DEAR AMY: I just discovered that my boyfriend of two years has been texting another woman. We have been living together for a year and are in our 50s.
I feel like my heart has been ripped from my chest. I have only loved two men in my life: my boyfriend and my late husband.
I have put a lot into this relationship emotionally and financially. I don't know whether to confront him or wait for him to come clean with me. I have no idea who this woman is or where he met her. I have her address and phone number; should I contact her and introduce myself?
This situation is making me physically ill. I don't sleep and I cry almost constantly.
DEAR BROKEN-HEARTED: Doesn't your guy wonder why you are pacing the floor at night, crying constantly? Or is he too busy texting to notice what's going on with you?
I cannot imagine sitting on this sort of personally devastating evidence and not confronting the perpetrator. You either possess superhuman discipline or are hoping against hope that you can simply wash away this issue in a flood of tears (I'm assuming the latter).
I can tell you with absolute certainty that your man will never "come clean" about this on his own.
He may not even admit to this once he is confronted (be prepared for a fascinating and complex story of mistaken identity).
You need a supportive friend to confide in. Talk this through, get up your courage and confront your man. Stay calm, maintain a skeptical attitude and follow up his statements with questions. And — this is tough — listen to his answers.
And, yes, if you have the contact information of the person he is texting, you might as well contact her yourself. It takes nerves of steel to do this, but it might be illuminating.
Assuming that your suspicions are correct, you need to be prepared for either of two outcomes: discussing this and — assuming he apologizes — forgiving him and moving on, or breaking up. Cohabiting under this sort of extreme unresolved stress is unhealthy for you, as you are experiencing.
DEAR AMY: I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for almost four years. We have been able to work through a lot of our issues, and our communication has gotten better with time.
The problem is that he lives a "wild" lifestyle. I'm talking partying, drinking and lots of women. He stays out until the wee hours of the morning and sometimes all night.
Recently I have been very vocal about settling down, committing to one another and starting a family of our own. I have been introduced to family and friends as his girlfriend; I attend family functions regularly (with and without him), and I am close to his mother. I even have his son (from a previous relationship) with me on weekends and school breaks.
The problem is that any time I bring up this topic of commitment, he changes the subject. He never wants to talk about it. We have an eight-year age gap (he's older), and I don't want to continue to waste any more time if I can't have some type of security that we have a future together. What should I do?
DEAR BEWILDERED: What size sneaker do you wear? Let me know and I will personally send you a pair — all the better for you to sprint as fast and as far away from this relationship as you can.
This man is doing you a huge favor, and you don't even realize it. By refusing to discuss commitment, he is telling you — loudly — that he doesn't want one. Because you don't seem able to interpret his obvious actions, please pay attention to his unspoken message.
DEAR AMY: "No Kids Zone" says she doesn't ever want kids in her home until she has them.
Wow. If this couple become parents, they will find out that there will be days that they'll like other people's kids instead of their own.
DEAR COLLEEN: Many a parent has sighed and wished for a temporary kid-switcheroo.
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.