Dear Dr Romance,
I seek some understanding & hope that you will be able to help. I think that I don't know what love is & it has me in constant turmoil. I married when I was 23 yrs old & have 2 beautiful children. Regrettably, the marriage ended in divorce. I am American & I was used for a green card. I was not aware of such things in life. The cruelty that exist amongst men. Not only was I used in such a way, he was also a cheater & a drunk. Yes, I know...I did not do my homework. But, believe it or not. I would not have known what to look for. I was very naive into believing everything that was told to me.
Later in life, I met Edward...who I started to have a life with. By then, my children were 6 & 9. Please note, that I divorced shortly after my children were just 1 & 3. So, imagine my excitement to have found..what I thought was a good man. I became pregnant rather quickly, so now I have 3 children. I had stopped working when I was pregnant & began to take notice of things. Not only did I take notice of things...but our relationship started to deteriorate. I prayed & played the good wife in an attempt to save my relationship. After all, I was going to have another child. I did not want to be alone with 3 children. I did not want to break the stability that I had found. But, things did get out of control & turned out really bad. To the extent where my children would hide in their rooms, when he came home from work. My older children are very bright, smart & normal in every sense of the word. It broke my heart to see that our relationship was hurting my children. I spoke to him about going to a marriage counselor, but he refused. I didn't feel loved anymore. I didn't feel that he cared. He didn't care.
He was too consumed with smoking pot to realize anything. Therefore, I made a decision. Found a job & left him.
At the job a special co-worker started to pursue me...and eventually I fell for him. I fell deeply in LOVE. He's an older man. 10 yrs my senior. Wow, if I had known how much better it was to be with an older man.
He was so loving & charming. He taught me plenty. He loved my children & my children loved him. He's a divorced man with 3 children of his own. He knew how to talk to us & how to treat us. He was gentle & kind. Very romantic too. I had never met a man like this. I felt like a Queen. He didn't have money, so that started to become a problem for me, since I was always paying for all of us. It kinda reminded me of my 1st husband. Was I paying to be treated so lovingly in return? I started to get nervous & have my doubts. This man had even proposed, in front of my family with a beautiful ring...in which I had accepted. Even though...I wasn't too sure.
I was scared. In the meantime, my Ex-boyfriend Edward went crazy & wanted us back. He cried so much & apologized with such profoundness. He had stopped with the drugs & was so very sorry. He said he didn't know what he had. He didn't appreciate the family that he had. He had always been alone & it had been difficult for him to adjust to me, the kids & a new baby. My youngest son, his son who was 2yrs old...would cry forever & ever it seemed. He wanted his father. They were both hurting & I started to hurt. I had not experienced such a thing with my older children. I was in pain. Torn between 2 people. My new love was becoming very jealous & concerned. I guess, he had every right to be. but, his jealousy & controlling ways just pushed me farther away. Made me more suspicious of him.
In summary. I left my new love & started down the road towards recovery with my ex. The father of my youngest child. After a year had passed...not yet living together...we decided that it was time to be as one again. I was exhausted. Being alone with the 3 children was so much work & I felt at peace with him. I was happy. I wanted to be with him. He indeed did change & he proved it, time & time again. We bought a house & we're soon to be married. I wanted a ceremony in which my children...will see their mom getting married at last. Our house is beautiful. The children are happy. We are happy. We live in a beautiful town & everything seemed perfect. I say seemed because...I'm still at the same company where I had found that new love & he still works here too.
I've tried so hard to ignore him. He leaves me messages, notes, voice mails & mails...telling me that I've made a mistake. That he loves me so & is suffering. That Edward is not that man for me. That HE is. He is my soulmate. The only man that truly understands me. I've threated to go to the owner of the company & complain. He'll stop for a little while & start all over again.
Tells me how beautiful I am. How incredibly sexy he finds me. How he wishes to kiss me. He's even went as far as to tell me that he will be my lover...if he cannot have me any other way.
I can't stop thinking about him. He's in my thoughts, in my dreams. I miss him so. but, how can this be? I was so sure of what I had decided to do. I've even gone to therapy to help me sort things out & things were sorted out...so I thought. Is my mind playing games? I cannot leave this job...I need the income. I need exactly what I make..or more. I already travel 1-1/2 hours to work. There is nothing for me where I live. I suffer silently...although HE knows how I truly feel. We somehow made a bond that's been difficult to break. I feel connected to him. Deeply connected.
Please tell me what you think of this whole story. Am I insane?
You are definitely not insane; you're just not thinking clearly. From your letter, it appears that you've been going from relationship to relationship without a clear idea of what you want, or what love and partnership are. You have always tried to figure out your partner -- not your self.
You are still focused on what the men in your life want. I know it's flattering to have two men interested in you, but how about getting interested in yourself?
You have only one question to answer. What do you want? Translate that question to mean: What will work best for you, give you the best result? Stop looking at love like a little Cinderella waiting for her prince to come along; and start looking at it through the eyes of a grown-up mom with three kids. When you have considered it from your own point of view, including taking care of your own children, you will know who you want to be with.
Once you know who you want to be with, then it's only a matter of telling the truth to both men. Be as clear as you can, and then cut off communication with the man you don't choose, so he can move on with his life, and you and your partner can move on with your relationship. "How to Avoid Loving a Jerk" will help you understand what is acceptable in a relationship and what is not. "How to Handle a Bad Breakup" will help you let go of anyone you end it with. "Your Primary Relationship" will help you find what you're looking for inside.
It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction has all the information and exercises you need to sort out your relationship with yourself, which will give you the basis for all other relationships.
For low-cost counseling, email me at email@example.com
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.
Dr. Tessina, is CRO (Chief Romance Officer) for LoveForever.com, a website designed to strengthen relationships and guide couples through the various stages of their relationship with personalized tips, courses, and online couples counseling. Online, she’s known as “Dr. Romance” Dr. Tessina appears frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC News.