Q: About five years ago I met a wonderful guy. I was a 23-year old college student and he was a 26-year-old college graduate. Things were wonderful from the start until after he got a new job and moved to a new city over 100 miles away. We both visited each other the first three weeks, and then he abruptly broke up with me.
Fast forward to today…after many counseling sessions and a few boyfriends later. I still couldn't understand the break up after all this time. It really bothered me so I decided to write to this ex to ask him if he could explain it to me now that we are older. The obstacle (I thought) in getting the information that I wanted was that he was married, last I heard. So I mentioned in my letter that I realized that he was married and that I would have contacted an old mutual friend of ours to ask about him but that the friend always gave me biased information because he wanted to date/marry me. Well, my ex was not married and had not been for 3 years, and he called me immediately upon receiving my letter.
We have rekindled a friendship because he has a girlfriend, and I now live 2,000 miles away. I will see him in nine days when I go home for vacation, and it will be wonderful to see him. My questions are: Do I avoid conversations about his girlfriend and his ex-wife? Should I try to be his friend only or be totally honest about my desire to date him again some day?
We have both reminisced in e-mails about the really good times in our relationship. When I did, I'd ask him if it was okay for me to say the things I was saying because they were pretty racy. His response was that he's not married and that I can say just about anything I want. I feel like I'm teetering on a fence of being either a wanton slut or a good girl. Well, I mean I don't know what behavior would be inappropriate in this situation.-Reconnecting with an Old Ex
Dear Reconnecting with an old Ex,
Congratulations on taking the risk. Most people wouldn't have your courage. At the end of the day, most people, who are filled with regrets, regret what they didn't do, never what they did do. I'm glad that, rather than wondering what could have been, you decided to find out what can be.
If you're teetering, then get off the fence. Keep your mouth and your legs closed. It's not necessary to talk about his ex-wife and it's totally inappropriate to sleep with him. Good girl, when she's real, authentic, and is not "pretending" to be a good girl in order to "lure" man, is the honest and self-respecting way to go.
If there still is chemistry between the two of you when you meet face to face, then you both need to have a "conversation" about his status. If I were you, I'd be totally honest and wouldn't play any games - there is something wonderfully irresistible about a woman who is honest and vulnerable. (If you don't believe me, go see the movie Bridget Jones's Diary). I'd go for it. You've waited five years to see this man again. Either the two of you will close the book and move on, or you'll open a whole new chapter.
Good luck. I know how you feel. After many years, I reconnected with my college boyfriend. The chemistry and magic were still there but the timing wasn't right, so we didn't pursue a relationship. Timing is everything. However, by reconnecting, neither one of us had to live in a world of regret. Let me know what happens.
Q: I wish I could transpose your knowledge into my head. Something that I feel may be absent in your writings from my male perspective on dating and seeking a mate is a quality of a good hunter is to "know one's prey." To hunt a Unicorn one must study the Unicorn. Know the Unicorn and ultimately be able to become the Unicorn. What are your thoughts on that? Would that not tend to complicate things?-Being the Hunter
Dear Being the Hunter,
Your choice of the word "Unicorn" is indeed indicative of the high regard you hold for women. The unicorn, a fabled mythical and magical creature, is considered quite unique and special, much in the same way that women should be regarded.
Men and women are wired differently and, as a result, we often look at the world through very different eyes. And because of that, our experiences are different. A man and a woman may be in the same situation, but experience it differently. The man usually experiences it through his head while the woman through her heart. Because one person is thinking and the other is feeling, both will have a different experience of the event.
I believe the key to better relationships is to genuinely like the opposite sex. No matter how confounding their behaviors may seem, just love and appreciate your partner for who she or he is. The more you can learn about your partner, the more you can give to her and visa versa. Learning can take place in a variety of ways: through interactions, observation, reading and taking classes, doing your own growth work, asking questions, and by becoming more secure within yourself. When you are secure within yourself, you usually don't take what your partner does personally and you don't make assumptions. You become proactive and responsive instead of being reactive.
You will never totally understand a woman because you can never become quite like a woman. A Native American saying sums it up nicely, "You can never know someone until you walk in their moccasins." Aren't you glad you'll never have to wear high heels? But I bet you'll read the owner's manual. You sound like a great guy.
Q: I have a couple of questions. My marriage ended recently after 18+ years. My ex-husband was more interested in other women than he was with me. Each time he would find faults with me that he would compare to his current "love." He made sure I understood where I was lacking and how. Well, he moved out and the divorce is final, but now he is trying to come back. I can't seem to make him understand that I don't want a serious relationship with him any more. I don't want to be rude (it's not in my nature) but I can't make him understand (without hitting him over the head) that we are done with anything more serious than just a friendship. He does come to visit and calls almost every day, especially on the weekends. He pretends that we are just friends, but his actions speak loudly that he thinks that he is back in my love life. He did agree that we could be friends as long as I don't "sleep" with anyone else. (controlling)
My bigger problem is that I am not sure if I am ready to date. I want to but I feel stupid and embarrassed. And I don't want to tell the ex that if I do it's none of his business. One person did ask me for my phone number (after several months of trying for it in many different ways) and I didn't handle turning him down very well (I wasn't divorced yet). Now I am wishing that he would try again, but I don't think that he will. I think that I am going to have to let him know somehow that if he asks again I would give it to him, but I don't know how, without appearing embarrassed and desperate. Not to mention that a couple of his friends are my subordinates at work, and they keep dropping subtle hints. I want to say that I am interested without them knowing, but I'm afraid and out of practice with reading the "signs". My girlfriend tells me that he is (or was) very interested but I wasn't seeing it. I am afraid that I will get mixed up with someone like the ex or worse.
