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     Dear Justin,

I love my boyfriend (of many years) and we have been through many hard times together, most painfully, his affair. I reacted like most women and tried to be reasonable. My only request was the he cut off all contact with the homewrecker. Months later I find that they still talk and get together and of course he swears that there is no sex or feelings but that she is his friend and I cant 'make him' give up a friend. When I asked him 'what if it was me or her' he became agitated and said he would hate to lose me but he wont stop being her friend. Basically, is he still boning her?


                                      Anonymous



   Anonymous,

While in most cases neither partner should expect the other to give up friends or family for them, if that person(s) is toxic to the relationship/marriage then it is unfair to think it is okay to keep that person around.  The fact that he refuses to give up a "friend" who created such havoc in your relationship means he values the "homewrecker" (as you put it) more than your home and as such he is choosing to wreck the home himself.  While it is hard to end a relationship you need to he has already shown he isn't going to be honest with you about her twice: once with the affair and once by telling you he would stop talking to her.  You deserve better, heart ache hurts, but heals,this relationship will continue to wound your heart.


                                      Justin Nutt, BSW, LMSW



   Dear Justin,

I have not had a job for the past three months, although I have been looking everyday... I have literally applied for 100 + places. I've had some interviews, but nothing works out. I have tried every approach... but that's a whole different advice forum. I understand that he is stressed out about me, he wants me to find something that makes me happy and wants me to pull my own weight. I completely understand this. I want the same for myself as well, I enjoy working and feeling good. I believe we should be mutual, not all of the stress should be put on him. Anyway, I just don't know what to do. I have looked everywhere and tried everything, and he knows of my efforts. However he does not give me credit for all of the work I have done trying to find a job. I obsess over it every day. He often gets upset at me because I have yet to find anything and it hurts me because I am really trying. It's like trying your best and having someone tell you you're not doing good enough. It makes me feel worthless. I do not feel like I'm treated like a lady, I feel like I'm treated like a burden. I feel like since he's helping me out financially, that he does not need to treat me like a woman. Like that is asking too much. I want to feel loved and special. I am still treating him that way and even overcompensating because he has been helping me. I guess what I'm trying to say is, am I asking too much for still wanting that loving feeling? Do I deserve it?

                                      Lisa

   Dear Lisa,

Money is one of the biggest issues that contributes to the most breakups and divorces. Relationships are a partnership, not a 50-50 type thing 100% of the time partnership either. Sometimes or ways one partner gives more and other times and other ways the partner may give more. What is never ok is for one partner to make the other feel as though they are not good enough. Think about what it is you want to say, what the feelings are that you are dealing with and the best way to express that without it sounding as though you are attacking him. Then sit down and talk with him. One of the best components to a healthy relationship is the ability to discuss an issue in a respectful way, and the ability to compromise. I would wonder if he knows how much it hurts and makes you feel when he says those things.

                                      Justin Nutt, BSW, LMSW

   Dear Justin,

I don't know how to put this other than i spoke with my ex today (don't ask, i know, i know bad idea) we've been split for 2months. it was pretty casual, we spoke about what was happening in each other’s lives and mutual friends but the one thing that came up that has me so upset was that he mentioned wanting to travel to Europe..... this doesn't seem like such a big thing except when we were together i really wanted to go but he wasn't into it

The reason this upsets me so much is that he moved onto a french girl only 2weeks after we split (3year live in relationship) he was very upset when i found out and apologetic and denied it meant anything but yet i know this started a very strong friendship between the two. She has since moved home so there is no physical relationship but knowing he now looks to her for comfort etc is a real stab in the heart

So there are now obvious reasons to me as to why he now suddenly wants to travel/live abroad....

I know its his life and has nothing to do with me now, i should only be concerned with myself, my healing. what he now does is no reflection on me but it still hurts so much. if he doesn't want me in his life i shouldn't want him in mine, but i hate that he has found happiness in someone else so quickly and that its meant he wants to do things he previously didn't want to do with me.

i don't hold any hope of us getting back together and i feel that I’ve moved forward in my healing regarding our breakup but i just can't get past how he moved on with her

I feel so rejected or something, that I wasn't good enough, although I know that’s not true.

