From Poland, With Love (Part 1)

I always believed there’ll be just one guy in my life. Just The Perfect One who I’d fall in love and spend my life with. When I met Karthik on an online dating site 6 years back, I had no doubts that he was that guy. Like all romantic stories, ours started with a juvenile infatuation. But gradually we came to a point where we couldn’t live without video-chatting with each other every day. Like all couples we had fights, we had misunderstandings and “break-ups”. But every time we “broke up” we realized anew that it was impossible for us to live without each other and we’d patch up again.

There was just one glitch. Karthik is from Bangalore, India and I’m from Bobowa, Poland.

We didn’t meet face to face until 2008, when he came to Germany on a project. It was pure bliss. Meeting each other after being in love over the long distance for such a long time made us realize that it was all real. That we actually had the passion for each other that we always thought we had. That our love was of the purest, truest and deepest kind.

from Poland with lovePhoto by Graphiweb

We knew there would be serious resistance to our relationship from his parents’. But we decided we’ll find a way.

In 2009 he had an accident which had him bed-ridden for 6 months. It was at this point that the first signs of real trouble arose. He started lying to me and we started moving away from each other. For example, he gained back his ability to walk within 6 months of the accident (as I later discovered) but at the time for 1.5 years he’d told me that he was not able to walk. I think he just wanted to postpone coming to a decision about me. He wanted me, yet he didn’t know how to be with me.

Cut to 2013. He came to Netherlands for another project and we met for a second time. I felt he’d finally realized that we’d meant for each other and seemed really happy with the prospect of staying with me forever. We realized we still had the same passion, same love, same affection for each other even though 6 years had passed by. Finally – yes, after 6 long years of knowing each other – we had sex. It was the first time for both of us. (Yes, the fact that I’m European doesn’t mean I have to have slept with twenty guys.)

We shopped together, travelled together and did household chores together. Everything seemed perfect. “I’d be crazy to throw so much happiness away. I want to be with you and I’ll find a way,” he said.

But then he went back to India.

As I should probably have known – things weren’t quite the same anymore. I felt he was starting to avoid me once again. I can’t tell you how, but I knew something was wrong. I didn’t know what to do. So I decided to give ourselves a break for a week. I stopped contacting him. He mailed me saying, “Does your silence mean you want to break up? If yes tell me, so that I can take a decision on what to do next. My parents, like always, are pressurizing me to have an arranged marriage here.”

I was crazy with anger and pain. I told him to go ahead and marry whoever he wanted.

He broke down. “I’ve never wanted anyone but you Daniela. It’s just that my eldest cousin is getting married. So the pressure on my parents to have me married off is that much more now. Please Dan, find a way for me to get a job there.”

I was already researching potential employers for him here in Poland. I threw all my strength behind that project now.

My efforts finally paid off. I could hardly breathe as I spoke into the phone, “Karthik I’ve found a great opportunity for you at XYZ. A friend of a friend works there. They’re interested in your profile and would like to talk to you!”

What happened next would probably remain the most shocking experience of my life.

“I can never thank you enough for all the selfless effort you’ve put in Dan. But I’m afraid we’ll have to take things a bit slow now. I have too many things to sort out at the moment. I need some time to take the decisions that are best for all of us.”

“All of us? You mean… your parents? Karthik I don’t understand anything.” I was shaking with anger, pain, panic, confusion … I don’t know what else.

I don’t remember much of the words we exchanged over the next few minutes. I just remember telling him again and again that we were each other’s first love. I felt it was impossible for either of us to forget the other over our lifetimes. He apologized and told me he’d let me know his decision.

from Poland with lovePhoto by gjhdrenth

I don’t know how I managed to hobble through the next few days, until an email arrived.

“I’ve thought about it a lot. I’m sorry Dan, I don’t think we can be together in this life. I’m helping my parents repay a housing loan they’ve taken for a new house. It’ll take 4 more years for the repayments to finish. it’d be a long time before I can even think of moving out of Bangalore. You’re entitled to a husband, children and a happy life. I can’t keep you waiting forever, especially given that you’re not getting any younger. I guess we’re just not destined to be together, and we’ll have to accept it. But I miss you a lot Dan. You’ll always have a special place in my heart. You’ll always be my best friend.”

It was yet another shock to me. I just couldn’t accept it. I kept pleading with him to rethink. In the meantime his sister found out about us from his computer and told his parents. His mother promptly started threatening suicide if he doesn’t cut off all contacts with me immediately. She apparently even took up a knife and attempted to cut herself in front of the rest of the family.

I don’t know what’s going on. I’m thinking of going to Bangalore and make him and his family understand how deeply I love him. If required I’m ready to stay back in Bangalore with him for the rest of my life.

Please guide me Sulagna.


Bobowa, Poland

20 Most Common Relationship Killers

Relationships start and end every day for a number of reasons. A break-up can happen for something as trivial as “Why didn’t you call me for such a long time?” to something as serious as cheating.

But are there any common patterns? Any red flags which can put a relationship at risk?

Here’s my attempt at identifying some of the most common ones.

Relationship-killer #1. Lack of Space

Expecting your partner to share everything under the Sun with you is a deadly but very common relationship mistake. Assuming you should pursue every activity together – from watching a football match on TV to shopping for a red dress of a particular shade, a particular length and a particular design is a recipe for frustration and failure.

Relationship-killer #2. Trying to change others

As I’ve repeated in many occasions, one of the basic rules of life is – you can’t change others, you can only adapt and change yourself, if you want. Trying to change your partner through force (cruel words, malicious behaviour … the usual) would lead to nothing but frustration and exhaustion for both of you, endangering your love.

relationship killersPhoto by Love is the key

Relationship-killer #3. Trying to change yourself

Trying to change yourself: At the opposite end of the same spectrum lies the tendency to change yourself completely to suit someone else.

I’ve been a free-spirited tomboyish daredevil all my life but overnight I’d become a fulka-making Ghar ki Devi fit to be featured in the next K-megaserial if my boyfriend wants me to.

