts about sex, sex, sex, and sex. The excitement of newness and long lost adventure clouds the thinking of many. It's a period of fantasy, dream building and deafness. In other words, nothing that is said about either partner is heard unless it's complimentary. (After all, only jealous friends find fault, they heard him lying, she saw him out cheating, or the guys know she's a slut.) Neither partner is able to see, hear, or say anything negative about the lust object. Much of what is felt is thought to be love is lust. THERE ARE NO PROBLEMS.

This period often opens the way to sex and thoughts of permanency. Much time is spent together and one partner is seldom without the other. They are always planning and doing stuff together. It's a period when marriage proposals are frequently made and unplanned pregnancies occur. Married or single, this is the course most relationships take. There are folks who never take a relationship past this point. They need the excitement and the lust.

The period of Disenchantment eases in as one or both partners begin to become bored with daily routines, social isolation, and the piling up of little annoyances. She is tired of being the one :he finds to criticize, to complain to, to wait on him and to pick up after. His jokes are loosing their punch lines, and his snoring is no longer melodious. She's now developing lists and carefully weighing the results:(a) Things she hates and refuses to accept, (b)things she will discuss with him and try to get changed, and (c) finally the things she loves about him and just doesn't want to live without. Disenchantment is a stage many people don't get past. This is a tough stage and don't forget, he has his lists forming as well. Typically this is where many relationships end. Wake UP! This was never NEVER-NEVER-LAND...It's over as a chorus of friends sing, "I TOLD YOU SO."

Often that list of little annoyances is never mentioned; that is, not directly. So, changes that they could have been making and perhaps would have been making are never presented before the couple breaks up, just walks away. She reminded you of your mother. This was good and bad. She had a naggy, preachy way about her. If she were not a great cook, a great lover, and supportive of your goals, then it would not be hard to leave. She expected much more than she could bring to the table herself. You never could figure out how to get to the more delicate subjects and tell her how you really felt. She was always right. She had to win. She had never been on her own and her decisions were hardly reality based. She was beautiful but...that was lost in the darkness of the nights. All you could see then was her attitude.

The down side to failure at this stage is that many young people manage to marry or have children just about in the the middle of this stage. Someone put the word out that children can save your relationship. NO!!! It usually makes things worse since not having children was probably not the problem anyway. In fact, breaking up makes life very difficult for couples who decide to end its at this stage and particularly for their children. Baby planning is probably best delayed until the pair is well into the Individuation Stage and the decision to stay and have children has been made.

Individuation is the third stage in a relationship. This, like the other stages, requires skills and determination to get through it. So, if your list of good things for your partner was the longest and you managed to stick with the positives, your job is just starting. Once you have decided you are in it for the long haul, the test of your self confidence and partner trust kicks in. At this point in the relationship, each partner has pretty much decided what they want to be doing with their time and their life. In other words, you've got a mate __now get a life.

You are feeling secure, you have learned to trust each other, and you have a couple and personal plan. Feeling safe, you are ready to leave your partner to do his or her own thing as well. So, each partner takes off to finish making a place in the world for themselves. With skills, this meets the individual partners' need to further develop "SELF." One must have developed and mastered by this skill by now. Its called "breathing on your own."

By this time, men may be feeling the pressure of age, time, and ego. Ego dictates that time is running out and he has a need to leave his mark on the world. Men need time to make that last dash for the gold and leave their big imprint on their book of life. Women may be returning to school, moving up the corporate ladder, or getting ready to be mommies and more. Being away from home more, taking on new responsibilities or simplifying their lives, all of these changes usually mean operating more independently and seeing each other less. Skills in communication, good family planning, trust, common values and goals are important if the couple is to get through this growth period. Finding satisfying ways to fill your individual and couples gap is the basis for a successful relationship. So, don't forget to plan for "couple's romantic alone time.

