Dear Harlan: I've been dating a man for the better part of nine months. I say "better part" because I have broken things off a couple of times because he refuses to introduce me to or allow me around the kids. He says that it is my fault that he doesn't want to introduce me to them. The boys are 4 and 7, and I understand that he wants to make sure that I will be around if and when the kids get attached to me. The only reason I've broken it off is because he refuses to introduce me to them, and, therefore, my time with him is limited. When he has them, he just goes away – not even talking to me or texting me very much. This is difficult for me because I am in love with him. A few other problems: he doesn't seem to make me a priority by making time for me, and he regularly cancels or reschedules plans to see each other. Also, on a regular basis he will take hours to text or call me back. He says my expectations are too high, and he makes me feel ridiculous for being upset. What do you think? – Hidden
Dear Hidden: I'm thinking his kids are No. 1 and No. 2. Unless you can handle being No. 3 when the kids are around, and No. 2 when something better comes around, find someone who can put you first all the time. This guy might not be in a place to give you what you want. Before ending it, figure out what's reasonable for you to expect from him. Instead of asking him to change, just listen. He might not trust you because he knows he can't give you what you want. Find out what he can give, and then see if you still want it.
Dear Harlan: I've gotten out there, handed out my card to men, and have found that rejection is truly painless now that I've accepted the Universal Rejection Truth. Now that one of the guys I gave my card to has started texting me, I'm a little scared. He's a bailiff, and everyone says not to date a cop because they have high divorce rates as well as lots of infidelity. However, I'm a lawyer, and we have the highest rate of substance abuse and stress, and apparently die really young from it. How do I screen him without offending him? I realize he's taking a chance on me, given my career choice, and I'm not a typical lawyer - I don't even drink. I'm wondering if this is not just a screening problem but perhaps an attempt to prevent myself from getting hurt later or being disappointed. – Making Excuses
Dear Making Excuses: Giving a guy your number doesn't mean you're ready to date him. Until you're willing to get hurt, you're not ready to be loved. If you're too afraid to open up, then step back and work to create a life where you feel your absolute best physically, emotionally and spiritually. Surround yourself with great friends, people you love and a therapist you trust. Create a life where you're supported, loved and fulfilled. Then, go into a relationship giving someone permission to love you, but knowing that if you do get hurt, you have a support system and a life waiting for you. As for trusting a man, a guy with a long list of hateful exes tells you something – go slow, or run the other way. (c) Harlan Cohen 2012. Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.
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