I was in love with a man for almost a year, but I lost him.
I’m a woman, 36, who’d married too young, divorced five years later, dated a lot, but experienced only one serious relationship before finding my “big love.”
Within a few dates, we both knew. We agreed to be exclusive, and spent every moment when we weren’t working with each other.
We’re both intense about our work, but he was chained to his. He was building a business, so I understood and tried to be supportive – happy to stay home and cook together instead of needing to go out or be entertained.
I couldn’t stop myself when I first told him I loved him. He was startled. His divorce was much more recent than mine, and though he was committed to me as his girlfriend, he was terrified of even the word “love.”
He’d argue that none of us know what it means, or that he doesn’t, or that he disbelieves it even exists… anything, rather than say “love” to me.
It became our undoing. He was emotionally stunted, and I was emotionally needy. When I slept beside him at night, even as he was holding me, I felt alone.
I wasn’t seeking marriage, I wanted to just be together, loving each other. But he wouldn’t say what I desperately needed to hear.
I left before our first-year anniversary.
Would he eventually have said that he didn’t just want to see me whenever possible, that he didn’t just enjoy our great times and great sex together, but that he also LOVED me? I’ll never know.
Was I wrong to find that one word so important that I fled?
You saved yourself.
Unless he’d been willing to get professional therapy (even if he had it before around his divorce) he couldn’t take the risk that you did, of giving himself over to an emotion he can’t control.
Counselling could’ve unearthed the real source of his fear, and then separated whatever happened to him in another part of his life, from his potential future with you.
But he wouldn’t allow that to happen. He was too deeply damaged inside.
Staying together would’ve increased your loneliness and sadness. You would’ve tried harder, been denied the reward, lost confidence and eventually hope.
You left while you could, no matter how hard it hurt. He didn’t come after you, convinced yet again that “love” doesn’t exist.
That’s still true for him, but you know better. Your future is open, and so long as you keep your confidence and courage motivating you, you’ll find what you seek.
Reader’s Commentary “I was devastated when I discovered that my husband of 13 years was having an affair. I confronted him, he didn’t want the divorce I offered, and insisted that it wouldn’t happen again.
“Our children were still young, so I agreed that he could stay. But after years of being devoted to his every need, I was angry and hurt.
“I fell into an emotional affair with a co-worker. He made me feel desired and smart, which restored my self-worth. It only became a physical affair briefly, because I realized I couldn’t blame my husband any more. I told him what happened, he forgave me, and we’re still married.
“Cheating damages a relationship. But you can restore it if both of you acknowledge and understand why it happened, and commit to making your marriage work for both of you.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who hid letters from their divorced father to his daughters (May 10):
Reader – “She withheld his letters for years, severing his daughters from half their family. She made deliberate and repeated choices to keep hiding the letters.
“Their adult contact with their father’s family after his death revealed what she made them miss over the years. Now they’re appropriately distancing themselves from a mother who caused them irreparable damage – the loss of connection with their father and that side of their family, and the loss of potential opportunities in childhood.
“She doesn’t understand this, since she’s calling her actions “a stupid mistake” and blaming the father’s family for badmouthing her.
“Recommending therapy is the right thing, because she needs to understand why she did this and the impact it caused, so she can learn, grow, and offer them an appropriate apology.
“Then, it’s up to them if they choose to renew contact.”
Tip of the day:
Don’t let a lover’s frozen emotions destroy your own openness, hopes, and future. Move on.