Q: I am in my mid-30s, and I work as a successful professional in a career dominated by men. Recently, I started an affair with a married colleague who had previously been my mentor at the office. I often felt neglected during the affair, but I tolerated the situation because I truly care about him. Last week, he came to me and said he wanted to end it because he was afraid of being hurt and worried that I would bear the brunt of any backlash if the affair became public knowledge. He said that, while he felt sad to leave me, he didn’t want to feel like he was walking on eggshells at the office if we were to have a disagreement. I’m pretty confused! Should I make an attempt to patch things up with him? Or, should I speak my mind about how badly he has treated me and then move on? I’m convinced that I’m cursed in this area of my life. I have been really successful in my career, but I haven’t managed to find the right man. I’m afraid that I’ll end up alone; I don’t want to end a relationship that might have some future potential. (He insists that his marriage is on the rocks.) Do you have any suggestions for me?
Dear Desperate: First, I’m not surprised that you feel the way you do. I know that you have been wanting more from this man than he could give. He’s married, and this affair has put too much pressure on him. I’m not saying that he didn’t care for you, but for him it was just an affair. For you, it was love. I’m sorry you’re hurt and I do feel your pain, but there’s nothing to save in this relationship. It is what it is! When you approach a client in your line of work, you always do your homework: You know what the client needs and what you’re prepared to offer. I’d encourage you to approach your love life in the same fashion. You’re a bright, attractive woman. I know you understand the point I’m making, so learn from this. There’s no need for you to feel alone. I see you in a relationship in the next year. I feel that you’ll meet this man through work, but he won’t be a co-worker. You take your career very seriously, and you value what you do. Show your personal life the same respect. Don’t let anyone into your space who is unable to give back, totally. You’re going to be fine. It has taken you a long time to find your way, but you’re almost there.
How to deal with a sexually transmitted disease on the next page …
Photo by Norbert MayerQ: I was recently diagnosed with an STI, which I believe I contracted from my ex-boyfriend. At first my ex tried to be there for me, but he slowly began to pull away until a breakup was inevitable. I think I’m ready to move on with my life and find someone who is more suited to me and who will accept me as I am (STI and all). I’m trying not to be negative, but I don’t feel too confident that a great guy is going to want to date someone with an STI. I could really use some insight. Do you see any hope for me?
Dear Hopeless: You think that no one will want you, but I can assure you that you’re wrong. You just have to be more cautious. Your boyfriend obviously didn’t handle the STI news with a great deal of maturity. Instead, he bolted like a frightened horse! There are millions of people around the world who have STIs. I suspect that you have genital herpes. If this is the case, I think it’s best to be honest with whomever you date since you’re prone to outbreaks. Some guys will walk away, but that’s how you’ll know they’re not for you. Over the next year, I think you’ll find a new man who will be kind and understanding and who will admire you for being honest with him. Educate yourself about your condition: Find out what signs to watch for when an outbreak is about to occur, and then be cautious. Your dating life has not ended; it has just changed. You’ll cope with it, and you’ll go on to live a happy life. I’m sure that in the future, you’ll meet someone who needs your insight and guidance on this issue. You’ll learn from this experience, and it will make you stronger than you thought possible.
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