I got you, babe

Joey Garcia

I’m an independent, 48-year-old woman who was just dumped by my boyfriend of two years. I thought it was a great relationship. He said I was a good woman, but he wasn’t happy. I am close to his family and adore his 12-year-old daughter. The three of us did everything together: motorcycle riding, camping, even Sunday dinners at his Mom’s house. Now he says he just wants to be friends. I feel like crap; I didn’t even see this coming.

Blindsided by a breakup? Either you were in denial or he was dishonest. Or both. So let’s take your moral temperature. Denial is the refusal to acknowledge unpleasant facts because of an inability to cope with stressful situations. Rather than reality, a person who engages in the defense mechanism of denial prefers his or her story of a person, place, institution or situation. So, for example, let’s say you hope to marry your man but during your two years together he disses marriage, acts like men who wed are weak and demands to know why you are not satisfied with the relationship as is. In response, you reassure him that you are happy and want nothing more. But secretly you think he will realize someday how wonderful you are and change his mind. That’s denial, a form of dishonesty that we practice on ourselves.

Your boyfriend said you are a “good woman,” so he probably believed he should be happy. But he wasn’t. In an emotionally and mentally intimate relationship, he would have shared his concerns with you as they arose in him. Together you would have shifted through the issues to determine whether any were deal breakers. If so, each of you would have taken responsibility for healing your part of the problem. Alternately, you would have decided that the relationship was not viable and ended amicably. But be clear: Supper at Mom’s is not a guarantee of a long-term commitment. Remember, there are many types of intimacy. Enjoying activities together and hanging out with family are signs of recreational and social intimacy, nothing more.

One more thing: Your man says he wants to be friends. Be kind to yourself, and take at least three months without contact of any kind (no texting, Facebook, e-mail nor phone calls) before entering a platonic relationship with him. You need time to heal and to allow romantic feelings to dissipate. And, believe me, when your storm of emotions ends, this silver lining will remain: You are free of a man who does not want to be with you. Abandonment is painful but ambivalence might just be worse.

A friend is dating a guy who started calling her “babe” a week after they met. After a month together, he’s always on her. I think it’s scary, but she thinks it’s love.

Most sweet talkers are trying to fast-forward relationships to get what they want: control. This man may be fixated on creating a romantic fantasy, or he may be an abuser. Abuser alerts: He criticizes even minor mistakes until she struggles for self-confidence; blames her for everything, including his self-created problems; regularly unleashes a scary temper; is terrified of solitude and panics at the mention of a breakup; cycles repeatedly from cruel to sweet; and slaps, punches and kicks his woman on purpose. He is also prone to shallow emotions and quick attractions. So he is apt to hustle off to another infatuation when it strikes his senses. Help your friend understand that real love grows slowly over time and that attention is one quality of love, but it’s not the whole package.

Meditation of the week
So I’m folding laundry and watching The Bachelor: After the Final Rose, when Jason Mesnick flip-flopped like a native Seattle whitefish out of water. He was out of his element; he understands infatuation but has no clue about real love.

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