Tag Archives: relationship

February 26, 2014

“Dear Daddy Kenneth, while I feel that I made the right decision to walk away from a bad relationship for the past year, I feel lost and keep wondering what is wrong with me that I didn’t deserve love and respect. I gave it my all including financial and emotional support. I was never enough. He has jumped right into another relationship and I’m still angry at what he has done to me. I feel like I can’t move on. We don’t speak period so the questions will never be answered. How do I let this go? Sincerely, a hurt soul”

It is very hard to let something go when you’ve held on for a long time. If you thought that you were losing it, and held tighter at the end then letting go is even more difficult. What you have to remember is that even though you walked away rather than sink any more emotional and financial resources into this relationship, you already contributed those resources and you’re going to feel their loss. That’s not even to mention the fact that you are going to feel the loss of the stability you thought you had with this person. Allow yourself to feel, and mourn, that loss. I have a theory that a person is in mourning for their past relationship for half as long as the relationship lasted. This means that your ex-boyfriend is rebounding with his new beau, or he emotionally ended the relationship with you much sooner than you did, and has already mourned its loss.

I find that when relationships end, it’s usually because the people in the relationships want different things out of them. When relationships end badly, it’s because the people in them did not know how to communicate properly about those differences, or they didn’t even try. Most of the time, people assume that their partner knows what they want, and their partner wants the same thing. This is not always the case. Not wanting the same things does not mean that you are not deserving of love and respect, it just means that you partner may not know how to give you love and respect in a way that you can appreciate it. A failure to communicate can leave both partners feeling like they “gave it their all” and just “weren’t good enough.”

The question of what you did wrong, from his point of view, will never be answered completely. What you did was fail to give him what he needed, and fail to tell him what you needed. What he did was fail to give you what you needed, and fail to tell you what he needed. Beyond that, the specifics of his needs and your needs cannot be articulated unless you both drastically change your method of communication with each other. The chances of that happening at this point are negligible.

How do you get over it, and move on? You have to grieve. It sounds to me like you’re already in Anger, which is the second stage of grief, and next you’ll move into Bargaining, followed by Depression and Acceptance. You won’t be able force these, you won’t be able fake any of them; all you can do is let yourself experience them as they come. I recommend that you stay in acceptance as long as you can before you try moving into another relationship yourself. There’s no need to compete with your ex to show who is doing better post-breakup. Surround yourself with friends who love and support you, and work on letting go, one step at a time. You may also want to use your anger to motivate you to block your ex on social media, and remove him from your phone.

Do you have an question for “Ask Daddy”? Send it to me, for a chance to have it answered in a future column.

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February 17, 2014

“So I have a question: if you love someone, have been through hell, and tried to work on trust, how then can you ignore that his reputation both in the relationship and outside are always on your mind? I have a guy that refuses to take responsibility for his side dealings, and while the evidence is clear we are lost in translation. I’ve dated escorts, dealers and even bankers, but never loved like I do now but the trust and honesty are gone. How do you get it back when they think the truth will hurt you more than the lies?”

Trust takes years to build and seconds to break. Once broken it is very rare that it can ever be fully repaired, and repairing it takes monumental effort on the part of the person doing the trusting. What kinds of efforts can you make? A friend of mine once told me that they found inner peace with their trust issues by trusting everyone to be themselves, nothing more, nothing less. If you can do that with your partner, you can start to build trust again. Instead of fighting his reputation, try embracing it. Don’t force him to pretend to be something he’s not in order to please you, but allow him to be himself and love him for all of that self.

Show him that the truth doesn’t hurt you, because you love him. Don’t pull “ah ha, gotcha” moments on him, when you have all the evidence, just let him know gently and non-judgmentally that you know what’s going on. If his “other man” was at your house and left his undies, wash them, fold them, and tell your boyfriend where they are and mention that he should make sure the other man gets them back. If they leave a used condom in the bathroom trash can, ask him nicely to take it out.

The more he knows you know, and the more he sees you can handle it without confrontation, the more likely he is to tell you things, and trust you not to freak out. You will be opening the door for communication without trying to force him through it. It’s one thing to tell your partner that he doesn’t have to sneak around, it’s another thing to show him you mean it.

Your boyfriend will continue to exhibit the same patterns of behavior that have “worked” for him in the past, and will fall into the same lies and deflections he’s used before. Don’t rise to his bait, and don’t call out his lies. Just let him have his way, and drop the subject. The more you accept him the way he is, the more he’ll accept that he can be himself around you. Eventually the lies will become unnecessary and stop; you’ll get to the point where you can tell your boyfriend that you’re out of milk and he should ask his fuck bud to pick some up on the way over.

