Hot-and-Cold: An Uneasy Lover

Dear Sherry,

I have been dating a man who continually contradicts himself. For instance, he will tell me he loves me one day, then tell me he doesn't feel love the next. I realize he has a lot of issues to work through -- getting over past relationships, work and his family. My question is: Should I stay with him while he works these issues out, or hand him his walking papers? The only problem is that I do truly care for him.

Eileen

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Sherry Amatenstein

Sherry is the author of The Q&A Dating Book and Love Lessons from Bad Breakups. She has taught dating seminars, appeared as an expert... Read more

Dear Eileen,

Unlike your lover, I have no difficulty stating an unequivocal opinion. Given a choice between running barefoot over a bed of hot coals and dating a man whose feelings for me ran hot and cold, I'd say, "Baby, lay down those coals!!"

One of the greatest perks of being in a healthy relationship is reveling in the security of knowing that no matter how stressful and tough my day gets, I can go home and cocoon with someone who loves and accepts me, utterly. Admittedly, this scenario may be utopian. (Even a good guy won't accept me utterly if my habits include, say, having nightly screaming fits over trivia and/or a predilection for indulging in one- night stands.) Still, if you can't know to your marrow that your partner loves you, the relationship isn't whole, but hole-y.

Since I hate advice columnists who are totally depressing, let me give you a ray of hope. His problem seems to stem not from your relationship, but from his inability to handle the rest of his life. (Whoops -- I guess that still sounds pretty glum.) Tell him you need to know he loves you regardless of whether he had a fight with his mom that day, screwed up an important business presentation or passed by a restaurant he used to frequent with his ex. Let him know how deeply he's hurting you with his brand of "now you have me/now you don't" affection.

If after you unburden your heart, he begins giving you more of his -- great. But if he continues his emotional abuse, unburden yourself of a man who probably won't love you tomorrow.

Sherry

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