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Carolyn Hax: Suspicion right on; relationship off

Dear Carolyn: Blargh. I’ve spent the entirety of my two-year relationship on the lookout for the other woman, only to learn this week that I AM the other woman. The “main” woman is his on-again, off-again fiancee, currently on, whom I had glimpsed in passing a number of times but always thought was a relative of his.

Of course I am disgusted by this level of deception, but I also believe that what we have/had is real, and I am not sure it’s necessary to automatically write off this relationship. I asked him what he wanted, and he answered honestly that he doesn’t know.

Now that the fiancee is aware of me, she has wavered on leaving him, but may still do it. Do I sound like a ninny here? – That’s what I get

Your word, not mine.

What you have/had is real, yes, in its profound dysfunction. For proof of this, you actually didn’t even need to discover he’s scheduled to marry someone else.

Sufficient proof has been available for “the entirety of my two-year relationship,” every time you looked under the bed for the other woman. Your lookout impulse has been urging you to get out from the beginning.

That’s because chronic suspicion doesn’t have a whole lot of causes. It means only this: either you’re emotionally unhealthy, or your relationship is, or both. That’s it.

If you took the news of his brazen deception as a relationship write-off – or, better, a run-screaming-off – then you could blame the relationship, mentally review the past two years to see what signs you missed, make some adjustments to your outlook and your future behavior, and carry on.

But since you’re currently trying to rationalize a decision to keep seeing him, despite, again, brazen deception, you need to realize that you’re in one of the most dangerous positions people can find themselves in: You’d rather get high than take care of yourself.

Just because your drug of choice is a man (or gambling or risky sex or compulsive shopping or overeating or dieting/exercising or … ) instead of a mind-altering chemical, that doesn’t make your position harmless, and it certainly doesn’t make it romantic. It’s bad for you. You don’t care. Why?

I urge you to ask yourself this question, and, if you can’t come up with an answer on your own, to consider taking it to a good therapist. If that’s not an option, then consider dropping by reputable addiction-recovery programs, if only to see if you make the same connection I did. Whatever it takes, please take better care of yourself.

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