POSTED ON MARCH 16, 2011:
THE ADVICE GODDESS
With This Ring I Thee Dump
One year ago, I was engaged to a wonderful man I'd been with for four years. I loved him deeply, he was everything I thought I wanted, and his family was my family. Two months before our wedding, a dear male friend of mine confessed his love for me. When I realized I felt more than friendship for him, I thought I just had cold feet. After much soul-searching, I called my wedding off, figuring that such a strong emotional connection to another man indicated that I needed something I wasn't getting from my fiance. I have been with my new man ever since and have never been so happy, but I'm consumed by guilt. My ex-fiance and I spent many hours planning our future. It haunts me to think how badly I've hurt him and his family. I wake up at night picturing him alone in his bed crying, and I imagine family holidays with his young nieces asking, "Where's Auntie?"
--Racked With Guilt
You didn't plot to make the guy love you and want a life with you just so you could really stick it to him four years later: "Let's role-play! You be the baby seal, and I'll be the fur trader!"
It now seems that those hours he spent planning a future with you would have been better invested in playing "Killzone 2" or balancing a ball on his nose. Oops. Love, like hang gliding, comes with some risks. Those who aren't up for them are free to stay home alone watching infomercials with the cat.
You got so swept up in the momentum of building a life with this guy that you didn't realize what you were missing -- until it came along and said, "Whoa, you're not actually going to marry him." The thing is, when something doesn't feel wrong, it's easy to believe it's right. And sometimes, you see most clearly by comparison -- and then come to the sinking realization that you've got to inform a very sweet guy that his bachelor party will be more of a perpetual bachelor party.
Going all "Da Vinci Code" crazed albino monk and locking yourself in a room to self-flagellate doesn't do a thing for the guy you left, and it sure isn't helping you or your current boyfriend. In fact, by focusing all this energy on your jilted ex, it's like you're still in a relationship with him. It's right to feel sympathy for him, but guilt? Feeling guilt would be legitimate if there had been something you could've done to prevent his pain -- like willing yourself to be wiser faster or going back in time to the moment he hit on you and giving him the wrong number.
Your ex might be weeping into his pillow -- or he might be out playing tennis or in bed with your replacement. I'm sure you're a great girl, but life goes on. Since you left the guy so you could be happy, the least you could do is enjoy yourself. You also might give yourself some props for not doing what far too many people do: marry somebody they know is wrong for them because, well, they were already in the marriage trajectory and they paid good money to send out 300 magnetic save the dates. They forge right ahead with that "Princess Bride"-themed walk down the aisle -- which, in a few months or years, tends to have them walking down a more "Judgment at Nuremberg"-themed aisle: "You may now kiss the bailiff."
I'm casually dating multiple people and stressing about what to do when a man wants to see me again but I already have a date. Do I lie and say I'm hanging with a friend? I'm looking to have a serious relationship, and it seems bad to have it based in dishonesty from the start.
Because we can all disseminate massive quantities of information about ourselves doesn't mean we should. In fact, if you took all the utterly inane revelations off Twitter, you could probably run the entire enterprise off an old PC in somebody's garage. Until you get serious with somebody, all he needs to know is that you "have other plans," not that you're "going out with Jason tonight, and he's a foot and a half taller than you and makes lots more money." Keeping mum about the details isn't dishonesty; it's tact. Anybody emotionally healthy and socially intelligent gets that you aren't going to be his one and only by the third date. The only information you do owe him is whether you might give him another shot -- or cause him to need one to eliminate painful urination, night sweats, and weeping sores.
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com). Alkon is the author of "I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners into Impolite Society."
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