The fix is in on August 17, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl:
My two best friends (who are married) fixed me up with a friend of theirs, Dave, and we all went out a couple of times. Since then, Dave and I spent every spare moment together and our relationship turned very serious very soon. The problem is he’s in the middle of getting a divorce. I was very hesitant when we first started seeing each other. I kept telling him that he needed time to get through everything he’s going through and the last thing he needs is to be in a relationship. He just kept reassuring me and reassuring me. He told me that things have been over in his marriage for a long time. He told me he loved me and I was the best thing that ever happened to him. I kept saying that the timing was wrong and that he needed time to himself. He said that if the best thing in your life came along at the wrong time, does that mean you should pass it by? So I eventually caved in and got caught up in the euphoria that was our relationship. Three months later…
He finally realized he can’t handle a serious relationship with me right now. He needs time to figure things out but he still wants me around. He loves me and doesn’t want to lose me but he can’t give me what I need right now. Wait a minute…didn’t I say that THREE MONTHS AGO?! He still calls me several times a day at work and home and says he needs to have a friendship with me. He gets very upset at what he’s doing to me, sometimes crying while we’re both at work and on the phone with each other. I’ve told him that he can’t put me on hold forever until he figures out what he wants, but I feel that I can’t give him a time limit because I don’t know what it’s like to go through a divorce.
It’s a very amicable divorce. They aren’t waging war and they don’t have children. They just decided that they made a mistake. I don’t know what to do. I’ve let myself become emotionally attatched to him and don’t want to lose him. I know that he cares about me and he tells me all the time that he can’t stand hurting me and that he’s miserable also. So I’m thinking, then why are you doing this? But he says that taking time away from me is what he needs. I would believe that if he were actually taking time away from me.
Should I just cut things off completely until he figures out what he wants or should I stay and be his friend and try to help him through this? Do you think he’ll make a decision faster if I’m not around? Thanks.
– Unsure Where I Stand
I would argue that actually, what happened happened at the exactly right time. Meaning that at the time, what he was looking for was a “See, I’ve still got it” security-blanket Next Relationship. One that included/s lots of true and sincere feelings for you, I’m quite sure, but a security blanket nonetheless. And I’m not saying you can never ever be upgraded, I’m just talking about what he was craving when those first fast sparks flew and spread. (By the way, setter-uppers, please wait til your friends are DONE with their divorces to work your magic, okay?)
So now, yeah, he’s confused. As amicable as their divorce may well be, it’s still a seismic change and loss. He may well love you, but all of a sudden the fact that he never, well, dealt has caught up with him. He does need to take time away from you — it’s not personal, it’s that he needs to take time away from the person who took away from him the time when he actually needed to be alone for a while. Does it seem odd to tell someone you need to not see them and then keep seeing them in order to keep telling them that? Sure, but come on, that’s Standard Breakup Paradox, along the lines of “I’m calling to tell you I’mnot talking to you,” Listen, everybody: what peopleneed,what people want, what people say, and what people do are often all entirely UNRELATED to one another.
So no, he can’t put you on hold forever, and no, you don’t know what it’s like to go through a divorce. But you do know what it’s like to be put on hold by someone who’s going through a divorce. Give him as much time as YOU need.