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How pertains to my situation...
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How pertains to my situation...

Dear Dr. P.,

The man I previously mentioned (been dating on & off for 3 1/2 years) started dating this woman that I "caught" him coming back from the lake with for about 3 weeks prior to my "catching" him.  Then, like I mentioned in my loooong story (lol) he contacted me 2 weeks later, while still seeing her asking to be friends and keep in touch, plus apologizing for hurting me.  

He is still seeing her but it comes across to me that he just can't let me go...  This new lady is different from me in the sense that he met her through mutual friends, she has kids, has quite a bit of money, and lives about an hour away from him.    (He has never been married and is 39...  has a few single buddies and likes to have his "toys" - i.e. boat, 2 vehicles, motorcycle, etc...).  Could he possibly change for her or for anyone?  Does this sound like a rebound or could it possibly work?

I know "no contact" helps in healing and also helps in allowing exes to sometimes realize their mistake of breaking up, but... How do you think "no contact" would work in my case/situation?  

Best Regards,
Susan
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Dear Susan,

Ok! Now, for me to answer your question, kindly respond below, and give me as much info as you reasonably can re the following:

What is his personality like? What's his background, re family, any psych problems, parents? Same for you. What is his history with women/dating? Same for you. How would you describe the way the two of you have been involved, your relationship, over the time you've been together? What do you share & NOT share? Any other info that would allow me to see him, and in fact the two of you, as real people?

The more data I have, the more reliable will my comments probably be!

Just add the comment below.

Sincerely,

Dr. P.
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Ok, Dr. P... and I am sorry in advance for how long this is - 3 1/2 yrs. worth of data. lol

His name is Alan, he is 39 yrs. old, never married & no children.  He has a laid back personality for the most part, down-to-earth, but can anger quickly.  Very hard worker, likes projects & doing things himself.  Very friendly & likeable. Smart. Total "people pleaser".  Out-going once you get to know him.  Great sense of humor.  Sort of playful.  Very flirtatious.  Affectionate to a degree/point.  Has a very hard time forgiving and forgetting.  Has a hard time apologizing.  He has a hard time being wrong or admitting when he is wrong.  His friends are VERY important to him & he will do anything for them.  Sometimes very indecisive.  Does not like "drama" and definitely not an overly emotional guy (but does get emotional, i.e. tears up,  over animal issues & a couple of times when we were having relationship discussions).  Poor communication when it comes to emotions or what he wants or thinks.  He can be forgetful.  Very insecure about his receeding hairline & about being 20 lbs. overweight.  He is a helicopter mechanic & his job is very important to him.  He enlisted in the Army right out of HS and earned an Associates degree in Aviation mechanics.  He has a very good paying job now as a Customer Field Rep. for an Aviation company.

He was born & raised in a city called Owotanna, Minnesota.  He moved to Arizona 10 yrs. ago after visiting his Dad out here & really liking it. He is the oldest in his family, with 1 sister.  His Mom & Dad divorced when he was in 4th grade & his Dad married the mistress - they have been married for 27 yrs. He also has 3 step siblings.  Alan has relayed stories to me about how mean the step family was to he & his sister while growing up.  He loves his Dad dearly, but the step Mom tends to "rock the boat" still.  He loves his Mom, but doesn't say many nice things about her.  She never remarried or dated much after the divorce and still lives in Minnesota.  He rarely goes back to see her & she gets out here maybe once a year.  His family isn't overly affectionate, it appears "uncomfortable" when they gives hugs & such.  They do tell each other they love one another.  If his Dad or Mom call & he's available, he lets it go to voicemail & calls them back much later.  He is close to his biological sister who is 5 yrs. younger and her little boy who is 1, but she is not married - the father is in the picture, however.  He's the one who tries to maintain a relationship with his 2 step-sisters sometimes to no avail. He does not get along at all with his step-brother.  When he was younger, his Dad tended to pay much more attention to the step kids as oppossed to Alan & his sister.  Alan moved in with his Dad & step family permanently when he was 14.

