Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Q & A: "I feel like I am last on his list of important people"

Q: My boyfriend and I recently broke up after being together for a year and a half. We had plans this weekend and he didn't call me. After 3 days of not hearing from him, I went to his house. His explanation for not reaching me was that he couldn't tell me what he had to. He said we couldn't be together right now. He said he couldn't be committed because he would be working 7 days a week, and it would not be fair to me. He also said that he might be moving out of state soon (he may not). He said it had nothing to do with another girl. I told him if he could honestly tell me that he didn't want to be together, I would leave. He couldn't do it; he just said we can't be together right now. He wants me to still call him, but I told him I wouldn't because it would be too hard. He obviously wanted to stay together, why did he break up? I want to call, but I am afraid it would be a bad decision. If I give him time, maybe he will realize that we should be together. How can he forget about the last year and a half? I want to call him so badly, and get him to realize what he is doing, but is it the wrong thing to do? I know he wants to be together. I can't just let him leave my life - I Know He Wants to be Together

Dear I Know He Wants to be Together,
It seems that something is going on in his life and he doesn't want to or can't talk about it. And so, in order to deal with whatever that is, he's backing off. Let him. You can't force him to realize anything. In terms of calling him, listen to your intuition. It will give you the answers you need. In this case I agree with your intuition, don't call. You'll feel worse if the call doesn't match the fantasy in your mind.

As to why he broke up, my crystal ball is out for repair. But here are two things I know. Don't make assumptions; you don't know what's going on in his head. And, don't take it personally. This is not about you. It's about him. I don't usually recommend the following but in your case it seems appropriate. Send him one and only one email to keep the channels of communication open. A man has to know that the door to your home is open. Then let it go. Start the healing process and get on with your own life. I know you say you can't just let him leave your life, but you also can't make him stay. That's his choice. Besides, it's been my experience that as soon as I'm just about over a man, he suddenly reappears.

Q: We have been dating for about 7 months. Everything is going good except at times I feel like I am last on his list of important people. I care about him a lot, and I know that he cares about me. But he never calls me unless it is to go out with him, and he hangs out with his friends all the time. I like his friends, and I hang out with them too sometimes. Basically I just want him to pay a little more attention to me, and not take me for granted. -Taken for Granted

DearTaken for Granted,
Girlfriend, your guy probably doesn't even realize how you feel. He thinks everything is fine, and for the most part it is. So here's my suggestion - talk to him. But talk to him in a way that makes right and feel good about what he does for you.

Don't make him wrong. Praise and reinforce him when he does something that you like and when he gives you his undivided attention or does something special for you. Men want to be admired, respected and appreciated. When he does something, like call you, let him know how much you like talking with him on the phone and how much you appreciate it. Practice your oohing and ahhing, so that when he does something you admire or respect, you've got your response ready. Try this approach, combined with being just a little less available, and watch how much more attentive he will become.

Q: I desperately need help. I've just broken up with my girlfriend because I cannot stop thinking about her past. She was in an emotionally abusive relationship for 4.5yrs, broke up with the guy, went overseas and slept with 4 people. I can't sleep at night because I can't stop thinking about it. She said she was at a bad place in her life then and what happened was borne out of insecurity, no self-esteem and wanting to feel like somebody. I just can't empathize with her because I didn't know her then. We both know it was out of character for her and she regrets it. She tells me I can't really talk because I slept with the same woman 3-4 times who I felt nothing for.

To top things off, my brother (who has always had a crush on her) called her a slut in front of my mother and now the whole family, including grandparents etc, think I am with an awful girl. We had a punch up over this and we haven't spoken for 8 months. I also told her I couldn't live like this with my family. She took the break-up very badly. She is devastated. She is an amazing girl. We had a fantastic relationship and are very emotionally in tune. We are very much in love but I can't stop thinking bad thoughts about her past and I don't want them to change to my feelings for her. I told her I couldn't see her anymore because I didn't think it was fair to talk to her about it and my family problems need to be fixed. Can you please help me? -- Can't Get Over Her Past

Dear Can't Get Over Her Past,
You say you love this girl, then stop torturing her. The past is the past. If you stay in the past, you'll never have a future together. So make up your mind, either let it go or let her go. Don't continue to punish her. She's doing enough of that to herself. Stop only thinking about yourself. Start thinking about her and have some compassion for her and where she was in her life when this happened.

Q: I am a 20-year-old African American woman. I have been dating a 30-year-old white man for almost 7 months now. We met at my old job and we had known each other for a year before we started dating. We have a really good time together and everything seemed to go well. Well, I had told him a while back that I thought I was in love with him. I knew he wasn't going to say it back and I didn't expect him to.

I never brought it up again until our 6-month anniversary, where by that time I was sure of my feelings for him. I asked him if he ever could feel the same way about me. He said he didn't know and that although he couldn't explain it, he felt it was wrong to love me.

Naturally this upset me and I told him so. He then explained that since his parents had never shown him love and affection, he doesn't know if he can love another human being; something he and his therapist are working on supposedly. I had asked him if it was because I was black and he assured me it wasn't (I've met his parents and friends numerous times already). He says this is the best relationship he's ever had and that I'm special to him. He's affectionate and sweet, but honestly it hurts that we're not on the same page with our feelings for each other.

I love this man very much. I don't want to break up over 3 little words, but those 3 words are important to me and I like knowing that my boyfriend either feels the same way or is close to feeling that way. Am I making a mistake by staying with him? Should I just wait and see what happens? Is he just making excuses? I really don't know what to do and it hurts. I don't want to lose him, but I do have to think about myself and my needs and desires when it comes to matters of the heart. --Confused and in Love

Dear Confused and in Love,
This is a tough one. This guy is being vulnerable, straight with you, and speaking from his heart. It sounds like the two of you have worked on this relationship and established some real emotional intimacy. Give it some time and see where it goes.

Just because his parents didn't know how to express love, doesn't mean he's damaged goods. But you already know that. He's the one that needs to get it. He's afraid that he can't love because he never had good role models to follow and he simply doesn't know how. However, his actions must demonstrate his affection and caring for you, otherwise you wouldn't be involved with him right?

Those three little words are very important. Don't kid yourself. We all need to hear them. Sounds to me like you done a great deal of work on yourself, that you have healthy self-esteem (keep it that way), and that you know that it's up to you to think about your own needs and desires and to take care of them. Go girl! Know this, this man or any other man is very lucky to have you in his life. I am sure you've got lots more going than being just an arm charm. Hang in there but give yourself a time limit. Good luck.

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