Yo-Yo Relationship

Q: My girlfriend and I were together for about nine months when she got pregnant. We had plenty of problems, but stayed living together until our daughter was born, when we moved in with her parents. A few months later she kicked me out. It's been off and on since then, but when I met someone else, my girlfriend said she wanted to give her life to me and spend the rest of our lives together. Once again, we had a big fight, and she told me that she is over me. But every time I see her or hear her voice my heart just melts, and my body aches. I have never had someone possess my soul like this in my life. I'm 26, and I want to marry this girl. -- James

Dr. Susan: What you're describing sounds more like a dysfunctional craving than true love. Your girlfriend plays you like a yo-yo. Though I haven't heard her side -- you may play one another. Unhealthy relationships often work -- or don't work! -- that way. The minute you have a conflict, one of you is out of there. Conflict is natural, normal, to be expected, and, I'd suggest, almost necessary. It's how you work through your differences that matters. It's cruel of her to pull out the big guns and kick you out without making every effort, especially if you share a child.

The fact that you ache for her doesn't mean a lot by itself. Naturally you aren't going to get over her quickly. You share a child, and you'll be seeing one another frequently for many years to come. Perhaps you can convince your girlfriend that, for the sake of the child, the two of you ought to give it another try, but this time take a course in communicating, see a counselor, agree to read a book about relationships, get help when the going gets rough. Anything but slamming the door on all hope. Is she willing to go that extra mile or is she seeking the easy way out? Does she realize that her next relationship will probably be even more complicated, when someone else tries to stepparent your child? You can't force her to take your feelings seriously, but you can tackle those problems you had one by one. Sometimes a few small changes can pull a love affair out of a nosedive. I wouldn't push the "fate" angle, but merely show her you're a loving and dependable dad, for now, and hope she sees what she's throwing away before it's too late.

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