Dear Neil: I was blindsided by my ex-husband. He fell in love with another woman while I thought we were happily married. The day after we divorced four years ago, he married her. Since then, I haven’t been willing to get really close to another man, fearing the same thing would happen again. Could you recommend a first step I could take in order to begin healing this wound?
Still Hurting In Florida
Dear Still Hurting: Sometimes we respond to hurt and betrayal by choosing to guard ourselves-and to insulate our hearts and our emotions-from ever feeling the same feelings (or intensity of feelings) again. We wall off our hearts, and dare not risk love again, which is safe, but terribly unsatisfying and lonely.
It sounds to me that you don’t trust yourself to make a wise decision about romance anymore, so you’re essentially opting out of the process all together. So ask yourself this question: “What would it take for me to trust myself?”
You can change this scenario. You can make a decision to risk your heart again. Only this time go into the whole experience with conscious, wide-open eyes. Don’t be mistrusting, suspicious or paranoid, but do pay attention to what is happening so you minimize the risk of getting blindsided again. Put faith in yourself so you can trust your perceptions and judgments again.
Dear Neil: I have a friend who is in a big dilemma. “Geoff” met a friend who he got on with very well, and she was a great match for him. Six months into the relationship, Geoff discovered that he was going to be a dad. He and his lady decided that the only true option was to have the baby and commit to a future with each other, so he rang family and friends with the good news. Three weeks later, Geoff was then told by the woman that there was a possibility that he was not the father.
The dilemma is that Geoff now feels that he can’t trust her, knowing that she stood by and heard him tell his family and friends that he was the dad-when in fact she knew that he may not be. He is prepared to stand by her no matter what if the child is his, but he feels betrayed by her lack of openness and honesty on this issue.
Trying To Help in New Zealand
Dear Trying To Help: Perhaps Geoff could have a doctor do a simple blood test after the baby arrives which would establish paternity beyond a doubt. This could help Geoff feel more comfortable, assuming the baby is indeed his.
Second, he could ask the woman why she was not more forthcoming about the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy up-front, and why she allowed him to tell family and friends without letting him in on the whole truth. Two people in a committed relationship must be able to trust each other, and must be able to assume that neither is intentionally misleading or deceiving the other. This is where Geoff and his girlfriend need to clear the air and reach agreements about honesty, full disclosure, fidelity and trustworthiness in the future.