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#489: A brief bullet-pointed tale of woe, or, the infernal temptation of “closure.”

Dear Captain Awkward:

  • Dated a man
  • He broke my heart
  • We did friends with benefits
  • I called it off because I still loved him
  • We were friends
  • I tried to kiss him
  • He said no
  • I asked for some space to get over him
  • He granted it (nicely)
  • I came back when I was ready
  • He blanked me
  • He’s read my messages 
  • TOTAL blankage.
  • For WEEKS now.

I don’t get it. I know you can’t tell me why he’s blanking me but I really, really don’t understand it at all. He was really nice about giving me space, gave me a big hug, said “if you ever need anything…” – then when I was ready to come back (admittedly after only 2 weeks), he acted like I don’t exist.

Do you have any insights into why that’s happened? I guess there’s nothing I can do without making it worse, but I’d like to at least understand, y’know?

- Bullet Points Are Awesome

Dear Bullet Points:

I can’t read this guy’s mind, so whatever I come up with for you will only be speculation.

I have:

  • A brief story that you might be able to tell yourself about what’s going on.
  • A recommendation for you.

Here is the brief story:

This guy cared for you and was attracted to you, but it ended between you for a reason. Something just wasn’t working and making both of you happy. He tried to stay engaged – sexually, for a while, and then as friends, for a while, but at the end of the day it was just too much work, so he decided to bail completely, let some time pass, and completely move on. During the time that you took “space,” he learned something about how space was really good for him and how he needed it, too. I’m sure he felt weird and guilty the first few times that he didn’t respond to something, but over time it’s getting easier, and he’s figuring out that staying away is the right thing for him to do. At the very least, it prevents him from making promises he can’t keep or getting your hopes up.

Here is the recommendation:

Do the same thing. Block him everywhere. Stop obsessing about him. Decide for yourself “This is over, because I say that it’s over.” When thoughts & feelings about him come up, think them, feel them, and then put them aside. Distract yourself. For example, “I miss X, I wish he would call me. But I can’t do anything about that now. Right now I have to make dinner and then I will read a book.” That distraction & deciding not to think about something is really hard do to, but if you do it long enough it becomes a habit and then time does the rest of its work and you heal. But you don’t heal if you keep looking for communication for him and waiting for something to change. He made that decision to cut off contact first, but you also have the power to make it for yourself.

You’re probably not ready to be friends if this is still a story about how he broke your heart and about how the removal of his attention is breaking it again. The fact that he’s not communicating with you is its own answer. It says, pretty clearly, “I don’t want to communicate with you.” It’s a cruel answer, and I’ve been where you’ve been: bewildered, lost, hurt, addicted. It would be much cooler if he responded to your first communication after the break with “That’s good to hear, but I am still not ready to talk. I will get in touch when and if that changes,” but he didn’t. That doesn’t mean the message of radio silence is not a message, or is an unclear one.

This story where you fuck and fight and break up and make up and try to be friends even though you’re still in love has run its course. It seems like the common thread in every stage of your relationship is you wanting something he doesn’t want to give; this is just one more version of that. There were a lot of possible versions of a happy ending for you and this guy. The one you think you’ll get by receiving a communication from him now is “closure”, where you will talk through everything and come to some kind of mutual decision that feels good for everyone. I don’t think this ending is likely, so let me offer you another one: You’ll disengage and move on with your life, having learned something new about what makes you happy, and eventually you’ll meet someone else who will be equally invested in a relationship with you. You will get closure, because you will create it for yourself by making a decision to stop chasing someone who doesn’t really want to be involved with you and who can’t be counted on. Years down the road your former partner/lover/friend will be a passing blip in your thoughts.

When you doubt, say this to yourself, “If he wanted to reach me, he would reach me. Since he’s not reaching out, I must conclude that he doesn’t want to. That’s his choice to make.” Accept it, grieve for what you lost, and be good to yourself. Be good to yourself the way this person is not equipped or willing to be good to you.

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160 comments
  1. mercifulsquirrel said:

    It feels so good to read that right now. As of late, I have had a couple of dates with one lovely man after the other who then respectively decided to break off contact with me cold turkey. I get that this is generally good behavior and I don’t want to be angry at them unless they haven’t treated me decently in other ways (and they did not! cool!), but just the slight accumulation of men-who-I-find-awesome-who-don’t-find-me-awesome-back is a bit unsettling and sad to think about at times. I will cope. So will you, dear LW.

    • This is my current dating experience as well. That, or I discover they absolutely want nothing to do with me dating-wise, but would accept a short-term friends-with-benefits arrangement.

      There’s really nothing TO do but cope, is there? Or stop dating. I wish I could consider that last option more seriously.

    • “… the slight accumulation of men-who-I-find-awesome-who-don’t-find-me-awesome-back is a bit unsettling and sad to think about at times.”

      I feel ya, person. I try to give myself a minute or two to feel bad and whiny about it, then turn it off and do something else. It ain’t easy (I feel like I’m there tooooo often), but getting into an unhappy feedback dating loop never ends well.

  2. Some of the best relationship advice I ever received, and it applies to a lot of other things in life too: “It takes two people to say ‘yes’, but only one person to say ‘no’.” If you are the one saying ‘no’, it really stinks to have someone keep badgering you to change your answer. And that badgering pretty much never works, in the end.

    • Badger Rose said:

      Yeah, that. Persistent silence can be a crappy* way of saying ‘no,’ but it’s still saying ‘no.’ When you’ve gotten that ‘no,’ there’s really not anything you can do but move on, because you can’t turn someone else’s ‘no’ into a ‘yes.’ (Even a ‘yes, I want to be friends again.’)

      It hurts like crazy, and I am sympathetic to that, but the truth is that ‘no’ can be decided unilaterally.

      * And of course, whether silence-as-no is crappy or not depends a lot on circumstances. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to end a casual acquaintanceship with silence, simply because a break-up letter to That Girl I Saw At A Few Office Parties Who Seems Nice is goofy; it’s almost always unacceptable to end a currently-active long-term committed romantic relationship by just ceasing to talk to the person (“almost” because things are different if the relationship is abusive, of course); most relationships fall somewhere on the spectrum between the two.

      • Sarah said:

        “…but the truth is that ‘no’ can be decided unilaterally.”

        Applicable in many circumstances. I think a lot of times when we disagree with somebody’s choice, we see their opinion as a starting point and not the final decision and try to argue them out of it. But everybody has the right to say, “This isn’t right for me,” and have that be respected. It took me a while to get to the point where I could say, “Well, I don’t want somebody that doesn’t really, really want to be with me” instead of wanting what I wanted because I wanted it (dammit! There is always a dammit in my head when I say that).

        What worked for me was taking each date or interaction as the only thing that was going to happen and enjoying it just for that. Talking to a cute guy was just talking to a cute guy. A date was just a date, not the start of a relationship. And if I got radio silence afterwards, because I’d done the mental prepwork, I could shrug it off (usually with some version of “Whatever, dude, I’m awesome!”) and go about my day.

  3. Badger Rose said:

    “It seems like the common thread in every stage of your relationship is you wanting something he doesn’t want to give; this is just one more version of that.”

    That’s exactly what I saw, too. Painful, so so painful, but sometimes you just need more from someone than they can give. Continuing to ask for stuff (even if it’s just ‘please don’t stonewall me’) is not going to lead to a different end result.

  4. I really needed to read this today.

    I came from a Darth Vader family, and cut off ties with my parents several years ago. Periodically, I try to ‘reconnect’ (email or letters) with cousins, or aunts, but either no one replies at all, or they ‘reply’ but don’t respond to anything I said. I keep defaulting to thinking that I can find the exact right thing to say that will make them care about me, but there’s no such thing. Thanks to the Awkward Army for helping me deal with how sucky it is to be an emotional orphan.

    It’s past time to MOVE ON.

    • Vicky with a Y said:

      I was feeling the same way as I read this. My brother hasn’t spoken to me in years. We didn’t have a fight, he didn’t give an explanation, he just… stopped returning my calls. I drive myself crazy sometimes imagining what I could have done differently in the past that would lead to us having a good relationship now.

  5. ACK! said:

    This is somewhat off-topic, but I completely empathize with LW on the issue of silence. I currently have an amazing physical relationship with a gorgeous firefighter (read: way hotter than me, in my opinion). We met through Craigslist and I had the intention of being completely casual, but it has been so good and we seem so connected to each other, and also, there is some emotional roleplay and it has gotten confusing for me. I saw him a couple of days ago and in the middle of this role-play, things got extra real and I admitted liking him. He was sweet about it, gave me a giant hug and kiss and told me that he wanted to get to know me too but he is also worried about ruining whatever it is we have. It was left somewhat open ended, but overall, he seemed to indicate an interest in non-bedroom activities (as he has been in the past, although we haven’t made it happen yet). The rest of the night was great but flash forward, it’s a few days afterward and I am feeling so hung out to dry, emotionally speaking.

    Typically I’m more of the organizer of our meetings but a good friend has advised that I should wait for him to contact me. I know I didn’t do anything wrong by confessing my feelings, but I am so worried that I put him on the spot and I ruined what has been a wonderful connection.

    Anyway, that’s my Monday blues item for the day. Back to the regularly scheduled production…

    • You should contact him if you want to contact him. There are so many reasons he may hold off contacting you that have nothing to do with you ruining a wonderful connection, or him not being interested. Playing the waiting game is only causing you to feel uncertainty.

      And trying to change a dominant communication pattern (i.e. you contact him) while in the middle of possible relationship changes (i.e. possible heartfeelings in addition to pantsfeelings) is unlikely to lead to clear communication. It is rife for misunderstandings.

      Not knowing is clearly making you feel awful. He’s the only person who can answer your question, and he’s not going to answer a question you don’t ask.

    • staranise said:

      Maybe things have changed from how they were? But if they’d gone on with you holding back on saying that you like him and secretly eating your heart out and twisting in pain over never asking for too much, that would NOT have been a “wonderful connection”. It’s not like you made a mistake or ruined something with your big needy feelings. It’s that you have a relationship that is in many aspects great, but you’re finding that there might be a mismatch in the emotional arena.

      • ACK! said:

        Thank you, Staranise. I’m not so great at asking for what I want. But this time I at least gave it a shot.

    • You can also make the decision now that you will not engage in any more emotional role play until and unless you have a clear understanding of what his emotions actually are and that you feel okay with that. I mean, I would hate for you to be like “but it seemed real but it was play but how could it have been just play” etc. Boundaries like that are things you can choose for yourself and before you hear from him again, that give you some control over things. You are not helplessly waiting for him!

      Also, you are hotter than you know. You don’t get to see what your eyes do when you smile, or whatever your personal magic is.

