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My live-in partner wants us to get married

Q. My live-in partner wants us to get married and be a regular couple. But I have deep reservations, partly because, amongst other things, sex with him has lost its meaning for me. It's become so mechanical and the quality of sharing and caring and mutual enjoyment has gone out of it. He just finds living with me comfortable and that's why he's  keen to make our live-in arrangement permanent. But I'm looking for quality in life, quality in whatever we do together and he just has no value for "quality", doesn't even understand it fully. Is there any hope that he'll ever understand or should I just say, thank you, good bye, and move on?

—N

A. Have you tried discussing with your live-in partner your concept of "quality"? He may have "no value for 'quality'" , but how much do you really care for him? Your moving on would depend entirely on that.

Q. We were a fab couple for about a year and a half and everyone envied us. Now I can see nothing but vanity and weaknesses in my boyfriend. He gets facials done regularly, he bleaches his face, he gets his eyebrows and nails shaped, he gets his chest and arms waxed and there must be other things I don't know about. He's hung on brands and big names. He cares more for himself than for me and that's the way it's always going to be, so why hang out with him any further? He's not a real man and I'm off him but I don't know how to break the relationship. We did have good times and I don't want to hurt him too much. Please suggest a way.

—A.

A. To be fair to your boyfriend, surely he has a right to try and look good and if it's "in" these days for boys and men to go in for beauty treatments, why not? Surely that doesn't affect a man's intrinsic masculinity? And you  do admit that you were "a fab couple for about a year and a half and everyone envied us".  However, since you now want to break off without hurting him too much, perhaps the best way would be to begin withdrawing from the relationship gradually and then discuss with him the cooling off from your side frankly.

Q. I've been in four relationships so far, but in the end they all turned out to be  physical,  and real love played only a token role, if at all. In these fast-paced, materialistic times, is it stupid of me to expect real love or even genuine caring to be part of a relationship? Should I give up seeking true love? But then, how can I go through a lifetime with a guy who values the physical pleasure I'll be giving him and not really know or care for me as a person? These are the sort of questions that have been troubling me a lot recently. Please help me sort them out.

—K.

A. You must never stop believing in the ideal or promise of true love — it's the language of the heart, the most powerful, the oldest language. And it still exists  and works and is most appealing even in these "fast paced materialistic times", so it's not stupid of you to expect real love or even genuine caring to be part of a relationship. Look around, ask around and you'll find examples to reassure yourself. However, are you sure you're not being too idealistic or unrealistic? Often, love just happens, but not the way we expect it to happen. It would be a good idea to review your concept of love, perhaps with help from friends or an experienced counsellor.

 
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