Break Up to Make Up (the Long Version)

Hi. I just read an answer on your site regarding a woman's question on moving too fast in a relationship, and I wondered if you'd also give me some advice about my own situation.

QUESTION: About three and a half years ago, I started chatting with a guy I'd met on a site similar to myspace. We were just friends though, and didn't bother meeting for about eight months. We began talking more and more after that and began dating shortly afterwards. I took a summer job in a different state right after that, but we continued our relationship. It was very romantic, as we wrote each other letters and sent each other gifts and pictures and audio tapes with our thoughts on it. I fell for him very quickly, and he told me he loved me about two weeks after I'd been gone. I went to see him a couple weeks later, and I told him I loved him too and we shared our first kiss. After that, we talked about marriage constantly, and when my job ended, we began telling everyone we'd be getting married very soon. We wanted to wait until marriage before getting intimate, mostly because of our faith, but it became harder and harder once I'd returned home and we could see each other more often. So we agreed to get married two months later at a justice of the peace and until then we enrolled in pre-marital classes. But things started getting very tense; we began arguing alot, about where we would live, how much we would spend on the wedding, even whether to waste money on an engagement ring (I said use the money for the honeymoon, he said he wanted to get the ring out of principle).

After the first pre-marital class, he turned to me and told me he did not want to marry me because we wanted different things. We argued for hours, and it was terrible, especially since I didn't feel he was giving me the real reason. Finally he shouted at me that he didn't love me, to which I responded by grabbing all of our pictures and cutting them up in front of him. I cried myself to sleep, but he didn't leave, he slept on the floor by my bed, stating he was sorry for hurting me. The next morning I did not want to continue the breakup session, and since he hadn't changed his mind, I asked him to leave. We hung out a few weeks later but he was still stubborn and refused to work things out. I cried and pleaded with him, but it was to no avail.

About a month and a half later, we spoke on the phone and he apologized to me, confessing he became afraid when we'd starting arguing about money that we'd end up like his parents. He said he forced himself to be stubborn so that I'd move on and save myself future grief. He also said he'd always love me and that he missed me a lot. I thought that meant he wanted to get back together, so I told him I had to think things over and get back to him. When I called him a week later, he acted like he had no idea what I was talking about and stated he still only wanted to be friends. I called him one more time, after visiting his mom and sister for the last time, because I was offended that he had avoided me when he'd known I was there. We spoke for a little while. I don't know why, maybe out of hurt or the embarrassment the whole fiasco caused me, but I told him that I was going to move forward, and that I wouldn't bug him about getting back together ever again. He seemed a little weirded out but reacted coolly and said he would call me in a few days. He never did.

During the first year after, I still felt very deep pain every holiday that passed that he didn't call. After my next birthday, I accepted that he would never call again, and refused to allow myself to think about it again. I convinced myself I was over it, although after the second year passed I realized that couldn't've been totally true, since I would not allow a guy to get near me and I hated marriage and all things having to do with it. Finally I broke down and cried about him never calling me, and there was still very real pain there.

So I emailed him. Two years had passed and I just needed the closure. I told him no hard feelings and I wished the very best for him. He responded right away, to my surprise, and we quickly became friends. At first, it seemed like we were flirting with each other, but I started to notice he was evasive on many subjects, and kept our conversations very shallow. Still, it felt good to speak with him, and we got along really well. He'd send me funny ecards and spend hours on the phone with me, joking and make me laugh. When I asked him why he never called, he said because each time he wanted to, he didn't know what to say because so much time had passed. We spoke about what had happened and he said he was very sorry it'd gone down like that and admitted that he had a lot of issues. We agreed that things had moved way too fast anyway and that it was very good that we didn't get married back then since we were both totally not ready. We talked about meeting for lunch, but when I came around his town, he wasn't there. Almost like he'd forgotten. I found this suspicious and upsetting. But then two weeks later, I came back into town and he rushed to see me and have lunch. It was weird seeing him, but honestly, I was surprised that I wasn't blown away with attraction. He couldn't believe how beautiful I'd gotten though, and lunch went really well.

After that I finally began dating other people, but both relationships I got into ended in disaster right after they'd started. He and I, however, remained friends and shared our stress and pain about our failed relationships. He was a really great support, and encouraged me to stay positive. We tried to meet a couple more times throughout the next year but he blew both meetings off again, with no explanation. After February of this year, I stopped trying to make plans with him, calling him a fronter (which he didn't like). I thought maybe he was scared that I was trying to get back with him, so I did let him know that I wasn't, but he said that's not what he thought at all. I now think that he had been seeing someone at those times and probably didn't know how to tell me, although I could be wrong. Anyway, we finally settled into a friendship where we'd talk every few weeks, laugh and enjoy a few hours of conversation and then go about our life as usual.

