Q. I’ve been separated from my ex-husband for over a year and a half. The marriage was abusive and he was an addict. The truth was I knew I was settling with him, and even though our marriage was traumatic, it took me very little time to move on emotionally because I don’t think I was ever really in love with him. All that to say that I am still very much looking for, and hoping to meet, the love of my life.
Recently I met someone who I felt very connected with. In a short two weeks and only four dates, we just “clicked.” It was comfortable, fun, affectionate, and it seemed like we were on the same page about moving forward. Then he suddenly did a 180 and said he had emotional and mental healing to do from his previous relationship and didn’t want to be negligent with my feelings.
While I respect that he’s being so honest with me, I don’t know how to be OK with letting him go. I don’t want to self-abandon my own needs, but I don’t want to walk away from something I think can be amazing. Is there middle ground here? What’s my next move if I want to hold space for him but not hold myself back? I can let go of the feeling of how incredible things were between us. It’s only been a week, but I miss him terribly and I find myself wanting to reach out to him every day (I don’t). Do I close the door?
A. Don’t hold space for him. Do close the door. The person who does this kind of 180 is not ready for a serious relationship at all.
I’m sorry to have to give you advice you probably don’t want to hear, but this man has told you in his own way that he can’t continue to be the person he was during the first two weeks of your courtship. He’s been clear about his limitations. Please believe him.
This is a great lesson for dating. When someone says, “I don’t think I can do this,” don’t add “but maybe later” to the end of the sentence.
My advice is to celebrate the fact that you connected with someone so quickly. You said it best — you’re ready for something great and have all the emotional resources to be a partner. You’re in a solid place to keep looking.
Please remember that there are some benefits to a slower pace. You get to see if someone is capable of showing up more than just a few times. You find out if they initiate plans, whether their moods are consistent, and how they fit into the life you’ve already built. If someone isn’t perfect or fully committed after a few weeks, that’s OK. Often, the best relationships take time.
It has only been a few weeks. Are you really excited about him specifically? Or is it the idea of a healthier relationship than you had with your ex?
He’s not being honest here (or completely honest anyway). He’s trying to gently tell you “Buh-bye.” Take the hint, for you own sake.
Hunt down the “Seinfeld” breakup episode (George Costanza’s “It’s not you, it’s me”). Breakups are awkward and men hate awkward and will say anything to avoid awkward. So the right answer is the one that makes the questions stop.
Yes, CHIMPITATUS: “So the right answer is the one that makes the questions stop.” When breaking up, the breaker-upper doesn’t want a long discussion, they just want to rip off the band-aid.
Unfortunately, what you want doesn’t matter, and there is no “amazing” future for you. Not letting go when someone tells you it’s over is unhealthy — especially after only two weeks. Don’t be that person.
You’ve done a great job extricating yourself from a bad marriage. You drew the line. Keep that up as you move forward. Walk away from the new guy. He’s over the baggage limit. Just take a carry-on and be free.
Find Season 4 of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to email@example.com.