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Ask Ellie: Without trust, you can't love

Count on yourself and supportive friends

Dear Ellie: Is it possible to still love someone even though you know you can’t trust them?

I’ve loved someone for years, and repeatedly hoped they’d change. But I’ve always known that person wasn’t steady in their feelings for me. They had other partners — sometimes only for a short time, sometimes longer.

Even when they swore to do better, there’d be times of not coming home to me when we tried living together, of getting into bad situations, and even worse ones.

I’m a woman, 38, with a very good job, a group of strong, wonderful girlfriends, and parents who taught me to always take care of myself, emotionally as well as physically.

Despite all that backing, I let this one man play me for a fool when I knew all along, he hadn’t any moral strength. He’s very good-looking and trades on his image. I knew I had to protect myself from making the mistake of expecting him to change for the better, and take responsibility for what he’d promise and not deliver.

If any other woman were to ask me to assess the chances of a future with him, I’d know the answer in a second: He’d look deep into my eyes, then turn away, look in the mirror, and make empty boasting statements about himself.

Please, help me understand why I can recognize all this, and still cling to the possibility that he’ll change some day. I know the advice I need to follow is to just move on. Or is there a chance that he and I can ever become a happy, loving couple?

Can’t Trust Him

So long as you can’t trust, you can’t love with a free heart. You can yearn and feel the agony of it not happening. You can wish and hope for change.

But as with any self-centred, unfaithful women and men alike, the upshot for hanging in with them will be more disappointment.

You’ve spent successful years getting educated, working and building strong friendships. You certainly don’t need to rely on someone lacking integrity or similar values to your own of truth and trust, to make you “happy.”

The outdated Hollywood line, “You complete me,” in the 1996 American romantic comedy-drama sports film Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise to Renee Zellweger) just doesn’t work anymore.

No one needs to be “completed.” You do that for yourself through self-confidence, and personal growth.

Meanwhile, like you said, you still “can’t trust him.”

Dear Ellie: I’m a widow, age 46. My husband died in his mid-60s of cancer three years ago. I loved him. We had a wonderful ten years together.

People were suggesting I start dating but I resisted until a friend recommended a man closer to my age. We went out, he seemed interested in me, but there’s been no further contact. I feel like I don’t know how to date now.

Then somebody else younger than me has started texting me, also recommended by a friend.

How should I respond, or is this all happening too soon?

Confused Widow

Losing a partner after 10 years together naturally brings a period of loneliness and self-doubts about dating. There aren’t any mandatory new rules, only the self-confidence needed to not make too-hasty judgements or feel obligated to respond in specific ways.

FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who’s been a married man’s mistress, and fears “good” men won’t want her (May 7):

Reader: “When my now-husband was early-20s, he spent two years in a long-distance relationship with a 17-years-older married woman.

“I believe she took advantage of him and his naïveté by telling stories about her unhappy marriage, and her only staying married for the kids.

“But I have rose-coloured glasses on. The truth is there’s no way around what he did.

“Although I considered breaking up with him when I learned about this, we’d already become friends for a while and I knew him as a good man.

“We’ve been together 16 years and I’m happy to report that I know him to be a good, caring, ethical human being.

“To that letter-writer: Don’t be so hard on yourself, and know that there are people out there who’ll be able to see the “current you,” and not just your past.”

Ellie’s tip of the day

What you know you can’t trust isn’t really different from whom you know you can’t count on as your life partner. The immediate solution is to count only on yourself, your long-time supportive friends and your family.

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