Friday, April 2, 2010

What Did I Do Wrong??

Courtesy of’s Happen Magazine

When the going got tough, her guy got going. One woman wonders if she should have been more flexible.

Dear Dr. Gilda,

I had a boyfriend for almost 10 wonderful years. Then I learned my ex-husband was dying with cancer. He was a good father to our only son. My ex-husband asked me if I would take care of him his last days. He did not want hospice care and had no relatives who could help. I told my boyfriend I was going to take care of my ex-husband; I gave him the house

address and phone number where he could reach me. He called a couple of times, but not much.

During the first month and a half, I went home to see my boyfriend. I asked him if he had met anyone new. He said no, but I knew something was wrong. He asked me to get my ex hospice care and return home, but I just couldn’t. After three months of suffering my ex-husband passed away and I returned home. Six months later I found out that my guy had been dating two other women. He dumped me and kept his two new girlfriends.

I have not moved on. I feel the whole situation was so unfair, but just can’t seem to motivate myself to be interested in dating right now. What’s going on?!

Nurturing Nora

Dear Nurturing Nora,

Never, never, never apologize for offering kindness, as you did for your ex-husband. And now that the difficult time is over, stop hanging out on the corner of If Only Boulevard. As my Gilda-Gram says, “Crises push us toward new opportunities.” While challenges are occurring, and you’re up to your neck in muck and mire, the prevailing goal is to just get through the ordeal. But after you emerge from the dark tunnel, you begin to see things in a new light.

You say you “had a boyfriend for 10 wonderful years.” Especially now that you are no longer together, examine why you thought the years were so “wonderful.” You say that during the beginning of your caretaking, you returned home to see your boyfriend, and you sensed his coldness. You asked if he was seeing someone new, surmising that another woman was involved. As my Gilda-Gram says, “Honor the guru within you.” Usually, your gut is right! You chose to ignore it.

Look at the facts objectively:

1. Despite a 10-year history together, after only 1½ months of separation, as you were off on a safari of unconditional giving, he greeted you with an attitude.

2. Even when he told you nothing was wrong, you opted not to probe. Why did you ignore your instincts and practice avoidance?

Is this how you traditionally dealt with him when things were rocky? No relationship lasts 10 years without some bumps in the road. Assess how you managed yours.

This guy has obvious flaws in his personality. But your choice to avoid the issue is a flaw in yours. Wonderful Boyfriend wasted no time in getting busy elsewhere. He was saying, “If you don’t give me my way, I’ll find someone who will!” Oh, puh-leeze! How selfish and immature can a person be?!

Of course, you’re shell-shocked now, so this is what I suggest you do now:

1. Recall your interactions in the past when Wonder Boy didn’t get his way. Do you see consistent selfish patterns?

2. List as many instances as you can remember when you chose to avoid your guy’s difficult behavior. While you may have chosen to avoid a blow-up during this crisis, determine whether this is your usual modus operandi in challenging situations.

3. Take an Assertiveness Training course to build confrontation muscle.

While this is a staggering blow after 10 years with this guy, view the experience as an opportunity to communicate with men differently from now on. Ease up on your Nurturing Nora nature, and voice your own preferences when you love again.


Dr. Gilda


DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) at is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship educator, and management consultant. She is’s “Ask Dr. Gilda” advice columnist published on Also, she is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, and the author of "Don't Bet on the Prince!" (a test question on "Jeopardy!"), and other books. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. She is currently developing her own TV show.

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