A real hot mess

Joey Garcia

I separated from my wife of 20 years and have been dating a woman for four months. But it’s like the woman I initially met and fell for is gone, and I am dating a woman who is either crying when we can’t be together, or begging me to never leave after we argue, or just emotional and expecting me to interpret her feelings. Or she doesn’t feel well. Maybe I have been out of the dating scene so long that I don’t know what is normal. I do love my girlfriend, but I don’t think I could live with her after my divorce like she expects. Is this a viable relationship?

Yes, if you enjoy dating a woman who is emotionally imbalanced.

Oh, she might be beautiful. The sex may be mind-blowing (or just more consistent than it was with your wife). But the first relationship after a breakup is called a “rebound” for a reason. After a marriage flatlines, we search for proof that we are still attractive and desirable. We yearn most for whatever we lacked during the marriage. If your wife was emotionally distant or you were shut down (or both), your concept of an emotionally healthy person is rusty. As a result, you probably can’t tell the difference between a hot mess and someone who is emotionally open. Yes, there is a similarity: Both are high maintenance. Here’s the distinction: The emotionally open person manages the bulk of her own emotional self-care. The hot mess wants you to take care of her, before, during and after her meltdowns. Sound familiar?

After the breakup of a long relationship, we rebound—bounce back from living as if we are dying—and use something (exercise, or a new career, or relocation) or someone (a love interest or a sexual conquest) to feel more alive than we have in years. Your rebound is complicated. You chose not to see this new relationship as an experience to grow in self-understanding. Instead, in just 120 days, you began a new life with a stranger as if it was fate. Please don’t blame your hiatus from dating for an inability to recognize what is normal. The real issue is that if you admit things are not working out with your girlfriend, you will have to end another relationship. Your mind might criticize you, calling you a failure. Don’t accept the lie. Face yourself and your fears about being alone. Be willing to invest in discovering who you are and what your purpose is in life. Learn to be a friend to yourself. Find ways to enjoy hanging out alone. When you become more comfortable in your own skin, you will be less intent on keeping a warm body next to you, especially if her personality is not a fit with yours.

I stopped tithing at church when I lost my job, but I keep encountering people and articles where a broke, unemployed person tithes and is blessed with abundance. Is this a sign?

It’s a sign that you feel desperate and are facing temptation. Given your circumstances, that’s understandable. Here’s reality: Most people have one personal story of unexpected abundance arriving in their lives. Some of those stories are tied to tithing with no expectation of return. You are willing to give if you receive. That’s a contract, not a process of spiritual surrender. So be a spendthrift. Pay your bills on time, give without expectation. All the while, pray that the needs of others (not yours) be transformed into abundance. Finally, if you disregard this advice and give to your church, find out exactly where the money goes. Giving it directly to a charity is sometimes a greater benefit to the world.

Meditation of the week
“Fish get ketch by deh mouth,” according to Belizean Creole wisdom. Yes, gossip can be deadly. Whose secrets have you told?

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