I’m a male, 43, never married, and with good reasons. My mother divorced my father years ago, after a stranger called her to say that my father was cheating with his girlfriend.
He described the car the man drove, gave dates on which his girlfriend went out with him (Dad’s “late work night”) and said he got Mom’s phone number from his girlfriend.
My mom kicked Dad out, got involved in community work, met a nice man and eventually married him. That was 25 years ago.
My father next met an engaged woman and practically had to leave town when her fiancé discovered he was trying to get her to break that arrangement and live with him.
Maybe my father grew up in a time when men could get away with that kind of philandering. But attitudes changed and I suffered the embarrassment of hearing stories about the father I’d previously respected.
He was well-known in our city, so people loved to gossip about him.
It convinced me to never follow in his footsteps, chasing women who were already taken or those who didn’t mind cheating.
Now, I’m closer to the middle of my life and wondering, am I missing out by not committing to a relationship?
I’ve dated some interesting single women and liked several a lot, but I always walked away. Has my father’s behaviour made me afraid I’ll become just like him?
Single and Stuck
You live in different times. Whatever your father was seeking back then - the challenge of winning over another’s partner? - isn’t what you’re after. Serial cheating was his flaw, and not your legacy.
But it’s created commitment fear in you. Instead of seeing where a relationship could go, you end the connection.
It’s a self-defeating reaction which you need to learn to change, if you want a happy stable partnership with someone you love in your mid-to-later years.
Here are some tips: Spend time with friends who are in happy, stable relationships. Make room in your life for someone you care about - e.g., invite her to join you watching a sport you follow or favourite movie online. Reciprocate by joining some of her interests. Build the connection.
If needed, contact a professional therapist for the purpose of healing from commitment phobia.
During the pandemic I’ve received emails and calls from people in my past with whom I’d lost contact over the years. I hadn’t “dropped” them, and I don’t think they dropped me. I thought it was just a natural thing in life that you can’t keep up with everyone.
But I guess with so much time spent at home in lockdowns, some people began to search online for news of past friends.
The idea was okay, but I found it annoying when people asked for every detail of what I’d done over the years, who I married, etc., then never emailed again.
It felt like they were seeking material for gossip and not a friendly exchange. Am I wrong for feeling like I was the chosen diversion that day rather than someone they were really interested in getting to know again?
This hasn’t been an easy year for people isolated, living alone, lonely and bored by the repetition of daily life and its chores.
So long as someone isn’t probing too deeply and/or making negative commentary, just chat awhile and then end the conversation. Or email back a brief description of your life today.
Reader’s Commentary “I'm a regular reader of your column. I’d like to add to the discussions of how menopause affects some people sexually, including the response from the reader who recommended coconut oil for vaginal dryness caused by menopause.
“My husband and I use a commercial lubricant and are still enjoying sex well into our late 70s. We learned about it from another good advisor, “Dr. Sue.”
Ellie - Dr. Sue Johanson, born in Toronto, was a North American leader in providing sex education and therapy advice through the popular media of radio and TV, from the 1980s through to retirement in 2008.
She opened a birth control clinic in 1972, the first of its kind in Canada, then graduated in counselling and communication, and became a sex educator.
“Talk Sex with Sue Johanson” reviewed sex toys, discussed sex positions, addressed the most common worries about arousal or erection, etc. on her weekly TV show.
Tip of the day:
Don’t limit your own life’s chances for love because of negative choices a parent made in past times.