Don't Settle, but she already is

By Tom P Blake

Sue wrote, "I have written many letters to you over the past few years but I never sent one of them. I always chickened out, feeling like my relationship could never be accurately explained and understood by others. I promised myself that you will get this one!

 

"I would greatly appreciate your opinion about my current relationship. I am 53, successful in my career, three grown children, take care of myself to look healthy and attractive, and own my home.  

 

"After 26 years of marriage, I divorced my husband in 2008. In May, 2009, I met a wonderful man through Plenty of Fish (POF). We live an hour apart. We instantly hit it off. We have many shared interests, likes/dislikes, similar temperaments, values, priorities. I knew early on that he was a man of integrity and quality.

 

"He had been divorced for 14 years but his marriage had been verbally and emotionally abusive and he hadn't healed from those deep hurts and scars. While I was happy and feeling hopeful about our future, Jerry always held back.

 

"During the first two years, he broke up with me twice. I was absolutely devastated the first time; we reconciled after a week. The second time, I was hurt and confused but each day became easier. We reconciled after three months. We have been dating each other ever since (two years).

 

"Jerry always said he didn't want to remarry and I should date others because he knew I wanted a lifelong partner. I did date others during the first two years. I don't know if he dated or not.

 

"There are so many things I'd like to ask him but I'm afraid of his answers so I have fallen into an ambiguous behavior pattern. I refuse to ask him questions if I don't think I'll like the answers, they might cause me pain/upset, or might cause me to take action."

 

"We continued spending many week-ends together and calling, emailing during the week (we both have challenging careers).  Right before our third anniversary, I had an uneasy feeling after a phone call. I cannot explain what happened but I was guided to my computer, POF, and his online profile. I was so hurt.

 

"At 11:30 PM I jumped in my car and drove 60 minutes to his house. I confronted him with his profile. He was very reassuring, said it didn't mean anything, he just liked reading profiles, no one ever contacted him. I wanted to believe him but it took a lot of soul-searching and determination to try again. I asked him to take down his profile and be exclusive. He agreed.

 

"At this same time, he began to have ED and required prostate surgery. The surgery has not been 100% successful and ED drugs give him headaches. We have had to adapt our sex life and neither of us are thrilled with the changes.

 

"We are completing our fourth summer and it has had ups and downs. We spent as much time as we could together, but we both took extended vacations to visit family and have been apart quite a lot.

 

"Last week I began to wonder if I should resume dating other men because it seems Jerry is content with our situation but unwilling to involve himself emotionally. He keeps up a guard, a wall. He does not allow himself to be put in vulnerable situations. He goes to great lengths to avoid confrontation. Yet I can see love in his eyes and his smile but he has never told me he loves me (remember, 4 years!).

 

"I saw an ad on Our Time (a senior dating website) and decided to look at it. Guess what I found? A profile that matched Jerry's 100%!  No picture or words this time, I'm guessing he doesn't want to pay. I cannot tell you how hurt I have been. I didn't mention it this past week-end because I don't want him to know I know.

 

"Why would an impotent, 62-year-old man have a dating profile? I got online this evening and he had been active within one hour of me leaving him. What's going on? Are men addicted to online dating? I really don't see how he would have time to meet, date women. I think he is just trolling the profiles as a hobby.

 

"I stay with him because I cannot imagine any other person making me as happy as Jerry makes me. It doesn't matter what we do, we have fun and enjoy being together. We finish each other's thoughts and sentences. He is smart, funny, clever, and kind. He is very easy-going and accepting of others.

 

"I want him to stop looking at dating profiles! Ridiculous! Sometimes I want to maintain my own house and enjoy my independence. Other times, I want to remarry. Other times I want to live together. At this particular moment, I'd settle (bold face and italics entered by Tom) for some kind reassurances and travel plans. 

 

I'm thinking we need  to talk openly and honestly about the online dating profile. We need to discuss why he won't say I love you. We need to discuss where we are going and how we are going to get there. I need to work on my self-esteem and set boundaries. Jerry needs to find a more appropriate hobby.

 

Tom's answer to Sue

 

You are part of the problem with Jerry. In the second to last paragraph, you said, "I'd settle for..." You already have settled. You have settled for four years of not being told he loves you. You have settled because you are afraid that the truth you might hear may be painful. For two people to succeed as a couple, there must be open, honest communication. You don't have that with him because of your fear.

 

You have settled by thinking his studying online profiles of other women is just a hobby and you are not facing the reality that he is looking for another woman who will make him happier. A man of "integrity and quality" does not do that.

 

You have settled for him telling you to date others, while not knowing if he has or not because of your fear of knowing the truth.

 

You see love in his eyes and smile. But, his actions don't connect with love. This is a man who hasn't healed after 14 years.

 

You need to:

 

1. Identify what you want from this relationship

 

2. Open communications and get the cards on the table, not just about his "online hobby," but about all things important

 

3. Be prepared to be on your own because that's what may happen from the communications

 

4. Find self esteem and courage

 

5. Stop settling

 

If you don't do these things, you will be stuck in the same rut you've been in for the last four years.

 

I'm certain our Champs will have further comments.

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