I met a wonderful woman at college; we dated happily for five months. She's from another country, so she was often on her cell phone messaging her former classmates. I didn't think much about it.
I later discovered that she's been heavily involved with her ex. When confronted, she said their relationship has been shaky for a while but that they'd broken up a long time ago. However, she later admitted they're still in a relationship. She says she likes me, but is "not ready for love at this point."
I pulled out of the picture, at least for now. I still love her and wish to be with her, but I find it hard to trust her (I don't want to snoop on her all the time, either) and I'm deeply hurt.
Have I been played? Should I move on or try to win her?
On the Brink
You've been juggled, which is a lesser dating crime than "played," but still hurtful. It's common enough - someone who breaks up isn't really over the person, but hates to be alone, wants the reassurance of another's interest, so juggles a new lover into the mix.
Only the newbie doesn't get told he/she is only second choice. Now you know. And you should NOT try to win her, because that means you're joining her game.
Stay distant, with the parting words that you only want to hear from her if and when she's truly finished with her ex and "ready" for a real relationship with you. Meanwhile, make it clear you're not sitting around waiting.
FEEDBACK Regarding the question from a young woman, signed "Need Help," whose husband had taken her for everything she had (Nov. 17 column):
Reader - "I made the same mistake being young and foolish, and settled for a substance-abuser whose family enabled him. I was working three jobs and going to school full-time, while naive and foolish enough to overlook the signs of his addictions.
"I let him talk me into moving to another country for a job offer he accepted and gave up my own career and my financial independence to support him there.
"I soon realized that this relationship was an unhealthy one and I moved back to my parents' home. That's when I learned that my ex had maxed out all my credit cards, he'd forfeited on our mutual bills from before we moved, my car payments were in arrears, and he left me with over $20,000 debt. He refused to accept any responsibility and chose to run from it all.
"The writer's fortunate to have her parent's home as a place to think through and make some big decisions. My parents co-signed a five-year loan to consolidate all my debt. I chipped away for the next two and a half years to get it behind me, and could then move forward.
"If she works out a payment schedule with a bank, within a few years she'll be independent, free of debt, and much wiser!"
Thanks for bringing a practical, pro-active, and positive approach to this woman's problem, with the added bonus of sharing your own experience and success.
In stories like these, the financial burden initially seems overwhelming, along with humiliation at having been so used and betrayed.
That's why time spent creating a workable plan and sticking to it, is so empowering. It reassures people that they can get past misfortunes and make better life choices ahead.
I've been living common-law for over 20 years, my partner's still legally married, he never divorced his wife. He's constantly saying he intends to leave me once he's more stable financially.
I've provided a good home and have never asked him for much, but I'm so frustrated now. I love him but feel that this relationship is at a dead end, and I should move on.
You signed "Fed Up," but I think you've also grown up and recognized how shabbily this guy treats you, emotionally. However, you've let him do so all these years.
Time to decide whether you have the strength to go it alone, instead of accepting his threats of leaving. If so, tell him to go NOW, not at his convenience. If it doesn't shut him up, it might wake you up to figure out and work toward the future you want, with or without him.
Tip of the day:
When you're the backup for a romantic partner's pursuit of another, back out of the game.