Dear Captain Awkward,
About six weeks ago, the guy I was dating (let’s call him StarTrekFan, our mutual love for Star Trek and other geekery brought us together), broke things off very suddenly. I asked him to give us another chance and he agreed. We had talked about what issues had arisen and wanted to work on them.
However, life got a bit shit in those six weeks. He had to spend a lot of time in SecondaryWorkTown as well as in HomeTown with his family because of a death in the family and he had a mega-stressful time at work due to yearly evaluations. This meant we saw each other maybe once a week for a couple of hours, mostly in public spaces. He’d asked me for some space over that time and to take things slowly so I tried not to bother him too much over that time apart from when we saw each other. I have my own issues with death due to personal family related reasons so I probably wasn’t supportive enough with that but with everything else, I tried to be as supportive as possible without being too intrusive.
After the agreed upon period of time ended in which he’d asked for space, I thought it was finally time to work on previously discussed issues, together. However, he got back and the next day (after a nice couple of hours together the day he got back) he just broke up with me again. That was about a week ago.
We talked things through and the reasons he has for breaking things off keep jumping between having lost the “spark” and not having a deep enough “connection”/not being “close” enough. We’d been dating for about three or four month when he first broke up, not necessarily the time period in which to forge a very deep connection, especially for two very introverted people. He maintains that he really enjoys my company, that he’s still attracted to me and that we have a lot in common and want the same things from a relationship. I do not doubt his honesty.
I know that I don’t have a “right” to the chance I thought we would get and that sometimes feelings just fade out. But I don’t want to let him go completely and I think the circumstances in the past few weeks are a large factor in what happened between us. I understand that things between us can’t just resume. However, I would like to continue to be friends and work on being closer friends. I would quite like to ask him to do that and would like him to keep an open mind in case the “spark” does come back. If it doesn’t, we’ll be better friends for it, if it does, that would be great.
My question is, is that a reasonable thing to ask for? And how can I ask for that? I don’t want to sound desperate or be annoying and things are made more difficult by the fact that he will be in SecondaryWorkTown for the next two or three months (which had always been a likely possibility for this summer).
Thanks for any advice,
Dear Star Wars Fan:
I know my answer will not be what you want to hear, because The Force (attraction + optimism + wishful thinking) is strong with this one.
But I’m pretty positive that when someone breaks up with you twice in two months you should believe him that broken up is where he wants to be. The stuff he said about “spark” and “connection” was a nice way of saying “I like you, but not enough.” Yes, there are tons of mitigating circumstances and outside stressors. He doesn’t want to be in a relationship. There’s nothing you can do to be “enough” or solve the question of “enough,” because it’s his subjective choice.
That suuuuuuuucks. I’m so sorry.
I honestly think the best thing you can do for yourself right now is to perform some kind of ceremony to mark the end of this thing and create closure for yourself. It should be some combination of saying “Self, this is over” + deleting his number from your phone + filtering his email + unfollowing/filtering on social media + never initiating contact with him again (be affable but brief if he gets in touch) + being really nice to yourself.
I know that seems really harsh, when you like him and he (basically) likes you and maybe you could be friends. But you’re not friends. You’re into him. He’s still starring in all of your kissing fantasies. Your brain (and groin) is constantly thinking of ways that it could still all work out. That’s a sad, weird, awkward place to start a friendship. So I want you to consider changing this from a story about the guy who was so perfect except for That One Thing (bad timey connectiony sparky stuff) into a story about a guy who broke up with you twice in two months and then moved away for work. Definitely get rid of the part where you maybe weren’t supportive enough when he was grieving. You don’t need the fallacy that maybe you could control this if you’d done something differently hanging about in your brain.
If you’re meant to be friends down the road, it will be because he seeks you out and makes the effort and because your common interests (vs. your interest in his Pants) are enough to build a friendship on. You don’t have to make it easy for him or send him regular reminders. And if you were meant to date it would be easier and he wouldn’t keep needing “space” from you and breaking up with you.
Confusing dude is confusing. Fortunately a lot of people like things that start with “Star ___ ,” and you can find somebody who isn’t confusing and who knows that he likes you all the time. Please, please, please don’t waste 6 months or a year of your precious awesome life mooning after this guy and trying to figure out his deal. He TOLD you that deal is “I like you, but not enough.” Believe him, and no one has to cut off a hand or blow up a planet.