Chris in the UK writes:
Last year, I was seeing a woman who lives two hours from me. We hit it off in a major way, and our feelings ran very deep, to the point of me asking for her hand and her accepting when my divorce is out of the way. However, since then, she has backed off and we’re not seeing each other at the moment, mainly because she says she’s not “in the right place” to continue (and commit to) the relationship...
She says that we’re “on a break,” that we’re just friends right now, and that she doesn’t want to see anybody else. I asked her if she wanted me to wait for her and she said “yes.” From what I have been told she is very fond of me, but because I treated her right as opposed to the jerks she has seen before, I took her out of her comfort zone, where for there to be love there had to be huge amounts of unpleasant tension as well – as if she was equating the two. I have been advised to back off, keep any phone chats brief and so on. My concern is that if I back off too much, I will lose all contact with her and she’ll want to move on to someone else when she’s ready.
However, if I openly display my feelings towards her (which she knows) she won’t want to know at all. It seems to me that I cannot win either way! What do I do? I really do love this girl, even after everything that’s gone down, and I can’t honestly imagine myself with anybody else. But how do I play this? And is it really worth the wait? My gut instinct says so – we’re on the same wavelength in so many ways, and nothing would make me happier than to have my girlfriend back again as we once were. But I’m confused.
Your girlfriend needs a little time, a little space and a whack of reality to the back of her head. Only you can deliver such a whack, but it is a risky situation.
You have to maintain the lines of communication with her, or she will continue to drift away from you. It is very unfortunate, but her past experiences combined with her present fears are overshadowing all the good this relationship has to offer her. I could understand her needing a break while you take care of your business and she deals with her own, if she were actually dealing with her own problems. Instead, she is using this time to go about her life with freedom, and very little consideration of you. She has the upper hand, because she knows you are willing to wait for her. It is your responsibility to let her know that you won’t wait forever, and if she wants you to hold on, it is her responsibility to give you something to hold onto.
She does care for you, she even has love for you, but she isn’t in that head-over-heals in-love space. She is too afraid of the consequences to allow herself to feel that deeply.
This “break” is a little too undefined for comfort. It seems as if she is taking advantage of your situation, your love, and your understanding. If you take too large of a step back, then you will lose her. If you put forth too much attention, that seems to scare her as well. So, you have to walk a very fine line with her over the coming months, but you also need to nudge her into choosing which direction she wants to go.
Keep in touch with her on a periodic basis, but make the conversations you share count. Let her know what is going on in your life, and that you would like her to be more a part of it, but do this lightly. Present it to her in a manner that isn’t pressuring, but also with enough firmness so that she won’t mistake you for a doormat. Don’t shy away from conversations that encompass the future, but pay very close attention to her responses. There will be times and opportunities for you to nudge her into having faith and trust in this relationship that began so beautifully, and is now floating in limbo.
The next couple of months seem rather shaky, but you should be more closely bonded again with your girlfriend before the end of June. While things may not be exactly as they were before, the two of you can work through this, and happier days lie ahead.
Best of luck,