[Two Pronged] A second chance?
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer:
I had a secret relationship that lasted for 10 years (1994-2004). I left her for a married woman who was older than she was. When this married woman and I parted ways, I met another woman. We were together for 4 years. But when I went to San Francisco to work as a graphic designer, we also parted ways.
I also had a girlfriend in SFO who was younger than me but we are already separated.
I now want to go back to my first girlfriend. Do you think I still have a chance? Do you think she might pay attention to me once more? She is 57 years old and single. I am 45 and currently single too. By the way, since we separated, she has not been in any relationship.
Thank you for your email.
You have given us some purely statistical information about your relationship history (e.g. duration, ages of partners, marital status, geographical locations) but curiously remained totally silent about why your relationships failed. Equally curious is why you give no reason for your wish to reconnect with your former girlfriend (let's call her Lisa) whom you left for someone else. Yet despite this paucity of information you ask if you still have a chance with her.
Well, certain things appear in your favor – Lisa is single, you are single, she has apparently not had a relationship since you left her. Possible obstacles are the (unknown to us) circumstances in which you abandoned her for someone else and your seeming history of failed relationships, most details of which you have chosen to keep to yourself.
"Do you think I still have a chance? Do you think she might pay attention to me once more?" Given how little you have shared, how can we even guess? However, one thing is for sure. If you do not try, you will never know. Borrowing one of Dr Holmes' favorite quotations, "Fortune favors the brave," so be brave, give it a chance, and see how Lisa reacts.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. Mr Baer has encouraged you to try once more with your past girlfriend. Among other things, he (and I) feel you have every chance of success, despite our not knowing the circumstances in which you abandoned her for someone else and your seeming history of failed relationships.
In fact, I am almost certain your former girlfriend will take you back given that your relationship seems so much more important to her than it is to you.
One reason is probably because she is an introvert and you an extrovert. Contrary to popular belief, extroverts and introverts differ not in how much they like people but in where they get their energy from (that is, in how they recharge). Introverts need time alone to recharge; extroverts, on the other hand, get their energy from being with other people. Being around people for long periods of time is tiring for the introvert but energizing for the extrovert.
Dr Hans Eysenck, a psychologist, proposed that the difference between introverts and extroverts was that they simply had different levels of arousal – meaning the extent to which our minds and bodies are alert and responsive to stimulation.
Dr Eysenck's theory was that extroverts have a lower basic rate of arousal. This means that extroverts need to work harder to arouse their minds and bodies to the same "normal" state that introverts might reach quite easily. This leads extroverts (or extroverted people, though they might not be quite on the extreme end of the scale) to seek novelty and adventure, and to crave the company of others.
But there are other reasons I think she is an introvert and you an extrovert and these reasons are based primarily on Dr Eysenck's book, Sex and Personality. The difference in sexual behavior and attitudes between introverts and extroverts includes how many sexual partners the average "-vert" has, how long it has taken each "-vert" to bounce back from relationships, and how much each "-vert" enjoyed her or his sexual encounters.
Since Sex and Personality first came out in 1976, there has been much research to confirm Dr Eysenck's earlier studies and observations.
Of course, a lot of this is conjecture on my part since we only know your former girlfriend from what you have said about her.
However, you have had 3 other relationships since you broke up with her 10 years ago, while she has had none. Therefore, it is reasonable to hypothesize (but not assume) that you have recovered from your breakup much sooner than she has, and perhaps have had more lovers than she since you broke up.
In addition, a relationship that lasted 10 years probably meant more to her than it did to you, and your chances of getting her to agree to take you back may therefore be quite high.
It is for these reasons above that I feel you should examine the reasons you want to get back together with her. Should you break up with her once more, she will probably be even more hurt than she was the first time.
Perhaps, therefore, you could be just as concerned about her feelings as you are about yours? True, you cannot be forced to continue loving someone. However, you can reasonably be expected to be honest (by not promising a never-ending love when you are fairly sure you cannot manage it), gentle, and kind. In fact, if you can feel as John Donne did in his poem No Man Is An Island:
"Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee."
I think no one can ask for more.
All the best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.