Since You Asked . . .

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Dear Caroline,

I’m 40, newly divorced and dating for the first time in 15 years. Last month, I met a beautiful woman on a dating site. We have a lot in common, and we have great chemistry.

The only area where we’re opposites is that I went through an amicable divorce and she went through a bitter one.

She brings up her ex-husband a lot. She says he was cheap and controlling and that he sabotaged her career. She goes into a lot of detail and blames him for her money problems.

When I try to change the subject, she gets frustrated and tells me I’ll never understand because my ex-wife is a good person and my career is on track.

This topic is the only obstacle to our relationship. Any suggestions? I really want this relationship to work out.


Dear K.H.,

I can tell you’re really taken with this woman and care about her. I also know that chemistry and great rapport are hard to find. However, when someone has been wounded and hasn’t healed beyond bitterness, they’re incapable of forming a healthy relationship.

Emotional wounds are invisible. We “see” them by listening to the way a person talks. Based on what you tell me, this woman’s wounds are fresh, deep and painful. You mentioned that she’s doing a lot of blaming. Blame is a wounded person’s attempt to relieve pain. Establishing intimacy and emotional ties with her right now stands to be damaging to both of you.

I know you won’t be thrilled with this advice, but I think you should dial things back to a platonic friendship, help her get the help she needs and leave the door open for the possibility of romance in the future.

How can you tell an emotionally wounded person has healed?

When they can talk about what they went through in a brief, matter-of-fact and even compassionate manner. Healed people tend to acknowledge, with a dash of gratitude, that the difficulties they overcame were the catalyst that made them stronger and wiser than before.

Wishing you the patience and courage to learn to be alone for a season or two. It gets easier.


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