As for the “reputation” outside the relationship, ignore it. If someone tries to hurt you with it, don’t be hurt by it. Say, “I know all about it, why are you gossiping about my boyfriend?”

I am not saying you need to be a pushover or a doormat; by all means, get what you need out of the relationship or get out. At the same time, accept that he’s getting his needs met too, and if you love him, you should be happy that he is. If he’s 15 minutes late for dinner, eat without him and serve him up some cold leftovers, and let him know you missed him at dinner and wished he was there. If he isn’t there to watch your tv show together, watch it without him; tell him you did, and he needs to catch up on his own. You know by now when his excuses are legitimate and when they’re bullshit. Reward the legitimate excuses by waiting longer, and ignore the bullshit ones. He’ll figure out the pattern quickly enough: “tell the truth, I wait; lie to me and eat alone.”

Do you have an question for “Ask Daddy”? Send it to me, for a chance to have it answered in a future column.

Do you like what you see on Ask Daddy Kenneth? Ask Daddy is a public blog, so you can share your favorite columns on your social media to introduce your friends to the column!

December 20, 2013

“Daddy Kenneth, I’ve seen a lot of discussions recently on Facebook regarding open relationships and poly relationships. In many of those discussions it ends up coming down to two sides, one saying it can’t work and one saying it can, though usually there’s some cross over and more details.

“My question, what would you call a relationship that ‘works’? I’ve been in 3 relationships, my first was only a month long when I was 16 and ended badly, my second was almost two years and ended very badly, my third and current is poly and semi-open and has lasted 7 years. None of these relationships do I consider to have ‘Failed’ even though two of them ended and not on good terms. I feel like the fact that I learned and grew from them, and the joy I had from them even in a short time, makes them a success. I guess what I’m asking, do you really have to be with someone forever for it to have been a ‘working’ relationship? Because that seems to be the definition I see used in these discussions.”

Most of the time when people are talking about open and poly relationships, their standard of what “works” is whether or not the relationship lasts. If there is any break up or end to any of the relationships involved, the detractors state that the relationship “failed” and use the break up as evidence that these types of relationships don’t work. If the same standard was applied to monogamous relationships, no one would ever enter into one. The failure rate of monogamous relationships is astronomical. A conservative guess is that 80% of monogamous pairings “fail” to produce life-long committed relationships. Personally, I do not know anyone who is still with their first boyfriend or girlfriend. I’ve had several girlfriends and boyfriends, and in spite of trying to be be in monogamous relationships with them, the relationships didn’t last.

I am coming up on my eighth anniversary with my husband. It is the longest relationship I’ve ever had in my life, the most stable relationship I’ve ever had, a relationship that my friends tell me they envy, and we are about as open as we can be. Of course, if we break up people will say it’s because we were open and those relationships never work out. They fail to realize that it has worked for us for eight years and counting. Is there a chance that we will encounter irreconcilable differences at year 12, yes. Is it likely? No, because we like to reconcile issues as they occur. (Or at least once a year we have a blow up screaming match that brings everything out into the open; afterwards, since we can’t put the genies back in the bottle, we talk about the issues we’re having and work through them.)

In today’s culture of immediate gratification, and in society’s “Cinderella Syndrome” take on relationships, people want to meet, fall madly in love, and live happily ever after. Anything less than that is “failure.” They don’t want to waste time with all the things that make a relationship fun: dating, getting to know each other, learning the things that are unique and different about your partner, exploring your similarities and differences, things like that. They also don’t want to deal with the work that comes with making a relationship work. They think if you want it and I want it, then the rest is easy. It’s not easy. Something as simple as what you want for dinner can turn into an argument about you never listening to me. It really isn’t about dinner, or necessarily you. It’s about the fact that I’m not feeling heard. If you’re my partner, you need to acknowledge that I’m having those feelings. I need to discover what it is that is making me feel that way and, if I need something from you, ask for it.

When a relationship ends badly, people often remember the “ending” and the “badly;” they don’t remember the things that were wonderful. People often don’t remember the things that “worked” so when they reflect on the relationship, they only see their “failures.” I guess what I am saying is no, you do not have to be with someone forever to consider a relationship a successful one. I’ve had many romantic relationships in my life, and don’t consider a single one of them to be a failure. The fact that I am friends with most of my ex’s is proof that our relationships, while they didn’t last forever in a romantic capacity, did not fail.

