Ask Dr Gilda-Will The Third Time Be A Charm?

One woman feels unworthy of love after losing two long-term relationships over age issues. Dr. Gilda explains how to build up her self-esteem and move forward in the search for love.

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
I was with a man for 17 years. The sun rose and set for this man, as far as I was concerned. I loved him deeply and I made him the reason I woke up every day. He dumped me for a young girl; I was 43 at the time and he was 38 (he's 20 years older than she is). I was devastated. Our best friends disowned him, and his family hardly ever talks to him
It's understandable that your breakup would cause you painful heartache.
anymore. He moved away to another state with this girl and married her. He bought a lovely home and has a great job where he earns good money.

I am barely scraping by. I've tried dating, but my age always seems to be a "red flag." I dated a man off and on for a few years, but when I turned 50, he told me I'd reached his "cut-off point." Now, I don't care if I ever go out on another date. My love goes to family, friends and my cat. I do feel cheated and continue to carry around hatred for this man that I once loved so much. I cannot get over it and I don't feel like I am worthy of being loved because of my age. Why would anyone want me when there are so many younger choices out there? If I won the lottery, I'd run to a plastic surgeon to change all the things I hate about myself that are getting worse with age. I hear my ex is doing great and they are planning a family together. I feel so cheated. I'm 52, 30 pounds overweight and broke. Why would any man want that?
– Lost and Wasted

Dear Lost (but NOT Wasted!),
Whenever someone gets dumped, it is, of course, a terrible blow. After spending 17 years with your boyfriend, it's understandable that your breakup would cause you painful heartache. That's why, after a breakup, I often prescribe taking time out to grieve, heal and examine what you had, what you lost, what went wrong, and determining your best next steps. After spending almost two decades with this man, that kind of exploration should take a good while — so don't try to rush it. Work with a counselor to help you designate a time limit for your grieving process so the fallout does not last indefinitely.

You have continued to mourn for eight years now without end, which has blocked you from getting onto a more positive life course. As you replay the scenario of being left for some sweet young thing over and over again in your head, you're beating yourself up — not only about your lost love, but also about your age, weight gain and scanty finances. In truth, there is only so much blame you can hang on your ex for your current dismal state of affairs. Most of these issues belong to you, and require that you alone resolve them. So the big question is, "Why are you not taking the reins to improve your life now?" The answer is that, until now, you've never had any practice in owning your existence. You said, "The sun rose and set for this man" and that "I made him the reason I woke up every day." Now that he's no longer around, you believe you don't deserve anything better. A client of mine once attributed her non-deserving
Become aware of the messages you are communicating to others.
status to her poor eyesight — which, she believed, made her unworthy of love. Another blamed his non-deserving status on the leg he lost to amputation after serving as a soldier in Afghanistan, while still another said it was because he had herpes. I tell all these people to look around them, especially at other folks who have disabilities or flaws that also enjoy deep, loving relationships. What are they doing right? I'll tell you: they don't perceive their so-called flaws as disabling to their relationships, and therefore, they are able to live without the burden of feeling "unworthy of love."

You and your guy were both very young when you got together. He was only 21, and it probably seemed cool for this young man to be in a relationship with a "wiser, older" 26-year-old woman. These days, we call sexy sirens with younger men "cougars" and watch them generate smiles and winks when they're together. In truth, a five-year age difference has little bearing on any romance between two grown-ups. So, what was it that really caused your ex to leave you for a younger, fresher model? Could it have had something to do with you bemoaning your age? The guy you dated "for a few years" also disappeared when you reached his "cut-off point" at 50. Study this Gilda-Gram: "The view we project is the image others reflect." Become aware of the messages you are communicating to others (consciously or subconsciously), then question whether you would want to be around someone who continues to whine about her antiquity!

You say that you feel cheated and you "continue to carry around hatred for this man." The opposite of love is not hate; it's indifference. So your deep, negative feelings for your ex continue to connect you to him to this day. Clearly, you need guidance in how to let go of these feelings. These are the issues you should begin to work on immediately:
  1. Know your power. Read Don't Bet on the Prince!, the book I wrote for women who misconstrue that being in love means diminishing themselves as individuals. When you give to a man in a relationship, do so from the overflow of what's left over, not from your core — and that's a whole chapter in the book.
  2. Build your self-esteem so you can lose the weight and end your mentality of poverty.
  3. Understand that 50-year-olds are not destined to extinction. If anything, your age and experience will be appreciated by the right man.
  4. Get a recommendation for a therapist you can trust.
As soon as you awaken to your true worth, you'll be able to project it into a sea of men who will appreciate you for who you really are!

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 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 (
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