Direct Answers – No!, What’s Missing

No!

I need advice on building personal boundaries. Simply put, I have a guy friend who has feelings for me I don't share. We dated briefly, I broke it off and we continued as friends.

While we are both acutely aware I'm not interested in an intimate relationship with him, he's made it clear I am the object of his affection. He does not respect my personal space.

We argue a lot, especially if he ends up crashing at my house after a night at the pub. Even when I tell him he can only sleep on the couch if he comes over, he weasels his way into my bed. I feel I am enabling him because I don't want to hurt his feelings and usually say yes when he asks for a favor.

I am a passive person. How do I identify and develop my core beliefs, values and boundaries?

~ Sue

Sue, when you break up with a man, it's not wise to go to "let's be friends." That's like teasing a dog with a treat you are not going to give him.

You don't need to identify core values as much as you need to act from what you know. You say you don't want to hurt his feelings when you should be saying, "I don't want to hurt my own feelings."

You have been given a gift of intuition, but you keep trying to give the gift back. Your intuition is more powerful than your reasoning and more powerful than your false sense of good manners. It's time to begin to follow it.

We suggest you read "Essentialism," a recent bestseller by Greg McKeown. That book can teach you how to get down to the barebones essentials of life. One chapter is specifically devoted to learning how to say no.

Learning to act from your feelings is like going to a fitness center. Slowly you will grow stronger, slowly you will grow bolder, slowly others will respect you more.

Start with little things. Practice being true to your feelings again and again. When someone expresses an opinion you don't share, without apology tell them your beliefs.

But don't practice with this man. He's in your past. He is about to learn, as Greg McKeown says, that no is a complete sentence.

~ Wayne & Tamara

What's Missing

I'm really confused and need to vent to someone who knows nothing about me.

I've dated my boyfriend nine months. He's 25, I'm 20 and it's my first real relationship. It's been quite a whirlwind full of new experiences and opportunities to learn more about myself. But one question lingers.

He loves me and is affectionate about it, too, yet I find myself wondering if I should break up with him. Then I remind myself I have no tangible reason to. But I don't know! He is such a great boyfriend and a wonderfully kind, funny person, yet I am constantly left feeling hollow inside.

~ Rita

Rita, U.S. Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart once said that he didn't know how to define pornography. But, he added, "I know it when I see it." Genuine love is like that, too. We may not be able to put a finger on why we love. We just do.

We often get letters like yours. Part of your problem is this. When it's not love and the other person is a jerk, it's easy to move on. But if he is a great person, loves us or makes our life better, it's hard to let him go, even when we know we don't share his love.

You get so much from your boyfriend you realize he is a great guy, but you don't get the one thing that makes him essential. Love.

Love, like pornography, may be hard to define, but intuitively you realize it is more than what you feel for him.

~ Wayne & Tamara

Column for the week of April 6, 2015

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