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I have been going through a rough time lately that began when my fiance and I broke up after a six-year relationship. I have recently met someone new who says he wants to be with me, but is younger and seeing another woman as well. I don't know how to deal with dating someone I know is seeing someone else. How do other people do this? I know I do not need to be in a totally exclusive relationship after ending an engagement, but I just don't know how to handle sharing a guy. I am torn up about this. Can you help me?
--Feel Like the Other Woman
In your letter you state that you "know" you do not need to be in a totally exclusive relationship. So, why are you torn up and in need of help? The short answer here is that the vast majority of people out there DON'T do this, because it would make them feel as you do now.
I think you need to spend some time NOT dating anyone and allow yourself the quiet that true reflection needs. Instead of focusing your energy on the question you have posed to me, turn your thoughts inward and look there first. Are you really "over" the break-up with your ex fiance? Or is a relationship, any relationship, an attempt to outrun the hurt and possible feelings of loneliness and abandonment? You need to be truly ready for a relationship in order to find and sustain the right one for you. If you don't deal with past hurts, feelings of low self-esteem, fears of being alone and/or any of the other possible blocks to relationship readiness, you risk entering a pattern of short-lived, painful and potentially destructive affairs.
So, my advice is what you probably don't want to hear right now. However, if you follow it, you will be glad you did when Mr. Right comes along. Concentrate on you. Learn to love yourself. Set new goals and a plan for achieving them. Reach out to friends and family who love you and ask for support. You'll be amazed at how much you can handle when it is what you have CHOSEN and what you truly want for your life.
(from April 2005)
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
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