Dear Amy: I’m a smart, well-educated woman in my mid-50s. I’ve been dating “Chas,” (in his mid-60s) for five years. This is my first relationship after over 30 years with my ex. (My ex-husband abruptly left me and our kids for another woman).
Chas and I have maintained a long-distance relationship. He tells me daily how much he loves me. He got a tattoo with my initials.
I have a great job in health care. Before the pandemic we managed to meet every four to six weeks (usually I was the one traveling to see him — an 8-hour drive). We’ve discussed moving in together. I have been looking for a job closer to him (he’s retired).
I love him, although he is very moody and has been verbally abusive.
Recently over the phone, we had a small argument; I suggested that we cool off and talk again before the end of the day.
Well, I have not heard from him since (more than two months ago). I apologized via email, voicemail and text. Nothing.
Unfortunately, this has happened before — one time, he simply never showed up at the airport when I flew in.
Some of these “off” periods have lasted as long as six months, and I am always the one to reach out. This behavior mirrors the end of my marriage and I feel betrayed, stunned and shocked all over again.
Friends say this is “ghosting,” and is widespread in the dating world now.
I am working on self-esteem with a therapist. If this behavior is common, I’m not sure I’ll ever be strong enough to start dating again. How do I move forward? — Blind-sided
Dear Blind-sided: “Ghosting” is when someone ignores you, without explanation. I don’t believe the behavior is new, but the ubiquity of technology makes it feel more visceral.
Yes, he is ghosting you. He has done this before, and you have always coaxed him back. Over the course of your five-year relationship, you have done the heavy lifting — traveling a great distance to see him, even though you are working and he is retired, staying with him even though you have felt degraded, and forgiving him after he ditched you.
You could use this man’s behavior as an excuse to avoid all men. You could claim that you’ve been spooked by “ghosting,” but — this is actually about you. Chas was abandoning you the whole time, especially when there was an uncomfortable moment to confront. Every time he was abusive, didn’t show up, or avoided you after a conflict, he was leaving the relationship.
I suspect that your choices now are related to your self-worth (possibly a legacy of your ex-husband’s abandonment). When you truly believe you are worthy (and you are!), your relationships will reflect it.
Dear Amy: I am a man, happily married (second marriage) to a wonderful woman. We have four young-adult children in our blended family.
Over the course of our time together, I have taken on many of the household duties that women are usually saddled with.
My wife and I both work full-time and when the kids were younger, she took on most kid-related stuff (doctor’s appointments, driving them everywhere, homework, etc.) and I did everything else — shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, household, lawn and vehicle maintenance. That balance totally worked for us, and I think it was great for our kids to see me be so domestic. Honestly, I’m good at it.
Now that our children are grown, however, I’ve noticed that my wife and I have maintained our roles, which means that I keep the household running and she … enjoys my efforts. Amy, I’m tired.
Any suggestions? — Tired
Dear Tired: You and your wife need to acknowledge that the dynamic in your household has changed.
In my house, we tackled a similar issue by assigning days of the week where each spouse is responsible for providing dinner. When it’s your day — you handle it.
I also hired a bi-weekly cleaner. Smartest move I ever made.
Dear Amy: “K” described her very difficult pregnancy and wondered about having a baby shower. You suggested that she should have one quickly.
I disagree. I had a similar experience, and we enjoyed our shower after the baby was born (early) and in the NICU. I was much less fearful and distracted, and was able to experience the joy of receiving congratulations and gifts. — Been There
Dear Been There: Several women responded with this advice — along with the hope that things turn out well for “K” and her baby.