Did He Ever Love Me?

Dear Tansy,

I am totally heartbroken and feel like I have been betrayed by someone I really believed loved me. Recently, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and am now undergoing chemotherapy. I told my boyfriend of two years, Joe, of the diagnosis and told him that the doctors said things looked very positive for me. I know that I’m a fighter; I refuse to let this cancer get the better of me and know I have many good years left to live.

What has me totally depressed and heartbroken is the fact that soon after I told my boyfriend about all of this, he informed me that he thought we should date other people! This took place about two weeks ago and I haven’t heard from him since! This is so hard for me to believe, that someone I thought loved me would just disappear at one of worst times of my life. Did he ever love me? If he did, how could he act this way? I don’t know what is worse—feeling betrayed or feeling like an absolute fool. Can you help me?

Detroit, MI

Dear Helen,

I will tell you that although I know you find this hard to believe, yes, your boyfriend did (and does) love you. The problem is, how you and I may define love does not translate into the same definition for Joe. One reason Joe had a relationship with you is because he admired your many positive qualities. He realizes that one of your qualities is strength and he secretly believes that he lacks this in himself. Therefore, he was much attracted to you because of this.

Joe rightly suspects that you are now becoming a different person, a person undergoing a change because of a catastrophic illness. Where you and I see this as a circumstance that will showcase your strength and optimism, Joe sees it as something to be feared, a circumstance that will change the relationship between you and himself. And he is correct in this. Your strength, for a time, will need to be devoted to yourself and not to those around you.

I know that you feel betrayed for two reasons. One is that Joe is certainly not displaying some of the qualities that you feel he had. This is certainly a grave disappointment, which makes you feel as if you have been “played for a fool.”

The other reason is that you know, definitely, that if Joe were to tell you that he had been diagnosed with cancer, you would be there for him even more strongly, if that is possible. To you, love means being there through thick and thin for the other person, and Joe is not only not providing support that you so earnestly need but he has completely removed himself from this picture.

I can also tell you that once you have completed chemo and life has returned to a more normal pattern for you, Joe will once again get in touch and attempt to resume the relationship. Of course, it’s up to you if you choose to do this, but I cannot predict that you will find this possible. You have been betrayed and abandoned, to your way of thinking, and this is completely understandable.

My prediction for you is that you will go on, not resume the relationship with Joe, and will accept the comfort and support of others around you. Joe may or may not experience growth and a degree of empathy. However, this is not your problem. You will deal with the challenge life has given you and go on to become an even stronger individual.


Tansy ext. 5289

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7 thoughts on “Did He Ever Love Me?

  1. Kim Oliver

    Yes, Im sure the guy was afraid that he could be left alone in case she didnt recover, but there also could be another selfish reason behind his disappearance. Maybe, he was afraid that she would have to have her breast removed, and that scared him even more! Men are visual creatures whose sexual fulfillments require a perfect, intact body. If she does recover without losing a breast, and he wants to come back to her, then I would wonder if it was because she didnt lose a sexual part of her body. That would cause me not to take him back or trust his changed decsision.

  2. Alexa

    I had similar experience-s with my husband and it definitely changed my feelings
    towards him, left eventually and would never consider going back…though he was the
    love of my life…a good man, good provider, good father…But when I needed him most
    during cancer treatment, he was not there for me. He had lost 2 brothers to cancer and
    I realized he may have been scared…but…to me…thats no excuse, sorry….We remain
    in good terms but I could never live with a man that is that weak. Also, he has never
    explained to me why…or apologyzed….for not being there.

  3. Suzi Wallis

    I have a similar case in my life, I went through a series of serious health problems and my partner was completely absent, present in body but absent in any other way, having read your experience, I realise now that he probably couldn’t admit any of it to herself. We are still together and I have forgiven him, but for a long time I held his attitude against him and wad very lonely, mainly because he is still in my life and my expectations at the time were not being met. If one is alone, our expectations are not the same so nor are our disappointments. However, the best thing I did was forgive him because that freed up my feelings of begrudging, I got emotionally better. It was as if I had lifted a great weight of my shoulders, it was a waste of energy. I use that energy in much more positive ways. Our relationship will never be the same again but it is getting better, I just keep working at it.

  4. devyn5303devyn5303

    This is great advice Tansy. I think also that Joe just absolutely did not know how to handle the news. His way of dealing with it was to run away. I think if Helen was to look a little deeper she would find that this has been a bit of a pattern with him. I agree with you that Helen just has a huge heart and could never imagine doing the same to anyone else. Hang in there Helen, you are going to do just great!!!


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