Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Q: I met a wonderful man while I was visiting a friend in Virginia. He is my age, 26 and we seem to have a lot in common. Since we met, we’ve been texting and emailing each other. I think there is a chance that this could go somewhere. My friends have been advising me against having a long distance relationship. What do you think?
A: Long distance relationships can be very tricky and frustrating. Most of them don’t seem to workout. However, I do know of a few couples for whom long distance relationships have turned into a long term relationship. Once again, it comes down to the character of the person in question. As it is very difficult to know a person very well even when you are able to spend a significant amount of time with him or her, it will definitely be even more difficult to truly get to know a person who lives far away. If you are able to find a mutually convenient routine or a convenient schedule whereby the two of you can meet in person on a regular basis, then it will give you an opportunity to really get to know him. If you get somewhere with this relationship, you should definitely explore if there is any possibility of one of you moving closer to the other.
Q: I have been married 10 years. My husband is very controlling and has anger issues. I have taken the kids and left him twice but I keep going back to him. He promises to change and he does for a while. I am a stay-at-home mom and I’m not sure I can make it without him financially. I grew up in a home where my father was emotionally abusive to my mother and me. He once got so mad he threw the dining room table over while we were having dinner. My mom was always making excuses for him. Growing up I vowed I would never let any man treat me like that. Why am I now in the same predicament?
A: It is not uncommon for women who have been abused in their childhood to get into relationships with abusive men as adults. It sounds very counter-intuitive. One of the reasons people engage in that kind of illogical behavior is our need to master certain situations. Growing up most likely you felt helpless about your father’s abusive behavior. By subconsciously choosing relationships with abusive men, you are creating situations which you hope to master. If you’re able to master the situation, it will give you a sense of control, which you didn’t have as a child. In psychiatric parlance, it is called “undoing”. However the problem is that it does not work for most people. I often use the analogy of “putting your hand in the fire and hoping it won’t burn.” But we all know that your hand is going to burn every time you put it in fire. If you can find any way to separate yourself from this abusive man, you should definitely do so. I’m also certain that good counseling can help you immensely.
Q: I’m a 25 year old guy. I was made fun of in school and was a bit of a loner. I haven’t had a date in a long time. It seems women are always complaining there are no good men around. But if I found the right woman who was interested in me, I would treat her like a princess. I have a good job and I’m financially stable. I do not have any drug problems, but I would admit I’m nerdy. Why are women so shallow when looking for a date?
A: You shouldn’t be too down on yourself for being nerdy. As you know, the nerds rule the world! Look at Bill Gates. You may have heard that he was rejected by his first heart throb, who is probably kicking herself now. It seems like you are a smart and sensitive guy. Some women do tend to fall for guys who are flashy. But there are other women who are looking for guys just like you. You need to put yourself in certain social situations where you are able to meet women. As long as you are genuine and treat people well, I have no doubt that one of these days you will find your match.
The purpose of this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical or psychiatric issue. Dr. Rakesh Ranjan is a practicing psychiatrist and a researcher. He is a recipient of several research awards and has authored several peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on psychiatric illnesses and their treatments. He is a national speaker for several organizations and serves on the medical advisory board for NAMI for Greater Cleveland. If you or a loved one is experiencing any symptoms that would lead you to believe that there could be a mental imbalance, please email your questions to Dr. Ranjan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each Wednesday, Dr. Ranjan will address some of these questions in this column. All contact info will be kept confidential.