As you now know, my name is Susan (lol), I am 40 yrs. old, was married for 9 yrs., have been divorced for 5 yrs., no children.  My personality is pretty opposite of Alan.  Lol  I am VERY high energy, but yet still laid back & down-to-earth.  I am slow to anger and upbeat /positive/cheerful much of the time.  Smart.  Friendly.  Out-going.  Go-getter.  I, too, really try to avoid "drama" or talking too much about emotions, but I know what I want and try to stick to it.  I love to talk.  I can forgive but won't forget so I don't make the same mistake again.  Stubborn.  I am VERY loving & affectionate.  Great sense of humor.  My friends are important but my family is more important to me.  I'm playful & very flirtatious.  I'm a good communicator, but know there is always room for improvement.  Apologizing isn't hard for me.  I will gladly admit when I am wrong.  I am an Exercise Specialist and LOVE what I do.  I have my Master's of Science degree in Health/Exercise Science.  Unfortunately, I am currently unemployed & have been for 4 months.

I was born and raised in Iowa on a dairy farm just outside the small town of Bloomfield.  I moved to Arizona 6 1/2 yrs. ago with my (then) husband for his job after visting here 2 yrs. prior & liking it.  I am the oldest of 3 kids, and my parents have been happily married for 42 years.  My sister has been happily married for 11 yrs. with 3 kids, and my brother has been happily married for 9 yrs. with 2 kids.  My family is VERY close.  We are VERY affectionate with each other - lots of hugs, kisses, playfulness, laughing, telling each other all the time we love each other, etc... REALLY fun childhood with cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc...

I don't know much about Alan's history of dating women when he was younger.  He commented he didn't date much in HS or after the Army.  But once he got out of the Army, he moved back to Minnesota & met Stephanie.  She had just graduated from college as a social worker.  Stephanie had Juvenile Diabetes & needed 4-6 insulin shots/day.  Shortly after, he & Stephanie moved into a house (on a dairy farm, non the less - lol) together & lived there about 4 or 5 yrs.  Then he talked her into moving to Arizona with him after the visit out here to his Dad's.  He said she was hesitant because she didn't really like AZ & didn't want to leave her family (her Dad was an abusive alcoholic), but didn't want to lose Alan.  So she moved here with him.  They bought a house together about 1-2 years after moving here.  Stephanie was very "domesticated" - cooking, sewing, crafts, pampered chef, etc... He was working long hours at his new job, so the next-door neighbor, Keith, would come over & keep Stephanie "company".  Within 6 months of living in their new house, Stephanie broke the news that she & Keith were in love & going to get married & move back to Minnesota.  Alan kicked her out of the house that day, threw all of her belongings into the middle of the yard.  He even went as far as to pretend he was selling his house too & really under priced it so Keith would have a difficult time selling his.  Stephanie & Keith eventually moved to Minnesota, have been married since & now have 2 kids.  She & Alan really have never communicated since that day.
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Then, about a yr. later, he moved this girl Rayna into his house because she lost hers to foreclosure.  They had been working togther for a while, he was a manager & she was an administrative assistant.  When she moved in, she said she wanted to go back to school to be a firefighter.  So he suggested he pay her bills while she did that.  Then she decided maybe not firefighting, but paramedic.  Then she changed her mind again & didn't know what she wanted to do.  He said he sort of pushed her to make up her mind, which she didn't care for.  So after a yr. of them being together, she told him he was too controlling & moved out.  Later on, he found out from some mutual friends of his & hers that she had actually been online dating a man for 6 of the 12 months she was with Alan.  She eventually moved to Idaho & married the man.

After hearing how Rayna met her husband, Alan said he decided to try the online dating thing.  He was on it for 2-3 yrs. before we met on it.  He said he would girls here & there off of it for a couple of months, but never found anyone that really interested him or he felt a "spark" with.