Relationship-killer #4. Taking them for granted

There are some relationships in which one partner is the perpetual giver and the other is the perpetual receiver. The receiving partner often expects the moon and the stars from the other and treats them badly in return. While this kind of relationships can look like paradise for the luckier partner, they’re not. Because they don’t last. Sooner or later the dissatisfaction piling up inside the meeker partner is bound to come out in the open and end the relationship.

Relationship-killer #5. Lying

Lying within a relationship is an act of serious breach of trust, irrespective of how trivial the lie may be. If one or both partners feel the need to lie to each other, the relationship becomes pointless.

Relationship-killer #6. Finances

Are we going to pool all our earnings in a joint account?

Or we’re going to divide responsibilities for expenses?

Are we going to treat everything as family expense or we’d have some specific expenses attributed to individuals?

Failure to set clear rules about handling of finances before marriage is a potential risk to relationship stability post-marriage.

Relationship-killer #7. Forced commonalities

You can spend a whole day with Tolstoy and Maggi, but he wouldn’t touch a book if his life depended on it. He’s never listened to anything but instrumental classical, but that stuff plain puts you off to sleep. Forcing each other to change their tastes so that you can “share everything” is a firm step in the wrong direction.  

That’s the kind of blunder I’m suggesting you avoid, ’cause it’ll break you so bad that it’ll eventually break your prized relationship.

Relationship-killer #8. Self-isolation

Giving up your other relationships for them: “My girlfriend doesn’t like my best friend from school, so why not stop seeing him altogether? After all, she’s more important than him.”

Again, a recipe for disaster. Every important relationship of our lives provides us vital emotional connection and support. One is not a replacement for any other. In fact if you cut off any of your previous relationships for your partner, it would eventually make your relationship suffocating and speed up its demise.

Relationship-killer #9. Unclear needs

 “I thought I wanted intelligence, verve and humour in a man, but now I realize a willingness to share the household chores equally is a much more important criterion for me.”

In relationships, such rude awakenings are not rare at all. The more people we meet and get close to, the more we learn about our own needs from a relationship. While it’s never possible to know all of your needs clearly before getting into a relationship, it’s important to at least have some basic criteria clearly defined.

relationship killersPhoto by meechellllle

Relationship-killer #10. Unclear life goals

You want to live and work in five continents whereas your partner would like to settle down cosily in their quaint hometown as soon as possible. The glitch is, you’re already engaged.

Before you get into a serious commitment, each of you must have some basic idea of you want from life and how much of it you’re ready to sacrifice for the relationship. Having your own limits clearly defined is essential for a healthy relationship.

Relationship-killer #11. Forced parents

No one is “like” anyone else in this world. That’s what makes each of us unique. Besides your relationship with your parent is one of the most special relationships of your life. A parent can never be replaceable. Expecting someone else to be like them is unrealistic and unfair. Instead look upon them as friendly acquaintances who deserve respectful treatment from you.

Relationship-killer #12. Parental interference

Some people, especially in India, are very close to their parents. That’s great, as long as that relationship doesn’t cause problems in other relationships. You’ve all heard of the proverbial mollycoddled Indian boy who refuses to leave the “shade of his mother’s aanchal” even after he’s married. Not only in case of marriage, but also in case of relationships, too much interference from parents of either side can be a deal-breaker.

Relationship-killer #13. Marrying at the wrong time

Nothing kills a relationship faster than converting it into a lifelong commitment before either side is ready. (You don’t want your love to die as soon as your marriage starts, right?) There’s no shortcut to knowing a person – the only way to know if someone is right for you is to spend at least two to three years with them. In order to minimize risk, take the time to assess your mutual compatibility & ask the right questions before taking a decision.

Relationship-killer #14. Divergent values

If you read Kafka and she reads Sidney Sheldon you can still have a very successful relationship by giving each other necessary space. However if your senses of right and wrong are divergent, if you hold conflicting beliefs and values, that’s surely not good news for your relationship. These differences may not always be apparent immediately. Again, spending a lot time together before committing is paramount when it comes to identifying such differences.

Relationship-killer #15. No social life

“We have each other, so it doesn’t matter that we don’t have any other friends.”

While at an initial stage of a relationship it might feel that way, this is a wrong approach to a relationship. It’s important to cultivate common friendships and together you must create an active social life. Being together while also enjoying others’ company will save your relationship from becoming claustrophobic. It will also give it a new dimension.

relationship killersPhoto by Heaven`s Gate (John)

Relationship-killer #16. Obsession

Some people tend to put their partners at the very centre of their lives. They think and act as if their life revolves around their partner.

“I’d leave this job to be in the same city as my partner, even though this is my dream job.”

“I’ve given up my hobbies so that I can find more time to spend with my partner.”

Always remember, your partner is an important part of your life, not your life itself. If you make them your life, you’re in for a nasty disappointment, sooner or later.

Relationship-killer #17. Looking for “perfect”

I know a girl who’s had three different relationships over the past one year. No wonder she’s still single.

No one is perfect. No one will be an “ideal” partner for you. A perfect relationship is not made by two people who’re perfect for each other, but by two people who’re willing to make the relationship perfect in spite of their imperfections. Having a rough list of some basic criteria and then letting your heart take the lead once those are satisfied is a workable strategy for finding lasting love. If you look for perfect, you’re likely to remain disappointed.

Relationship-killer #18. Long distance without deadline

If you’re going long distance, it’s imperative to set a timeline by when you’re going to be at the same place again. Many a potentially successful relationship breaks up because of the sad, circumstantial reason of distance. Being long distance indefinitely brings feelings of emotional distance, uncertainty and a possible eventual separation.

Relationship-killer #19. Jealousy

This one is an all-too-common silent killer. Unfounded suspicion, jealousy and over-possessiveness can very quickly suffocate and otherwise perfectly healthy relationship. If you find yourself in the throes of unexplained blind jealousy, the key is to apply reason and keep your suspicious urges at bay.

Relationship-killer #20. Cheating

The last and the most common relationship-killer is cheating. When it rocks the foundations of the relationship it takes trust away. It takes meticulous work on the part of both partners to make the relationship work again.

Are you experiencing any of these red flags in your relationship?

