Ask Dr. Nerdlove: If I Hold Out for Something Better?

I am having trouble handling the many impulses between my connection, my livelihood, my balls and my thoughts.

For a timeline: I have been dating this woman for 7 months now. Due to a family divorce and job relocation conditions, we are essentially living together today and have signed a year lease.

One on one, she is very enjoyable to be around. We are both flirty and weird with one another, are extremely experimental in bed and love doing daring things together. When I am with her it seems like nothing else matters; we are literally like kids together most nights. Her character and character are admirable: she has made me aware of my own shortcomings, has taught me the value of creating a shared story with someone I trust and her optimism is infectious. However there are two triggering scenarios that make me rethink my relationship situation:

Firstly, I always see pictures of other women and feel like I’m settling. I will admit there are angles and clothes and lifestyle changes that she works to her advantage, but sometimes it {} feel like enough. She is acutely aware of me feeling this way, as I am bad at hiding feelings, and blames my feelings on the entire’Tinder creation’ if there always being something greater. She might have a point, but to what level should I suppress this urge?

Secondly, to add fuel to the self fire, I recently got a big job promotion and will be in earnings. It is a tough enough job as it is, where I will need to be focused and sophisticated with my social interactions, but it also provides me a massive ego boost. I believe that the money, status and chances I will be presented with will be last feeding the monster within me that desperately needs all of the spoils life offers, which would contradict a monogamous relationship. I am 24, and while I have screwed many women already, I have become such a high quality person and feel that I deserve more.

Can you help me know if this is something many men feel? If so, how long is it before I can not take it anymore? Meanwhile, what can I do to keep myself satisfied with her?

Alright SDSF, I am gonna be blunt: it seems to me as if you’re searching for a reason to dump her without feeling bad about it. And if that is the case, then yes, you must break up with her. For her sake, not yours.

I mean shit dude, you are already hurting her. How you have been conveying the concept of”You are great but I believe I could do better” is a pretty shitty thing to do to someone you care for, even though she is blaming it on”the Tinder generation” rather than your having a watch out for the newer, sexier version.

So straight talk: yes, you are settling. It does not matter who you date, whether it is your present girlfriend or some unspeakably sexy Instagram model: you are always going to be settling. That is because nobody will get everything they want in a relationship. There are always going to matters that you’re going to need to let go of to maintain a relationship with someone. It could be accepting the person you’re dating is not as sexually adventurous as you would like and so there will not be some threesomes or sex clubs in your future together. It might be that they are not a bikini model and rather are a lovely but-not-unearthly-gorgeous individual. It might be that they are unspeakably beautiful but are not ambitious or do not have a lot of intellectual curiosity or won’t do monogamy. There are always going to be tradeoffs when you commit to a relationship with somebody; you need to recognize what you do get is so amazing that it makes up for the fact that you are not getting those other things.

Now going by that metric, it seems like your girlfriend more than meets that standard. You describe all of the ways that things are great… except for the fact that she does not quite stroke your self as arm candy. And look my dude, I’m not gonna say that you are bound to date her or anybody to show that you are not shallow, but if the problem you are having is that you are worried she is not hot enough to impress your friends then that is a you trouble, not a her difficulty.

The other issue is that you are doing something I have seen plenty of men do in your position: you are throwing off happiness you do have for the possibility of getting something better — something that is not guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination. You have gotten the promotion and salary bump but that does not automatically interpret”and now I have access to sexier women” You are going to be the identical person that you are now, with the identical social skills. If the only difference is that you are going to be talking to people who are more impressed by cash or standing… well, good, but you will mostly be attracting people that are into money or status. And speaking strictly for myself, if someone’s only interested in a version of me that is precisely the same but with bigger digits in my bank balance, that is someone I would rather not be dating.

In actuality, many times the very same guys who have been in your position and put aside their existing relationships to be able to”trade up” (as it were) have begun to regret iteven if they date someone who’s physically sexier or more ego-polishing, they still realize that it does not compensate for what they lost in the procedure.

But hey, if you believe you deserve, then that is your call chief. But I will tell you now that aspect of things will make it impossible for you to”keep yourself satisfied with her.” If you would like to remain with her, then everything you will need to do is begin actually appreciating what you have, how she makes you feel and what she brings to this relationship and stressing about the proverbial two in the bush. The more you can concentrate on what you like about your relationship with the more thankful you can be for what you have, the more satisfied you will be.

