Q. Dear Mr Know It All,
I’m a 27-year-old surgeon: single, good-looking, fun-loving and smart. But for some reason, I have never been able to have a long-lasting relationship with a nice guy. I have been through some failed relationships that lasted a couple of months at the most. They all ended pretty much the same way: with me being dumped and my ex citing some ridiculous reason for the separation like I’m too good for him or that he’s not ready for marriage,etc. All this has had serious repercussions on my self-esteem. Currently, I’m in love with a guy who is good-looking and is two years younger than me. I saw him at a relative’s place and made the first move and we eventually became friends. But the problem is that he’s very carefree and unpredictable. When we talk or meet, we usually have a good time. He enjoys my company and is very frank with me. Sometimes he does some very special and caring things for me, which no guy has done for me before. The problem is he has never confessed his love for me, and whenever I try to talk to him and ask about the status of our relationship, he says that it’s not necessary to say something when the actions speak for themselves. At times he would say that FOR NOW, we are just friends — that I’m the best friend he has ever had and he doesn’t want to spoil it, and that he doesn’t want any hassles in life, and just wants me to be with him forever. He’s not ready for marriage yet while I’m being pressurised by my family to tie the knot. His behaviour has left me confused. He’s even lied to me at times, but all those issues are petty. I want to know if he’s just having a good time with me or should I wait and hope for him to fall in love with me someday? Am I being a fool by ignoring his lies, the contradictions between his actions and words, or have I become so desperate that I just don’t want to accept that he might not be into me? I don’t want to face another disappointment in life because it will shatter my confidence.
A. You know what you sound like? A player. A player who’s now looking to settle down, and I find that terribly endearing… which is good for you because otherwise I would have shredded you to pieces because I can’t stand it when smart, independent girls (you’re a surgeon, for crying out loud!) turn to putty for clueless boys who don’t know a good catch from a bad one even if it bites them in the face. I hate to admit this, but I’ve watched enough Grey’s Anatomy reruns to know that after all the drama in the OR, surgeons turn into complete duds when it comes to maintaining healthy, fulfilling relationships... and your email just goes on to validate my assumption. So, while a part of me feels for you and doesn’t want to blame you for your helplessness, a part of me wants to slap some sense into you for letting such a dumb issue bog you down like this.
The only problem here is that you and your squire haven’t bothered to define your relationship yet — not for yourselves and not for each other. Neither of you seem to know what is going on between the two of you except for the fact that you seem to enjoy each other’s company. You, being the girl that you are, have allowed a little flirting and male sweetness to go to your head, automatically assuming you’ve been struck by cupid, while he, being the guy that he is, has turned dumb, deaf and blind at the possibility of a tangible relationship with a woman who’s actually asking for it!
This might sound hackneyed, but for all it’s worth, you need to sit him down and have ‘the talk’ whether you’re up to it or not. I know he’s going to resist like a kid getting his first flu shot, but I’m sure after seven years of education you must be pretty awesome at dealing with difficult patients. A talk will help you determine two very important things: whether he’s ready — and mature—enough to hold your hand at a time when you need him to, and also whether you want him doing the same for you forty years from now, when you’re both not going to be as good-looking as you say you are right now. If the answer to both the questions is yes, great; but if it isn’t, stop humiliating yourself by going around in circles and stop this nonsense about shattering your confidence because you and I both know you’re a resilient woman who knows when to move on and discover another guy…just like you always have!
Q. Dear Mr. Know It All,
I am 23-years-old and serving in the armed forces, which makes me a well-established guy. Some time ago, I came across one of my school fellows on a social networking website. We started to chat on the internet and then started to text each other as well. She told me that she was married to her cousin and subsequently divorced because her husband wanted to marry another girl. I felt very sorry for her. After talking to her for a couple of months, I realised that she was hurt and unwilling to even think of getting married as she thinks that she cannot trust anyone. I started getting emotionally attached to her and also felt that she likes me. She shares everything with me which shows that she really trusts me. This led me to think that I should marry her because I do not want her to get hurt again and want her to spend a life which would make her forget her past. There are two problems though: the first is that she is from a Shia family and I am from a Sunni family. Secondly, she is divorced. I haven’t talked to my parents about her yet due to these reasons. I am very confused about what to do, and would really appreciate your advice to get me out of this situation.
A. Gosh, man, if I were your village elder, I would’ve ordered you two to be joined in holy matrimony right away. Seriously, after the effort you just put into rationalising your feelings for this girl, you deserve to be with her, no questions asked. But before we get carried away, let’s put on our grown-up caps for a minute.
The world would be a much happier place if you could go around marrying people just because you have a mushy heart and feel sorry for them, but sadly, things don’t work that way. You might be feeling all grown-up, responsible and capable right now because a girl you’re developing feelings for is letting you take a peek at the knotted contents of her head and heart, but the truth is you’re still a kid: 23 is not old enough to really know right from wrong, let alone marry a woman with tonnes of emotional baggage. Your girlfriend needs a friend right now more than a husband, so be that friend and be patient. Give her time to heal and start trusting men again. And if, a couple of years down the road, you still feel the same way about her, go ahead and make your move.
As far as your parents and their apprehensions are concerned, tell them to wake up and join the rest of us in the 21st century — life’s a whole lot easier (and happier) on this side of the millennium!
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, August 21st, 2011.