I don't know what I’m asking here, I just wish someone could wipe those memories from my mind and stop with constant thoughts of him having an amazing time with her

                                      Marie

   Dear Marie,

It is often hurtful when someone we loved and thought loved us wants to do things with or for others that they wouldn't do for us. What you have to remember is that every relationship is different and also people grow and change as a result of the experiences. Perhaps he had no desire to go to Europe because he didn't think it was interesting, but after talking with her she has told him the amazing things that are there. Maybe he changed not only as a result of her, but a result of you, it is really hard to know. Of course that doesn't in itself make it easier to hear that he wants to do things he would do with you. What I would wonder is there things that you now want to do that you wouldn't do with him or that you thought were boring and now enjoy? I would guess the answer is yes, maybe not as big as going to Europe, but then again there maybe. Just keep in mind that the changes that have occurred in his interests has nothing to do with you, that is that he isn't interested now and wasn't then because he didn't care about you, it is mostly that he has simply grown and is a different person than he used to be.      

                                      Justin Nutt, BSW, LMSW


   Dear Justin,

Is this a normal thing to go through and is it healthy? I went through a period of "longing" I guess you could say where I had her up on a pedestal and I wanted nothing but to get her back, then I felt like I accepted it and was fine, and now I've started to hate her intensely. Last time we hung out with mutual friends I completely ignored her, which was immature in hindsight, but I just want to feel like she never existed. I hated her for stringing me along and just so many things about how she dumped me. I know she's cried a few times when we saw each other, but I haven't seen it. I was told by one of our mutual friends. I'm just so angry it's hard to express right now.

                                     L.L.

   Dear L.L.,

Yes this is totally normal. Often there is the euphoric remembrance for the person, putting them on a pedestal like you said and not thinking about all the bad that happened. Then you are often mad at the person, mad at them over the fact that they fooled you into thinking they were perfect, or for thinking that you weren't good enough. Even wishing that you had never met them, or they had never been born. These are all stages of breakups and they should pass in time. The time it takes is different for everyone, but keep in mind one thing...Good or bad, all of our experiences make us who we are. The bad she may have done will make you that much better of a partner for a future someone.

                                     Justin Nutt, BSW, LMSW

   Dear Justin,

I've been with my guy for almost three years. We started as FWB and it has grown into a real relationship. We are together every weekend and spend quite a bit of time on the phone, etc. Our relationship is pretty solid and he is a good person. I love him. The problem is that he has a very hard time talking about his emotions. He has only told me that he loves me a couple of times in three years and usually only because he is responding to my "i love you". His actions towards me show me that he loves me, which I know is the most important thing, but I would like to hear it once in awhile. He told me that he is more emotionally open with me than he has been with any woman in the past. If this is his idea of "emotionally open", I shudder to think what "emotionally closed" would be like to him! He also told me that he has not had good relationship role models when growing up so handling the emotional stuff is hard for him.

I usually let him slide on this because I know it is hard for him but it bothers me because I am a very open and emotional person. The longer we are together, the more I want him to own it and say it. Should I let go of wanting him to say the words and just enjoy our relationship or should I make more of a big deal about it? I don't want him to feel criticized and I know when I bring it up, it makes him feel bad. On the other hand, not hearing it makes me start to doubt the depth of his feelings. Why wouldn't he want to say it? Am I just being a woman and he is just being a man?

                                     Lilly

   Dear Lilly,

I think that not having a good role model can have a huge effect on his ability to express love. That can be hard when you love someone, but a part of love is acceptance of the other as they are. You aren't going to change him, you can support him while he does change and grow if he is able to, but you fell in love with who he is and it would be unfair to reject him now for being that same person. Try talking to him about it. Not telling him that you need him to tell you he loves you, or being mad that he doesn't, simply explain to him that it is something you would enjoy hearing. Have an open and honest talk about the subject. Remember though that while it comes so easy to you saying those 3 words is hard (and most likely scary) to him. You say you know from his actions, but in this talk ask him if he feels that way for you even if he can't say the words themselves.

