Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I’m truly heartbroken and confused and hope you can help. I have been seeing “Joe” on and off since November. Before Joe, my last boyfriend was “Pete.” Pete and I had a bad relationship; I often felt neglected and fell asleep crying. It ended badly, and even though he didn’t find out right away, I kissed someone else while we were still together. I blame the fact that I just wanted positive attention from someone and to feel desired.
Then I met Joe at college last fall. It is a small university so we saw each other a lot, and there were some issues from the start. Things moved fast, and I fell pretty hard — even before I really knew him. I learned Joe was previously engaged, resulting in major commitment issues on his part. We broke up when COVID hit, but reconnected this summer and decided to try again. Once again, we had a great connection and I saw a side to him that I just absolutely love, but maybe that’s me looking at his potential rather than the person that he actually is?
After exams, I was leaving for several weeks, and I asked if we were exclusive; he said yes. After I was gone for several weeks, we talked, and he dropped a bombshell, saying that usually when he’s been with someone three months, he knows if he’s going to be in love or not, and he just doesn’t see it going there with me. And yes, I have told him that I am in love with him.
Everything about this conversation was confusing. He strangely told me that sometimes he can picture marrying me but then sometimes he can’t. More often than not, he says he doesn’t miss me or think about me when I’m not around. I asked if he was breaking up with me, and he said he wasn’t.
I have always been too available in my past relationships and am afraid I’m doing it again. If he feels he can’t love me, why is he leaving it up to me to decide what to do next? Is it time to call it quits or to try this properly for one last time?
I want you to close your eyes and imagine the following: you are in a relationship with a caring, open, tender-hearted person who treasures you. He thinks of you when you’re away, and smiles when you return. He is excited to hear your opinion on things, and loves to be near you. He cannot wait to tell you he loves you at every opportunity because you fulfill him in ways he never considered; similarly, you wake up content, and you go to sleep with a smile, and you feel confident and safe because of your connection.
Now open your eyes and look at the reality you’re dealing with. “Joe” does not make you feel safe, or treasured. You’re walking on pins and needles, overanalyzing everything, doubting yourself. Rather than feel grounded and adored through your interactions, you are left feeling inadequate, picking apart your own actions and decisions. This is not a healthy place for you emotionally, and I promise you, there are way better relationships out there for you than this one that is dragging you down and holding you back.
I promise you this, too: as long as you are with Joe, you won’t find someone better, because you’ve made yourself unavailable. The quickest way to be happier is to take that step forward, alone. The fact that your past relationship ended with an infidelity that you say is out of character is further evidence that you aren’t picking the right guys.
Leave Joe, be single for a while, build up your own relationship with yourself, and then charge fearlessly back out into the dating world with confidence that attracts the strong and caring partner you deserve. And yes, I know it’s not that easy — that dating is tough, that meeting the right person can be a challenge. I also know that you sound earnest, sincere and emotionally open — and that you simply won’t find what you’re looking for if you stay in your current relationship.
You’re so thoughtful, honest and introspective, as well as strong and assertive. You seem to know exactly what you want and need in your love life. It seems like you’re a happy person and a pretty great girlfriend, until you’re ignored and neglected. So why let yourself be ignored and neglected again?
I appreciate that you’re hurting right now, but after reading your note I’m surprised you even came to Wanda and me because it’s clear that you know you need to move on. If you just wanted to get some affirmation from the pros, Wanda gave it to you. And, sure, here’s my confirmation: “Move on.”
Need someone else to say it? Joe himself spelled it out for you in the clearest and harshest of terms. Doesn’t even miss you or think about you when you’re not around? Ouch. Well, at least he’s honest.
As for him visualizing the two of you getting married someday, everybody has daydreams and asks themselves what-ifs regarding their relationships. You’re doing it right now. But we all know that wedding bells ain’t happening anytime soon, if ever. And the only other thing he knows is he doesn’t really want you right now. Would you like to wait around and be ignored and neglected until maybe he might know what he wants and perhaps it’s you? Nah. There’s so much more out there for you. Go get it.