Emotional self-rescue

Joey Garcia

After a self-imposed one-year break from dating, I hit it off with a woman I had met before but never really talked to. I asked her out. A few days later, a woman I’ve known for a while asked me out. We had a great time. She was off-limits in the past because she always had a boyfriend. Turns out, she dumped him. So within one week, I have two very interesting women that I’m interested in. The problem is, I’m a one-woman man (call me old-fashioned). How long before I have to choose? Even though both are in the very early stages, and not exclusive, I still feel guilty making plans with either of them. Any advice?

I think this is called counting chicks before a relationship can hatch. Slow down, mister. You met two appealing women that you enjoy spending time with, good for you! But how does one date trigger the fear that you might be perceived as a cheater? I suspect that you don’t quite understand the “one-woman man” sticker you’ve pasted on your heart. A one-woman man (or one-man woman or one-man man or one-woman woman) is someone who values exclusivity and faithfulness. But to find a person worth committing yourself to requires dating. That’s the process of enjoying a series of recreational experiences with a few special someones to determine long-term compatibility. After a handful of dates with each woman during a one to two month period, you should be very clear which relationship merits a serious commitment. Translation: That’s the point when you can boast about being a one-woman man. Without learning the self-discipline to hold back emotionally and physically, you will likely launch yourself into relationships you are better off avoiding.

Of course, you can’t have any real fun until you discover why you believe you are doing something wrong. Guilt won’t survive on a diet of truth. So tell each woman clearly and directly that you are dating another. And, be a gentleman. Refrain from physical affection until you have chosen your match and told the other woman you are no longer available. When you have that final conversation, don’t say that you want to be friends. Maintaining an attachment, under these circumstances, will probably create tension and drama. And if both relationships tank, be confident that the purpose of this oh-wow-two-women experience was to learn how to shed guilt, not find a sweetie.

My partner was doing really well and then got caught up in something stupid and was sent to prison. We were doing OK and making ends meet, but now I wonder what will happen and what he will be like next time I see him. I am having a hard time coping with this loss. Please help.

Sweetheart, I am glad that you reached out to me. Now, reach out to others in your life, too. Create a network of support with people who understand your broken heart and who will allow you the emotional room to heal. When your thoughts lurch toward worries about the future, rein your mind back into the present moment. Practice this by telling yourself what activity you are currently engaged in (“I am driving my car along Howe Avenue”). The mind imagines it is being helpful when it attempts to find answers to questions about what will happen or what your partner will be like. Actually, such thoughts are distractions, creating anxiety and a sense of powerlessness. And, if you slip into the mental prison of feeling sorry for yourself, list the people and things you are grateful for. Then do something kind for someone else. The resulting freedom will inspire you to see your new solo life as an opportunity to create true joy.

Meditation of the week
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy,” says Thich Nhat Hanh, the Mahayana Buddhist monk. Do you know yet where the source of all possibilities is located?

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