Dear Dr. Romance,
My girlfriend is 17 years older than me and we have been dating for over 2 years. The past year has had lots of fighting and has been very tough on both of us. We are currently taking a break, trying to work out our differences. The constant problem has been broken trust. I love this woman more than I could ever imagine myself loving someone.
She has literally been everything I want in a woman, except for just a few things. She is very free spirited and DOES NOT want to be controlled. On the level of where we are at in our lives, we are very close to the same point and our chemistry is perfect on our good days. She feels like my soul mate until we get into an argument about something related to the trust being broken. I really want to make this work, what would you recommend for me to do? I own a company and go to school full time, she goes to the same school as me and we are both about a year from graduating and she has many stressful pressures on her for her life in general. I feel that I get the short end of the stick sometimes, since we are so close. She has stated that she could see herself with me forever, she could see herself having kids with me (not even when she was married, could she say that) and that she feels closer to me than anyone else she has ever dated, or her previous husband. I hope you can give me some advice because she really means the world to me and I love her soooo much, thanks!
I think the key is in your statement that she "does not want to be controlled." To me, this means that both of you think one person should be in control of the relationship, and that's why you're fighting. You're probably always fighting about who's right, right? Relationships are not about control -- they're about partnership; working together to figure out what will work for both of you. You have to accept that she's got a busy life right now, and help her by not being too demanding. Instead, make it as easy as possible for the two of you to see each other, and for both of you to get your school work done. Fighting is a giant waste of your time, and it does damage besides. "Fair Fight Guidelines" and "Stop Reacting; Start Relating" will help you learn to communicate instead of fight, and Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences will show you how to understand each other.
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Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.
Dr. Tessina, is CRO (Chief Romance Officer) for LoveForever.com, a website designed to strengthen relationships and guide couples through the various stages of their relationship with personalized tips, courses, and online couples counseling. Online, she’s known as “Dr. Romance” Dr. Tessina appears frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC News.