Charlotte is as pretty as her name. She’s in her early fifties, and was born abroad, although her slight accent doesn’t give away where. She married a man from another continent, decades her senior, and they raised their son in the United States, where they launched a successful business together. Charlotte was his third wife.
Anyone meeting them would swear she was the love of this man’s life. And, were it not for his sexual addiction, she might very well have been.
Even after Charlotte found out about her husband’s wandering ways, and he vowed they were over, he continued to betray her trust. She had enough when he claimed he was on yet another business trip, but she heard him greet his lover in the hotel room (he accidentally left his cell phone on after he and Charlotte talked.) She was sad, but she wasn’t surprised.
Charlotte and the wanderer are divorced and she’s been dating a younger man for a couple of years. She’s crazy about him and is wild about their great sex, but has no plans to remarry. She did, however, run into a potential problem last weekend, when she took a two-day trip to New York without telling her boyfriend why she was going. Then she feared he made plans to see another woman.
“He had a terrible childhood and has a terrific fear of abandonment. When he and his first wife divorced, he was distraught because her family stopped communicating with him. He interpreted the family’s reaction as abandonment, even though it shouldn’t have astounded him.” Charlotte told me.
“Why didn’t you tell him why you were going to New York, and what gave you the idea that he intended to see another woman? He could have been thinking you were planning to see another man, especially because he has a fear of abandonment,” I said, wearing my Geri Brin psychologist hat!
“I didn’t tell him why I was going to New York because I think I was trying to test him,” Charlotte answered.
“That’s not good,” I added. “But why did you think he was seeing another woman?”
“A woman he knows has been ‘loving’ his Facebook photos for a long time. She even ‘loves’ photos I post of him on my Facebook page. And, on Saturday morning, she commented on his page that they should check out a concert this weekend. When I went to look at her comment again, it was gone,” Charlotte explained.
Unnerved by what she read, Charlotte made an oblique comment about “thinking before he acted” when she and her boyfriend texted each other. He stopped texting after that. That worried Charlotte.
“I think you need to be honest with him when you get back. If your trip upset him, he could have made another date as a defensive move. Just tell him the truth, that you went to New York with a girlfriend and are sorry you weren’t more forthright. And see what he says,” I advised.
Fear of abandonment is an intense emotion. I should know. I had a bad case of it from the time I was a little girl, until well into my adulthood.
If my husband Douglas didn’t return home precisely when I expected him, I became frantic, and thought he was dead. If Edgar didn’t call me precisely at 5:30 am, when he arrived at his office every morning, I was beside myself. I felt almost as if he didn’t exist. When Edgar and I would go on an extended vacation, I became distraught towards the end, knowing he’d be returning to Florida and I to New York.
When I talked to Charlotte after her weekend away, she reported that her man did meet the woman, “but didn’t have sex.” When she asked him why he made the date, he told her that he’s terrified of commitment (if you don’t commit, you don’t have to worry about being abandoned), but it scares him that he has no control over his deep feelings for Charlotte and cannot see his life without her in it.
Charlotte told him to “grow a pair and make a choice.” Otherwise, they’d be finished, she added.
“Pffff…men….when do they ever grow up?” she asked.
This is a complicated subject, but I’d love to know what you’d do in Charlotte’s situation.