                                     Justin Nutt, BSW, LMSW


   Dear Justin,

I am completely heartbroken as I write this. Two years ago, "Jake" came into my life and after a few dates, I was very happy with how things were going. He told me that he has emotional and trust problems because of his ex-wife and he wanted to take things nice and slow with me. As time went on, he began telling me the things his ex-wife did. He even described her as manipulative and a clever liar. Their marriage ended because she was having an affair and wanted to be with her boyfriend. When Jake and I began dating, he had been divorced for 1.5 years. His ex was still with her boyfriend. And Jake rarely talked to her unless it was about their son. I encouraged Jake to attempt at becoming for civil with her, forging her, etc. Well, after a year of being with him, he and his ex became really good friends. Talked and texted each other all the time. I found it to be overkill, but he was happy to have a friendly relationship with his child's mom because it was best for their child. Well, FF to now. His ex-wife got pregnant by her bf last fall and was completely ecstatic about the pregnancy. And then at 3 months, she lost the baby. A month later, she was dumping her boyfriend because she suspected he was cheating on her for the last few months. Next thing I know, my bf is dumping me out of the blue. And now, they are back together and she is expecting his baby again. Is this just me or is this insane? How do I get over this pain? Now after helping him overcome the trust and emotional issues that he had because of her, I'm now in his shoes because of HIM being in a relationship with the woman who gave him HIS problems. Ugggh!!!

                                     Teresa


   Dear Teresa,

This isn't something that is totally uncommon, so first off don’t be too hard on yourself or think that it is something that is wrong with you.  Oftentimes, individuals become the healer of a partner or potential partner only so they can return back to the person that treated him or her so poorly, or on to someone new who will be just as bad, or worse.  Sometimes people may go into it with this intent, thinking that they can heal or rescue the other person and that will make the person fall in love or stay with them, other times it is totally out of true interest and the belief that there is a mutually loving relationship and it is simply one partner supporting another and helping the way they should.  Whether the intent is to save the person or it is simply what one should do in a relationship, when there is a large amount of damage that the partner hasn’t worked through it can lead to this type of cycle.  While you encouraged him to be civil with his ex for the sake of their son (which is in my opinion a great thing that more people need to do) you didn’t cause the two of them to end up back together and it isn’t you that made them fall back in love/get back together.  It sounds to me like he was never truly over her, which means that in the truest sense, he didn’t actually reject you.  I know that may not make sense, but what I am trying to say is that it sounds as though he didn’t do the work to heal himself before dating you and he was thinking trying to make you fit the round hole she left in his heart and you were a square peg, which anyone else would've been too.  I am not saying that this is something he did out of malice or even consciously, all of this could've been something he wasn’t aware of.  When the miscarriage happened, his ex may have rejected the baby’s father for a number of reasons, and she sought him out because it was a comfortable place: she had treated him poorly before and he still loved her, so he was a safe place.  And as he still held hope for them, even if it was not realized to him and they got back together. 

As for you, which is what is really important, there are a number of things you can do to heal, and that is what you really need to do so that you don’t end up in the situation he was in.  The biggest and first thing to do is to rebuild your self-esteem. There are a number of ways to do that and I will attach some exercises to this email to help you with it.  I would also suggest some professional help, sometimes getting help before early on can prevent bigger more serious issues from forming and can also help speed the process along so you are back to a place where you know you deserve to be loved and not feel as though you are less than worthy because he was broken.

                                     Justin Nutt, BSW, LMSW

   Dear Justin, 

So i have been dating this guy for a month "officially" and just casually seeing him for a little longer than that..like 2 weeks so a 5 weeks and we have hung out almost every weekend and a couple days since we started dating and I still feel awkward around him..still feel a little like you do on a first date (flustered) He is quieter than I'm used to and honestly i start and carry on most the conversation. The conversation doesn't flow very easily via text and in person its a little better..not much.

He does nice things for me...has taken me to the airport, helped me when my car broke down, has cooked for me. Gave me my own tooth brush at his house...etc but i worry about us physically. His ex's were all smaller girls and we have been physical 4 times now and neither of us have finished through sex (i think due to condoms but we both finished through other stuff) but i also worry maybe the attraction isn't there but he does compliment me and act like he likes me.

