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Ask Dr. Norman Brown Your Own Question

Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1182
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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am coming out of a relationship which lasted for a year and

Customer Question

am coming out of a relationship which lasted for a year and am now single for 2 months,
i started seeing this guy now and he is in a relationship with a girl who is doing her masters over seas they arent stable but she wants to work on getting it together and he is not 100 in doing that. i really like him and we have a great communication we never argue nor do we have any disagreements we go out when we have time and talk regular on the phone he is charming and love music he is wonderful but i want to know that he is willing to have a stable relationship with me and not just half and half what should i do ?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 3 years ago.
Seeking expert testimony is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.

Dear friend,

From what you tell me, he is committed to this other woman and when she returns, with her masters degree, he will return to you. He likes you well enough and you can enjoy his friendship for now, but I am afraid that when she comes back he will return to you and leave you broken hearted.

He does like you, but I think he is already "taken" in his heart. Trust your intuition. It is right and I agree that this is only temporary.

You have a choice. Enjoy your time now and hope that you will turn things around by being with him, which is a big gamble, or move on and find someone without the baggage of another relationship waiting in the wings.

I know it is a tough choice, because a bird in the hand is more valuable than two in the bush. I am just afraid that your bird will slip through you fingers and fly away when his girlfriend returns..

I shall keep you in my prayers.

Warm regards,

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 3 years ago.

I agree with Elliott that the man is pretty likely to return to the GF when she brings her Masters degree back to Jamaica. But there are a couple of side points I want to make about your situation:


1.. How does Jamaican male culture expect men to deal with a relationship in which the woman has more education and/or more prestige in her public arena than the man? In American culture it's embarrassing for men to have their wife either making more money or carrying more public prestige & status than them. They feel one-down, so they may joke about it, or they may party a lot, escape the relationship a lot with their buddies, or even flirt a lot to prove their attractiveness, have affairs on the side, or put their partner down privately or become emotionally unpleasant to "even the playing field"--none of this is done with conscious intent, but it's harmful to the relationship anyway. In fact most of the hurtful things we do in close relationships are done unconsciously. If the GF is just going to be a teacher without making good money, then the problem could be minimal.


But if there will be a status and earning power difference in her favor, then your guy might either decide he'd rather stick with you (if your status isn't also higher than his), or charm you into wanting to keep seeing him even after he ("reluctantly") gets back into his prior commitment. So then you'd be "the other woman" in his life (or she could), whose function is to make him feel good about himself, even if both women have higher social status than he does. I don't know enough about Jamaican male attitudes to assert that this is true in your culture, but it could be. And it's not a nice guestimate to make, since there are also several ethnic subcultures in Jamaica, and I'm sure they don't agree on how males can act. For example I think Indian men may be less unconsciously hostile when their women are more highly educated and prestigious than they are.


2. Here's another perspective completely. Since you're only a few months out of a fairly long-term & presumably committed relationship, this new guy may be filling the role for you of "healing relationship" or "heart doctor." The fact that you feel that everything fits and works perfectly with him, and mention that there are no quarrels at all, suggests to me that quarreling was a painful part of your last relationship, and so were frictional differences in desires and habits, including music. So this guy feels so good because he's naturally soothing the wounds you've had from before.


But healing relationships don't have to turn into long term or permanent coupling to be worth their weight in gold. Normally it only takes 4-6 months for the wounded person (you) to have her specific wounds healed, that is to discover that it's perfectly fine for her to have the tastes and habits she has and the desires from a man that she has, because here is one man who's quite happy with how she acts with him (unlike her previous lover). Then one begins to notice that the parts that were perfect for her aren't as all-important anymore, and there are other aspects of the partner and relationship that aren't so desirable after all. Then she wonders if she really loves him as much as she thought in the beginning, because her most pressing needs for reassurance and acceptance have been filled. So she ends up wanting to down-grade the relationship, or needing to leave him because she doesn't love him in the same way as he loves her.


Your guy's not going to be devastated if you find out he's not so perfect for you onces his heart-doctoring has run its course, because he has somebody else in the offing. If you get dumped before you're ready to leave him, it could reopen your own wounds. But if he wants to keep you on as his "good friend," you might come down to earth pretty gently and be ready for another relationship without the unconscious need to seek healing for what was painful in your last relationship. That's a pretty good deal.


So if you've got 4 more months or more before GF #1 comes back with her degree, or he really does break it off with her, I'd say GO for it. I'd also suggest you make a note of what he does with and for you that contrasts with what happened with your ex BF in ways that feel really good to you (heart-healing). As time goes on, you could find yourself noticing a few ways your ex was more admirable or better with you than your new guy, because that's normal as relationships mature. If you're surprised at that change in your perception and attitude, then you'll know that it's been this guy's "heart-doctoring" that has made him so uniquely suited to you at this time. AND YOU CAN BE SUITABLY GRATEFUL TO HIM FOR HIS KINDNESS, as natural as it may be.


Or you might also find out that my whole structure of "healing relationships" doesn't fit you at all, and I've been of no use to you. Love relationship patterns don't just come in "one-size-fits-all."


It's been fun trying to walk a mile or two in your shoes.

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