Different writers may take you deeper into the stages that often follow. Each stage requires new skills for new challenges. These challenges and changes keep the relationship healthy, vibrant, and satisfying for both partners.

Launching is another critical stage that will test the weaknesses and strengths of the relationship and the pair. Occurring when it is time for the first child to leave home, Launching disrupts the family dynamic. Some couples don't even realize how much is often lost of "coupledom" in the course of parenting. For years, the focus has been the child or children. Their break from the family for college, the military, to marry, or running away from home can leave the family unit in a state of disarray and shock. Suddenly, if its the last child or only child , the couple is confronted with redfining their "coupleness". This works if they have attempted to keep such a relationship over the years. If not, the couple may be back to where they started at Disenchantment #2. They look up over those empty beds and chairs and notice a stranger over in the corner. If things went well you can choose to try to LUST or if not you may choose to leave. By this time the partners have aged, matured, perhaps changed and are no longer interested in rebuilding or continuing their lives as a part of a couple.

This all begins to sound familiar and the Individuation #2 Stage repeats itself, and the couples who can re-order their lives for their senior years. They stay together, separate, remarry, or otherwise seek their own way with or without new partners. Many find happiness in new relationships. If they faired well, they have many new skills and are ready to carry on; single, widowed or divorced. They know relationships require work and they know the route each relationship tends to go, thus enabling each partner to prepare for a successful and satisfying journey.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Love Medic Welcomes Your Relationship Questions

For many, the subject of relationships is daunting. No one wants to share feelings of inaptness or failure. We know what we want or wanna think we do; we know what we do doesn't always help the situation; we know when the relationship won't go where we want it to go; but who wants to admit to being lost, or worst being a failure?

No one really has to be a failure at relationships. Failures can be avoided, if you really want to make the needed changes. This is not easy but its "do-able". Let's look at your situation and decide if you want to work on it. Now, this is not to say every relationship can or should be saved but you should at least know which ones to walk away from. After all, it may be the right relationship and the wrong lover.

Most of us could benefit from a little "relationship assessment". You know, an objective, birds-eye view of ...whats really going on. Not that anyone ever really tells it all...but sharing some of what we are not afraid to admit can be quite telling. This site proposes to try to address some of the questions you may have been reluctant to ask. Hopefully, these resources, insights, and information provided on this site will help you become a better partner in a very meaningful and satisfying relationship.

I want to take this opportunity to invite you to send your questions to the Love Medic at Limit your question to 50 words of less. Your question may be among those listed and answered on the blog site.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

What's a relationship?

Relationships is the one subject most people manage to get involved in talking about. In school, I took French, geometry, math analysis, and a lot of other subjects that someone felt I would need. Thanks! I guess. What I have really needed and consciously sought out are skills in handling some of my relationships. So, who decides what ought to be in a school curriculum anyway? School is a people-relationship business, by George! In other words, most people could have benefited from a good course in relationships.

Webster defines relationship as a connection, association, or involvement; a connection by blood or marriage; an emotional or other connection between two people. Based on this definition we can assume nearly everyone has some: close, casual, intense, broken, new, distant, intimate, or other kind of relationship with other folks.

With very few exceptions, most of us have spent most of our lives in one or more relationships. These relations have taken on a variety of purposes and intensities. In fact, most of us have spent very little time alone; that is, not interacting with someone for some reason. The vast majority of these relationships have been with caretakers, relatives, friends, employers, storekeepers, and other service providers. These relationships have ranged from very casual to very intimate.

All of our early interactions with others have shaped our emotions, opinions, responses, and attitudes about ourselves and others. We began developing a world view early in life. We feel embraced or perhaps abandoned, accepted or rejected; a part of it or a part from it. Feeling appreciated is a very important basis for the healthy development of interpersonal relationships.

Let us work toward helping you find the hidden natural laws of personal and love relationships. Ecclesiastes states “…Two are better than one…” You deserve to enrich your life with healthy relationships.