      • ACK! said:

        Thank you, Carbonatedwit. I don’t think I would like playing with him at all if this stuff wasn’t included. So that’s an indication that perhaps I should think about whether it makes sense to pursue this thing (whatever it is) outside of the context of some kind of dating.

    • Why is liking the person you are having sex with such a bad thing that it gets described as something you “admit” and “confess?” What kind of “connection” do you have if “admitting” to liking him might be ruinous?

      I know, I know. You feel like you (explicitly or implicitly) agreed upon a no-strings physical relationship, and now it might seem like you are trying to renege on the deal by having feelings at him. And it’s true that he may be determined enough to avoid any kind of emotional attachment that any whiff of sentiment will cause him to skitter away saying “sorry, this is not what I signed up for.”

      But what about what you want? Are your feelings evolving in such a way that you don’t think a relationship that is day-by-day will work for you anymore? You can Like him, and still be genuinely content with the day-by-day thing, in which case Liking him isn’t a violation of the no-strings-attached deal.

      Or you may realize that “nope, the no-strings thing might have worked for me once, but the way I feel now, unless what he wants has evolved in the same direction staying in this relationship would just be setting myself up for long, drawn-out pain, because I’m going to be wanting more from him than he is ever going to give me.” In which case, you need to find out whether what he wants has changed, and if not, then regardless of whether he is scared away by the revelation that you Like him, you’ll probably do better cutting him loose and looking for someone who is open to the kind of relationship you’re discovering you want. (Like, one in which Liking your partner is not a bad thing). Think about it for yourself. Talk honestly with him about what he wants, and how/whether that meshes with what you want.

      Just DON’T act like you’ve done something wrong, or like you’ve become pathetic or needy or manipulative or dishonest just because you have started to Like the guy you’re having sex with, ok? And don’t act like the Most Important Thing is not to have wants of your own — like the ideal relationship is a mutual-use with no feelings involved, the only legitimate thing is what he wants, and it’s your job to “be cool” about that and squelch your needs in order to better serve him.

      I don’t care how gorgeous the firefighter dude is, if he doesn’t care what you want, or if you two are not both happier together than apart, then fuck him. Or, rather — don’t.

      • ACK! said:

        Thanks, Alphakitty. I do have some shame about wanting things from people because I’ve always felt intrinsically not attractive enough to deserve someone reciprocating my feelings. So I really appreciate your reminding me of the idea that it’s OK.

        • Jae said:

          I do have some shame about wanting things from people because I’ve always felt intrinsically not attractive enough to deserve someone reciprocating my feelings.

          Ooh boy. You just reached inside my brain and pulled out something I’ve felt, but never been able to articulate. Someone said that other day that I seem more comfortable with rejection than I do with possible reciprocation and… yeah. I’m really feeling this statement.

          I hope everything else works out for the best for you. It definitely is not wrong to want something, and there is nothing about you that is so broken that you don’t deserve to have that fact respected.

        • espritdecorps said:

          After many, many, years of feeling like that, I’ve come to realize it comes from putting yourself in the bargain bin.
          It’s possible that a wonderful person will see you, realize your value, and love you as you deserve.
          What’s more likely is that some POS is going to see you, realize your value, and go “Score! Awesome person for the price of a shitty one. My bills are paid for the next two years!”

          Do not wait for other people to validate you. People worth knowing assume that you already value yourself, and people who exploit your insecurity to make you ‘prove’ your worthiness are not worth knowing.

          Put yourself out there and let other people decide on how attractive you are to them.
          (*hint* If they want to make the sexytimes, you have attracted them.)
          Then you get to decide if the package they are offering in exchange for your affection is to your liking. Keep doing this until you find someone who wants what you’ve got, and will give what you need.

          This is my advice to myself right now on all my relationships, not just romantic. I feel you so much. Good luck!

          • ACK! said:

            espritdecorps,
            How’d you pull yourself out of it? I’m in many ways a very sucessful person and relationships with men are the one place my self esteem has a big hole in it. The feedback I get about the way I look is usually very good, but somewhere inside of me that stuff doesn’t reach the part of me that got made fun of when I was younger for being too fat, too tall and too exotic. I 100% agree that assholes sense when you have a weak spot and pounce on it.

          • espritdecorps said:

            Thinking in terms of what I need helps. Not what I ‘should’ want or what I could reasonably expect (because my expectations are far too low), but what I NEED to make a relationship worth my time and energy.

            I’m also going cold turkey on negative self-talk and sarcasm for a while. I can be very nasty to myself, and I don’t need that from anybody right now.

            When I do awesome things (This is the best soup ever!), instead of downplaying it (Oh, I just threw that together), I acknowledge it (Thanks, I made the stock from scratch).
            It’s slow, but over time it’s really hit home how much I do everyday, instead of writing it off as ‘what I’m supposed to do, so it doesn’t count’.

            Attractiveness is a slippery beast. FWIW, I am tall, large, and of mixed ethnicity. It took some extra time to wrestle with the ghost of the willowy blonde that hangs over us all. (My thigh is bigger than her whole body)
            I deal with it by accepting that I will never find myself as attractive as other people do, and trying to take them at their word. Having sex-positive friends helps a great deal. Going out to large social events a couple times a year and being around people who are open about who they find attractive is a blessing for me. I am a fat, middle-aged mom, even though all I see is the droopy belly and stretch marks, I don’t think casual acquaintances would feel compelled to keep offering me pity fucks.
            Enough people have made it known that they would happily go there, so I assume there is something I don’t see that others do, and try to let it go.

          • mintylime said:

            /high-five espritdecorps

            Hells yes to this and your followup comment.

            Even if you’re not ready to own up to your own awesomeness as a thing, you can start by not running yourself down. Several years ago, I made a decision to quit calling myself stupid when I forgot something. Forgetfulness and stupidity are totally different! I admit that my brain is like a steel sieve and I forget things sometimes … this is not the same as being stupid.

            It’s surprising how much difference it makes when you stop telling yourself that you’re stupid on a regular basis.

      • staranise said:

        Just DON’T act like you’ve done something wrong, or like you’ve become pathetic or needy or manipulative or dishonest just because you have started to Like the guy you’re having sex with, ok? And don’t act like the Most Important Thing is not to have wants of your own — like the ideal relationship is a mutual-use with no feelings involved, the only legitimate thing is what he wants, and it’s your job to “be cool” about that and squelch your needs in order to better serve him.

        *draws stars and hearts around this with glitter pen*

        Sure, mismatches are awkward–but if I’m into a person, and I find out that they Like me and think I’m awesome and want to be around me more? That’s an amazing, wonderful feeling. It’s not some awkward flaw I put up with, or a shortcoming I tolerate. It’s be best. When I’m not able to return it, it sucks for me because I’m missing out–not because what the other person has to offer isn’t totally wonderful.

    • Esti said:

      Can I ask what “emotional roleplay” is? I’ve never heard that phrase, but it sounds like it means… you pretend to have feelings for each other? Or you’re engaging in physical roleplay that you find really emotional? Either way, I don’t really understand how that could *not* get confusing if the goal is for you to hook up without developing feelings for each other.

      Aside from that, I have to say that in my experience “I don’t want to ruin this” is almost always code for “I don’t want the other thing you’ve put on the table.” I’ve said it to friends who confessed feelings for me when I really meant that I just didn’t want to date them but didn’t want to hurt them by saying so (and no, that was not the best way to handle those interactions). I’ve had guys say it to me when I wanted to go from hooking up to dating, when what they really meant was that status quo was fun but they weren’t interested in more. If he liked you and was even kind of interested in dating you, I don’t think he would be worrying about ruining your no-feelings-allowed hook ups by trying to also go to dinner or see a movie.

      That said, I think all you can do is talk to him about it — if you’re no longer happy with just a physical relationship, then you’ve got to lay that out there for him and give him a chance to either say yes to more or no to the whole package.

      • ACK! said:

        Hi Esti,
        I may have just made up the expression “emotional roleplay”. What I mean to say is that we’ve had play where part of the kink had to do with me promising to always be there for him and take care of him, etc. That part got very intense and that’s partly why I’ve felt muddied of late. The night I ended up confessing to we a discussion where he asked me to tell him everything about what I was thinking and feeling, which went from more sexual talk to emotional talk. Part of the weirdness is that I specifically asked about whether to include the emotional stuff and he said he wanted to hear it.

        Your point about “I don’t want to ruin this” is well-taken. We shall see.

        Best,
        ACK!

        • If you do a scene, do you do any aftercare? Sounds like he asked you to dig deep and then left you high and dry?

          • Yeah, I got an icky feeling about a “game” where ACK! makes herself (himself?) emotionally vulnerable to him, but he apparently does not reciprocate or take care of ACK! afterward. It’s really rotten to specifically ask him/her to lay ALL his/her feelings on the table and then, when some of those feelings make him uncomfortable, to poke disdainfully at them and say “Those ones aren’t ok. Your affection is unwelcome. Let’s not rock the boat, eh?”

          • Yeah, aftercare is not just for subs. In the spirit of asking for things, ask for some for you!

        • Mary said:

          Hey – it sounds like you do need to put a bit more thought into what *you* want here. The story you’re telling is that he gets to call the shots a lot: he says he wants Deep Emotional Conversation, you say, is he sure, he says yes, so you do it. What you want isn’t coming into that self-reported conversation, which is a bit worrying.

          Having Deep Emotional Conversations – even if they’re in quotation marks as “roleplay” – does tend to create connections. That’s how people work! Saying that you don’t know a Relationship-relationship but then behaving as if you are having a Relationship-relationship is at best disingenuous, and at worst as confusing and unpleasant as someone who tells you that they love you but acts as if they hate you. It’s normal to be really confused and somewhat upset if someone’s words and actions are really mis-matched.

          I hope it’s that his feelings are changing too and lovely things happen for you guys. But if not, and he’s the sort of guy who thinks that having said “I don’t want a relationship” give you carte blanche to behave in relationship-wanty ways and it’s someone else’s problem to deal with the disconnect, that is shit and he is an arse.

      • JenniferP said:

        “I don’t want to ruin this” is almost always code for “I don’t want the other thing you’ve put on the table.”

        This is a truth, yo.

      • Siobhanon said:

        Aside from that, I have to say that in my experience “I don’t want to ruin this” is almost always code for “I don’t want the other thing you’ve put on the table.”

        Weeeeeellllllllllll maybe? One of my partners are I said that to each other a lot when we were first working out that we wanted to be more than just friends who shag sometimes. We both would have been really heart-broken if we had sacrificed the relationship that was working (the friendship) to create a different kind of relationship that ended up being a bad fit. If that makes sense.

        As it turned out, being partners has been great for both of us. But we talked about the risk we were taking before we decided to go for it.

    • fuzzilla said:

      I’m sorry, but I have to ask – what is “emotional roleplay”? I get it if you don’t want to share tons of details. I don’t need tons of details, I’m just confused on the general concept. Is it kinky play which coaxes emotions out naturally as part of the process? Because I read it as, like, reading lines from a play where you’re an old married couple heading to your in-laws’ anniversary party or something (but maybe I just need more coffee).

