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Ms Chase
Ms Chase, Life Coach
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 2897
Experience:  Over 20 yrs experience with Relationships, Sexuality, Friendship, and Family Issues
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My boyfriend and I have been together for just over 2 years,

Customer Question

My boyfriend and I have been together for just over 2 years, and have lived together since May. I want to get engaged, but he keeps saying he feels "too young"... even though we both have the same vision for our life together, married by around 25/26, kids a couple years later. We are both 23 now ... and I feel like if he already knows he wants to spend his life with me, what's the big deal if we get engaged now? I want to thank you for any advice you may have, this is really frustrating at times, and it often ends in fights. It's depressing.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 5 years ago.
Hello

How did the two of you meet?

Do you live together?

Any other relationship problems?

Chase
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
We met through one of my coworkers, we have lived together since this past May... we've gone through some pretty hard times (he was looking at dating sites, and had a really inappropriate conversation - and possibly more, I don't know for sure - with a female classmate during the first year of our relationship.) I actually found out about the dating sites and conversation a few weeks after we moved in together. I've gone to counselling over the conversation (it was actually a note written between the two of them, he claims it was a joke, but nonetheless it was extremely inappropriate for someone in a relationship) ... and I'm slowly but surely getting past it. I can elaborate more if you need me to, I really just... need all the advice I can get. Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it.
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 5 years ago.
You can elaborate more. The more info you give me the better I can help.

What was the conversation about?

How did you find out he was looking at dating sites?

Chase
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Okay, in the note, him and the girl had been writing back and forth during class. I'll put what my boyfriend wrote in brackets, and what she wrote in capitals. I'll put my username in where my name was mentioned.

JADE('s rack) ROCKS. 3 REASONS WHY:
1) (they're a good size)
2) (she likes to show them off)
3) (she's a dancer... mmm)

JADE('s rack) IS GOD.

XXXXX XXXXXKES TO PLAY WITHCustomer#39;S RACK.
(while thinking about Jade's)

Needless to say, even though this happened a long time ago... when I came across the note, it devastated me. It killed me to find out that, at a time where he was assuring me I could trust him, this kind of crap was going on at school. I still don't understand why it happened, or how it was a joke... but I've accepted that it was a mistake on his part, and I probably will never understand it. I'm trying my best to move on from it, though it's still hard at times. I don't think he has ever been physically unfaithful to me, but I do consider that sort of conversation with another girl to be a form of emotional cheating.

In regards XXXXX XXXXX dating sites, he was out of town for work the day after we moved in together. The cable guy hooked up our internet, and I had to go on my boyfriend's computer to set up the wireless internet for my laptop to connect to it. I set it up, and then opened up the internet to see if it loaded properly, I went to type in a link, and a dating site came up in the history dropdown menu.

I know it was wrong, but when I saw that, I became livid and looked at his bookmarks. The dating profiles he was looking at were of local area girls... and he also had a facebook picture of the girl he wrote the note to, bookmarked in his porn links. I didn't look at the picture.

I found the old note between them a couple weeks after I saw the dating site/bookmarked picture of her.
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 5 years ago.
to be clear, when was the note written?

when was he looking at the dating sites?

Chase
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The note was written when we had been dating for 6 months. At one point, he told me that particular girl had wanted to meet me, but he laughed it off and it never happened.

I know to some that note may not be a big deal, especially with how long ago it was written... but I think the reason it's hanging around with me still, is simply because when I found it, it felt as though it just happened, you know? And on top of that, knowing that, that kind of stuff was going on at what was a really happy time in our relationship, kills me.

He was looking at the dating sites even so much as 3 days before we moved in together. When I told him about finding the links, and I told him to stop, he claimed that "a friend" sent him the link, and that once he was at the site, he "thought he saw someone he knew." I don't know if the friend thing is true, but I do know that he literally googled the name of the site. So... I don't know what to believe, I'm trying my best to just get past it all and trust/believe everything he tells me.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
As far as I know, he has stopped looking at the dating sites ever since I went to counselling for all of it.

