Waiting for Him Was a Waste

Q: I have dated a man on and off for over 15 years. Through the years he has said that he wants to marry me, but he has never given me an engagement ring. He is very wealthy, but he gives me very cheap gifts. I'm educated and have a very good job, but I must have a very low opinion of myself because I have continued to go back to this relationship. I finally told him that, though I love him, it's over, that I'd wasted too much time. He says that he loves me, wants me in his life and that he does want to marry me. Please tell other women to smell the roses and not spend a lifetime waiting. -- Debbie, 50

Dr. Susan: What a shame that you spent 15 years of your life--that's nearly a third of it--waiting for this fellow to make a commitment. There ought to be some rule of thumb, such as by the time you've known someone well for, say five years, it's time to make up your mind. Of course, there aren't and can't be rules of thumb in areas like this. But 15 years? I think you're right, Debbie, about having low self-esteem. That's what usually makes a woman go back to a guy who treats her poorly in one way or another: She's terrified that no one else will love her. Even though the current guy certainly has a funny way of showing his love. Cheap gifts, no ring, the same old song year in, year out ("I do want to marry you. Someday."). Have the courage to stick with your decision this time, as it's the right one. Don't rush back to the dating world for a while. Take care of yourself first. Figure out why you think so poorly of yourself, and get some professional help if you need it.

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