by The 4-Way Panel
I met a guy about two months ago who was just getting out of a marriage and had only been separated for about four months. He assured me that he had worked through his feelings over his failed marriage, so we charged forward. We moved very fast and were inseparable up until about two weeks ago ... when his wife decided she wanted him back. I was blown away; I’d seen this coming and totally ignored it. My heart is in shreds and my nerves are shot. He can’t make up his mind, but he still wants to see me. But this woman left him after jerking him around for two years—what’s to go back to? He says he hasn’t been physical with her, but since he’s not been completely honest with me lately, I’m not really sure. In fact, I don’t trust a word that comes out of his mouth, but I want to hold onto him for reasons I’m not entirely sure I understand. Please help.—NS
The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown
Marriage or no marriage, I think we’ve all been had by someone we thought was on the same relationship page as us, and I know it hurts. I’m so sorry.
But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: people who are married but awaiting divorce are not dateable material. No matter how much they tell you that their marriage is over, that their spouse is crazy, or that they mentally ended their marriage years ago, marriage is a lifestyle, a habit, and shifting gears without any drama is nearly impossible.
For example, let’s say you decide you want to be a vegetarian, even though you regularly enjoy the meaty deliciousness of bacon. And lo!—you discover a sexy little thing called Fakin’ Bacon and you think, “Now this, oh yes, this might work! It will be all the good of bacon and none of the bad!” And you buy Whole Foods’ entire stock of Fakin’ Bacon and immediately begin slapping it next to every pancake you can find. You give it a good solid try with Fakin’, but one day you wake up to one of two startling realizations: 1) You miss bacon. Maybe you just didn’t try hard enough and maybe you should just give it one more try. Or 2) You don’t need bacon or Fakin’. No, what you need is freedom from the confines of all breakfast meat choices! In fact, maybe you’ll just skip breakfast altogether and fast for a while.
The point is, making a major life change is hard business; it’s confusing and sometimes you think you’re ready to move on when what you really need is some time to process. Your man needs time to process; he may think he doesn’t but trust me—he does. (Spoken like a seasoned divorcee.)
That aside, you need to think hard about why you want someone who isn’t sure if he wants you. I hate to get all Dr. Phil on you, but sometimes we hang on to unavailable people because we’re too afraid of failing with the available ones. Take some time to think about all the wonderful things about you. Keep a journal or a list of those things and read them every day until you truly believe that you are bacon (hear you sizzle!)—not Fakin’—and deserve to be treated as such.
Check in tomorrow to read the gay woman's perspective by Jody Fischer.
The 4-Way is published monthly. If you have a question for our 4-Way panel, please send it to them in care of the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more of The 4-Way columns or to listen to our podcasts, visit The 4-Way now.
by The 4-Way Panel