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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5334
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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I’ve been dating this wonderful guy for the past 5 months.

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I’ve been dating this wonderful guy for the past 5 months. We see each other at least once a week. He is divorced (separated for 4 years) and I am separated for two years and we both have two children each.
We care about each other a lot and are hopeful we have a future together, but both of us are scared as we don’t want to get hurt again if we totally commit. His wife wanted out of his marriage and my husband wanted out of my marriage. You could say that we both are wounded in the same way.
We are exclusive and consider each other boyfriend and girlfriend and we are both in our early 40’s. My question is I am quite concerned about whether I should fully commit and give my heart to this man, ie allow myself to fall in love with him.
He mentions his ex wife a lot. He said it took him a good 3 years to get over it and he feels totally over it, but she comes up in conversation. Sometimes he mentions her negative qualities and sometimes he says how she was a good wife, devoted, made nice desserts etc and how he had loved her.
Last night after we made love we were listening to the radio and a song came on and I said I knew the song and the artist (it was an old song from the 80’s!) and his response was “Rachel was good at remembering songs and artists…she was really good at that”. I instantly felt like we had just enjoyed a really intimate moment but I felt very let down that she was in his head space…..I felt like he’s not over her. He claims he is. I couldn’t sleep and in the middle of the night told him that I felt a bit used and like that I am second rate and I want our relationship to be just about us and not with ex’s coming into the conversation. I do talk about my ex sometimes but more about practical things, not nostalgic things. He claims he’s very committed to me and likes me a lot and wants to be with me, but I can’t help feeling like he hasn’t totally let go. This makes me afraid to totally open up. He acknowledged my feelings but he thinks he’s just talking and she is not on his mind.
Advice would be greatly appreciated! I really like this guy and see a future but I don’t want to devote myself to someone who isn’t 100% devoted to me and who hasn ‘t totally moved on.

Hi! I'll be glad to be of help with this issue.

I can imagine how frustrating this situation must be for you. You are clearly a loving, caring, and sensitive person. And this feels like a lack of sensitivity on his part. I know you can rationalize it away and excuse it, but it does hurt your feelings. That's also clear. And he keeps doing it over and over. This is what is making you become unsure about the relationship: he keeps doing it.

He must certainly be a very fine man for you to feel so connected with him and to want to marry him. That's beautiful. And you need to make sure that you're not letting your sensitivity keep you from making it clear to him what exactly you want.

And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. Men can be a little thick sometimes. Okay, men can be pretty thick sometimes. I am concerned that you've hinted about what his mentioning his ex wife does to you, but not that you've sat down and had a talk about how you are sensitive about this like almost every woman is. That as a man he probably thinks he's just stating facts and even that he's sharing with you. What would be better, he might think.

But that for a woman, to hear about an ex wife and what she liked and how she did things, etc., etc. is very disconcerting and spoils the love relationship of the moment. That this is how women are. And therefore, you are asking him to be aware of this and to make a very concerted effort to catch himself from talking about her unless it's for a necessary reason. You can even show him my answer if it will help him to have evidence from a professional that this is how men and women differ and that this is an important part of a second marriage: do not mention the ex wife unless it's necessary.

And this will let you know what you want to know. If he does over the next couple of months learn to stop this, then he was indeed being a man and just imparting information. If not, then your concern about her being on his mind actively becomes more a possibility. So, be very up front and straightforward about the matter and find out. Because in far more cases than not, I've found that the man is really not attached to his ex, just a bit clueless about the effects of his words.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

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