      As for your situation, if I were you, I would walk away because the hurt is outweighing the fun. OR I’d keep him around but adopt a, “Hmf, if he’s treating me like an option, then two can play at that game” attitude and make sure I had other FWBs or dates with potential going on so I didn’t get too attached to him.

      • fuzzilla said:

        Ah, sorry, I missed where you explained “emotional roleplay” upthread. My advice still stands. In fact, I think I lean more heavily on the “walk away” option as this guy is giving confusing mixed messages and f*cking with your head.

  6. My rule of thumb is, if I’m going to be upset if my ex lover/friend doesn’t respond to an attempt to contact them, I’m probably not ready to reach out to them yet.

    • minuteye said:

      Good advice. Darn, where was this comment three years ago? :)

  7. ACK! said:

    Shinobi,
    Thank you! That is excellent advice all around. My current plan is attend my Wednesday night meditation class, after which time I will hopefully stop freaking out.

  8. gluon1 said:

    If I may offer one counterpoint, the Captain says, “Block him everywhere.” She adds, “If he wanted to reach me, he would reach me.” This may be my misunderstanding of what others means by “block” or of the tense of “wanted”, but why block someone who’s not reaching out? And, if you have blocked him, haven’t you, potentially, made it impossible for him to reach you? If the advice is to move on and prevent any rekindling because rekindling would never be a good thing, I worry that the last bit isn’t conveying that. If it’s to move on with LW’s life without giving any further thought to the missing man, it feels like the act of blocking is counterproductive.

    • JenniferP said:

      It can be a symbolic way of cutting ties and also of forcing yourself to stop looking at the person’s social media to keep tabs on them. It’s you making the decision to be done and not leave open the lines of communication.

      • Badger Rose said:

        Yeah, agreed that it’s really symbolically useful.

        It also takes some of the constant tension out of the day. Even if you’re not actively checking their Facebook, it’s really easy to begin every day with that little whisper that says, “Maybe *today* will be the day he finally gets back in touch.” And that little whisper can make it take a whole heck of a lot longer to get over somebody, because it’s always holding out the possibility that maybe, maybe, today, finally, he/she will reach out again….

        If you block, it can accelerate the process of getting over somebody precisely because you aren’t having your scabs reopened in a small way every time you open your email with a silent wish.

        • Yeah, and that way you don’t have to see that the girl you had a thing with started dating someone new a week after you last had sex. Happened to a friend of mine last week.

      • gmg said:

        Yup. Earlier this year I had a tough situation with a … hmm, I’m going to steal mercifulsquirrel’s phrasing above … with a man-who-I-found-awesome-who-didn’t-find-me-awesome-back, that really wrecked me for a little while in an out-of-proportion way (I was trying to break a pretty long dating dry spell, so I felt like perhaps the experience had a little more impact than it otherwise might have). Anyway, the one seemingly stupid, simple thing that absolutely helped me the most in putting the episode behind me? Blocking him from my Gchat. Because just logging on every day and seeing his name pop up there kept putting me back to square one. But it really does turn out: Out of sight, out of mind, even on the Internets.

    • twomoogles said:

      I would read that if “if he had wanted to make contact, he could have done so. Now, I’m making the decision to take that off the table.” I had to do this to my exgirlfriend who would stop contacting me, then apologize, then drop off again…and I finally just had to say *no more* so I totally broke contact with her. I realize now what was happening was she had fallen out of love with me, but felt really guilty when I would freak out at her about not contacting me, and give me just enough to calm me down and then restart the cycle. It was only when I went “NOPE” and reached an emotional place where I felt it was *me* not contacting *her* rather than me waiting for her to throw crumbs of affection at my Golden Retriever of love, as it were.

      It’s a hard difference to articulate, and may not apply there, but I knew that for me it was the emotional turnaround I needed.

  9. Canomia said:

    That absolut sucks, I hade a samlar situation. I dated a woman, she broke it off, we slept together a few times then she broke that off to and we stayed friends.When she fell in love with a mutual friends I couldn’t handle ut and said I needed time. She was sad Butt understanding and said I just hade to let her know and we’d be friends again. So a year later I did. It was to late. She ignored me . I got over it sort of. Still miss danceing with her but I’m ok now. She doesn’t ignored me anymore but I’ve accepted that we will never be friends again.

    • Canomia said:

      Whacky spelling and stuff is my phone trying to make the words swedish. Sorry for that.

      • redgirl said:

        It was kind of amusing, actually. :-)

      • Kaz said:

        Haha, I’ve wished so often for a bilingual autocorrect option in the past…

  10. Sheelzebub said:

    LW, he probably realized that he needs space, too. He ended things, and instead of a clean break, it turned out to be a long, drawn out one because you went from SO’s, to FWB’s, to friends, to . . . ?. He wanted to break up and you didn’t. That is usually the way break-ups happen; it’s rare that they are truly mutual. He may not be confident that you’re really over everything after two weeks of space (I wouldn’t be if I was in your shoes–which is why I prefer to make myself scarce when someone breaks up with me). He might have, as the Captain said, realized *he* needed space during those two weeks.

    At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. The fact is, he’s not reciprocating contact. He is sending the message that he wants to be left alone. That sucks, but I don’t think trying to figure out what he’s thinking or what happened is going to change that.

    I suggest you take the Captain’s advice and give *yourself* space from him and the roller coaster of dramz. Block him on all social media so you will not be tempted to check in on him. Do things you enjoy. Do things you enjoy that he never liked. Do things with your friends. Do not contact him again. I don’t think that two weeks is enough to get beyond a breakup you didn’t want. Do it for a year. And then, when the year is up, do it for another year. Make room for people and partners who are into you.

  11. I think it should be about you and what you can do to move on to other greater things. His reasoning doesn’t really matter, rather his actions.

    Speaking of, I flirted recently with this cute guy. I was all CSI Miami YEEEEEAAHHH until he mentioned that he only likes girls who never asks for anything. It was like a brickwall of no just rained down on my crush. Like, why? And even if you think that, why would you tell someone that?

    But in the end, it doesn’t matter. He wasn’t right for me and neither is this guy for you because he doesn’t give you what you want. You have the right to want and ask for things.

    • Dude, way to not have to angst about a jerk anymore there!

    • “I only like girls who never ask for anything.”

      That’s almost as bad as an interviewee for a lawyer-job who told me “I’m not really a detail person.”

      Thank you for your time, but I don’t think you’re a good fit for this position. Have a nice day. (NEXT!)

      (Not to mention, where the hell is my “EJECT” button for your chair??)

      • Anisoptera said:

        I picture red flashing lights popping up with a loud siren and a voiceover saying “ABORT ABORT”.

        Kellis Amberlee – at least he said it right up front during the flirting stage, and not months in to an actual relationship. And at least you know better than to think “I’m not one of those needy girls!” like I probably would have when I was younger, only to be gaslit into thinking I was crazy for ever wanting anything no matter how reasonable.

    • staranise said:

      YIKES only liking girls who never ask for things. People in healthy relationships ask each other for things all the time. Hugs! Sex! For you to get off their foot! The salt! If you think you can be in a good relationship with someone who never asks you for anything, you’d better be DAMN good at offering everything they might possibly need.* Otherwise, I side-eye that so very, very hard.

      For everyone who feels like they’re not “allowed” to ask for things: YOU ARE. YES, YOU ARE.

      (*In the middle ages women were seen as more sexually voracious than men. Marriage manuals advised men that their wives should never need to ask for sex, so they should offer frequently so their wives would never have cause to complain. Every time I hear people getting too far into “women ought never ask for anything” and “women shouldn’t have needs in a relationship”, I think of this. And of the account of the goodwives of a town who got together and publicly scolded a husband for failing to sexually satisfy his wife. Then I think: these rules we tell ourselves about how things “have” to be are not the only possibility out there.)

      • Kay said:

        + 1
        I like this comment!

      • Mercy said:

        Oooh, can I get citations on those? Especially for the public scolding? Thanks!

        (yes, I am that easily distracted by random medieval knowledge)

        • staranise said:

          They’re things I’ve seen so many places now I couldn’t name you just one. The book physically closest to me to discuss is is Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives.

    • canomia said:

      That is just so sad. I’ve spent most of my life trying to learn to ask for things I want and need, learn to accept help and care. I’m sure he’ll find someone like me at my worst who he can keep miserable and quiet.

    • JenniferP said:

      Let me quote Oprah at you – “When someone tells you who they are, BELIEVE THEM.” Darth Vaders, etc. are really pretty good at trying to manage expectations at the beginning of a relationship, so when someone sets you up not to expect too much from them, take it as accurate and don’t expect much.

      • Catherine said:

        Or believe that when they next mess up they will pull their “I told you I was a jerk” card out and expect you not to be upset. Because how dare you expect that your partner respect you.

      • minuteye said:

        That quote is gold. Looking back on things, it almost always seems to me to be right: the person who told me they “didn’t feel very strongly about anything” didn’t return my feelings, the person who told me they were “a hot mess” turned out to be a hot mess. One day I’ll learn.

        • E.C. said:

          Or someone who’s constantly saying “I’m so shallow LOL!!!!” Got bit hard on that one.

    • Badger Rose said:

      Wow!

      That reminds me of people who insist that they don’t date people who are “high-maintenance.” Which is particularly deadly because once in a while someone actually does just mean “I don’t like a lot of drama in my life, so I want a partner who’s quiet like me.” Which is completely reasonable. But… most of the time it’s actually code for “I want a partner with no actual needs, desires, or preferences of their own, and if you express an opinion that is contrary to mine even if it is just whether you want chicken tacos or carnitas, I will call you high-maintenance for it.”

      • JenniferP said:

        Jerks, sociopaths, etc. will almost always use early stages of relationship to accuse or define you as the thing they are. “I hate jealous girls” = I AM SOOPER JEALOUS. “I hate drama” = I have tons of drama in my life and will drag you into all of it.
        “I don’t like needy girls” carries an undercurrent of “But you better take care of all of my needy needs whenever and however I need it.”

        • Oh, yes. ‘I don’t like needy girls’ always seems to come with a hefty portion of ‘because if you have any needs at all they’ll distract you from rushing in to cater to my every whim!’

        • Badger Rose said:

          That’s a great observation, and really true. Especially when it comes to “needy” and “high-maintenance”–which usually come with a strong breath of, “You’d better not need anything, because I expect to focus entirely on my needs *and* I expect you to focus entirely on my needs.”

          • JenniferP said:

            They conceal it as a compliment, sometimes – “It’s so cool you’re not one of those needy, high-maintenance, jealous chicks – I feel like I can just relax with you.” Code: Never need anything from me. Also, I will flirt with lots of women in front of you and gaslight you into thinking you’re nuts, so you might as well just be cool with it.

