Ask Dr ZZ, June 2013

By Dr. ZZ

Question: Ever since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of getting married and of how my husband would propose to me. I imagined that everything would be perfect: a beach, a sunset, and flowers everywhere. I wanted to brag forever about how romantic my husband was, and how wonderful it was that he had gone through all the trouble that he did. Well, my boyfriend of fifteen years finally popped the question last week, and it was just awful — mainly because he proposed at the Hard Rock Cafe. Allow me to explain: he and I first met at another Hard Rock Cafe, in another state, when we were back in college, and recently — though we haven’t been back to a Hard Rock in years – he took me out to dinner at the Hard Rock Café in Tampa. Then, before our food came, he got down on one knee and proposed. Now, how embarrassing is that!

Dr. ZZ: The one guarantee I can make about any two people is that they are bound to have differences. It’s the way we negotiate our differences that either makes or breaks the relationship. The judgment you are holding against your fiancé is precisely the kind of rigid, negative attitude that tears relationships apart. Clearly, you need to give him some credit. Though he didn’t meet your fairy tale ideal of the perfect Prince Charming, he obviously planned and thought through his proposal. He took you to a nostalgic spot that represented the place where the two of you first met, a place where perhaps he realized he first fell in love with you.

While this may not have jibed with your fantasy of a romantic setting, it nevertheless holds an element of significance. If, instead of finding fault with your partner, you can learn to find ways to acknowledge and appreciate him, you will create an interaction with an admirable counterpart whom you think is great. Acknowledgement and appreciation are the two quickest ways to keep your relationship on the path to success. So, shake those childhood expectations out of your brain. There is no one in the adult world to pick you up and carry you around. It’s up to you to create the life you want out of the materials available. You need to learn how to make lemons into lemonade.

Question: I’m currently involved in a 2-year relationship that is declining because of what my partner calls “poor communication.” While it is true that I have lingering issues of trust, and sometimes feel threatened by his behavior towards other women, this for me seems to be secondary to the way he treats me. To me, it feels as if he is uncaring. He may even set me up in different stressful situations related to what he calls “friendships.” Then he doesn’t want to discuss it, or else he has a hard time understanding my “reactivity,” as he puts it.

About 6-months into our relationship, for example, while the two of us were still undressed after lovemaking — and yes, he had proclaimed to love me earlier — he looked at me and said (about a girl who works for the same company we do), “I wonder what she would be like in bed. I bet she’s fun.” This is only one of the many incidents that have occurred, and always he professes not to understand why I’m upset. He also wants to have email and telephone conversations with these same women, expecting me to be okay with that.

What is appropriate and respectful behavior when maintaining friendships with the opposite sex? Surely there are some normal boundaries that allow for dignity and satisfaction for both partners. Should I be concerned that my partner views this as my problem? Should I somehow either hurt, apologize, accept blame, or feel invalidated? Thanks so kindly for the gracious giving of your time and expertise.

Dr. ZZ: When dealing with the type of issues you’re asking about, different boundaries need to be negotiated for different people. You are not comfortable with his having intimate conversations with women whom he expresses sexual curiosity about, not many women would be, and your boyfriend seems to be extremely insensitive to you. Some could deal with it, most would be opposed to it. You seem to doubt some of your actions and reactions. This suggests that, in spite of what he says, you are telling yourself that your reactions may not be viable.

The underlying guideline in any healthy relationship is that the two people respect each other. To respect another person, you must have trust and understanding. The fact that the issues you are asking about haven’t been resolved in two years probably has something to do with your own feelings of uncertainty. If he is hurting you, refusing to talk, not respecting your wishes and making you out to be the problem, then there is no need for you to be unsure about your feelings. What you need instead is confidence. When you can be more confident in your position, the game-playing will stop, or else the relationship will end. One way or the other, you will put an end to this crazy-making. The way out is to clarify what you see and to trust yourself and your emotions. Be confident, call his plays the way you see ‘em, and draw the line.

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is intended as general information only and is not to be misconstrued as medical or psychological advice or as diagnosis, treatment or cure for any condition or ailment. Send queries or comments to and listen to her on All published information is kept strictly confidential.

Dr. ZZ’s bold, upfront, directive style plays an inspirational role in the lives of people she touches. Drawing on a non-traditional Ph.D. in counseling and natural healing, ZZ works with shaman elder Jack Alexander (“Golden Feather”), who offers land blessings, shamanic training, Life Purpose readings, and all-faith  spiritual guidance. This forum proposes potential solutions on health, emotional, and personal matters.

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