I guess at this point, I'm just kind of at a crossroads and wondering if I should give him the benefit of the doubt and wait for him to grow up and not "feel too young" to get engaged... I mean, it makes no sense. We have the exact same vision, want to be married by the same time/have kids by the same time, but now that it's at a point where we'd actually have to start doing that, he feels "too young"?

I mean, don't get me wrong. I love him with all my heart, and I know everyone says if you love someone, you should be willing to wait. Which I agree with, to an extent.

However, one can only wait for someone to grow up for so long. I mean, he says he knew early on that he wanted to marry me, but that he doesn't know when he'll be ready. But he knows he'll be ready "someday".

I just don't want to be waiting around 2-3 years from now, to keep hearing "I know I want to marry you, I'm just not ready now."

I'm not going to lie, I feel miserable when I see my friends getting married to their boyfriends, who they've been dating a shorter period of time. It's not that I just want to get married, period. I want to marry him... but how long do I wait?
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 5 years ago.
I'm typing out an answer for you now. :) Give me a few minutes.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you very much, I really, really appreciate it.

I'm sorry I wrote you a novel!
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 5 years ago.
Nah, don't worry about it, the more I know the more it helps. :)

On one hand I want to say, he's young. It wouldn't be uncommon for a guy his age to write something like that, even though it's thoughtless and disrespectful, the fact is he probably never thought you would see it. The fact that he brought it home was just dumb and even more highlights the difference between maturity and childishness. And yes...you recently found it, so even though it may have happened a long time ago for him, yes, it is still new to you and it's going to take you time to move past it. He could have avoided the whole thing had he just been smart enough to throw the note out. Which makes you wonder if subconsciously he may have wanted you to find it. I understand that you felt like this was a happy time for the two of you and thats what really hurts, but you also have to remember that men's idea of intimacy and respect can sometimes differ from ours....sometimes you need to teach them what you will and will not put up with.

As for the dating sites...that is concerning....he can make all of the excuses he wants to make about it but only he knows if he's telling the truth. The botXXXXX XXXXXne is the truth will always come out, it's just better to know before you make a life changing decision like getting married.

You cannot compare yourself to friends who have gotten married, if you do, you'll only wind up making choices that you will regret. I would much rather you wait a few more years to get married than to get married and be completely miserable.

The fact is, if he wanted to get engaged, then he would. Obviously he doesn't, so he isn't. When someone feels a certain way about you, you don't have to ask....actions speak louder than words....a persons love is seen more in the things they do, rather than what they say. You can't make him want to get engaged, and the more you push, the more he'll probably resist. Love cannot be one sided, both people have to feel equally strong about the decisions and status of the relationship and both be willing to move forward. If he's not ready and willing to do that, then you have to back up a little and give him some space.

This doesn't mean that you should forget about the things you want or need, but at some point, if you feel the two of you are not on the same page, its just a fact that some people will let things drag on and on for years, even when they know they have no intention on taking things to the next level.

Ultimately you cant drive yourself nuts about it. If you really love him and want to be with him, then you have to make a decision to go ahead and give him the benefit of the doubt. Give him your trust and go with it. If he breaks that trust, then you have to make a decision and re-adjust, but if he doesn't then you know you made the right decision. I welcome your thoughts, let me know if you want to talk more

Warmly

Chase
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you so much Chase, seriously. It's really nice to have an outside view on things, and I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said.

The last thing I want to do is push him away, by pushing this issue. I do love him, and I do really WANT to give him the benefit of the doubt, and trust what he says/does.

I hate when we fight about such a matter, I feel like it shouldn't be that way. But I also understand that just because we may argue about it, doesn't necessarily mean we aren't right for each other. A lot of people go on to have happy marriages even when they both weren't ready at the same time.

