My friend is suffering from a broken heart. She won’t listen to anything I say, but she reads your column regularly and may listen to you.
She went back to her small town for her 25th high school reunion and reconnected with a fellow she grew up with. They started dating almost immediately, making a long commute each way, but neither of them seemed to mind. She was twice divorced, and he was divorced once. She told me quite happily early on in their relationship that they were in total agreement that they didn’t want any commitment. Famous last words!
Things were hot and heavy for over a year. I was one of the friends who said they were perfect for each other. Then she told me he’d popped the question. She answered, “Oh, no, I don’t believe in marriage! I’ll never make that mistake again!” Then she scolded him for forgetting their “no-commitment” agreement.
He back-pedaled and said he was just letting her know that if marriage was what she wanted, he’d be willing. They agreed to continue as before, but it was the beginning of the end. He called less and less often and then stopped altogether.
Now she’s hurting. She says he’s like all the other men in her life who leave her. I said he was probably very hurt about her turning down his proposal, even though he said he wasn’t. She goes on and on about how heartbroken she is, but still says she would never consider getting married again. I don’t think marriage was the problem, I think it was the two men she was married to. What do you think? GOOD FRIEND
Dear GOOD FRIEND,
Let’s call your friend Jill and her ex-boyfriend Jack.
Here’s what I think happened. Jack was being honest when he said he didn’t want a commitment. But then he fell in love and changed his mind–it happens!—and he proposed.
He believed if she loved him as much as he loved her, she’d want to marry him. And he may have been right. At any rate, something had fundamentally shifted in their relationship and it wasn’t possible for things to go back to the way they were. Woody Allen said relationships are like sharks–they have to move forward or they die.
Jill is foolish to see herself as the wronged party. If she doesn’t want to marry again, that’s her business. But Jack didn’t leave her, she rejected him.