Hello Dr Steve,
I dated a married man about 3 years ago. I have no justification for that, I knew he was married, I wasn’t young and I knew better. I was completely selfish and stupid. And I loved him so much. He told me he wasn’t happy in his marriage, that he and his wife didn’t love each other anymore, and that they were together because of the kids. That was his version of the story.
He ended up leaving his marriage and asking for a divorce a few months after we started seeing each other. He told me we were going get married as soon as his divorce was over. His wife found out about us right around the time when they were separating, and made the divorce extremely hard, doubled her requests for money, and alienated the kids.
We didn’t move in together as he didn’t want to make his divorce harder (and he wanted his kids to visit him at his new place and he didn’t want them to see me), but I was there for him during his divorce, he was very stressed out and worried about the kids and the money. His divorce proceedings lasted almost a year and it became very nasty on both ends. I was still seeing him and loving him as before and was patient because I believed we would end up together. I can’t tell you how much I loved him. He ended up giving his wife everything she asked for, so she signed the divorce papers.
In some sort of divine justice, he ended up cheating on me too with another woman a year after we had been dating. In a nutshell: he was separated but not divorced when he started seeing Woman #3, while still calling me his girlfriend, going out on dates with me, sleeping with me and telling me how much he loved me. I didn’t know about Woman #3, he ended up ‘fessing up about her, months after his divorce was over and I asked him “what’s going on, when are we moving in together?.” He told me that as soon as he was out of his house he realized he had so many other choices available and didn’t want to jump into another marriage. He told me that Woman #3 doesn’t know about me, and she is beautiful, talented and rich and seems to care about him a lot. He told me his family would never approve his dating me anyway because they knew I was the one who broke the marriage.
I went through a really tough time after that happened, between the guilt of having broke a family, hurt his kids, still loving him so much, and losing him, having been cheated on (and feeling how his wife felt about it) and alienating my friends who knew what I was doing with a married guy and didn’t want to do anything to do with me. It’s been a year now and I’m finally ok with everything that happened. I don’t talk to him or see him anymore.
I have made an inventory of the bad things I did, and of course #1 is to have hurt his ex-wife. I don’t know her, but she was the innocent party in all this mess. She didn’t deserve anything that happened. I guess my question is: should I apologize to her or should I just move on?
We live in a small town, so I know where she works and she knows where I work. We have friends in common (who may or may not know what happened), and one of my friends told me that last year her kids left her home for college and she is alone. She used to have a promising career 15 years ago, but left her job to raise her kids and be the perfect wife for him, that she was looking forward to his early retirement so they would spend time together. And that was the plan until I came into the picture. She goes to the gym but mostly spends her days at her big home alone with her cat (she got their amazing big house, and a sh*t load of money out of the divorce, she got more than 50%). But all in all, she is alone without friends or dates, and I feel terrible about it.
I am trying to put myself in her shoes and probably my apologizing will only reopen old wounds on her end. I don’t think it will do anything good. However it still bothers me. In my past I have recognized when I have done things wrong and apologized when I have hurt someone who didn’t deserve it, but in this case, I don’t know. What would you do?
Confused in CT.
Comment: I think you’re right. Maybe she is alone, and maybe her family was ruined by him cheating with you, but I don’t see how that’ll do you any good. She might need friends, but I’m guessing the last person she’d want to be friends with is you.
However, I can tell you feel guilty and sorry about it so rather than place a phone call or try to meet up with her in person, why don’t you just write her a handwritten letter telling her what you want to say? Then the ball’s in her court. If she wants to contact you after that, then the letter worked. If you never hear from her, then hey, you have your answer. She heard what you’d had to say and doesn’t want any part of it. At least you let her know how you feel. But definitely don’t ambush her with a phone call or meeting her in the parking lot of a gym. That’s not necessary. If you really feel you need to get this off your chest and apologize, then I’d write a letter, leave it at her house, and let it go. Her response will let you know where it goes from there.
Dear Dr. Steve,
College student here (22, female) looking for a man’s perspective on this question: how much leeway do you give to a significant other with depression?
Context: I have a good friend (24, male) and we are mutually attracted to each other. We’ve been on a few dates, and I would not be surprised if we ended up in a relationship. However, I am concerned about his mental health. He took a one-year hiatus from classes to get his depression figured out and returned at the start of this school year. He has been seeing a therapist and taking anti-depressants. Unless he told me, I would have had no idea he was dealing with depression.
Since returning to school, he has been pretty undermotivated. He skips most of his classes, doesn’t do any extracurriculars/jobs/internships, and basically does the bare minimum to scrape by. When I ask about it, he references his depression and says it’s already a big improvement to be back in classes and going to lots of social events.
I want to be sensitive to the fact that he has a real medical condition (and I don’t dispute the validity of mental health issues in general), but at the same time, I fear it is a huge excuse for him. He socializes, watches Netflix, and plays video games a lot. I’m not sure if it is judgmental of me to question his current approach to school. Also, if we did date further and it didn’t work out, I am afraid I would send him into a horrible downward spiral.
Am I being too judgmental? I want to be sensitive to his challenges and genuinely like him.
Miffed in Massachusetts
Comment: I’m just curious as to why you’re already saying you wouldn’t be surprised if you ended up in a relationship with him. Why would you want to? Not saying that people with depression can’t ever have a significant other, but do you really want that? By the way you described him, he certainly doesn’t seem like much of a catch. He’s depressed, unmotivated, watches Netflix and plays video games a lot. There are any better choices out there for you? The good thing is you know what you’re getting into before you do. The question now is, do you really want to? That’s up to you.
