Dear Cheryl: My boyfriend is busy. I mean he's so very busy he doesn't have time to say goodnight to me. Well, but I guess that's not our biggest problem. Not compared with his seeing other women or constantly hiding me away.
I'll try to be concise: He's 29 and living with his parents. I'm 30 and on my own. We've been together since college, which makes it about 10 years. And he has yet to call me his girlfriend — or anything like that — in front of friends and relatives. His parents believe he's single, and very few of his friends consider us a couple.
He will not answer my calls if his parents are nearby, and if they ask him to run errands, he'll cancel our plans without a thought. Last fall, his mother's friend introduced her daughter Colleen to him, and he's been seeing this young lady ever since. He insists they're just "innocent friends."
Call me an idiot. I want to call myself that after reading what I just wrote. He often says he loves me and needs me, but my head says otherwise. Maybe he does need me — as a cook, a listener when he wants to vent and a driver. That's right — I drive. He doesn't have a car.
Recently, he's been chatting a lot with Colleen on Facebook. We exchange a few words there, too, but he's asked that I mention nothing about us being together on the internet for fear that his colleagues and clients would see and badmouth him. But now Colleen has sweet little chats with him on an almost daily basis.
I feel like a total idiot, used and betrayed. My head says I should move to another city, get another job and block his mail and calls.
I wonder whether my childhood has anything to do with my accepting such a crappy relationship. When I was 6 or 7, my mom kicked me out of her house twice. Despite my crying and begging, she wouldn't take me back until some neighbor threatened to call the police. Even when she allowed me to stay with her, she was very distant. Though I won't say the experience traumatized me for life, I'm wondering whether it somehow made me believe I'm not worthy of love.
Do any of your readers have a story about how their relationships are affected by a childhood memory? I'd like to hear about them. I think they will help me sort out this mess. — Why Do I Settle for So Little?
Dear WDISFSL?: Before I turn your problem over to readers, I'd like to give you my opinion.
Dump this guy. He's a user and a taker. He gives you nothing and takes away your self-esteem. A man of integrity wouldn't treat a woman this way.
Then get yourself into therapy. The rejection you suffered from the one person in the world who's supposed to love, accept and protect you is having a profound effect on you. How could it not?
You deserve better. Go out and get it.
Readers, what do you have to say to WDISFSL? Send your thoughts, along with your questions, problems and rants to [email protected] And check out my e-books, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front" and "I'll Call You. Not."