September 21, 2020
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Dear Shree: Outlook's Agony Aunt

From unrequited love, marital discord, sexual tensions, kid tantrums to cheating lovers, horny bosses and interfering parent, ask Shree just about anything. Dear Shree a weekly column on relationships, sex, love, and anything in between.

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Dear Shree: Outlook's Agony Aunt
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Dear Shree: Outlook's Agony Aunt

Dear Shree, I’m 31 and have never met anyone till date who is genuine. No one has ever said “I love you” to me. I’ve dated and been involved in mostly long-term, casual relationships through most of my 20s, but nothing serious ever happened. My last relationship ended almost a year ago when he dumped me for a woman who looks like me. I still don't understand why he dumped me for a girl who looks like me. I’m educated, employed, decent looking and I don’t suffer from mental illness. The guys I’ve been involved with have been pretty much my equals but still, nobody loved me the way I loved them. I think everybody has just used me. At my age girls generally get married but my situation is soo different. Am I unlovable for some reason? I don't know what should I do to make people understand that I too need 'real love'.

-- Ruam Sen, New Delhi

How do you become more interesting and appealing? Take some classes (photography, and music classes are great examples of classes that will broaden your perspective and attract new people to your life), travel, be a good friend, read a lot, see art, go to good movies, be kind to your family, be kind to strangers, volunteer … do things to better the world, or at least better other people’s lives. That way, when people describe you to their friends — friends who may well be single, awesome and looking for someone special — you’ll sound like a catch.

Start believing your own awesomeness and quit settling for these long-term casual relationships with guys who don’t mean that much to you simply because you don’t think you deserve — or can attract — better. Be better at being you so you can attract the kind of person you want. It really is that simple. If you’re so concerned with dating your equal, be better so you’ll date better, because the problem here is not that you’re “unlovable.” The problem is you selling yourself short and settling for less that what you really want because you’re afraid of pursuing more and getting rejected. And until you pursue what you really want, you’re going to continue having a string of casual, meaningless relationships at best.

So, work on yourself. Work on yourself and mingle. Go places where you’ll meet people. Join groups, take classes, and get a dog. Make yourself interesting and available. Put the word out with your friends that you’re looking for someone special. Peruse online dating sites. Make an effort. Quit dating people who don’t excite you. Be a nice person. Don’t rule out potential boyfriends for stupid, superficial reasons. Send out good energy into the world. Do all these things, and it will happen.

Dear Shree, for a few years now, I’ve been desperately feeling the need for a child in my life. I have two nephews who are my world. I went through a time where I was not sure if I’d ever be able to have a baby (struggling with low fertility) of my own. The thought of not having my own baby made me depressed and I used to cry every time I saw a newborn. But here’s the thing: Though I picture my life with children, I can’t picture a man I love. I’ve never been in love. I’ve been in love with the idea of my boyfriends, of having someone there to share my life with, but never in love. Although I would love to find a man who will love me unconditionally and whom I'd love just as much as anyone ever could. I always doubted the man’s feelings because I’m not a mind-reader. Lately, I am also developing a feeling that more than a love or a husband, I am looking for a perfect man who can prove himself to be a perfect father.

When I think of my end goal in life, it is not to be married for 50 years or to retire. It is to provide the best life possible for kids that I don’t yet have. Is this terrible of me? Am I selfish?

-- Jaspreet Manchanda, Mumbai

You’d only be selfish for marrying someone you don’t love to be a father and provider for your future child(ren) if you didn’t share this plan with him. There wouldn’t be anything, like, morally wrong with finding a partner/potential co-parent to procreate with and share a household with who ALSO wanted the same thing as you and felt as interested and committed to the kind of arrangement you’ve described as you say you are. But . . . if you aren’t interested in marrying for love, why not just skip that part and have a baby on your own? Go to a sperm bank or consider adoption or look into other ways to become a single mother and just do it on your own. That way you avoid what you seem to feel is messy emotional relationship stuff — i.e. doubting someone else’s feelings; thinking you need to be a mind-reader to really know where you stand.

Something tells me though that maybe you really DO want to find love — you want that very much actually; but you’re afraid you won’t find it at all or in time to still have a baby. In that case, I still say you can have a kid on your own now without shutting the door to a potential love match in the future. If you marry someone for the sole purpose of procreating, you take yourself off the market for what could be a loving marriage (unless you eventually fall in love with the father of your child, whoever that might be). But if you remain single, you remain available. You could also consider freezing your eggs, if you have the budget for something like that, and extending your fertility a bit.

And speaking of fertility, do you still have issues with potentially conceiving? You say you went through a period when you weren’t sure you’d ever be able to get pregnant. What, if anything, changed? Were you, at one time, trying to get pregnant and unsuccessful? If so, what was your relationship status like then and do you think this experience and the way you processed it with your partner affected your views on relationships and love?

There’s a lot in your letter to unpack and I’m left with more questions than answers for you, to be honest. If you, too, are feeling as confused, I think speaking to a therapist could help you find some clarity on these issues. The short answer to your question is that: Yes, you can marry someone for reasons other than love. But a remaining question is: Do you really want to?

Dear Shree, I’m 27-year-old with three kids. I have spent four years with my youngest child’s dad whom I adored! But he got depressed when his father died — two days before our son was born — after a 10-month battle with cancer. I kept trying to help but he wouldn’t admit he was depressed and said he was down because he doesn’t love me. I went to relationship counseling with him and then he went to personal counseling too.

He told me over a period of about two years that he didn’t love me, wanted to leave me, and was only with me for our son, and he made very mean remarks on a daily basis. He also spent every spare moment he had drinking. Eventually, I began to get so down with it as I felt constantly bullied and was getting no affection at all.

One evening, I looked at his phone and saw he had been messaging other women — nothing too incriminating but it upset me, I also saw pornography on his phone when, for the last year and a half, he had told me he just had no interest in sex anymore. I then started hearing rumors of his cheating, and I lost my cool. I had had enough and I kicked him out, and things got a bit physical. We have had an awful time since then; he tried to have me arrested for assault, contacted social services, and even emptied my bank account.

After about eight weeks, I met another man. It wasn’t the love of the century, but it was nice to have some company. After a few weeks I felt so happy! We have so much in common and he treats me exactly as I have always wanted to be treated and he adores my children. My only reservation is he has no financial stability at all and still lives at home with his mum.

But mow my ex has come out of a period of reflection. He’s seen the error of his ways, has proposed to me, has bought us a house, and has basically cried to me everyday for the last 3-4 weeks. From the confusion of this, I have ended my relationship with my current boyfriend as I worry that staying with him is selfish and not what’s best for my children.

I feel so sick and confused that everybody around me is sad and I just don’t know what to do.

-- Shantipriya Seth, Bengaluru

Don't you think it was confusing to your kids to be introduced to a new man in your life only three months after you kicked out their father/father figure? If you can’t get a babysitter to watch your kids so you can go on a date, then you don’t date for a while. Honestly, after everything you went through with the ex, I think some time to focus on you and your kids without jumping into a new relationship would have done you all a lot of good. And there’s no reason you can’t have that time now. You say you feel like you could explode. You’re totally stressed out over all this relationships drama, so hit the pause button and take a break from dating. Focus on yourself and your kids for a while.




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