I’m a man, 36, who’s recently been dating two women more or less at the same time.
One of them is an ex “semi-girlfriend,” whom I dated for over five months. I liked her a lot and wanted to take it further.
But she’d just started her dream job and felt she had to focus on work. She wasn’t ready for the idea and time required for a committed relationship, which I wanted with her.
I stopped seeing her because I often felt lonely and unappreciated. I started dating the other woman six months later.
She’d had some sudden losses in her family and was openly seeking close company. It made me feel protective of her.
I spent a lot of time building up her trust, that people she liked wouldn’t abandon her. She made me feel needed, which the other woman had not.
Suddenly, my former girlfriend reached out and we started seeing each other. It’s been great, as she’s settled into her work and much more giving.
But everything’s become awkward now. The woman I’ve been building up has decided that she loves me and wants to become an official couple.
I feel sick about it and guilty because I’m responsible for her feeling trust, but I don’t want what she wants.
I’m very drawn to my former girlfriend and feel hopeful that she now wants an exclusive relationship.
How to Fix A Mess?
You created the mess and now you have to clean it up.
Sure, you meant well by boosting the woman’s confidence after losses. But it was also self-serving.
You have to admit that it wasn’t love on your part – and just accept her hurt and anger.
But do not throw this at her and walk away.
Explain that you cared for her and always knew she’d regain her self-confidence.
Apologize and admit also that you’d never really gotten over your feelings for your former girlfriend.
If her reaction is to cut you off as a friend, alert her close friend or family member about what’s happened – again, accept the blame – to make sure she has support while the changed situation sinks in.
Meanwhile, don’t rush to publicly disclose your next relationship for a while, i.e. no Instagram photos of new-found bliss, etc.
Be forewarned: When you calculatingly stir up people’s deep emotions, the break-up mess can turn nasty.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding one of your reader’s intended letter to family, telling them to leave their cell-phones at home when they visit (September 29):
“We banned cell phones at our home about eight years ago - for medical reasons, not social ones. We suffer adverse symptoms from wireless exposures.
“All of our guests happily comply and most of them feel very positive about the time spent without the constant urge to check for messages or respond to every text alert.
“They find it relaxing and liberating.
“There’s extensive literature, plus many scientific studies on the harm from electromagnetic fields, especially radiofrequencies.
“Beliefs about children needing to have cell phones to contact their parents, and the importance of employees staying connected with their workplaces, don’t justify the harm caused by cell phones, Wi-Fi, and related infrastructure.
“I admit that the person’s plan to email their family members to leave their cell phones at home is a bit heavy-handed, as emails often sound more terse and critical than intended.
“Maybe a sign on their door saying, "cell phone-free zone" would be friendlier.
“Note: This was sent to you from my solar-powered laptop with a landline dial-up Internet connection.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman you advised to “get legal advice,” if she’s finished accepting his silence about meeting other women and his verbal abuse (September 30):
Reader – “I’d agree that a wife should do that, and have told many male friends to get pre-nuptials agreements because their future wives will otherwise likely threaten financial devastation to keep them in line.
“However, in this case, the wife, who’s “a successful professional,” might have to pay the husband in the event of a divorce.
“Your advice may, therefore, be disheartening to the wife.”
Ellie – Learning the legal and financial aspects of a separation and divorce is a reality check for both of the spouses, when there’s a serious marital problem that’s not being discussed or acknowledged.
It’s meant as a way of opening the much-needed conversation about what’s been going wrong in the marriage.
It’s not meant here to be a one-sided threat.
Tip of the day:
Dating two people seriously, and simultaneously, can ignite a lose-lose explosion.