I was just wondering if you had any advice as to how I could exercise patience in this? I'm trying really hard to not think about it, or bring it up with him. Due to the issues we have been dealing with (everything I've mentioned), I've been wearing the promise ring he gave me last year on a chain around my neck. I've assured him that it means no disrespect to him, but that it's to help keep us in check and to remind us of what we want together. At this point, with what we'd gone through in recent months, I explained that it didn't feel right to be "promising engagement" when we weren't carrying on as a couple who should be doing so. Plus, I'm also doing it to keep myself in check, so I don't badger him about getting engaged all the time ... everyone is constantly asking me if my promise ring is in fact an engagement one, which of course, brings the issue up again.

Again, I apologize for asking another question in my reply, but I found the advice you gave me to be very uplifting. I feel way better after discussing things with you, you gave very wise advice, so that's why I was wondering if you had any sort of tips for me in regards XXXXX XXXXX patient without kinda... denying what I want/need from him. I find right now, whenever I'm trying to be patient, I kinda just block out the thoughts and become almost "whatever, if it happens it happens"... which I don't want.
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 5 years ago.
I wouldn't say whatever happens happens because thats how love is lost. You don't want to get lackadaisical about it, because the caring will go, and by the time he's 'ready', you may change your mind about the whole thing.

We have to always remember, other people don't make us happy...we can feel happy when we're with them, but only you can make yourself happy. Pick up a hobby, or take a class....stop focusing on him, and focus on doing something that will contribute to your future, or to your life. Some thing that will improve on your or your life. This way, no matter what happens, you're not sitting around waiting for him to make your life happen, you're in charge of your life and making it happen.

When he sees you moving around and doing all of these things to make yourself better, be self-sufficient, make yourself happy....its going to attract him to you more and at some point he may say, "hey, I need to get this girl engaged to me, or she might find something better". Make your stock go up by improving on yourself and being independent and you will seem to increase in worth.

Also, just step back a little. Promise yourself that you're not even going to mention it again. Period. At the same time, give yourself a time frame. If you don't bring it up again, how long do you think is feasible to wait before you realize that he's just not trying to get married? 6 mos? 9 mos? a year? Pick a time frame and just don't say anything else about it until you hit that time frame, and when you do, don't accuse him ("i didn't say anything about it for 6 moths and you didn't bring it up!") No...just say, "hey I was thinking about our engagement, can we talk about that?"

By focusing more on yourself and doing things for you and about you, even if things don't work out between the two of you, the loss won't be as acute as it would if all you focused on during the relationship was him and the relationship. Always keep a good eye on you and care about you. You can care about others, but take care of you first.

I'm here if you want to talk

Chase
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
That's exactly why I didn't want to feel that way anymore (regarding the 'whatever happens' frame of mind) .... because I do love him, and do want to marry him, and I definitely don't want to get to the point where I'm so nonchalant about the whole thing, that by the time he's ready, I don't want to be with him anymore.

At the moment, I'm a full-time student in my last year of college, and I've been doing exactly what you said lately, actually. I've been spending more time with friends, and doing my own thing at home, working on things I love (ie web design and music).

I really feel what you say is true, I've noticed throughout the course of our relationship that whenever I've pulled back a bit (for whatever reason), that's when he steps up and is more attentive, loving, etc. I don't do it to play games or anything, I just couldn't help but pick up on it when it happens. I find it kinda funny, actually. Men are interesting creatures.

One book I found interesting, and it actually articulates the sort of advice you gave me, was Why Men Marry Bitches. I found it pretty empowering, and I think with what you've told me tonight, combined with picking that up again ... I think I'll feel a whole lot better about the situation.

I know this is completely off topic, but I'm just curious how you would deal with a certain behavior. Whenever we argue, no matter how calmly I bring something up, he always gets extremely defensive, says he knows he's a shitty boyfriend, and storms off for a while. He always finds a way to turn things around, regardless what the argument is about, and he's constantly saying "whatever" during these conflicts.

I find that things always seem to get thrown off and nothing gets resolved, so it ends up coming up again in the future. How can I change this/improve it? It's really aggravating.
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 5 years ago.
Unfortunately dismissive behavior like "whatever" may indicate that he thinks your smarter than him, so rather than trying to win a battle of words, or win an argument, he dismisses it completely.