          • Badger Rose said:

            OH yes. I fell prey to that in spades–it was so flattering to be the cool chick who wasn’t needy or high-maintenance! It was awesome to be chill, not like those other girls who were so demanding!

            Until I realized that that meant that I could never safely express a preference or want, let alone need, ever again, if I wanted to keep the dubious title of ‘chill girlfriend.’ Not worth it.

          • CoolNewAnonymousNickname said:

            I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t a douchebag farm out there, because there seems to be a bumper crop of them about these days! “I don’t like needy girls”, bleeeargh. I sacrificed my own needs for so long that I ceased having any (I wondered seriously sometimes if he would try to shame me into not breathing so often because I was taking up his air!). Your reward for being the chill girlfriend/wife sex-bot-kitchen-appliance who neverever needs anything? A lovely, all-expenses-paid-by-you trip to the Curb! Yayness!

          • @ CoolNewAnonymousNickname: The alternate prize being the honor of remaining a sex-bot-kitchen-appliance who neverever dares need anything, forever more, that trip to the Curb really was the Grand Prize, even if you skinned your knees on the landing. At least there you can fill your chest with as much air as you want, without getting scowled at.

            Sorry you had to go through that, though.

          • My Two Cents said:

            My ex husband asked if I would please not breathe on him while I slept.

          • @ My Two Cents: And you aren’t anymore, are you? Good for you.

          • twomoogles said:

            I know a girl who did this to her boyfriend, too! “I don’t want a guy who clings…but you better make sure to answer my phone calls right away or I’ll freak out!”

        • twomoogles said:

          Awhile ago I made a joke ‘Facebook to Reality translation guide’, with stuff like ‘I am taking a break for Facebook….means….see you all in an hour!’ The translation for ‘I hate drama’ was simply ‘I love drama’. Also, ‘I hate people who gossip/talk about other people’ almost always comes out of people who do just that.

          • Xenophile said:

            In my experience, the more often and vehemently someone says, “I hate drama,” the more likely they are to (a) be a drama llama, (b) date only drama llamas, and (c) in the event that they date a non-drama llama, they gaslight them and call them a drama llama anyway. Bonus points if they cheat on the non-llama with a llama.

            …out of context, that last sentence looks really, really strange.

          • Mary said:

            Like who even bothers tko state that they “don’t like drama”?! It’s up there with “i don’t like coprophilia” in the “things not to say on a first date (unless you’re specifically discussing kinks)” pantheon. You know what they really mean is “this thing seems to magically just happen when I’m around and I haven’t yet noticed the common factor is me”.

    • redgirl said:

      He wasn’t right for you because he isn’t right for ANYONE. What a douchenozzle.

  12. Megan Harris said:

    That is exactly how I handled my last little fling/friendship break up. He was growing distant. I said something like, “Hey, I like you. Do you like me?” He said “No, I haven’t liked you for a month.” I got rightly upset.

    Then I got upset because I saw his stupid facebook updates with some dumb chick who he clearly moved on to. So I had to defriend him so I could just move on and not sit around obsessing about why he didn’t just tell me for a month that he wanted to stop romantic things between us and let me sit around day dreaming about him and this and that. I kept thinking we were friends first so he owed me a clean break – he at least should have told me when he didn’t like me rather than let me make a fool out of myself texting him for a month as he grew more and more distant until finally I had to ask.

    I had to defriend him and ignore him and my feelings for him because I couldn’t take it anymore. Sitting around thinking someone /should/ apologize for screwing with your feelings or someone /should/ apologize for being a shitty person/friend doesn’t get you anywhere. Sometimes the best closure is just saying, “Hey, you’re going to act like I don’t exist. That’s cool. Me too. You can come back if and when you want to talk but I am just fine without it because I am just not going to think about it so I can move on.”

    Erm, sorry, clearly I am not VERY moved on because it still pisses me off and gets me all ranty to think about how I had a friend for 7ish months and then he bailed out of my life. It still pisses me off but mostly I am mad at myself for being a fool for someone. :p

    • Ugh, this is the worst. I always joke that my first boyfriend took six weeks to break up with me, because he pulled this same trick. And of course you spend those weeks driving yourself up the wall worrying that he’s falling out of love with you, that you’re being paranoid, that there’s things wrong with YOU for imagining he doesn’t want you anymore because he would tell you if there was a problem. And then feeling like the worst kind of fool because no, he wouldn’t tell you. He didn’t.

      I’m still very fond of my ex, but the way he ended things was downright cruel. He isn’t, and wasn’t, a cruel person and was never trying to hurt me, but intention isn’t magic. It helped a ton to realise those two things: that he had been awful to me, but that he was not an awful person (so I wasn’t wrong to have wanted/still want him). Also I beat up a lot if pillows. Anger management ;)

      • Megan Harris said:

        I just vacuumed angrily and listened to angry chick rock and wrote a lot of angry blogs directed at random things including him sometimes. For example, “F my kitchen,” “F this walk to school.” “F this class.” “F all the things!” “F that boy, he’s a jerk.”

      • I had a roommate in my mid 20s who did this with considerable reliability. He would date a girl, be super in love with her to the point of nauseating me, and then at some point realize she wasn’t XYZ enough. His impatience and lack of interest was palpable to me, and I would only see them together for minutes at a time. But he wouldn’t break up with her he was just a huuuuuge jerk until she finally broke up with him at which point he was the saaaadest pitifulest guy. He did this to about 3 girls in the 1 year we lived together.

        I called him on it during one of our post his breakup dinners and he was all “That’s a terrible thing to say.” I pointed out that it being mean did not make it untrue. But he was very invested in this whole “Girls always dump me” and that was just how he conducted his relationships. Hopefully he has since changed this pattern of behavior.

      • Autumn said:

        Oh my god, thank you for that. Not that it’s awesome that you had to go through that, but I don’t feel like I’m alone. Thanks, ex-who-said-he-needed-two-weeks-without-contact-to-think-after-already-being-in-two-or-three-weeks-of-rocky-communication-then-broke-up-with-me-on-our-first-conversation-but-delayed-it-with-small-talk-so-I-could-just-feel-worse.

        • Autumn said:

          Er, similarity being it was the same thing of he was (and is) a great guy, he just acted shittily – so I was mad and upset at him and then upset at myself for being mad at someone who was genuinely good and worthwhile, and upset in general because I’d lost someone genuinely good.

      • Cricket said:

        Yep, similar experience for me – my high school boyfriend got steadily distant over a couple of months while still saying nothing was wrong whenever I asked even though stuff totally was wrong and he wasn’t attracted to me anymore. I feel a bit foolish for not realizing this at the time, but for the three years prior he’d been really honest about his feelings so I took him at his word even when it seemed like he was hiding something. It’s made me a bit paranoid in later relationships, though, because having a previously trustworthy person suddenly hide important stuff about their relationship feelings from you makes it harder to believe that other cool people you get together with later on really, honestly like you and mean what they say. Bonus awful points because my gender identity was one of the reasons he broke up with me but he wouldn’t admit that until way later – it would have been nice to know that was a strong reason so that I could write things with him off as irreconcilable differences, not flaws I could potentially fix to get him back.

        Captain Awkward’s advice rings really true, though – I eventually blocked him on social media because shit just kept hurting and I couldn’t let go, and apparently a combination of post-relationship processing time plus getting blocked jarred him into awareness, because he sent me a really heartfelt apology email that directly addressed the ways he’d been an asshole in the breakup and allowed us to eventually regain a casual friendship. I give him some leniency because of that, and because I really believe he wasn’t trying to be an asshole – neither of us had been in a romantic relationship before and neither of us had much of a clue how to healthily handle a breakup. I’m with you, TheOtherAlice – people don’t have to be intentionally cruel in order to do pretty cruel things, but they still hurt regardless of intentions.

    • Celendra said:

      Ugh…..ditto with my ex. Except his was “…for the last year” (with a nice side helping of “You know, I’ve never really been physically attracted to you. I had to kill my desire for women to be with you.”). Since before he asked me to buy a house with him. Which we did (bonus: it had to be big enough that ALL OF HIS FRIENDS COULD RENT ROOMS AND LIVE WITH US!). And then I had to deal with trying to sell a house full of people who were incentivized to sabotage the sales process because then they’d lose their big awesome nerd palace! And wasn’t I mean not to want to keep living in the HOUSE OF LIES (…..and inadvertently EVIL BEEES).
      Which is all a lengthy way to say that this phenomena is common and utterly sucks. When you know you don’t want to be there anymore…..let everyone in on your epiphany! Yes, breaking up sucks. But what sucks more is breaking up ANYWAY and then retroactively having any happy memories turned in to lies by someone else’s indecision.

      • Erin said:

        Oh my god, what a shitlord!

        • Shitlord! Both amazing and a perfect discriptor of that guy.

    • linger said:

      Oh, wow, crappy break-up twins. Right down to the 7ish months of “friendship” beforehand. I went straight to ignoring him (or trying to) and never confronted my friend/fling/asswaffle about him distancing himself – but go you, you get to console yourself with the fact that you didn’t just let him get away with the fade and made things uncomfortable for him for a bit, yay.

      And you’re never a fool for thinking someone’s better than what they turn out to be. He let YOU down.

  13. Anothermous said:

    *sigh* I sure wish I had had this kind of advice available to me 15 years ago, I could have really used it. I think I shall print off this one and every question about closure and keep them in a binder for my future children (if I ever have any).

    LW, good luck, and I hope you find some peace in your emotional state soon.

    • redgirl said:

      20 years ago would have been ideal for me. Where WERE you all?!?! If someone would have told me it’s okay to have needs of my own my life would be so different…

  14. tired of something said:

    This advice and the poem touched me so deeply. This helps – I can create my own closure. Thank you.

  15. Ruby B said:

    Hey LW, sorry to read that this happened to you. It’s an awful position to be in, and I wish your ex would’ve said something to save you from all the walls-crawling.

    My friend did this to me once for no reason that I can comprehend. I went over the things I said over and over again, trying to guess what it was that caused her to just blank me, but then again, she did this to a number of her other friends as well. And we were all left broken-hearted. She was one of those people that could really get under your skin, make you feel so special. She could just pick up everybody’s frequency like that. And then she disappeared, and I was deeply hurt and saw the same hurt in other people when they talked about her. I missed her so much, and I still miss her today, though not as badly. But the thing is, I can speculate all day long, and I will still have no answer and she will still be gone from my life. I know where she lives and what her phone number is, and it’s still tempting every time I drive by her place. But I keep driving, and you should probably keep driving. I’m sorry, it hurts, but it’s just one of those things you’ll have to get over.

