My ex-husband and I lived together for several years after we separated, thinking it’d be better for our younger daughter. I initiated the separation and hoped we’d remain friends, with both free to pursue other relationships. He agreed (unhappily) and insisted on complete secrecy about our romances. I had to constantly lie.
When I asked my close cousin to assist with my keeping the “secret,” she harshly refused. We became estranged.
Meanwhile, for over two years my ex treated me with disdain due to my “love life,” but suddenly he became friendly. I soon learned that he and my cousin had a six-month relationship; they moved in together.
My mother, my extended family and our mutual friends all accepted this.
During holidays everyone is together as a family, including my children, except me.
I believe my ex and my cousin have broken fundamental moral taboos: #1.Close friends and relatives of one partner are off limits to the other. #2. Someone who’s hurt the partner is off limits. #3. Achieving “happiness” at a tremendous cost to others is off limits.
Am I wrong to feel hurt by my children and my mother?
- Lost Everyone
While I empathize with your feeling of loss, I believe you need to adjust to a new reality: Once you change the so-called “norm” of a relationship, you’re no longer in a position to dictate what may or may not follow.
Your original decision was what should’ve been “off limits” – i.e. to lie and see other people secretly, while living together - especially since neither of you fully agreed. After that, there was no guarantee of respect for so-called rules of post-marital behaviour.
Now, it’s up to you whether to stay in isolation or accept the results.
For your own sake as well as that of your children and mother, I recommend you drop the “injured party” label and start going to some family gatherings, and call those friends who still matter to you.
Move forward in your own life, as you had intended by separating, and stop letting bitterness cloud your days.
I’m 34, a single male who’s never had a serious relationship.
I’m very self-conscious, and find it difficult to feel comfortable in most social situations. I’ve even experienced panic attacks.
I have trouble making and maintaining friendships, because I feel I have nothing to offer; I’ve recently begun alienating myself from family.
If any girl shows interest in me or there’s someone I find attractive, my reaction is to avoid an encounter.
I hate the direction my life has been going and everyday that passes I feel more and more like I'm meant to be alone forever.
By writing me, you reveal an inner hope to change the direction of your life, and I know this is possible.
You’re not as alone as you think – seven per cent of the population suffers from the kind of social phobia you describe. Treatments for this condition exist, mostly through cognitive-behavioural therapy.
According to the non-profit Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Association (www.socialphobia.org), the most important elements in conquering social phobia are: understanding the problem, making a commitment to carry through with therapy, and participating in a social anxiety therapy group in which you can gradually work on the problems that cause you anxiety.
• In Canada, contact the Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada, at 1-888-223-2252.
I’m 22, with my boyfriend for two years.
Early on, he revealed unresolved feelings for his ex and said she was just as, if not more, attractive than me. I decided to leave him but he assured me he wanted to be with me only.
Although we’ve had an excellent relationship since then, the views about his ex have stayed lodged in my head.
Twice, I’ve thrown away pictures of him and his ex. I know it’s completely irrational behavior and I find my obsession unsettling.
Why am I acting this way?
Your boyfriend was immature and insensitive to voice a comparison, but your persistent insecurity after two years together without problems, is worrisome.
Consider talking to a professional counsellor.
This obsession is based on more than his then-foolish chat – you may have a negative self-image yourself, or perhaps you don’t feel want a lasting relationship, and seek an out.
Tip of the day:
Divorce doesn’t just end a marriage; it also opens up unexpected possibilities, whether good or bad.