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Ask Ellie: Fear of commitment may explain post-divorces dating woes

rather than date-and-run, which is unpleasant for everyone involved, consider what’s holding you back from within yourself

Dear Ellie: I’m a divorced man who’s been seeing a lovely, caring woman for four months. I’ve been in a number of relationships since I’ve been single, which haven’t worked out for different reasons, mostly due to lack of compatibility.

My problem with this current woman is lack of physical attraction.

I’ve continued to work hard at the relationship because most of her other qualities are very attractive to me and I’m trying not to be “superficial.”

I was hoping I’d grow to become physically attracted but this isn’t happening and it’s creating quite a bit of anxiety in me.

Of course, this isn’t something we can discuss and work on together and I’m worried that breaking up might ruin something potentially long-lasting.

How long should I wait to figure this out? How should I approach this problem?

Lost at 60

I agree fully that revealing your anxiety over lack of physical attraction to this woman isn’t a topic she’ll welcome.

Instead, consider your reasons for break-ups of “a number of dating relationships” — lack of compatibility, and now, lack of physical attraction.

Generally, these negative feelings don’t easily change.

Also, instead of just moving on, in this case you’re still dating the woman after four months without any physical attraction to her.

Clearly, your post-divorce dating choices are all trials, not serious intent. You know your personal interests but started relationships with people who don’t share them. At 60, you’re unlikely to want to give up on sex. Yet you’ve persisted dating this woman.

If you continue, you’re going to look/cheat elsewhere. Or she’s going to make moves you’ll reject. End of relationship.

I think you’re afraid to commit to anyone.

That’s not unusual for many divorced people. But, rather than date-and-run, which is unpleasant for everyone involved, consider what’s holding you back from within yourself.

Make a date (online or in person if possible) with a professional psychotherapist who’ll help you explore this matter, so your next dating story will be anxiety-free.

FEEDBACK regarding the long relationship that’s gone awry (July 8):

Reader — “There was excellent advice given to the woman whose husband doesn’t feel appreciated or loved enough.

“However, he may need to see his family doctor for a checkup. I assume he’s late 60s and has been doing the lion’s share of work around the house for 14+ years.

“Having so much responsibility, while coping with his wife’s health concerns must be very draining and overwhelming.

“Perhaps it’s time now for her to take back some of the household chores and free up time for him to do something he enjoys: Meet for coffee with friends, play cards at a seniors’ centre, go fishing, etc.

“He has caregiver burnout and, respecting how much he’s sacrificed to take care of her, it’d mean a lot.

“Show him she loves him by giving him a break to enjoy his retirement. Find a play he might enjoy and buy tickets so you two can have a date night.”

Reader 2 — “While I agree that she needs to skip the guilt and look at what’s happening, this man needs to speak with a doctor. These changes over the last few years could be an issue with his health, physical and/or mental.

“Of course, she can speak to his doctor herself. Although a health professional won’t give information to the spouse or someone else, it doesn’t mean the health professional can’t listen when given information.”

Dear Ellie: My single, close friend has purposefully had a baby with a stranger. She’s late-30s, recently had a relationship break-up, but has a very good job so can afford what she needs for the child.

She told me she met the “father” at a party, went home with him, and purposefully had consensual sex. When her pregnancy test was positive, she visited the man (he’s younger and not well-established) and told him. She said she required no participation, so long as he relinquished all rights to a role as father. He agreed.

I don’t know what to think. What’s your response and advice?

Concerned for the Child

She’s strong-minded, independent, and determined. What now matters are her supports — such as job flexibility, available help from family or a hired nanny, and the bond that must develop between mother and child.

She also needs to be aware that one day the child may want to meet/know their father.

Email ellie@thestar.ca.

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