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30-second therapist: My long-distance boyfriend is married

Need a quick answer to a relationship dilemma? Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her relationship advice in TODAY.com’s “30-second therapist” series.Q: My long distance relationship with my boyfriend of three years has been thriving. We communicate regularly and see each other twice a year. However, I found out he has not finalized his divorce yet. I am crushed.
Dr. Gilda Carle
Today
/ Source: TODAY.com

Need a quick answer to a relationship dilemma? Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her relationship advice in TODAY.com’s “30-second therapist” series.

Q: My long distance relationship with my boyfriend of three years has been thriving. We communicate regularly and see each other twice a year. However, I found out he has not finalized his divorce yet. I am crushed. I thought we were honest with each other. I broke up with him, but his brother, who has been close to me, explained that my boyfriend has been living separately from his wife for five years now, and the reason for the delay is because his wife is being difficult. I know my boyfriend loves me, and I love him too. He doesn’t want to break up. What should I do? —Lady in Waiting

Dear Lady in Waiting,

Whoa! You’ve been on ice for three years, you didn’t know where your “boyfriend” was living or that he’s still married, and you only see him twice a year? What kind of intimacy is this? And what kind of “relationship” do you think you have?

You are right to break this off—but not for the reasons you think. There’s always a reason people continue difficult long distance relationships. I want you to run—not walk—to the best counselor you can find, and learn why you opt for emotional unavailability. Now that you’ve been shocked into reality, it’s a good time to figure out why you’ve been where you’ve been, and how to change that pattern to attract a fulfilling future.

Q: I focus on myself until I get into a relationship. Then as soon as I focus on a new girlfriend, things go wrong. I read one of your responses previously and it was insightful.  It mentioned how important self-regard is. I blame my very large family with 12 children for the way I am. We shared everything.  It worked to help us through difficult times, but now, it’s working against me. When I do not focus on just one lady, I do well. But when I have one girlfriend, I spoil her, and lose sight of myself.  I am tired of getting the short end of the stick. Please help!  —Lacking Self-Regard

Dear Lacking,

You have set up an either/or scenario: either you give nothing to a woman, or you wholesale your soul. You need some gray between the extremes.

Sharing is very important in any partnership. But the first word of “I love you” must be capitalized!  If you project “i love you” in lower case, you send the message that matches your signature here. Whomever you attract will sense your weakness, take advantage, and help derail the union.

Self-regard begins with you learning to capitalize that vital personal pronoun.Take assertiveness training classes and read books on the topic. When your “I” is solid, you won’t lose yourself while loving another—no matter how hot she is!

Do you agree with Dr. Gilda’s advice? Do you have your own? Share it in the comments below.

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Dr. Gilda Carle  is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor at New York’s Mercy College and has written 15 books; her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”