Give ‘Barney’ a chance — slowly

Dear Annie: I’ve been good friends with “Barney” for 10 years. During that time, we’ve had an on-and-off romantic relationship. For years, I assumed it was a timing issue, but I finally realized that, as much as he might care about me, I was just being used to fill up time between women. I felt so betrayed that we didn’t speak for a year.

A few months ago, Barney called, wanting to get together and talk. He told me he had done a lot of soul searching and came to the realization that he had messed up a great thing with me. He wanted to prove he had changed.

My mother recently became ill and lapsed into a coma. Barney has been at my side, helping and supporting my sister and me. He brought flowers to Mom’s room, bought us coffee and sandwiches, and has done anything else we needed. He has volunteered many times to sit with my mother so we could go home, shower and put in some time at our jobs.

Barney truly has stepped up, but I still am scared it won’t last. I fear this will end up being yet another game he’s playing. As much as I love him and everything he is doing for my family, I don’t know that I can risk putting my heart out there again. Should I give him another chance? Or should I tell him we are better off just being friends? – Hopelessly in Love

Dear Hopelessly: It’s understandable that you would be skittish, but loving someone always involves the risk of being hurt. What you need is time to determine whether Barney is in it for the long haul. He seems to be trying to prove himself, and this should not be dismissed out of hand. We think he deserves a second chance. Tell Barney you want to take it slowly this time to be certain you can trust the relationship. If he is the real deal, he will understand.

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