Switching between Guys
Q: I dated a guy for 3 years and I still love him very much. Unfortunately he became very seriously ill with Gulf War Syndrome and decided to disappear from my life, breaking my heart in two. When he felt OK, he would come back and see me but during the last two years, I rarely saw him or heard from him other than occasional emails a few times a year. I decided it was over and moved on, and this past fall and met another man who I dated for about 5 months. Now who shows up again but the first guy. Of course I lost my mind with happiness and tried to let the second guy down gently. He was pissed off of course, although he told me he never wanted a committed relationship in the first place. I cared about him a lot too, but my history was with the first guy. Now I'm finding out I made the wrong decision because the first guy has taken a job which keeps him away for months at a time, and I still don't hear from him often. I don't want to be alone so much. The second guy lives in my city and I'd have a regular relationship with him, so I'd like to make amends. But I suspect he's so pissed off that I chose the first guy that he may tell me to take a hike, and my little heart would be broken again. -- Vanessa, 47
Dr. Susan: Nothing ventured, nothing gained, someone once said. If you know ahead of time that you may be rejected, then what have you really got to lose? If Guy #2 agrees to hear your case and try being with you again, you're lucky. And if he doesn't, don't tell me you'll go back with Guy #1 anyway. Please, don't tell me that. Your big mistake was "losing your mind" over the return of the first guy, who you already knew had a habit of disappearing all the time. Surely you can't like being treated like a yo-yo who comes when called and is quiet and undemanding the rest of the time. Make a promise to yourself (and maybe also to Guy #2) that you'll never see the first guy again. Sure, it's going to be painful if you still feel you love him and that you share some history. But the time you've spent mostly apart is nearly the same as the time you spent together. Think about starting to build a happier history with someone more dependable.
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Advice for Her
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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.