He's Gone But Unforgettable
Q: For 15 years I've put up with someone who refuses to marry me but won't let me go. We tried on several occasions to break up, but he always came back and I gave in. This time I left, have refused all contact, removed him from my entire database of tech anything. That helps me keep my mind off him.
He did some things in this last year that went far beyond my coping skills. Our strife stems from a destructive family member always interfering, who he defends as innocent, and his use of porn. I found myself saying, "Is this as good as it gets?" If this is all you have to offer me, a role of girlfriend, someone you use for sex, servant and mother, well find someone else. I spent years at the end of that aisle, no wedding gown, no friends to witness, no ring and no vow. I know I am solely to blame because I believed in true love, thinking it's him, but settling for less. I feel so much love for someone who easily forgot me each time he trawled a singles website or his favorite porn stars. I am left wondering if this is what happens to most long-term relationships? Or am I too sensitive? How can I forget him? -- Maggie, 56
Dr. Susan: One or many sour relationships don't mean they're all destined to end the same. You let this fellow get away with giving you far less than you needed, for 15 years. That's a long time to settle. I understand that you finally got fed up and left for good. Keeping away from any contact with him is the best way to get your feelings to cool down, though you can expect it to take months, at least. Your pattern is to get drawn back in, so make it a priority to stick to your commitment to remain away from him.
While it's true that the erotic aspects of most romances cool down in a few years, that doesn't mean you're necessarily "too sensitive." Your partner should be willing to fulfill your needs, especially the emotional ones. You wanted a commitment, which he wasn't willing to make. His porn use bothered you beyond your ability to accept. I would guess that what you feel for him is longing and dependency and habit, more than genuine love. It's very hard to start over, but you would never get anywhere with him. Fifteen years are enough.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.