Question: How long does it take to get over a relationship? I dated a girl for four months and everything was perfect. She said she could see us married and that she would be stupid to ever leave. Then, out of the blue, she dumped me. It was an intense relationship, which I’ve been told is quicker to fizzle. But that doesn’t make me feel any better.—C.A., St. Louis, Missouri
Answer: You’re not yourself right now; let us handle the rational thinking. This woman seemed flawless because she didn’t have enough time to drive you crazy, as any person you know well will eventually do. Scientists who have observed the brains of the recently rejected say that after an initial period of anger, a person experiences a spike in dopamine not unlike the rush of falling in love. This is what causes “frustration attraction,” that feeling that compels you to plead for another chance, explains biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, author of Anatomy of Love. Unfortunately, dramatic gestures work only in the movies; in real life people typically embarrass themselves. Better to hit the reset button, focus on the road ahead and help your dopamine levels return to normal with sunlight, novel activities and exercise. You’ll know you are over someone not when you hate them but when you are indifferent. It’s okay to be down about the end of a relationship, but don’t let it keep you down.
Question: I’m with a woman who is 11 years younger than I am. I want to be with her forever, but I have issues. She used to be a stripper, has been married four times, has a child out of wedlock and has slept with women, and for a while she and one of her husbands were swingers. She plays it all off as no big deal, but I keep having doubts, and I don’t think she’s passing along all the details. Am I a prude or just jealous? I love her but think badly of her sometimes. Please help.—M.A., Atlanta, Georgia
Answer: You’re afraid of losing her. Fair enough. She’s been a wild child. But even if she’s changed her ways, she can’t give you a guarantee that she won’t move on. No one can, and with good reason: A relationship without risk has no value. Your girlfriend is not passing along details because the only one relevant to your relationship is the child she’s raising. She also can’t find your reaction so far encouraging. If you love her, make your judgments only back to the moment you met, or you’ll be part of her past sooner than you may like.
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