Need a quick answer to a relationship dilemma? Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series. This week, one reader says she can't deal with the fact her boyfriend has been married twice, while another wants to know why things have changed in his long-distance relationship.
Q: I am in a relationship with a man I’m mad about. We are both 45 and divorced and we were great friends in high school. I can't seem to move past the fact that he has been married twice. It makes my stomach turn. The first marriage I can understand, he was young and in love; it lasted five years. But the second, she is 12 years younger than he is and the marriage lasted eight years. I say to him, “How did you think it could work?” She was 24 and he, 36. Anyway, they have been apart for two years and it still sickens me. We are perfect together, except when I think of that. It makes me question his choices. I don't want it to ruin our relationship, but I can't help but argue when her name comes up. They have a child together, so she’ll always be in the picture. How do I get over this and move on? --Stuck Over His Past
You say you’re “mad about” this man, but in truth, you’re mad at him! By the age of 45, neither of you just hatched from an egg. Did you think that while you were living your life, your guy was home knitting, and pining for you? What right do you have to judge anyone’s past? Girlfriend, it was his very choices that got him to the place that reconnected him with you! Embrace that!!
Since the issue we see is never the real issue, admit your intimidation over his 33-year-young ex and their child. Your jealousy will poison any possibility for a future together. Either get help, or let some other woman appreciate the man your guy has become. --Dr. Gilda
Q: I am gay and in a long-distance relationship with the man of my dreams. We see each other every two weeks and sometimes more often, depending on our schedules. We got together three months ago, and it was the most amazing thing. He constantly told me how much he loved me, and that we were going to be together forever.
Things changed three weeks ago. I am always writing him letters, buying him little gifts, and telling him how much I love him, but his responses are now abrupt and distant. I am feeling depressed and unloved, and have even thought of suicide. I don't know what to do. I don't want to sit down and have it out with him, because I'm not that sort of person, and he wouldn't appreciate it. I feel so worthless and meaningless to him. I love him and don't want to lose him! --In Love and Upset
Dear In Love,
Whether you’re gay or straight, three months in an LDR is hardly long enough to identify “love”—despite the heat! Yes, “things [may have] changed.” But unless you sit down and calmly discuss the situation, how would you know? What “sort of person” do you think it is who’s willing to honestly open up? As my Gilda-Gram™ clarifies: “Maturity is marked by fearlessly communicating our feelings.” But silently internalizing how “worthless,” “meaningless,” “depressed,” “unloved,” and “suicidal” you feel describes a reactive victim--which is a big romantic turn-off.
For the future, don’t quickly name someone the person “of your dreams,” as it emphasizes the dream, while putting reality to sleep. Grow up! It’s time to deal authentically! --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.