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Ask Ellie: Don't hang on for relationship crumbs

I’m heartsick that I’ll lose him unless he starts including me publicly

Dear Ellie: For two years I’ve been the “hidden” girlfriend of a man divorced for five years. He says he loves me, wants me to spend sleepovers with him, but keeps me away from his children and his ex.

He doesn’t talk about her but I’ve recognized his true feelings. They were together for 13 years, he loved her, and didn’t want the divorce.

She loved him and they had three children together - two are adolescents, one is younger. But their mother said she needs an independent weekday life immersed in her high-level position in a major company.

She devotes whole weekends to their children, at her house, where she employs a housekeeper/cook (revealed by the only child who talks to me).

So, on weekends, my lover wants me sleeping over with him, but otherwise prefers if I’m unseen.

On a recent holiday when his parents and children came over for a family dinner, and exchange of presents, there was excitement when gifts were distributed. But he quietly told me to meet him in a separate room, to exchange our gifts for each other.

He was “hiding” our relationship! One of the children even asked, “Why are you here?”

I’m heartsick that I’ll lose him unless he starts including me publicly and informs the children that I’m a permanent part of his life. Please advise me how to achieve this.

Hidden and Hurting

It’s an odd situation but not unworkable, if you could be happy as the “sometime” girlfriend. But that’s not what you want.

He’s attached to his former life - married with children, a woman he’d loved openly and trusted, but who walked away from him.

He’s lost his former lifestyle yet trying to keep you in part of his life where he’s comfortable, with no need for a committed relationship.

This part-time routine won’t work for long. The children are confused, perhaps even wary of you. You’re losing self-confidence, suffering emotional pain, and hanging onto hope without substance.

If you stay in this set-up, you’ll be hurting more. It’s unlikely he’ll stop only giving you relationship crumbs.

Talk to a therapist to start re-building your self-image. And never again hide in a separate room from his family. Instead, move on to someone who fully appreciates and respects you.

Dear Ellie: I’ve been invited to the celebration of a former colleague’s retirement from the job where we’d worked together for 15 years. She’s mid-50s, entering a new field that pays more until her future long-term retirement.

I was a newbie of 30 at our workplace and she was “not welcoming,” jealous of my being younger and doing well.

Whenever I was praised for something, she said, “some people are just lucky that way…,” like I didn’t earn/deserve any kudos.

I’m wondering whether I should bother attending the event.

Are we congratulating her for knocking others down? Or must I pretend I care about her future?

Unimpressed

In every field, there are rules of the game. Had this woman ruined your ability to advance, you could’ve fought back through human resources. But your natural talent and hard work kept providing you with successes. Well done!

Meanwhile, most working people eventually reach a “what next” crossroad. In her case, it’s scrambling for something that’ll provide more money and security until she must retire.

But there’s still successes ahead for you.

Be gracious. Attend the event and enjoy the colleagues you like and admire. Then say “Good luck,” to your former colleague as you leave. It’s a classy exit that suits you.

Dear Ellie: Do you know of doctors who can help me with my libido? I’m over 65 and have no sex drive. ????

I want to make love to my husband but the desire isn’t there for months sometimes, and I feel sad.

I’ve asked my family doctor over two years, to help me find medication and still she says she knows of nothing.

I’ve tried so many health-store products, nothing works, I need something stronger. A female Viagra?

Lost Libido

Your family doctor can refer you to a specialist, possibly a gynecologist and/or someone dealing specifically with hormone replacement therapy, since there are women still on that medication/treatment into their later senior years.

But there are health issues to consider. If your family doctor won’t refer you, ask why or call a women’s health clinic in a local hospital to ask how to secure an appointment about this bona fide quality-of-life issue for you.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Relationship crumbs are too messy to hang onto. Move on.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca.

Follow @ellieadvice.