She Hesitated and Lost
Q: While I was living with a man in a souring relationship, I met a new man. I didn't leave for 18 months while getting to know the new man, with whom I have clearly fallen in love. This potential man became unhappy with me when I didn't leave soon enough. Now he won't see me but writes and calls me a lot. He's just as mad for me as I am for him. But when I ask to be involved he refuses, saying he is terrified of being in another relationship, as all the women left and hurt him badly. We never even dated or kissed but I am devastated that I have to forget about him. Yet, there he is writing me constantly and calling daily, saying he misses me. I told him I had to stop it, that I could not begin a relationship at my age that would go nowhere.
It's proving difficult but every day love fades a little more. I felt rejected. I know I lost his trust, yet I don't want to give up. I just don't have any more hopes. Am I wrong to feel this way? He says he's attracted and interested but not able to commit. Isn't a man supposed to take action after 18 months? I refuse to chase and I refuse to long for something that isn't looking good. How long will it take to forget this guy? -- Bonnie, 56
Dr. Susan: You may have blown it, but there is still some hope for this relationship if you are willing to be flexible. You didn't leave the guy you were living with for a year and a half after you met this new fellow, which must have been distressing to the new guy. As you say, you lost his trust. And now you want him to commit to you for a long-term future? How can you expect him to commit at this point? He hasn't rejected you, but he has rejected your insistence on committing too soon. You miss one another, and neither of you is involved with anyone else, so why not just start over with a clean slate? Go on dates, get to know one another, no binding expectations. If he doesn't want to get involved by actually getting together to see how things go, if he won't take even that risk, then the calls and messages must stop. How long will it take for you to forget him? You probably won't ever forget, but the upsetting emotions will diminish the longer you are out of contact. As it is, things are being drawn out in a way that's unfair to both of you.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.