This was a-ok with me right up until about a month ago, when it dawned on me that I still idealized him as the perfect man and still had a teeny inkling of hope that he'd "wake up" and realize I was the perfect woman. I confessed this to him about three weeks ago, telling him that I wanted to be able to move on and didn't know what to do. He took it well, stating that he didn't know why we were friends again but that it was a good thing. He said he rarely ever befriended exes but that we were in each other's lives for a reason. He didn't seem affected by my confession, and we continued a long and enjoyable conversation afterwards. The next day he texted me out of the blue and seemed to be flirting with me and invited me to blow off work and hang out with him. Of course I couldn't but it got me wondering. When I was disappointed that he didn't text the next day, I realized that I needed to do anything I could to let him go from my heart. So I didn't call him for a week, and it irritated me that he didn't call either. He did text to "just say hello" but I didn't respond.

My birthday is next week and I asked him a month ago to take me out to dinner to celebrate it, since I'd be in near his town. He promised he wouldn't front, but when he didn't call all last week, it irritated me further. So I texted him about it and he said he didn't know the dates I'd be in town (even though I had given them to him a month before!) but that he still wanted to meet. We spoke on the phone, and agreed to meet two nights ago. I was going through a lot at the beginning of this week and I called him on the day before our dinner and cried on his "shoulder" about it all, and he once again was very encouraging and it meant a lot to me. The next night, we met up and I felt very attracted to him. He complimented me several times on how gorgeous I'd become, "way better than before and I was beautiful before", and he touched me a lot. He put his arm around me quite a few times, hugged me, grabbed my arms and fingers, and rested his hands on my hips. I thought it was all a little strange, but I didn't investigate it. When he called his roommate later on and I distinctly heard her ask how his "date" was going, that really made me wonder. He stayed on the phone with me the whole time I drove home and finally confessed that he'd wanted to kiss me but decided to "keep himself in check". He seemed disappointed when I said it would've caught me off guard, but pleased when I said I would've kissed him back.

The next morning I couldn't stop thinking about him so I texted him and asked if he wanted to see a movie. He replied yes but didn't call til almost evening and that bothered me. He offered to come by me but I felt like it was a better idea to go out there. I drove out (an hour) to meet him and we had a great time. I didn't want to leave him though, and we ended up kissing in his car for about an hour. By then it was very late so I, against my better judgment, went to his house to sleep for a few hours before heading back. Well, let's just say that things went very fast at his house, and he was very affectionate. I was very surprised at myself for even getting (and staying) in the situation (as it is completely out of character for me!), but I just didn't want to be away from him. He told me he'd missed many things about me and that he could "get used to waking up next to me every morning." I was wary though, and tried to stay objective about it so I could better evaluate the situation.

I just got off the phone with him, after having a whole day to think about last night, and we both agreed that we did NOT want to have just a physical relationship. We also agreed that neither of us were ready for a relationship right now and we didn't want the other to feel pressure to be in one. I told him I felt we had really good potential but that it couldn't start like this, and he agreed, adding that he feels like he's still sorting through some things in his life and didn't want to start a relationship with me only to withdraw/push me away again. He said one thing he learned about our first relationship was that if we ever got back together, it had to be taken in steps, and he wanted to do it right so as to avoid what happened the last time. I agreed. We didn't get to finish the conversation because he had to take a call from one of his family members, but he said he'd call back.

Now I'm sitting here wondering what to do, because we acknowledged that we had to be super careful not to get physical anymore, and to feed our friendship while both of us continued to grow. But I'm thinking, how am I supposed to do this? Do I go back to the calling every few weeks and acting like this never happened? How do I hang out with him again as just his friend with last night running over and over in my mind? What do you think is going on in his mind, and what do you think is the best way for me to handle this so as not to come off needy but still be desirable? He's very hard to understand. Anything you can offer would be great.

Thank you!

GARLAND: WOW. This is the longest question that we have ever seen on this blog. You have SHARED today! WOW. Okay, thanks for coming to us and let me see if I can tackle this bear.

First, I was tempted [and probably Chuck too] to E-Mail you back and insist that you shave this down to “Just the facts Ma’am” I printed this out in Times New Roman 12pt and it was 3 and 1/3 pages long!!! I left it alone because you sounded like you needed to vent and maybe this was a catharsis for you. I can only hope that we can see your question and more importantly I hope that you TRULY understand what your REAL QUESTION is.

