Once Burned…..

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’ve been single for several years. I’d been in a serious relationship
that fell apart when I realized my partner had been self-medicating a
serious depression for a long time. It’s not that he didn’t talk about his
problems. In fact, that’s mostly what he talked about. But he was
secretly drinking and taking pills at a rate that would have felled a
lesser man. I tried to get him to go into counseling, rehab, or a 12-
step program, all of which he refused. So I ended the relationship.
Now I have started dating someone new and I am seeing symptoms
that scare me, but I cannot tell if I am just suspicious because of my
prior experience. We agreed not to dissect our pasts in the first three
months. Should I say something now, wait, ????

Once Burned…..

Dear Burned:

There’s a difference between not talking about ex’s or why previous
relationships fell apart and not talking about something that would be
an immediate deal-killer to how the two of you are relating now. Even
business contracts have cancellation clauses so it’s not like you must
stay in this relationship for the full three months in order to have a
discussion about medical or substance abuse issues. You have a
choice about relating your personal and relationship history with these
topics as part of the discussions, but do not wait to bring up the

I’d start with something like this: I’ve noticed that I respond with
concern, apprehension, and curiosity when I see you do x, y, z.
(Notice so far this is in “I” statements, as most counselors suggest.
Hard to do but often suggested.) Are these things you’re ready to talk
about or am I misreading something? Then see how he responds and
how you respond to how he speaks and acts. The bottom line on the
relationship will always rest on good communications over troublesome
topics, no matter how well you enjoy the good times. No one deserves
to have the shadow of an ex looming over their future happiness. That
means you or him.