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Dear Ms. Aileen,
I'm reading your articles and FB posts, and natatamaan po ako sa mga messages mo about holding on to someone who's not willing to commit. I think that's still my struggle about my guy best friend, but honestly unti-unti po yung process of detachment. There have been many times when I saw proof that he loves and adores me, and it’s what keeps me holding on.
Just because someone loves you, it doesn't automatically mean he will eventually commit to you—love and commitment require very different sets of feelings and decisions in a man. And if there's anything you need to remember about men, it's that you cannot change their minds or "force" them to be ready for something they aren’t.
So it’s not really a question of whether or not your guy best friend will someday take your relationship to the next level.
The more important question actually is this: Are you willing to wait?
Are you willing to put your love life on hold on the chance that he’ll see you as more than a friend? And, if so, for how much longer? Can you see yourself still waiting as an old woman? Would you be happy to realize that you've let other chances for love pass you by? What if you're both 80, and he realizes he can't really love you more than the way he does now?
I know of someone who waited for a long time—until her best friend fell in love with and married someone else. He still loves her dearly and adores her and will maybe love her forever. As his best friend.
One thing I hope more women can learn is this: many men can be attracted to us, but that doesn't mean they'll all fall in love with us. And that's okay. Sometimes a number of guys could even be in love with us, but that doesn't mean they'll all want to commit to us. And that's okay too.
Here’s the bottom line: We don't need someone who is simply attracted to us—not even someone who just loves us. The man who can make us truly happy in a relationship is the one who loves us enough to pursue a commitment with us. Because it also means he has the inner strength to lead a relationship, a marriage, a family.
Love is an emotion and a host of other things, and every man is capable of that—even ones with extremely weak personalities, emotional disorders, and disabling addictions. But masculine leadership requires character and emotional stability—and those are two of the most important things I’ve seen in men who are able to sustain lasting and truly loving relationships.
We women are just so loving and giving, we often feel the need to "give something back" to anyone who loves us or shows us affection. Many of us need to learn to be comfortable with receiving love without feeling the need to "pay it back." Some repay a man’s love with service, some with nurturing, some with sex, some with gifts—but they’re all manifestations of the same symptom: a “discomfort” with being loved and a nagging feeling that “I have to give him even more than what he’s giving me.”
We need to learn to value ourselves in such a healthy way that we can receive people's love gracefully and joyfully—yet also be secure enough to take our time in recognizing and choosing the man worthy of exclusive access to us.
And one sure sign he is not the best choice is that he's not committed to us first.
I'm glad that you’ve found proof about how much your friend loves you. But I'm wondering if that proof is worth putting your life and happiness on hold for him.
What if you try a different option? Be happy knowing he loves you, and keep him an important part of your life. But also learn to comfortably receive love and experience other forms of loving relationships—maybe even with other guy friends or romantic potentials—while your best friend is not ready for anything more.
And just between the two of us, Elvie, here's another secret about men: Sometimes they only realize how valuable something is when they're about to lose it. But when something is just always there for them without their even having to put in any effort, then they will naturally doubt how valuable that something really is and easily take it for granted.
Just remember these things when you make a decision about your situation, and move forward this year with more awareness of and consciousness about your decisions.
*All names and some details have been changed.
For more from Aileen, go to The Relationship Coach column.
(Photo by José A. Warletta via sxc.hu, used for illustrative purposes only.)
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I'm sorry I can't respond to your email personally, but I will absolutely read your letter. I would also love to answer your questions in detail in this column (and maybe even in articles & books) so that we can both help many other women who might be in the same situation. Please do let me know, though, if you just want me to read your letter and not answer it here; otherwise I'll change the names and some details and go for it.
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DISCLAIMER: The material contained in this column is an expression of opinion and is not to be construed as legal, medical or professional advice. This material may only to be used for personal entertainment purposes.