    Another friend of mine had a husband who went on a foreign business trip and was never heard from again. She still has no idea what happened to him. It’s terrible to not get any closure, to never know. Reading your letter makes me think that you know there’s nothing you can do but you have to do something. Maybe you’ll know some day, and maybe not. Meanwhile, keep being your awesome self. Bullet points are love – always make me feel more sane :D

    • staranise said:

      Yeah, this.

      When a friend did this to me I drove myself around the bend trying to come up with a situation that would make it all okay. Maybe she was kidnapped by flying squirrels? Brainwashed by the CIA? Maybe it was somehow secretly my fault, and it was okay because I deserved it? Maybe there’s an explanation that wasn’t just, “Someone I trusted did a shitty thing.” Then I could think well of her and it would all be fine. After all, they’re always telling us to forgive, right?

      I made myself okay with it by letting myself be not okay. I let myself still be angry with her–I nursed a tiny grudge and fumed when I saw her in public, surrounded by loving friends who had the audacity not to know or care about what she did to me and whined privately to trusted people about how it was unfaaaair. (This at no time involved action on my part. Just saying.) I could let it go by admitting that sometimes, even the people I think are really awesome can turn out to be a bit crap. These days, I’m rarely actively angry about it, but I’m not all selfless forgiveness either. I actually feel a lot healthier with my simple summary on how our friendship ended being, “That was not okay, and even if there is some brilliant explanation for it, I’m still allowed to feel that I didn’t get treated as well as I deserved there.”

      • E.C. said:

        Thank you so, SO much for this. Because yeah, it really is okay to admit to yourself, “That was a shitty thing of them to do.” Not knowing how to allow myself to do that for the better part of a year after getting friend-dumped-by-slow-fade-into-silence is a big part of why the wound isn’t completely healed by now. It had to have been all my fault, I kept telling myself. I must have been worthless, to have been treated like that by someone that wonderful.

    • Phospher said:

      Oh, God, thank you for bringing up how this can happen, and be devastating, in friendship as well as romance. In all honesty, I did have a bit of romance in my love for the friend I lost, but she was my friend first and foremost and I never thought that side of things would go anywhere, (i.e, I really don’t think I was Nice Girling her though I recognise now that the imbalance of feeling was probably always a little dangerous and that was not her fault). And one minute we were really close and she was all “let us be together constantly and do all these BFFish things” and the next she was gone. Gone but with very occasional reappearances to be briefly BFFish again and then recommence ignoring me. And to be honest I could only get over it in stages — not by telling myself “this is over” in one go, but things like “maybe I’ll talk to her in [x] months, when some of the intensity has worn off. For now I’m leaving it.” And then I allowed myself to recognise that actually, there was enormous relief and peace in “leaving it” which I could choose to view as permanent rather than provisional. But even now that the “temptation” has gone — I don’t want to see her again, there are so many wonderful people who have never made me feel so miserable and I want to see them– still the feeling that I messed everything up, it’s all my fault and I have a duty to fix it, occasionally resurfaces. As does fear, because she still might show up somewhere and while I think I would handle it with decorum it would hurt. But it’s twinges now, not agony.

      • minuteye said:

        I have a friend who’s currently doing this, particularly the “Gone but with very occasional reappearances to be briefly BFFish again and then recommence ignoring me” bit. Somehow those reappearances always manage to make me feel guilty about not putting in enough effort, despite the fact that history has shown pretty clearly that my putting in effort results in absolutely no payoff. Ick.

        Anways, hope your twinges get better with time.

        • Phospher said:

          Thank you. I hope you can get rid of the misplaced guilt and focus on people in your life who don’t treat you this way!

        • Celeloriel said:

          I have someone in my life exactly like that. :/ Sorry that it’s a relatively common phenomenon.

      • twomoogles said:

        Oof. I have a friendly acquaintance who does this to a lesser degree, but she’s so serial with it that she’s got a reputation for it. She will develop really intense friendships with people, and for awhile will see them as much as possible, beam the Headlights of Love on them, and then suddenly just lose interest. I don’t think it’s malicious on her part, but people have been quite hurt when her interest rapidly drops from every day hanging out, constant texts/calls, to her being always busy…then repeating the cycle with someone else a short time later. I was wary that when she started this up with me, I was friendly and happy to hang out with her, but didn’t really go all out.

        • Ruby B said:

          Oh wow, it’s like we’re talking about the same person! I agree that they probably don’t do it out of maliciousness. Maybe they just get so infatuated with a new shiny friend for a while, and I’m sure they mean the Headlights of Love wholeheartedly, until they get distracted. The worst part is, when I first met that woman (who was the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen outside of TV), I unconsciously went for the stereotype, thinking that because she was so beautiful and tiny and rich, she was probably shallow and I should stay away. Then we started talking and she was the coolest person ever, and I thought, YAY, I was so wrong about her! And then it turned out that no, I really wasn’t.

          • That Girl said:

            I’ve been “that girl”. I meet someone new, we have fun things get intense and we share all our feelings and talk about awesome connections. And then it’s the move into texting daily which escalates to texting constantly and everything is great but then it isn’t. And spending all your time with one person becomes emotionally draining so you withdraw and don’t speak to them for several days which turns to several weeks which turns into several months. . . It took me a while to realize that I love meeting new people. But, that I’m not obligated to become best friends with them and get them to like me by twisting myself into weird contortions and just being available to them all the time. Boundaries are my best friend now. And when I have a conversation with someone now and they want to become friends with me. I explain that I’m a bit of a loner and I usually only go out once every 3 months or so (this is true) and I’ll hang out with them when I can. But, that’s my short way if saying that usually those amazing people who are BFFs and then flake for no reason are sometimes people pleasers who don’t have the energy to sustain that level of intensity. Just something that I’ve been thinking about and still think about.

      • So I slow-faded on a friend of mine. We’d been good friends for a couple of years and in that time there were little things about her and our relationship that – bugged me. But I was dealing with depression and anxiety and wasn’t sure if the things that bugged me were rational or not, and my self-esteem was zilch, and I never spoke up.

        Little things like: I was 22 and I had not been in a relationship apart from one with my high-school girlfriend, which ended badly and put me off, but have dated and flung lots and was crazy-in-love with a Darth guy from the start of when I knew this friend. And then one day in her kitchen when I was doing the dishes, from nowhere, she said, “Say. Why have you never had a serious relationship? Don’t you want to? Most people our age have, by now.” (She’s like 2-3 years older than me) And it was such a small thing, but hearing the question from someone who already knew the whys and the hows of my dating history just made me feel really judged, like she wasn’t someone who 100% had my back. (Coupled with her comments that she wanted to settle down because “all the good people are gone by 25″ etc.)

        At another stage, she was dumped by her live-in partner on a Saturday night, who owned their flat, and she called me and I promised to come over (a 2.5 hour trip) as soon as I could. I ended up helping a drunk old man who was falling over into traffic get home safely, so my trip spun out to 3 hours. I texted along the way to let her know when to expect me but when I showed up she was still angry that I had not come rushing asap. Her partner had broken up with her via email and she was rightfully shitty and upset and angry. I stayed for a few days to help her move out. In the meantime she un-boarded the siding which she had blocked up to keep mice out, and put food back there to attract them. She also poured acid on their veggie patch so that it read “Fuck You”. She also told everyone she knew about the break-up, the shittiness and immaturity of the ex-partner – and, here was the thing that killed it for me, how stupid the partner was for having gotten genital herpes from having unprotected sex as a teen. It just seemed so petty and shaming and unnecessary – not to mention silly in saying it to people who may very well have genital herpes themselves. I found it hard to trust her knowing that she had no problem sharing personal information with an intent to shame and humiliate, even in the context of a bad break-up.

        And eventually: life events happened for me such that I moved and got an awesome therapist and started speaking up and having good boundaries. And I dated more and discovered the kink scene and I recently fell in love and started a relationship with a gorgeous man. And somewhere in not being so anxious and depressed, and all these life changes – I just. felt no urge to contact her. And then I felt a bit bad about it – but not bad enough to contact her to explain that I don’t really feel it anymore. Because I don’t – somewhere along the lines I’ve stopped having those feelings of loving friendship towards her. I wish her well and I think she has many amazing qualities and I know she is likely hurt by my silence and I wish there was a way that I could gracefully exeunt without causing pain, but I don’t think there is a script for “so, for years now, even though by and large I think you’re great, there have been moments of pettiness or judgment where I have silently questioned my trust and respect for you, and my feeling that you are 100% in my corner as a friend. And I’ve sort of moved on in general in my life and I’ve moved on from you too, not in a resentful way but just in a not-feeling-it-anymore way. I wish you the very, very best because you deserve it.”

    • espritdecorps said:

      When I was younger, just coming out as bi, and finding a community I met the most amazing woman ‘A’. She was 24 to my 18, seemed impossibly wise, cultured, and witty. I couldn’t believe she was spending time with me, I told her everything, let her dress me, take me places, and introduce me to people. She had many friends and lovers of both sexes, and I wanted to be her. For a year and a half, I was her protegee, her shadow.

      So the night I spent hours talking, laughing, and cuddling with a cute, smart, driven girl, kissed her, was kissed back, and felt the amazing sensation of connection, wanting and being wanted, I called ‘A’ and told her about it.

      It killed our friendship. I will never know why, after that she wouldn’t make plans with me, she got off the phone with cool correct politeness when I called, ignored e-mails, used the same polished polite tone if I approached her at social events.

      If she had wanted to sleep with me, I would have. I didn’t have pants-feelings for her, but I worshiped her and would have done it to please her. She never gave any indication of having those kind of feelings. I spent nights worrying it over in my mind trying to figure out what went wrong. What I had done. I wrecked my first romantic relationship trying to get my friendship with ‘A’ back, and in end I just had to move on.

      We still see each other occasionally, though we don’t engage. When ‘A’ tried to Facebook friend me I had the supreme satisfaction of denying her request. It was petty, especially after 15 years, but it felt good.

      • You made A feel like she was the center of the universe… the sun, the moon, and all the constellations. Her validation was everything to you.

        Then you noticed another star, and that it was a lovely star in its own right. Another woman’s validation of you gave you joy. It was the first sign that you were outgrowing her, that you would not always need her in that way.

        She did not want you to become her peer. What she got out of your relationship was not the generous joy of helping a friend grow and achieve her potential, but the self-centered satisfaction of superiority, of being the one who knew more and bestowed her wisdom like a blessing upon little old you. You were supposed to worship her, even as she made a pet of you (which was not very kind or respectful).

        If she could not prevent you from outgrowing that relationship, she could at least prevent herself from having to watch it happen. If she acted quickly and decisively, she would be able to tell herself that she had decided she did not need you, when in fact you were becoming someone who would not need her. So she dropped you like the proverbial hot potato.

        Ick. I am glad you outgrew her.