In my dating history, I had a few more significant others than Alan.  Lol  I started dating as a Junior in HS.  Had a serious boyfriend for 6 months as a Junior.  Then had a very serious boyfriend for 3 1/2 years starting my Senior yr. of HS.  He was 7 yrs. older than me, divorced & had a young son.  We attended Junior College together, then I went off to a 4 yr. college in Missouri, we grew apart & eventually broke up.  About 1 yr. later during my Senior yr. at college, I met a guy who I dated for 2 1/2 yrs. & eventually became engaged to.  He was a yr. younger than me.  When we graduated from college we both moved to St. Louis, MO, but did not live together.  I worked and he went to Missouri State Highway Patrol School.  He began cheating & I broke it off.  By this time I am dating a few guys here & there, but not seriously because I am working full-time & going to school for my master's full-time.  About 2 yrs. after my ex-fiance & I broke up, I met my ex-husband.  I was 26 & he was 27.  His name was Dan and he was a yr. older than me.  We were married within 1 1/2 yrs. after 1st meeting.  I didn't find him physically attractive, but he was very successful in his career & we had a lot of mutual friends.  We were more like "party buddies" than husband & wife.  He became very controlling with the finances & constantly made fun of a couple of my girlfirends that had weight issues.  Very sarcastic.  Would make fun of how I grew up.  (He ws born & raised a "city kid" in Jefferson City, MO).  Well educated, but not alot of common sense sometimes.  Wasn't very supportive of my career as an Exercise Specialist.  We started seeing a marriage counselor only 8 months after getting married.  Then started attending a couples religious group.  We were still struggling by the time we moved to Arizona in 2003 - we had been married for 7 yrs. by then.  A tumor had been discovered in my brain about that time & found out I couldn't have kids.  He really wanted them, but wanted to stay in the marriage knowing we couldn't have any.  After about a yr. living in Arizona, we both realized nothing was improving, we were both unhappy & decided in 2005 to divorce.  It was amicable.  

Right after the divorce I met Joe.  He was 2 yrs. older than me, was divorced, no kids.  I fell hard & fast for him because I had just gone through my divorce.  I had him moved into my house within 2 months of dating.  He wouldn't try to get a job & played online games all day.  He didn't come home a couple of nights & I found out through a friend of his he was cheating.  I kicked him out immediately.  By then we had been dating 7 months.  I broke off all contact with him & about 2 months later started receiving collection letters at my home for trucks, mortgages, credit cards, etc...  He had taken my SS# & used to purchase these items.  By the time I figured it out & had a warrant out for his arrest, he had run up $1 million worth of debt against my SS#.

So after all of this, I was feeling very lonely & decided to try my "luck" on the online dating websites.  More than anything, I just wanted people to chat with since I was feeling lonely.  I joined AmericanSingles.com around the end of January, 2006.  Within days I had made a couple of friends & it was nice being able to chat with them.  (There were also alot of perverts out there too - lol).   I had noticed Alan's profile on this website because we had quite a bit in common, but didn't try to contact him.  After being on the website for 3 wks., I was online around 11 pm on a Thursday (Feb. 24th to be exact - lol) and Alan instant messaged me.  We chatted for an hr. & really clicked.  He said usually he wasn't online that late so he was pretty glad to have gotten on.  

We decided to meet the very next day (Friday) for an early lunch because we felt we had clicked so well.  We met at a local restaurant and had a great time for 2 hrs.  He had to leave town for work that day to Texas for 10 days & almost missed his flight.  We hugged outside & said we would probably chat online... and we did for the next 10 days & also text.  It was intense - there ended up being SO much chemistry & attraction & great conversation between us.  When he got home 10 days later, we were inseparable for 2 wks.  

Then at the end of March, we had a disagreement over insecurities & he backed WAY off.  We would'n't talk/text anywhere near as much as we had been.  We worked through it, then he asked me to come out to Hawaii for a wkend since he had to be there for work.  I definately agreed.  It was a great time, until yet again, another disagreement occurred due to my insecurities.  We again, backed WAY off of communicating & seeing each other.  Worked through it again.  He asked me to come up to the river for Memorial Day.  I did & we had a great time.  

Then, didn't hear alot from him or see him, but we would occassionally shoot each other a text, e-mail, phone call. (We both admitted later we were dating people here & there).  When we did talk, we learned SO much about each other - families, past relationships, etc...  We felt SO comfortable with each other.  We were both still fairly active on the dating website we met on.  October rolled around and we started seeing more of each other.  Went out 1 night with a few of my girlfriends and he admitted to one of them he thought he was falling for me.  Then went to his friends' Halloween party & had a nasty fight in front of his friends - yet again my insecurities.  He broke it off that night.  But we were able to work through it.  

