Past Marriage, Current GF and a New Friend? Is He Ready to Marry Again?
I’m looking for some help and I don’t know who to talk to about this. I’m in a very serious relationship with an amazing woman with whom I’m passionately in love. She possesses qualities I never knew I would be able to find in a partner, and even after a year together, it seems as if I fall in love with her more deeply every day, and am more charmed about everything she says and does. It’s a pleasure to wake up every morning next to her and realize that this incredible woman loves me and is devoted to me.
Here’s why I’m writing you: that last sentence is sometimes very hard for me to believe, even though 90% of the time it’s what makes me so happy and fulfille d and satisfied with my life. I’m not good at letting go of the past – I get panicked and worried that I didn’t learn the key things I need to learn from my previous relationships, and that somehow I’m going to get blindsided and everything is going to turn out to be completely different than what I think it is – that this woman I’m with is going to turn out to be different than I think she is.
A little background: I was married to a woman for many years whom I believed was as faithful and loyal to me as I was to her, until I found out that I had been lied to and manipulated for a large chunk of those years I was married to her. I’m aware that much of the pain I went through as a result of all this was my own fault. I recognize that I didn’t meet my ex-wife’s expectations (at one point, she told me she didn’t know who I was and that I wasn’t the man she married), and I accept the fact that I failed her in many parts of the relationship that were re ally central – really key for her. It’s only been recently that I’ve realized that both my expectations of her, and hers of me, were probably not the right ones to have – we just weren’t very compatible. We’ve since moved on with our lives and things are quite pleasant between us.
I intend to ask the woman I’m with now to marry me, because it’s what we both want. We both value marriage highly and we want another shot at it – at doing it right, this time. But marriage isn’t really going to change much in terms of our day-to-day living: we already live together, pay bills together, and would usually choose to spend time with each other doing just about anything. We are both the other’s favorite person (and frequently say so). Our lovemaking is off-the-charts, as is our ability and willingness to compromise on contentious issues. We both go out of our way to do those little things that make the other person feel cared for and loved. I never believed s uch a harmonious relationship was even possible, and I certainly never thought it would be mine to enjoy at the age of 40.
I’m so happy and fulfilled, in fact, that I’ve lost a lot of weight and I’m in the best shape of my life. I want to live a long life with this woman, so I’m taking care of myself. Consequently, I’m getting approached and complimented by women – both strangers as well as old girlfriends – quite often (this wasn’t happening very often, before, but it’s not a problem for me. It’s certainly good for my ego, anyway!), except that one of these old girlfriends is someone I would like to have a friendship with – she’s an artist, and she’s interesting and funny. At one time, I really was quite attracted to her and wanted to pursue a serious relationship, but she didn’t feel the same way, so we split before anything romantic happened between us. She has approached me several times since I began my current relationship, and wants to me et for lunch and catch up. I’m tempted to say yes, but I have two reservations about it: 1) is it possible to have a healthy friendship with someone I was once romantically interested in? And 2) would this be something that might cause the woman I’m with now to question my commitment to her?
What should I do?
There's alot going on in your email: quite a few layers, all presented as if the question you're asking will be specifically about the situation you describe. Then at the last half of the last paragraph you throw a curve ball and ask your question, which is not the one anticipated.
I think all the information you gave is necessary, I'm just saying you've presented it all in a certain way.
The questions and comments I get have a lot of "tells" in them. What you say, how you say it, what you leave out... it all matters. And it all goes to the heart of what's really going on.
It's sad about your first marriage, but it sounds like it was a learning experience and you've come out of it stronger and better.
Your current lady sounds great, and you seem very appreciative of the situation and of her.
But it doesn't sound like you're ready to get re-married, and after only being together a year, that's normal and healthy. It's much longer for younger people, and can be a little shorter for more mature people, but the basic rule of thumb is 2 years. Most people know at the two year mark if the person they're involved with is their forever-love. It sounds like you're right on track.
Now getting to your actual questions:
1) is it possible to have a healthy friendship with someone I was once romantically interested in?
And 2) would this be something that might cause the woman I’m with now to question my commitment to her?
1 - No. But your wording is off. The question is a little misleading considering a couple of things we know about you. It's not really likely that you're going to have a healthy friendship with someone you were romantically attracted to who denied your advances, and is now finding your attractive, especially while you're in mid-life mode.
You made sure in your email that I understood that you're attractive now, that you're fit and in great shape, and that things have changed for you physically. You said you were quite attracted to this person but that she didn't reciprocate your feelings.
Now, she is the one after you to meet for lunch and catch up. Whether your new found fitness has turned her head or not, you want to believe that it has. And it certainly is a possibility. It would be odd for a woman to suddenly want to pursue just a friendship with someone that she knows was attracted to her once, unless she's taking a second look.
You also mention that this friend's pursuit to catch up didn't occur until after your new relationship was established. Hmm. No woman wants to lose her suitors. The idea that you moved on I'm sure is sweetening the pot for her.
And then we have part 2. Would pursuing a friendship with a woman you were once attracted to, who suddenly wants to be your friend, affect your girlfriend. Well hell yes it will.
The whole "being friends with the ex" thing is complicated. Each situation has its own nuances. You're not trying to be friends with an ex. You're wanting to be friends with a woman you were attracted to, that you couldn't get, now that you're looking the best you've ever looked.
Aaron, my advice on this is that you should do what you want to do. If you want to pursue a friendship with this woman that you used to be attracted to, then go ahead and do it. But you have to be honest about this with your girlfriend. And you have to accept that she isn't going to be very comfortable about it.
And clearly, you have to be aware that you aren't ready to get married again yet.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being 40, divorced, learning, dating, looking and feeling good, and enjoying different types of friendships and relationships. Nothing wrong with it at all. Just be honest with everyone involved, and take your time.
It would be a grave mistake for you marry after only a year without feeling sure about what you've learned and haven't learned, and while you want to pursue whatever-you're-calling-it with a lady you aimed for and missed.
Of course, your not being ready could cause your girlfriend to decide she needs to seek something different in her life. If she's the right one, and mature, and smart, she'll be patient enough to let you grow and experience, after all it's only been a year. And she'll be smart enough to know that supporting you through this will only solidify herself in the direction you're headed. But when it comes to matters of the heart women tend to be immediate and anxious. You stand the chance of this happening.
But the bigger mistake will always be getting married before you're ready. Nothing sucks like that "what if" feeling. If you have some more maturing, growing and experiencing to do, do it. Just be prepared to take the lumps.
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