But I Did It Out of Love; No Risk, No Reward
Dear Dr. Hurd,
I am hoping you can help me. I lived in Rehoboth for many years before moving to another state to be with the man that I love. We spent four great years together. Then I had some major health issues, and after being sick for almost a year (I am doing better now), I left him two months ago and moved back to Delaware.
You may think that this is selfish, but I only had his best interest at heart. Problem is, I never stopped loving him and I miss him deeply. I have approached him about reconciliation, but he doesn’t even want to talk to me. Should I give up and, as they say, lie in the bed that I made?
Dr. Hurd replies:
You really don’t have a choice. As long as your ex-partner doesn’t want you back, then that’s that. If he changes his mind, I assume he knows where to reach you.
I’m confused by your note, which suggests you may be confused as well. For one thing, I don’t criticize people for being “selfish.” It’s simply not a word in my vocabulary with regard to criticism of myself or others. Telling someone they’re bad for being “selfish” is like saying they’re bad for breathing. Whether we admit it or not, we all act to preserve and fulfill our lives, and there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with that. The issue is what you do while you’re acting in your best interest; not the fact that you’re attempting to do so.
In all honesty, I find it disingenuous when you say you did this with your partner’s interest at heart. Yes, it’s possible to love someone enough that you would literally do anything for them, but wouldn’t you be doing this as much for yourself as for him—precisely because you love him so much and don’t want to live without him? There’s self-interest in everything we do, and that’s perfectly OK.
My point is this: If I’m thinking you’re disingenuous just from your note, your ex-partner might be feeling the same way. Don’t kid him and yourself by claiming that you did anything exclusively for him when that’s likely not the case.
It’s clear that you faced some very significant challenges. A major health issue surely qualifies as significant. However, being apart from your loved one (chosen or not) is likewise a major life crisis. In that current crisis, you’re obviously seeing the good things about the relationship that you now miss. But to leave him as you did, and hurt him like that, there must have been some very good reasons. Be honest with yourself and your partner about what those reasons were. Otherwise, if you keep telling him, “I left you for your own sake,” he’s not going to buy it. And by taking you back he’s quite possibly setting himself up for the same thing all over again.
Dear Dr. Hurd,
I work in a restaurant. One of the managers has made friendly advances toward me, and wants to go out. I have no interest whatsoever in crying “sexual harassment” or anything like that, and, frankly, I’m flattered. But I just know if I go out with her, no matter what comes of it, I might, sometime down the line, lose my job over it. I’m looking for a long-term relationship, and this could be it. But I don’t want to risk losing my job if it doesn’t work out. I like my job, and I like her. What to do?
Dr. Hurd replies:
You’re basically asking: What’s more important: A good job or a good long-term relationship/marriage?
To me, the answer seems obvious. Good jobs (at least in a thriving economy) exist in a number of places. A good romance may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Everything in me says that you should not miss out on this opportunity.
Of course there’s no guarantee it will work out. But you surely have to try. It sounds like you assume you’ll lose your job for sure if you pursue a relationship with your manager. Am I missing something here? Is it explicitly against the rules, and both of you will be fired if you go out on a date? If so, then I guess you must make your decision soon. But if that isn’t the case, then why rush to assume the worst? There’s every possibility this could work out, and nobody will have to quit. Even if somebody does, you’ll be so happy being in love that you’ll have a supportive environment in which to solve the job problem.
I understand about wanting to be prepared. That’s a wise policy. Think about your options for seeking new employment if the worst does indeed happen. Can you think of jobs that would make you just as happy? I expect that you can. Once you’ve done this, and feel confident with your “exit strategy,” then take the plunge and see where this new interest might or might not go. Until you do that, the only real guarantee is this: No risk, no reward.
Michael J. Hurd, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and author. His office may be reached at 302-227-2829. Email your questions or comments Dr. Hurd.