Used and Tossed

Q: I was dating a woman (age 43) for 18 months, and it seemed like we had it together. Her two boys from her ex are out of control with their constant fighting and lack of respect for their mother. I did everything for her, from dishes to landscaping to babysitting her boys, taking her to dinner, letting her relax while I was with her boys, and even after nine months gave her an engagement ring. She gave the ring back and forth to me when we had a fight (never physical). Then she decides to move 300 miles away. I helped her clean for moving, not knowing that's what was happening. I must say outright I did love this girl to the bone. I was with her and her kids 4-5 times a week . But I found out that even before the move, she was on a dating site and used her new address. It's been 10 months since I last saw her and 4 months since I spoke by phone or have gotten an email, and I still want her. When I have someone to love, I can do anything, when the love is gone it seems mundane, I can't do anything. It seems to me I cannot live without being loved by a female. Is this normal or what is the deal? -- Jack, 52

Dr. Susan: It's normal to feel more relaxed and happy when you have a partner, if you're the partnering type. But I think what you're describing goes way too far. You put yourself out so much in an effort to be lovable, and you didn't give the impression that you had any boundaries. Plus she was a liar. I wonder if there were any clues to that? Usually, in relationships that fly apart like this, there were clues early on if you had been able to recognize them. Personally, I have to say you're well rid of her, since she exploited you, lied to you, didn't even tell you she was moving yet had you help her clean for the move. That's cold! Get over her. That thing about not having the energy to do anything if there isn't love in your life: I get that, I really do, but I suggest you take action to meet some new people now. And don't settle for just ANY love or it will blow up in your face. You shouldn't have to work so hard in a relationship. It has to be mutual or you're almost allowing yourself to be blackmailed, as if a woman can say to you, Do all this stuff for me or I won't love you. And your last girlfriend didn't care how much you did.

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