He isn't my normal type but being close to him and kissing doesn't repulse or gross me out and it does turn me on I'm just not super attracted to him and i get the feeling he feels the same way about me..tho we haven't talked about it (what kind of guy would be honest about that lol). I'm just more worried that i didnt' feel an emotional connection to him...is it just to early to tell? 

Should i wait and see if this develops with more time seems how its still early or should i assume since the conversation isn't easy and the sex hasn't worked so well that we aren't a good pair?


                                                   Star


    Dear Star,

I would call it quits now. If there isn't that spark there after this amount of time the chance it will develop is very small. Also, I would guess he feels the same way and you are both wondering the same thing.  At this point neither of you seem to be extremely interested in the other and since it has been a short period of time there is little harm at ending the dating since there are a number of times when dating just doesn't work and at this point it is a no harm no foul type of thing.  I think that if the two of you continue on the is the risk that if he doesn't feel the same way that he may become more interested and what will happen is that when you do call it quits he will be that much more hurt.


                                     Justin Nutt, BSW, LMSW  

   Dear Justin,

I'm a single guy with 2 young kids; I have them every other week. Today is the start of one of my weeks.

I'm dating a woman who has no kids. My kids have met her once or twice before, briefly, and I've been considering the possibility of slowly bringing her into the picture. 

Last night, I invited my girlfriend to come visit me tonight, after I got my kids settled. She said maybe, she'd see how she was feeling, when she got of work, etc. We talked about it again earlier today. Tonight, she texts me that she and a co-worker decided to go out to a movie. 

This is not the first time I've invited her over, when my kids were here, and she's basically ignored the invitation. She says she's not intimidated by my kids. She's also said she was looking to be more serious with me. However, I get the impression that she *is* uncomfortable about my kids, or that she would just rather not sit at home when she can go out, even though I have to stay home. In fact, she usually won't come over at all during the week my kids are with me, and we just talk on the phone. This makes me kind of lonely during these weeks.

Am I being too selfish here? Clingy? Unrealistic? Is it selfish to expect a girlfriend to spend time with you even when you're tied to your house because of kids? 

My guess is that my girlfriend and I may simply have different priorities and that this is probably not a good match. I just want to make sure I'm not overreacting.

                                     Peter


   Dear Peter,

 I don't think that you are expecting too much at all. Just like when a man with no children dates a single mom and they are also dating the kids in a sense too. As a man who doesn't have children, but has dated single moms I can understand her unwillingness to meet your children if it is early on in the relationship. Kids sometimes change the dynamic of a relationship and if you meet a woman (or a man's in this case) children too soon there can be a confusion over if you are with the person because you like the kids or you like the woman (man.) Now I would say if you have been dating for some time and she is still apprehensive about meeting your children you may need to have a talk with her about the reason for this. 

A good analogy for dating is that dating is the interview and the relationship or marriage is the job. If you were interviewing people for a job as a chef you would want to know if the person was any good at cooking and comfortable in the kitchen. In your situation you need to know if she likes children and how she feels about the fact you have them a previous marriage. It would be a terrible thing to end up with this woman and find out that she doesn't like children or that she saw yours as an inconvenience.

                                     Justin Nutt, BSW, LMSW

   Dear Justin,

I dated a man for three years and while it was good in the beginning it became a serious nightmare or beatings and abuse.  Each time he would do something terrible he would come back and say how sorry he was and that it wouldn't happen again.  It did always happen again tho.  I now escaped that relationship, but I can't trust men and if not for your talk you gave a few months ago there is no way I would even reach out to  a man, but it is clear you get it.  Well anyways my question is this: how do I learn to trust again?  I have met "good guys" since then, but I feel like they couldn't ever really want me or they will do something and I will think that they are going to abuse me.  I just want to move on it has been a year since I left him for good. I met someone right after leaving him and started dating him and have dated several men since and all have been short lived relationships, but like I said it doesn't work out.  What am I doing wrong?