Have you seen people around you break up because of one or more of these 20 relationship-killers?

Share your experience by leaving a comment. 

The No Contact Policy: 5 Tips to Follow Through

Somewhere in our lives we’ve all struggled with the “No Contact Policy”– that sickeningly painful period of forcing someone out of your life because you know it’s right, even though it’s not easy for you.

May be because you’ve ended a wrong relationship but are still weighed down by guilt and sympathy.

May be because someone has ended a relationship with you and hence you know you have to move away from them.

The first step of moving away from someone is the “No Contact Policy”, i.e. to cut off contacts. Completely. Utterly. And permanently. No, remaining friends is never an option if you want a healthy end.

Two factors present major challenges to this – your own lingering feelings and their refusal to stop being in touch.

I thought I’d explore this often overlooked but depressingly common relationship phase in today’s post.

No Contact Policy – Rule #1. Explain. Once.

Don’t abruptly stop taking their calls. That’s unfair to them and difficult for you, as they might keep trying to make contact without realizing why you’re not reciprocating.

Clearly communicate your decision to follow the No Contact Policy. Preferably write an email (Written communication gives you the opportunity to present your thoughts precisely, effectively, and most importantly – without interruption. :D). Don’t forget to emphasize that it lies in their best interests to stop trying to make contact and to forget you. That’ll make it a tiny bit easier for them.

No contact policyPhoto by Envious Photography [OHH SNAP!]

No Contact Policy – Rule #2. Avoid temptations

If and when they call you don’t keep looking straight down at their name on the screen. Leave the phone ringing in your room and step out. Use at auto delete and forward filter on their email address. It would forward any emails they send you to a trusted alternative email address and delete it from your inbox. This way you can avoid being tormented by their melancholic (or worse – hateful/emotionally blackmailing) messages. However it’s important that any important information contained in these messages reaches you (like suicide threats, or threats to harm you). Hence it’s important it gets forwarded to someone who can give you any necessary information.

Needless to add, the person you forward these mails to has to be one of your top two trusted people in this world – your best friend/sibling, for example.

No Contact Policy – Rule #3. The 5 Minute Strategy

Whenever you get those urges of calling them, tell yourself, “I’ll reconsider whether to call them or not after 5 minutes.” Just 5 minutes. That’s it.

Most people would forget about calling anyone by the end of 5 minutes. What if you haven’t? Look at the clock, and tell yourself again, “I’ll think about that call after 5 more minutes.”

You get the idea.

You can continue to postpone the action in 5 minute chunks till the time you forget about it or your urge dies down. The 5 minute strategy can be extremely effective not only in staying true to the No Contact policy, but also to overcome temptations of any kind.

No Contact Policy – Rule #4. The Replacement Strategy

Resisting your urges of engaging in a particular activity (contacting them, in this case) is basically about replacing that activity with something else.

No contact policyPhoto by a_Daydreamer

When you have the urge to call them, tell yourself, “At the moment I’m free to do anything I like apart from calling them. I reward myself for not calling them with 10 minutes of Facebooking, watching YouTube, playing games or listening to my favourite music.”

Don’t be too hard on yourself at these moments of weakness – there’s no need to replace the activity of calling them with something productive. It’s important to replace it with something fun. Don’t “punish” yourself with work/studies (anything you don’t actively enjoy doing) for successfully resisting your unwanted urges. “Wasting” a few minutes of your time won’t kill you. Instead reward yourself with activities you just love.

No Contact Policy – Rule #5. Write an email

But even in spite of all your best efforts you might have those moments of irresistible longing when you feel your life depends on making contact with them. At those moments, you can write them an email.

Pour your heart out. Write down everything you want to tell them. All your accusations, blames, hatred … or may be not – may be longing, wistfulness and attraction – pour it all out in that white electronic space.

But you’re still following the No Contact Policy, remember? So just one word of caution – don’t hit the Send button. :D

Have you ever been in a situation where you desperately wanted to avoid someone but still felt attracted to them? What was your strategy for following through the No Contact Policy? Share with us in the comments. :)

Q&A. His “Rakhi” Sister Keeps Getting Physically Close to Him.

Q. My boyfriend has this “Rakhi” sister who, in my opinion, is an extremely unpleasant girl (in the vernacular, a pure b***h). She is nice to me on my face but bitches about me to my boyfriend. I feel like I just can’t stand her anymore. She also tries to get physically close to him all the time. I have talked to him about my problem but I don’t think he gets it. I have come to a point where I just can’t deal with her any more and I also know that my boyfriend won’t give her up for me. I also don’t want to keep irritating him with this matter time and again. Should I break up with him?

-Sheetal, Mumbai

A. One of the basic rules of life is:

You cannot change other people.

You can only change your own response to them.

If our partners’ actions hurt us, the first thing we should do is to let them know in a calm & mature way. This is meant to give them an opportunity to change their ways if they want. If they continue to behave in ways which hurt us, we have two options:

  1. Break up with them if that particular aspect is central to our needs from the relationship.
  2. Adjust our expectations from our partners and take actions accordingly.

Rakhi sister jealousyPhoto by oline221296

“Mutual need fulfilment” is one of the three main elements of a successful relationship. Assure yourself that if your basic needs are not getting fulfilled in a particular relationship, breaking up is not only acceptable, but the most natural and healthiest solution for both of you.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Why am I in this relationship? What do I want from my partner? (Intimacy, emotional support, sharing, pride, stability, peace? … There can be practical reasons too.)
  2. Is this development preventing my partner from giving what I want from him? (Is this hurting my pride so much that I’m unable to function? Is this creating emotional distance between me and him? Has this broken my trust irreparably? … )

Irrespective of whether you feel like you can’t go on anymore, or you continue, I’m sure you’ll at least give your relationship another chance before giving up. The rest of this post is about what your best attempt at making this work should look like.

You can’t stand this girl but she’s important to your boyfriend. You have already discussed this with your boyfriend but he’s unwilling to do anything about it. Your immediate next step is to stop requesting him to change his attitude towards her. Like I said, you can’t change his priorities. Trying will only make you feel out-of-control.

