Dear Dr. Romance:

I saw your website and decided to write you via e-mail. The reason being is that my lover for the past three years has left me and I now am trying to afford the house and dogs and everything else we bought together with one income.

My ex is a great person, but a spoiled brat. We were together for a year before anything at all was bad. She came to this area because of an ex-lover and always said she would never stay here...Well, I was living in a trailer and didn't want her and I to continue "in a trailer park" -so- We sold the trailer and bought a house. Three months later she runs  into her ex- and walks outside this bar on New Year's Eve and stays out there for a few hours...The next day she tells me she wants to see her again. I said if she did she'd have to leave. She didn't.

All goes well until May and she runs into another ex- she and this guy get a little cuddly with each other and it all gets weird again. The ex did apologize -- but I couldn't have cared less. Then two months later, we are at another party at her parents home and I am sitting around with some friends and I look around for her and she's gone. In the driveway up against a car with "a friend from high school". I just went to bed, she came up bawling and has this guy downstairs calling her to come back....She asks him to come up and then introduces us---

After all of that I began to get scared. There were other things like this that have happened since, (not always old lovers), and each incident caused me to become very protective of us.  I explained to her that nothing actually happened in her mind, but in my mind-it was a respect thing. For us. 

Before we met, my ex lost a lot of weight and I think she loves the attention. She is beautiful.

Anyway, I became a jealous freak. I wanted to let her be free, but whenever I did, something always happened. She always promised to change the behavior, but it never happened. We would have months of happiness and then all hell would break loose.

So a month ago when she started talking about a "new friend" I asked her if she cared for him...She freaked out---I freaked out...and I told her that I needed help. I hated who I had become and I wanted her to help me learn to forget and trust her-to be like we were before all this began...I told her that I was going to turn my back from now on and that if she was going to do anything, then it was over and if she didn't, then I would learn to trust. I told her she was like the girl in Oklahoma! "who couldn't say no," and quoted, "What you gonna do when he says your lips are like cream and he's gotta have cream or die?-What you gonna do when he talks that way?-SPIT IN HIS EYE?"- And that what it's like: She doesn't seek out anything, she just won't tell anyone to back off.

Well, two weeks after that, I had a party for her with all of the people we play softball with: guys and girls.  She got drunk and ended up begging one of the guys to take her out with him until he left-and then sat in the backyard with one guy who was the only one left for about three hours.  When she came in she was crying. I asked her to leave. We agreed to cool off for a couple of days and discuss things then.

When she came back, she said she wasn't coming back. That she had everything in the world she had ever wanted with me-but that she was miserable. She said that she had a lot of things to consider. She doesn't even know who she is anymore. 

Since then, we have tried to get along. She moved out two weeks ago. But she has come over quite a bit. We were upset on the first few times she came over, but now we just try to get along. She came over yesterday and we walked the dogs in a park. She was quiet, and she said it just hurt to see us still (I know it does...). Today, she came over and I went and saw her new apartment for a few minutes. My friends all tell me that I shouldn't see her---

I guess I am just afraid to let go. I guess that my major fear is that she will figure out that she wants to come back when it's too late. She said that she fears this too.  But that she needs to get her head on straight. She says that she isn't seeing anyone.  I know this is true and that I shouldn't even allow her to come back until she gets things figured out. But I love her and miss her.

We decided to go to counseling together and I am making an appointment next week. I have lost 12 lbs since this all happened two weeks ago. I feel like I am going to throw up all the time but have only once.  I guess this is some sort of depression. I could,(but don't), sleep all day-but can't sleep at night.

The thing is that when I see her, I don't feel as bad. So because I am afraid to hit rock bottom-I see her and I feel better for a while... It's like I am on the edge of losing it-teetering away---And I have two dogs and a house to take care of-a job that is high stress- and no time to spare for all of this pain right now.

I would like to have us be OK. I would like to use my head and be mature and allow her this time and just go on with my life. But, she was like my first love all over again.  She says that she loves me-that she misses us-but that she isn't going to keep making me miserable anymore. My friends say that she is just getting rid of her guilty feelings with me and then will be gone.

I just want fix this and go on. I know I have to learn to trust all over again...but I will do counseling to work on this. She doesn't know what she wants, but will try counseling.

Did I tell you she is just turning 29? I'm 34. She says that I have an inner peace that she doesn't, and that when I talked to her about things a lot of the time I sounded like I was her mother. I will be looking for your book How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free
  Thanks for listening.

Dear Reader:

I understand about the financial stress split ups can create. Yes, your partner's weight loss could contribute to her need for attention, but I think the situation is more serious than that.  It sounds like she never learned about bonding and commitment.   In addition, she apparently has an internal self-esteem issue.  People who have never learned to bond, have a difficult time knowing  which of their feelings are authentic. 

I'm afraid I agree with your friends, although I know this is very hard for you.  But this relationship will go nowhere, and it means too much to you for you to be able to do it on a casual, non-committed basis.  I firmly support exes being friends, but not yet.  You need time to un-bond, to let go, to get over it.  The best way to do that is to severely limit all contact until you have had  a chance to grieve and your feelings have subsided. 

As soon as you do this, she will come back. She will come back over and over again, but that doesn't mean she'll change.  Her problem is a tough one, and  hanging will not be easy for her.  So far she doesn't even sound as if she's trying to change.  Even if she does, it will take her a couple of years.  You need to let go.  

Counseling will help, but you would benefit more from individual counseling than couple counseling.  It will take the therapist a while to "get it" that your ex cannot make a commitment, and that will set you back a bit, unless you're really strong in setting your limits in the counseling. You must go into the appointment and clearly let the therapist know what has happened (don't be "nice" about it), and that your friend's behavior is unacceptable to you.

Yes, you're experiencing anxiety and depression, which is a way to avoid the grief you need to feel.  Rock-bottom is only tears, and you will survive them.  I have created a course called "Grief: What it is, Why we have it, and How to get through it"   It will help a lot.  

"No time to spare for all of this pain right now" is just an excuse.  Your life will not get better until you allow yourself to grieve -- it will not be nearly as bad as you think.  Let her go, and let your pain out.  Write about your feelings, play sad music, really get into how awful it all is.  You'll get past the worst of it pretty quickly.  Otherwise, if you try to suppress it, you'll feel miserable for a  very long time.  It's as though you have a certain number of tears you need to cry, and the sooner you get them out, the better you are.

Yes, your first committed same-sex love is definitely your first love all over again.    But, she won't be your last.  When you come out of this, you will realize you learned a lot that will help you make the next relationship much better.  In fact, I believe if you are willing to learn and grow (including doing your grieving) you begin the next relationship where the old one left off.  You never get less. Your friends are exactly right  She is just getting rid of her guilty feelings.  She says she will "try" counseling, which means she's just doing it to please you: she's not ready to admit she needs to fix anything.  Yes, you do have a maturity she doesn't.  But it doesn't come with age; it comes with self-awareness, and then self-acceptance. Good luck with this.  I hope you can find the strength to let go and move on.  You deserve better and you'll  find it if you give yourself a chance.  When you're ready, Dr. Romance's Guide to Finding Love Today will help you find a relationship with someone who is capable of real, adult love.


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Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.