Ask Dr. NerdLove: Should I Stop Waiting For Him To Change?

Hey Doc,

So I’ve been off and on with someone who I’ve been in a long distance relationship with. We’ve known each other for four years going onto five and we haven’t seen each other.

We’ve been on and off mainly because he was mentally unstable, depressed, and elusive. Fights would happen, then he would disappear for almost months and randomly text me. We would fall back in love with each other, then he would promise to make an effort to handle his mental health, not confuse me, and work on his finances so that’d we’d be able to see each other. Last year, I had the money to come down and see him but he did the same thing again. The trip was delayed because I didn’t want to waste money on coming to see him if our relationship wasn’t in good shape.

This is the beginning of year five, I’ve found myself another job for the spring and summer and I’ll be going back to college in August. My boyfriend seems to still be pretty depressed. still talks about a writing project he and his friends were working on to get money coming in, and every once in a while, he’ll tell me that he’s looking for jobs. Most of the time when I video chat him, he’s smoking weed or playing video games in his living room/bedroom. The only thing I seen a change in is that he does check in on me more often and asks if I am okay, tells me he is here for me, etc. Either his mom seems to be okay with his current state or either he emotionally manipulates his mom into cutting him slack by blowing up and threatening suicide.

(He did that to me in the past when I spoke on things he needed to actually work on and stop waiting for his blessings to come in).

Knowing him for four years, I know he has a good heart but there’s little action or effort to what he says or promises me. I’ve been contemplating on whether I should visit him this April to kick things off ,or wait until he’s financially stable to pitch in the expenses. I know I will be upset with myself and him if I go out my way to visit him for the first time just to see that he still isn’t going to make an effort to get a job. The last thing I want is to be the only one making moves.

Also, I know that visiting each other won’t be the cure to his depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies, but I worry about investing emotionally in someone who may continue to not put any effort into bettering his mental health. I want to see him because it’s been too long. but at the same time I don’t know if I should delay seeing each other for the first time again or let him go because of the lack of progress.

Should I break up with him or take things slower until I see progress?

Leaving On A Jet Plane

So, first of all, LOJP: you’re not in a relationship with this dude.

I’m a great believer in the ability to make friends over the Internet. Back in May, I went to the U.K. to see friends I’ve known for twenty years that I had never met in person. I’ve had people who I only know via Discord, Twitter and Facebook help me make massive leaps in my personal and professional development.

But I don’t believe that you can have a romantic relationship with someone you have never actually met.

The issue isn’t the distance. It’s not even that most of your relationship is conducted online. It’s that you have never actually been in the same room together.

This is, in no small part because – to quote the sage – love isn’t brains, children. It’s blood, blood screaming inside you to work its will. Every romantic relationship, even amongst asexuals, has a physical component to it – a sense of intimacy and connection that doesn’t exist in a purely mental bond. You’ve never spent time with him in person to know if you like how he smells or the way he fits into your arm or the sense of his presence in the room even if you aren’t touching. You haven’t discovered if you like how he kisses, how he touches you or even if you’re sexually compatible. It doesn’t matter how many Skype sessions you’ve shared or even the amount of phone-sex you may have. We are physical beings who need touch and physical contact. Without those… well, all you have is an emotional connection… and a relationship isn’t going to work without a physical one too.

But let’s put that aside and talk about the relationship you do have with him and what you should do about it.

That having been said: I think you need to dump this guy. Because even if you did have a fully-fledged romantic – albeit long-distance – relationship… this is a relationship that’s already on life-support. One of the signs that a relationship has already started to die is when you have the same fights over and over again and nothing changes. Over the span of five years now, you’ve had the same arguments with this dude, and he’s made all the same promises. He’s going to get a job, he’s going to take care of his mental health, he’s going to contribute equally to this relationship. And for the last five years nothing has changed. He’s still making the same noises about waiting for his ship to come in and those baller moves that’ll bring him all the money and you’ve got sweet fuck-all to show for it besides Skype sessions involving weed and video games.

The past may be prologue and people do change but in this case? Past performance are pretty indicative of future results. And while sometimes I will advocate using the threat of a break-up as the pre-cursor to belting someone upside the head with the Chair Leg of Truth, I don’t think you can trust this dude to actually make any lasting changes. I think you will get one of two results if you threaten to dump him. Either he’ll do the “I can change, I can change I can change” dance until he figures he’s got you off his back or he’s going to throw a fit and make threats of self-harm until you back down. This is something he’s done to you before, and he knows it works, so he has no reason to not try it again.

