Is It Over?

Q: I was exclusively with a woman for 10 years as of eight months ago. Our relationship was rocky but the passion and chemistry were always there and always brought us back together. (Can passion alone fuel a relationship for 10 years?) Then suddenly last fall she walked out on me after a silly argument and I have not seen her for the past 8 months. Is this a long time in the face of 10 years? We have spoken during this period and she sent a lot of mixed signals during these intermittent phone calls. I still have a lot of feelings for her, though they may not be reciprocated and/or she has moved on. But why am I having such a hard time in doing the same? -- Albert, 55

Dr. Susan: The silly argument you had must have been the straw that broke the camel's back, Albert. Your partner apparently got tired of the rockiness and all the back-and-forthing and made a decision to call it quits. Passion is great, and it can sustain a relationship for a long time, but eventually, the balance tips so that it's all too much trouble for the payoff. She probably figures it's time for her to find someone to grow old with, someone she can count on beyond the bedroom. I would say that, yes, eight months is a long time, even though you were together for 10 years. It doesn't sound like she's in any hurry to be with you again, and the mixed signals could be all in your head. Otherwise, she'd be ringing your doorbell already. You're having a hard time because, one, she initiated this probably permanent break-up, and two, because for you the passion made it all worthwhile. And it's hard to get that out of your system. If she means all that much to you, I suggest you talk to her about trying again, this time with a focus on working out the compatibility issues between you.

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