Ask Dr. Gilda-Should I Tell Him How I Feel?

One woman wonders if she should tell her ex that she still loves him. Our expert shares advice.

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
I had the love of my life over 10 years ago. He was married and so was I. When he wrote me a goodbye letter, he said he loved two people, but he had to stay with his family.

I have changed quite a bit since then. I’m divorced and he is still married, with kids long gone. I have barely dated in the 10 years. I run into him from
You are cheating yourself out of love with someone emotionally available.
time to time, and he knows I’ve changed. I now attend church regularly and I stopped drinking. My heart still flutters when I see him. I believe I’m still in love with him, and I compare every man I meet to him. But I don’t believe in the sin of adultery. Yet, I want to see if we have a future. Should I tell him?
– In Love for Life

Dear In Love for Life,
Honey, I’d like to change your signature to “In Store for Heartache.” Oh, dear lady, why are you playing with fire? For 10 long years, you’ve put yourself on ice and fantasized that this man is all that! But he is not even a fraction of that. He never left his marriage, even though his kids are now grown, the excuse he gave you years ago for staying there. Something continues to keep him at the hearth, which makes your daydreams all the more unlikely to come true.

In your affair with this guy, the two of you betrayed your marital partners. Now you’re betraying yourself. You are cheating yourself out of love with someone emotionally available. You have not dated or chosen to venture away from your illusions for a whole decade. You tell yourself you’ve changed. How? Just because you attend church and no longer drink doesn’t mean you’re living a life that is self-loving. You continue to be alone, wishing and hoping, for what? That the cheater will leave his wife for you after all these years? Don’t bet on it!

You’re feeding yourself an impossible mixed message: You don’t believe in adultery, yet you want to see if you “have a future” with a guy who’s made it abundantly clear that he already has a future with his wife! You ask whether to spill your heart out to him. Don’t even think about it, sister! Odds are, he’ll only reject you again, this time, aloud.

This is what I suggest you do now:
  1. Get counseling. Evaluate why you find this unavailable man so appealing. Clue: It has to do with your fear that no one else will love you. Find out why.
  2. Avoid this man at all costs. Clear out the cobwebs so you can start anew.
  3. Force yourself to date, even though your heart may not be in it at first. Establish friendships with lots of men, and hone your conversational skills.
With the help of a therapist, you’ll finally accept that you’ve wasted too much time on someone who doesn’t return your feelings. Love is a two-way street. If you’re not getting what you’re giving, it’s time to take another road.

Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., has a private practice and is an associate professor at Mercy College in New York. 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 ( and send her your relationship questions.
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