Dear Neil: I recently broke up with my boyfriend of two months, and I’m having a very hard time moving on. About a month into our relationship, while he was drunk, he told me that he was paranoid about getting close to me because he was afraid I would break up with him. During our seventh week of dating, we went to a tailgate party for a football game, and I got drunk. He said I became angry and said mean things to him—and he broke up with me as a result. My question is how do I move on from this? I’m still not over him, and I want to give the relationship a second chance.
Trying to Cope in Columbus
Dear Trying to Cope: If you’re looking for an excuse to reject someone—or run away from a relationship—you’ll find an excellent reason to run away from everyone alive (or dead) on this planet. The real question is whether you can find good reason to stay with someone and work through whatever problems, issues, differences, disagreements or traumas that come between you.
The bottom line is that a relationship takes two people. Both people have to want each other, both have to say “Yes” to having a relationship with each other, and both have to make themselves emotionally available to the other. Otherwise, you have the illusion of a relationship—not an actual relationship. That requires both parties to hang in there and give each other—and their relationship—a chance.
What you’re describing is a man with a very guarded, armored, walled-off heart. There is simply no effective way to get him to give your relationship a second chance other than inviting him to do so.
Lick your wounds from the loss of this relationship, and go out there and try again with someone else. A relationship requires two, and you don’t have two. Quit fighting the painful reality that he doesn’t want you, and quit giving your heart to someone who won’t give his back to you.
One more thing. Perhaps you shouldn’t be getting drunk with men.
Dear Neil: I live with a guy who is also my best friend. I have had deep feelings for him since we met four years ago. But he has told me that he doesn’t have “feelings” for me in “that” way. But it seems as though we are a couple. We are always together. We share a lot of the same interests, we enjoy doing many of the same things, we are intimate both emotionally and physically, yet he says he doesn’t love me. Any advice?
Hurt in Tuscaloosa
Dear Hurt: Living together with a sexual partner can sure feel comfortable, intimate, close and familiar. That’s part of the allure, but that’s also part of the trap, because living together can give you a false sense that the two of you are bonded and meant for each other. Perhaps it’s time you consider moving out. A healthy relationship needs both people to choose each other. It’s time you either find out he wants a relationship with you after all—or you free yourself up in order to find someone else who does.
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