She Left But He Still Simmers
Q: My live-in girlfriend of 5 1/2 years just decided to up and leave all in a day. We were going to marry, but it was obvious our bond has broken down and we weren't having sex anymore as there was so much other stress going on near the end (work, family, etc.). I'm sure she wanted a fling. She moved to an apartment and gave me the address and phone number, but needed "time." This "time" turned into many dates and drunken behavior. She is 46 and has regressed to a wild 20-year-old. A year and a half have gone by and she has kept me hanging on and let me know there are several guys she sleeps with. She said I kept pushing her aside. She has changed her number three times, but then always calls me or sends me a text to ask how I'm doing. I want to tell her so much, but I keep my mouth shut. Now I am over the hurt and just hate her for the choices she makes. Need I put my foot down? Or just walk silently? -- Greg, 45
Dr. Susan: Accepting the hopelessness of a situation is never easy, but sometimes the smartest thing to do is walk away and get on with your life. But first, let me say something about your first sentence. She didn't decide to leave "all in a day." I'm sure she'd been brooding on getting out for a long while, perhaps as long as the two of you were under so much stress and stopped having sex. Somehow the two of you allowed your relationship to fall apart, rather than keeping it as a priority in your lives, something that would have cushioned those other stresses if you'd managed it better. Now that all this time has gone by and you've seen the kinds of choices she's making, you'd do well to get over her completely. Don't respond to her "how are you" calls and texts. She's playing with you, for whatever sick reason. Even that hate you feel will eventually soften into not caring at all. Putting your foot down, as you say, will accomplish nothing but to stir up old animosities. Find people to express your feelings to (a friend, a therapist), but don't dwell on them. Life is short, so learn what you can from this dead relationship and move on quickly.
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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.