She took first move, but is devastated by rejection

SINGLE FILE

November 21, 1993|By SUSAN DEITZ | SUSAN DEITZ,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: He seemed interested in me, and I was really smitten by him. So, I gathered my courage and called him, keeping the talk light and friendly. He wished me luck with my schooling and returned to washing his car. Your advice to call him wasn't bad, but how do I cope with rejection?

I'm lucky enough to have girlfriends coming over tonight with margarita mix.

A: C'mon. His lack of interest was so devastating you have to drown your sorrows?

Look at it this way: You saw an opportunity, you asked me for a push, and you gave it your best shot. If the man on the receiving end of your first move didn't take the bait, well, that's his loss. All he's left with is a clean car. But you're well on your way to getting what you want out of life, because you're learning to reach out and take it. Not many women can say that. So enjoy your hen party and drink in moderation. You've got better forms of excitement ahead.

Q: I'm a 37-year-old single mother of two sons, 11 and 14. For 15 months I've been involved with a 39-year-old man who's never been married. He's been engaged three times, but never quite made the commitment. He's educated, gentle, kind, caring, handsome, sexual and wonderful to my children.

The first seven months were a dream come true; after that, every few weeks he began acting out, saying and doing things to self-destruct and destroy what we have. He insisted on returning to his old habit of going to happy hour with his friends and excluding me. He would go from hot to cold, saying he had "inner conflicts" and "deep-rooted problems" and was unhappy that I don't believe in Jesus. (I'm Jewish, he's Catholic.)

His friends feel he's repeating his cycle with women. He makes excuses and looks for any reason to get out of the relationship; when he acts out, the most ridiculous things become issues. I said I wouldn't see him anymore unless he went for therapy. He did go, and became stable for two months, only to again repeat his cycle and return to the bar scene.

He has taken me on a roller-coaster ride six times; this time I told him I no longer have the energy to deal with his commitment and relationship problems, and that I was moving on. He said I am unforgiving; he feels he went into therapy to overcome his problems because he wants to change and make our relationship work. He said he had never before admitted he had problems, and that I should be patient.

I have loved him dearly and given 100 percent, but I don't know if he'll ever work out his problems. (His mother was ill and his father treated her badly, resulting in her suicide when he was just 14. He was the one who found her.)

He keeps building me up, then knocking me down. If I were to end the relationship, I know my boys would miss him terribly, since they see him every day.

He doesn't want me to end things and keeps apologizing, saying doesn't know why he acts as he does, and that he still loves me.

When is it right to end this? How many more chances does he deserve? (His last girlfriend put up with this for two years, then dumped him -- and is now happily married.) How can he act so wonderful and loving, and then every few weeks tear it all apart with his doubts and the bar scene?

A: Clearly, this man has deep problems and conflicts that tear him apart and pressure him to destroy all the good he has with you and your children. Therapy could get to the root and help him understand what he is doing and why; but the process would take much longer than two months.

It's your call whether you want to hang around and take his punishment while he's gaining insight, but my advice is to gently withdraw from the relationship, telling him to contact you if and when he reaches a point of certainty and stability.

The decision will hurt your boys, but it's not good for them to be on the roller coaster with you -- and they are.

Explain to the boys as much as they can handle, then get busy with your life and meeting new people. (Taking a short trip with them, if at all possible, would ease the transition into life without this man.) This conflicted relationship is not doing you or your children any good.

Q: How can I tell a platonic female friend that I'd like more out of our relationship without jeopardizing our friendship? Many times a guy wants to "step over the line" and things don't work out, it's totally over. I can handle it if she doesn't want a love relationship. But must it end if I try for a bit more?

A: Yes. Crossing the line between platonic friendship and romance changes the relationship completely -- and for all time. There is no going back, once the step has been made in that direction. But don't kid yourself that you can handle it if things stay purely friendly; asking me the question proves that you cannot, and that it is time to cross the boundary line. Better to love and lose than squelch your real feelings and play a part. How much frustration can one man take?

Single-parent resource: This is a fairly recent, nonprofit organization helping to support single moms and single custodial fathers. It has several thousand members around the country, and it can help a member form his/her own group locally: National Organization of Single Mothers, P.O. Box 68, Midland, N.C. 28107-0068, Att: Andrea Engber, founder and president.

The plus of this group is its upbeat and strategy-oriented newsletter. Membership is $12.80 yearly. Check it out to see how it fits into your life.

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