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Ask Anne: Relationship Advice
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Relationship Questions

How much guilt is normal?

Dear Anne, I was in a relationship with a girl for 14 years. She, madam X, was very controlling and a perfectionist. At the time that we met, I was needy and didn’t realize either of our issues. I grew dependent on her, and allowed her to take over many things in my life that I shouldn’t have. There were many fights where she would say degrading words, threats of ending the relationship and making me think I was always wrong. It took me a long time to become independent and realize that this wasn’t a healthy relationship and she wasn’t going to change as I had. So after 14 years we ended it.

In the mean time, I had a friend, Madam Y, who was also in a very long term relationship of 16 years. It appeared that they were a happy couple, traveled a lot, got along well – it seemed anyway. Madam Y is a similar type of person that I am: giving, a peace maker, positive, forgiving and a musician. I had known her for 3 years at the time of my breakup and knew I liked her as a friend, found her attractive both physically and mentally, funny and I just knew that I liked to be around her, but that’s as far as it went. I never pursued anything because I was with someone and so was she.

About a month after my relationship ended, she started making comments that made me think that she felt something for me, mind you though these comments were made when she had drank a little too much. After another month of this we were out and again she had drank too much and told me she loved me. So the next day, when we were both sober, we talked on the phone about this. We both agreed that it didn’t matter what we were feeling due to her being in a relationship, but at the same time agreed to meet after work to talk about it some more. She was having big issues with how this could have happened to her, how she could have fallen in love with someone else when she was in a relationship. So we went on this way for about another month, her trying to figure things out, not wanting to destroy a 16 year relationship, but not wanting to let me go either. During this time, the only physical contact we had was a few kisses and hugs, it was mostly all emotional. Before she found the courage to talk to her partner, who turns out to be a lot like my ex, we were found out. Her partner then wanted her to stop seeing me, but Madam Y refused. So she left her house and has been waiting for her soon to be ex to move out of her house. In the mean time she has been seeing me and we have taken our relationship to another level.

She is slowly realizing that her relationship had some big issues like communication and would have never been fixed due to her partner’s personality. However, she feels horrible, lots of sadness, blames herself and lots of guilt about hurting her partner. She talks about it all the time. It seems like when we are together she forgets for a while and we have a good time together but the next day she feels so much guilt that she make excuses not to see me for days, even though we talk on the phone daily, but I hear it in her voice.

I know we are trying to take it slow, but I feel like this guilt and bad feelings of what has happened will get in the way of us if it doesn’t stop. It is beginning to hurt me when she talks about this, about how sad she is that her relationship has ended, how bad she feels that she hurt her partner. I feel like I am being put on a back burner because she doesn’t want us to be seen in public in case her soon to be ex partner might run into us, She says this is only until their financial matters have been taken care of and she gets her house back, but it’s starting to bother me. I feel like she is thinking more of her soon to be ex partner’s feelings than she is mine. Is this normal? Am I over reacting? I do realize she should feel some guilt and bad feelings, but for how long and how much?

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Disclaimer

  • 'Anne' is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
  • 'Anne' bases her responses on her personal experiences and not on professional training or study. She does not represent herself to be a psychologist, therapist, counselor or professional helper of any sort. Her responses are offered from the perspective of a friend or mentor only.
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