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Ask Dr Gilda-Will He Ever Leave His Ex?


One woman wonders how long she should wait for her guy to sever his ties to his former wife…

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
I am dating a man who, at the time we met, was in the process of divorce. I was understanding, since I, too, was going through a divorce. His ex broke her back while driving drunk a year after they met, and she is paralyzed from the waist down. He was willing to stick it out with her
You were both suffering the same awful parting experience.
regardless, but she chose to move out.

Now that I’m in his life, she will not let go and he doesn’t seem clear on where his heart lies. She continues to call my boyfriend day and night. I asked him to please ask her not to call him, and he says he can’t just turn his back on her, as they are still friends — which, he says, is all he wants. But why on earth does she continue to call? When I bring it up, we argue. I don’t want to let this ruin everything we’re starting to build.

When is it time for him to cut his ties with her — disabled or not? I don’t want to be cruel, but we took it slow at first and now I’m ready for him to move on. Or maybe I’m the one who should cut my ties. Please help!
– Questioning His Commitment

Dear Questioning,
When a new relationship is developing, each person must be totally free for his/her potential new love. Yet, during divorce, each party’s thinking is bogged down with, among other things, legal issues, lifestyle changes, domicile questions, and financial entanglements. It’s not surprising that you and your guy bonded: You were both suffering the same awful parting experience, so a new and exciting relationship would serve as a welcome diversion.

But now your individual dance steps have changed. While your marriage is finally over, he is still vacillating between whether or not he even wants to go through a divorce. You can’t be in a committed relationship with someone who has one foot inside his old house. And that’s why he’s arguing with you each time you press him on this issue.
Forget about bonding with any one man at this moment.
Clearly, he’s not ready to decide, and your haranguing him only intensifies his guilt about leaving—and keeps him where he is.

Frankly, I’m not sure that you’re ready to be in a committed relationship yourself right now. You say, “We took it slow, but now I am ready for him to move on.” Well, woman, YOU are ready for HIM to move on? He will be ready to move on when HE is ready, not when YOU tell him to be. You say, “I don’t want to be cruel.” Who don’t you want to be cruel to? You’re certainly being cruel to him when you disavow the decision-making pain he’s suffering. And that’s hardly being a loving partner.

You ask, “WHY does she continue to call?” The answer is because he encourages it. This behavior tells you everything you need to know: He’s not boyfriend-material at this time.

This is what I suggest you do now:
  1. Terminate your relationship with this man. Explain kindly that you recognize he’s going through a painful time, and you want him to make his decision about his future free from any pressure. Yes, it will be hard, but you can do it.
  2. Do not see this man. He needs at least a year after his divorce to discover what he wants to do next.
  3. Forget about bonding with any one man at this moment. Instead, sharpen your dating skills and enjoy your single time. From what you tell me, I think you still need time before you are ready for another committed relationship.
  4. Learn to accept men as they are when you meet them—without change.
As my Gilda-Gram advises, “Believe in the strength of gut instinct.” When you pondered, “Maybe I’m the one who should cut my ties,” you knew exactly what you must do next. Do it, and don’t look back. A wonderful world of new and available men awaits you.


Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., gives Instant Advice throughout the world via Skype, email and phone. She is the 30-Second Therapist for Today.com. Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website at (DrGilda.com).
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