Do you have a question for “Ask Daddy”? Send me a message and I will add it to my queue.

December 13, 2013

“So I’m feeling very single at there moment. My bf has flaked on our two last date nights because he’s drunk and passes out. We’ve had a great time just hanging out the night before our date night both of those times, though.

“Now he’s gone two days without even texting me – we typically text at least once or twice a day, but I always initiated it, so I wanted to see what happened when I didn’t initiate it.

“We’ve been together almost two months and set expectations & rules. I realize this is an open relationship, but I’m feeling more like it’s a failed relationship.

“I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ that bitches a fit over nothing, but I’m definitely feeling neglected – and I feel he’s ‘cheating’ on me with alcohol. So I’m kind if lost. I’ve had enough failed relationships & want him to work out – I haven’t felt the ‘I’m in love with you’ thing, but I have felt the ‘spending time with you makes me really happy’ thing. Should I say fuck it? Should I confront him? You always are strong for open communication & I’ve pushed open communication a lot in this relationship, but right now I’m just feeling… Disowned, despite my calls for communication if we have issues. I guess I don’t know if this is worth the effort or if I should just abandon it.”

For me, I make the decision to end a relationship when the negativity of the relationship outweighs the positivity of the relationship. If I am left with negative feelings more often then I am left with positive feelings, or the negative feelings I feel far outweigh the positive feelings, it’s a signal that things are not working out. That’s when I make a decision to change the nature of the relationship. One of the other things that I’ve learned is that communication in a relationship is not always verbal. Your partner is communicating with you by his actions, whether or not he realizes it. Your response is a form of communication as well. Be sure you know what you are communicating when you communicate with your partner.

Here is what I hear your partner saying in this situation: “You are not currently a priority in my life.” Your response says, “If I am not a priority in your life, I am not going to make you one in mine.” Now you have a conflict which you can resolve, ignore, or allow it to break your relationship. The choice of how you deal with that conflict is up to you. In your case, it could be as simple as sending your partner a text that says, “I miss you” and if questioned about it, make “I” statements. “I feel like I have not gotten enough time with you lately.” “I feel sad because our last two dates were cancelled.” Don’t make your partner the subject of your statements, own your feelings, and let your partner decide what to do with that information.

Remember what I say about cheating. Cheating is breaking the defined rules of the relationship. If there is no defined rules around alcohol or breaking dates, then your partner is not cheating. If you feel that there there should be some defined rules regarding keeping dates once made, then the next time you are spending time with your partner, or in part of your discussion about your feelings regarding the last two dates, propose a rule that says that once made a date should not be broken. Legitimate, death-in-the-family common-sense exceptions aside. Don’t try spell out what those acceptable exceptions are, because then you’ll end up arguing over whether it’s an exhaustive list or a list of examples. And you’ll be focusing on whether or not something is a legitimate excuse, rather than focusing on the real problems.

Focus on yourself, and what you need and want out of this relationship. Then you can communicate to your partner whether or not you’re needs are being met. Remember, use I statements. “I need a partner who will [blank].” “I feel that my need for [blank] is not being met.” Since you’re already in an open relationship, explore the possibilities that your needs could be met elsewhere. See if you can find a respectful way to inform your partner that you are getting, or looking to get, your needs met elsewhere. Your partner may take the opportunity to start meeting those needs for you.

Remember also, communication does not always require partners to sit down and have a serious conversation with each other. Anything you tell your partner in words and actions is communication. If you don’t want to be “that guy” then don’t. Just let your partner know how you’re feeling. You don’t have to make a huge ordeal out of it, just take the openings you’re given. When you see your partner out at the bar after two days of not texting, give them a kiss and say “I missed you.” When they propose another date, casually ask if they are sure the date works for them, as you don’t want to be stood up again. Don’t be passive aggressive, don’t be vindictive, just be communicative.

Do you have a question for “Ask Daddy”? Contact me with your question and I’ll give it my best shot.

December 11, 2013

“I’ve a question what is an open relationship. is that dating two guys at once?

“At 33 I have no idea of what the hell it’s.”

I define an open relationship as any relationship where complete monogamy is not expected, therefore dating multiple people at once would technically be considered an open relationship. That said, in my personal relationship ladder, dating someone is a relatively low rung, and comes before monogamy is even a factor. For me, dating is testing the waters to see if you even like someone and have similar interests, life goals, sexual compatibility, get along outside the bedroom, things like that. You could, in theory, be in this relationship stage with multiple people at the same time, and not be cheating on any of them.

