Dear Rachel,

I need someone to save me from my own guilty conscience. I’ve been dating a girl for a year. She’s sweet and adores me, but she’s too naïve and passive for my taste. I cheat on her with different women and I feel really guilty about it. She has no idea about the cheating, but I’ve hinted to her to break up with me. She won’t. What should I do?

Signed,

Guilty Conscience

Dear Guilty Conscience,

I only suggest a breakup as a solution to a dating dilemma when I’m sure beyond a reasonable doubt that there is no other viable resolution to the case. This is an example of one of those cases. Therefore, I recommend that you break up with your girlfriend immediately if not sooner. I don’t know what’s happened in your past, but if you have been cheated on then you know how much it sucks and you should know better than to do it to someone else. If on the other hand, you have never been cheated on, let me help you look at it from her point of view.

Here you are strolling along, all sweet and naïve in puppy dog love with someone you idealize, then one day bam, you find out your heart’s desire has been cheating on you with multiple people for years. You’d be heartbroken and angry and think that the cheater was cruel and cold-hearted. Well, right now, that person is you! You’re not doing yourself or her any favors by staying in this deceitful relationship. Let her go to find an equally sweet guy before she becomes one of the bitter, jaded masses who’s had their heart shattered by behavior exactly like yours. It’s inevitable that you’re going to hurt her at this point, but you have the choice to make the breakup painful or extremely painful for her, and I suggest the former.

You say you’ve hinted to your girlfriend to break up with you but she hasn’t — so you need to stop acting like a child and be an adult and complete the job. She doesn’t know that you’re cheating on her so she can’t make the informed choice to break up with you. Maybe you don’t want to tell her because you don’t want to be the bad guy. What you fail to realize, however, is that your prolific cheating is bound to catch up with you eventually, making you even more of a bad guy. The good news is that you’re reaching out to get advice now, which tells me that you’re ready to end this charade once and for all. Next step? Man up and break up without further delay. When you do the right thing and let her go, you’ll be rewarded with a clearer conscience and she’ll be free to find a guy who appreciates her for her sweet naiveté.

Dear Rachel,

I’m an unemployed, single father who thought I’d never find happiness again after my bipolar ex left me. Then two months ago I began dating a new woman and things are going really well. We’re both single parents and the other night the conversation turned toward marriage. We’re both on the same page about wanting it to happen soon. How long should we wait to get married?

Signed,

Ready to Wed

Dear Ready to Wed,

When it comes to marriage, I suggest getting to know someone for a minimum of a year before making such a serious commitment, and even longer when children are involved. As someone who’s recently ended a relationship with a bipolar ex, you might want to wait even longer so that you can observe all sides of your current partner’s personality before taking the plunge. In this instance, time is your friend. If you two are meant to be together for the rest of your lives, you’ll still be together in a year or more so there’s no harm in taking it slow. By getting to know someone slowly, you will get a clearer picture of their behavior under various conditions and stresses, which allows you to rule out incompatible, intolerable and/or abusive behavior before you sign on for life. Also, since you’ve both recently exited irreconcilable relationships, you may want to take additional time to ensure that you’re not rushing into similar patterns. You owe it to yourselves and your children to take as much time as needed to ensure a strong foundation for a happy, healthy future for everyone involved.

Rachel Iverson is a freelance writer, dating coach and author, who lives with her husband in Venice Beach. Her book, “Don’t Help A Man Be A Man: How To Avoid 12 Dating Time Bombs,” has been endorsed by Dr. John Gray, author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” For more information on Rachel or her book, visit www.rebelgirlpublishing.com. For dating advice, contact at rachel@rebelgirlpublishing.com.

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