Q: Call me crazy but I can't believe my situation. I met and fell in love with a great guy, an ideal man who is well-travelled, loves to cook, buys me flowers and cards and works around the house non-stop. We moved in together very soon thereafter (we are not spring chickens anymore and felt it was right). The problem is his job took him away for six months and on the eve of his departure (and after I had planned a lovely romantic evening) he met up with a former girlfriend who actually saw him off at the airport. He later told me he wasn't sure if we were "real." Still, he assured me he loved me and that I was the perfect and only one for him. When I then discovered that he was in e-mail contact with at least three former girlfriends I told him to make up his mind and choose. He promised me it would never happen again. Well, 11 months later I am back in a very similar situation. What do I do?
A: It sounds like you have had some serious questions about the wisdom of this relationship for some time and that you are blaming yourself rather than his bad behaviour for the predicament that leaves you embarrassed and self-attacking.
His actions and his words don't match. How can you not be confused? His words of love are being drowned out by his actions which say, "I'm not interested in a relationship with one person and I'm prepared to lie and cheat to hold onto my freedom."
He must be good at what he does as it sounds as if he has victimized a number of women. His need to be a player has somehow connected with yours, and theirs, to be played. At what point did his needs become more important than your needs?
Getting rid of the player
Your sanity, self esteem and ultimate ability to be in a loving, caring relationship depend on you knowing who you are, what you want and how to get that for yourself.
What would you tell a good friend if she described this situation to you? I hope it might be something like, "Run!"
Unfortunately, the wisdom of our mind doesn't always agree with the longing in our heart. How bad does it have to get before you seek the good for yourself? This is an abusive and parasitic relationship and the longer you stay the more you may feel invisible and doubt your own perceptions. It is a defeating, depressive cycle and likely not one that you can break out of on your own.
Talk with someone you can trust -- and that is surely not him. We're all cheering for you!
Wondering if you're in an abusive relationship? Check out Dragonslippers by Rosalind B. Penfold (Penguin, 2005).
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Dr. Marion Goertz is a registered marriage and family therapist and a clinical member of the American and Ontario Associations for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT/OAMFT). Marion maintains a private marriage and family therapy practice in Toronto.