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Ask Ellie: To navigate dating world, know what you want ... and say it

Do you know your bottom-line needs and wants within a relationship… and can you express them honestly?

Dear Ellie: My friend, 36, was worried that she wasn’t cut out for a relationship, though she repeatedly gives her all to a boyfriend. At 24, in her first serious relationship, it took two years for her to realize her guy was taking advantage of her salary while losing at gambling with his pals. She finally walked away.

She’s so generous of spirit that she next got trapped into a caregiver role when a guy she was dating moved himself into her apartment when he got COVID two years ago. She packed his bag the minute he tested negative.

But this past year she’s finally hit a home-run. Her love is a wonderful man who adores her, and also makes sure they both speak up when anything needs to be discussed.

Lucky her! Unfortunately, many daters see only what’s “not perfect” about someone, or we look for red flags because we don’t trust that people are genuine and honest about their feelings.

But my friend’s story shows that people looking to find a true partner, can be more hopeful. There are good people among us! Do you agree or am I just excited for my friend?

My Friend’s Home Run!

Thanks for the opportunity to explore this very common concern among daters — i.e. Is anyone out there a decent, honest person who wants what I want in a relationship?

The answer is, yes. But it takes time and experience to find that person and recognize that you did.

Also, serious daters need to feel personally ready for a relationship and also know what that means: E.g., Would you readily trust someone who very recently ended a relationship?

Are you open about your own previous experiences, and how they’ve shaped your outlook?

Do you know your bottom-line needs and wants within a relationship… and can you express them honestly?

Answer yourself. Anyone can use their own past experience and current self-knowledge to recognize the inner value of a potential partner… so start looking. It’s what matters most.

Reader’s Commentary regarding a son’s rage about his father’s remarriage (May 12):

“Sounds so much like a relative’s son! Though himself divorced, and with his father suffering severe illness, he couldn’t accept the woman who’d been nursing his father for several years and struggling to keep them afloat through minimum wage jobs.

“His parents had lived separate lives for several years till the father left to live with this woman. Consumed with guilt, he’d given his wife most of their assets and a life insurance policy on which he made the payments to the son. When bankrupt because he could no longer manage his small business, he asked the son if he’d allow him to cash in the policy so he could pay off the mortgage on his modest retirement cottage.

“The son refused and accused the man’s partner of having stolen his father’s money — though, knowing the details of the divorce settlement, he knew this was a ridiculous accusation.

“All the while, he refused to see the hypocrisy of holding on to the insurance policy while accusing the woman of being a gold digger.

“During the separation, the father had turned all of his attention to his son, in effect making him a substitute for the wife he could no longer abide. So, when his father did actually leave, the son felt rejected not just as a son but as a (poor) substitute partner.”

Dear Ellie: My friend is unhappily married but doesn’t want to divorce. She doesn’t have much of a relationship with her husband and suspects he’s seeing other women. So, she dates other men.

She’s had several short relationships but the latest guy’s obsessed with her. He’s threatened to tell all to her husband, so she stays with this horrible guy.

Whenever she’s with him, she tells her husband she’s out with me. Personally, I don’t like being implicated in her lies.

I feel badly for her that she’s in this current situation. But I also don’t know how to help her.

Stuck in My Friend’s Problem

Your friend is hiding from revealing her own “outside” behaviour. But she mustn’t accept this other man’s threats. Since her husband’s equally guilty of cheating, she must tell him of the nasty warning and together tell police.

Marriage/cheating/bullying all have consequences. The couple can stop this negative cycle by separating legally.

Ellie’s tip of the day

To find the “perfect” partner, know what you bring to a relationship, and be clear-eyed about what they need/offer.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca.