Dear Donna, May 28, 2016

Dear Donna,

I just spent four months becoming more and more involved with a man who was recently divorced. From the very beginning I told him I thought it was too soon for him to be dating. He was six months divorced from a 25 year marriage. He had not dated but he was confident and adamant that I was the right person for him.

One month after he pledged his undying love for me he told me he does not think he is ready for a serious relationship.

I feel betrayed and lied to and cannot understand why he would do this. How could I have been so wrong? Shannon

Dear Shannon,

You weren’t wrong. You told him “from the very beginning” you thought it was too soon for him to be dating and you were right. However, I would encourage you to not feel “betrayed and lied to”. People who are just out of long term relationships or marriages almost always think they are ready to start dating sooner than they should. He has not dated for at least 25 years. He was no basis of comparison to know he is not ready. It is usually retrospect that people realize they were not as ready as they thought they were. For future reference, a good rule of thumb for when someone is ready to start dating is one month for every year they were in a relationship or marriage. And, of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Dear Donna,

I have been dating this gal for a couple of months and occasionally she mentions her past relationships. I have not asked too many questions but I am beginning to wonder how many relationships she has been in and what that says about her. Do you think it is to soon to ask her more about her past relationships? Thomas

Dear Thomas,

The next time she mentions it would be a good time to ask more questions. You can actually learn quite a bit about someone if you ask these questions about their relationship history:

How long has it been since you have been in a serious relationship?

How long did it last?

Who chose to end it?

Do you have any regrets about it ending?

Ask the same questions about the relationship before that one, and before that one, etc.

Then be prepared to answer the same questions in return because she will likely ask you.