But if you are always saying”you are great, but I believe I could do better,” then all you are doing is condemning your connection and her feelings into a death by a thousand cuts. At which point, you would be better off simply breaking her heart today rather than slowly bleeding it dry over time; at the way she will have an opportunity to get over you faster and without unnecessary pain.

However, they don’t all bring you lasagna at work.

Dear Dr. NerdLove,

First I’d like to say I am from a South Asian country. We take relationships seriously and culturally. I have a girlfriend (4 months affair). She’s my first love. But she had a boyfriend and I am her second love. I am really suffering that I couldn’t be her first love. She informs it and I am actually feeling that. She always tells I am far better than him and she says”nobody loved me as you do”. We’ve got good sexually and emotionally love life. She’s totally happy with me. But I am really suffering.

I feel as she lies to me since she does not like to broke my heart and she secretly love her ex because it’s’first love matters’. Sometimes I ask her that she recalls her ex. But I can not believe it. I truly love her and I can not even feel that she’s considering another man even for an instant.

Dude, if you love her, then you want to shut the hell up and trust.

I will give it to you straight: pretty much anyone you date will have a history. The older you get, the less likely it’ll be that you are going to be a person’s”first”. And that is fine. There is no prize for being someone’s first love, somebody’s first connection, somebody’s first sexual encounter. It does not magically confer significance on the connection that nobody else will ever match or outdo. I mean, fuck dude, you know this because she has already told you about how her first boyfriend fucking cheated on her and dumped her. That is such a low goddamn bar that you clear you could roller-skate it over.

And here you’re agonizing about the fact that somebody else was there.

Here is another thing about firsts: they are almost never”continues”. However badly one’s culture takes connections, the reality is that the huge bulk of the population does not remain with their first spouse until death do they part. While it does happen — I have a buddy who has been with his wife because they were 13 — it is rare enough that you shouldn’t be betting the farm on it. Hence the fact that you aren’t somebody’s first only suggests that the chances are better that you two may be able, the experience, the perspective and the emotional maturity to go the distance.

But NOT when you are sitting there, telling someone that you love that she is a liar when she states that she loves you and only you.

This ai not about love, chief. This is all about insecurity. This is all about you worrying that you don’t step up and that she is going to leave you for someone else as motives. And I am here in the future to tell you that this is precisely what’s going to happen if you do not quit throwing her previous relationships in her face. You want to either accept that she is being directly when she tells you that she loves you and cares for you and wants to be with you, or you will need to prepare for the break-up which will be coming down the pike.

Rather than dealing with if she loves you or not — accept that she’s telling you the truth — you will need to work on your own self-esteem and your sense of self worth. I believe the best thing you can do for yourself is to find yourself a counselor or therapist and begin unpacking these insecurities you have, until they detonate something great you have on your life.

Dear Dr. NerdLove,

I wrote to you before about how my husband’s sex-life had cratered after the arrival of our child. In the event you’re interested, I thought I would inform you that your advice was really beneficial. We have talked to a counselor a bit.

As part of the process, he confessed that he has been in near continuous mouth pain since soon after the baby was born. He has gotten some significant dental work done (wisdom teeth removed, cavities filled, and gum disease treated) rather than being in constant pain has definitely also helped.

Things still are not perfect, but they’re a great deal better. Thank you.

Doing Better In Seattle

Hey, thanks for letting us know how you have been doing, DBIS! Glad to hear things have improved, particularly because it means your spouse is no longer coping with severe constant pain! Congratulations on the job the both of you have put in and having the guts to talk things out, and I hope things continue to improve for you both!

This post was previously published on and is republished here with permission from the author.


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The Magic of Boundaries: Date Well, Marry the Perfect Person and Enjoy Hard Forever

Yep. We are talking about bounds again. They are THAT important.

Because I am a hack author (or perhaps just because each and every individual on earth has not read or does not remember all of my articles ), our discussions about boundaries are becoming gray and cloudy like a sucky winter in Cleveland.

And that is bad. Because bounds are magical. Just like when the sun comes out through the rain and presents you a candy rainbow to frolic on, or how God does not strike me dead when I purchase groceries online and an underpaid high school child loads them in my Jeep for me curbside while elsewhere deserving men and women starve.

The best thing I’ve ever read on borders was composed by Mark Manson (who coincidentally published a new book this week AND graciously consented to some Q&A with me that you should clearly read).

