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.

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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

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Surprise snacks scare friend with benefits

Chocolate cookies tied a red ribbon. Gift on a wooden background. Christmas background with copy space. Cooking cookies.

Dear Harlan: My “friend with benefits” delivered a box full of snacks to my door today, and I’ve been freaking out ever since. Why am I afraid of commitment? How do I get over it? – Afraid

Dear Afraid: Snacks are not a commitment. Snacks are a “thank you for hooking up with me.” Dinner and a date is a real commitment. The only way to get over it is to be willing and able to get hurt. Yes, be willing to get hurt. Committing isn’t a problem; it’s when the commitment ends that’s the problem. Think about the times in your life when you’ve gotten hurt. Think about why it hurt. Think about what would be different next time around. What can you do to create a life where you will always be OK — even after a commitment ends? The hardest part of love isn’t the love — it’s the breakup. This is where you need to go on a personal journey of discovery.

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Not all relationships are meant to last forever

Upset Man And Woman Secretly Watching Each Other Because MistakeDear Harlan: I’ve been dating a man for five months. We moved in together a month ago. He is depressed, grew up being verbally abused, is extremely insecure and gets upset a lot. I’m strong, independent, outgoing and very confident in myself and my sexuality. Lately, I’ve been getting very stressed and frustrated with him. I’m feeling the need for space because he’s being so upset, needy and insecure about me and the opposite sex. I’m not promiscuous or outrageously flirty; I’m comfortable with myself and get along very well with the opposite sex. Along with our regular disagreements and his sadness, I’ve been having dreams about other guys, especially one of our friends. The friend recently told me, nonchalantly, that he might have upset my boyfriend by telling him that he would have slept with me had it not been for my boyfriend. Almost six months ago, I left the country to travel and teach kids around the world. I’ve been more confused since coming home. I’m starting to wonder if I’m subconsciously blaming my boyfriend for my missing out on life and causing my frustrations. I think I’m missing out on guys who have been hitting on me, because I have been with very few people. I’m now realizing I could get quite a few guys if I wanted. I can’t stop thinking about sleeping with our friend. Basically, I’ve been thinking I should move out to better our relationship and try to mend things between us. Do the constant fantasies about our friend mean anything? I’m confused. What do I do ? – Second Thoughts

Dear Second Thoughts: There are two types of relationships: crutches and complements. People in crutch relationships can’t stand on their own two feet and use a partner for balance. When one partner no longer needs a crutch, the relationship can get unsteady — especially if the other partner still needs a crutch. On the other hand, there are relationships that are complements. Complementary relationships are balanced, healthier and less complicated. No one needs the other to feel complete.  You need a complement. He might need a crutch. None of this is confusing from here — you might have outgrown this relationship. Sounds to me like you don’t need the crutch of a relationship. Time apart could be the best gift. But do not sleep with that “friend.” It was manipulative and wrong of him to tell you what he said. He’s a big creep. You can do better.

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Having Sex Too Soon Complicates Relationship Too Soon

Upset young couple having problems with sex.

Dear Harlan: I’m in a relationship that has become physical too fast. I don’t want to turn him away, but I’m not comfortable with sex being so important so soon in the relationship. How do I transition my relationship away from just having sex all the time? – Slow Down

Dear Slow Down: You’re having sex; this means you should be able to talk about anything. I mean anything… religion, politics, bad breathe, body odor, birth control, pants that are too tight, and sex that happens too fast.  If it makes you uncomfortable, talk about it. Have this conversation while sober, during daylight hours (or before it gets too late). Do it face-to-face (no texting). Make this about you and your feelings, not him or what he’s doing wrong. Remind him that you’re incredibly attracted to him (if you are) and absolutely love spending time with him (if you do), and then explain why you need to slow down the sex. Help him understand why (this means you need to understand it yourself and put it into words). If he listens to you and respects your boundaries, you’ll grow closer. If putting the brakes on sex ends the relationship, he’s not the right guy for you, which probably is what you fear and are afraid to figure out.

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How to Spot a Man Who Wants to Fool You, Use You, and Discard You

couple-she-feels-used

Dear Harlan,

I have a history of being used by men. I’m getting to a place in my life where I’m thinking about dating again. Are there any telltale signs to know if a guy is putting on a front and lying to you just to fool around with you sexually? I don’t want to get hurt again. – Healed

Dear Healed,

Horny men looking to use you are impatient. Guys who discard women don’t like to wait around for sex. They don’t like to have long conversations about feelings. They don’t like to go for long walks and end the day with a hug. They aren’t fans of meeting your family (especially a father who works for law enforcement). They don’t like to share holidays. They hate listening (while clothed and sober). They don’t like to move at your pace. They don’t like to listen when you say “No.” They don’t want to wait. In general, men who want to fool around with you and dump you don’t want to date you very long without having sex. The way to protect yourself is to go slow. Get emotionally naked before getting physically naked. Talk a lot (while sober). Listen a lot. Hang out during daylight hours. Get to know him, his friends and his family. Get to know what he wants after the sex. Find out how he’s treated women in the past. Time plus talking equals trust. And trust is what makes sex safer and intimate.

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Why soft, sweet, and funny can win over hot, hard, and ripped

Strong Athletic Man Fitness Model Torso Showing Six Pack Abs.

