What Did She Do During Split?
Q: Over the past two years I have dated someone who I love and who I now feel is the one. Before this, we broke up and got back together a few times, but mainly over small personal hangups. I called it off the last time because we were at two different points in life: I'm 26 and she's 6 years older. I'm developing a new business and she wanted marriage and a family. I realized about a month or two after this split that she is the one I love, but she told me she was "casually" dating a friend and planning to go to Hawaii with him. We had always talked about marriage and she had told me that I was the man she wanted to marry when the timing improved. Now that she realizes I am committed to her, she ended everything with the other guy. She told me that their relationship wasn't that serious, that it didn't move as fast as ours, but I think she may have slept with him. I'm not sure if I should ask her or how I'm supposed to react if she did sleep with him. -- Mike
Dr. Susan: It's awfully easy to commit to someone when you're apart from them, since everything looks rosier at a distance. I'd give your relationship a bit more time before you make this permanent decision. But that's not what you asked me. You want to know how to deal with the possibility your back-and-forth girlfriend slept with someone else during the period in which she never expected to see you again. If you think you'd react badly, then don't ask. If you previously broke up over "small personal hangups," then think what festering retroactive jealousy might do to your peace of mind. She's said it wasn't serious and it didn't move fast. You should probably take her word for it and not push any further. How are you "supposed to react?" Ideally, with gentlemanly understanding and compassion. She didn't do anything wrong. She just tried to get her life together after you broke up. But like I said in the beginning, take your time before getting engaged. Not so long that she can't have those babies she wants, but long enough to be sure no major stumbling blocks turn up now that you've reconnected. And also to see if you can handle not knowing what went on when you weren't around.
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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.