When Porn Threatens

Dear Harlan: Please help me. My girlfriend caught me using online porn. She found some videos on my phone. We have talked about porn in the past, and I know she is against it. She believes it’s degrading to women and it is no different than cheating. We have a healthy sex life and an honest relationship, but she is talking about breaking up with me. I betrayed her trust and I feel awful about it, but I don’t understand why she can’t forgive me. I’m faithful and will do anything for her. She knows it, but the porn has made her doubt our three years of dating. Is there anything I can do to convince her that she can trust me? I don’t want to lose her over something so insignificant in my life.

— Messed Up Again

Dear Man:  STAY AWAY FROM PORN. When porn is costing you your relationship, it’s significant. If you want to stay together, you’ll have to figure out how to stay away from porn. You can start by apologizing and explaining to her how you view porn – not to change her mind, but to reassure her that you are loving, committed and working to fix this problem. One solution can be to install a program that will monitor your online activity. Covenant Eyes (www.covenanteyes.com) is a place to start. This program monitors the websites you visit, the search terms used and the YouTube videos watched, and lists them in a report. This monitoring tool is used by people who need another layer of accountability. In addition to Covenant Eyes, you can start going to Sex Addicts Anonymous (saa-recovery.org) meetings, and find a therapist to help guide you. When you are lying, sneaking around and hurting someone you love, it’s time to address the problem and get help. If you don’t think it’s a problem, find a partner who is more tolerant of porn.

Ask Harlan | → Read More Advice

Committed Relationship Doesn’t Mean Rejection Stops

Dear Harlan: How do I handle rejection in a committed relationship? I’ve been with my partner for the past two years, and I still struggle when she isn’t interested in being intimate. What does normal rejection in a committed relationship typically look like, and how do you handle it?

— Struggling

Dear Struggling:  My wife rejects me all the time. It hurts, but I don’t resent her. People think that once they fall in love, commit and get married the rejection doesn’t stop. Nope. It never stops. You can’t hide from it. The only way to handle it is to accept The Universal Rejection Truth of Relationships. The URT states that your partner will not always say or do what you want. And you won’t always say or do what your partner wants. It’s the undeniable truth. When we accept the truth, we don’t spend all of our time hating, hiding or attacking. Instead we can look inward and outward, and move forward. Looking inward means getting comfortable enough in your own skin to listen, even if the words aren’t what you want to hear. Looking outward means working to understand how someone feels, even if it hurts, without trying to change them. Moving forward means expressing how you feel, being heard and giving someone permission to respond freely. It takes people who are willing to embrace the truth and to grow together.

People who fight the URT grow apart. Intimacy is getting comfortable with the uncomfortable, finding comfort when being heard and listening – even if it’s not what we want to hear or be told.

Ask Harlan | → Read More Advice

You Need Love – With or Without a Significant Other



Dear Harlan: I’m in my first relationship. I’ve wanted a boyfriend for a while, and now that I have one, I’m anxious and scared. I’m feeling all these emotions that I’ve never felt before. I’m afraid that it all will end, and life will be back to how it was. It’s as if I’m waiting for the bottom to drop. How can I be in a relationship and relax without obsessing about it ending?

— Obsessing

Dear Obsessing:  Have a life you love inside and outside of your new relationship. Make sure you have friends in your life in addition to your significant other. Spend time with family members who fill you up with happiness. Do things that make you happy independent of your significant other. Make sure you have a life that isn’t dependent on someone else for all of your happiness. When you have balance, interests and love in your life, you’ll know that you will always be OK. Be grateful for the new relationship, and at the same time, know that you will always be OK, no matter what. This is how you ensure that you always have love in your life. This is how you can enjoy the moment and how you can demand and command respect inside the relationship. Yes, it’s scary to be happy, but it’s not as scary when you know you’ll always have love in your life – with or without a boyfriend.

Ask Harlan | → Read More Advice

Never Regret Telling the Truth About Sex

Dear Harlan: I’m having relationship regrets. I told my boyfriend that I wanted to wait to have sex. That is what you suggested. He said he was OK with this and would go at my pace. The next week, he broke up with me. He’s already dating someone else. I asked him if it was about not having sex with him. He said it had nothing to do with it. I’m having regrets. Did I make a mistake?

— Regrets

Dear Regrets:  He’s a loser. You are lucky he’s not your boyfriend. The only regret you should have is wasting time thinking about him. He gave you the greatest gift in the world. He removed himself from your life. Your boyfriend wasn’t interested in dating you. He was only interested in having sex with you. And let me tell you one more thing that makes me feel disgusted: If breaking up with you had NOTHING to do with sex (and I don’t believe it for one second), clearly he was having doubts. Be grateful you didn’t sleep with someone who was already planning to end the relationship. Clearly, there were problems. You must have sensed it. The best way to avoid getting used by a jerk is time. Be proud of yourself. You did everything right. You set a clear boundary and discovered the truth. Yes, it’s painful to break up, but it’s more painful to have someone break up with you after using you. You have nothing to regret – be grateful

Ask Harlan | → Read More Advice

You never win when bad-mouthing friend’s loser boyfriend

Angry Crazy Woman With Rage Expression

Dear Harlan, How do you talk to a friend who you think is in a bad (not abusive, but just poor) relationship? I think it would be best for the two of them to go their separate ways, but they’re very comfortable together and don’t want to be vulnerable. How can I help her see that this isn’t healthy? – Worried Watcher

Dear Worried, NEVER write it, text it, or record it. They might get married and when her big loser boyfriend reads finds it — he will hate you. Be a best friend, but never make her choose between you and him. Show her what it’s like to be in great relationships. Be there for her. Invite her to do things with you. Encourage her to challenge herself. Go on trips, take on physical challenges together, encourage her to develop interests outside of him. The more she grows as an individual, the more power she will have to go her separate way. If she doesn’t let you in her life, ask for one night a week. But never make her choose between you and him. The friend always loses.