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Things went like this for about 2 - 2/1 yrs.  We truly enjoyed each others company, very compatible, a lot in common, TONS of chemistry/attraction.  But I would start feeling
insecure about something & try to "talk" to him about it and it would turn into "drama."  This also happened a couple of times in front of his friends.  During this time, he didn't know how bad my financial situation was getting (I finally filed bankruptcy in 2007 due to the ex-boyfriend stealing my SS#).  I was self-employed, but business was really slow.  So besides my emotional "insecurity" & "instability", I was also experiencing this financially.  (He knew about Joe & what had happend, but not to the extent it had happened).  When I finally told him how bad it was, he said he couldn't believe anyone could let it get that bad & let something like that happen to them.  

Of course I was crushed, but somewhat understood where he was coming from.  So, like I metioned previously, we were a total roller coaster from 2006 to late 2008.  Getting along GREAT for 2-3 months, then something would happen for us to have a fight or a disagreement, he would break it off, we would sort of work through it, get back together & not mention it.  I saw things beginning to change in me & him around Christmas 2008...

There was yet again another disagreement between us & he broke it off 10 days before Christmas stating he really needed to find happiness & needed to move on.  I didn't reply.  I was ready to move on by this time also.  Then I get a text on Christmas telling me Merry Christmas, then on New Years telling me Happy New Year.  I responded back with u too.  And continued no contact.  Then things got the best of me & 2 wks later (a month after the break up) I e-mail him asking why he text me on the holidays.  He replied he still really cared & hoped I had good holidays.  We started talking again, slowly via email for another month.  He was dating someone during this time, but telling me he "hadn't moved on" & hadn't met anyone else he was as attracted to as is was to me.  Then he asked if he could take me to dinner.  I agreed & we began seeing each other again.  

By now it is the middle of February, 2009.  Things were going really well, until about the end of April when I began to sense he was distancing himself from me.  I asked him about it & he admitted he needed "space" to date this girl his friends were trying to set him up with.  I told him "You have got all the space you need."  No contact for 3 wks, then out of the blue he text me asking how things were going.  We ended up talking & he stated he wanted to "start fresh" & that girl ended up being nothing & it was "not what you think".  I was actually pretty excited about that because I was very leary about talking to him again.  

Now it is the middle of this past May when we started seeing each other very slowly again.  Things were going SO good, we were getting along GREAT, no fights, no disagreements, having fun together...  then by the middle of this past July, I started sensing him pulling away again.  We went from seeing each other 2-3 times/wk. to 1 time every 2 wks.  Talking everyday or every other day to talking 1 time a wk.  I asked him if there was someone else & he continuously stated no & that he didn't have time to date or be interested in someone else.

By the time the beginning of Sept. rolled around, my instincts were really telling me something was going on.  By the beginning of Oct. (Fri. Oct. 2nd - lol) is when I "caught" him coming back from the local lake with the lady he is still dating now.  I confronted him & he admitted he had been dating her for about 3 wks. while still dating me & being intimate with me...  I drove away SO angry and he actually called me 20 minutes later that night wanting to explain.  I told him there was nothing to explain & that I couldn't believe that he of all people would do that to me when Stephanie did it to him so he knows how it feels.

I told him he needed to "explain" this to me face-to-face instead of always doing the cowardly thing of e-mailing me.  He let me come to his house, but kept saying "This isn't a good idea.  You know we lose control around each other. I'll probably lose control. It's such a weakness".  I informed him he didn't have to worry about that anymore...  Then he stated "She would not be impressed if she knew you were here".  We ended u talking for almost 4 hr.s  Basically, I was asking him questions about why.  He said he didn't know what he wanted, he cares about me but couldn't put his finger on why he couldn't move forward with me.  I asked him had he ever wanted to move forward with me & he said yes.  I asked him was he ever happy when we were together.  He said yes.  He continually stated he does care about me but "just needed something different." I asked him then why does he keep coming back to me or contacting me first after breaking up.  He said he didn't know why.  He eventually fell asleep on his couch & I left without saying a word.

