Boundaries and other issues

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Your friend may want to hook up with you because you seem to want to hook up with her.

It’s been a while since I dated mostly because I’ve been focused on building my career. I’m a very positive, goal-oriented gay man and I’m looking to meet the same. Do you have any hacks that would help me screen for a potential partner who is as interested in improving himself as much as I am? I don’t want to waste too much time on men who aren’t committed to self-improvement. Thanks!

Self-improvement is your deal breaker. So start every conversation (and your online profile) with that level of clarity. A few people might be offended and clap back. Try not to take their criticism personally. Say that vegans prefer to date vegans and liberals enjoy dating liberals. Explain that you are also choosing a partner who shares your values. It’s a lifestyle choice, not a judgment against slackers.

The other dating hack I’d recommend is to make hard decisions courageously. Here’s one: Stop hanging out with a man once you know you have no long-term future together. If he’s the kind of guy you want as a friend, ask yourself if that’s fair to him. Is he hoping for more but settling for friendship because that’s all you offer? Be aware that his deeper attraction might cause the two of you to appear to be a couple even when you’re just hanging out. If that’s not what you want, give him time to get over you before pursuing a friendship, or cut ties and go solo to find your Mr. Right.

One of my female friends and I have gotten into this thing where we kind of make out while we’re at a bar or out dancing and drunk snuggle in bed and it’s like sexual but not, if you know what I mean. The thing is she seems to want more and I don’t at all. It’s just a fun thing to do sometimes. So I know I have to address this with her, but I’m afraid it will blow up our friendship, and she’s one of the only friends I have. So, what should I say?

You should say: “Why am I confusing myself and others by having such vague boundaries?” Your friend may want to hook up with you because you seem to want to hook up with her. Being drunk is not a valid reason for leading someone on. “I was drunk and didn’t know what I was doing” is an excuse that disempowers you. Make conscious decisions about your life. If you pretend that you have no choice except to give in to your friend, then she’s the boss of you. Ready for an equal, honest friendship? Get clear about who you are and what kind of relationships you want with people closest to you. You might be attracted to your friend and unable to admit that to yourself. So you get drunk and pretend not to know what you’re doing. Stop. Get a backbone. Stay sober the next time you get together. It may feel awkward at first, but after that passes honesty will come easier to you. When it does, own it. There is nothing as beautiful as being yourself.

Meditation of the Week

“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging,” said shame researcher and author Brené Brown. Can you celebrate your progress and release the quest for perfection?