All About Better Relationships And Dating

Ask an Expert: All About Better Relationships and Dating

Say hello to Harris O'Malley, who you probably know better as Dr Nerdlove The good doctor is back to offer love, sex, and dating advice to those of us who are more comfortable LARPing than navigating relationships. Maybe I've said too much.

Image by chuckchee (Shutterstock).

As always, you can find more from Dr Nerdlove on his site, on Kotaku, where he dispenses his life and love advice every other week, and in his new book, Simplified Dating.


I was wondering: Is there a time frame that is best appropriate for telling your significant other that you love them? When is too early? When is it maybe too late; that is, your other half would have assumed by now you would have said it and if you haven't, they think you don't feel that way?

That's a good question and one that's difficult to give a *definitive* answer on because circumstances are so variable.

That being said: it helps to remember that early in the relationship, you're dealing with limmerance and infatuation, which can feel a lot like love when you're unused to it. It's easy to confuse them and end up saying "I love you" and then wondering why "love" faded as the passion did.

I would recommend waiting until you're sure -- that moment when you know that even when they piss you off more than you've ever been or they make you tear your hair out, you know you'd rather be angry with them than happy with anyone else.

If you want to say it but aren't quite sure if it's time, or if you're worried that you should have said it by now, you can always hedge it a little -- "I feel a certain way about you but I don't know if I'm ready to say it yet." It's a little game-y and can feel childish, but it's a way of letting the other person know how you feel without the full emotional commitment of actually saying the words.

(That being said, there came a point when I told my then-girlfriend "You know I love you, right" in the middle of a conversation about five months into the relationship. That worked out rather well...)


What are the most reliable body language cues women will give off to show interest or disinterest with a man?

If I had to pick one, I'd say mirroring -- imitating your body language, posture, tonality, gestures, etc. We instinctively like people who are similar to us, and mirroring behaviour is a way of reinforcing the "we're the same" vibe. We frequently do it unconsciously with people we like.

However, the most reliable cue is to look for clusters of signs, rather than any individual one. A woman touching you might mean that she's interested, or it might mean that she's just a touchy-feel-y person. Laughing at your jokes, preening behaviour (playing with her hair, straightening her clothes), pointing (orienting her body towards yours) all on their own can have different meanings besides attraction.

Look for what behavioural specialists call "the rule of four" -- four indicators of interest that happen either simultaneously or incredibly close on top of one another.


What do you do when your significant other gives you an "ultimatum" about something? For example my girlfriend has told me repeatedly that she'd leave the relationship if I bought toys and memorabilia from TV shows and movies I liked as a kid because "they're a waste of money". On one hand I can see where she's coming from but on the other hand it's MY money. Any advice?

Honestly, I think that's a kinda stupid ultimatum as long as you enjoying the memorabilia isn't causing financial stress or taking up so much room that they've been getting out of hand. I don't think a couple needs to share each other's interests, but they should at least respect that the other has them. Mocking their partner's interests is a shitty thing to do to someone you care about.

But it all comes down to the price of entry for a relationship and whether that's the hill you (or your significant other) wants to die on. It may be worth seeing if you can find a compromise between the two desires -- limiting your purchases to certain choice items. If you can't come to a compromise, then you have to weigh which you value more.


Any tips for married couples. especially during pregnancy?

Make an effort. It's easy to slack off on dressing nicely, taking your partner on dates, doing nice things for them to show you care. The more effort you put into the relationship, the happier it will be.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. The more you can keep your partner looped in to how you're doing and feeling and vice versa, the better you will be.

Also, during pregnancy? Do as much as you possibly can for your partner to let them get rest... especially after the baby is born.

And never, ever, pass up a chance to let your partner know you love them and think they're amazing.

TL;DR: Be like Gomez and Morticia Addams.


Any advice on what to do when there's a discrepancy in responsibilities within the relationship and one party does most of the chores and errands?

Not every relationship is going to be 100% equitable, at least on the surface. A lot depends on the individuals involved and the nature of the division and how everybody feels about it. If the division of responsibilities are putting more pressure on one person -- the breadwinner of the family also does the lion's share of the housework -- then that's something that needs to be addressed.

But if both parties are feeling that maybe the chores aren't evenly distributed but the overall responsibilities of their lives together are divided satisfactorily, then they've found the balance that works for them.

Every relationship gets to find the division of labour that works for them. Just as long as it equals out over all and everyone agrees that the division is fair.


I was wondering if you could give some insight on when you should be ready for marriage or what you should look for to know when to pop the question. I am living with my GF and she had made it clear she is ready but I'm not sure I'm ready!

Let me put it this way: can you imagine life without her? Even when you're angry at her, would you rather be with her than with anyone else? Does she make you feel fulfilled, more positive, more alive when you're with her than when you're not? Do you feel like the two of you are a team, partners-in-crime, the ideal tag-team duo?

If the answer's yes, then it might be time to think about what marriage means to you.


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