Distance Makes the Heart Hurt
Q: My now-ex-girlfriend and I met in New Orleans, where neither of us is from. We both live in different parts of the country, but over the couple months we were together in New Orleans we dated and fell in love. When we had to be apart, things continued to work out for a couple months. I was able to go to school by her, and she went to the same one so we could be together. This past summer I had to go home to work because I had a job waiting for me and I couldn't find one where she lives. We kept talking to each other and couldn't wait to be back together and she even came and visited me for a week. But then when I went to see her and to look for apartments, she told me that she met a guy and had been seeing him since the beginning of the summer. She said she wanted to be with him. We kept in touch, until about a month ago when she said she didn't want to anymore. Her family thinks this guy is using her and they won't last. He was going to leave her because he thought she cheated on him when she came to see me, her boyfriend!!!
I still love her more than anything in the world, and she is the one who I want to spend the rest of my life with. We were together for about a year and now we've been apart for about 11 weeks. Is it realistic to think that we can work things out and be together again, especially when she isn't talking to me? How long do you think we can be apart and still have a chance of getting back together? I made the decision to wait for her because I love her that much. But how can I make waiting hurt less, and how can I stop it from running other parts of my life? -- Dave, 22
Dr. Susan: What is there about reality that you think you can wish it out of existence? The facts are clear to anyone reading your story, and yet you can't believe what your senses are shouting at you. Your ex-girlfriend has said she wants to be with another man, and that she no longer wants to keep in touch with you. Even though her family doesn't approve of or trust her new beau, I would be more leery of trusting her. She was dishonest with you about her feelings when she met this other guy. She visited you and had you convinced nothing had changed, and meanwhile she was close enough to him that he accused her of cheating. She was probably ambivalent about who she wanted, for a while, so she overlapped the two of you. Now she's made up her mind. I understand that you're still crazy about her, and you can imagine her suddenly running back to you. That happens much more rarely than tear-soaked lovers would like. I don't know of any way to hurt less while you "wait," or how to keep the fantasy of her return from running, and ruining, your life. I'd suggest you get busy and find new interests and companions. It's all you really can do. And if your ex ever decides she's interested in turning back the clock, she'll let you know. But don't hold your breath.
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Advice for Her
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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.