Between a rack and a hard place
I'm planning to marry my boyfriend in December. I love how he makes me feel like a supermodel even though I'm slightly overweight, and how he's always saying he loves me. This is in sharp contrast to my mentally abusive ex-husband always saying he never loved me. Recently, my boyfriend asked me to clean out his car, and I found a black bra under the passenger seat. He said, "Baby, I bought that for you, it was supposed to be a surprise." When asked to produce the tags or receipt, he responds, "Excuse me for trying to do something romantic" or says he'll show me the rack at the store where he got the bra. Should I really believe he accidentally bought a bra way smaller than my size and lost the tags and receipt? He's proven to be romantic on several occasions — only several because we only met in March. He swears he's being honest, but he lies a lot; even his parents tell me they can't believe much of what he says. — Hopeless Romantic
There are two sides of you talking here: the side dying to believe he'll show you the rack at the store where he found the bra, and the side that can't help but know that the rack he got it off belongs to some skinny blonde.
Come on ... you know as well as we all do, when a guy's buying his girlfriend lingerie, the salesclerk doesn't say, "I could wrap this in pink tissue paper, slap on a gold sticker, and pop it in a fancy little bag. But, you know how your girlfriend would really like it ... under the passenger seat, with a Life Saver stuck to it, next to a crumpled Burger King wrapper and some crunched-up leaves." Yeah, I know ... excuuuuse him for trying to do something romantic. Next on Romeo's list, "I have a box of chocolates for you — they've been in the trunk for a month!"
He does have his good qualities, all two of them: He makes you feel like a supermodel — one whose boyfriend cheats on her — and always tells you he loves you. He especially loves how you look in the moonlight when you're believing just about anything. His other character witnesses are less dewy-eyed. While parents of murderers step over the dead bodies in their foyer to defend their kid's honor, his parents came right out and told you he's a relentless liar. You later e-mailed me that he yells and swears at them, and even threatened to vandalize their new car if his dad didn't do what he wanted. (Apparently, telling Dad he's pretty doesn't cut it.)
Do you actually find anything attractive about him; I mean, besides how attractive he makes you feel? You're clearly trying to make the best of a really bad situation, because for you, being without a man is an even worse situation. This boyfriend isn't a good guy, just a different kind of bad guy than the last one. Once again, this isn't going to end well — none of your relationships will until you do the hard work it takes to build up a strong self and standards, and the guts and dignity to stand up for them instead of settling for pretty talk. For a guidebook, pick up Nathaniel Branden's The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. You'll be ready to date again when you find it unbelievable that this guy was ever in a position to ask you to marry him — and even more unbelievable that your answer was "Yes" and not "Why don't we skip straight to the bitter divorce?"
My boyfriend is moving across the globe. I love him deeply, but he says he's battling commitment phobia, doesn't think I'm "the one," struggles to say "love," and doesn't have butterflies in his stomach for me anymore. Instead of breaking up now, he wants to play it by ear after he leaves. I'd do anything for him. I'm so sad he's struggling to love me back. — Crushed
Welcome to the low-impact breakup: "Nothing comes between you and me, Babe, except maybe the world's largest body of salt water." Not to worry — after he moves, you two'll "play it by ear." Translation: He'll gradually stop calling and blame the time difference. Or, he'll finally tell you it's over, but only when he can cut short your crying jags with "Whoops! Looks like my phone card's about to run out."
Sorry for the tough love, but the guy's told you in numerous ways that there's nothing left. Even the butterflies have hit the road. You can wish things were different, but the kindest thing you can do for yourself is admit the obvious, and stop editing the writing on the wall into something a little less "I'll soon be in bed with Svetlana!"