        • espritdecorps said:

          Thank you for writing that.
          I never looked at it from that perspective. It felt so overwhelming and hurtful at the time.

        • Fade said:

          Something very similar, once upon a time. In my case, I did the slow fade on my friend, but it was because I could finally see how much I wasn’t wanted as a friend growing and getting better at socializing, but as someone dependent who could be pitied and comforted and given good advice from a Social Superior.

          Or. Well. I lie. I realized that later. I backed off because mutual friends told me about the half-truths that friend was spreading, which were to make me look more pathetic, more in need of guidance, more dependent.

          It’s odd; you don’t see that sort of relationship in media much. Or at least, not much that I’ve seen. But it seems pretty damn common after all.

          • JenniferP said:

            There’s a film called Me, Without You with Michelle Williams that goes pretty hard into the competitive friend relationship. Acting is great.

      • Badger Rose said:

        I had a very similar experience years ago–although in addition to the icy civility she wrote a passive-aggressive poem clearly about me (although, thank god, not by name) and posted it publicly in her Livejournal (oh, Livejournal) before cutting me off–made particularly odd because the woman in question was in a committed monogamous relationship with someone else. But as soon as I started dating another woman she went from close friend and mentor to cold civility and silence.

        I think alphakitty has hit the nail on the head; the explanation that it was about validation and a certain kind of inequal relationship has solved a mystery for me.

      • MaryKaye said:

        I knew someone in a subculture community who was really good at being a mentor and wise older counselor, but would lose it when her protege’ became experienced enough to have her own views and her own personal prestige independent of the mentors. She’d go quite suddenly from supportive and friendly to hostile and backbiting.

        I was pretty floored when it happened to me, but eventually I got disentangled from her and life went on. Then I got to watch it happen twice more just the same, which helped me make sense of the whole thing and realize that it wasn’t about me, it was about her. She was way over-invested in being the superior one in the relationship, and couldn’t stand letting go of that. So she was always going to dump her students as they became more capable and confident.

        She did give me one moment of wicked pleasure, though. She wrote to me one day and said that unless I voted with her at the next Board meeting, she’d bring up a reason that my Board election was invalid. So I came to the next Board meeting and said “I’ve been made aware of concerns that my election was invalid, and I’d like the Board to settle that right away so it won’t become an issue.” The Board said, “Good heavens, of course your election was valid.” My mentor just had to sit there gritting her teeth because there was nothing she could say that wouldn’t have made matters even worse for her. I recommend this approach to blackmail whenever it’s possible; it’s the best revenge ever because you don’t have to do anything wrong, just tell the truth! (Admittedly, if they’d said “Wow, that’s true, you really aren’t on the Board” I would just have said “Whoopie! Less work for me!” as it was much more of a duty than a priviledge…. So I had very little to lose. It was not as funny when she tried the same thing on a protege involved in a child-custody dispute, though luckily she was not successful there either.)

        • ordinarygoddess said:

          I think subcultures attract those personalities! Small communities with, on one side, a constant stream of “newbies” feeling intense feelings of belonging and facing a steep learning curve, and on the other side, “elders” who play on their time and experience in the group, and often charisma, to draw a constant stream of ego-boost from emotionally disposable, constantly changing targets.

          I’ve had that overinvested mentor/rising student relationship half a dozen times over the years, and when I found a subculture I REALLY wanted to be in for the long haul, I was looking for it and actively avoided getting tangled up with people who seemed to play out that dynamic. Thankfully, this particular group of people seems less tolerant of it, although I’ve been burned by members of the same subculture in other places.

          • mintylime said:

            Yep yep yep. They totally attract them. Hierarchical organizations, subcultures built to support unequal power dynamics … sometimes those things can be fun to play with, but daaaaaamn do they attract people who want to project those hierarchies/inequalities on to *everyone* involved in the organizations/cultures, *all* the time.

            UGH.

    • Judith said:

      Whoa, shit. I think I’m being that friend right now. There are people in my life who are really important to me, but because they moved away (even in different directions) it’s impossible to just meet up or invite them over, and because of depression and way too much other shitty stuff going on in my life I just can’t seem to find both the time and the energy to call either of them. I always think it’s just been a short time when we last communicated when in reality it’s been months, and I just realized they must think I don’t want to know them any more. :(

      • panda flannel said:

        I don’t know. I am that friend who tends to fade away and I used to beat myself up about it a lot. But you get to choose who you are friends with, and not all friendship fades have to be for big problems or irreconcilable differences. People moving away, being depressed, and not having the energy to call is a totally real reason.

        I am terrible at staying in touch with people because of exactly that. Unless you are an active presence in my day-to-day life, we are probably not going to stay in touch (with exceptions for people who I deeply, deeply love) because the way my brain works means that I can only maintain a certain number of relationships at a time and I need to be able to devote that energy to the people who are around me right now.

        As a genuine question, do your friends call you or do the work to keep in touch? It’s not all on you to be the one who maintains communication.

        This song has a really beautiful verse about friendships fading: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znCV_lUws1Q

      • Phospher said:

        Those are totally valid reasons and I doubt you’re having the kind of effect on your friends we’ve been talking about. When I was going through this, the torment for me was that my MIA friend would have had to, at one point, walk about 300 yards from her place of work to see me, but was always somehow far too busy. She was also too busy/taken up with other things to talk to me online or text me, (except for at increasingly rare intervals) but I knew that she had time/spoons to talk to other people online — whenever I got on the internet she seemed to be everywhere, talking to everyone else, including people I’d introduced her to. It’s that kind of thing that turns “Oh, wow, I wonder what happened to Friend, I miss them,”/”I wish Friend weren’t so busy!”/”Damn, Friend is a bit flaky” into “holy shit, OW.”

        People know life happens. Even if your friends have misunderstood your absence a little and are a bit hurt, I really doubt it will be deep or irreparable hurt. If you’re always doing the work of keeping in touch, and they’re not, you have nothing to reproach yourself for. If they’re doing the work, and reciprocating is too exhausting for you right now, it’s still the situation’s fault, not yours, but you could consider sending a group email (to the close ones) saying “Hi, I miss you all and I want you to know I’m thinking about you, but I’m dealing with depression right now and keeping in touch is harder than I’d like.” I have a couple of friends who deal with crappy life events like that, it keeps everyone informed, gives us an opportunity to offer support, but also communicates “I don’t have it in me to have a long one-to-one conversation about this.”

      • minuteye said:

        It may not work for you, but what about sending a postcard with a couple of lines on it or something? I sometimes find myself in the depressed and shitty place too, and the longer you go without contacting someone, the more overwhelming the idea of reinitiating contact can be, but then I remember how happy it made me to get a holiday card from somebody I hadn’t talked to in more than a year. Take care of yourself :)

    • Someone I thought was a friend did this to me a few years ago. We used to have coffee twice a week and chitchat on the phone at least once a week, and it was awesome and fun (at least at my end, and I thought at hers). But then my spouse got transferred to a job that was just far enough away that we needed to move, and during one of our coffee outings I told her about it, and bam! no more contact with her, EVER. Her children would answer the phone to say that she was busy or not at home, and I’d leave a message. She didn’t answer e-mail. She stopped commenting on my FB posts and at some point, she unfriended me. I was not bombarding her with calls (only about once a week at first) and then got caught up in the move, but after we had our new place all set, I called again with our new contact info. Six months later, I ran into her husband at a department store halfway between my work and their home, and HE SAID NOT ONE WORD about her not wanting to be in touch anymore or to stop calling or anything. A mutual friend had a bridal shower and a baby shower to which we were both invited, but in view of this issue, I decided to stay away. I didn’t want there to be any kind of scene or unpleasantness between us ruining the party, but OTOH I didn’t give that as my reason for not showing up, either.

      Truly baffling, and sometimes I still get extremely angry/annoyed/upset. I sometimes think it must feel like a bad divorce to our mutual friends, but they’re not saying anything to me about it, either.

      BTW, I think Dan Savage had a session about the silent treatment being a type of emotional bullying. IIRC, the silent treatment impacts the brain in a similar way to being physically abused. So someone who cuts you off might be bullying you instead of trying to deal with their mental health issues. Makes it more difficult to figure out what’s going on, IMO.

      • JenniferP said:

        The silent treatment is bullying, but the difference is that the bully wants you to stay engaged & around. It doesn’t work if you’re not there. The silent treatment is something you do to someone who is in the same house, who is in your life, who you see regularly. It’s a power-play within an ongoing relationship.

        Cutting someone off, while not fun, means you want them to go away. You may never know the reason someone cut you off, but you know their decision. I realize that’s not exactly comforting, and it sounds like what your friend did was really hurtful. I’m so sorry.

        • E.C. said:

          Cutting someone off, while not fun, means you want them to go away. You may never know the reason someone cut you off, but you know their decision.

          Well, EVENTUALLY you know their decision, once it becomes clear months later that no, they’re actually not just busy. Then you get to deal with the bonus humiliation of realizing that someone you thought was a friend actually hates your guts and has for months, plus feeling like a stalker because you didn’t magically read their mind.

          • Badger Rose said:

            I think this is one of those personality things that are really not easy to bridge. Because I can totally see the perspective that goes, “I would much rather you just told me we weren’t friends anymore rather than keep me guessing for months, and leaving me humiliated.” But I always think, “I would much rather you silently cut me off than have a ‘I don’t like you and here is why’ conversation, and leaving me humiliated.”

          • It doesn’t mean they hate your guts. It just means that for reasons that are all their own, that you are not necessarily entitled to know, they have concluded that you two are not a good fit anymore. It happens with platonic friends, just as with romantic/sexual partners. But sometimes the person-doing-the-cutting-off concludes (rightly or wrongly) that the person-they-need-to-be-done-with is not going to accept that without things getting ugly and hurtful. And in that case, they may decide that they may as well just go with the cut.

            Which is not to say it is necessarily the cut-off-person’s fault that they got dumped that way. Just that it isn’t always about either hatred or cluelessness. Sometimes it’s about avoiding explicit ugliness, either as “the lesser of two evils” or as “the path of least resistance.”

          • JenniferP said:

            I’m definitely not arguing that what your friend did was cool, or wasn’t hurtful, but not every relationship has a well-discussed, mutually-agreed upon ending. I don’t think we could do or say anything to make you feel better – you get to be angry at her! But adults get to make decisions about who they want to be in contact with. It takes two people to be in a relationship and only one to end it. Maybe she didn’t have a good way to say “I’m not feeling our friendship anymore, sorry, bye, here is an African Violet.” So she chose a crappy, avoidant way. There’s no getting it back, there is no closure, maybe the best thing you can do is write her off as someone who would be that cruel = incompatible with you.

            I don’t think you are the one who has to be ashamed or not go to events hosted by mutual friends.

