Don’t miss the next live chat: Dr. Andrea Bonior, a licensed clinical psychologist who has been helping readers with Baggage Check since 2005, hosts a weekly live chat at washingtonpost.com on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. She discusses her recent columns and answers any questions you may have about relationships, work, family, mental health and more. Join or read Dr. Andrea’s latest live chat here.
Q. I’m dating a guy who I feel like I should be really into. He has all the qualities I’ve always felt I’ve wanted in a guy. I can’t think of anything wrong with him. And yet I can’t bring myself to get excited about him. My friends think he is so much better than people I’ve dated in the past. But there just isn’t a spark. What if I am only attracted to guys who aren’t good for me? How long should I give this a try?
“I can’t think of anything wrong with him.” Woo-hoo! Now that calls for some champagne!
Seriously, I get that it’s reasonable to want to want this person, but we don’t fall for check marks on a list — even if they’re made in a Pinterest-worthy bullet journal. We fall for human beings. If this guy doesn’t bring a spark, well, that’s important — and it’s nothing to feel guilty about. It’s also possible that a spark could grow with time, but it can’t be forced, and he shouldn’t be strung along believing that something is there that is truly not.
Is it possible you have a history of attraction to not-good guys, and that needs to be considered? Yes. But I’m not sure how objective your friends are, or what “so much better” means when it comes to the comparison with your past guys. Is it a battle of the checklists, with too much value placed on external, superficial things? Or is it that these previous boyfriends didn’t actually treat you very well, and that is part of a dynamic you keep finding yourself in? If the latter is the case, it’s definitely worthy of some exploration. But for now, remember that Mr. Right Who You Aren’t Attracted To is not really Mr. Right at all.
My b-day is just NBD to her
Q. My sister never acknowledges my birthday, even though I always send her a gift on hers. When I call her out on it, she says it’s a “crazy time of year.” Well, my birthday is always that time of year. She could plan for it. I don’t even need a gift, but the lack of acknowledgment hurts. Why can’t she see this?
I bet she does, but for whatever reason is just not motivated to do something about it. So, let’s talk “calling her out on it.” Have you just made it a fight, shaming her for her lack of reciprocity? Or do you come at it from a vulnerable yet empathetic place, letting her know it’s not about her being “wrong” and needing alibis, but it’s about something that hurts you every year, and that you want to find a way to fix? This warrants discussion and problem-solving, not accusations. It could be that, ultimately, this will be a matter of accepting her limitations — or it could be a matter of her doing what she needs to do to at least get an acknowledgment to you. But there could be something deeper for her about it, too. Either way, respectful and honest conversation is the way through.