Dear Dr. Romance: I think I have a tendency to lose myself in a relationship
Dear Dr. Romance:
I was wondering if I could ask you for some advice. I'm feeling so troubled. I got divorced a few years ago. Since then, I became involved with a man more than ten years older than me. I got a work assignment out of town, and he was adamant about keeping a long distance relationship going, but I wasn't feeling ready. As emotional and hurt as I was from my previous relationship, I didn't feel it was the right thing to do. So I broke things off and he was very hurt.
A short time ago, I felt like I needed to see him and make amends. I value our friendship so much. We are now dating each other again, but I am afraid once again that it isn't right. I married my husband when I was still a teen, and was with him for ten years. I feel like I don't know who I am on my own. Is this normal? I feel so disappointed in myself. Like I should be stronger than this. I think I have a tendency to lose myself when I'm in a relationship, sacrificing what I want to make someone else happy.
I have issues with the age difference as I think about wanting to remarry some day and have children. I don't feel I'm ready to be in a long term relationship. And feel terrible that I pulled him back into my life without being sure of what I really want. I'm struggling with how to talk to him. I know no matter what I do he will be hurt, and I hate hurting someone I care about so much. I'm just not used to dating, and because this is a person I have a history with it makes it even harder.
I don't know if this is making sense, but I could really use some expert advice and some reading suggestions for me.
It's completely normal for you to feel like you aren't sure who you are on your own, if you married so young and just got divorced recently. You need time to be on your own, to figure out what you need to be happy. You won't be good for anyone else until you have a solid sense of yourself.
Of course you care for a friend, even when there's an age difference. However, I'm thinking he might represent a safety net (at least you're not alone) rather than a true love. I think dating without a big commitment would be good for you.
"Your Primary Relationship," "Your Bestest Friend," and "Tapping Your Inner Mentor" will help you make a strong commitment to yourself and your own happiness. Lasting love requires mutuality and you can't be an equal partner if the other person's welfare comes before your own.
Also, keep in mind that you don't have to mange your friend's feelings, you just need to be in charge of yourself. You can be the way you want to be, and not do what he wants. See if you can find your balance -- it's a great exercise for you. It's not mean to say no, if it's the truth. The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again can show you how to meet some other people and get more experience in dating, before you settle down with anyone.
For low-cost counseling, find me at LoveForever.com
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D.