Dear Neil: I have been in an on-again/off-again relationship with a man for over 5 years. He’s asked me to marry him 3 times. We have a beautiful son together. The issue is that when we have disagreements, he goes off and finds himself another girl. But at the family Christmas dinner he told me that things aren’t going well between him and his new girl. She told him that she thought he had commitment issues.
I love this man, but I am scared to keep investing in him. When things go bad, he’s off with someone else—and then runs back to me when he feels alone.
Dear On-Again/Off-Again: A relationship requires real and consistent effort over time. You cannot declare your love for someone today, and then run off with someone else tomorrow if you expect to be believed and trusted. Is this all you feel you deserve? Someone who will care about you as long as everything is comfortable and easy? What if you were to lose a job, break a leg, get depressed or be diagnosed with a threatening illness? Is this what you desire—a fair weather lover?
If differences, arguments or disputes are not permitted because you fear he will leave, you will completely lose your voice in this relationship. As a result, this is not a relationship you will ever feel safe and secure in, and you will never feel like you’re being treated as an equal.
Dump this guy. You cannot call him yours, and you can’t trust him. Find someone who can be yours—and who you can trust.
Dear Neil: Is there anything I can do to get my boyfriend back? He broke up with me and went back to an ex-girlfriend. But he tells me he loves me, and wants me to wait while “this plays out.” Your advice?
Dear Heartbroken: Your boyfriend is stringing you along. Whether it works out with the other woman or not, it doesn’t sound as if you have his heart. He may come back to you if the other woman rejects him, but it is likely that if he does, he will use you as a way-station until something better comes along. Either way, you’re never going to feel confident that he actually wants you.
No doubt you have a lot to offer a guy. Find one who wants you, and who isn’t looking for something else.
Dear Neil: I’ve been dating someone for 9 months. We got closer and closer until she started running away. Yet she says she doesn’t want to lose me. I don’t know what to do next. Any advice?
Feeling Like a Yo-Yo
Dear Yo-Yo: Invite her to talk about what she’s reacting to or what she’s afraid of. Perhaps the two of you got too close for comfort, and she needed to push away. And then again, perhaps you fell for her all alone. Either way, you want someone who wants you, and you don’t want someone who doesn’t want you. Right?
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