Q. In 2016, I ended a five-year relationship with “Kelly.” The strained relationship between Kelly and her family caused a lot of stress on our relationship, and it got to the point where she changed for the worse as a person. Medication and therapy didn’t fix the problem. After the breakup, we continued to talk, but not very often.
Fast forward to last summer, and I met “Danielle” through some mutual friends. She was wonderful and we had so much in common. We dated for a couple of months and became exclusive. I fell for her pretty hard. One night I told her that I loved her and she panicked. She had ended a marriage that year and explained that she wasn’t 100 percent emotionally available for a serious relationship. I understand her reasoning, but it still hurt. At that point, Kelly began contacting me saying she missed me and that she’s in a much better place now.
I chose to go back to Kelly, but I still talk to Danielle. I saw her at a party this past Thursday and we spoke briefly. She still hints that she wants to hang out with me. I think I hurt her a little when I had to distance myself from her because she was not interested in having a serious relationship. I haven’t told her I am back with Kelly yet. I want to give my current relationship some time to see if it will work out. I’m afraid if I tell Danielle I’m back with Kelly and things go south with Kelly again, I’ll lose both. Do I have to tell Danielle that Kelly is back in my life?
A. The answer depends on the specifics of your breakup with Danielle.
Was the end of that relationship clean and clear? Are you still in each other’s lives, texting and checking in, or are you simply nice to each other at parties?
If you and Danielle are still connected and making an effort to stay in touch, you should tell her you’re back with Kelly. If not, she doesn’t have to know your status. For all you know, she’s dating someone, too.
For the record, I don’t think your lingering interest in Danielle means you shouldn’t be with Kelly. You were smitten with Danielle and told her you loved her. Meanwhile, getting back together with a long-term ex like Kelly can be very confusing. You’re processing a lot of feelings at once. It makes sense that you want everyone to remain an option.
That said . . . if you find yourself thinking about Danielle over the next few months — if the desire to keep her as a “maybe” doesn’t go away over time — it might mean that you’re less interested in Kelly than you want to be. It’s something to think about as you figure out what you and Kelly can accomplish this time around.
This is why women get tired of dating. Men like you are the worst. You want your cake and eat it too. Try being honest and upfront with both women. “Danielle” deserves better than just being your Plan B.
Why didn’t you ask us whether you have to tell Kelly that you’re talking to Danielle and still considering her as a backup girlfriend?
Because he doesn’t care what these women want; he just cares about what he wants.
You are asking this question because you aren’t sure of your own personal ethics. I think you know what’s right deep down — you just want a pass if the herd will give you one. You are hedging your bets and trying to keep Danielle on the back burner just in case this doesn’t work out with Kelly. Is that any way to make a real second attempt at a relationship with Kelly?
I think he should tell Danielle that he’s giving things with Kelly another try. And that he wishes the timing were different because he thought they might have had something, too. That’s just being honest.
You don’t have to tell anyone anything. But if one of them finds out about the other one without hearing it from you, it’ll look like you’ve been playing both of them the entire time.