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It's Not Love      December 6, 2004

William Shakespeare wrote, 'Love is the sweetest of dreams, and the worst of nightmares.' This week, each of our three enquiries come from people who struggle with personal relationship nightmares, while they search for magical ways to turn things into 'Love Story'. Are they destined for sleepless nights? Not if our down-to-earth duo show them the light of day.

Love is...
...missing in action!

He's obsessive and possessive.
She's not.

Rational love?
An oxymoron.

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Love is...

Dear Conversely,

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I have been dating my girlfriend for fifteen months now, and we seem to be fighting and bickering more than ever. We say we love each other, but can never explain this so-called love. We see each other only on weekends, due to work and leisure schedules. I think we're holding on because we believe that once we move closer and change our personalities (faults), everything will be better. She is looking for a commitment but I can't give one to her right now. She is also seeing a psychologist for depression (partly me and partly career/family causes) and I feel like I can't abandon her because I do care about her. I love her for the woman she was when we met, but right now, it's not what I expected or want. If the relationship is not right, is it okay to put myself first?


Her view:

Dear Unhappy,

Relationships and people aren't perfect. You're excited about the great side of her you have seen, but now that she is having problems she is of lesser interest to you. This is life and you need to decide if she is worth sticking around for when times are challenging, because there will be more times like these.

She will not magically be a different person at the end of her therapy sessions, and I agree that it doesn't sound like a great time for an engagement. But, if you care for this woman, you'll stick by her in the less than fun moments, such as now.

If you don't feel she's worth it, you might as well turn her loose and let her get over you now, while she's still having therapy sessions. Quite frankly, if you're not interested in helping her through this difficult time, you're really not worth keeping around.

Don't stay because you think she needs you. She'll be fine and she'll move on, even if it will be traumatic for a bit of time.

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His view:

Dear Unhappy,

The best option is for a break. Here's why. Things aren't working out well now, and you are at an impasse. Staying together as you are, without a commitment, will not satisfy her or solve your issues. Moving closer will not—as you already seem to recognize—change your faults. It will only enlarge them.

If you take a break, you give each other room to breathe and think. Yes, there is an implicit burden on you, because you are reluctant to leave her when she's not doing so well. But think of it this way—you may be doing her more harm by trying to keep things the way they are. On the other hand, while breaking up will be hard, it will force her (and you) to face up to certain realities that she may not be able to confront while she continues to hold onto you.

Call it off and give yourselves time. In a few months, you may decide to try again...or you may not. But once you realize there is no miracle solution here—no happy-movie ending—you should do the right thing.

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