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Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.

Online Players | Past Sexual Partners | Living Together

Quick Access:
Spotting Online Players
Past Sexual Partners

Living Together Versus Marriage

How do I know if the person I am corresponding with online is a player or is serious?


In all fairness, there’s probably no sure-fire method to tell whether someone with whom you are corresponding online is serious about meeting a partner or is just serious about a one-night stand. Yet, here are ten tell-tale signs that the person is being manipulative:

» They try to develop intimate attachments too soon

» Focuses discussion primarily on sex

» They constantly ask for photos of you

» They talk about themselves constantly, i.e., they’re attention seeking, egocentric and narcissistic

» The person’s online photo is overly suggestive, or they refuse to provide a photo at all (much less a recent one!)

» They give different answers for same questions over time

» They’re active online all the time – as if they are always on the prowl instead of having a life offline

» They make demeaning or inappropriate remarks

» They provide inconsistent information about age, appearance, marital status or employment

» They refuse to talk on the phone or meet you offline

Finally, trust your gut. When in doubt, simply pose very direct questions to the individuals and then gauge their answers and the way they handle themselves.

How many past sexual partners is too many?
Clearly, this is a subjective issue, and past relationships and sexual encounters is something a couple needs to come to terms with. I know many people who feel that a person should be a virgin prior to a serious relationship like marriage. Others may feel that only two or three is acceptable, whereas some may have no problems with dating someone who’s been rather “promiscuous” in his/her past. But I do have something to say on this topic – that is, a person’s sexual history might well be a detrimental influence when he or she begins to automatically evaluating others in sexual terms. In other words, you may have had too many sexual partners – or are too preoccupied with sex – when your first thought upon meeting a prospect is “I wonder what they’re like in bed.” When sex is the first or the highest priority thought, I’d say sex controls you rather you controlling it.

I’d like to pass along a few other signs or symptoms that sex is overtaking your mind or life. These all came from actual daters just like you. Life is truly stranger than fiction! With that in mind, you could be oversexed when…

1. You see more of your past sexual partners in the shopping mall than strangers

2. You always wear your best underwear just in case

3. You buy condoms in bulk at warehouse-like outlets

4. You’ve said “Rushing into a physical relationship is just not like me” so often that you don’t even remember saying it t your date last night

5. You spend considerable money in a given year on batteries for sex toys.

Is living together just like marriage but without the ceremony?
Social scientists and most political and religious authorities refer to this as “cohabitation.” You may well know a happy and stable couple that has cohabitated for a long time. Therefore, it’s easy to equate cohabitation with marriage (or even elevate it) when we consider the sad fact of a 50% divorce rate in the US. Nevertheless, research indicates that cohabitation usually doesn’t elicit the health, wealth and psychological benefits that marriage does. When it comes to these benefits, cohabitants in the US at least more closely resemble singles than married couples. This seems to be explained by the fact that cohabitants tend not to be as committed as married couples, and they’re more concerned with their own personal independence and happiness and less to the well-being of their partner.

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