Meeting and wanting to start a life together was a wonderful thing, too bad you had the wrong person. I think your boyfriend was simply overwhelmed with the pre-marital counseling. That, to some people is like looking down the barrel of a loaded gun. While he hurt your feelings, he did you a favor. HE knew his limitations and threw in the towel. Sure, I don't doubt that it hurt, but that pain was nothing when opposed to being stuck in a loveless marriage built on lies.

The whole E-Mailing him two years later and saying "No hard feelings. I wish you the best." is baffling. See, these are the kinds of lies that people tell themselves so they can feel good. I wish you had E-Mailed him and told him the TRUTH, that way, you would have felt GREAT [not just good]. You should have told him, "You sorry bastard, you broke my heart. I've been miserable over the sh*t you've pulled on me and I hope you slip and fall in the shower and break your damn neck." Yeah, that's pretty nasty - but tell me that's not what you wanted to really say?

And, let me back up for a second – you asked what is on his mind and what can you do to seem desirable and not so needy. Let me tell you – the ONLY thing you can do to not seem so needy IS STOP BEING SO NEEDY! You ARE needy. Sorry. You just spent over 3 pages recalling the phone calls, the text messages, the E-Mails, the broken dates, the heartache, the tears, the concerns, the kisses, the laughs, the rejection, the games and the suffering you have experienced over the last three years with a guy who really doesn’t care about you. If he did, you wouldn’t be miserable. You ARE needy and guess what – HE LOVES IT. He sounds 100% like the kind of guy that takes sick pleasure at toying with a young woman’s emotions. He is a bum and he’s not worth it. You are PLACING his value above YOUR OWN. Every time you get upset that he doesn’t text you back right away, and every time you get giddy because he texted you first, and every time you accept the fact that he’s forgotten you yet again, you are wasting your time and your value as a woman. Get out while you can and go find the joy in the world that is still out there waiting for you!

Okay, let me crack my knuckles and let you know what else this man is thinking. Stop wasting your life on this guy, please. Okay? This guy is either married or dating or cheating on his wife or girlfriend and you are doing little more than providing mid-card entertainment for him.

You used the word "friend" in one form or another 9 times in your question. Please understand that this man is NOT your friend. He spoon-feeds his time to you like someone placating a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman and you refuse to see it. The whole, "lets be 'friends' as long as it's on my terms and I can treat you like crap whenever I feel like it and you never come to my home unannounced and you can't stay too long when you do," is simply unhealthy. I really hate to be so blunt - but you have gotten yourself into a losing situation with this bloke.

And, please stop trying to call what you have “Friendhip.” If there was one thing I could truly achieve with my role in this blog, it would be to convince women to truly understand what a ‘friend’ is with regards to a man. And every man that a woman once loved, liked or wanted to love or like should NOT be classified as a friend because it makes her feeeeeeeeeeeeel good. “Friends” truly care about you and give a damn about you as a person! “Friends” do not ignore you, manipulate you, tease you, taunt you, or treat you as an emotional punching bag!

Sorry, I digress.

Any man that REALLY cares about you or wants to REALLY be in a loving relationship is not going to play around with your time and forget dates and get off the phone with you because his Aunt Emma is calling and he's not going to check in with his 'female' room mate. Unless you have sat down, broke bread, and talked openly about the deep feelings you had [and have] for this guy in front of this ROOM MATE, then SHE is his wife or his girlfriend. The whole thing about hearing the woman on the phone ask "How his DATE was going," was either some staged non-sense, or he told his WIFE/GIRLFRIEND that he was 'innocently' having a drink with an old friend from high school or college, and what you heard was her jokingly asking about his "date."

The bottom line is this: This guy does not care about you on the levels that you want him to, need him to or pretend him to. He keeps you amused and attracted to the flashing lights just enough to have you around - Why, I don't know. But you are wasting your time and your life calling him a friend and pretending that you mean something to him.


CHUCK: Wow. No one could ever accuse you of not being thorough. I'm not even sure there's room left on the page for me to answer.

Where to start? You two are either one of the worst-matched couples in the Milky Way Galaxy, or you're made for each other. Just the very fact that, despite all reasons not to, you continue to gravitate to one another. I find it particularly puzzling that you keep going back to him, as whenever you seem to give this man the opportunity to do some follow-through and meet with you another time, he deliberately flakes out on you. And you know what? As long as he does that, and you continue to give him second, third, forty-eighth chances, that probably won't change.

