Dear Rachel,

My boyfriend checks out other women in front of me and I think it’s wrong, not to mention rude. I’ve talked to him about it, but he says it’s normal guy behavior. What can I do to make him change?

Signed, Disrespected

Dear Disrespected,

While some couples feel that some level of extracurricular ogling and flirting is acceptable, others, like you, prefer a policy of no-ogling/no flirting. It’s up to every couple to decide mutually what works best for their relationship. That being said, your boyfriend’s behavior upsets you, so you must communicate this point to him clearly. You can’t make your boyfriend change, but you can share your feelings about his behavior and give him the opportunity to work with you on a compromise that’s mutually agreeable.

For instance, maybe he can practice being subtle about looking at other women and you can be tolerant while he makes this transition. When you speak to him, be sure to express not only how you feel, but also let him know that the health of your relationship is dependent on working out this issue. His choices are then either to rise to the occasion and to work with you, or, to continue to ogle the opposite sex in an obvious manner.

If he refuses to work on this issue at all, then you have choices, too. You need to decide if his behavior is a deal-breaker for your relationship or tolerably annoying behavior. If it’s tolerably annoying behavior, this means that you and your guy may be able to come up with a solution, but in the end you may have to accept that he’s not going to change. If, on the other hand, you decide this behavior is a deal-breaker, this means that you cannot live with this behavior in any form and it must stop altogether or the relationship will end. He will then show you whether his ogling is just a bad habit that he’s willing to abandon in order to save your relationship or it’s something that he can’t or won’t modify. In that case, you may need to move on.

The key to clear communication with a man is to be direct, especially when it comes to expressing feelings. We women sometimes don’t communicate with men as efficiently as they would like. While unspoken cues may be sufficient indicators when communicating with other women, most men prefer problems to be spelled out in a straightforward manner. Through direct communication with your boyfriend, you’ll determine whether the two of you are able to reach some common ground on this issue or not.

Dear Rachel,

I’ve always heard that a strong relationship is built on common interests. I love to shop. Is it necessary for me and my guy to enjoy all the same activities?

Signed, Shopaholic

Dear Shopaholic,

Although it’s convenient to share hobbies with a partner, it’s not necessary to enjoy all the same interests with a mate to achieve romantic harmony. In fact, as long as the two of you have mutual respect for your differences, a mate whose personality strengths and weaknesses complement your own is usually more fulfilling than dating someone who shares identical interests. Many people think that finding your ideal mate is about finding a twin when in actuality your best partner is often your complement. For instance, if you’re a highly analytical thinker, you may thrive when dealing with complex situations, but tend to be too serious. This is when a mate who has a less-analytical and more light-hearted approach to life can serve as a valuable counterbalance.

The point is you don’t have to see eye-to-eye on every subject, do everything together, or get every need satisfied by your mate — just the most important ones. Interests and hobbies that you don’t have in common with your partner can be shared with family members or friends. To ensure the most fulfilling relationship, build a relationship on a foundation of compatible (but not necessarily identical) personality traits, values and life goals rather than more superficial qualities, such as hobbies, height, weight, age, social status and material possessions.

Rachel Iverson is a freelance writer, dating coach and author, who lives with her husband in Venice. Her book, “Don’t Help A Man Be A Man: How To Avoid 12 Dating Time Bombs,” has been endorsed by Dr. John Gray, author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” For more information on Rachel or her book, visit: www.rebelgirlpublishing.com. For dating advice, contact: rachel@rebelgirlpublishing.com.

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