                               Praying to move on,

                                            Holly A


   Dear Holly,

I first want to say thank you for reaching out to me with the severe distrust you stated you have of men.  I also want to say that it is hard to learn to trust again and hard to also not place the sins of on partner on to future ones.  Likewise, is is hard to feel that you are worthy of someone new after an abusive relationship due to that tearing down of self-worth and self-esteem being one of the greatest tool that abusive partners use.  You stated something that I wanted to address you say that you met someone "right after leaving" the abusive partner and also that you have dated several men since him all short lived relationships.  It sounds like you have not had any amount of time to truly process all of the terrible things that happened during that relationship or to realize your true worth.  The greatest advice that I would give is that you need that time, we all need that time.  Even with the healthiest of relationships there needs to be that time to process what went well and what went bad so that you can understand who you are in the present before you move on to the future.  You need to take time to learn to trust others and more importantly yourself and most importantly to rebuild your self-worth so that whom ever you date down the road you know who you are and that you have value.  This will do two great things for you.  1. if you end up going out with a guy who is abusive you will know you deserve better and have to strength to stand up and telling him you aren't going to accept that.  2. if you meet a "good guy" you will know that you deserve to be treated the way that he is treating you and also be able to accept that it isn't an act which is so often put on by the "bad guy."

 

                                     Justin Nutt, BSW, LMSW

   Dear Justin,


I have been dating a girl for a few months now and I am starting to fall for her.  Problem is that she seems at times to be pushing me away and not liking me to do anything for her or showing no interest and at others she seems to wonder why I am not doing things for her.  I have tried many times to work to make her happy and show her  how much I love her.  I will do all these little things that I know the guys before her never did (and they were guys that treated her like crap) but yet I don't seem to get the reaction that I am hoping for.  I am wondering what it is that I am not doing right?  How do I prove to her that I love her?  I am starting to feel like the old saying "nice guys finish last is true."

                                     Steve O.

   Dear Steve,

This is something that I think a lot of the "Good Guys" have experienced, I know that I personally have.   While each situation is different that it sounds like she is used to the "bad guy" and while she may want you to do things for her, she also may feel as though she doesn't deserve it.  The truth is that a lot of the emotions and mixed responses you are getting from her largely have very little to do with you and as hard as it is to hear the is very little you can do to prove that you love her, because you aren't really "doing" anything wrong.  You last statement is something that I have heard a great number of times.  While you are not the "bad guys" from her past, you are still paying for what they did wrong.  Similarly, while you are not the one who was in a relationship with them you are being damaged by the abuse that they perpetrated.  A lot of times what will happen is that the good guy bad guy syndrome becomes cyclical, but it doesn't have to not for you and not for her, but it is on each of you separately to avoid that happening.  The biggest suggestion I would make is to sit down and talk about all of this with her, making sure not to make her feel as though you are judging her.  She may not even realize what is happening or the way it is affecting you.  If she is used to the "guys that treated her like crap" the desire to talk is probably one ofthe best ways to show her that you are not one as the bad guy generally cares little about talking things out or her emotions.  

                                     Justin Nutt, BSW, LMSW

   Dear Justin, 

I broke off an engagement one year ago Feb 12, and it wasn't a good relationship. It was a very manipulative relationship and it has done it's damage. Now there an opportunity that seems like a healthy relationship, but I feel like I am still damaged from the past relationship. I feel like I should be on my feet/the problems fixed before I get into another relationship. Is this necessary before getting into another relationship?

                                      R.V.


   Dear R.V.

It is always important to be secure in yourself before you enter into a new relationship.  That is one of the reasons that rebound relationships almost without exception fail.  When two people enter into a relationship both people need to be whole individuals who know who they are and are secure in their own feelings about themselves.  The most healthy relationships aren't those where one partner completes the other, but those times when two people who are complete come together and compliment each other.  More than that ask yourself two question...what happens if you go into a healthy relationship without knowing who you are?  And also, if it is a healthy relationship, but it doesn't work out, will you be prepared for the next if you haven't healed from the bad one?  


                                     Justin Nutt, BSW, LMSW

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