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Love Letters

He loves someone else

Q. A guy I was dating for a few months ended things recently. It was a nice breakup, ending with a simple “My gut is telling me this isn’t the right thing.” Totally understandable. Here’s what I’m still mulling over: It came out in our last conversation that he was in love with a dear friend. He had gone through a difficult divorce years ago that coincided with the end of her marriage. The two supported one another through what were tumultuous times in both their lives, and in the process fell in love. Completely reasonable. The kicker — he never told me about the true scope of their relationship.

I had asked if he had dated since his divorce or had slept with anyone. He said “only casually.’’ To hear him say that he was deeply in love with this other woman was a blow. He said he simply wanted to build a future with someone, something that wasn’t happening in their relationship, partly because she already has children and he wants his own. They had talked it over and came to the conclusion that they would only reveal their history to future significant others if asked directly, given that they were still close friends and in each other’s lives.

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I was taken aback. He didn’t explain why his “casual” answer to the dating question was appropriate. In many respects, it’s a moot point now. I haven’t talked to him since things ended. I’m just left doing post-mortem analysis. I am pretty confident we didn’t last for reasons independent of his relationship with this other woman. But the experience has left me a little cautious in thinking about the next go-around. I don’t know what I am looking for here, maybe just understanding.

Are these types of relationships common? How do they normally develop? My hunch is that both the guy I was dating and this other woman are going to try dating others for a while, but ultimately end up back together. I don’t know why he’s trying to will himself away from it. He loves her, and she loves him.

Boston

A. “I am pretty confident we didn’t last for reasons independent of his relationship with this other woman.”

Please focus on that statement. You have every right to be annoyed that you dated a guy who’s in love with someone else, but this was going to end anyway. I’m just glad it was a short relationship.

Don’t jump to the conclusion that all men lie about their platonic female friends. And please, stop with the postmortem analysis because it will only drive you crazy. This was just one experience. And for the record, it’s not a common problem.

My hunch is that they won’t wind up back together, but who cares? You’re out of their weirdness and that’s all that matters. You can be annoyed that he lied, but you have to let this go. Spend your energy dreaming about what’s next for you.

READERS RESPOND:

I’m failing to understand why you care?? He’s an ex, you said it was a nice/understandable breakup, so why is this even a thought?

“Are these types of relationships common?” Yes, very. It’s difficult to get the timing right, sometimes, and people often date others before they are completely over the previous, and that’s OK. It happens. It sucks to be the one who gets dumped, but . . . you know.

I think you are spending too much time and energy looking back at this. There is no benefit to such examination. The simple truth is he wasn’t into you and he loved someone else. To wonder why he didn’t tell you and all that, and wonder if this is normal or common is a useless waste of your time and energy.

He’s in love with another woman he can’t be with because of something that can never be changed (she already has kids and he doesn’t want her kids, he wants his own), so he has casual relationships with other women, then when it doesn’t work out, as it inevitably won’t, he tells them about this other woman. You should write a romance novel. And really, I mean it when I say this: It’s definitely not you, it’s him!

What did you expect him to say? “Hey, I’m really in love with this friend of mine, but it’s just not going to work. Would you like to go out sometime?” He had feelings for someone, and that relationship wasn’t going to happen. He is trying to move on, tried to date you, and it wasn’t working. Stop overthinking things.

Let it go. Move on. Find hobbies or other activities where you will meet other single men who presumably do not have a “secret” love from their past still present in their lives. As you have said, it’s over and done with so stop with the analysis. It does nothing for you and will only distract you from finding someone great to hang with.

The thing is, he didn’t lie. His gut told him it wasn’t going to work out. That’s true because he was in love with another woman. I think you are upset this ended and you are upset you are not the woman he is in love with.

A lot of people have unresolved baggage when they enter a relationship. Sometimes they’re aware of it (I’m in love with someone else) and sometimes they’re not (I have mommy issues, will you adopt me?). Frequently neither of them gets shared openly. This is his issue, not yours. It will probably prevent him from having a successful relationship until he resolves it. Don’t make it your issue. Wish him well and keep moving.

He certainly didn’t lie. And I’m guessing you didn’t even get to the point where you had “the exclusivity talk.” I think that’s the point at which you’d want to clarify the other relationship.

Healthy men do not maintain friendships with women that they are attracted to.

The loved woman is the red herring. If he were really into this letter writer, it wouldn’t have come up at all. He wasn’t into her and that’s the real story.

Methinketh you thinketh too much.

Column is edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.com.
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