Being around this girl causes you immense nervous stress, right? So consider her non-existent in your life. Stop interacting with her. Stop talking about her. And stop thinking about her. Just let her go.

For you, she doesn’t exist.

Let your boyfriend know that you’re unwilling to interact with this girl any longer. Be calm & mature but firm while stating this. Do not use strong language like “because I don’t like her”… Or “because she’s xyz…” That is likely to lead to another fruitless argument. Instead you can mention something like, “as you know, we don’t really gel well…” or something mild and reasonable like that.

Unless he wants to break up with you he has no option but to accept this decision of yours. He’s made it clear that you can’t control who he makes friends with. But no one in the world can deny the simple fact that you can control who you make friends with. Hence you have a right to stop interacting with this girl, even though you cannot force him to do the same.

If he ever mentions her in conversations detach yourself emotionally for that moment and give vague, non-committal replies like, “OK”, “I see…”, “Oh right..”. Overcome your curious urges to know what she tells your boyfriend about you. You don’t need to know that. ’Cause you don’t care. Believe me, you really don’t.

Rakhi sister jealousyPhoto by jaroslavd

Do not demand that he stops discussing her with you. Because – again – we can’t control what others do. You can’t control what he says to you, but you can control how you react. If he’s worth his salt, he’d get the cue and after a point stop bringing her up in conversations with you.

If you can do this right you’d have scored a major achievement in your relationship. You’d have established a simple but crucial term of the relationship – that it’s between equals, with none more important that the other.

Sure, you can’t expect him to stop being so close with this girl just for your sake. But in that case he can’t expect you to do something that you don’t like just for his sake either – accepting this girl as a part of your life, for example. :D

In the meantime, focus on yourself. Focus on your career, dive headfirst into that long-forgotten hobby, reconnect with old friends, make new ones… Do everything you have to do to find happiness and balance within yourself. It’s the key to enjoying a healthy relationship. Always remember:

Your partner is a very important part of your life, not your life itself.

This is not to say you shouldn’t be affected by any action of your partner’s. We all are, and it’s most natural to be. But you cannot let his actions determine your self-worth or sense of wellbeing.

All the best Sheetal. :)

Penguins – what would you have done if you were her?

Let me know by leaving a comment. :)

How to Break Up: 7 Rules You Can’t Ignore

Everyday millions of people fall in love with each other all around the world. Some of them stay together forever. Most of them break up after weeks/months/years, and move on to better relationships. Breaking up is one of the hardest experiences of life – not only for the dumped but also for the dumper. Among those of you facing a relationship crisis, many must be wondering, “How to break up with my boyfriend/girlfriend, knowing I’d hurt them?”

There is, of course, no painless way of breaking up with someone. There are, however ways of doing it which are healthier and more responsible than others. Let’s take a look at some of the basics you need to keep in mind if you’ve decided to break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend.

How to break up – Rule #1. Where to do it

You’d have read everywhere that it’s best to break up in person, at their residence. Their own private space gives them the maximum privacy to deal with their feelings (which are likely to be intense) at the moment they hear it from you. But in India most single people live either with their parents or with roommates. Breaking up in person at their residence may not always be possible. In such a case do it over an email, not a call. A call is a dialogue. It might turn into an emotional frenzy. Besides you can take your own time to craft an email, providing as much explanation as you want and choosing the most appropriate words. Also, when the other person reads it, they can take the time they need to come to terms with their feelings before contacting you (if they choose to). It saves them the pain of having to hide their emotions because they’re not alone.

How to break upPhoto by Daniel Gizo

How to break up – Rule #2. What to say

If you’re wondering how to break up, remember this golden rule: Do not blame and do not apologize. It is neither their fault, nor yours.

At least not any more.

Both blaming and apologizing are likely to turn up the emotional temperature and lead to another meaningless fight. Instead make the break up conversation calm & mature. Say something like, “We’re different from each other,” or “Our ideas about life/relationship/future goals are different.” Emphasize that the two of you are incompatible with each other, rather than one of you not being “good enough” for the other.  

How to break up – Rule #3. Handling reactions

If you’re breaking up in person (or if and when they meet you next after receiving your email) they might react in an intense manner. They might start yelling, screaming or crying. Pacify them by politely urging them to calm down, again and again. There’s no consolation that you can offer them. So channel the discussion into some other topic (“Btw, I wanted to tell you … <some news about common interests/job/common friends…>”) and insist on continuing the discussion in the new direction.  They might say things like, “Nothing but your love can give me peace now,” or “Tell me you love me.” Always say, “We’ll talk about that later.” Do not cow down and tell them that you still love them, even if it is only to pacify them. Do not offer to remain friends. And do not give them any gifts (they’d act as constant reminders of their pain).

How to break up – Rule #4. No need to change

When you tell them you’re incompatible, they’d most likely offer to “change themselves” to suit you better. Tell them with conviction that they’re extraordinary the way they are and that they’d be doing themselves a disservice if they try to change themselves for anyone else. Also mention that changing oneself for someone else is an extremely unhealthy way to approach life, and is sure to do more harm than good in the long run.

Your objective here is to minimize the damage to their self-esteem.

How to break upPhoto by Lou Noble

How to break up – Rule #5. Avoid clichés

Another golden rule if you have doubts regarding how to break up: Do not try to make it sound like you’re breaking up because you have their best interests at heart. You don’t. You knew you’d have to hurt them. Yet you chose to break up because you care about yourself more than you care about them. We all do. It’s natural. It’s healthy. And they know that. Don’t use clichés like “You deserve someone better,” or “I want nothing but the best for you.”

How to break up – Rule #6. Tell the truth

If you’re not sure how to break up, muster the courage and say, “I know I’m acting selfish. But I’m sure one day you’ll realize that it’s best this way.” Like I said, no one breaks up primarily because they want the other person to be happy. We break up because we want ourselves to be happy. You’ll both feel better if you’re frank about that bit. Besides, you cannot do them a greater favour at this point than giving them a reason to hate you. But don’t overdo it. :D

How to break up – Rule #7. No contact

If they call you after the break up do not pick up. If they try too many times, pick up, tell them you understand their feelings and would write them an email. Don’t let the conversation linger – it would lead to nothing but a waste of energy.

