A couple years ago, I fell in love with a man who then dumped me after a short camping trip. I was older than him; we’re both seniors. I’d never done wilderness camping and knocked myself out. Soon after our return, I received a breakup message.
We’ve been off and on ever since. He returns and I keep taking him back. A dear girlfriend trained in psychology worried that I kept accepting him because I don't feel worthy.
I had a very abusive childhood but also a very successful career. I left my alcoholic husband at age 70. My girlfriend worried that I was constantly hurting myself.
She realized that I was bothered by the illogical fact of my accepting this relationship. She said she realized that I don't want a committed relationship.
True. I now don't want to live with a man or ever remarry.
This man is commitment-shy. I love the relationship and the sex, but I'd never live with him full-time. We’re too much alike: He’s super organized, definite in what he does and doesn't do. Then I get pushy, make expectations, and he backs away.
I returned to him knowing he'd never fall in love with me or want to move in with me.
In my 73 years, I've been intimate with four men and I was married to two of them. I love sleeping with this man who once dumped me, because I know he’ll leave the next morning.
I like living alone. After my first husband cheated, I met my second husband almost immediately, was with him for four decades until I lived alone.
With the “wilderness man,” I like doing chores and cooking together, talking, fishing, etc., but never more than two days’ at a time.
So, I’m living a very nice life with many girlfriends, leadership positions in the community and finally understanding why I return to this gorgeous man who satisfies me in every way but who’ll probably never commit to me or anyone else.
I realize now that I don't really want advice. I've finally figured this out myself!
Happy On My Own
You’ve found the magic answer! Your reward is listening to the logic in your own mind, and feeling comfortable about your choice.
Honest self-knowledge makes everything much clearer. Even someone with hang-ups from the past can benefit from the reality-check your friend offered you.
Had you instead remained insecure about this man’s interest in you, seeking counselling from a psychotherapist or other mental-health specialist also could’ve helped you recognize which response fit your own feelings.
Relationship advice can’t always achieve a “right-on!” response. But it can raise the inner questions that people need to contemplate, and not fear.
Reader’s Commentary “When I was a young mother, I often had friends from high school visit me. Many had since gone various places with their lives, none of them having children.
“I recognized that, while they cared about my children, they didn't want to talk solely about them. I'd offer the briefest details when asked, then I’d inquire what was going on with them.
We'd discuss topics of interest to both of us, not about children.
“Many new mothers are immersed in childcare and this can be difficult. But, with the internet it couldn't be easier: Keep up with basic news. Check out a magazine or interesting blog. Find a topic to read about.
“People become bored and frustrated if you only talk about your children. If an aunt asks, save important details for her, then spare her the rest.”
Reader’s Commentary Regarding a daughter suffering with infectious mononucleosis (July 26):
“She probably had lingering chronic illness resulting from the virus that causes mononucleosis. It can also cause a post-viral condition e.g., chronic fatigue syndrome.
“Sending her to therapy can confuse things and cause self-loathing and guilt regarding her perceived lack of motivation. Yet she likely has a legitimate, serious medical condition creating a physical illness which slowed her down.
“I have this condition. If rest is taken early there’s more hope for recovery.”
FEEDBACK Regarding a woman fearing a stranger seated beside her (July 7):
Reader – “The best-selling book ‘A Gift of Fear’ by Gavin de Becker explains how intuition and fear keep people safe. He says a person must trust their ‘gut feeling’ and act on it. Ignoring it can put a person in danger.”
Tip of the day:
When uncertain about the ups and downs of a relationship, talk to yourself. Then, raise the inner questions that you need to contemplate, and not fear.