Annie Lane: Two isn’t always better than one

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, August 25, 2021

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Dear Annie: I am a 70-year-old retired man with no children. My wife died in 2016, and we had a very happy relationship together for more than 28 years.

About three months after she died, I met a wonderful lady, “Sarah,” who took my heart away. However, she had very strong religious convictions that I simply did not share. For a long time, she said that all we could be was friends because of our differences. However, I was still madly in love with her, despite her insisting that we could only be friends.

In the meantime, I was introduced to another lady, “Jill,” and we also initially agreed to be friends only. So for several months, I would go out to movies, sporting events and concerts with Sarah two or three times a week and with Jill on different days, also two or three times a week.

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I did not tell Sarah or Jill about the friendly relationship I had with the other. In my mind, I told myself that because we were only friends, I did not need to tell Sarah and Jill that I was seeing both of them. I knew this would be a recipe for disaster, but I continued to see both of them regularly. I am very embarrassed to say that I was not honest with either one of them. (OK, I will admit it: I told numerous lies.)

As you may guess, Jill and Sarah eventually found out about each other. Sarah said we could no longer be just friends, and that I had to choose. Jill basically said the same thing. The one I truly loved was Sarah, although I cared for Jill. However, to not hurt either one’s feelings, I did not commit to either one.

Sarah has blocked my emails, texts and cellphone calls. I did call her once on her landline, but she hung up on me immediately. Jill still tolerates me, but she expects so much more from me than I can give. She expects marriage, total commitment and no talking to any other single women my age.

I hate myself for all the mistakes I made, and I simply cannot quit thinking about Sarah. She broke up with me over a year ago, and the pain still hurts badly. I currently have low self-esteem, stay depressed and find myself wondering how to grasp for a reason to continue living. I have been seeing a therapist and discussing my feelings. This does help some, but I am still in pain.

I know that I cannot change the past, and I need to move forward. I made many mistakes, but that was in the past and there is nothing I can do about them at this point. My question is: Can you recommend a book that will help me to become a better person and recover from a broken heart?

— Heartbroken Old Man

Dear Heartbroken: Please try and let yourself off the hook. Sarah was clear with you that she could only be friends. It’s not fair of her to then torture you the way she is. You deserve to be happy. The real question is, have you properly grieved for your wife? While a good book is always helpful, finding a grief support group for widows could help you. Also, find time to meet with your therapist more than once a week while you are healing. If it brings you comfort, I would do that.

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