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Parallax - Advice

August 19, 2002

Reality check

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!A couple weeks ago my partner of three and a half years began to get emails from an ex who lives in another country. A week later she informed me that she wants space in her life (wants me to move out) but she also wants to continue the relationship. The following day she insisted I go back to my home country for two months. (This was already in the books, as I wanted to visit friends and family, but she wanted me to stay away for a certain amount of time and leave at a different time than I planned.) So I did the unpardonable. I checked her phone, and found out her ex will be in town when I'm gone. On the phone I heard messages such as, 'Can't wait to see you' and 'I miss you very much' and various old pet names they used for each other. So far she has mentioned nothing to me. I have a couple months to either confront her or end the relationship (which I don't want to do because of the love I have for her). Is there any advice you can give me? Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Over-and-out,

You basically have a significant other who does not love you as much as you love her. Are you sure you don't want to end it? Cheating is an ugly thing and if you don't give her the space that she wants, she will find a way to take it.

She is already lying to you and setting up events using old pet names. This only leads toward one path. She will—at minimum—see this person and test whether she wants to return to her old relationship. She is keeping you on the back burner so that she can safely check things out and see if she in fact wants to do the swap. She will make that decision on her own after some rekindling of her old relationship.

If she gets confirmation that it works and the old flame is exciting again, you will be swiftly ditched. I suggest you give her the space, but take your own as well. As much as you love her, she is about to cheat and you have caught her on her way.

It will only escalate from here. Do you really want that in your life? Even for her? I don't think it's worth it. You will be miserably jealous and wonder where you stand with her every hour of the day. You'll feel dejected and constantly wondering why you couldn't keep her. Not a good outcome, I'd say. Nobody is worth that.

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His view:

Dear Over-and-out,

Pet names? How dare she?

You may love her, but I don't see much loving coming your way from this woman. So unless you want to be the martyr, I would set about preparing for a breakup.

You may of course want to wait for a bigger sign, an even bigger smoking gun. You may want to wait, for example, until you catch them in bed together. Would that confirm your suspicions? Since you are playing sleuth, why not extend your detective work a bit? Why not pretend you leave the country as she wants, and then come back and spy on her?

You have better things to do? I see. Well, then, get it over with—now.

And one last thing: Even if you stop them from seeing each other and actually physically cheating on you, don't think that things between you and your partner of three and a half years will be any better off.

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