I recently broke up with my ex of four (on and off) years. Although I loved him like I never loved anyone before, we were having too many issues, we were always arguing and fighting (in public sometimes) and he could be verbally abusive at times. He’s only 24 which is four years younger than me so I would chalk it up to him being emotionally immature and the fact that we were fighting. He was the sweetest and most caring, loyal and unselfish guy I ever knew, but the constant emotional highs and lows just got to be too much. I was miserable and heartbroken, so as hard as it was, I had to let him go.
Almost immediately (like an idiot) I started dating a guy from my job. The new guy is considerably older, has a great job, makes good money, is smart, charming, sweet, spoils me rotten, the whole nine. Only problem is, I’m not in love with him and I’m not as sexually attracted to him. Not to mention he’s somewhat overweight and is a slob at home. His apartment is utterly wretched. And I’m borderline OCD with the cleanliness so it just makes my skin crawl when I’m over there. My ex, on the other hand, was the total opposite – great body, loved to cook and clean, was super meticulous with his personal grooming – not to mention our sexual chemistry was like none other. I’m talking, like, legendary. “La passion” he used to call it. But, he didn’t have a lot of money and as I said earlier, we fought like cats and dogs. The new guy, on the other hand, treats me like a princess but we don’t have that same sexual chemistry – its not bad, just not that crazy passionate sex like with the ex. Plus, his sloppy personal habits disgust me and it doesn’t help that he’s overweight (I’m a little health and fitness-obsessed if you can’t tell).
I know that I’m still not over my ex. And to make matters worse, we’ve been talking again lately and although he knows about the new guy, he’s been trying to get back with me. On one hand, I love him like I’ve never loved anyone else, he lit my fire like none other – but I’m scared we’ll only have the same issues if we get back together. And the new guy, while he may need some work, he’s more like husband material —he’s mature, doing well financially, treats me great and we have a great time — I’m just not in love with him. I know those feelings take time to develop and maybe I’m just being overly critical of him. But even if I did decide to break it off with him, I still have to face him at work everyday. It’s like he has all the good characteristics I wish my ex had, but all the bad characteristics my ex didn’t have. Its like some sort of inverse equation or something. What do I do?!— Confused in PA
Well, for starters, you can stop rebounding with guys you work with. I mean, come on! What were you thinking? And since he is, as you make a point of mentioning a couple times, well off, I wonder if he might even be in a position of authority over you. Jumping into another relationship as soon as you end a tumultuous four-year one isn’t the wisest move, but it’s not necessarily the end of the world. Having rebound sex with a co-worker? Now you’re playing with fire. Having impulsive rebound sex with the boss (if that’s what, in fact, you’re doing)? Good God, woman, that’s just begging for trouble.
You’re in no position to have a relationship with anyone right now — co-worker, boss or otherwise. Clearly, you’re not over your ex, someone you describe as an immature, verbally abusive guy you fought with like “cats and dogs.” Therefore, you don’t have the emotional availability for someone new in your life. Not only are you making it more difficult for yourself to process the feelings of your breakup and truly move on, but by dating the rich, older guy you aren’t even attracted to, you’re being incredibly insensitive to his feelings as well. Sure, he might just be a horny old-man opportunist preying on a young woman at work during a particularly vulnerable period, but for all we know, he might actually have genuine feelings for you, too. And here you are, utterly disgusted by his personal habits and sexually turned off by his weight, weighing every one of his characteristics against your much younger ex-boyfriend. Oh, but he’s rich, you say! And he treats you like a princess! Well, guess what? Where I come from there’s a name for women who make those sorts of justifications for men they aren’t into: starts with a G and ends with digger.
I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and chalk up your bad behavior to Post Relationship Stress Disorder. To fully recover from it, I advise breaking things off with New Guy immediately, telling him you’ve realized you’re not in an emotional place to date anyone right now and you’re sorry for leading him on. You might even start looking for a new job if your relationship with him is going to screw things up enough at the office. Next, cut ties completely with your ex. You may have “loved him like you never loved anyone before,” but the relationship was a dysfunctional mess and taking a few weeks away from it while you screwed some other guy will not have changed anything for the better. Eventually, after you spend what will probably be a lonely, agonizing period of really letting go of your ex-boyfriend, you’ll be ready for someone new. This time, look for the whole package, decide which characteristics are most important to you, and don’t settle for anyone who leaves you less than fulfilled in any of those areas.
And P.S. There’s never any excuse for someone to be verbally abusive in a relationship. That kind of behavior is not “sweet, caring, loyal or unselfish.” The sooner you realize that, the better chance you’ll have at attracting someone who really is those things.