Dear Dr. NerdLove,
I would like to thank you for all the great tips and information that you have given over the years; it’s been extremely useful. I just wish I knew about your work sooner, because I am going through a break up situation that could have been different if I knew the things I know now after reading your guidelines.
I would like to ask for your advice on my situation. Let me sum it up for you:
I met this girl in a summer program at my college. We connected immediately and we were together for 10 days until the program ended. We both knew that this was not going to go any further because she is from a different country, but we kept in contact.
She met a guy and they started a relationship and I was happy for her. I decided to go my own way and try meeting other girls too, but she had left an extremely high standard that no other girl ever met, and I would get disappointed every time.
She’s been with her boyfriend for almost three years, but we never lost contact. When we’d text, I would made sure to let her know that I’m still attracted to her and she started to flirt back with me. I wasn’t sure what to do, because she was still in a relationship and I didn’t want to be disrespectful.
By this time, I had moved to NYC to work , while she was in still in college in her country with 3 more years to go.
In our conversations, she let me know that things had been going badly with her boyfriend. I was trying to be there to support her, but to be honest, I was also there to see if I had an opportunity with her.
Our conversations had became very intense and shortly after she broke up with her boyfriend. She let me know that she is interested in me and shortly after we started a LDR. I didn’t know anything about LDRs, but I thought that we could make it work.
We were doing well for two months, talking and texting all the time, having our ways to show our feelings, having cyber sex to make up for the lack of physical contact and much more. We planned a trip for June in which she would come to NYC and stay with me for 2 weeks. In April, her school workload had increased and we started to reduce our frequency of contact. I got scared and asked her what was going on and she said that everything is fine, it’s just the amount of work that she had to deal with.
Our conversations diminished quite a lot but I was patiently waiting for her semester to finish and get back to where we wer… but that never happened. She kept being distant, and one day she called me to break up with me. To summarize the call, she said that I never did anything wrong, that we would be together if we were in the same place. But she hadn’t realized how much she needed the physical contact in a relationship, and this LDR was not working for her. She also mentioned that she is still coming in June, but she’s not staying with me and that she wants to see me at least once. For the trip, we had reserved a car to pick her up at the airport, we have tickets for a show and a concert. We decided that we would not waste that money and meet up on those three occasions.
Now, it has been 4 days since we broke up, we ended in good terms, we never fought or anything, and she asked me to be friends because she would like me to keep being part of her life. I told her that it’s possible, but I would never see her just as a friend.
I found your website a few hours ago and I read the sections and I realized that our relationship was doomed from the beginning and now, I’m not looking for trying to get her back. Although, here is where I am kindly asking for your advice.
Do you think that it is correct to meet up when she comes to NYC?
If so, how should I be with her when we meet? And texts?
Do you think that it is fine to try to be friends from now on?
Thank you in advance,
Loved and Lost
I think you’re going to have a hard time if you meet up, LaL. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure that keeping your plans to meet up at ALL was a good idea; it may have been a better plan for one of you to reimburse the other for their share of the tickets, cancel the car and generally just try to avoid one another while she’s in town.
The issue here is that you’ve spent the better part of three years yearning for her and four plus months in a long-distance relationship… none of it in person. That’s a long time to build up fantasies of your eventual reunion. To have the hopes of a grand, romantic encounter dashed… well, that’s going to leave a pretty serious pall over seeing her. It’d be one thing if you’d had more time to process your feelings and get used to the new relationship you two have… if you are even going to continue having one. I mean, you’re looking at the culmination of the hope of years, only to have them dashed at the last minute. I’m not gonna lie: that’s the sort of thing that can make getting together pretty damn uncomfortable.
Like, really uncomfortable.
Seeing her right now is going to be a reminder of what you had.. and don’t have any more. Is that something you’re willing to deal with if you see her? Are you going to be able to compartmentalize enough that you can see her and spend time with her without seeing the ghosts of futures past? Are you able to let go of what might have been?
But then there’s another issue: what about if things go well? I know, I know: what’s so bad about things going well and everyone having a good time? Well, the potential complication is that the point of failure in this relationship was that lack of a physical connection. And here you are in the same city for the first time in years. It could be that seeing each other could rekindle some feelings and you two may see about whether you have the chemistry in person that you had in text. Maybe the two of you will be all over each other like a pair of socks in a dryer.
That’s where things get complicated, especially if you’re not the sort of person who can easily separate sex from love. If the two of you do hook up, then you’re in the awkward position of asking: what now? Was breaking up the wrong move? After all: you’re still living in separate countries; you’re still stuck with the same, almost impossible barrier that broke you two up in the first place. Trying to get back together is going to end with the dance remix of your first break-up.
Now, maybe it’ll all be ok. After all, you had a relatively amicable break-up. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, just a case of circumstance. But it’s still pretty damn soon and the wounds are still pretty fresh.
Unfortunately, I’m not the one who can tell you whether seeing her is a good idea. You’re the one who’s going to have to weigh the potential pain against the joy of seeing your friend again. If you do go, I’d suggest keeping your expectations low; focus on just enjoying spending time with an old friend rather than what might have been or going over the break-up.