No contact for 2 wks. then he emails a wk. ago Thurs. (Oct. 15th) stating "Hey Sus... the last we spoke you had said one of the worst parts of us splitting up was you loosing a friend.  It shouldn't have to be that way.  There are plenty of people who remain friends after dating.  You are a good person, I do care about how you are doing, how the job hunt is going and all.  It would be nice to stay in touch & visit from time to time."  I didn't respond.  (Mind you he is still seeing the new gal & they are spending A LOT of time together - unfortunately I have nosey friends.  lol).   Then, Sun. morning (Oct. 18th) he's texting me 1st thing in morning saying "Morning, Sus (always been his nickmane for me).  I didn't know if you had a chance to check your email or if you would rather I leave you alone?"  I didn't respond for a couple of hrs. then text back "Morning Alan.  Yes, I did read your email.  Been very busy here..."  He later emailed me a joke.

Then, I received another email from him the next morning (Mon., Oct. 17th).  It stated "Sus... busy is good.  If you have time I'd like to hear about the job hunt.  Sounds like you going in a little different career path than your norm.  I truly am sorry for hurting you.  I don't know what I could ever do to make it up.  Just hope we can someday be friends again."  He also sent me a youtube video later that day via email.  We didn't correspond until 2 days later (Wed. Oct. 19th)  when I contacted him by sending him an email (which I know I probably shouldn't have) asking him "So Alan... Why do you want to be my friend?"  He responded later that day "Why wouldn't I, Sus.  You are a good person and we had a friendship before".   I sent a response back to the youtube video just talking politics, which we used to have fun doing.  He responded back with more political banter.  I sent 1 more back & he hasn't responded - actually don't expect him to.

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Things he & I share - like the same tv shows, same taste in movies & music, same sense of humor, same political views & life beliefs.  I am interested in his hobbies such as restoring classic cars, guns, motorcycles/atvs, hunting/fishing, camping, anything with the water, animals, we are more meat & potaoes kind of people, we don't drink much, VERY compatible/open minded intimately, VERY attracted to each other, neither of us want kids or necessarily want marriage, both spiritual but not religious, we both like to veg.  When I would 1st get to his place or him to mine, we always gave each other a hug.  When we would sit & watch tv or go see a movie in the theater, he ALWAYS had to have his hand on my leg, stomach, arm, hand, etc... When we would go to sleep, no matter how he was lying, he always had to touch me with his hand, arm, leg, foot, etc... We have good eye contact when we are chatting.  We are both organized.  When he would walk by me & I was standing at the counter, he always had to brush his hand across my back or arm.

Things we don't share - I read quite a bit, I like doing crafts, I am VERY into fitness/exercise & he hates exercising, my style is more contemporary where his is traditional, he has a HUGE sweet tooth & I don't, he can't say "no" to his friends/family & I can say "no" to whomever, he didn't kiss much & I like to kiss, he doesn't have good eye contact when we discuss tough issues/topics/problems.  I don't go out into the garage & "tinker" for hrs.

I can honestly admit to you, Dr. P., I have come a LONG way with my behavior.  I am NO longer insecure (lol - even though it probably doesn't sound like it or seem like it).  I really have my head on straight now thanks to the help of family, friends & just from being a strong person.

I just don't know what to make of him... period.  lol  Why does he always come back?  Why did he contact me yet again while he is very busy spending alot of time with this new gal?  I'm very confused...

Thank you SO much for your time, Dr. P.  You don't know how much I appreciate & need this.  

Best regards,
Susan

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Dear Susan,

I’m going to risk saying some things that are “shrinky”, i.e. they may sound windy or unsubstantiated. But it’s the best I can do, because, despite the great detail you provided, the issues still aren’t clear.

While I can’t prove it, I’ll lay you 3 to 1 odds that Alan’s Big Issue is having been badly burned in his parents’ divorce, and the aftermath. I get the sense of a guy who just doesn’t want to risk, not closeness (he’s fine with that) but CONTINUITY of a relationship. The message seems to be” If I stick around too long, the inevitable will happen: I'll be hurt!” So he never marries, then has assorted relationships over the years that don’t go anywhere. To use a perhaps overly fancy metaphor: he can fix the helicopter, even fly the helicopter; but he can’t EVER allow the helicopter to land.

Look at all the stuff with his father, his sense he wasn’t valued like the other kids, the allegiances split, the step-family he can’t really make peace with over time. Looks like a set-up for relationship avoidance in adulthood to me.