Keeping in touch with you at this moment would make them falsely believe – even if subconsciously – that you’re somehow available when you’re not. They might unknowingly become your fall back option, which they (or anyone) don’t deserve to be. Most importantly, keeping in touch with you will keep them emotionally unavailable to other romantic possibilities around them.

If they do insist on keeping in touch, write them an email explaining this. Mention that it lies in the long-term best interests of both of you to stop seeing each other now. Tell them to stop trying to contact you because keeping in touch will be painful to them given the circumstances.

Make sure the severing of ties doesn’t come across as rude or cruel to them. You’re severing ties not because you want to hurt them more, but because you don’t.

Have you ever broken up with anyone? How did you break up? What are your lessons from the experience? Share with us in the comments. 

Q&A. Has He Married Me Just to Obtain a Green Card?

Q. I’m an Indian-born US citizen. I’m physically challenged (paraplegic), currently living in India with my mother on an OCI visa for my treatment. My dad still works in the US – we couldn’t have borne the costs of my treatment otherwise. My husband is from India but living in Canada on a work permit.

We met online and hit it off almost instantly. He started with treating me with all the love and attention I could ask for – talking to me every day, even during work. He’d sleep late to talk to me, he’d wake up early to talk to me, he’d text me during work, we’d Skype every day for 2-3 hours and even if we didn’t have anything to talk about, we’d talk or just sit there looking at each other.

I asked him about his goals, ambitions, likes and dislikes. It’s crazy how similar we seemed in every respect. It made me feel as though we’re meant for each other.

Finally after about talking to each other for about two months, he dropped the “L” bomb. At this point the feeling was mutual. We started a long distance relationship. Everything was going great.

After we’d been in a relationship for about a month, it was time for me and my mum to visit my dad in the US. During my stay there we started talking about a green card for him so he could fulfil his dreams of starting his career in the US. He was fiercely against it at first, saying “I don’t want to use you like that”.

Married for greeen cardPhoto by naturalhomecures34

After a while, he agreed and said it was okay if we got married and filed for a green card for him. After a couple more days, I spent $400.00 on a ticket to see him in Canada (my mom came with me). Everything was perfect till then. 

It was in Canada that the first signs of trouble started to appear. For instance, there was this incident of him getting furious with me quite unexpectedly when I told him I wanted to visit the hookah bar with him (a place he frequented for smoking hookah, which I thought would be fun). He was very rude. I was so shocked that I couldn’t say anything. Later I forgave him as I assumed he’d reacted because he couldn’t afford it. (A couple of days after I left, he bought a hookah so that he could smoke at home with his friends).

We went back to the States. A felt he was starting to change. He stopped Skyping me as much, we would fight more, and he stopped giving me time. After a month, my mom and I made another trip to Canada to meet him. It wasn’t any better this time. His treatment of me became even more rude, unpredictable, most alarmingly – unexplainable.

He would even insult my mom or avoid her quite obviously. I thought that he might be frustrated because of work so I didn’t bother him too much.

His friends, he, my mom and I had planned a trip to Vegas to celebrate Christmas and New Year together. We got married in Vegas so I could file for his green card. Things weren’t that great in Vegas. He bought a really expensive DSLR camera. Whenever we’d pass by something cool my mom or I would tell him to come and take photos. He’d rudely tell us something like, “I don’t like all this, why do we have to take pictures?” But whenever his friends would tell him to take a picture, he wouldn’t say a word and would start to pose for them.

Later we came back to India and he went back to Canada. Recently I asked him to take photos of himself for his birthday and share. Bizarrely, he became furious and seemed incapable of appreciating my desire to feel included.

I’ve asked him to set his profile picture on FaceBook to something with him and I in it. He doesn’t want to do that. Neither does he want to change his WhatsApp picture to something with both of us together. 

When he came on Christmas, I gifted him a beautiful watch from Skagen. It was a silver netted band with a black dial. Not too big, not too small. He didn’t appreciate it and started saying that I should have consulted him before buying. My dad was there and he was really upset. He didn’t even thank me verbally. His friends gifted him a cheap watch from WalMart with a big dial and he loved it! I felt so hurt.

Long story short, I feel I’ve dropped completely out of his priority list. He doesn’t call/Skype/communicate much (in spite of ours being a long distance relationship), doesn’t appreciate me for who I am (doesn’t encourage me on my efforts to improve my physical condition, forced me to get myself a makeover) and doesn’t even appreciate my efforts to make it work in spite of all this.

I haven’t been happy these days, all I’ve been doing is feeling lonely and crying a lot because I feel I ruined my life. He doesn’t please me sexually either. He finishes before I do and doesn’t have the courtesy to help me finish.

He expects everything to be done his way and is really arrogant, insensitive and stubborn. He curses, fights, and screams like a baby! I don’t know if I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life.

Is he acting this way just for his green card? Should I divorce him? He’s coming to US in July and I’m also going there. What should I do?


A. A few red flags according to me:

#1. You’ve married too early      and without knowing each other closely enough. I understand you married      early to give him the advantage of the green card. But in general it’s not      a good idea to be married at a time when your relationship is going to      remain long distance for an indefinite period.

Why Marriages and Relationships are like Apples and Oranges (Part 1) 
Why Marriages and Relationships are like Apples and Oranges (Part 2).
“When Should I Get Married?” 10 Questions I Wish I Had Asked Myself Before Getting Married – Part 1
“When Should I Get Married?” 10 Questions I Wish I Had Asked Myself Before Getting Married – Part 2 

Married for greeen cardPhoto by Kitty Allison

#2. You’ve said he’d sometimes      insult your mother or not talk to her. I think you’re making a mistake by      involving your mother too much in your relationship. (That’s what it seems      from the limited amount of information that I have. Pardon me if I’m      mistaken.) For example, your mother accompanied you to Canada when you      went to meet him. Your mother was present throughout your honeymoon in Las      Vegas even after your wedding. This is definitely not acceptable from any      spouse’s point of view. I understand that she needs to take care of you      because of your condition. Hence ask your husband openly whether your      mother’s presence is disturbing to him. If you want honest answers, don’t      make this sound like a threat. In your situation, ideally your spouse should be either willing (and able) to take care of you all by themselves, or at peace with the constant presence of your mother. He can’t eat the cake and have it too. Encourage him to choose one of the two options.

