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Ask Ellie: Don't let old heartbreak get in the way of new love

Life’s too short to keep looking backward

Dear Ellie: I’m a guy, 32, with a dilemma. Three years ago, before COVID changed everything, I saw an attractive, sexy woman smiling at me in a bar, and we hooked up that night.

We connected two or three times a month (she travelled for work back then). It was mostly for sex but we also talked a lot, and I knew she wanted to get closer. She was 29 then and that was a signal for me that she’d soon want a commitment.

I was clear about not wanting that, and soon the pandemic came between us anyways. Six months ago, she reached out to me, asking if I was okay. I found that very kind on her part. Turns out we’d both been very careful about protecting ourselves from the virus and both working at home.

I realized that I’d missed her. We’re now seeing each other exclusively and as frequently as we can. The connection’s changed from a focus on sex, to being close friends who make love and share intimacy.

In the past, I had very strong feelings against getting too involved. I’d suffered very painful hurts and shocking disappointments in previous relationships. I was unwilling to take that risk again.

Now I’m unsure and scared, but I know I don’t want to lose this woman. What should I do?

Scared of a Relationship

There’s nothing more intimate than sharing your fears … not of her as a person, but of your own past hurts. Talk to her openly about your long-held inability to forget/heal old wounds. Be clear that you appreciate her on her own merit.

Once you open that door to a discussion of your current feelings and hers, some answers will become fairly obvious.

But, if you keep raising doubts, talk to a psychotherapist about the actual events that caused your trust issues.

Then follow your heart.

Feedback regarding the woman who “Can’t Decide” between her live-in husband with whom she refuses sex, and her private lover whom she sees privately (Nov. 9):

“Ellie had written this: “Your big mistake is thinking that a man can solve your whole life. Instead, talk to a therapist for an outside professional view. If that doesn’t help, move out on your own to discover who you really want to be.”

“I would not say “If that doesn’t help.” Instead, I’d tell her to do both — as in, move out AND talk to a therapist. Plus, she should seek legal advice about their decision that she’d rent out her place and “share” his.

“However, the best advice for this woman is that which she received from her own adult son, age 22 and whom both parents love:

“Go and be happy Mom.” What more is she waiting for?”

Reader’s commentary regarding the man who’s labelling his soon live-in girlfriend as “bossy,” over her wanting to bring over what he describes as a few material things Nov. 13):

“I get it that it’s very emotional to give up your personal space and be subject to criticism about your stuff not being up to snuff (e.g., “some furniture that doesn’t fit with” his).

“But if you two are meant to be together, don’t sweat the small stuff. She’s giving up the independence of living alone and moving into “his” place.

“I think it only right for this woman to want to establish their space by making a few changes.”

A Guy’s Opinion

Feedback regarding ongoing responses about an older woman’s reaction to a young woman’s skimpy clothing (Nov. 12/Oct. 22):

Reader – “When a women dresses as she did, she wants to get noticed by men and women. Calling it “ogling” when a man just looks is ludicrous.

“A 2007 study by The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University in the U.S. found that “women are worse oglers than men” and “men looked at the female face much more than women and both looked at the genitals comparably.”

“The man only looked at the young woman pointed out by his female companion. He only “nodded and grinned.”

“But the letter-writer said nothing about the older woman’s comments about the wearer’s “ample bosom” and “rump.”

“Typically, she used any opportunity to denigrate men: The older woman was ogling the much-younger lady, not the man.”

Ellie’s tip of the day

Don’t let past relationship hurts or even deeper losses colour all your future with mistrust and fear. Life’s too short to keep looking backward.

Send relationship questions to [email protected].