So you’ve got a new guy and dating is fun. It’s good to have a new reason to fix your hair and dress up. A new man also represents the possibility for real change. With a new guy, you can become someone a little different, even someone slightly better. With a new man, you might find yourself opening up to new things; expanding your taste for foods, for experiences, even travel. You might become bolder, braver, more adventurous. But hold on. Just when you’re getting used to the idea that you can improve yourself and change, you discover after a few months of dating an unpleasant revelation. You realize that while your new man has given you a new life, he’s got some tricky issues of his own, left over from his former life.
Of course everyone who lives long enough to be middle aged has a history, and that history undoubtedly includes problems. It’s a rare man who reaches middle age who doesn’t have a former wife he’s still in touch with, or an ailing parent, or a problematic child, or grandchild. Or his problems might be different from the family sort. His problem might be ongoing difficulties with bosses or at work, he may have a longtime alcohol or substance problem, or a serious issue regarding his health. Your new man may suffer from clinical depression, or worry constantly about money.
So how much should you try to help, or become involved? It depends on the length and depth of the relationship. Every situation is different, and there are no hard and fast rules. Also how much does your man expect or want you to get involved? And remember: even if you are a professional therapist, your advice or involvement may quickly carry you into water that’s over your head.
It’s sad but true, but a common problem women often find themselves in is lending a new man money. Even if he says he will pay you right back, this is probably not a good idea. Even if you can afford to lose it, lending him money alters the balance of the relationship.
Whatever your new man’s problems are, when his problems become your problems, or eat into your time together, it’s definitely time to re-assess. Unless you have a Florence Nightingale complex, you must ask yourself, is this the relationship you really want? Instead of the new relationship carrying you forward, is it dragging you back into old problems you already had? Discuss this with your new man and remind him you’re just dating. Tell him you’d like to be less involved in his predicaments. After all, you’re not married. Your relationship is not “for better or worse.”
Eve Marx is the author of eight sex books. Her titles include "What's Your Sexual IQ?," "Flirtspeak: The Sexy Language of Flirtation," "The Goddess Orgasm," and "101 Things You Didn’t Know About Sex."