My reading of the situation: 

Your guy is taking you for granted. And you’re blind in love, even if you don’t want to admit it. Otherwise he wouldn’t have tried to change you completely and you wouldn’t have obliged by making over your wardrobe etc.

This may or may not mean that he doesn’t love you. It might just be that he really wasn’t mentally ready for marriage but did it early because of the green card and now feels trapped. It may be that he feels that he can trust you and hence feels it’s OK to treat you the way he wants (which is not a valid assumption). 

You can choose to give this relationship another chance, or you can end it. All I can tell you is that it’s not certain that he doesn’t care for you. Not yet. 

If you choose to try again, the first step is to talk. Have an open but mature & non-threatening discussion about your needs. Tell him openly which of his behaviours hurt you. Ask him directly if there’s anything he needs from the relationship that he’s not getting. Emphasize that you’re willing to work for keeping the two of you together. 

At a marriage stage as early as yours, communication is a huge challenge. The experience of my own marriage tells me this. You’re interpreting his actions in certain ways, which may be entirely off target. The same might be happening in his head. The fact that you’re based in different continents doesn’t help matters either. In this situation, instead of drawing conclusions about intentions from each other’s behaviours, open up and ask. 

In this regard, the importance of remaining calm cannot be stressed enough. This will become another meaningless, exhausting fight unless you promise yourself never to lose temper even if he does. If he gets defensive your responsibility is to re-clarify the objective of the discussion, emphasizing the fact that this is not a blame game. 

No one is perfect. All couples achieve peace and happiness through finding middle grounds and you can do the same. If you can resolve your misunderstandings – all my prayers for your undying love! :) If you can’t, you’d at least know you did everything you could before giving up. And make no mistake – giving up is an option (if you don’t get satisfactory responses from him within a reasonable period of time, for example), and it’s as good an option as staying back. Do not go down the lane of self-loathing thinking breaking up is a morally wrong or selfish choice. Remember: 

Life is too short to chase anything but happiness.

We remain in relationships as long as they give us peace, happiness and overall fulfilment, and not when they start having a generally negative effect on our lives.

All the best. :)

Q&A. I’m a Girl in Love with My Friend, But He Won’t Reciprocate

Q.I’m a 28 year old female. I fell in love with my best friend who is 30 years old. We have been friends for nearly a year. We see each other mostly every day, we do all kind of activities together and we use to be close until I told him about my feelings when I was rejected by him. This hurt me like anything and made me very angry. I hurt him with words and I was really hurt myself for being rejected because he is truly really important to me.

I have thought about how I feel towards him and I feel I really am in love with him. Now we are acting very cool with each other but he is angry with me because of the way I reacted when I got rejected by him.

I’m lost and confused and do not know what to do. Do you think dating someone at this stage might help?

Please help.

-Neha, Delhi.

in love with friendPhoto by silje/vanilje

A.Your feelings are perfectly understandable Neha. Friends, especially the ones who become close, form a very important part of our lives. Friendship is a relationship which lets you see each other exactly as you are, without pretences. And that’s what’s amazing about this particular type of bond between two people which is different from romantic relationships, family ties and everything else. 

That’s why it’s very common for people to fall in love with long-term friends. There’s nothing wrong with that. After all, what’s a relationship but a combination of friendship, empathy and mutual need fulfilment?

But of course how your friend feels about you is not under your control. 

The first thing here is, Neha – confessing your feelings to him all of a sudden was probably not a good idea. May be he was surprised and shocked. May be to him your feelings signified the end of your precious friendship, given the fact that he doesn’t share them.

To those who feel like they’re in love with their friend, I always suggest they spend time dropping hints and observing their friend’s reactions before confessing anything. This way, you can easily make out how likely your friend is to reciprocate your feelings. If they respond with romantic signals, you know they share your feelings and you can go ahead and tell them you love them. On the other hand, if they seem uncomfortable with your hints, or they seem to not notice them, or they start growing cold to you or avoiding you in reaction to your signals, you know you’re not in luck. In that case you can forget about them as a romantic possibility and continue your friendship as it was. The advantage of avoiding a direct confession is that in case the feelings are not mutual, you can continue life as usual without the pain and embarrassment of confessing, apologizing, making up etc.

But anyway, that’s all in the past now. 

Your course of action now is to take a break from him for a while. I’m not suggesting you sever ties. But given your feelings, it’s imperative you stay away from him for a while now to give your friendship another chance. In the current situation, if you continue hanging out with him, you’ll never be able to give up hope that he might turn to you. Life will become a never-ending cycle of joyous hope and depressing disappointment for you. This will be an extremely draining experience which will add nothing but negative value to your life. At the same time it will keep you available to him forever as a fall back option – something you don’t deserve to be. And most importantly, it will keep you emotionally unavailable for investing in other romantic possibilities around you. 

in love with friendPhoto by Jahnico

I suggest you take some time out so that you can understand your own feelings better. May be a second look at yourself will reveal your feelings have resulted only from an infatuation born out of spending too much time together? If not, you can at least use this time to shift your focus to yourself, and conquer your romantic feelings towards him. Wait till you’re completely over him before contacting him again. 

The immediate next step for you now is to drop him an email genuinely apologizing for your angry outburst. Do not mention anything about continuing to be friends OR cutting off ties in the email. This email is meant only for offering your heartfelt apology for an unwarranted reaction. 

As I mentioned, the email should be the last and only communication between you for some time to come. You’d of course not contact him thereafter. If he contacts for a second time after replying to the email, tell him politely but firmly that you don’t want to sacrifice your friendship by disturbing his life with your romantic feelings. Hence you want to stay away from him for a while, and that you’d contact him whenever you’re over him. Emphasize that you don’t want to destroy your friendship for any reason, and end with saying that you hope he’d be OK to be friends with you once again when you’re ready. 