But when someone constantly acts against their own best interest, what can you tell them? Take your email for "closure." I've said it (and said it, and said it...) before, but closure after a relationship is rarely found. But in your case, you really didn't want it. You wanted to get back in his head again, and I guess you were successful. Only you weren't successful enough to make him treat you right consistently.

And why is that? Maybe he has someone else. Or maybe he just realizes that it is not necessary for him to treat you like a boyfriend, lover, etc. should. Sure, you'll get mad and talk a good game, but eventually you'll come around.

What should you do about him, with the memory of your night together running through your mind? Go ahead and be with him. You're an adult. Have a good time. Maybe he'll treat you right after nearly four freakin' years. But I'd keep my expectations low. And I would consider, am I getting what I deserve here?


clarice said...

Wow - all I can say is - if what you want is a relationship with caring companionship and respect RUN as far and as fast as you can away from this man. DO NOT pass go DO NOT collect $200.00 - GET OUT. Lose his number, change your number, forget his name - RUN far Run fast but get gone. He is so not your friend. The Guys are on point as usual. As a woman I can say - you've taken this ride before and know how it ends - it has not changed! SSDD - same stupidity different day - his pattern of behavior is the same and he has no reason to change. Actions matter more than words! Pay attention to what he does and he has done nothing to indicate any real change. Admittedly the moments of sweetness and tender caring felt great but from what I read here and there was a lot - what a looooooooooooooooooooooog letter, there was as much pain and drama he put you through was a long as this letter. Hopefully seeing it all on paper will give you a reality check and realize this loser is overdrawn and overrated for a lack of funds. He is not investing in anyone but himself and you deserve better. If as is occasionally the case - the attraction of the night together is too strong to resist and you want to be with him - do it BUT do it with your eyes open - enjoy it for what it is - but be clear in your own mind why you are doing it and what you expect from him, yourself and the situation before you do so there are no mixed messages. Personally no man I do not care how *cough* skilled he is - is worth my peace of mind and a ton of emotional pain anguish and suffering. Hurt me once shame on you, hurt me twice shame on me - but that is just me.Either way accept responsibility for the choices you made/make they are what they are own them. It is part of owning yourself and who you are. Owning yourself is the only way to stop being needy and be the wonderful desirable person you were meant to be. Own your mind, body and soul and love the woman in the mirror more than the approval or love of any man, woman or child. That is not saying be selfish or irresponsible and on the all about me show - loving yourself is taking care of recognizing what you need, who you are strengths and weaknesses and being true to yourself and making sure no one no matter how much you love like or lust after them treats you with less respect than you deserve including yourself. Put your big girl panties, buy some batteries and lose this male with a quickness and start being the fabulous you- you were born to be.

Remnants of U said...

Thank you for posting her long story. I needed to see your answer in writing. I wasn't engaged at any point, but my on again off again relationship has similarities.

TJ said...

You put it ALL on the table, huh? LOL. j/k. Garland and Chuck gave you excellent advice. That man did you a favor by not marrying you. Big time.

Remember that you can't appreciate Mr. Right if you are wasting time with Mr. Wrong. Peace.

elizabeth said...

I am going to be blunt and not apologise here. You have acted like an idiot. Why can people not just be honest with themselves and face the truth staring them in the face? If it acts like a pig, grunts like a pig and looks like a pig, guess what? It IS a pig. As i read your letter I was in turn embarrassed for you and itching to slap you on the back of your head. You allowed yourself to be disrespected, toyed with but jusitified his unacceptable behaviour becuase he threw a few crumbs your way. For years you have hankered after some loser who probably never spares you a thought - even when he is right beside you. You engineered a reunion to meet up with him again, hoping he would magically "see" the wondrous woman that you are but guess what - he did not give a shit - then, now or ever. The handwriting was on the wall in red ink but you just had to act all desperate, blind and silly. You overanalyzed every damn thing - his texts, his words, probably even his flipping cologne BUT after all that fevered thinking and rehashing the simple intelligent truth continued to ellude you.
Girl, you need to grow up, grow a brain and get a life. Oh and for your own sake do not even attempt to go into another relationship until you have got your head screwed right, a good dose of self confidence and the ability to NOT crowd or stifle the next guy. Or you will once agian spend the best years of your life chasing after him stalker style.

Chuck and Garland said...

Thanks Clarice, Remnants of us, TJ and Elizabeth for sharing your thoughts. I think this young lady really needed some tough love and a wake up call. A few friends of mine that read my blog laughed at my comments but they understood that I was just trying to open this young lady's eyes too.

Thanks again!


Esquire said...


I definitely think your comments and advice were spot on. This poor woman really needs to just get as far away from this guy as possible.

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