Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Her white picket fence fantasy may be chasing men away
Q: I get too emotionally attached too quickly. I meet a guy, we have a few great dates, and then I project onto him these fantasies of marriage, children and the white picket fence. I'm not sure if the guys I date are picking up on this, but I seem to get through a few dates and get a polite email from them saying we're not a good match.
What are practical steps I can take to manage these emotions/behaviors? I intellectually know I need to take it slow, but when a good guy comes along, it all goes out the window. Thank you!
A: You need to figure out why you're so heavily invested in the fantasy — and a rather by-the-book one at that, if your description of your daydream is accurate. That alone can scare men off, since people are often quick to figure out when they're envisioned not as individuals, but as an item on someone's agenda. The best relationship won't be the one you dream about, it'll be the one you never imagined that emerges naturally from someone who mixes well with you.
Besides, if art, literature, the news and my mail are any gauge, the white picket fence imprisons more people than it pleases.
But I digress. That figuring-out process, if you think about it, is often just about facing what's letting you down about your life the way it is. Urges to get swept away from your status quo are so much more powerful than any intellectual arguments not to get your hopes up; the only way to master those urges is to address their source. If you're in a position to get some competent counseling, I do suggest it. If seeing a therapist isn't in your immediate future, then make finding that source — versus finding a man — your homework assignment for now.
Sister can leave comfort zone or accept unhappy status quo
Q: I have a sister who is 28 to my 37. When she comes to me seeking advice, the advice I give usually requires her to get out of her comfort zone and try something different from what she likely has seen her friends or colleagues do.
She then doesn't implement the advice, but continues to complain about the issue not being resolved.
How should I respond? It's very frustrating, and sometimes my response sounds like a parent speaking to a child, which I know isn't good.
A: I think you encapsulated the issue so well here that you've written your own answer. When your sister continues to complain, explain to her that you're sympathetic, because all people find it tough to leave their comfort zones — but that it's usually what's required for making changes. So, like everyone else, she can either leave her comfort zone or accept the unhappy status quo.
Then you can change the subject — or make sympathetic clucking noises when she complains, then change the subject.
For what it's worth: This could be happening exactly as you describe if you were 28 and she were 37. No need for the older-sib role to define you.