Is it ok to be friends? Well… yeah. I’m all in favor of being friends… if you can honestly be friends. If you’re going into this new friendship with hopes of getting back together with her, then all you’re doing is opening yourself up to future heartache. By the same token, if staying friends with her is like knives to your soul and getting your heart broken again, then it’s better all around if you end it.
Either way, I would suggest that you give yourself some time and distance before trying to be close. Even if you have the best and purest of intentions, you need to let those wounds heal before you can really make a friendship work.
I (19/m) recently confessed my crush to an online friend (21/f).
For about 4 years now I’ve been very close to a friend of mine online. In fact, we’ve been so close that I’ve had a crush on her for 3 of those years. Even when I had a relationship with someone else, the feelings kept surfacing no matter how hard I tried to push them away.
After I broke up with my then girlfriend, I felt the intense need to finally tell my crush how I had felt about her. I waited a few months to do this, since I didn’t want to just jump into it after a break up. Of course, I was hoping for a positive outcome, but I ultimately didn’t mind if she didn’t want to pursue a relationship. I just wanted to be honest about how I felt about her.
Her response consisted of asking me how long I felt that way, a lot of awkward stumbling (I was much the same in the matter), and saying that while she felt really REALLY happy, she didn’t think anyone would ever like her, and that she didn’t want to jump into things without thinking it over for a few days. I was totally ok with this.
Now it’s been over a month. We still talk daily, exactly as we did before I told her. I’ve tried to talk to her about things, but it’s always met with silence, and a subject change. The closest I’ve ever gotten was an “I still don’t know”.
I’ve stopped trying to talk about it, because I don’t want to be an asshole who keeps trying to shove her into an uncomfortable situation. But it’s getting to me emotionally and hitting my anxiety. I suppose I just want closure, a yes or no instead of this radio silence I’ve been getting.
At this point, I understand that it’s a no, and I can accept that. My best guess is that she doesn’t want to risk hurting my feelings or making things weird; though I’m not actually sure of course.
I guess in the end I’m asking “What do I do about that?”. Do I simply leave the subject matter alone and accept it? Or would it be better to force the conversation to happen? I feel like a massive asshole in this situation overall honestly.
– Just Want an Answer
Before we get to your question, JWA, I want to point out what you did wrong here: you made the classic mistake of just confessing your crush, and leaving it at that. While there’s a lot of stories in pop-culture where people confess their crushes on people, in practice it’s probably the worst way you can go about it. Not because there’s anything wrong with having a crush on someone, or even acting on it, but because all you’re doing is dropping this information in their lap like a cat bringing it’s owner a dead mouse. When somebody just confesses their feelings, what they’re saying is “OK, here’s this information… now what are you going to do with it?” That puts the other person in the incredibly awkward position of having to decide how they feel and how to respond. In a very real way, it’s putting the onus on them to decide the future of your relationship, which is a hell of a lot of pressure when they may have never even thought about it before.
This is why my general rule of thumb is that, rather than confess your feelings, the best move is to ask them on a date. It doesn’t have to be terribly elaborate or profound, just “hey, I really dig you and I’d love to take you on a date; how would you like to go do $COOL_THING on $SPECIFIC_DAY?” This is a much lower – and more reasonable – ask than simply telling someone “hey, I have feelings for you”; a date isn’t an invitation to reconsider an entire relationship, it’s an entry level exploration of whether there’s any chemistry or interest.
Now granted, this is more difficult when you’re dealing with a strictly online relationship. It’s a little hard to propose a date when you haven’t even met, nevermind don’t live in the same city (or within a reasonable distance of one another). But I’ve written before about online only relationships, but the short version is: if you haven’t met in person, then you’re not dating. No matter how well you may know somebody or how much chemistry you have in text or even in Skype, none of this guarantees chemistry when you meet in person.
So while I don’t doubt that she’s an important person in your life… declaring your love for her is honestly a little premature.
(And honestly? I don’t think you’re an asshole. You’re just young and enthusiastic and you took the route that was a little less than perfect and that’s ok.)
But hey, that’s all for the next time this issue comes up. Your question is what do you do now?
And the answer is… nothing. I mean, I hate to tell you this chief, but you got your answer. You already know that. Hell, you said that yourself: this is the definition of a “soft no”. She doesn’t want to say anything because honestly, she doesn’t want to make things any more awkward than they already are. There’s not really anything else to say, and your bringing it up just makes it more uncomfortable.The best thing you can do is accept that she’s not interested in you that way. And hey, that’s a damn shame; it always kinda sucks when the people we have feelings for don’t return them. But the fact that she doesn’t love you the way you’d prefer doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love you as best she can. Being her friend may not be what you hoped for, but that friendship is pretty damn awesome.
Were I you, I’d just take the “no, thank you” and move on. If you do need to say anything… well, the best thing is to say “hey, I realize things are a little awkward right now, but I want you to know, it’s all good and I’m willing to power through the awkward if you are.” And then just drop the subject. If she ever wants to talk about it, she’ll let you know.