Then there’s Stephanie and Rayna, both of whom sold him out. An accident? Maybe. But possibly a replay of the same feelings from his early adolescence. It’s far safer to do serial monogamy, value friends highly, and have lots of toys.

It makes sense to me that he wants to be “friends.” He DOES value you, maybe even more (this will be continually seductive for you). It’s just that continuity may be toxic for him.

Alternate explanations might involve completely different info not given (maybe he desperately wants kids?) or issues with YOU, e.g. your own unresolved issues, or something not stated in our interchange that might turn him off, e.g. big weight gain, loss of attractiveness, etc. And as mentioned, I’m just extrapolating from the info you provided. But, with that caveat, I don’t see the issue with him going away. He’s not psychologically minded, and if I’m right, scarred, and unmotivated to explore himself.

I want to go a bit further than your question to ask about you yourself. Have you REALLY resolved your own unfinished business? I just don’t know. I DO  know there’s a history of you getting with guys who were bad for you, first Dan, who you really weren’t attracted to, then Joe, who cleans you out. Perhaps you’ve already done this homework, but if not, ask yourself what personal blind spots might have moved you to make such choices. If you know them at depth, you’re unlikely to make them again (and vice versa!)

Sometimes people can be very attractive to us, but have one fatal flaw. Perhaps the continuity issue with Alan is an example of this. When such happens, sometimes the other person will stay with it, hoping for things to change. I’ve seen this go on for DECADES, and be a terrible outcome for that person (who, by the way, is often a woman). If it turns out you’re her, please, please don’t let it happen.

If the above is valid, you’re at a real crossroads. If you don’t stay emotionally wedded to Alan, where do you go for love? This brings up down and dirty real-life questions about attractiveness, money, availability of men, etc., all of which and more will have to be considered as you figure out which way to go. These issues are things we can work on, if you wish.

The important thing right now would seem to be for you is to see Alan clearly, and not to be used, by anyone, including yourself; never again.

Sincerely,

Dr. P.
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Hi Dr. P.,

So much of what you have said about Alan is what I had pictured in my mind as the issue(s) - especially the problem with continuity of a relationship. I have read many, many self-help books & find I won't make the same mistakes again.  I just need to 1st work through this, as you put it, "crossroads" with Alan.

He did say at one point with this last break-up, he does have a problem letting go of the fighting we did earlier in the relationship (2 - 2 1/2 yrs. ago).  He also dislikes the "outbursts" of text messages I have sent in the past when trying to get him to answer me about us.  He would usually refer to that as being "unstable".  Not to toot my own horn, but I know my looks weren't an issue with Alan.  I am an attractive person, 5'5", 110 lbs., athletic shape & tend to catch guys looking my way - he would make comments about how great of shape I am in & called me pretty & once "smokin' hot". Lol

I would have to say my "hanging in there" with Alan has been my way of, hopefully, showing him I had patience & was not going to be one of the people to leave him or hurt him, and that I valued him.  I have always taken notice to the fact that he DOES value me, and maybe even more, which, you're right, that completely seduces me into the belief it could work between us - because I have always wanted it to.

I can admit I'm still working on my unfinished business.  I have come a LONG way but still have work to do & always will.  My choices in the past were based on my "need" at that point in my life - Dan helped me financially because I neede to pay off school loans & I saw a good life with him financially; Joe was to fulfill my need for attention, love & closeness which I lacked with Dan; Alan, I thought, was going to be able to fulfill it all because we were so compatible, had so much in common, VERY attracted to each other, plenty of chemistry, etc...

So, will continuity ALWAYS be toxic for Alan or is there a chance some new lady down the road could actually change that for him?  And the issues he has with me, will he or can he NEVER get over them?  Why has he always come back to me if he can't move past the issues he has with me?  Why do YOU think he made contact with again this last time even though it appears things are going very well with his new lady?

Thank you so much for all of your time, Dr. P.
Susan

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Dear Susan,

Your kind words much appreciated!

The questions you pose are major, and require scrutiny at a new and personalized level of "magnification."

I'm up for it if you are. Pose a new question, add in your last email, then add in any new thoughts you've had. I'm sure we can continue to make progress in understanding where exactly the issues are, and how to approach them with reasonable assurance that we can get somewhere.

Sincerely,

Dr. P.
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