Hi Dr. Love!I have a problem I need advise on. I have been seeing a man who has been a widow since December of 96. His wife died of cancer. We have been seeing each other since March of this year. We met through a dating service and I told him that I felt we should just be friends until he had time to see what he really needed and wanted.We have really gotten close very fast, we have not said the I Love You words yet but I feel he wants to but is afraid he would be disrespecting his diceased wife. I am trying to be patient I know he needs it.Now to the problem at hand. B I will call him is having family in for a wedding and I have not been invited or I don’t think anyone even knows that I exist. I am not sure how I feel about this. I feel like I am being left out like he does’nt really care like he says he does. Please tell me if my feelings are valid or if I am being selfish or what.lost in Dallas
First of all, you make it sound like being selfish is wrong. You are supposed to be selfish! If you don’t take care of number one, who will?Second of all, you say you don’t know how you feel about being left out. I don’t think that ‘s true. I think you know very well that you aren’t pleased, but the voice in your head which tells you, ‘don’t be selfish’ is also trying to talk you out of your true feelings. Number one, you are entitled to all your feelings. Your feelings must be honored. And, if you are feeling left out, then this is how you feel.In a healthy relationship, both partners must feel free to state their needs. (This doesn’t mean that our needs will always be met. But, we still need to be free to state our needs. . . and, if needs clash, we can negotiate a compromise. ) What is happening here is this: You are wiping out your need to be included in order to take care of your boyfriend’s needs. This is not a healthy way to conduct yourself. Soon, you will feel like a complete doormat and you will come to resent your lover.Only you can sweep yourself under the rug, and only you can pull yourself up and out. Your fear of being selfish is crushing your self, and, I think you need to revise your views based on what I have said. Next, I want you to respect your feelings and honor your needs. I suggest that you simply state what you want: For example. ‘I would appreciate being included in the wedding. ‘ Then, see what he says. Directly stating what you want is the best way to insure that your needs are met.If, when you state your need, he seems less than enthusiastic, you might say, ‘I have the impression that would rather I don’t come. Is that correct?’ If he says yes, then ask him to explain his reluctance (save the discussion of your feelings until he has fully discussed his thoughts and feelings with you). You could mention here that you sense that he feels it would disrespect his deceased wife if he were to openly display you to his family. See what he has to say. After he has shared his thoughts and feelings, you could ask him if he is interested to know how you feel. If he says yes, he’s interested, then, calmly, state how you are feeling. Next, ask him if he wants you to feel left out. If he says, no, then, ask him what does he suggest as a solution?My impression of your boyfriend is that he is feeling guilty to be dating another woman when his wife’s body isn’t cold. His reservations aren’t about you, or a sign of lack of love for you. It’s about survivor ‘s guilt. And, you are doing what many women do. Personalizing. Putting your ego on the line and interpreting his problem as proof that you aren’t good enough or loved enough.Can you see that this problem isn’t about you? It would be good for you to take your ego out of this situation, stop personalizing, and help him talk about his guilt. Helping him work-through his guilty feelings should enable him to make more room for you. If you get too focused on talking about your hurt, you will miss the chance to help him heal his guilt. . . and he never be able to make a new life and include you in it.So, talk with him about his guilt, and as he works his feelings out, with your help, he should be able to include you. ( By the way, you could suggest to him the following: Just because you feel guilty, doesn’t mean you have to act on the feelings. In other words. Feel guilty, but invite me to the wedding all the same. ) Good luck. Let me know how things go.