Dating and relationship advise from Susan Dunhoff, professional matchmaker and relationship adviser, and her executive assistant, Nicole Bruno. Both are with The Modern Matchmaker here in Pittsburgh and volunteered to answer some of our reader’s relationship advice inquiries.
We put out a call each issue to hear from our readers with their stories and questions about everything Pittsburgh dating. We’ve put together an advice column answering some of the texts, emails, and facebook messages we received, changed the names to protect the innocent, and asked our friends at Modern Matchmaker what they thought. What courtship queries do you have? What do you think of our advice? Write us at: email@example.com
TAG ALONG: My best friend is dating the most annoying and aggravating person I’ve ever had to deal with on a long-term basis. It’s not just me. Our whole group of friends agrees. How do I say this to her without hurting her feelings? I have a few ideas but it’s hard to see any of them playing out well.
Dear Exasperated Accomplice,
There is a polite way to explain to your friend that you are not fond of their partner; however, is telling this person you dislike their partner really worth risking the loss of your friendship? Consider explaining to your pal that you don’t feel comfortable around her boyfriend. Be honest with her. Tell your friend you’d prefer to hang out with her without being in the presence of someone with whom you don’t get along. Remind your friend how much your friendship means to you and explain your stance without being too harsh. Love often blinds us to the toxic characteristics of romantic relationships. You and your friends are on the outside looking in. Your feedback is valuable as your best friend may be too blinded by love to realize her partner’s flaws. Ultimately, who your friend dates is not your call. Your duty is to stand by your best friend without judgment even when she makes what you perceive to be the wrong decision, and to offer her a shoulder to cry on if she realizes what you and your friends knew all along.
TO TELL OR NOT TO TELL: Can you settle an argument for us? Here’s the scenario: after swearing you to secrecy a close friend confides to you they’ve cheated on their partner. Do you have an ethical obligation to tell your friend’s partner they’re getting the run-around? I say mind your own business. My friend says that’s lying by omission. Who’s right?
Dear Split Decision,
I would encourage you to advise your friend to stop cheating and grow up. I don’t, however, feel it is your place to involve yourself in others’ romantic affairs. There’s a slew of reasons that breaking this news to your friend’s partner is the wrong decision, but in this case it comes down to this: your close friend came to you with what may be the biggest secret of their life in confidence. You need to respect that confidential space and absolve yourself of all guilt associated with their decision making.
MARRIED WITHOUT CHILDREN: Why does everyone want children? Is that like a prerequisite of dating in Pittsburgh? I have to marry you and move to the suburbs and raise a litter of kids? Where are all the single people here that want to settle down without reproducing?
Dear Married Reasonable Requester,
Doesn’t everyone want a house in the suburbs, with the white picket fence, at least two kids and a dog named Happy? Well actually, the answer is ‘no!’ Don’t faint yet. Times have changed. Some people prefer to focus on their career, have more disposable income, or travel the world with their spouse. They may desire a more carefree, spontaneous life. This does not mean that they are not accomplished, forward-thinking, or that they are selfish or cold-hearted. Quite frankly, it is their prerogative to make that choice. Children are not for everyone. It is better for children to not be brought into this world if they are not wanted. Keep looking, there’s more to the Pittsburgh dating landscape than you may be experiencing. Try some new patterns in your social outings, visit new establishments, take a different route to work, make a point to introduce yourself to new people, and you may be surprised at who you meet.
STUCK IN THE MIDDLE: My fiancé and I had a ménage a trio with a casual acquaintance of ours. It went well and we all enjoyed ourselves but our friend has been texting and calling my husband-to-be more frequently as of late and it’s pissing me off. We’ve been getting in arguments about it and I’m not sure where to draw the line. I’d like to have the experience again, but I don’t want an open relationship. Is a good balance between the two even possible?
Dear Three’s Company,
You need to set boundaries with your husband and this casual acquaintance in regards to an appropriate frequency of communication (if one exists). If you find that this experience has birthed insecurities, jealousy and mistrust, it’s possible that a polyamorous relationship isn’t in the cards for you. Take some time to find out what your boundaries are and what you’re comfortable with. It is human nature to become attached to an individual one is sexually intimate with, but if your husband-to-be cannot understand why communicating with this casual acquaintance on a more frequent basis causes you distress, then you need to reevaluate your relationship with him. Don’t compromise your sexual and emotional boundaries for the sake of appeasing your partner.
Do everyone’s parents insist they get married, or just mine? Since my late twenties it’s every visit. I’m almost 40 so it’s getting ridiculous. Does it ever end?
-Single and Satisfied
Dear Single and Satisfied,
Your parents should be more concerned with your happiness and well-being than your marital status. Many people confuse the two and end up putting unnecessary pressure and unreasonable expectations on their children. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that just over half of American adults are now single, so you’re actually part of a growing majority. If your parents’ comments are making you uncomfortable, tell them about it. You need to let them know they’re mistaken about their assumptions about what makes you happy and what you want for your future. My advice: live the best life you can live for yourself without dragging the chains of other’s expectations through it.
LACK OF LUST:My wife and I barely have sex. We’ve even started sleeping in different rooms. She’s seeing a therapist and I’ve been seeing one, too, but we can’t seem to get in the groove. We’ve got a million exercises and plans to work on, but it’s getting tough and I wanted your opinion.
Dear Lonely Lover,
Take comfort in knowing that this is an extremely common complaint. Sexual partners often have different levels of sexual desire at different times in their lives. Research also shows that men greatly exaggerate the amount of sex they’re having when talking with friends. So, don’t panic. I suggest you and your wife attend couples counseling to promote communication, learn about the problems in your marriage, and discover what you each need from the other to solve them. Having your own therapist for personal growth and reflection is helpful, but if you’re not working together to practice therapeutic exercises with a professional, you’re putting yourselves at a disadvantage. Through couples therapy you may gain perspective on your problems.
UNSAFE SCENARIO: I’m transgender and I’m new to Pittsburgh. I’ve seen and heard some transphobic, racist, and small-minded people in town. I haven’t been on any dates since I got here a couple of weeks ago. Is Pittsburgh really as closed-minded as that? I was at pride week and I know there’s a great LGBTQ+ community here, but there’s also a lot of assholes. Should I be worried about this city? Can I go out on dates here without the fear of being attacked by some redneck I accidentally meet online?
-New To Town
Dear New To Town,
If you experience any harassment, report it to the police immediately. There’s a community here to offer support while you navigate this new city. Pittsburgh groups like TransPride and The Garden of Peace Project are great places to reach out for support if you experience harassment. Another resource a colleague of mine pointed to was Pittsburgh’s Transgender Resource Guide: transgenderresourcespgh.blogspot.comnumber.
As a transgender individual, you’re at a much greater risk of harassment and violence than other segments of our population and our current political climate fuels hatred for minorities of all stripes. Do not allow those small minds to determine your outlook on a city after only being here a few short weeks. Give Pittsburgh a chance and do a bit more exploration. Attend some more LGBTQ+ events. There are people in this city with similar life experiences. Online dating apps always come with risks no matter what your gender, but it’s more dangerous for the trans community. You cannot let that fear stop you from getting out there and meeting people with whom you can trust and feel comfortable.