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         Ex-Girlfriend, Ex-Boyfriend                Trouble

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Trouble With The Ex

Poor Fit

I am in college.  Back in the spring I dated a guy, and we became tight.  Shortly before we met, his ex-girlfriend broke up with him.  I heard it was because “he knew what he wanted, but she wasn’t sure.”  Within a week she was dating someone she’d dated before. 

Fast-forward to us dating.  From the time we met she begged him to come back.  She’s from his hometown, and when he went back there, she talked him into going to the movies with her.  The following weekend he confessed to me he had feelings for both of us.  I asked if they kissed or anything.  He said, “No, but I don’t know if I wouldn’t have, if she’d tried.” 

That summer I was going on a mission trip for two months.  I knew even if I could keep him until then I would probably lose him.  So I told him I wouldn’t date someone who likes two people.  Fast-forward to the present.  He and I attend the same church, and his girlfriend comes to visit every other weekend.  I try to act normal, but when she’s here I can hardly look their way.

She’s a backstabber, so trying to be her friend isn’t much of an option.  Anyway, they are talking marriage, but I have friends who have seen him practically staring a hole through me, even while sitting with her.  Does this mean something?  I hate to see him stay with someone out of habit rather than love, if that’s the case.


Beryl, imagine you’re in a store trying to decide between two pairs of jeans.  One pair makes your derriere look nice, but they’re too short to wear with heels.  The other pair has the perfect length, but they’re loose around the seat.  The clerk says the first brand doesn’t come in a longer length and the second brand doesn’t feature a snug fit.

That’s his dilemma.  He’s with her, staring at you.  With you, he’d be pining for her.  What you share in common with the other woman is neither of you is a perfect fit for him.  What you don’t share with her is that she is determined to buy a pair of pants today.

The psychologist Dan Gilbert, author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” observes that nearly every creature ever studied—from rats to pigeons to people--puts a premium on present happiness at the expense of future happiness.  The present feels real in a way the future doesn’t.  Faced with a choice between $50 today or $60 next month, nearly everyone wants the money now.

So students party the night before a test, couples have sex without a condom, and women think a wedding will make all their New Year’s resolutions come true.  Most of us can’t envision the future correctly.  If you can, you have a chance for happiness.  What you need is the right man, not this man right now.

(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)


The Cost Of Learning

I have no closure on a situation in which I was used, and I regret it bitterly.  Several months ago I ended a long-distance, codependent relationship with a charming alcoholic. 

He agreed, via the phone, to return personal items of mine.   He also stated he would repay me for long-distance calls he made from my home while I was at work. 

This is one of those things I need adult confirmation on.  I respect your column immensely.  Your retorts are pithy and well put.  Do I send a second letter reminding him to return my things and repay me?  Civil, polite letter number one did not work.


Rebecca, let’s start from the most basic principle.  When you have a manipulative and untrustworthy person in your life, the most important thing to do is get them out of your life and keep them out of your life. 

You are fortunate to be done with him.  If there was a great deal of money involved here—a home or a nice stock portfolio—this would be worth pursuing.  And you would want an attorney to act in your interest. 

But since this involves only some long-distance calls and a few personal items, let it go.  It’s irritating and infuriating, but turning this over in your mind, again and again, hurts you not him. 

One type of letter we get repeatedly is the letter which seeks closure.  Usually a relationship ends with unraveled threads hanging in the air.  That’s the normal pattern.  It is especially unrealistic to think that a man who used you will act contrary to his pattern.

It doesn’t matter how you got involved with him—whether you pursued him or he insinuated himself into your life.  As long as you understand this kind of relationship is one you won’t trap yourself in again, you have learned everything there is to be learned here. 

Rather than thinking about return and repayment, rid yourself of any objects which connect you to him.  Personally, we suggest the trash can as a solution.  But if “waste not, want not” was drilled into you as a child, there’s always the Salvation Army.

Wayne & Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)


Too Far

I am in a great relationship for close to a year.  I am divorced because my ex had an affair, and we were very unhappy.  Before this I trusted each person I was with.

I trust my new girlfriend, but she has a childhood friend who is still a friend to her, and they have had sexual relations many times.  In a recent trip near where he lives, I suggested we get together and have dinner.  She replied it would be awkward, and she was reluctant to introduce us.

I didn't press the issue.  Now my girlfriend would like to go and stay with his mother, or him as far as I know, and get away for the weekend.  She mentioned she would be going to dinner and hanging out with him.  She also stated what they shared is over and more experimentation than anything else. 

I haven't been invited, nor would I really like to go.  I am not happy about it.  Am I making a big deal out of nothing?


Roger, why wouldn't you have a problem?  Your girlfriend of a year is going to spend a weekend with a man she's had sex with, a man she does not want you to meet.

Her explanation that sex between them was experimental is not reassuring.  Does it mean she can have sex outside a committed, long-term, monogamous relationship?  Would she like this man to commit to her and he won't, but she keeps trying?  Is this trip an attempt to pit one man against another?

Trust and fidelity are absolute essentials in a relationship, and she is causing you concern about both.  You are worried if you put your foot down it might end the relationship, but if you foresee marriage to this woman, you must.

Wanting a relationship is one thing.  Letting somebody test and break its limits is another.  You can't settle for less and get more. 

When someone tests the bonds of a relationship to this extent, and you don't protest, they don't respect you more.  They treat you like a doormat.

(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)


Recognizing The Enemy

I was ready to be married, but due to his career, my fiance was not.  After a bad breakup we had little or no contact for four years.

Two years ago we began dating again, and it's been rocky the entire time.  I tried to lay down some boundaries in the beginning, and he interpreted it as controlling.  Recently I confirmed he has been seeing someone else for over a year. 

When I confronted him, he reacted with anger and defiance and said it's my fault.  She is always nice, and since I brought up his cheating, it makes me the bad person.  When I first suspected him, I asked if he wanted us to date other people.  He did not want me dating anyone else.

Now he says, under current conditions, he doesn't want to date me but still wants contact.  I tried that but the subject of sex always comes up.  He says the reason we aren't getting married is I won't be an unconditional friend.  He claims that is the basis for any marriage.

It hurts terribly that he could walk away from us and still want to be friendly.  How can I be kind when he has broken my heart?  How can I stop comparing myself to this other woman?  She seems to be close to perfect from his perspective.  It's hard to measure up to perfection.


Sierra, put the blame where it belongs.  On him.  If you don't, you will spend the rest of your life competing with every woman on the planet.

I am always amazed that women blame the other woman when the real problem is the man.  It's like trying to fix a car by changing the wrong tire, the one which isn't flat.  Your problem is not with this other woman.  Your problem is him.

Someone cheated on you, lied to you, and made you feel bad.  You want to call that love.  If that is love, then what do you call the relationship which nurtures you, supports you, and inspires you?  You want to call it "love" because right now he is all you have.

(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)

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