My girlfriend says she loves me and wants to hang out, but that she cannot be my girlfriend anymore. She moved out. I loved her deeply, that’s why I lived with her. She did it for financial help, not to solidify a marriage (which is where I was headed). We were friends for years before getting romantic. I never had that experience before and it’s how I knew that I loved her. I honestly thought we were going to live happily ever after. We have had intimate relations since our breakup. Now I’ve learned that she is sleeping with others. I’m going psycho over the thought of her having fun with other men. I don’t want to drop a fantastic friendship over my jealousy, but I think that the only way I can shed resentment is if she is mine again or if I write her out of my life. She says she is dating to be certain that I am the one. I am restless and cannot let her do this in peace. I have found help through your column even when the situations do not apply to me. Now I need your help directly.
You’re mourning the death of a dream: the perfect life partner and an ideal future. As you mourn, take care not to abandon yourself or God. You must trust that God is always leading you to something greater. It could be that this experience will inspire the healing of some aspect of your character. Or perhaps the sole (soul?) purpose of this relationship was to teach you how to develop a true friendship before initiating a romantic relationship. Or the closure of this relationship may be inspiration for you to trust God more deeply.
Of course, we can only trust (ourselves or others) if we are willing to tell ourselves the truth. For example, you write that you and your ex-girlfriend have had “intimate relations,” but she has been “sleeping with” other guys. From your word choices, it appears that you initially believed that sex with you would be more meaningful to her than sex with other men. Perhaps some of your resentment results from realizing otherwise. That’s a painful but vital awakening.
Here’s what I think: if you’re having sex with an ex-partner, the relationship is not completely broken up, but your values are. That’s because, despite media propaganda, sex without a commitment is not love or a promise of love. It’s just sex. Manipulating yourself to believe otherwise lays the foundation for your own betrayal. It also rings false that living together is preparation for marriage. A sustainable marriage is built on attraction, a shared belief system and good communication and conflict resolution skills. Those traits develop through hard work, not just co-habitation.
My initial connection with men I’ve met through personal ads has been great because of common interests. But sooner or later, we hit a snag because of honesty issues or styles of disagreement. I don’t want to push the getting-to-know-you part too fast, but I don’t want to waste my time because I’m looking for the right guy. Ideas?
Reverse the process. Begin by asking dates what telling the truth means to them and then sharing your own beliefs. Ask why their last long-term relationship ended and how they resolved arguments in that and other important relationships. Let this be a really fun, invigorating conversation over dinner or a long walk. Save the lightweight chat about hobbies for later.