Torn between two lovers

I have a new boyfriend, but now my ex wants to get back together. If only I could merge them into one person.

By Cary Tennis
Published November 13, 2002 9:48PM (UTC)
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Dear Cary,

I'm in love with two men. Or at least I think I am. I didn't think this was possible. I met my ex-boyfriend more than two years ago. It was very, very, very good -- and then we went through a year of ups and downs and a few separations that weren't meant as trials until we finally gave up. We both acknowledge the downs came from his fear of commitment, which led to a breakdown in communication so we were no longer able to talk about our fears openly and honestly.


We broke up six months ago. He immediately started dating someone from work. It only lasted a couple of dates, but it was clear that there had been an inappropriate flirtation there before he and I split, and his record wasn't squeaky clean to begin with. Not terrible, but plenty of not good.

Since then, the ex has left town for work and to get some perspective on his life. Not long before he left, I started seeing someone new whom I'd just met. My ex and I had a very emotional goodbye when he left, but I tried to move forward into my new relationship. Within a week of being away, my ex called to say he missed me and wanted to get back together. I chalked it up to jealousy over knowing I was with someone new and told him I had no reason to expect that he'd be any better at a relationship this time around. The ex assured me he was ready to turn over a new leaf, but he's assured me of this many times before. I'm still hurt by some of his behavior. I'm not angry anymore, but I don't really trust him, although that's not to say I never could.

Enter new boy. It's been a few months and all of a sudden the L-word came flying out of our mouths. It feels good. These guys couldn't be more different from each other. They appeal to two very different parts of me. Sometimes I wish I could merge them into one person. I love my new boyfriend, but I still love my ex-boyfriend. My new boyfriend isn't giving me any reasons to walk away, and he's giving me plenty to stay, so why am I thinking of walking? It just doesn't make sense. My boyfriend makes me laugh. He's not perfect. He can frustrate me. But I trust him and feel wonderfully at home with him.


The ex is on his way back to town in just a month and he says he wants to try again. I'm in my late 20s. I'm still young, but then sometimes I don't feel young, although I'm not really looking to get married anytime soon.

Is the fact that I'm torn just a sign that neither is right? Is anyone ever right? I feel like I'm being unfair to my new boyfriend by even having all these thoughts. Please say something.



Dear Lost,

The fact that you're torn means only that you haven't decided. You may be waiting for love to decide, but love will not decide. Love will only stand and wait, casting an occasional sidelong glance at the pool boy.

Freedom is your gulag. The guards have their instructions. Anyone caught trying to escape will be summarily married at dawn.


Watch the writer get out of this one. He set up an epigrammatic style. Now he cannot get back to the conversational.

Freedom is the writer's gulag. The guards have their instructions. Anyone trying to revert to the conversational will be reported.

The writer can't really help you. He doesn't have enough to go on. If he only knew what you wanted.


See that? We're coming about. Soon we'll be out of these waters altogether.

There isn't much to go on here. Hence the epigrams. Treading water, vamping, waiting for ideas.

What if someone just told you what to do? Would it help to use the imperative voice? Pick one, any one, they're all the same anyway!


That Jefferson Airplane song "Triad": "I don't really see/ Why can't we go on as three?" Various and sundry reasons, of course.

Chief among the reasons is the boys. They might not go along. But if they only would, what the heck?

In the gulag that is your freedom, you are forced to do as you wish. You can love up to seven men at a time if you've got the liquor cabinet. The mind bleats at the possibilities.

I'm throwing you a complicated rope; like the rope, you're stranded. You may remain silent. Anything you say can and will be rubbed against you.


It is a mystery this life of yours. You are forced to do as you wish. Your plan, whatever it is, will be executed at dawn.

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Want more advice from Cary? Read yesterday's column.

Cary Tennis

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