Dear Ellie: I’m a man, 44, divorced, with two children. I recently met an amazing woman, 42, through a dating site, and was knocked out from the start!
We’ve seen each other frequently over six weeks and I’ve already been thinking about a future together.
She’s beautiful, exciting, has a big career, is worldly and loves to travel.
She divorced a year ago and has one child. They moved to my city six months ago. She enjoys a very full active life, just as I want to have.
Suddenly, I have doubts.
I’d invited her to go with me to my best friend’s house, where he and his wife had invited two other couples I’ve known well for years.
I wanted them all to meet the woman of my dreams.
To my total shock and confusion, she showed a completely different personality than I’d seen.
She remained extremely quiet, giving the impression that she’s shy and introverted throughout the evening.
She gave one-word answers to their many questions and she didn’t engage in any conversations.
She showed them nothing of the person with whom I thought I’d fallen in love. I’m now questioning everything I thought about her and us as a couple.
How do I explain this or do I just head for the hills?
Shocked and Confused
So many possible explanations: You hadn’t yet told her you were thinking about a future together, but did tell your friends whose unexpected scrutiny felt rude to her.
Or, their questions were too invasive, considering that they were strangers to her.
What I believe is most likely: She has only lived in your city for six months, and only dated you for six weeks — all way too fast for opening up her personality and plans to people delving too deeply.
She’d be especially reluctant to open up, since you’d only told yourself that you see her as a long-term partner.
What I’ve presented here are only my guesses — though I’m aided by years of experience receiving other letters from people whose new loves “suddenly changed.”
What’s most needed now is to have a conversation with her alone, immediately.
First, apologize to her for your friends’ intense questioning. Tell her straight up that you’ve enjoyed dating her so much that you may have created a setup for them to think you were already a committed couple and that she’d soon become part of the group.
She was wise to clam up. Now, slow down the rush and start talking realities.
You need to know if she’s even interested in a serious relationship with anyone at this time.
Share some of your feelings for her, but still acknowledge that you now realize that it’s way too soon to plan ahead after just weeks of dating, when you both have children to consider, too.
Feedback: Regarding the neighbour used by his friend as a cover for the man’s cheating on his pregnant wife (Jan. 29):
Reader: “The cheater’s wife already had her suspicions, which is why she asked the neighbour ‘how was the meal,’ which he was supposed to have had with her spouse.
“If I were advising this man, I’d tell the wife that I wasn’t there. He was with another woman.
“In this day and age, unlike my experience years past, women don’t have to put up with a life of lies, especially if they have young children who don’t have to be exposed to a dysfunctional upbringing.
“Her husband will never change.”
Regarding the family member who wanted to keep even those relatives who were awkward together appearing at the get-togethers (Jan. 28):
Reader: “Perhaps the responsibility for making sure that family gatherings continue to happen in harmony rests with the discordant brother and brother-in-law.
“Perhaps the brother could arrange to meet with the brother-in-law to say that he really enjoys his family and the effort that his sister makes to pull gatherings together, but increasingly he finds the brother-in-law’s comments/jibes/sarcasm toward him as very uncomfortable.
“He could ask: Is there something else going on? Have I done something to offend you? Can we agree to keep things light?
“These ‘I’-messages don’t blame the other person, and shouldn’t elicit a defensive reaction from the brother-in-law.
“Some people are honestly not aware of how hurtful their comments are. If no one has suggested that they are, perhaps he’s in the dark about how they’re received.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
Instant love at first sight is wonderfully magical. Taking time to build friendship/ trust is wise reality.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.