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Dear Uncle Mat 

I feel like the boy who cried wolf. And I hate that. A lot. I’ve gone through a myriad of relationships that really weren’t relationships in my opinion, but more like trying on different pairs of shoes and, knowing that I don’t like them at all, buying them anyway. It’s gotten to the point that if I tell my friends that I have a new boyfriend, the reaction is silence. What they want to say is, “How long is this one going to last?” But the thing is, the new guy I’m with, I really feel very VERY strongly for him, and it feels like everything is finally falling into place — like the puzzle is finally finished. The only problem is that I still feel like I have to prove to my friends that I can be in a lasting relationship. I don’t want to feel like I have to hide my boyfriend from my friends until two or three months have elapsed just to make them feel satisfied. For the first time in a very long time I’m falling in love again. I just want them to be happy for me, not doubting my abilities as a girlfriend. :( 

— `insert creatively anonymous name here` 

Dear Creatively Anonymous, 

The advice is free, but aliases are not included — and Creatively Anonymous may be a fitting name for someone who has a history of short-lived relationships she compares to shoes. I reckon I will refer to this as the letter from the shoe kid. 

When I was young and fancy-free, my friends would give nicknames and titles to my “boyfriends,” as it was easier than keeping the ever-changing faces and names straight. At first I found it annoying and even demeaning, but after a while it became endearing and a way to remember the guys years later. There was Potato Guy (due to an unfortunate dinner-table incident), Big and Tall (the store he worked in, not an accurate description), the scientist, the drunk, the puppy, and so on. Every once in a while, a chap would have a good run at it and earn his real name over time. My friends were not mean-spirited — well, maybe a little — but mostly realistic. Once I realized my friends were not judging me, I relaxed, started keeping my boyfriends longer, and even made up my own nicknames. I still secretly do, but I don’t always share them.

Perfectly well-adjusted people with nothing to prove can go through guys and/or girls like shoes. Now if you have a habit of proclaiming true love from every other rooftop in the city on the second Tuesday of every month, you are only preparing the world and your friends for another disappointment. It’s fine to let your heart run free to chase love like butterflies — it beats being bitter and lonely — but you don’t have to tell everyone right away. Play it cool with your friends. You can bring Mr. Perfect out and have him meet your friends, but skip the “I’m in love” story. Your friends will notice when he stays around, and if he doesn’t and falls the way of last year’s Skechers, that’s OK, too. Let your friends start to talk about the new guy and love and relationships when they are ready. For now he’s just the great guy you are keeping and making time with. 

It won’t do you any favors to conceal a new boyfriend from your friends. This is actually an important meter of quality you don’t want to put off till it’s too late and you’ve fallen in love with a young war criminal in the making. Your friends should have an interest in who you date and you in their opinion of him. I am not saying they get to pick, but hopefully they have helpful insight and your best interests at heart.  

I think you might be trying to prove the relationship to yourself more than anyone else. Let that go or you are going to lose. This guy will become a pawn and a measuring stick. You run the risk of turning him into a goal that once achieved is no longer of interest. That would be a shame. Have fun and fall in love; the rest is over-thinking it.

Much love and hope he’s the keeper,

Your Uncle Mat

Uncle Mat answers questions about relationships, sex, pets, and art. Email him at,, or check out the Dear Uncle Mat Page on Facebook. Your true identity is safe with him.

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