“Can I Trust Him?”


Dear Jovanna,

I have been dating a man for five months and we had agreed to not date other people. Recently my girlfriend found his profile on a dating website. When I told him I knew about it, he laughed and said it was nothing. That it was just a fun thing, he did once in a while for entertainment and I shouldn’t be worried.  He’s never lied to me before, but I don’t know whether or not to trust him. Can I trust him?  -Emily

Dear Emily,

People act like themselves. And you can trust this. From what you’ve told me so far, we can trust that, when you have a concern about his behavior, he will most likely disregard it. And we can trust he will minimize what is important to you.

What I am not trusting here is you. I am not trusting you to respect your own feelings, desires and relationship guidelines. I am not trusting you to speak up and tell him it is not okay for him to laugh at your concerns. I am not trusting you to tell him what you want and expect in a relationship.

Even if he is just doing this for fun (which I doubt) you don’t like it. Don’t get stuck in the endless loop of trying to get him to agree with you that there is something wrong with him going on dating sites when he has agreed to be monogamous. Either he is being very sneaky and lying or his view of committed relationships is severely different than yours. In either case, something is wrong.

You say he has never lied to you before,  but you will never know if he has or not. That’s what lying is. You have no power over whether or not he lies to you, but you do have control over how you let other people treat you.  You can speak up or you can be passive.  You can set limits or you can begrudgingly go along with things. You can keep showing up for more bad treatment or you can move on. That is up to you. Time to stop using The Invisible Boundary Problem Style.

I have a sneaking suspicion you have a bad habit of minimizing what want or need for fear of someone leaving you. Typically, this comes from low-self esteem help or fear of abandonment. Get thee to a therapist.

And in the meantime, it is time for a meeting with him. Let him know, while you respect that he has his own way of doing “monogamous” relationships, it just doesn’t work for you. And you choose to be in a relationship with someone who presents himself publically, privately and on-line as not available. Calmly, tell him while he has every right to continue being on dating sites as much as he wants- it just won’t be with you as his girlfriend. Calmly, tell him he has two weeks to decide what he is going to do. And, for those two weeks you are taking a break from seeing him.

If you feel at all anxious about not seeing him for two weeks, this is a sure sign of your abandonment issues. Your regressed “little girl” self has been in charge of your relationship decisions. She is still trying to get love from her absent dad (or mom) via your latest boyfriend. The pattern repeats on into adulthood.

By the way, I bet there are a number of other things he does that don’t fit your description of your perfect mate. A “committed” guy who thinks being on dating sites is okay, is usually someone who has not grown up yet. Do you want to be dating a perpetual teenager or a man?

Think about it, Jovanna



What Was I Thinking?!?

Oops! I did it again.

Despite all the facts staring me in the face, I chose to set up a meeting time with my ever delinquent friend. I knew, from past experience, she would be late. I knew, as usual, she would come rushing in 15 or 20 minutes late with another exciting story about what happened to her this time. And, like always, the story was about things that were “out of her control”. Continue reading

Sometimes It’s Not Very Nice to be Nice

Are you hurting people by being nice to them? Sometimes it’s not very nice to be nice.

You don’t mean to hurt others, but you are when you give them mixed messages. And one of the biggest mixed messages is when your behavior doesn’t match the reality of the situation.

The Not So Nice Visit

For example, you need extra time for yourself tonight. But your friend stops by and wants to chat. You have asked her to call before she drops by to see you, but she didn’t. You want to “be nice” so you let her in and spent a couple hours talking. Not very nice.

Since your words and behavior don’t match you just taught her to disregard what you say. You have just trained her, through your actions, to stop by anytime she wants.  So she will. You save up bad feelings towards her and start resenting her. Not nice.

You gave away your extra time that you needed for yourself.  Now, because you discounted what you need, you will not get the extra time to rest or study or take care of yourself. Soooo not nice.

The Not So Nice Mom

Your son has been so excited to go to the upcoming concert.  He worked hard to save up money to buy a ticket. And it wasn’t cheap. You let him know ahead of time that if he wanted to go to the concert he would have to get his two school projects done beforehand.

Here it is, the night before the concert and  his school work isn’t done.  In fact, for the last week and a half, he has spent time with his friends, playing video games instead of doing schoolwork. (He made other choices than to do his schoolwork.)

But, you want to “be nice“.   After you scolding and him promising to get it done this week , you let him go to the concert.  Not very nice.

If you think that, just this once, it’s okay to bend a bit – think again. You just gave away a learning opportunity him that would teach him about cause and effect. Commitments and follow through.

But, instead you let him go. You have taught him that it’s okay for him to make promises and not be accountable for his behavior.  You set him up for a rude awakening when he gets out in the real world.  You weren’t bending, you were hurting him. Not so nice.

You showed him, he can’t count on you. He can’t trust his mom. you say one thing but do another. Since when does wanting your kid to be happy, or to like you, have more importance than being a good, responsible, trustworthy parent?  By your actions, you are shaping his personality and character. And what you just did to him is not very nice.

So, next time you think of doing something because “you want to be nice” think it over. Sometimes it’s not very nice to be nice.

Book Chapter: The Push-Me, Pull-You Dance

Here is The Push-Me Pull-You Dance, one of the Three Most Damaging Relationship Dances. The fear of abandonment is the driving force this dance. I first identified this dance while working with couples to improve their relationship. Whenever we would get on track, one of them would make a move in this dance, and suddenly, his or her partner would fall to pieces.

Because being left is such a primal fear, many people regress or take action without thinking when faced with the threat of abandonment. Once you understand the moves in this dance, you can be free of these highly manipulative, unconscious moves.

(I recommend you PRINT out this long chapter and highlight the behaviors you have used in the past. People who change fastest are those who identify their damaging patterns and review that information three times over a three week period. Go for it! You can stop falling into these dances, if choose to do the work.)

Continue reading

Book Chapter: The Dance of Drama

Here is The Dance of Drama, the #1 most destructive of The Three Most Damaging Relationship Dances. Over-giving, feeling used, being driven by guilt or anxiety, feeling helpless or resentful…these are all signs you have been pulled into this powerful dance.

If you don’t know how people play this dance, you will get sucked in over and over again. Once you see how it works, you will be surprised how easy it is to avoid it. You will stop picking people who use you. Your relationships will becomes balanced, respectful and kind.

(I recommend you PRINT out this long chapter and highlight the behaviors you have used in the past. People who change fastest are those who identify their damaging patterns and review that information three times over a three week period. Go for it! You can stop falling into these dances, if choose to do the work.)

Continue reading