Common language is a funny thing however, and some people use dating, boyfriends, boyfriend/girlfriend, girlfriends, partners, and seeing someone interchangeably. That’s why the “dating scene” has gotten so convoluted and confusing to a lot of people. many people do not know exactly where the boundaries are between one type of relationship and the other are, so these people don’t actually know what the exact rules of the relationship they are in are. That’s not even factoring in the people who jump from meeting someone to married without taking the time to climb the whole ladder. Everyone just assumes that they are on the same page with whomever they are in a relationship with, but you know what our dads say about assumptions, right? (If you’ve never received the assumption lecture from a family member, please message me privately and I’ll fill you in.)

Many people interpret “Open Relationship” to mean “allowed to fuck other people.” This is vastly oversimplified, and successful open relationships have rules and guidelines that are constantly negotiated, discussed, and revisited. Some open relationships don’t allow kissing. Some open relationships don’t allow sleepovers. Some open relationships don’t allow 1 on 1, and require that both parties in the relationship be present when an additional party is introduced. Open relationships can include every degree between allowing outside sexual relationships only, to allowing full fledged romantic, emotional and sexual relationships. The latter are usually referred to as polyamorous relationships. Although, just to add additional confusion, there are such things as closed polyamorous relationships. This is when a small group of people share love, sex, commitment and intimacy with everyone in the group, but only with those in the group.Open relationships operate on the theory that no one person can be everything to any other one person. In theory it’s okay for someone else to meet the needs of the person I am in a relationship with, when I am unable (or unwilling) to meet those needs. The way the theory works is that honesty and trust are placed above complete monogamy. It states that if you are honest about what your needs are and whether or not you can meet the needs of the person you’re in a relationship with, then you should both be free to get your needs met by people who are willing and able, as long as you are honest about who’s meeting your needs and when.

December 9, 2013

“I recently started dating someone. It’s my first open relationship and I’m still sort of learning the ropes. Other than ensuring clear communication continues between us, what is some other advice you can give to foster & maintain a healthy open relationship? I often look at your previous post about open relationships for inspiration and to boost my confidence as I navigate this uncharted territory.”

Check in with each other. This is part of the clear communication bit, but it deserves to be highlighted. Make sure that you are taking time every day to reinforce your relationship with each other, even if it’s only a few minutes. Be present with each other, create and maintain eye contact, and just be with each other.

Meet your partner’s needs. Don’t assume because your partner has other opportunities for sexual or emotional gratification that you are not required to meet your partner’s needs. You are supposed to be there for them, and vice versa. Otherwise you’re just fuck buddies. (Note: If it is impossible for you to meet a specific need, don’t try. Tell your partner that you are unable to provide for that specific need, and why, and then meet all their other needs.)

Just because you are allowed to sleep with other people, does not mean that you should sleep with every other person who shows an interest. You’re not single, you’re in a relationship, make sure you remember that, and put your partner high on your priority list.

Make rules, and follow the rules you make. Many people operate under the assumption that an open relationship has no rules, and that’s just not the case. I would argue that following the rules of your open relationship is more important to the relationship than following the rules of your closed relationship, but only slightly so. I think that it’s important to follow the rules of any relationship you’re in, but if it’s your only relationship, or your partner’s only relationship, there’s more incentive (albeit misguided) to stay with a person who’s a liar. It’s more work to start over than it is to forgive, or move past the transgression. In an open relationship, the partners see a world of possibilities and are constantly starting new relationships (be they sexual, romantic, emotional, mental, or a combination of all of the above) so there’s less pressure on any one to be the one, and liars and cheats are easier dismissed from the mix.

Treat all of your partners like they are unique and wonderful human beings. No person on this earth exists to be your dildo or your sperm receptacle. Even if that’s the role they play in your relationship; playing that role for you is a wonderful, unique gift that a human being has given you. Cherish that gift the way you expect your gifts to be cherished. I don’t care if he’s a trick you picked up at the bar, she’s a lady you met at the bus stop, or they’re a couple who has been good friends with your partner since college. All of us are human, and deserve to be treated with all the respect and love that comes with that title. If you wouldn’t want someone to treat your mom that way, don’t treat them that way.Have fun! I don’t care if you are in a monogamous relationship, or a boundary-free, free-love, fluid-bonded commune. If you are not having fun in your relationship, if the bad times outweigh the good, if you are unhappy more than you’re happy then you are doing yourself, you partner(s), your future partners, and your partner’s future partners all a disservice. Make the choice to be happy in your life, even if it means ending an unhappy relationship. Please note, I am not suggesting you bail at the first sign of trouble, I am merely saying that if your relationship is two months old and you’ve spent a month and a half fighting, perhaps this relationship is wrong for you. Move on and put everyone in the relationship out of their misery.