Let me know how things go. 

All the best. :)

How to Forget Someone You Love: 7 Rules

Young people dealing with a recent break up often ask me, “How to forget someone I love?”

Breaking up with someone you truly loved will remain one of your most significant life experiences. The process of forgetting someone you loved can break you. Or it can transform you into a stronger, more balanced and more mature version of yourself, with a much higher potential for choosing and creating deeply fulfilling relationships in the future. Here are 7 basic principles you should keep in mind as you strive to forget someone you loved.

How to forget someone – Rule #1. Don’t stay in touch

There are many ways of forgetting someone you love. The one way which will ensure you can’t forget them ever is continuing to “stay in touch” with them. It’s dangerous because human emotions are irrational, and staying friends with someone we have romantic interest in makes us falsely believe – usually in spite of ourselves – that they’re somehow somewhere available when they’re not. It makes us always available to them as a fall back option. (Be honest – if your ex wants you back you’d only be too happy, right?) And most importantly, the cycles of getting your hopes high and disappointment sap all your emotional energy and don’t give you anything to show for it.   

How to forget someone you lovePhoto by Staydazzled

How to forget someone – Rule #2. Don’t force-hate them

Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to hate someone you want to forget. Hating someone puts them at the centre of your life, and doesn’t let you forget them. The key is to shift your focus away from them instead. Lies you don’t need to tell yourself if you don’t believe them already include:

“I never loved them.”

“They’re evil.”

“I was too good for them.”

Instead tell yourself, “Everything has its time. I’m happy for the good times I had with a certain individual. The time for that person in my life has now passed and it’s time to look forward.”  

How to forget someone – Rule #3. Focus on yourself

The best way to shift your focus from something/somebody you want to forget is to channel it into something you can love with equal passion. Focus on that most neglected but most important guy/girl – yourself. Now is a great time to take a fresh look at your life. Concentrate on the gifts of singlehood.

Re-evaluate your life goals. Is there something you can do differently?

Jump headfirst into that hobby you’ve always wanted to pursue.

Take that short trip you’ve never had time for.

This is a great time to learn to find happiness within yourself – something that can see you through all future emotional challenges.

How to forget someone – Rule #4. Don’t try revenge  

Holding on to your dignity at all costs is liberating. Keep those vengeful urges at bay. If you try to take revenge at this moment of emotional upheaval, you’d likely do things you’d regret immensely once you’ve gained your senses back. More importantly, it would tell your ex how important they still are to you – not the kind of ego boost you need to give them.

How to forget someone you lovePhoto by F.M.N

How to forget someone – Rule #5. Open up  

It’s OK to feel shock, pain, anger etc. after a break up. Bottling up all of that can be detrimental to your emotional health. Open up to friends and family. If you don’t want to share this with anyone post your story anonymously in online forums and gather warmth from other members (these communities are usually very supportive). You can even start keeping a journal or a private blog.

How to forget someone – Rule #6. Don’t trust indiscriminately   

After a deeply debilitating experience like a break-up, you’d remain in deep shock and pain for a while. You might have tendencies to talk to anyone who’d listen. But this is dangerous, ’cause you’re at your most vulnerable at this point and might unwittingly reveal more than you should to not-so-trustworthy people around you. Make sure you connect only with people who you’re 100% sure of, like family or long-term friends.  

How to forget someone – Rule #7. Don’t try rebound   

Don’t jump into rebound. You’re emotionally unstable at the moment. If you get into a rebound relationship out of your desperation, the chances of making mistakes are very high. It would also be rather unjust to the person you involve, as you’d be using them as a replacement for someone else. No one deserves that. And most importantly, this would cement your belief that you can’t function without having “someone in your life”. You’d have deprived yourself of an opportunity to find stability and fulfilment within yourself. That’s something which is essential before you can even begin to assess your needs from a future relationship.

As I mentioned, how you forget someone you love will always remain one of your defining experiences. Make sure the process of forgetting someone enriches you, rather than destroying you.  

9 Rules to Deal with a Cheating Boyfriend

Over the months many of you have read our very popular post 14 signs your boyfriend is cheating on you and asked me, “So what? What should I do if I find that he is, indeed, cheating?” Hence today’s post. Discovering with a cheating boyfriend is going to be one of your most challenging emotional experiences. Here are some tips to help you through it.  

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #1. Double check

Based on what evidence have you concluded that your boyfriend is cheating? If it’s just your suspicions, don’t make a conclusion yet. Try to verify the facts. Look for hard evidence. Believe the unthinkable only if you’re absolutely sure.

Cheating boyfriendPhoto by diablo_x_238

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #2. Give yourself time

Once you’ve assured yourself that your boyfriend is indeed cheating, do not confront him immediately. You’re feeling shock, pain and humiliation. Your first reaction will be denial and delirious anger, arising out of a feeling of being wronged. Give yourself some time to deal with these feelings, before you confront your boyfriend. Take a few days off from him. Don’t see him, don’t answer his calls. You can text him saying you’re unwell or busy.

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #3. Let yourself feel

Use this period to process your emotions –the hurt, the anger, the humiliation. If you have a trusted friend or supportive family you can confide in them.  If not, start keeping a journal or a private blog – where you pour out your emotions and come to terms with them.

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #4. Do not react

When you’re back in control, confront your cheating boyfriend. Do not dramatize. Do not get into a mad frenzy of yelling and crying and blaming – ceding control hurts you and you only.  Let him know of what you’ve found out in a calm, mature way. Let him respond. You cannot know his true feelings unless you create a non-threatening, safe environment.

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #5. Let him explain

When you give him a chance to express himself freely, he’d most likely put his sincere apologies on the table. Subsequently he can either express his desire to continue with you calling off the other relationship (this is what most people do), or confess his feelings for the other lady and choose to break up with you.  

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #6. Assess the relationship

If he wishes to break up, well, I’m sorry. You need to be strong and deal with your break up in a healthy way. But if he wants to continue, you must have a discussion about the needs of both of you from the relationship. While cheating can never be justified, it can be a manifestation of some of his needs going unfulfilled. You should at least know about such needs, if any.

