Questions about commitment and trust, answered

Angela asked: I have been dating a man for a little over a year who never says "I love you, care about you, etc.” Other than that, he’s OK, I guess. I'm 50, he's 53, it’s almost like we are married but I can't get him to react to my need of…not commitment, but I can't think of the word? Angela, you can’t think of the word because there isn’t one. Commitment is it, and nothing to be ashamed of. What you want to think about is, commitment to what? While it’s natural to want to settle into a relationship, especially one where you are sharing all of who you are, body/mind/spirit/resources/etc, two people wanting the same thing is an essential part of sustainable relationship (as I call it). In your particular case, sounds like you are not sure what either of you wants, so of course you’re confused. Not only about commitment, but about the lie you’re telling yourself, which is: you don’t want or need it.

So I will meet you halfway; need is a strong word, so for now let’s stick with what you want. Because you get to want whatever you want. I think what you need in the long run even more than a commitment is a relationship plan; simply put, a context and perspective for Relationship According to Angela! And that just happens to be my specialty. You can find a copy of Hindsight, What You Need to Know Before You Drop Your Drawers here.

Here are a few of the fundamentals:

First: What DO you want? Start your list NOW. From the little you said, it sounds like you want someone to put up or out commensurately what you are, which includes making clear in a way you will understand that he wants to be with you.

Two; What are your non-negotiables? Keep in mind that these are different from preferences! If I were you I would put respect at the top of the list, including respecting yourself enough to speak up for and take a stand for what you want. These two inquiries should help you get started on your relationship plan.

Another important thing to note is that there are three essentials to all healthy relationships:

Respect: a mutual exchange of consistently loving behavior that includes showing the person you share your life with they matter in terms they understand; by words, deeds and acts they recognize. Making a point to let them know they are important, that their desires and needs matter.

Trust; Words, actions and deeds that consistently foster the sense of safety emotionally and physically.

A loving witness: Two people holding each other’s wellbeing, peace of mind and personal growth of ultimate importance in thoughts, deeds and actions.

And last, I will offer you my definition of love to consider: I want what you want for yourself. Which sometimes means letting go, sometimes means being vulnerable enough to tell the most difficult truths, and sometimes includes moving on while holding someone in their highest loving light.I sure hope this helps!

Sabrina asked: I’ve been with my boyfriend for 10 months and I’ve never done anything to ruin his trust. I really like him, but I have a feeling that something is wrong with our relationship. He broke up with his ex-girlfriend because she cheated on him, and he was hurt very badly as he loved his ex very deeply. I think this breakup made him very insecure.

For example, when I told him he is the right person for me, he replied he said the same words to his ex and he thought she was the one. I was very upset and told him how I felt and asked him to focus on me. He apologized and said he needs time to heal as the scar is still there and he needs time to say “I love you.” It’s already been 4 years since he and his ex broke up. I wonder how long I need to wait.

Another example: two months ago, I got a male roommate. I never thought it would be a problem, as my roommate is a college kid. My boyfriend is very upset with this, and he said I may have an affair with my roommate. I am very frustrated, as he doesn’t trust me.

Except for this, he is a very good person. I can tell he cares about me. But any relationship should build upon trust. What should I do? Wait for him to regain his confidence, or move on? Thank you!

Sabrina, Sabrina…SABRINA. You had me at he doesn’t trust you. Which means, my darling, you have bigger issues than waiting to hear whether or not he loves you. In man-speak, “I don’t trust you” is like the kiss of death.

A man might love you, but if he doesn’t trust you he will hump you but not likely pursue marriage or LTR.  Paradoxically, they are often not mutually exclusive. Here’s the deal: if you want to be in a sustainable romantic relationship with this person it’s your job now (should you decide to accept it) to find out what’s really going on here. It’s probably one of three things:

A- You violated his trust, which is the kiss of death, like in The Godfather when Don Corleone kissed his brother on the mouth because he violated his trust. B- He has been hurt and has not yet healed, which is the best scenario because we can heal with time, the right support, inquiry and tools. C- He doesn’t trust himself, which could mean he’s not convinced you are the one.

In any case, his saying “I Love you” is erroneous until you have established trust! Unless you just want some guy you can’t seem to get to tell you he loves you, look at why you need someone to say that. If it’s so you can feel more secure about yourself or to stroke your ego, I would say move on to a deep practice of self-inquiry or a therapist’s office; you will both be better off. Otherwise, it’s time to see what’s really going on and create a path of healing…or not. Blessings…

Daryl asked: I was dating this guy for a few years who I knew was in a relationship but he mentioned that he loved me more than he loved her. But he said he couldn’t leave her because she had done nothing wrong. We are so compatible in many respects so I had to give it a try to see where it would lead. He eventually got married to her even though he begged me to be with him a few days before the wedding and soon after he got married asked me to spend time with him. He said he thought of me a lot. And he’s shown a very different side of himself now, more attentive to my needs and very expressive. He also wants me to tell him if and when I date someone. He’s even indicated that he wants a baby with me and talked about us getting married. What should I make of this? Is he being genuine? Does he wish to come back, or try to keep both of us?

Bingo…we have a winner! The old I want I want my cake and mistress too! Boy oh boy, this is a messy one. I understand how humiliating it can be to feel so desperate for someone to love us, that we would put ourselves and others in harm’s way. And that’s why I am going to pull no punches in telling you this fantasy relationship has very little chance of doing anything but continuing to disappoint you and ultimately hurt you and his wife.

Let me count the ways, starting with you: 1. He is married. He declared before God and everyone that he would love, honor and protect his wife. And unless your name came up in their vows, you can bet you are not a part of that equation. 2. He’s a liar, which is different than telling a lie: he is living one and now so are you! 3. You are causing harm to your sister, someone who expects you to hold sacred the institution of marriage and respect its boundaries. In this case you have clearly broken the unspoken but rigid code of ethics of a true girl’s-girl (most girlfriend relationships outlast marriages 5 to 1) which states: You don’t ever mess with my man, before, during or after I have, unless you have express permission. There are 3 billion other men to choose from, so it’s a tough one to argue. 4. You will never likely be able to trust this man and I can tell you right now he will NEVER trust you.

Never mind that you are setting a poor example for other women or your own children someday, and reinforcing to men that they can easily live out of integrity with very little consequence.

So I say to you, my sister, who cares what this man behaving badly wants! Please wake up, slap yourself, and SET YOUR SIGHTS HIGHER! Starting with a practice of self-love and cultivating some much-needed self-respect. Because you deserve better. Then asking God or whatever you believe in to forgive you for falling asleep, and hoping maybe someday his wife can find it in your heart to forgive you too. As for this man you think you want to be with, think again. No man worthy of your respect would treat one woman, never mind two, this way!

Email your questions to, and I will answer them in my radio show (anonymously, if you want).