Q: I have been dating a married woman who is separated for about a month, but we both agree it feels like we have known or been dating for years. She has been separated for over a year, but her husband has been dragging the divorce out. She was married to this individual for 10 years. She is now 35. I am 38 and never been married. She has been dating prior to me, but I don't think it has been as serious as us. Things had been going really well until this last week and could feel her getting a bit distant. I finally asked her about it last night and of course it was a bit late. I asked if she did not feel the same way about me as she did. She said no she does. She felt circumstances were freaking her out. She is still married and doesn't know if she get into a serious relationship with me because she still is. I feel like she is scared of our relationship for fear it may end up again like her last? I have been treating her like I treat my other relationships, but I don't think she has been treated this well or nicely. I believe this may be adding to the freak out. I asked if she felt like she was missing out on some part of life of not being married? She said no again. What should I be asking or saying? -- Richard L.
A: A common mistake a lot of people make is getting involved in new relationships while old ones are still unresolved. And I don't just mean unresolved in regards to the divorce process being finished, but unresolved psychologically and emotionally.
A typical scenario is that when people finally decide to separate, often after years of being unhappily married, they immediately start looking for more positive relationships. This usually leads to getting involved in a new relationship too soon after the separation.
I'm counseling a man right now who within weeks of finding out that his wife was cheating on him, separated and started dating. Within 60 days of separating, he was in a pretty serious new relationship. That was 2 years ago and he admits now that he jumped into the new relationship way too soon. And as a result, it didn't last.
I can't say precisely what's going on with the woman you're dating. Dating a married woman who is separated is complicated. I would bet that the emotional and psychological baggage of her marriage is causing your girlfriend to be distant.
What can you ask or say? Probably not much, other than suggesting that the marriage is having an affect on you guys. Here are some suggestions of what you can do:
Give her some space
Don't pressure her or force the matter of her being distant to get resolved
Don't take it personally
Suggest that she talk to a counselor for help
It sounds like she's not ready to have the relationship you want right now. Sometimes the timing is just not right. This doesn't have to mean that you can never have a relationship together, but maybe just not right now.
-- Kurt Smith, Marriage Counselor