Saying that 'he knows he's a shitty boyfriend' is disconcerting because if he really thinks he's a shitty boyfriend, then that alone can 'allow' him to do things he knows he shouldn't because, hey...I'm a shitty boyfriend. Sort of speaking the acts into reality, or speaking his attitude into reality. He has to see that he is a good person (if he is) and that he is worthy of being the man you know he can be, the man he knows he can be, and the man he wants to be (hopefully).

When you think about relationships, no one who is serious about love wants to play games, and I don't necessarily think of some of these things as games. When I think about games, I think of someone hurting someone else. What I'm talking about is tipping things a little more in your favor rather than tipping them away from your favor. If he's the type of guy I think he is, he wants to know that he is important, but he's fearful of taking on the responsibility of being important (if that makes sense). He likes the 'idea' of marriage and a family, but (obviously) he's not ready for it yet.

If he's getting defensive in arguments, it could be the way you approach him (hear me out), sometimes even when we approach in a calm manner, we still put them on the defensive. Try this....the next time you talk to him about something, be sure to start your sentence with 'I' and try not to use the word 'you'. For example you can say,

"I felt really sad the last time we argued. I know how intelligent you are, and I know that when someone says 'whatever' its because they may not want to deal with the subject, but I know we can do better"

A few things happened in that sentence, you told him how you felt, you didn't accuse him, you showed him that you might understand why he does it (giving him an out) and you were inclusive about improving things (telling him it's not an individual problem, but a 'we' problem).

Another thing is to find a different way to communicate. Maybe you can communicate better about problems if you write them down. Each of you make a list of pet peeves. The rules are, you can't argue about them, you just have to state them. Start out with a list of three. His might say

I don't like it when you hang your undergarments in the bathroom
I hate that you always want to talk when I'm watching the game
I don't like when you pick my clothes out for me or tell me what to wear

and you will have a list of three things. The rules are, you can't get mad about them, you can't argue about them, and you have to stop the chosen behavior for a week (or two). The thing is YOU choose which one you want to stop off of his list, and he chooses one off of your list.

To make it more amusing, you can put together a calender, and every time one of you messes up, the other gets to put a star on the other persons calender (or you can use blue stars for him and pink for you) at the end of the allotted time, whoever has the most stars has to buy the other dinner, or whatever bet you set up. I don't have to tell you that the more FUN you can have with this the better. Both of you need to be able to laugh at some things and not be too serious, you guys are far too young for that.

As for the tipping in your favor, yes....do for self, do things that improve you. Also, little things like, don't answer the phone on the first ring. Call back 15 min later instead of right back when he calls, be the first to get off the phone, do something totally out of character, plan surprises, make your own decisions.....all of that makes you more attractive.

I need to check out that book you mentioned ;)

Chase
Ms Chase, Life Coach
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 2897
Experience: Over 20 yrs experience with Relationships, Sexuality, Friendship, and Family Issues
Ms Chase and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you so much, Chase. I love the ideas you came up with, and I actually can't wait to try them out! I really think what you say is true, we need to have more fun with things and not be so serious. How should I approach telling him about these things I want to try out?

I also started doing the other things you mentioned a few weeks ago (not calling him back right away when he calls (or txts), being out with friends when he gets home rather than be there waiting, etc... and I have found that it's made a difference in how he treats me, for sure. I will definitely continue that, for myself, not just to help improve my relationship with him. Like you said, I have to make myself happy first. If the relationship follows suit, or falls apart ... at least I've got myself taken care of, to help deal with things as they come.

In regards XXXXX XXXXX 'shitty boyfriend' thing, I've been trying my best to make him see what a good person he is, and the man I know he can be ... but it's like it falls upon deaf ears. No matter what I do or say, that phrase still comes out at times. And it hurts, because aside from those few problems I told you about, we have an otherwise good relationship with each other. Do you have any tips as to how I can help him see how good he is?

I apologize again for asking yet another question, I promise this will be the last time. I just find your advice SO helpful, you have no idea. You have seriously given me hope and have lifted a weight off my shoulders .... not to mention, have given me a new way to approach what has been a very difficult situation.