          • Badger Rose said:

            (Part of the reason I’ve expressed my personal preference is that, well… For anything but a romantic relationship or deeply intimate friendship, I prefer the slow-fade or ice-out to the “I am ending this relationship” discussion. I really do prefer it.

            And I’ve seen people say, “If you’d ever been frozen out/slow-faded, you’d realize that it was cruel and evil and therefore not do it.” Whereas I didn’t feel that way at all. I much preferred the freeze-out/slow fade to the Deeply Awkward Friend Breakup.

            It is, unfortunately, IME the kind of thing where there just IS no way that is reliably ‘better.’

  16. Hey LW, I am going to disagree a little here and say what’s worked for me in this kind of situation: I send one (and only one!) message, along the line of this:

    “Hey, you vanished. If you don’t want to talk to me / go on a date with me / [whatever the situation was], that’s cool, but I would really appreciate knowing what’s going on. [And, depending on how they were acting before the fade-out, sometimes:] If you’re still interested, I totally understand that life gets in the way sometimes, so we can always just put [whatever stuff is applicable] on hold until things settle down for you. Either way, please just let me know, so I can stop bothering you, or not, as appropriate.”

    And then I delete them off my phone etc and try to put it out of my mind until I get a response, or forever if that response doesn’t come.

    I absolutely agree that closure is overrated, but having someone actually say “I don’t want to talk to you anymore” has helped me to feel less crazy about the whole situation (although note that I don’t ask for an explanation, because sometimes getting too much info makes me feel worse again), and there have been several occasions when I actually got a response of “OMG CHRIS I FORGOT TO ANSWER ALL THE THINGS, LET’S GO BE AWESOME TOGETHER” when I had pretty much written off the relationship as dead.

    This has (for me) a much higher success rate for potentially-dead friendships than romantic relationships, and if cutting all contact without waiting for a response feels like a cleaner break for you, that definitely has the potential to be the right thing to do. If you have to choose between obsess-y wait-for-zir-to-call behaviour, and cut-all-contact behaviour, the latter is clearly better. But there can be middle ground (sometimes), so maybe take that into consideration before you block all contact forever.

    • canomia said:

      I second that.
      I’ve done the same thing. Knowing I wrote that last message, and that for me it really was the last, has made it way easier to let go. If the other person read it or not, answered or not, it doesn’t matter. If they wanted to they would and if not, at least I got to do that for me.

      The option of cutting all ties, blocking and all that, that only ever makes me obsess more. That way you never know if the person is trying to contact you or not, if, had I not blocked them, they would have gotten back to me and we would have been friends again. That maybe they aren’t in my life because they think I don’t want them to be, because I blocked them. But people are different and if that works for you that’s what you should do LW, If not maybe Chris advice will help you.

    • Phospher said:

      I would agree, but she says she’s sent messages (plural) already, so I think the Captain’s right that the message is fairly clear and at this point getting in touch one last time would probably only expose her to more pain. I don’t think she has to block him if that would leave her agonising that he might be trying to get in touch, but she could at least *screen* him everywhere, tell herself she’s not going to contact him again, and try to focus on other things.

      • VA said:

        Agree with Phospher. LW has already reached out. Silence IS the answer. As the Cap’n says, closure isn’t something that somebody gives us, it’s something we create for ourselves.

      • Hence the strong YMMV tone of my post. The question in my mind that would make me feel more strongly for or against my tactic in this particular case is: in those previous messages, has LW ever directly asked ex what’s going on and if ze want to / is intentionally cutting contact. Just knowing that that question is out there in a completely straightforward form does a lot for my personal peace of mind, whether or not I ever get an answer.

        A lot of the time I can come up with all sorts of legitimate seeming reasons for why someone might not have gotten back to me, but if someone doesn’t respond to a direct message of “do you ever want to interact with me again, Y/N?”, that feels like a much more final answer than if they don’t respond to my text asking if they want to grab coffee.

        • staranise said:

          I get this. Sometimes in these situations it’s a real comfort for me to say, “I did everything I could do, the ball’s in their court.” There is no message left to send that could say anything new. That way I’m not obsessing about what would happen if I just [asked/apologized/spilled out my feeeelings].

    • ReanaZ said:

      I don’t know. I agree with this for regular friendships and maybe even casual dating was-that-a-fade-aways*, but for “trying-to-be-friends-after-a-break-up,” I don’t think it’s a winning strategy. In this situation, they’ve already messy broken up, decided to put things on hold, and had several unreturned messages. Reaching out just one more time doesn’t seem to serve much put continued hurt for both parties. Although in cases of crappy-but-no-where-near-abusive, I’m more in the screen-rather-than-block category.

      *I once went on 3 really, really awesome dates with a cool dude (like, 2 hour dates turned into 8 hours of talking). I wanted to keep seeing him but had several terribly busy life/work weeks. I don’t want him to think I was blowing him off, so I emailed him that I’d had a great time, was swamped until X date, but would really like to see him again after said date. And he said, actually, I have to finish my thesis so not staying up until 2 am drinking wine during the week is probably better for me too; thesis is due the day before X date. I was a bit surprised our previously-robust-email-exchanges dropped off, but chucked it up to Life. Nearing X date, I emailed him to see if he wanted to get together now that things were setting down. And he was like, Wait, you actually want to get together again? I thought you were blowing me off! And I was like I USED MY WORDS WHY DIDN’T THAT WORK. (But then we dated for a lovely year and a half afterward, so it turned out a’ight.)

      • “And I was like I USED MY WORDS WHY DIDN’T THAT WORK”

        Exactly! Sometimes I wanna bring a dictionary around with me and go: see, this is what this means. Not whatever you thought it did.

  17. Oh LW, ouch. I’m so sorry that you’re in such a painful, confusing situation. The Captain’s advice is perfect, and I wish I’d had it a few years ago when my ex blanked me out of her life.

    Long story short(ish), we lived together, I was out of town for a week and she was taking care of my bunny, when I got home she’d moved out and I never heard from her again.) I handled the situation really poorly and my poor behavior made it a lot harder to recover and move on than if I’d told myself a story like the one the Captain outlined in her response. In my situation, like yours, radio silence is a full and complete answer – this person doesn’t want to be around you or talk to you. If my ex had wanted to talk to me and explain her reasons and give me closure or whatever, she had a lot of opportunities to do so. TONS of opportunities. But, that wasn’t something she wanted to do, and as crappy as it was, she didn’t really have any obligation to do that for me. So the story I tell myself now is, “I dated a girl for a while, we didn’t have a great relationship, and then she decided to leave and not talk to me anymore, because she didn’t want a relationship with me. It hurt for a little while, and then I moved on and met someone way better for me, and she probably did too.”

      • Yes, thank goodness. I think she must have stayed to take care of him until right before I got back into town.

    • helbling said:

      Ye-ah, that sort of situation, to me, kind of crosses the limit of where ‘blanking’ is appropriate. For starters, for all you can blank someone once you’ve broken up with them, you need to tell them you’ve actually broken up first, not just, I don’t know, won a suprise trip to the Bahamas and forgotten to leave a note. And living together implies a certain level of life-entwinement – for instance, in this case, she was pet sitting for you – so you really ought to ensure you’ve sorted the lease/finances/dependants before you go. After that, blank all you want.

      So, yeah, totally understanding your bad reaction to that – if I came home to find my partner gone, my first thought wouldn’t have been ‘I’ve been dumped’ it would be ‘call the police’. >.>

  18. Jolly said:

    As someone who got dumped by someone after 2.5 years together, mid-talks of moving in together, by just getting ignored until the relationship defaulted to “over:” the Captain is right. You have to decide that YOU don’t want to talk to HIM, then take the necessary steps to make sure that is what happens. At the very least, you don’t want to talk to people who drop off the face of the planet and are completely uninterested in interacting with you, right? Even if all of his other traits are amazing, those are both extremely good reasons to not want to be friends with this dude. All of the other things you can be doing in your life right now are going to be better than sitting around trying to will him to speak to you and wondering “WHYYYY,” so try to do any of those other things instead.

    • Jolly said:

      Also, I would like to say: what he is doing is not really cruel. It sounds like he is in a draining situation, where someone he is not interested in kept trying to make things happen with him, and then said they were going to take time off and got back two weeks later (which, honestly, given how you phrased the story/what the Captain pointed out about how you seem to view him, 2 weeks was probably as little [read: not enough] time as it sounds like on paper). Maybe he is exhausted? And that doesn’t make him a bad person, and it doesn’t make you a bad person. But it does make you not friends, and it does make you no longer a part of each others’ lives. This is just a situation that has gone badly, and is now over, and everyone will now move on. Hopefully, as it kind of sounds like, this is just Some Guy, and you aren’t entrenched in mutual friend groups that will make moving on with 0 contact more delicate.

      • Another way of putting it is that just as it is disappointing/frustrating for you always to want a bit more than he wants to give, it is probably uncomfortable for him to be with someone who always wants more than he would choose to give. It makes a person feel guilty and inadequate and mean all the time, when actually it is his right to want what he wants and not want what he doesn’t want. He may have decided he’d rather have all his guilty and inadequate and mean in one big serving than have to keep telling someone he does have some affection for “no, I can’t give you what you want.”

      • Badger Rose said:

        Yeah, I thought of that too. I obviously don’t know whether that’s what’s going on for the LW, but I have been in situations where I knew that anything other than a complete cutting-off would be seen as opening the door for negotiation. Maybe I would be okay being coffee-every-month friends with someone, but I knew from experience that they’d always be looking to push for more, and the thought of being persistently pushed exhausted me. If you’re always having to be the one to say ‘no,’ it can be easier to set one big boundary–we aren’t interacting any more, period–than to have to keep reinforcing a bunch of smaller ones.

        • mintylime said:

          DING.

          The constant maintenance of boundaries is incredibly draining. There’s someone in my life who I have had to set a “we can be civil and interact about thing X and that is all. we are not friends. we will not talk about personal things.” boundary with because we get along so badly (my history and their history interact … poorly) but completely cutting off contact is not possible*.

          And then, because of a logistics snafu, I had to add “and we can interact about logistics about thing Y” and … what do you know, they used that as a wedge to talk about personal things.

          *I’d rather not give details because pseudonymity, just trust me on this.

  19. Eevee said:

    I feel silly asking this, but what is “blanking” someone? I have never heard this term before. Does it mean ignoring someone?

    • JenniferP said:

      Yes, ignoring!

      • Kim said:

        Every time I hear the term blanking, it reminds me of that episode of Black Books where Fran thinks she’s being cheated on and decides to blank the guy so hard she ends up injuring herself.

        • hrovitnir said:

          Me too!!

  20. So, I have a different situation to the Letter Writer’s happening right now, but maybe there are some small commonalities around one person not being as keen as the other.

    I had a one-night stand with a lovely woman back in February. She was married and going through difficulties with the marriage, but she and her husband had an open arrangement and it was kosher.

