This week, one reader struggles with missing her ex, while another feels hurt by her boyfriend's lack of affection. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.
Q: I am married and have two young children. I am happy, but find myself constantly thinking, dreaming and wishing my ex was around. I love him and I know he was the one I was supposed to spend my life with and I know he feels the same. He is married with one young child. I know he is not happy with his wife, but is the type of guy that will not get divorced. I was young when we started dating. He was my first love, my first everything. There was nothing wrong with our relationship other than I felt I was missing out on life as a teen. I cheated on him and he cheated on me. I was 16 when we started our relationship, and 21 when it ended. I thought that by dating and experiencing new relationships, I would be able to fill the void, but 10 years, two children and a marriage later, the void is still there. I tried to talk to him a few years ago, but he quickly stated that we should never talk again. Actually, he and his fiancé both stated that. I respectfully stated how happy I was for him, and advised both that I would never contact him again. All I do now is think of him and I feel stuck!
My husband would die if he knew my feelings. I love my husband and we are great together, but it is not the love I feel for my ex. —Married with Kids
Dear Married with Kids,
Ah, the swell of first love and carefree youth! No crying kids, dirty diapers or broken commodes. Wait! What’s that image parading as your life? It’s not reality!
You say you “know” your ex is not happy. If this were the case, he would not have told you to bug off forever. Yesterday’s fantasy memory of “love” always ends happily. But the true place you live, even with occasional speed bumps, boasts reassuring reliability.
Every single day, create a "My life with my husband is great because...," for every "My life is not what I want it to be." Your two kids and spouse are counting on you to be emotionally present, not doused in dreams. Do you want to let them down? —Dr. Gilda
Q: My boyfriend of a year has put on some weight and has been pretty irritable. He will not have sex with me, no matter what I try. I am always rejected. He also says he would like for me to move in, yet his actions show me otherwise. He will not talk about why he wants me to move in, about why he doesn't want to have sex, etc. He is 36 and this wasn't a problem in the first seven months of our relationship. He is not a good communicator and I have recommended therapy but he won't go. Help! —Don't Know Where I'm Going
Dear Don't Know Where I'm Going,
You depict your boyfriend of a year as slovenly, unappealing and withholding of love, communication and sex. You’re even considering living with that?
The only reason you’d ponder this “opportunity” is explained in the song "This Time," sung by Connie Britton. “You can’t stay away from the one somebody, ‘cause there ain’t nobody else running through your dreams.” Is this guy your only option? There’s no sweet side to a guy with these massive issues. And as my Gilda-Gram™ warns, “Impatient love accelerates its delay.” Instead of contacting a moving van, call a counselor to discover why you’re desperate for love.—Dr. Gilda
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Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor emerita, has written 15 books, and her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”—Second Edition. She provides advice and coaching via Skype, email and phone.