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Parallax - Advice

February 24, 2003

A stroke of bad luck?

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!I have fallen in love with a woman I met four months ago. She is divorced, and reluctantly assisting her ex-husband who is a stroke victim. We meet every Saturday night at her house; we like to go out, we enjoy each other's company, and together we're great. During the week she shuts down, since she stays with her ex, sixty miles away. During the past month, the dynamic of the relationship has changed. My time with her is rushed, and she is bitter and angry when she calls me during the week (I cannot call her). When we started dating, we saw each other twice a week; now she's limited it to a weekly meeting. She says I'm a forty-year-old confirmed bachelor looking for an out; I feel she is pushing me away. She's about seven years older than I, and this is the strangest and most difficult relationship I have ever been in. I am confused and feel so helpless. What do I do? Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Confused,

Well, she is in quite a difficult situation. It sounds like you love her and would like to stick it out, but you must admit, her excuse is pretty reasonable. How much are you are willing to sacrifice in this new relationship? Your current relationship dynamic could go on for quite some time, and my guess is that you will become increasingly frustrated.

She may have a point about your keenness to commit. Are you a bit over-eager in looking here for a relationship? Might you be settling for one that is not quite fair to you?

Her increasing anger is certainly a sign of her lack of ability to handle the current situation. She just has too much going on right now. You might want to consider a little respite so that she can get herself sorted out, and you can have a little break to think it all over.

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His view:

Dear Confused,

If you feel confused and helpless, you might try imagining how she feels. Here she is, getting ready to start a new life. All of a sudden her plans get screwed up and now she's spending all week with her ex (instead of no time at all, which is what she divorced him for in the first place). She is probably taking care of him out of a mixture of residual love, guilt, and plain old goodwill. She feels she has to do this, yet she also wants to get on with her future.

Of course she is bitter. Of course she is unpredictable, moody, closeted—even aggressive and disgruntled with you. It's no wonder this is a difficult relationship. The only reason she probably still sees you is that she feels the need for a semblance of normalcy in her life—she needs to get out of the house and away from her ex.

This is not what I'd call a solid foundation for a relationship. In fact, if not for the love you feel for her (though it's not clear she feels the same way about you), I'd say you don't really have a relationship. Face it: You may be asking for more than she can give. Until she gets her life in order, you won't be getting what you are looking for. Wait for her—if you love her so much—but it may be a long wait.

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