Hi Chuck and Garland,

I love your blog and wish that you would do special issues of tips for various male-female relationship situations in addition to your direct responses to readers. For example, tips for a first date. Or, how to let a male friend know you're interested in being more than friends. How to make yourself more approachable? Etc. Even a list of things women should know about men but don't know.

Any and all of your wisdom would be much appreciated!!

Chuck and Garland: "Great idea! We will! Thanks!"


What Absence Makes

QUESTION: First things first, I adore your honesty and uncanny ability to tell it like it is! So please give me your raw and uncensored opinion.

I am a professional 27-year old woman with a ridiculous personal life. I recently left North America to go and work in a developing country to gain professional expertise in my field and as hokey as it sounds “find myself”; in terms of planning what path to take before I hit the big 3-0 (I am on a one-year assignment).

As apart of my departure, I also left a 7-year relationship behind; An on-again, off-again relationship with a very good man who had treated me very well for the first 6 years of the relationship. Quite logically things broke down after a one-time-only-indiscretion, okay lets not use euphemisms, things broke down after I cheated on him. I was unfaithful for no good reason, with no logical explanation—but was fully remorseful and apologetic. And not sure if this matters, but I did fess up to the crime almost immediately although I could have easily swept my infidelity under the rug and he would have never been the wiser.

After the fact, we talked and cried and yelled it out and decided we would at least try and continue our relationship and try and repair what was broken. I tried very hard for the next 6 months. He tried very little. He was doing everything in his power to make me leave (seeing other women, being disrespectful, not spending time with me) without actually telling me to leave. Because I was carrying the scarlet letter ‘A’ on my chest, I put up with his mess, because I felt like I deserved it….that didn’t last for long maybe 8 months, then I decided since he could not move past….I needed to move on. (Hence, packing up my life to live and work in another country for a year. I thought the distance would force us into the ever-elusive closure those of us of the female species crave.)

Here comes the question, now I have been away for about 2 months, and he has done a complete 360 degree turn. He is the attentive, caring, considerate man I fell in love with again. He calls and emails me more than my entire family combined, he helped me out in a more than a couple of desperate situations I’ve encountered since arrival and is planning a visit around Christmas. He has even starting talking about children and marriage, talks I have not heard for at least 3 to 4 years. My question to you is should I believe that he has gotten over this and wants to move forward? Or does this seem like case of him being lonely and if I come home with him (as I predict he will ask me to at Christmas) will he go back to his post-affair ways??? Help please, I need all the advice I can get.

GARLAND: First – Thank you for your question and thank you for wanting to hear our two cents!

Before I get to my thoughts on your situation, I want to say I’m impressed right-off-the-bat with a couple of things you said. Personally, I think it’s far from “hokey” to want to travel and find yourself. I think that is GREAT! So many people allow the neighborhood or town they grew up in to define who they are. They tend to stay there and hide there and never travel more than 25 miles from where they were born, so kudos to you for trying to find your place as a citizen of the world.

Then you mentioned that leaving might avoid all of the closure that women tend to want so desperately – all I can say is AMEN! Plenty of folks will tell you this is running away, but as a man, I’ll tell you that you did a good thing by just saying, “This ain’t working. It’s not going to work. I HAVE to move on with my life, BYE!” I think so many women bring more emotional drama on themselves hoping and begging and pleading for their men to cry and whine and talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk about the break-up they are going through. 99% of men just DON’T DO THIS – so you get a big gold star from me for just saying, “Okay. Goodbye, I’m gone.”

As far as him singing a new tune now that you’ve been gone for 2 months, it could very well be legit. You all both did some rough stuff to each other for the last year of your relationship, but now that you are gone he may realize what a childish jerk he was towards you and maybe he has come around to his senses. Maybe he realizes that the best thing to do as a MAN when he found out you cheated was to either A – leave you, or B – forgive you and move on, but certainly not C – stay and act like a horny, angry, fool.

Maybe your leaving home was that smack in the face he needed to get himself straightened out!

But, assuming that he is legit and assuming he wants you to leave at Christmas time, and assuming that you still feel like being bothered with him - PLEASE CONSIDER THIS ADVICE: (and this is advice I would give my sister!)

1. Stay your full 12 months! This year is about YOU, not HIM! Find yourself, better yourself, do for YOURSELF! Don’t ease HIS heart by making HIM feel better and blowing a once in a lifetime opportunity for YOU!

2. If he pops the question and drops a ring on you at Christmas. Don’t let that lure you back home UNLESS UNLESS UNLESS that is 100% what you want!!! Not, 98% not 99% ONLY 100% what YOU want. Personally speaking, he had 7 years back home to pop the question and proposing now that YOU are doing something to make YOU a well rounded person [who happens to be far away from home] seems kinda’ cheap and selfish. [just my opinion!]

3. And lastly, I suggest you both get HIV tests. I don’t care who used condoms and who looked “okay” – if the two of you plan on getting back together when you get back home, you BOTH go together to take HIV tests and you both open them together and confirm your status’. You both had sex with other people in the last few years and you are both at risk, you both need to find out what is what.

Best wishes. I think there’s a good chance he may be legit. Make yourself your first priority and all will end as it should.

CHUCK: I am in 100% agreement with Garland. I think that you and him have an opportunity that not everyone gets: the chance to pull back together after circumstances that would tear most people apart.

Because, let's face it: If you stayed in the States, you two wouldn't have made it. You strayed first, and rightly or wrongly, he felt like he had a license to claim his revenge. What he could have done, if he felt strongly that you had abused his trust, was to leave you. But instead he decided to passive/agressively mess around himself, and see if you'd take it. You did, out of guilt, so he had no reason to stop. And things would have more or less continued, until someone pulled the plug.

But your move apparently changed all that. He found himself having to live without you, and he must not have liked it. So he made an, um, 180 degree turn. But, as Garland says, don't don't DO NOT abandon your job for him and come back unless YOU really want it. It's unlikely, but this could be an extreme case of a guy trying to flex his persuasive powers and control over his woman. You'll know pretty soon if that is the case. But you seem like a pretty level-headed woman (apart from the cheating). So if he is sincere about forming a lasting committment with you, he should be willing to wait for you. However, if you feel that now is the time, best of luck to you both.