Learning To Put Your-(Red)-Self First
Q. Hi Audrey! I’ve been reading your column and love it. Thank you for all your advice! I didn’t think I’d ever write in, but here I go: I have a problem. I was in a relationship for over a year with a married man. He was in the midst of a divorce and is now fully divorced, but I broke up with him a few months back because I didn’t want to be second best. My issue is that I can’t get over him, but can’t find the courage to call him and tell him how I feel. What do you suggest?
A. I will say this: divorces are sprawling, messy things full of weird, difficult-to-anticipate emotions. It can take people months and even years to process the ending of a long relationship. If you were feeling like second best a few months ago, I don’t know that it would be fair to expect this guy to have made such a big change in such a short amount of time—paperwork doesn’t, unfortunately, translate neatly to people’s emotions.
Even if you’re no longer secondary to his ex-wife, you might end up being secondary to his own needs and desires. Often people coming out of long and/or intense relationships need to work through some stuff first, go a little wild, sleep around, explore things that felt closed off to them in their marriages, be “selfish” for a while, put themselves ahead of a partner.
Expecting someone to be in a place to make a commitment to you or be a good partner to you who has just ended a marriage is, in my opinion, setting yourself up for heartbreak.
I mean, if you just want to have some fun with this guy, that’s one thing. But I assume based what you’ve said that you are hoping for something more serious than that. I completely understand that frustrating, hard-to-get-over feeling of “if the circumstance were different, we’d be great together,” but unfortunately the circumstances are what they are.
I hate to be a downer, but my advice would be:
1. Let this relationship lie and concentrate your energy on moving on and finding someone who is in a better place to be in a relationship with you.
2. If, in a few more months or a year, your paths cross again and things seem good, then great! Go for it!
Trying to reconnect with someone you left because you felt secondary so soon after a divorce doesn’t sound to me like a great idea for your happiness.
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