December 6, 2013

“When vetting a potential new partner… How far is to far I.e. Facebook stalking, asking friends, getting friends approval, to extremes like back ground checks?”

I have a series of steps used to describe the relationship status between me and another person, and because “partner” is only a couple steps below “husband” by the time a person is a “potential new partner” they are well and truly vetted! Most of the things you listed are things that happen organically, in the process of someone moving from stranger to partner.

My ladder of relationships goes like this: Knowing someone, seeing someone, dating someone, boyfriends with someone, partners with someone, engaged to someone and then married to someone. Usually in the “knowing” phase, we become connected on social media (e.g. Facebook) and so the so-called “Facebook stalking” starts. One day I might scroll through their pictures, another time I might get invited to an event they are going to, and I’ll probably be seeing their posts as we proceed to get to know each other. This will give me a clue as to what their interests are, and how closely they align with mine.

As we move into seeing each other, we start going places together and having conversations with each other. This gives me a clearer understanding of who they are and what we have in common, and in the dating phase we are (or should be) meeting each other’s friends. I don’t know about you, but my friends are my friends for a reason. They are a lot like me, and so are pretty honest with me when it comes to their thoughts and feelings, and they’ll let me know right away if they approve or disapprove of someone I’m dating. They’ll also let me know if their approval has changed to disapproval as things progress.

Also, I have friends and acquaintances who are, well, busybodies. They will be more than happy to talk to someone I’m dating and tell them about me. My friends will say things that are true, even if they exaggerate a tad or embellish the details a smudge. I certainly don’t sleep with a new guy every day, or even every week. Once a month might not be as far off, and is certainly more than most people, so when my friends say I’m very prolific in my conquests, they wouldn’t be lying. In my experience dating, the same has been true for the friends of the people I’m dating. For some reason our friends like to talk to our romantic interests about us.

This person isn’t even my boyfriend yet, and already I’ve Facebook stalked, asked his friends, and gotten my friend’s approval. Background checks aren’t simple or cheap for the average person to perform on a sporadic basis. The only time (I know of) that I have been subject to one was when a boyfriend’s family member worked for a business that routinely used background checks in the course of their business, and somehow my name got added to the list of people they were running that day. I daresay that is not common for most people.

The larger issue implied by your question is what I can “Cinderella Syndrome.” Disney has taught us that love at first sight exists, and that there is a person we are destined to spend the rest of our lives with, and that we will live happily ever after with that person once we meet them. Because of this delusion, we assess every person we meet who makes our heart beat faster as a “potential new partner” rather than getting to know them to see if we are mentally compatible, and dating them to see if we are romantically compatible, and being boyfriends/girlfriends with them to see if we are sexually compatible. We mistake mutual attraction for complete compatibility and want to skip all the necessary steps to verify it. Because of this we end up in relationships where our ideologies, sexual appetites, romantic connections, etc. are different between the partners. We stay in these relationships because we believe that we are supposed to fix the things that are broken rather than ending the relationship and trying again. Breaking up with someone is considered a failure, and so we avoid it.

This is, obviously, not the best way to conduct our romantic lives, but the staggering divorce rate, and number of breakups posted on Facebook tell me that this is what is happening. My last relationship ended because we wanted different things out of a relationship. That’s not a line, that’s really what happened. My husband and I can’t blame him for what he wanted, and he shouldn’t blame us for wanting what we wanted. All three of us tried to make it work as long as we could, and when we realized that it was never going to work, we broke up.

I think more people should take relationships slower, and go through all the steps. They should stop going through the steps when the relationship stops working, and not blame themselves or the other person/people in the relationship. If more people did this, then the relationships that lasted would be more stable, and the relationships that didn’t last would leave fewer scars on the people in them. It would also cut the divorce rate in half, at least. So go, get to know lot of people and if you think you’re compatible with them, date some of them, and if you think that works, get a boyfriend or girlfriend (or two, or three if that’s your fancy.) If it doesn’t work, give yourself permission to stop trying.

To make a long story short, there is no such thing as too much vetting for a potential new partner. However, there is also no reason for all that vetting to take place overnight.