A 38 year-old women named Paula came in to see me and disclosed that she had been in a romantic relationship for the last year. However, it was a secret. Stop there, RED FLAG!!
Why, I wanted to know? The reason Paula gave made me sit up straight in my chair.
“It’s a secret because he doesn’t want anyone to know yet. He is not ready to tell anyone”.
“I am sorry, what…wait…why”??
“Have you or have you not been seeing him regularly for the last year year”? She replied that she saw him 2 times a week and texted everyday. I then asked if he was married or gay. She replied no to both.
“He is totally serious about me though. He told me” Paula said.
He could be serious I thought, but not about her. I shared my thoughts.
“That couldn’t be”, Paula said looking shocked and appalled at my statement looking at me as if I were from Mars.
I asked her to describe what the past year had been like.
Basically, she would go to his house in the evening, hang out, have sex and then leave around midnight to go home.
“So, you never went out for dinner, a movie, a show…nothing?” I asked.
“No” Paula replied looking to the side.
“Has he ever brought you flowers or given you a card or a gift of any kind?” I probed.
“No” Paula replied looking down at her feet.
“Has he met your family?”
“No” Paula said as she shifted uncomfortably in her chair.
Ladies, let’s be very clear here. What Paula is describing is NOT a relationship. It is a friend-with-benefits situation at best! It is a year-long hook up with no strings attached. That’s it. END OF STORY!
Please, please, please do not allow yourself to mis-perceive the type of situation you are in. Do not skew the truth in your mind in order to make yourself temporarily happy.
Look, Paula came in to my office convinced that she was in a serious relationship that was leading somewhere, when in fact there was truly a mental disconnect in her mind that hindered her from seeing the truth of what was happening. She was, in essence, making herself temporarily happy while ignoring the truth of what this relationship really was.
Sadly, a mis-perception of a relationship is all too common. You see what you want to see. Or as my grandmother would say, “you see through rose colored glasses”.
Ladies, here is the truth. After the age of 19 you need to take off those rose colored glasses and see with crystal clarity the reality of your relationship or else you are doing nothing but wasting your time.
While it’s true that each relationship will grow and flourish at its own pace, please be clear that if someone is not willing to take you out, introduce you to his friends and family and make you a real part of his life then this is NOT a viable relationship.
Now, if this is what you want then that’s fine, however, if you have convinced yourself that it is something that it is not then you have yourself a dilemma on your hands. The bottom line is what you see is what you get and if you are not seeing action or effort on his part that is leading in the direction of what a relationship should look like then you are the victim of your own mis-perception. In other words, Stop Dating Like a Teenager!
Excerpt from the book, “Stop Dating Like a Teenager” by Barbara Neitlich, LCSW coming out in 2017. For more tips you can follow Barbara on Facebook at Reality Check Insight or on Twitter @BarbaraNeitlich.
+Please note that in each clinical vignettes and example, ALL names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the client. If you or someone else you know is struggling with depression, anxiety or mental health issues please seek medical attention immediately.