She's Using Him and Using Me

Visitor's Question from a 31-40 year old Male
My ex and I were together for 9 years, living together for the last three. I wanted to get married but she kept saying I may not be the one. We had quarrels by the end, she said I was controlling, I told her she didn't care about me, and then she announced she was moving out to be on her own.

I tried to bring her back with roses, romantic presents, getaway trips, and helping her with everything I could. She accepted all this, and then I found out she was sleeping with another guy.

It's been over 6 months since she is with this other guy in a pretty deep relationship. However, everytime we meet or talk, she keeps saying that if only I didn't pressure her she would be back already, that this guy means nothing to her, and that she needs time to be on her own. She refuses to spend any time with me and never calls. She also says her parents are routing for me and she hasn't told them she's been dating another guy, nor did she tell any of her friends about it. She says she doesn't know what she wants, but it's been 6 months that I am asking her to come back, and she keeps saying she's not ready, while being with this guy all the time.

I've written her a 12-page letter, wrote poems and songs, begged her to be rational, nothing worked. She just went to Vermont for a romantic getaway with this new guy for the recent 4-day holiday. But just the day before she said she was thinking of coming back and wants to think about it over Christmas.

I love her and want to be with her for the rest of my life, but images of her with somebody else and the way she is traeting me are really cutting a deep wound. I don't uderstand the concept of "being on her own" to "evaluate things" while openly being in a relationship with another guy. She is not honest with me and with him, and posiibly with herself. What should I do? Advice
If you guys were together for 9 years and she still had serious reservations about you, and she couldn't work them out, then those must have been pretty serious issues in her mind. You can't just make those vanish with flowers and presents. You wanted to just get married anyway, but she had those concerns and if they weren't going away after 9 years together, they weren't going to go away just because you had rings on your fingers (or bells on your toes).

So she fell into a relationship with another guy, and she likes being with him. She wouldn't stay if she was miserable. It's easy to say "I want to be on my own" but if you've never *been* alone it can feel much safer to have a safety net there. So in a way she can be using him as a safety net - someone to help keep the house safe and take her to movies, but not someone she has to really worry about pressuring her or anything else. Just someone safe to have around while she figures out what she wants.

She probably loves all the attention of you chasing her, but remember, if she wanted to be with you, she WAS with you all that time before and she could *easily* give in and come back to you right now. But she's not. Even if you do break down her endurance and she comes back with you because you're so persistant, what has really changed to make her stay? You can't keep up this courtship eternally, and once things settle back down the way they used to be she'll be just as unhappy as she was before, because things will be the way they were before.

If you really want a chance here, ask her to go to a therapist with you. Say that it's to help you sort out how to be a better partner to you - but the therapist can help her figure out just what it is that is bothering her about the idea of settling down. Hopefully even if you just go for a few weeks, she'll see you're serious about making this work, she'll make a serious effort to make it work and you can at least get a handle on what these issues are that still stand between you. I really don't think, after 9 years of not figuring it out on your own, that the breakthrough will come without some help here.

-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at

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