For the 90 percent of you who won’t read Mark’s piece, I will share a little part as it’s crucial. From Mark:

  • Would you feel like people take advantage of you or use your emotions to their own profit?
  • Would you feel as if you’re always having to’rescue’ people near you and fix their problems all of the time?
  • Can you end up sucked into unnecessary fighting or debating frequently?
  • Can you end up faaaaar more spent or attracted to a person than you should be for how long you have known them?
  • In your relationships, does it feel like things are constantly either amazing or horrible without a in-between? Or maybe you go through the break-up/reunion routine every couple of months?
  • Can you spend a whole lot of time defending yourself for things you think are not your fault?

“If you answered’yes’ to {} of the above, then you probably place and maintain bad boundaries in your relationships. If you answered a resounding’yes’ to most or all the items above, you do not just have a significant boundary problem on your relationships, but you also probably have some other personal issues going on in your life.”

If you are like me, you nodded your head’yes’ a few too many times as it hits a little too close to home, or as you recall how the younger you did all of those things and maybe that is why lots of shitty things happened.

Emotionally healthy individuals have and apply strong boundaries. And ALSO, having and implementing strong boundaries makes you mentally healthier.

Having strong bounds means that you don’t take responsibility for other people’s crap, and you ALWAYS take responsibility for your own.

I think we have to vigilantly enforce our bounds (and respect others’ vigilantly enforced boundaries) in order to have high-functioning, healthy, mutually beneficial, and ultimately successful, human relationships.

And what that means is, when people knowingly violate our boundaries, we will need to be ready to walk away and cut them out of our own lives, which is a very hard thing to do.

You can not always just walk away from individuals to enforce boundaries without innocents (like your children or other family members or friends) becoming casualties of this choice.

1 thing we can be certain of is that if we are in this spot, it is because at some time previously, we failed to enforce our bounds in healthy ways, and after we suffer the consequences.

We are going to leave the household and friendship play for another time.

For now, I am focused exclusively on enforcing boundaries while relationship. And then afterwards, during marriage.

Let’s discuss why.

Girl meets Boy. It is all flowers and Facebook status changes and sexting and climaxes.

But Hedonic Adaptation does exactly what it ALWAYS does, and the lovey-dovey stuff wears off to the Boy.

Communicating infrequently. Spending more time with friends or maybe other women.

Boy’s behaviour makes her feel awful. She tells her friends and her journal, but she does not tell the Boy.

Meal planning, domestic housework, calendar scheduling, and sharing tools comes more into play.

Boy’s behaviour forces Girl to take on lion’s share of the work because he is totally disengaged out of the date-ish time together.

Girl finally informs Boy that she is upset, possibly because he eventually asks her what is wrong, or because she works up the courage to say something even though she is afraid of the possible struggle or making him feel helpless and pushing him off.

Boy tells her she is delusional. That she is imagining things. That she is crazy. “OF COURSE I adore you!” he says.

But no matter how much he tells her she is being too emotional or misreading the circumstance, she continues to feel unhappy and anxious about his behaviour. He says her feelings are not real.

Girl keeps feeling uncomfortable, but she does not want to split up.

Maybe he will change one day, she believes.

Perhaps she talks to her mother about it. “Oh that’s just how men are, honey,” Mom tells her while cleaning up after a weekend dinner while Dad goes to another room to watch TV. He’s a fantastic man. This is just the way it is.”

It appears a bit depressing to Girl. But she has spent two or three years at the connection, all of her girlfriends are getting married, and all the men do things to upset them once in a while.

I guess this is really just the way life is, she believes.

Girl marries Boy.

Five to seven decades later, they are miserable because the identical behavior that hurt her feelings while relationship hurts even more now that he promised to love and care for her forever, but she does not feel loved, nor cared for, nor emotionally safe or protected at all.

Girl gets a telephone call. Her mom had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.

She feels responsible for caring for her father who does not know how to cook and clean for himself. She wants to grieve but it’s hard because there’s no one else around to take care of Life Things.

Girl takes care of Life Matters till she eventually collapses emotionally.

Boy is absolutely zero relaxation. She did not understand it right now–but he does not feel steady like her mother did. He can not comfort her when he tries.

One or both of these seek comfort in the arms and privates of somebody they are not married to.

More breakage.

And though it is not her fault, it’s her duty .

