Reality bursts

Joey loves Paul's Hat Works in San Francisco.

I met this guy at Sacramento City College and gave him my number. He has been texting me nonstop, and I’ve been really sexual with him in texts (it’s bad, I know), but when we talk on the phone or see each other at school, I can feel myself being so cold. He keeps asking if I’m OK and if I still like him. I do. I just feel weird when we actually see each other. I dated a guy all four years of high school, and we broke up a year ago. I haven’t really dated or anything since. I actually like this guy, he’s chill, but did I ruin it?

No, honey, but you are creating a lot of unnecessary drama. A strong, healthy relationship demands that each person presents her or his true self to the other. Being real lets the other person know you can be trusted. When you know and accept who he or she is, genuine love blooms. But sex-based flirting with someone you barely know means the relationship begins in fantasy. That diminishes the odds of the relationship succeeding long-term. Sexting is a way of nurturing infatuation, too. Later, when reality bursts in to reveal that you don’t match the fantasy you concocted or the one he has imagined, the relationship implodes, often with a lot of yelling, tears and acting out.

A person who cares for herself and others does not manipulate, pressure, act phony or play games. So why are you doing it? The breakup of your previous relationship may be part of the reason you avoid emotional intimacy, but if that’s the case, you should care enough about yourself to avoid dating until you are ready.

Of course, the problem might be that you miss having a guy’s attention, you miss being desired, and you like feeling in control. If you continue to exercise those muscles, you will build a stronger resistance to being in a loving relationship. I think it’s time that you head to the campus counseling center and find someone capable of guiding you into being more honest and trustworthy about who you are and what you want in a relationship.

If a guy says he had a great time on a date, but you only hear from him occasionally by text, and he doesn’t ask you out again, what does that mean?

He’s not that into you. So don’t let your brain waste any more time on him. Learn to allow one great date to be enough. The expectation that one or a series of juicy dates ought to lead to commitment eliminates the possibility that some experiences are just opportunities to grow in self-knowledge. Enjoy every experience as its own end. Your life will improve immeasurably.

My wife has been lying about how much money she spends, and we are in some serious debt. We always do the holidays big, but I just can’t see doing that this year. My wife is having fits. She actually told the kids that I told Santa not to come to our house anymore. We had words. I took off and slept in my truck. Now she is accusing me of having an affair. I love my kids but not sure I want to be with her anymore.

Chemistry probably brought you together, but your marriage is missing shared values. That always packs a wallop when its absence becomes obvious. Your only hope is to meet with a neutral third party, like a talented psychotherapist, and determine whether saving the marriage is worth learning how to be selfless. Yes, that means no more selfish shopping expeditions and no more driving off when things don’t go as anticipated.

Meditation of the Week

<p>“See the rose through world-colored glasses,” wrote the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Are you honest enough to live in reality?</p>