If I ever have questions in the future, is there a way to talk to you again? Like request your services or something?
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 5 years ago.
You can ask as many questions as you like and it's up to you to decide when or how many times to accept. Of course if you want to speak to me anytime, all you have to do is put, "for chase" in the subject line, and I will be with you as soon as I can. I am online here pretty much every day.

I agree that you guys need to have fun, you're so young, and the time for being really serious will come when you get old, so enjoy your life as much as you can :)

The hard thing about what you're asking about him is that you cannot be his doctor, or his psychologist. There's a reason why he feels this way, whether it's because of his dad, or another male figure in his family. Somehow he has an idea of what a boyfriend should be and at the same time may feel that he can never live up to it. He may need counseling (good luck getting him to agree to it)

Try this...its really for him, but you can do it with him. Both of you make two lists. One is a list of what it means to be a boyfriend (what does a boyfriend do? what does it mean to be a boyfriend? what are his responsibilities?) and the other list is what it means to be a girlfriend. Don't look at each others list. (list can't be less than 5 thing or 10 things, whatever you decide) and then exchange lists.

Read each others list. On his girlfriend list, make a check next to the things you think you are capable of. Put a c next to the things you would be willing to compromise on and put and x next to the things you don't agree with. On this boyfriend list , put a check next to the things you agree that he should be/do, and put an x next to the things that aren't necessarily true to you, and put a c next to the things you would compromise on. He should do the same to your lists.

For fun, you can each include a fun thing on the list the you know is NOT true, like; "girlfriends should wear 4 inch heels even while cooking", or "boyfriend should kill anyone who looks at me wrong" - this is just to see if either of you can pick out the unrealistic ones (and for fun, lol)

I really like the fact that you are taking care of yourself, I cannot stress how important it is to know that you can't be everything for someone, but you can be that for yourself. Remember what i said, you can be happy when you're with someone, but don't depend on anyone but yourself to make you happy. I think you're going to be just fine, no matter what happens. You're a strong woman.

Chase
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I'm sorry it's taken me so long to respond ... but I just wanted to say thank you again for all of your advice. I've brought up doing the things that you suggested, and he was into it (though we haven't done them yet, but soon enough!)

I just had one more question for you ... normally I'm a pretty confident woman, but as a result of the things that have happened between him and I (the note, finding the dating sites etc) ... I've found that whenever he goes on the computer in front of me now, I tense up and everything comes back to me. Even though it's been more than a few months.

Right after everything first happened, he wouldn't go near the computer in front of me. He would only go on it when I wasn't home - which, in turn, naturally made me wonder .. if he isn't going on it in front of me, what exactly is he doing on it? Anyway, so eventually I told him that it would really help me trust him completely again if he started going on in front of me, even if it were just for ten minutes or something ... anything would help. I explained it clearly to him, exactly what I just told you. That it makes me think he's hiding something, and I get all flipped out, regardless if it's true or not. He has since finally obliged after a couple reminders (I'd bring it up, he'd go on once in a blue moon ... and then I'd ask again). He goes on more often now.

So my question is... whenever I tense up or start to feel anxious when I see him go on the computer now, is there anything I can do to just help those feelings go away for good? I've been trying so hard to get over all of it completely, once and for all, so I can carry on and not have it silently bother me anymore. It's tiring.

Any suggestions?
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 5 years ago.
Honestly, this has to do with trust and fear. You fear that whenever he goes on the computer he will do the same things again, and so the trust suffers. There's no simple answer to this question, I can only tell you what I do, and what I tell my clients to do. Let it go. I know, easier said than done, but at this point, you have made the choice to stay with him, so you have to now make the choice to trust him. Many people don't realize that trust isn't a natural thing, trust is a choice. So now you have to make the choice to trust him and leave it alone.

Think about it. If he went behind your back and went out to dinner with some girl, would you forbid him to go to restaurants again? Or if he flirted with some girl on the beach would you freak out every time he went to the beach. Maybe so, but the reality of it is, if he's going to cheat there isn't a thing you can do about it. If he's a cheater, the computer is the least of your worries.