    We had a really fun night, during which she said that (having known me for about two hours) that I was the only woman she had ever met whom she could see herself dating, and that she felt amazingly connected to me etc. I had a great time with her but wasn’t feeling it so very strongly. She suggested us meeting up again and I initially said yes, that sounded good, but in the week or so afterwards I thought about it and it seemed like the wrong idea for me. I wasn’t feeling it as much; I was concerned about dating someone who was married when I wasn’t looking for an open or poly relationship; it seemed like seeing someone who was having problems in their marriage could be a huge issue. She also wasn’t out as bi to anyone in her life and I think I was one of the first bi women she’d been around. Etc.

    So when she called me to set up another date I said with total honesty that I’d thought about it again and despite her manifest fantastic-ness, I wasn’t wanting to pursue anything beyond the awesome night we’d had. She was very understandably surprised and asked if we could have coffee as friends and I declined and we finished the call on pleasant-seeming terms. To be honest, it seemed like it could get messy and emotional, plus I have lots of friends already – I don’t feel a need to turn dynamics with lovers and one-night-stands into friendships.

    We’re in June now, and I got a voicemail from her last night saying she wanted to have a chat and asking me to call. This sounds so harsh but it’s true, I had to play it twice so I could catch her name and realise/remember who it was from. Since February I have dated a few men and women, and met and fallen in crazy love with a new partner. I told him about the voice mail just to have a chat about it, and mentioned that I was feeling like a jerk for not wanting to call back. But what would I say? “Hi, I’m just getting back in touch to say that I don’t want us to be in touch”?

    I think – and I have totally been on the other side of this equation too – sometimes Party A is totally into Party B, and Party B likes Party A and thinks they’re fun and awesome, but they’re just not feeling it, or not feeling it as much. And I totally get that if after some time Party A reaches out to Party B and there’s no reception that it feels like a “blanking”. But sometimes there’s not a lot to say and in the silence you have your answer. Sometimes there aren’t the words for “I think you’re fun and cool, but I’m not feeling it and I’m not interested in anything more”, and it’s awkward and shitty and hard to say and hard to hear. And I think pursuing contact along those lines feels awkward and shitty and hard for both parties. And that the kindest thing for yourself as well as the other person (to whom you owe nothing, so let’s just focus on you) is to let it go.

    • JenniferP said:

      I think your instincts to not engage were absolutely dead-on. There’s no way you can hang out or engage without creating more weirdness and distance.

    • ellex24 said:

      “I think you’re fun and cool, but I’m not feeling it and I’m not interested in anything more”

      There’s nothing wrong with saying exactly that.

      • espritdecorps said:

        There’s not, but…

        I did a lot of online dating, and in that venue silence is really the best option. You are both going to be online at the site where you met, and it will be tempting to engage if you are bored or dispirited.
        Being able to take no answer as an answer is key to not turning every interaction into a drama, with one person stalking the site hoping for crumbs and the other not wanting to offend, but not feeling it.

        I went out twice with a guy that seemed perfect on paper. Everything I was looking for, HAWT, same interests, articulate, creative, the whole package. We’re on our first date, I’m enjoying myself, but no pants-feelings. None.

        I liked him, and everyone has off days so I went out with him again. Nothing.
        So when he wanted to pick me up at my place and drive me to the park for a picnic I said no. He called again the next day, and I let it go to VM, then sent a nice e-mail letting him know I wasn’t feeling it.

        I got over 30 VM from him in 2 days. Blocked him. Got a barrage of FEELINGSMAIL. Blocked it. After that I stopped talking on the phone as an intermediate step with potential dates, and went directly from e-mail to lunch date. But I still had to worry if he was crazy enough to use my number to track me down, and walked around looking over my shoulder for several months afterward.

        You don’t know what the experiences of the other person are. Maybe a nicely worded rejection e-mail will be seen as a thoughtful gesture, and maybe it will be their ticket for a ride to Stalkerville.

        Moderator Note: This is a great comment, but I edited it slightly. Let’s be more aware of how we use “crazy”, ok?

  21. I’ve always been of the opinion that a clean break is the best. I no longer have any kind of contact whatsoever with my biological parents, and I’ve been so much happier and better off without their influences in my life.

    My first and to date, only boyfriend and I broke up almost immediately after I got out of the hospital for a heart problem…I overheard a phone conversation between him and his brother (accidentally-I was trying to find him to ask for his help cleaning up the Thanksgiving dinner dishes for his entire family, since no one else wanted to. Yeah, less than a day since I was in the hospital emergency room for seriously life-threatening issues, and he expected me to clean up dishes and leftover food for over twenty people by myself. This should give you some idea of how our relationship went) in which he told his brother, who was in Hawaii with his fiancee`’s family, that he had been trying to change me to be more like he wanted but it didn’t seem to be working, and how he didn’t actually love me at all but wanted to see if the psychology stuff he’d learned worked, so I was his experiment, but it just didn’t seem to be taking, and said some other stuff that…well, it hurt, but not nearly as much as it probably should. Probably because I’m already so used to being used that it didn’t really surprise me. Later on, I asked him why he was dating me if he didn’t love me, and told him I’d heard part of the phone conversation. He told me flatly to my face that he thought he could make me something better, but it wasn’t working. He honestly seemed to think he was doing me a favor, and didn’t understand why I could be offended. I just swallowed down all the things I wanted to yell at him, and kept it calm and amicable.

    So, we broke up, I moved out of the condo his parents were paying for for him (he works for his father, getting paid a hell of a lot for not a lot, and spends most of his work day watching the office on his laptop, and they pay for his gas and all. His mother’s a realtor and owns the condo he’s in, he’s supposed to have two other roommates to meet the actual monthly cost of it, which he only pays a third of, but he’s taken the whole thing over and made it a filthy, cluttered horror I’m glad to have nothing to do with anymore, since I was the only one who cleaned and I was sick of his ragefits and constant childish behavior) and we tried to still be friends. He still does try, but…it isn’t working. I have no desire to be around him, though it’s kind of hard to avoid him completely since we have the same group of friends. When we are near each other he acts very awkwardly, and says less than flattering things to our mutual friends (like having told one of our friends that he’d give me another chance if I was ‘true to myself’….which goes completely against what he’d been trying to do by his own admission! I was being true to myself, by not letting him turn me into the little stepford wife he wanted!) when I’m not around, and…well, to put it bluntly, I want nothing to do with him anymore. He needs to grow the hell up before I can even stand being around him on just a friendship basis. I have even given up the Pathfinder game our group was playing, though I love my character dearly, because I can’t stand having to go into that horrible-smelling hellhole he’s turned the condo into since I stopped cleaning it for him, and most of our friends think it’s disgusting too but no one wants to tell him because he’s built like a Scottish warrior and throws a very violent tantrum over the slightest infraction, including doing things that hurt himself and breaks things. He once punched and destroyed the touchscreen navigation system built into his car (that his parents bought him, as everything else he has though he’s almost thirty, and he firmly believes that he is self-sufficient) because his car acted up a little and didn’t start immediately. Needless to say, while we were dating and I lived with him, I was very afraid of his temper, which could be set off by literally anything.

    Most relationships probably aren’t as toxic as that, or the relationship I used to have with my biological parents, but I’ve always been of the belief that if a relationship has to end…just end it. Cut it off and let it die. A clean cut hurts a lot less than a festering wound that’s allowed to remain. If it’s hurting you, and it sounds like your hope for this one to continue is, then it’s not worth it.

    • And he thought you were the fixer-upper????

    • “built like a Scottish warrior and throws a very violent tantrum over the slightest infraction, including doing things that hurt himself and breaks things.”

      I’m so glad you got out of there! He sounds like a scary, irresponsible prick. There’s toxic and then there’s dangerous.

      • CoolNewAnonymousNickname said:

        Seriously, where are these people coming from ? My ex also was bewildered when I reacted badly to his statement that he was ‘trying to reward my good behavior’–like you do with a dog. How dare *anyone* treat you like a fixer-upper property and think that not only is that ok to do, but you’re some kind of asshole for not appreciating their efforts?? They live in Bizarro-LaLa-Land, where up is down and day is night, I swear. Good on you for running like hell, faetouched!

        • I don’t get it either. Where do they get off thinking that we’re here for them to dress up and modify to their own preferences? We’re not DnD characters that they can toss a few points into the particular traits they want us to have! They’d be pissed off if we tried to make them the way we wanted, and yet they think it’s okay to do to us? No. No, no, a thousand times, no.

          • espritdecorps said:

            “We’re not DnD characters that they can toss a few points into the particular traits they want us to have!”

            I loled so hard at this. Vader-ex loved both role-playing games and ‘helpful’ suggestions.
            I had a visual of him breaking out the graph paper and tweaking my character, then realized that’s exactly what he was doing.

          • Heh, my ex is a big gamer too…but then, so am I, so yeah. I’m glad I could give you a laugh though! It seems there are people out there who think that everyone else is just a character in the movie starring themselves, and they get to change those characters’ personalities and traits on a whim.

      • Yeah, he was the kind who’d punch walls, headbutt doors, and do other stuff like that. I brought it up with him once and he swore he’d never hurt me, but…well, there’s no way to be sure around someone like that.

        • whistlewren said:

          That is intimidation and abuse. Exactly as you say, you have no idea if he would escalate behavior if he is already using physical aggression. I am so glad you left before things got worse and you are safe now.

          • espritdecorps said:

            Seconding this
            And very glad you are safe now!

  22. “Blanking.” I’d never heard that before. Very apt.

    I’ve been blanked a couple of times by exes-turned-friends. One I shrugged off because we’d barely gotten the post-breakup friendship off the ground; the other I considered a real friend, and his disappearance hurt a lot.

    Another friend of mine told me on more than one occasion that I should hunt these guys down and ask for an explanation. I don’t know why she thought so. I was curious, sure, but what kind of response was I going to get? They had already stopped replying to my friendly “Hey, what’s up?” e-mail/voicemail messages. Why would they reply to the more fraught and awkward “Hey, what the hell happened to you?” message? And in the unlikely event that they did respond, could I expect a truthful answer?

    I’m still curious about the specifics, but the more vague answer I have is the only one I need: They didn’t think maintaining a friendship with me was worth their while.

    Sympathies, LW. It sucks all around.

  23. But what if your thoughts were, “Nice move!” “This is fun!” “I really learned something.” You are going to probably have different feelings, and probably different actions.

    • staranise said:

      I am confused about whether this is spam, or I’m just missing its connection to the letter.

  24. AnonymousGuy said:

    I’ve been on both sides of a “blanking.” In fact, I’m blanking someone right now. It hurts and I want to contact her every day, but I know it would be cruel to take the chance of rekindling things and preventing her from moving on.

    Sometimes the most compassionate thing is to make a clean break and not look back. Your heart aches, but there’s no choice.

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