Question: I’m 22 and fell in love with my first boyfriend several years ago. But we broke up due to differences in our lifestyles and personalities. We remain good friends.
Then I met a man at the gym and we became workout buddies. I was instantly attracted to him but he had a serious girlfriend. They broke up, and a few months later we hooked up. I told him how I felt about him but he wasn’t ready for a relationship.
Soon he started dating a much older woman in an exclusive relationship. Time passed, and we ended up hooking up again several times (he cheated on the girlfriend). But then he told me he was committed to her and we couldn’t continue. Still, sometimes he’d hug me and tell me how much I turn him on.
I realized that the longer this went on, the more I would be hurt. I ended contact with him for good and eventually got back with my ex.
It’s clear to me I was using him to take my mind off my heartbreak, which wasn’t fair to him.
The guilt I felt at participating in the gym guy’s cheating and using my ex ate away at me.
Now I’ve moved past both of them but am finding it extremely hard to get interested in other guys. I push them away. I’m afraid of getting hurt again or hurting someone else. How can I overcome this?
Answer: At 22, you’ve experienced love, passion, guilt and rejection. More important, you’ve become more thoughtful about choosing a potential dating partner. That’s a lot healthier than you realize. It’s how women and men grow from their first young love and develop the ability to select a lasting mate.
That requires knowing whom you can trust and how to be true to yourself and your values. You’ve learned that from your experiences, with all the highs and lows involved. So feel free and to move forward. You know better now.
Question: My wife is neurotic about our son’s diet. He was premature and needed special feeding strategies when he was young. Now he’s an overweight 6-year-old whom she babies. He eats only food she’s just cooked fresh, so we can’t go anywhere for more than a few hours.
Answer: Time to go to your son’s doctor together. If he’s a healthy boy, physically, the last thing you want is unhealthy emotional codependency between mom and son, Get proactive, dad, instead of just critical, for everyone’s sake.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman married to a World of Warcraft addict (Dec. 23), a reader writes:
My fiancé is also heavily involved in the game, spending hours and hours playing. He doesn’t have much money, so was often borrowing from me to fund his habit. Conversation slowed to grunts and, “Can’t you see I’m raiding?” when I asked what he wanted for dinner. I told him to choose the game or me, and he said I didn’t understand.
I realized that I was enabling his behaviour. I tried a different tack and asked him what was so great about it. I got him to talk openly about his “hobby” rather than regarding it as a silly little game.
He lowered his defences and, rather than defend his habit, told me why he liked it so much. He even got me to play a little.
It’s now something we share and, in exchange for me playing, he’s cut back on the time he spends on it. Even if you think it isn’t for you, try it. It tells your man that you’re making the effort to meet him halfway.
TIP OF THE DAY
Even if a relationship doesn’t work, the lessons learned can lead to better judgment.