Dear Dr. Reality Steve,
One of my ex-boyfriends has invited me to his wedding this summer. Even though our relationship was a lot of us going back and forth, I now no longer have romantic feelings for him, and we’re in a really good place (good friends). At the same time I do find it a little awkward that he has invited me, as I am an ex, and I don’t really know his fiancée. I am also currently single so that too adds to the awkwardness.
Since the ex is the only one I know at this wedding, and he will not have any time to hang out with me, I will pretty much be on my own. I imagine that 90%, if not all of the people in attendance, will be coupled up, so I don’t really see a potential fling coming out of it either. I guess I’m scared of being the lonely, single girl attending my ex’s wedding.
Maybe I am over-thinking it, and I should just go and try to have a good time, but I’ve gone to weddings before as single and it is kind of lonely.
In the end though, it’s not just going alone that’s the issue (if it was in our own town I would probably go), but it’s a destination wedding, and it will cost me a lot of money to attend. I don’t know if it’s worth spending so much to watch your ex get married, especially if it will make me feel of lonely.
I know my ex would understand if I don’t go, but I also know he would be happy if I do. I just don’t know if it’s worth it for me.
What’s your advice, should I stay or should I go?
Comment: I wouldn’t go if I were you. You already seemed to give reasons why you shouldn’t – and they’re all valid. Not sure about cost and what your budget is, but do you really want to go to your ex’s destination wedding alone? I doubt it. Just seems like a waste of money.
Hi Dr. Steve,
Here’s my male-related question for you: there’s a guy who was in the picture a few years ago. We weren’t on the same page, and he phased out. I still wanted/want to be friends (that’s what I do in general anyway and it’s always worked well). His parent passed away a little while ago, and I reached out. I know what that is like since I went through it not too long ago, and I have reached out to other friends too especially since it’s awful and we’re pretty young for it to happen. We were fb messaging until he stopped. I think it all just hit him hard suddenly. I definitely understand that. My question is, his bday is coming up. Do I fb message him happy birthday or not? I do still like him, but don’t want to be a creeper, take advantage, or be needy. I want to give him space but I’m not sure if private messaging him again to wish him a happy bday is being too invasive right now and if I should just back off and give him time. I also don’t want to stand on ceremony. Any advice?
Facebook Fiasco Friend (I’m trying for the alliteration here. Hope that’s satisfactory!)
Comment: There’s nothing wrong with FB messaging him. I’m sure he’s gonna get plenty of FB messages for his birthday. Granted, he might not respond to you, so be prepared for that, but there’s zero harm in sending a FB message to him. But definitely send it through messenger. Don’t just leave a “Happy Birthday” on his FB wall since I’m guessing it’ll get clumped in with the rest of them. If you’re looking for a response or reaction, then privately message him. I don’t think that’s being invasive or pushy.
Hey Dr. Steve,
I’m writing in a for a friend because she doesn’t believe that a true love doctor like you exists. Here is her story:
She met her boyfriend in their first year of college and says that they had and “instant connection,” which is very rare for her. However, they didn’t start being in a relationship until their third year of college because the guy was a slow mover, and he still is a slow mover. By the end of college, after dating for 1.5 years, they decided that they would break up after their Europe trip (just the two of them went on that trip). They did this because she was going to graduate school in Dallas and he was going to work in Houston and he didn’t want to relocate his job for her since it was early in his career. However, she also could’ve chosen to go to medical school in Houston, but decided against it because she didn’t like the school. She did not want to do a long distance relationship, even though Houston-Dallas doesn’t seem that far to me.
So they went on the Europe trip together, had fun, and broke up after they returned to the states. After a few months of minimal talking, they began video chatting nearly every day starting in November, and whenever she would go home to Houston, they would hang out very often. He also has come to Dallas a few times (once for her birthday) and slept in her apartment. In December, they took a road trip by themselves to West Texas, where he asked her out again. However, he still was not willing to move until she finished medical school (3 more years), so she rejected him again. Another reason he doesn’t want to move is because he still needs to “discover himself” because he doesn’t want to keep working at the same company. The girl still has feelings for him and really cares about him, but is too stubborn about doing long distance.
I think she is just being stubborn about the whole long distance relationship thing. However, he could be stubborn as well because he won’t move his job location, which is much easier than it is for her to change graduate schools.
My bets are that she’ll get back together with him. What are your opinions on what she should do and what will happen to them?
Comment: Lets clear one thing up about “long distance relationships.” Yes, Dallas to Houston is about a 3 ½ hr car ride or a 45 min flight. I’ve done both down there. But any relationship where you can’t go see the significant other on a moments notice and be with them within I’d say an hour or so, I’d consider long distance. I live in a suburb about 30 minutes north of Dallas. If I was dating someone who lived in downtown Dallas, I wouldn’t say I’m in a long distance relationship. But someone in Houston? Yeah, that’d be long distance. So yeah, I’d say someone who’s less than hour away isn’t long distance. Anything over that where you have to Facetime them more often than not for your conversations is long distance. Just wanted to define what it is in my eyes.
As for your friends situation, I don’t think she’s being stubborn about not wanting to move until she finishes grad school. That’s kind of a big deal. His reasoning for not moving up is definitely a tad more sketchy. He has to “find himself?” Is that code for “sow his wild oats?” If neither of them are moving until at least three years, A LOT can happen. Impossible to say what the future holds for these two without knowing a thing about them.
Just out of curiosity, why do you have so much interest in what your friend and her on again/off again boyfriend are doing? Are you in this picture at all? Do you want to be with her, and you’re looking for a way to tell her not to wait around for a guy, or “If he really wanted to be with you he’d move up here?” Just seems kinda random you’d write in for her. Maybe you really truly are curious as to what might happen with them, but I just get a sense you have a vested interest in this for a reason. But I could be wrong.
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