Cheating boyfriendPhoto by Miguel Co

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #7. Avoid self-loathing  

While an incidence of cheating may not be entirely the cheating partner’s fault, you must make sure you avoid the other extreme – drowning in self-loathing for not being “good enough”. Irrespective of what your cheating boyfriend says about his unfulfilled needs, consciously stop yourself from going down the “I’m not good enough” lane. You are extraordinary the way you are. Fulfilling or not fulfilling his needs does not, in any way, increase or decrease your worth as a human being. Whether you want to do something to fulfil more of his needs is simply a call you need to take, not a standard you have to live up to.

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #8. Take a break

Once you’ve discussed your needs, if you still decide to stay together, you need to take some time off from each other. Do not jump back into your relationship on the basis of verbal apologies and promises. In that case there’s a chance that you’d go through the same nerve-wracking cycles of being cheated on and then making up. Make it clear that the only way you’d stay with him is if he’s OK with taking a break for at least a few weeks or so.

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #9. Invest in yourself  

You can keep in touch with your boyfriend during the break but seriously, I’d not recommend anything more than a call once a week or so. Use the break to enrich yourself instead. Do a hard assessment of your life and set goals for your future. If you’re already pursuing some life goals, take a fresh look at where you stand in relation to them. Find new ways of doing the things you were doing to inch towards your goals. Pick up long-forgotten hobbies if you want. Reconnect with old friends. In short, shake up your life a bit. Take some time to live actively, not passively. The objective of this break is not to force yourself to fall out of love with your cheating boyfriend, but to create happiness and balance within yourself. This is meant to give greater stability to your life by reducing your emotional dependence on your boyfriend (or anyone else).

Have you ever had to deal with a cheating boyfriend? Did you break up or stay together? What was your coping strategy? Share with us in the comments section. 

20 Signs of Emotional Abuse in a Relationship – Part 2

Emotional abuse in a relationship is a silent killer. The sooner you recognize it and take action, the better for your own mental wellbeing and of those who love you. After 20 Signs of Emotional Abuse in a Relationship – Part 1, in today’s post we deal with the last 10 crucial signs of emotional abuse in your relationship that you should watch out for.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #11. Sexual manipulation

Your partner forces you to engage in sexual acts you don’t like, but not directly. They use manipulative tactics like telling you they want you to explore the limits of sexual pleasure with you. They promise you’d like it. If nothing works, they might even compare you with other people and accuse you of being sexually selfish.

emotional abuse in a relationshipPhoto by taylorsalvatore

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #12. Physical abuse

Naturally, emotional abuse is often accompanied by physical abuse. It may not be regular. Your partner might subtly hint at a possibility of physical violence if you don’t obey them. When an emotional abuser resorts to physical abuse, they usually apologize profusely later, and claim that they “lost control” for a moment. This may be true in some cases, but studies show that if physical violence has occurred once it’s likely to occur again.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #13. Isolation

The abuser repeatedly expresses their disapproval of the certain friends or family members of yours. Usually there’s no clear reason for such malice, apart from your closeness to these particular people. Without saying it in as many words, the abuser hints that avoiding these people would be beneficial to your mental health. Thus, one by one the abuser eliminates your closest people from your life until the only person you’re left with for support is the abuser.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #14. Negative memories

While attacking you verbally, your partner brings up all the old blames. You may have said and done things long back which your partner had no issues with back at the time when they happened. You’d find your partner bringing them up out of nowhere (usually to your utter shock) and criticise them savagely.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #15. Belittling

No matter what you do, your partner mocks your achievements, making you feel stupid for celebrating them. On the other hand they’re vocal about even the smallest of their own achievements. As I’ve already mentioned, an abusive partner hates the idea of sharing power with you in the relationship. They belittle your accomplishments as another attempt at making you feel under-confident and worthless. They hope this would ensure you don’t even consider yourself worthy of sharing power equally in your relationship.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #16. Justification

“Whatever I do is for your benefit.”  That’s the standard line the emotionally abusive partner would parrot when you accuse them of hurting you through some of their acts. They have some fallacious way to make every hurtful act of theirs look like it was meant for your benefit.

“Why do you always oppose me?”

“Because I know what’s best for you.”

“Why do you not let me visit my friends?”

“’Cause I’m crazy for your love and want it all to myself.”

Does that sound familiar?

emotional abuse in a relationshipPhoto by maleekmonroe

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #17. Unrealistic standards

Your partner sets unrealistically high standards for you. Through a verbal web of flattery and romance they convince you that “you’re the best” and they want you to “realize your full potential.” The full potential would usually mean “being the sexiest babe, the best wife and the shrewdest professional all at the same time”. Or some standard of perfection like that. The way they put it is meant to motivate you to want to live up to those standards and feel bad when you fall short. Given the fact that they’re unrealistic, this is meant to keep you in a perpetual abyss of guilt for not being “good enough” for your abusive partner.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #18. Access control

The abuser would restrict your access to important things necessary for survival like money. Their objective is to ensure you have to turn to them for your basic needs. They can even control your phone and internet usage – insisting on going through your messages, calls, emails, online chats etc. This makes sure you can’t tell the truth about the abuse to anyone without the abuser knowing.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #19. Denial

If they catch you reading this list, they’d trash it as “just another piece of BS off the net”. They’d never accept that their behaviour could be abusive, and would go back to every old tactic from blaming you for it to describing abusive acts as “one-off”.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #20. Emotional manipulation

Well that’s one of the things that they could do, if they catch you with this list. A hard-core abuser would of course do what he always does when cornered – turn it back on you. They’d take you through this list point by point and “prove” (fallaciously of course) that each of them applies to you, and in reality it’s you who’s the abuser! Another classic attempt at disorienting your sense of reality and destroying your self-esteem.

If you’re experience emotional abuse in your relationship, you need to recognize it and take charge of your life now. The solution might lie in counselling, detaching yourself temporarily or if nothing works – leaving. Whatever you choose, it must start with calling the spade in your relationship a spade and taking back control – of yourself and your life.