As individuals, you have to say, 'if he's going to cheat, then he's going to cheat, but I'm not going to let it rule my life". You give him your trust and if he breaks your trust, then you decide if it's worth forgiving and giving it to him again. Thats really all you can do. By getting flipped out, you're letting him know that you are not secure in yourself, that even if you say you forgive him, you're never going to let him live it down, and at some point he's going to feel that if he keeps getting accused of something then he might as well do something to get accused of.

It's better to take the attitude that you don't care what he does on the computer. If he's a man of his word, then he'll do the right thing, if not then he'll do the wrong thing and eventually you will find out. I tell my fiance "what I don't know won't hurt me....but what I find out will hurt you", and I've always let him know that if he cheats, I'm gone. There's no discussion. If he's not happy with me, he should be man enough to discuss it with me and let me know that. Cheating is for cowards, and I refuse to be with a coward. I hope this helps, let me know if you want to talk more.

Happy Holidays

Chase
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks Chase. That really helped... and I've always told him that as well - if he cheats, I'm gone. I think the things that occurred just really threw me for a loop and I let them affect me more than I wanted them to. I agree that cheating is for cowards, and I must say - I love what you tell your fiance! It gave me a laugh and I'm definitely going to keep that in mind.

You're exactly right, I've never wanted to control what he does because of the things that have happened. It's not in my nature, and it's a horrible way to live life. Plus, it's exactly what you said - if he's going to cheat, there's absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. I could give my all and be the "best girlfriend ever", but if he wants to cheat, nothing will get in his way. None of that would matter.

You have really helped me out. Seriously, I'm in awe right now. I know it may sound corny, but it's like that was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. Granted, it will take a little bit to fully get into the attitude you suggested, but I really think I can do it. I just need to fully let it go. I'm definitely going to start thinking that way - starting now. I already feel better even just thinking about letting it go completely. Cause its really exhausting being upset over such trivial things. I absolutely HATE when I get upset over him going on the computer, or when I wonder if he's emailing back and forth with girls from dating sites. I hate being that girl.

My gosh, I can't say it enough. Thank you. I actually feel really excited right now, to finally just drop all of it - for me. Well, for his sake too, and for the sake of our relationship. But I gotta say, mostly just for my sanity and self-esteem haha.
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 5 years ago.
You're a smart woman, and I must say, you've got a lot going on with you. You've got the right attitude, the right frame of mind, and regardless, I know that no matter what happens you are going to be ok. It's important that you love yourself more than you love someone else, because then you don't lose perspective. If you keep this kind of attitude then he will eventually see that your life doesn't revolve around him, but you are willing to have a life where you revolve around each other. Living in fear is a horrible way to live, and once we accept that we cannot control another human being, then we can try to relax and breath easier. If you feel yourself getting upset, then maybe there's a mantra you can recite, maybe along the lines of 'I'm a strong, beautiful, capable woman, and nothing can harm me. I won't give into fear or mistrust, and what will be done, will be done". When I freak out I usually say "Lord, give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference". Someone told me its the mantra for AA, but hey, it works for me :)

You're welcome, and if you ever need to talk, you can request me by name. All the best you and your boyfriend. I'm here anytime.

Happy Holidays

Chase
Ms Chase, Life Coach
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 2897
Experience: Over 20 yrs experience with Relationships, Sexuality, Friendship, and Family Issues
Ms Chase and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks Chase, all the best to you and your fiance as well! It's nice to know you're there if I need your wisdom again. Seriously, you're amazing, thank you so much. These conversations with you have helped me so much, words cannot express.

Happy Holidays!!

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  • Dear Debra

    Advice Columnist

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    Dear Debra

    Advice Columnist

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    I have been an Advice columnist for 14 years. My column is published weekly in local newpapers.
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    Kate McCoy

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    Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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    Rafael M.T.Therapist

    Psychotherapist

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    MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
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    Dr. L

    Psychologist

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    Suzanne

    Therapist, LCSW

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