Read More Advice | → Ask Harlan For Advice

Girlfriend dumps boyfriend, friends dump her

Lonely student being bullied by her peers at the universityDear Harlan, I recently cut things off with my boyfriend. We had all the same friends. They have all taken his side. How do I make an entire group of people stop hating me after a breakup? I miss my friends. – Badly Broken

Dear Badly Broken, Don’t even try to stop them from hating you. It will just give them more reasons to hate you. Give them permission and time to realize they miss you. In the meantime, don’t expect life to be the same. Do things you love to do with people who share similar interests. Find organized groups (spiritual, organizational, athletic, professional, etc.). Use this time to become more interesting and dynamic. Patience, places and people will fix the problem, but it’s going to take shifting your thinking. While you’re getting to a better place, reach out to a couple of the friends you miss and trust – see if you can get together outside of the group. True friends will want to reconnect.

Read More Advice | → Ask Harlan

Boyfriend is a crutch; she needs to stand on her own two feet

Woman-Crutches Dear Harlan,  I’ve been with my boyfriend for a little over a year and a half. I go to school two hours away from him. I started college last fall, and we got through it. The new school year started, and I still want to be with him, but I don’t know if I’m in love with him as much as I used to be. I adore him, he’s my best friend and he’s always there for me. When I’m away, I just feel lost. Then I go back home and see him, and everything is fine. I don’t know if feeling lost is my way of trying to readjust to being away from him or not wanting to deal with anyone or anything. I don’t know what to do. Please help. – Lost

Dear Lost,  You don’t have a life that belongs to you. It’s all about “us” (you and your boyfriend). You need a life. But it scares you to create one. It will mean being around other men and not being as present in his life. I get it. But this isn’t working. Do him and your relationship a favor: Pick a direction and take a step.  I’m not telling you to break up; I’m suggesting that you break away. Put yourself in two new places, doing things you love to do without him or his approval. Surround yourself with people you find interesting. Don’t feel bad about doing it. Create a life on campus that keeps you on campus. Get a job. Join a sorority.  Run for an elected position. Don’t live for weekends with him. Create a new life for yourself. If you grow closer — perfect. If you grow apart, you’ll know that it wasn’t a perfect relationship. I know it’s scary, but this is part of growing up.  Grow up, and see if you grow apart.

Ask For Advice |  → Read More Advice

Best friends hate boyfriends for good reasons

woman-screaming-loser Dear Harlan: My best friend hates my boyfriend and is really rude to him. It puts stress on my relationships with both of them. How do I handle it?– Angry Friend

Dear Angry: Your best friend hates him for a very good reason. Find out why. She might be jealous, miss you, or think he’s a BIG creep. She might think that you can do better.  And secretly, you agree.  You should want to know exactly why she hates him. If you can’t handle her opinion, it’s because YOU don’t want to face the truth.  Acknowledging the truth would force you to deal with the situation. And that might mean breaking up, being single, and being alone again. Therefore, it’s easier to hate your friend than it is to face the truth.

Write Harlan |  → Read More Advice

Virgin wants to tell new beau big secret without scaring him off

SYDNEY - APRIL 3: Aircrafts of the Virgin Australia fleet at SydDear Harlan, I’m waiting to have sex until marriage. It’s something I’m committed to doing. I’m in my early 20s and recently started dating a guy I see a future with. When is the appropriate time to bring this up to a significant other? We just started dating, and I want to know the best time and way to bring it up. I don’t want to scare someone away. It’s happened in the past.   Also, how should I do it? Help! – Waiting

Dear Waiting,  You can bring it up on your wedding night. Then he can wait until after dinner. Or you can bring it up sooner. No matter when or where you bring it up — the bigger deal you make of it, the bigger deal he will make of it. A lot of men want to be with a virgin. And a lot of 
non-virgins can find a virgin attractive. You will always think he’s good in bed (because you don’t know any different). Assuming you’re not a prude or an asexual virgin who lacks passion, you can be a proud virgin who has no trouble sharing the truth. Have fun with it. Be creative and passionate while sharing it. You can write it on your body and share it at the right moment. You can spell it with your tongue. Someone who loves you, respects you and wants to have sex with you in the future will stick around. The timing depends on the type of relationship. Drunk or naked is never good. Comfortable and safe is best. Make sure you share it with comfort and confidence. Explain your boundaries and emphasize what you are comfortable doing. When he tells you he’s a virgin too, don’t fall out of your chair. Just give him a kiss.

Ask for Advice | → Read More advice

Live-in boyfriend shuts down, shuts up, and shuts out girlfriend

Young man and woman angry and conflictingDear Harlan: My boyfriend and I have been together for almost two years. We’ve been living together for a while now, and he has changed. At first he was affectionate and clingy, now he hardly wants to spend any time with me. He says I smother him when I barely even give him attention. Our roommates have noticed he has been cold with me. He won’t talk to me. He just shuts down on me. I don’t know what to do anymore. – Barely Together

Dear Barely Together: Your boyfriend says you smother him. You say you don’t. I say you’re not listening.  HE FEELS SMOTHERED!  When he tells you how he feels, you want him to feel and tell you something else. That can cause a man to shut down.  Do yourself a favor and pick up the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.5-love-languages2 This book helped me understand myself and my wife so much better. It should be required reading for all couples.  Chapman’s approach will help you understand how to connect with your boyfriend in his love language and help him to understand you and your love language.  If your man is more interested in shutting you out than working things out, it’s time to move on and move out.

Ask Harlan for Advice