Ask Dr. Rhodes

I’m 31 and I’m lonely. I’ve gone to six weddings in the last six months. Nothing has worked out for me. Should I lower the bar?

Anonymous

Feeling sorry for yourself is not productive. Don’t lower your standards, but prune them if they are unrealistic or arbitrary — he doesn’t have to be six feet tall or make six figures, for example. There are plenty of guys out there, but you need to be smart and focused. You have time — be positive!

—Sonya Rhodes, Ph.D.

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I’m 35. I feel like I’m dating with a gun to my head. Should I marry Mr. Right Now? He seems reliable and nice. What if I don’t meet anyone as nice as he is? Is he my last chance?

Anonymous

Don’t panic. If you think Mr. Right Now is a possibility, give it a chance, but don’t settle. He is not your last chance, trust me. If you want to meet more eligible men, tackle the dating scene with greater purpose and pursue the activities you love with vigor and passion.

—Sonya Rhodes, Ph.D.

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Given the fact that the economic gap between men and women has become much more narrow, is it now unreasonable to always expect the man to pick up the tab for a date?

Anonymous

The tradition of the man paying for the date is deeply embedded in our dating behavior. But the social norms are changing as younger women are closing the gender pay gap in many markets. My advice: It is always gracious to offer to pay by taking out your debit or credit card. If he insists, let him pay without further ado. If he is clearly making more money than you, you can let him pay but graciously buy tickets for the concert or the play you both want to go to. If you are equal wage earners, suggest taking turns paying for your entertainment  Just remember: 45% of household income is contributed by women these days.

 

—Sonya Rhodes, Ph.D.

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Are there any positive or negative consequences of two beta (or “nurturing”) people dating each other? How does this affect conflict in the relationship? Does this kind of pair often stagnate or fail to motivate themselves/each other?

Anonymous

The Beta/Beta relationship is characterized by gentleness and sensitivity which contribute in a very positive way to intimacy. The pairing of two Betas creates a close relationship based on mutual respect and companionship. They are supportive to each other because they intuit each other’s vulnerability. These relationships are safe and secure.

Beta couples tend to be agreeable which is both a strength and a weakness. Being agreeable makes for a stable and peaceful relationship. On the other hand, when there are differences and problems to solve which require confrontation and conflict resolution, they are not at their best. They avoid challenging each other and prefer to maintain the status quo.

Betas do not like to make waves. They need to be encouraged to bring up and to talk about problems. They avoid criticizing each other at all costs, which sometimes means that they do not push each other to meet challenges.

—Sonya Rhodes, Ph.D.

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Should I feel ashamed if I know that, at some point in my life, I may want to take a break from my career to spend time with my children? I feel that if it’s a personal choice, not something you’re made to feel is obligatory, then there is nothing to be ashamed about. However, I’ve been made to feel that this would be an “unfeminist” choice and sometimes feel uncomfortable expressing my decision. I actually believe that denying myself time with my children because I feel societal pressure would be more problematic than going ahead and doing what I want. This issue is particularly relevant and I know many women struggle with the right answer so I’d love if you could speak to this.

Anonymous, 21

There is no right answer. The “mommy wars” between women who work and women who stay home is confusing and unnecessarily rigid. There is nothing wrong with staying home to raise children anymore than it is to go to work. This is a personal choice and the principles of feminism dictate that women be true to themselves.

My biggest concern would be how you would weather a financial crisis if you husband lost his job. Having a career that you can renew is comforting. Moving in and out of the labor force, with full time, part-time work over the life span, is the norm today.

Don’t worry what people think or say. Follow your intuition and stick to your guns. No one but you knows what is right for you.

—Sonya Rhodes, Ph.D.

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Susan Patton says that if you spend your first years out of college building your career instead of looking for a husband, by the time you’re in your 30s it will be too late and may end up marrying someone who is not you intellectual or professional equal….A lot of my friends are marrying men they met in college, but I chose to focus on my career and have been completely wrapped up in the demands of my job. Am I doomed? Are there any benefits to waiting to settle down?

Jane, 22

Spending your 20’s becoming independent and building your career is a wise investment of time and energy. You will not miss walking down the aisle because you are in your 30’s. That is nonsense! With maturity and financial security, you are more likely to find a partner with whom you can build a loving relationship for the long haul. All the research shows that successful women between the ages of 30 and 45 are marrying at a higher rate than younger and less successful women. Furthermore, these marriages are more stable with less likelihood of divorce. Gone are the days when you went to college to get a MRS degree! Don’t let the nay-sayers frighten you off the self-development that is so important for a happy life.

—Sonya Rhodes, Ph.D.

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