I have long been someone who has been plagued by unreasonable expectations. It is a flaw in my character, and I am both aware of it and burdened by it. I wish I could change, but my "default switch" seems permanently set to the irrational pursuit of perfection.
In the past, my unreasonable mindset has cost me dearly. I have lost high paying jobs and promising careers, as well as a series of losses in my personal life. None of these consequences, nor the intervention of therapy, have managed to change my approach to life at all. Today I am very much alone, financially insolvent, and without any direction or resources. There is nobody to blame for my current state other than myself.
Against all odds, I met a woman. She and I share a common Irish heritage, which is important to both of us, and she is kind, funny, honest, and hard working. She is a devoted single mother, as well as a strong and capable person. She has expressed that she is falling "madly in love with me." I should feel lucky, blessed, and eternally grateful for her acceptance of my current problems and her willingness to love me despite them. To an extent, I do.
My problem is this: I am not physically attracted to her. I want to be. I wish I was. Each morning when I wake up I hope that I will feel differently. I don't. We do not live together. I have not exploited her feelings toward me for my own benefit. I have always been honest and forthright with her about my life and my problems. However I know that sooner or later this issue of attraction will become a matter of discussion, and in all likelihood, lead to a termination of our friendship and our exploratory relationship. I dread that discussion and the pain it could cause her.
She is an amazing woman -- someone who deserves to be adored by a capable and devoted man. She deserves to have someone look at her and long for her. I want to be that man. I want to feel that way about her. I am hoping that the day comes when I wake up and feel differently. I do not know what to do.
I don't want to hurt her. I don't want to hurt her kid. I don't want to do anything but love her and her child. However, when I look at her, I feel no attraction. She accepts me and all my flaws, yet I seemingly cannot accept how she looks? I can't accept the one thing about her that troubles me? What kind of man am I? Other than, you know ... horrible.
So what do I do? Do I try to continue to wait it out, hoping that I one day feel differently? Do I end it now, before her feelings or her family's attachment to me grow all the more extreme? Do I tell her exactly how I feel and let her decide? Or, do I just force myself to love her, knowing that nobody can be perfect, and thank God that such an extraordinary woman is even willing to take a chance on someone like me?
– Selfish in NY
A: End this relationship now, SINY. You're not attracted to her so you shouldn't be with her. You've turned this situation into a big, dramatic mess in your head, but it's really quite simple. You tried dating her and it's just not working. You can't force this kind of thing.
You're not a terrible person for feeling lukewarm about her, but you are in the wrong for stringing her along. Please tell her that you're just not falling in love with her and that you want her to go find someone who'll treat her right.
You say that you've tried therapy for your issues, but you're not done, my friend. You have so much more to do, and so much to learn about self-acceptance.
You seem to have convinced yourself that you'll find redemption if you learn to love this woman. Fortunately, that's not how life works. There is no redemption here. Let her go. You both deserve more.
Readers? Should he be attracted to her? What about his mindset, in general? Should he be dating at all? Is he a bad person for not finding her attractive? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.