When Is Love Really Over?
Q: When shall I consider my ex gone and gone for good? This is a woman I've known for 10 years up until a half year ago. Though our chemistry and passion were always there, we had a few periods of desertion and abandonment over this tumultuous period but none that ever lasted this long. She will not take my calls or answer my e-mails over these last 24 weeks; yet on the rare times that she does (two weeks ago was the last time), we talk enough where I take it to mean that there may still be a possibility (or am I lying to myself?). Yet besides these very meager and infrequent out-reaches by her, I've let myself be treated very coldly and very meanly by this woman that I shared a decade with.
Other than my family's so-called interference with our lives and my dalliances with a woman I knew for a while a long time ago (during one of her previous walk-outs) whom I was never intimate with, I do not know why she walked out on me on that particular day. At what point do I give up on her and say enough is enough? After how long? -- Tony, 55
Dr. Susan: The death of love is often a long time coming. This woman kept leaving you but always came back before, right? But this time she isn't coming back. Sounds as though she's made up her mind, finally, to make a major change in her life. Even so, she's having a hard time being consistent. Those rare times she speaks with you, she is giving you hope that she doesn't actually intend to give you. It's the tiny bit of intermittent reinforcement that's driving you crazy, making you think there's more there than there really is. Six months of not taking your calls except for a very very few instances means that she's done with this relationship. I understand that you may believe you still love her. After all, a decade of being mistreated can get to be a habit. But it's pretty clear the feeling is no longer mutual. Lovers don't treat each other coldly and meanly. If you were to succeed in dragging her back for another try (not likely!), you'd only be setting yourself up for more tumult and misery, and then she'd certainly leave again and you'd go around in these awful circles for more years. The best thing to do now is to give up and stop pestering her with calls and e-mails. Most men move on after one or two or three rejections by the same woman. Do you think so little of yourself that you're asking to be rejected again and again forever?
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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.