Mixed Messages Gave Him Ulcers
Q: I was dating a girl for two years, and she broke it off with a really bad excuse. She said that she doesn't have that "feeling." Still, she gave me love cards on a regular basis, telling me how lucky she was to have me and how wonderful I was as her boyfriend, How much more does a person need to do to get this woman to see the big picture? She's a middle-aged school teacher, going through menopause. Does that affect her judgment? She says it's over, "let's be friends," but she calls and texts all the time for meaningless reasons. Is she just playing with my emotions, or keeping me on the back burner? All the stress has given me two bleeding ulcers that she says is not her fault. I still love her, but am I wasting my time ? -- James, 53
Dr. Susan: Oh, she sees the big picture all right. It's simply not the same one you're seeing. Some people will never stop believing that they have to feel a certain way in order to be happy with someone. A continuum of feeling exists in a satisfactory relationship, from being comfortable and content with someone, to being passionately in love. And beyond that continuum, on the down side, is feeling utterly bored and as though you're not living your right life. Only she can decide, and apparently she has, whether the plusses outweigh the minuses. I can't explain the love notes and so on except to say that the lusty early part of a relationship usually lasts for about six months to two years. And sometimes it stops quite suddenly. In your situation, her feelings changed drastically while yours perhaps have been evolving more slowly. I don't think you can blame her choices on her menopausal status. She likes you, thus the calls and texts, but she doesn't feel romantically about you anymore. The ulcers aren't her fault, though you may be contributing to your own stress by allowing these continued frustrating contacts with her. Most guys aren't able to be "friends" right away with someone they are still in love with. She's messing with your head, whether she is doing it intentionally or not.
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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.