Dear Harlan, Body image isn’t something that only affects girls – it affects guys, too. If you’re not a guy who’s tall with a six-pack and 8-inch biceps, girls aren’t into you. I’ve tried to change my body to fit this image but I just can’t get it, and it seems like without it no girl will want me. How do I accept that standard when I don’t have any of that? – Soft

Dear Soft, I’m no Disney character, either. Trust me, let the ladies date the muscle men with the six-packs and the 18-inch biceps. They need to get it out of their systems. When they are done with them, they will come knocking on your door. A lot of these guys can’t compete with us short, funny, smart and softer men. Muscles get old. Women like to laugh. Smiling wins. They like men who are driven, passionate, and work hard.  And really, most women don’t want to date a perfect looking man — makes them feel imperfect and never good enough.  I know. I’m 5-foot-6, have ears that protrude and I have a one-pack (but it’s getting firmer). I’ve met a lot of women who never wanted to date me because I was too short, too soft and had ears that stuck out. But that was their loss. For some reason, I always knew it. In fact, history proves it. There’s evidence that while the alpha males were out hunting, the other men (less-muscular) would canoodle with the women. There are billions of women on the planet. Browse any dating site and you’ll see that. Personally, I’ve always preferred mature women who knew my value. Stop beating yourself up. Once you believe you’re good enough – YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH (sorry to shout) these women will see it.  For now, appreciate the ones who see your best qualities. An awesome sense of humor, a great job, and a passion for life can be even more attractive and fulfilling than hot, hard, and ripped.

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Help Me! Harlan: Closure is a process, not a destination

Highway Car RoadDear Harlan: I was dating a guy for nine months, and for most of that time, he was away in the military. His parents and I grew close while he was gone. Long story short, the guy and I didn’t work out, but his parents want to maintain contact, go to dinner, etc. I kindly told them that since their son and I are no longer talking, it is not OK for us to have such a relationship.  His mother told me Christmas Eve that she feels sorry for him because he doesn’t know what he lost. I said he is a grown man and left their house. How do I get closure?– Not Closed

Dear Not Closed: Closure isn’t a place. It’s a new path. It’s an unexpected route to another destination, a much better one.  Think of it as lane closure on a fast-moving highway. It’s surprising, aggravating, slow, frustrating and annoying — but then you break free. Closure is rarely clean. It’s upsetting, confusing and takes faith to get where you want to go. Do you have faith? Do you believe you are going to a better place? If the answer is no — you will get stuck. Getting stuck and standing still doesn’t help you find closure. The answer is to ALWAYS keep moving — even if it’s a slow go. One way to keep moving is to give people permission to not give you want you want. Respect their feelings, take the experiences and make them part of a bigger plan that will lead to a better place. Then, keep moving. Recognize that you always have options. There are thousands of men who will want to love you and appreciate you. Put yourself in places with people who are looking to move forward in love and life. Surround yourself with people who share your passions, interests and love of life. Find new friends who keep moving. Give men access to attractive, interesting and busy you. Use online dating, get set up and hang out with new friends and travel in new circles. Then, keep moving. Explore your options. If moving is too hard or you find yourself stalling, find a therapist who can ride with you and help you move forward. Look back, but not for too long. Focus your energy in front of you. Remember, closure isn’t about clean endings. It’s about a new path to get what you want. Keep it moving and you will find closure.

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Boyfriend’s dream life barely includes long-distance girlfriend

woman was late for a plane at the airportDear Harlan: I’m in a long-distance relationship. We dated last year and then he had to move away for his job. I visited over winter break, and we reconnected and decided to start dating long-distance. We’re great together, but he’s shared with me that he doesn’t want us to get too serious, but he doesn’t want to break up. He’s thinking about moving to another country, once again for his job, and I still have two more years of school left. Should we just break up? – Uncertain

Dear Uncertain: Your boyfriend is quite the romantic. Let me clear this up: What do you want? Forget about him. He’s doing whatever he wants to do. Nothing is holding him back. He wants a standby girlfriend — she stands by while he does whatever he wants.  If this is the kind of relationship you want, then you got it. But if you want to have something deeper, more serious and committed, you have the wrong man. Here’s what scares you — once you set boundaries and tell him what you want, you’ll be alone. No one wants to be alone. But the way things are set up, you’re already going to be alone.  So, focus on what you want. If he can’t give it to you, then find someone who can. Who knows? After he experiences life without you, maybe he’ll realize he can’t be without you.

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Need a virgin? Jim Bob Duggar will hook you up

Jill and Derick kiss on their first fourth of July.

Dear Harlan: It’s not as easy as you make it sound to find someone willing to wait to have sex. Every guy I meet wants to jump into bed. When I tell them I’m not interested in having sex before marriage, they jump to someone else. How can I find someone who is open to waiting until marriage, and how do I bring up the subject in a conversation? How do I find someone from the start who lines up with my religious beliefs? – Waiting

Dear Waiting:   Pretend you’re a Duggar woman from “19 Kids and Counting” — minus the family homophobia and intolerance. They are virgin magnets. Take Jessa and Jill Duggar – two virgins who had never even kissed a boy (as reported by TLC). Jessa met Ben Seewald after he visited the Duggars’ church. Ben’s family went to the Duggars’ home for fellowship. The two spotted each other. Jessa’s dad, Jim Bob, made the intro and the two started studying scripture.  Then boom! Married.  Guess how Jill Duggar met her husband? Two words: Jim Bob (big shocker). Derick reached out to Jim Bob to be his prayer partner during Derick’s humanitarian work in Nepal. Jim Bob introduced Derick to Jill and the two started chatting via text and Skype. Then boom! Married. People with strong values meet people with similar values by doing things that revolve around faith and values. If you don’t have yourself a Jim Bob to fix you up, get involved with activities and organizations that revolve around your strong values. Volunteer, go on a mission, organize local events, and advertise your strong values. Be your own Jim Bob. Spend your time surrounded by men who love not having sex and sex won’t be an issue. Spend your time in bars at 2 a.m. surrounded by men looking for sex and your virginity will continue to be a problem.

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