I would prefer to start with something simple like coffee, but how do I tell him? What do I do?-Confused, Scared and Starting Over…Again
Dear Confused, Scared and Starting Over…Again,
I know you're trying to be the "good girl" and please everyone, but why don't you start with yourself? If you don't want your ex-husband to call you everyday please tell him so in a nice way. If he still doesn't get it, then communicate it in a way that he understands that you no longer have any romantic interest in him. Let him know that's why he is called an "ex." If he needs an explanation, tell him "Ex mean former, past, no longer in the present, once upon a time." If he doesn't get the message then get an unlisted phone number. He'll get the hint.
I know that you are confused and scared about starting over. Dating, especially after being out of the trenches for so many years, is hard. It's particularly difficult when you have been with a man who deliberately tore you down verbally and attempted to destroy your self-esteem and self-respect. Girlfriend, you don't need someone like that in your life. This is April. You know what that means? Spring-cleaning. Clean this man out of your life now.
As for the new guy, check in with yourself right now. Are you emotionally available? If the answer is no and you don't feel you are ready to date, then don't. Take the time to heal. As for turning the other guy down, you made the right decision. You weren't emotionally available at the time.
If you are feeling emotionally healthy, then you won't be feeling desperate. If you aren't needy, you won't send out a needy vibe. As for being embarrassed, we've all been there. Who hasn't made a fool out of him/herself in the dating trenches? I know I have. I dated stupid for a gazillion years until I learned how to date smart. Goethe says, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." You will survive the embarrassment. Now, if you really do want to go out with this man, and you're not playing the game called I want to see if I can get you to ask me out again and when you do, I'll play the confused, helpless, not ready to go out yet woman, then let him know directly (not through the others at work).
Remember, you turned him down once. He took a risk and you rejected him. Now you need to take a risk. Next time you see him, give him a really big, friendly and inviting smile. That gives him the sign that it's okay to enter friendly territory. Then, once you two start engaging in conversation, let him know that you are a free woman now and see if he picks up on it. If he asks you out, tell him you'd love to go out with him. After the first date, if you've had a good time and you agree to go out again, let him know that you want to take things slow and build a friendship. Be honest and vulnerable and let him know that it's been more than eighteen years since you've had a first or second date.
Q: I met this guy in New Orleans on our last night there. The whole night we played "married". He is not the kind of guy I would normally be attracted to, appearance wise. He lives in California, I live in Colorado. We had an amazing time together. He was already getting attached. We have been talking for the past couple weeks through email and over the phone. I am checking my phone and email ever second for him to call. I fell for him fast. The past couple days I have been a drama queen with him. He has done a fine job at dealing with my moodiness. I think I like him more than he likes me because of the time and effort I put in, his is not equal. I have never felt this connection with anyone else. He is not a phone person and that irritates me, as that is all we have. I tried to tell him we shouldn't talk anymore in fear that the hurt is too big in the long run. This upsets him, but I don't know what else to do except protect myself from this maybe love.-Afraid of a Maybe Love
Dear Afraid of a Maybe Love,
Is playing married a euphemism for having sex? If so, you started this relationship backwards. You had the dessert before you could even enjoy the meal. The reason dessert comes after the meal is so you have something to look forward to. Oh well, that's in the past. In your case, being in a long distance relationship is a good thing. The distance will give you the opportunity to connect on a different level. You will have to use your minds, mouths and hearts and not your bodies.
Stop being a drama queen. A healthy man will only put up with it for so long. You're trying to push him away because you're scared. He knows you're afraid and he's trying to be there. Although he's not a phone person, he has called which means he cares. Stop finding fault with what he doesn't do and start appreciating what he does do. If you don't learn this lesson now, you'll push everyman away because you'll make every man wrong.
Even though there is a possibility that your heart could be broken, if you don't keep your heart open, love will never have the opportunity to come in and fill you up. Walls of fear keep people out and they also keep you walled in. You don't want to live your life hiding behind walls do you?
As far as checking your phone and email every minute - get a life. If you have nothing to do, then to take your mind off of him, do some volunteer work. Read to a child, visit a senior citizen's home, or help feed the homeless. The best way to forget your problems is to reach out and start giving to someone else to help make their day and life a little brighter. You'll be amazed at how much better you'll feel.
By the way, the last time I checked a map, Colorado and California weren't on the opposite ends of the earth.
Q: I want this girl but she was really hurt by her last boyfriend. Her heart is cold. Can I warm it or do I need to move on?-Stay or Go
Dear Stay or Go,
Do you want a partner or a pet project? If she's not emotionally available, which is the same as her heart being cold, then you're going to need enough passion and fire for both of you to break down those walls of ice. My advice is to move on because the ice queen needs time by herself to thaw. However, on your way out the door, be sure to leave the door open. Let her know that you understand where she's at, but that not all men are like her last boyfriend. When she's healed, perhaps the two of you could go out.