Dec. 6, 2013 at 2:51 PM ET
This week, one reader is confused about why her boyfriend left her after telling her he loved her, while another is waffling over a new relationship after divorce. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.
Q: My boyfriend and I have had our ups and downs, and at one stage things got quite bad, but we sorted them out. Ever since then, it’s been getting better and better. Last week he was so loving to me, it feels like we were back to the old us. On Monday, he told me he loved me and he wanted to be with me forever. Then on Tuesday, he dumped me. Just like that! What the hell happened? He said he loves me and wants to be with me, but he “can't have a relationship anymore” and “wants to be alone.” I'm shocked and heartbroken and need help with this problem. Can I win him back? —Just Miserable
Dear Just Miserable,
My book, “Don’t Bet on the Prince!,” details how fatally fixated women try to re-capture their lover after he leaves. But the man who moved like a tortoise toward togetherness will then dart like a cheetah toward his cave. You did nothing wrong. When lover boy heard himself utter those dulcet love expressions, he feared you’d own his manhood!
Of course you’re upset and angry. You ask, “Can I win him back?” The answer is unequivocally “NO!” A cheetah must return on his own to prove to himself that he alone controls his life.
Follow this Gilda-Gram™: “Instead of whining, ‘This is my problem,’ assert, ‘This is my power.’” Girlfriend, empower yourself to pursue your goals, no matter what issues the cheetah has. —Dr. Gilda
Q: I have been separated for seven months, and soon to be divorced after a 15-year marriage to a very controlling man, which I never realized until I kicked him out for cheating. I lived his life, not mine. We have a 12-year old son.
I've re-connected with an ex crush of my sister, from when she was 14 years old and I was 7 years old. He's been divorced for years, and I’m not sure how long he was married. We’re definitely interested in each other.
My sister has been married for over 27 years. I'm very uncomfortable being interested in an old crush my sister had. My sister told me she wouldn't care, that she's happily married. I guess it’s just a sisterly respect thing.
Since we first saw each other a little over a year ago, it’s been a major flirting thing with us. My friends think I should just go for it. My first instinct is to go over to him and exchange numbers. But with how I feel about my sister, I believe that’s keeping me from getting on with my life. What should I do? —Nervous 40-Something
Congratulations for seeing the light after losing yourself to your 15-year marriage. Loss of self to a partner often plagues women. You may think you’re beyond it, yet now you fear losing your identity to your sister.
You can’t sustain love without a healthy identity to bring to it. It’s time to make your self-esteem non-negotiable!
Read Hattie Kaufman’s captivating book, “Falling into Place,” a “memoir of overcoming.” Unbelievably, Hattie claimed her identity by disclaiming “anything connected” to her soon-to-be ex, including her legal rights to alimony and expensive real estate. She’s happily remarried today.
Your currency for healing may not be material goods, so determine what it will take for you to establish who you are as a solo act. Until then, put love on hold.—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.