This occurred because she did not enforce her personal boundaries while relationship.

I work in advertising.

It’s a total waste of time and detrimental to promotion programs to attempt and sell services and products to individuals unlikely to want or need them.

You don’t need to open a fishing lure store in the middle of the desert. You need to start one by waters used for fishing.

You don’t need to market”Make America Great Again” hats at Hillary Clinton political rallies. You need to sell them to fans of her political competition.

For marketing programs to be successful, we have to target customers intelligently.

And so it goes in relationship.

I have written repeatedly that I believe folks should vigilantly enforce their bounds while relationship .

That doesn’t mean that you cut somebody off the very first time that they upset you. Nobody would EVER stay together if this was the case.

However, what if Girl made different choices from the above example? Imagine if, when she began exhibiting behaviours she had been uncomfortable with, she just communicated that to him?

What if she said: “Hey. I truly care about you and want to see where this can go, but you will need to understand that I felt really crappy when X happened before. Maybe I am misunderstanding, or getting something wrong. But I have loads of things in Life that hurt and will hurt me later on. The person I will devote the rest of my life with WILL NOT be one of them when I could do anything about it. I just want you to know what occurred crosses a hardline border with me”?

One of three things occur afterward.

He can act like he does and try to describe to her {} wrong and her feelings are dumb, then she can walk away toward a future where she gives someone else a chance to show actual love and esteem.
He can promise to try harder and neglect. She averts a sad divorce afterwards.
He can promise to try harder and triumph. They’ve a healthy marriage.

When folks enforce their bounds vigilantly while relationship, ONLY people who have a high probability for success could ever wind up exchanging wedding vows with one another.

Are there a shit-ton more break-ups? Absolutely. But explain to me what the issue is. If all the people destined for divorce or shitty unions do not wind up getting married, how does that make the world a worse place?

In the perfect scenario where everybody is making great Life choices, two assholes incapable of healthy marriage do not wind up marrying each other in the first location.

That means border enforcement during marriage rarely rises to the level of inducing divorce. Two individuals vigilantly enforcing their relationship boundaries are WELL PREPARED for the sorts of unselfishness and communication required to thrive.

But we do not live in a perfect world. And nobody owns a kick-ass DeLorean time machine. And that means many people find ourselves in shitty relationships where the standards for being prepared to walk away in the connection can not be just like that of the unattached dater with choices.

There is a basic difference between two individuals that are dating, and two individuals that are married.

When you are dating, you are able to throw somebody over something petty like how loudly they chew their food, or how they root for a sports team you hate. When you are dating, you’re permitted to have any personal boundaries you want. It isn’t important what someone else believes is reasonable. You’re not beholden to anybody.

You’re free to create or remove any border you need, for any reason, at any time.

The main thing is that when someone crosses your line and inflicts pain, when they KNOW they did, they display guilt and a desire to avoid causing future pain.

If they dismiss what you are saying and feeling, signaling this shitty thing will continue to happen over and over again? We ought to walk away.

Our union boundaries should not be superficial.

And our vigilance ought to be restricted to major vow-breaking offenses, rather than just a struggle over what to put on the TV that night or if you are going to attend the household get-together next weekend.

And that’s because if we get married, we vow–VOW–to love generously. Forever.

We promise to forfeit. To forgive. To lift up another when they have fallen. To choose love each and every day irrespective of how inconvenient it may feel.

That is exactly what it means when we say”I do.”

Our unions are shit now because the younger, dumber versions of ourselves did not know what we did not know. And today we have some hard choices to make. Choose to love, though it isn’t straightforward? Or divorce, though it isn’t straightforward?

Not straightforward.

People today will need to do what they have to do. People today will need to make mistakes and figure out things. That is how human beings learned that water and fire –two amazing, life-giving things–may also kill us.

Marriages suspended in poor border enforcement will be difficult and dysfunctional.

However, the conversation about border enforcement changes between people that are dating and people that are married.

We apply boundaries while dating so as to attain a healthy and productive relationship.

Not because we feel like it daily. Since we choose it every day.

We choose it now. And then tomorrow. And then the following day.

And when our partners do the same in return, Forever happens.

Rarely straightforward.

Often worth it.


Have you read the first anthology which was the catalyst for Your Great Men Project? Purchase here: The Great Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood


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All Premium Members get to See The Great Men Project with NO ADS.

A whole list of advantages is here.

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