Dear Neil: I’ve had an awful secret for about 8 months now. I met a guy and we hit it off like no other. We are incredible together and I love him more than any man I’ve ever been with. We were both separated when we met, and I got divorced over a year ago.
But last December, he and his wife got pregnant. I was crushed because I never thought he, of all people, would cheat on me (yes, I know that sounds backward). She has now delivered the baby and I’m very afraid I’m going to lose him. As far as I know, they will still get the divorce, but it’s now been pushed back for obvious reasons. I love this man with all my heart, and I want to forgive him because I still want him. But I need to know if I’m doing the right thing by still wanting to be with him.
Don’t Know Which Way To Go
Dear Don’t Know: You have no choice but to back off and let them attempt to keep their family intact. If they fall apart, he’s fair game. If they stay together, he belongs to another, not to you.
And I will state the obvious: Your boyfriend did not exactly cheat on you, even if he were not with his wife when you met. Marriage is an emotional relationship, and those emotions can run very hot and very cold, as I’m sure you well know. But in the end, he remained married to his wife—which is a statement in and of itself. Now they have a strong reason to stay together and attempt to make their relationship work. A child may not keep a relationship together, but it’s a powerful incentive.
I know you think the two of you are meant for each other, but that is your hope talking, and it may not accurately reflect what’s real. Allow him to decide what he wants to do, but don’t be surprised if he stays with his wife. He might be the right one for you, but he also may belong to another. And if he does, he’s going to choose her.
Dear Neil: We all have dear friends or family members who are compulsive talkers, and who wear us out because they just can’t stop talking. Can you help me deal with these people?
Annoyed in Parker, Colorado
Dear Annoyed: People who repeatedly talk too much tend to be self-absorbed and needy. They are looking for empathy, or support, or validation and maybe a pat on the back. Occasionally they are looking for advice, but more often than not they just need for someone to take an interest in them. They are most likely unaware that they are talking too much and that you want the conversation to end.
The most effective way of stopping people from incessantly talking is to set a time limit on the conversation. You could say, for instance, that you only have 15 minutes because you’re expecting a phone call, or you have a headache, or you’re not feeling well and you have to lay down. This is obviously easier to do on the phone than it is in person, but you can also set a time limit in person. The key is to not set a meeting up at a home or a restaurant where people expect to visit with each other. If you, for example, scheduled an activity, movie, a game or a project all of you do together, then you are doing things with each other rather than just talking. Of course, you could also make your visits less frequent and shorter as well.
The one thing you’re avoiding, however, is to simply be honest with the other person. You could say, as an example: “Mary, I have noticed the last several times we have talked that I have said almost nothing and you have dominated our conversations. What could we do in order to have a more give-and-take conversation this time?” Or, you might say: “I care about you and want to be there for you, but I don’t want you to talk my ear off. Could we have more of an equal conversation this time?”
If this person is important to you and you wish to have a future relationship, then your feelings and needs count also.