Catherine from Watertown, Connecticut asks:
I was briefly engaged to a man who had proposed three times before I accepted. The relationship ended when he continued to see an old girlfriend he has been obsessing over. She is sick, and he had helped her for a year. We had dated off and on thru all of this. I am a widow and not young anymore. I also have limited resources, so he had been very helpful financially. I love him very much, and feel we would have had a chance, but an old love which has not gone away has been hard on me. Currently, he is in therapy, and already seeing someone who he had been dating before. He fears living alone. He cannot spend much time by himself. I feel I was a safe haven, and somewhat used for one and a half years. I do need to move on, but dating is just a little soon for me. This was not a negative experience–I just picked the wrong type of guy who thought he could make it with me. He is three and a half years younger than me. He still calls and wants to see me.
Greetings, Catherine, and thanks for sharing this remarkable tale. You certainly seem to have had your share of sorrow in this situation, but rather than indulging in a lot of finger-pointing, I’d prefer to look closely at the matter from a different perspective. Often we become so accustomed to only accepting relationships that fit the Jell-O mold society issues us that we totally miss the human component behind it all. We become so incensed when a person fails to live up to our standards that simple compassion is pushed aside. I don’t doubt you love this rascal, and I’m here to tell you, there is nothing wrong with loving him. You just have to learn to be realistic as to what he is actually capable of giving you, and contrast that honestly with what you are willing to accept.
The struggle of passions between you two is noteworthy, because it indicates a very sensual connection; real chemistry brewing below the surface. You not only love this man, you want him–you desire him. From what I see, those feelings are reciprocal. He really wants to love you… But, what incredible pressure he feels. All men love a good chase. They love catching their lady prey. However, deep down, I’m not sure this fellow was really ready for marriage despite the fact that he asked you three times for the arrangement. I think early on he sensed that marriage was important to you. Since he wanted very much to please you, he was hoping maybe he could adapt and give you the thing you wanted from him. He read your cues and played your game, and you have both ended up suffering for his naive maneuverings because the fact is: he’s just not into monogamy. Despite your passionate connection, or maybe even because of it, catastrophe of a most tragic sort could hardly be averted.
When we try too hard to categorize love, to make it fit in some “proper” space, it finds other ways to issue forth, tearing away at the fabric of our lives. Yes, this man wants you… But he also feels just as deeply and just as legitimately for another. You cannot force someone to change their emotions for your own benefit. All you will get from that is attempted repression and future resentment. So my advice is: Allow yourself to experience what it is to love this man without all the demands and conditions. To love without condition is what everyone says they want… Little do they realize the sacrifice that actually entails. For you, it means freeing this man to live and love as he chooses. The two of you can have a real, raw love affair–coming together to dissolve in the molten flow of your sexual heat. Then go on to love others. There is nothing “wrong” with just accepting him for the fine, flawed human that he is and enjoying that. Indeed, if you let convention go and love without restriction, you might be very surprised where it takes you in the end.
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