Although to be perfectly honest: the fact that he’s pulled that shit before is, in and of itself, a reason to dump him so hard his grandparents get divorced retroactively. It’s bad enough that he just straight-up ghosts you for months after a fight. Using threats of self-harm are incredibly low and cynically manipulative and folks who pull that shit need to be kicked to the curb with a quickness.

So I think the best thing you can do, LOJP, is save your money, your sanity and your soul. Cancel the trip, cancel the relationship and block this dude on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Skype and any other way he has of reaching you. The last thing you need is this dude to shamble back into your DMs and texts like a horny zombie.

This relationship died a while ago and it’s been rotting ever since. It’s time to put two in it’s dome and call it. You’ll be happier in the long run.

Good luck.

Hey Doc,

This is a very tricky situation for me. I’m 18 and I’m in my first relationship, with a woman I’ve been dating for a year and 7 months. I know it is unlikely that a relationship will last at this young of an age, but I really love her and I really feel that I want to spend the rest of my life with her and she feels the same way.

Lately though, I have been getting a crush on her best friend, who is dating my best friend, and I don’t know what to do. I know that there is almost no possibility of anything happening between us, but I can’t stop thinking about her and having fantasies about her. This has happened before with another one of my girlfriend’s best friends; I had a crush on her and had fantasies about her to but that only lasted like a month. The current one has been going on for about 3 months now.

I’ve been trying to get over it and keep telling myself it’s just a crush, but I really don’t know what to do. I] have felt so bad about feeling these things, just like I did the last time. Even though i know it’s wrong I can’t stop feeling like this.


Unfaithful Brain

OK my dude, let me give you some advice that is going to make life infinitely easier for you: you will always want to bang other people. The fact that you’ve got the horn for your girlfriend’s BFF has nothing to do with the state of your relationship. It has nothing to do with the depth of your feelings for her or your commitment to her. All those feelings you feel right now? Those sweaty dreams and alluring fantasies? Those are just signs that you’re a mammal with a sex-drive.

That’s it.

Love isn’t magic. It isn’t going to make you blind to every other woman out there, nor is it going to disconnect signals from your eyes to your junk. A monogamous commitment, likewise, isn’t a spell of Protection From Attraction 10′ Radius. All an exclusive commitment means is that you’ve promised that you wouldn’t sleep with anyone else. It doesn’t mean that you won’t want to.

The way you’re feeling right now, with these crushes that’re causing you so much anxiety? That’s the perfectly normal reaction to seeing a woman you find attractive. It’s something that happens to everyone, man, woman, or enbie, gay, bi, pan, or straight and that’s fine. Feelings and attraction are inherently neutral. Having fantasies is neutral too. What you get up to between your ears is between you and your hand. It’s only when you act on those attractions that things start to get messy.

So what do you do about all of this? Well honestly… nothing. There’s nothing to do about it. Trying to repress your feelings is a mistake. It’s akin to using a stress-ball; squeezing it down will only make it come squishing out the sides and gaps. Instead just let yourself feel it. Note that you have a crush, name it – “oh right, this is my crush on Emily” – and just let it be. There’s nothing wrong with having one, and to be honest, crushes are fun. Take some of that energy, plow it into your relationship with your girlfriend but otherwise just feel it and leave it. As with your previous crush, this will fade in time on its own.

Good luck.

Hello Doctor

Recently I found out a girl I work with was into me and I liked her too. We began texting and I asked her out on a date to which she agreed.

The night before the date we met up and eventually one thing led to another (I had my arm around her, etc) until we began making out.

She texted me later that she had a great time and was excited for the date. However, the next morning she texted me that she was sick and was sorry that she had to cancel. We rescheduled the date (when asked if she wanted to she replied “yes!”) However my question is how do I keep that momentum going between us. The date is a week away.

Don’t Stop Not Stopping

All things considered, I don’t think you need to worry about anything DSNS. But if you’re especially worried, just shoot her a flirty text. “Hey, were you at $PLACE yesterday? Because I may have seen your evil twin” or “I just had the weirdest dream about you in a koala suit so I wanted to say ‘hi’. Oh, and stay out of my dreams” both make for cute, low-key flirting that can help keep the momentum going.

Good luck.

This post was previously published on and is republished here with permission from the author.

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