Update: “Moth-to-the-flame” Responds

updatesIt’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Moth-to-the-flame” (LW1) who was torn between Peter, the man she dated for six years and lived with before breaking up, and Paul, a single colleague/manager with whom she developed a “friendship that is quite intimate but ambiguous.” She wrote: “Peter is doing therapy, and he says he loves me and wants us back together. I love him, but I’m afraid I’m not in love with him anymore. However, he would be the perfect partner for starting a family. On the other hand, I’m pining away for Paul, and I could throw all concerns away if he were to suggest anything were possible between us.” Find out whom she picked and how it’s going:

Turns out you were right (I bet I’m not the first one to tell you that !). I was not in love with “Peter” anymore and hadn’t been in a long time, but I (we) let the deteriorating relationship drag on endlessly. In mid-November, Peter said he didn’t want us to be exclusive anymore. I protested during the conversation, but three days later, during a short work trip abroad, “Paul” and I had sex. When I came back from the trip, I broke up with Peter for good – without telling him about Paul, as I reckoned this would only hurt him for nothing.

Paul warned me several times in November/December that he wasn’t ready for a new relationship, due to unresolved issues from a past one. I ignored the warning (maybe I wasn’t ready either) and we kept having dates/sex/sleep-overs – but Paul wouldn’t make it public. I’m a “friend,” in the eyes of his friends and family. At some point in late February/early March, things got tenser as I was getting tired of feeling like a secret mistress in Paul’s life. Before we could find a solution or a “break-up” for our “non-relationship”, COVID-19 happened. I asked Paul to quarantine together and he agreed. Turns out we are excellent quarantine partners! We get on very well, have amazing chemistry, and have lots of common interests. Of course, it’s a bit like fast forwarding into an old marriage, but I’m positive the companionship has been amazing in such times (we are both working from home). I’m still only the “friend he is quarantining with” to his family and friends; I guess we’ll need to have the “DTR” talk and maybe I’ll need to make a difficult decision when the lockdown is over.

I have also recognized that I may have a pattern of getting attached to unavailable “broken” (eg still hurting from past relationships) men and want to “heal” them. However, I’m taking the opportunity of the present situation to work on things that were difficult for me in past relationships:

-expressing sexual desire
-disagreeing openly and in a non-confrontational way (as I did not dare do it before)
-allowing myself to be vulnerable and make mistakes
-not feeling responsible for the other’s mood and well-being.

I hope you are doing well and your health and your family’s are great.

Love from France – Moth-to-the-flame

Oh, gosh, I am glad you have a companion to quarantine with during this really challenging time and I hope it continues to be a positive experience for you. But I always worry when someone says he or she isn’t ready for a relationship – especially because of “unresolved issues from a past one.” This could very well be just another flame you’re attracted to. Please be careful and keep in mind that this is a man who continues not to validate your relationship as an actual relationship – to his friends and family OR to himself. Proceed with caution!

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
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  1. AmIAllowedToStillComment? says:

    I know many are not a fan of me around here and that’s ok, i just want to throw in my immediate thought on this, as I’ve bee n the asshole in this same type of situation.
    You two may be doing well, right now during these times, and quarantined together, but I’m willing to bet that as soon as you’re both free again to do whatever you please, he will most likely ghost you. Who’s place are you two staying in? I ask because right now both of you get to just do whatever and once (if?) things can go back to normal, i can say with almost certainty, he will not want to be tied together anymore, if he doesn’t have to be. Tread very lightly, don’t set yourself up for heartbreak just because you two get along while basically having to be forced to spend this much time together. Not saying a real thing couldn’t come of this, but I highly doubt it given what i just read . Birth control and condoms , good luck.

  2. I feel like every emotionally unavailable commitment-phobe has found someone to quarantine with, and is studiously avoiding any discussion about it. They don’t want to be alone (or celibate), but they also don’t want to be held accountable for anything in the long run. When the lockdown ends, they’ll be back to their old tricks immediately.

    LW, I hope you’re enjoying this for what it is.

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