Q: When my boyfriend’s with me he acts one way, but when we’re with his friends, he turns into a macho version of himself. What gives?

Usually this is the social pressure that requires men to act like ‘Men’. In many cultures if you are caring, sensitive and attentive to your partner’s needs and wants you will be seen as needy. Usually men with lower self-esteem who need the acceptance and approval of others have a stronger pattern of behavior change when they are in the presence of others specially their mates. This is not as much of a problem in most cases but if the behavior becomes disrespectful it is an alarming sign because over the time it can crash the other person’s self esteem. Also, if the man with low self-esteem is in a relationship with a woman who likes to be attended to in public, then this fit might not work either.

To recap, as long as you like the way he treats you in private and his behavior is not disrespectful to you in public, I suggest don’t make this a big concern for yourself.

However, I suggest you have a calm conversation with him to see what his opinion is about public display of affection and see whether he is aware of what he is projecting. Make sure your tone is not humiliating and judgemental. If this behavior in particular bothers you, make sure he knows about it, not only that, make sure he knows how much that bothers you otherwise, your concerns might not be taken seriously.

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Q: I just met a wonderful guy, but I’m worried that my family disapprove because he’s out of our religion. Should I even bother pursuing the relationship or cut him loose?

I will answer your question in the context of two major types of categories that have been described in modern societies: Individualist and Collective. Religious families usually are tide in with a large circle of community members whose approval of the family and its members is crucial for the happiness of that family.

In your case, I have to say that based on my experience it is much better not to get into a relationship, which you know will be difficult to continue in the future. You might be happy with this guy but if you choose to live within your community your family, relatives and friends might not be very receptive of him which then might impose challenges to your relationship with him too.

However, sometime you might assume that your family won’t have an acceptance towards your potential partner while they might be open to it. Therefore, if you have an open communication channel with them I advise that you talk to them and see how strict they are with their views and whether this might change based on the individual you are dating or not. If they are very religious, they might have some expectations from the person of course (convert to your religion, etc.) but overall might not have as firm opposition to the whole idea as you might think.

This was about your family’s view, but even before that you need to look inside yourself and see what was the source of attraction for you and is this something that could last a long time. Think beyond the initial attraction between the two of you for e.g. would he be a good addition to your family, would this be pleasant to have him over on holidays, family events? would you be able to raise children together and so on.

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Q: Why do I always find myself into guys who are emotionally unavailable? What am I doing wrong?

First of all, there is no wrong or right when it comes to people’s preferences and desired partners. As long as it works for you, then you don’t need to worry about anything. Having said that, I am assuming you are concerned about your preferences because you wrote to me! If that is the case then here are my thoughts:

To begin with, we have to see what ‘an emotionally unavailable guy’ means to you. I assume you mean two things by it: 1) they are only there for the physical part of the relationship and not more than that 2) they are not interested in getting into deep conversations about feelings and thoughts which then leaves you unfulfilled emotionally.

In any case, you need to find the answer within yourself. One good step to take is to think about how you define a relationship. For example some might divide a relationship into several parts including emotional, physical, financial, social manifestation, etc. then you have to see how much importance/weight you put on each of these parts. After this stage you need to sit down with yourself and see why you put more weight on a certain part and not the other. For example, if you are saying that you are interested in guys who are emotionally unavailable maybe it means that you are not comfortable with getting intimate with another person and in a way subconsciously you are trying to avoid intimacy by getting into relationship with guys who wont impose a threat from that aspect.

Avoiding intimacy consciously can have various reasons for example because of a certain phase in their life (studying, being preoccupied with something else) or it could be subconscious, for example it might be because of the type of attachment pattern they established for themselves at very early stages of their life. Attachment style of people could also be shaped by significant event in their lives. For example, if one experiences a loss of a close family member they might learn not to get attached to anyone in case they would lose them and get hurt again. These all will play a role in defining intimacy and boundaries for a person which then shapes their perception of a desired partner or relationship.

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