Q: I'm 31 and have been seeing the same man since high school. Our relationship started out fantastic. After three years, he began disappearing for several weeks a year, and then he'd come back and apologize. I later found out he was spending time with his ex. After that, for several years, we were on and off. We were both young, and needed to date other people and see what was out there. A few years ago, we got back together and eventually moved in together. But then he soon became very selfish, and didn't treat me very well. Eventually I got fed up with waiting for him to commit, and was getting ready to leave. Then he proposed. I accepted. After a year and a half of being engaged, without any word of a wedding, I started talking about a family. At that point, an old female friend of his came to town. He hung out with her and talked to her daily on the phone, and then he gave me the old "I don't know what I want" and "I'm confused" speech. He spent Christmas with her.
Needless to say, I moved out. Now he tells me he wants to work things out, and having a kid "wouldn't be so bad." We have been hanging out since, and I spend some nights at his place. I truly love him, but if I can't trust him, I don't know if I can be with him. Do you think he could really have come to his senses? Is he ever going to marry me? By the way, he still talks to his female friend ALL the time, and got a letter from her the other day. Am I kidding myself? -- Lucy
Dr. Susan: I do think he has come to his senses. What I mean is, he has realized you will put up with anything. So what has he got to lose by marrying you and having a kid, enjoying your company when he's in the mood, while still continuing to have intimate relationships with other women whenever he wants to? I can't understand why you'd want to marry someone who has an extremely dependable track record of betrayal. No, he's not going to change. Yes, he'll continue to hurt you, and if you make the serious mistake of thinking a baby is going to keep him home, you'll get your heart broken and your baby will suffer plenty too. I'm wondering if you know what love is. It's not about tolerating inconsiderate treatment and lies. You're used to this fellow and his behavior by now, but what you feel for him seems more like desperation, as though you can't believe there is someone better for you out there. Do you want to stay on this emotional see-saw the rest of your life? If not, take a risk and step off.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.