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March 10, 2003

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In a perfect world, everyone falls in love with perfect mates and they all live happily ever after. But we live in the real world. And in the real world, some people are dogs; some are hydrants. Some are pigeons; some are statues. Some are windshields; some are bugs. Can our seasoned advisors take us for a drive in the real world, and put their spin on the wheel of love?

In trouble.
 Date: 03/10/03

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 Date: 03/10/03

 Date: 03/10/03

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Dear Conversely,

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I seem to be very insecure and always try to possess my boyfriends out of fear of abandonment. I used to date older guys, but over the past six months I've been in a relationship with a younger man who lives sixty miles away (I am thirty-two; he is twenty-six). He calls me every day and we meet twice a week, but I still feel insecure and jealous. To me, dependency and possessiveness are synonymous with love; to him, it's freedom and space. I think if he were really crazy for me he would call and see me more often. He prefers to show his love in deeds, not words or flatteries, and says his love for me is just as strong when he is with his friends or at work. I fear losing him, possibly for someone younger or more independent than me. I love him and he says he will never love another one as much as he loves me. Do you think we can ever compromise? If I am so possessive, why am I attracted to independent men?

Her view:

Dear Clingy,

What you are seeking is a relationship in co-dependency. From your description this is the only kind of relationship that will make you comfortable and happy. Your beau will not provide for your utopia of dysfunctional coupledom—that much is clear.

So you have two options. You can break up with your current boyfriend, as he will never be the one you want and your relationship will always be rife with tension. Or you can move closer to your boyfriend's world of more typical relationships…ones that are comfortable and trusting versus smothering and clingy. The latter represents a rather large shift for you, but I recommend you move more in that direction.

The question you need to answer is whether you love your fellow enough to give it a try. It will require a lot of effort on your part. And you'll need to get more going on in your life, besides your boyfriend. It sounds like you're much too focused on relationships as the central part of your life. Develop other areas of your life, such as family, friends, hobbies and sports, etc. You need to become more balanced in your life and not have your sole source of happiness hinge on your current boyfriend.

If this all seems insurmountable I recommend you do, in fact, find a replacement who is equally insecure—this way you can both cling together. To answer your question about compromise, I don't see that a lot is required from your guy. He's in a pretty reasonable zone, but if you want to stay together, I think you'll be required to step up and make changes.

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His view:

Dear Clingy,

I have no idea why someone as possessive as you is attracted to independent men. That's probably a question for your therapist. What I wonder is how someone as independent as this man of yours can tolerate a relationship with a woman as needy as you appear to be. Maybe he likes to take on difficult relationships. Or perhaps he hopes his trusting attitude will rub off on you, and that a compromise might, indeed, be possible.

But I doubt it. You seem so set in your ways that I cannot imagine you in a viable relationship with this guy. You are his exact antonym.

Having said that, if you want to try saving yourself from what to me looks like another inevitable unhappy ending—and it's not as if you don't know this but I'll say it anyway—the only place to start is by working on your insecurities.

Don't bother chasing after even younger men or divorced men or taller men or shorter men. I don't think there's a single guy I know—or can even imagine knowing—who would work out for you.

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