Dear Carolyn: With her, future’s bleak

Dear Carolyn: I have been seeing a girl I work with for five months. We don’t see much of each other, and talk only as she can. She has been involved with someone for five years and is engaged.

However, she is not happy. Hasn’t been for a while. She professes her love to me nearly every day, and I have let my feelings be known.

I am concerned that she will never leave this other man because she has told me she does not want to hurt him. She has told him about us, but he doesn’t want to give up on them. She is having a hard time breaking his heart. Do I stay around and wait for her, or tell her she needs to make a decision? – S.

It’s all so exciting when you’re professing new love, stealing moments to talk, trying on various futures in the agreeable confines of your mind.

But a lifetime with someone as gutless as the girl you describe? Hell.

She does get bonus points for telling her fiance about you. That couldn’t have been easy. However, it’s conceivable she told because he busted her, or you cornered her, or she hoped he’d dump her for it, thereby making the tough choice for her.

Regardless, the net result is her creating round-the-clock drama where there’s a simple and viable alternative: take the heat. Withdraw from both men so she can think straight. Risk losing both men just because the right thing beats the safe one.

Instead, she’s making excuses while she – conveniently and not coincidentally – keeps all her options open. Her top priority is to protect her own interests.

Why are you abetting this, settling for this, waiting in line for more? Unless you want to live a life built around her weakness, tell her to call you when she grows up.

Dear Carolyn: My dad just died. I’m devastated. I have a boyfriend whom I love a lot, but he says I seem a little distant. I’m doing my best, and have told him so – he’s been really great through everything. However, I am afraid my best won’t be enough. – Grieving

Your father just died; there is no “best.”

Instead, please reorient your thinking. This isn’t about whether your best is enough, it’s whether your worst is too much.

If his heart isn’t with you all the way to your lowest points and back, then he isn’t someone you can count on. And there’s nothing like grief to remind you how much we invest in the people we love, and therefore how important it is that we don’t invest in the ones we can’t count on.

Consider, too, that you’ve made too much of his remark; could he have been merely stating the obvious? Of course you’re a little distant. The world outside your loss is a blur.

It’s OK to fall short of your best. A keeper will stay.

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.

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