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Dating Advice #189 - Chilling Out
Dating Advice 189

Dating Advice #189 - Chilling Out

She wants to cool it. Should he wait for her, or just let go?


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am a 27-year-old guy who has been dating a 25-year-old woman named Michelle for past year. We attend the same university where we are working toward our PhDs.

She was married for three years and had been going through hard times until her husband one night decided to break it off and leave. I helped her with her school work, cooked for her, made her laugh, and basically we had lot of fun together.

I think my mistake is that I treated her like a princess.

Now she says that I am a great guy and I will make a great husband, but she does not think that we should be dating seriously. She wants some space and wants to date other people. She says that she has a lot going on in her life including the fact that she has been trying to buy a new house, taking care of loans, etc.

I am devastated. I know that she is the perfect one for me. Now I cannot just let her go. What should I do? Should I be just friends and try to ask her after a few weeks for a date? Or should I just let her go and move on? I told her I want to wait for her and that I believe that she will come back. Please help.


Dear George,

What has taken place between you and Michelle is confusing and painful. We hope to give you some insight that will shed light on what happened and can help you move forward.

You've described how your friendship with Michelle evolved into a deeper friendship after her marriage dissolved. This was a very vulnerable point in her life, and your friendship and emotional support undoubtedly helped her in a number of ways. However, during this time the two of you were at different "places" emotionally. Michelle was adjusting to the end of her marriage, as rocky as it was, sorting through a lot of emotions and thoughts. You helped her get through school and enjoy life in spite of the feelings she was dealing with on both a conscious and unconscious level. At the same time, you experienced a friendship without the underlying need to work through these feelings. It was a lot easier for you to fall in love with Michelle than it was for her to fall in love with you.

Sherry saw this phenomenon a number of times during her 20-plus years of work as a divorce attorney. A number of her clients developed a close relationship with another person as their marriages were dissolving, or soon after their break-up with their spouse. Most of those relationships did not last, for the very same reasons we just described. The relationship, whether it began as a friendship or as a romantic involvement, was part of the process that helped the divorcing person deal with the turmoil of their situation, heal, and move forward.

Often the divorcing partner needs time to work things through and isn't ready for the emotional investment.

However, most of these "courtships" ended after six or eight months, often because the divorcing partner still needed time to work things through and wasn't ready for the emotional investment the other party had come to expect. These people didn't realize the process that was taking place, and never had any intention of causing emotional pain to the other party.

From what you describe, it appears to us that Michelle still has a way to go before she is ready to become involved in the enduring relationship that you want to have with a woman. We don't know when that will be, but we wouldn't recommend that you wait around, ready to welcome her with open arms. She may still only think of you as a dear friend and not be able to think of you in a romantic sense. Or, you may each have grown in different directions, so that it won't be as easy to relate to each other as it was in the past. In our experience, waiting a few weeks, or a few months, will not change things and will essentially prolong the pain you experience.

Because your feelings for Michelle are so intense, you have to let her go completely. We know that it is difficult to give up the hope that you can be together, but you'll need to do so in order for you to be able to mourn, heal, and move forward. You will never find the woman you are really meant to be with if you "bring" Michelle with you on your future dates and compare the women you go out with to her.

But that might happen unless you let her go completely.

When you are ready to date again, we recommend that you date with a purpose. You seem to be ready to find the woman you can build a life with, and that should be the purpose of your dating. Try to look for someone who wants the same thing and is as ready as you are to enter this stage of life. We know that sometimes platonic friendships such as the one between you and Michelle evolve into something more, but when they do it's serendipitous, and someone who is ready to get serious should not be relying on serendipity.

We also gave some thought to your comment that you "treated her too well." While we don't think that Michelle took advantage of your friendship, it is entirely possible that you were too accommodating to her. Sometimes, a person can be overly accommodating to the other, either because they are trying to endear themselves and are afraid that this is the only way they can do so, or they want to hold onto a relationship they know is in trouble.

However, this over-accommodating doesn't help things. If you act as a doormat, or make your wishes subservient to those of another person, they will lose respect for you. One of the cornerstones of any healthy relationship is mutual respect, and when it isn't present the relationship isn't viable. We suggest that you work on identifying the fine line between being self-assertive, while being considerate of your partner's interests and wishes -- without being overly accommodating.

We hope this helps you navigate the dating maze,

Rosie & Sherry

September 24, 2005

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Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Anonymous, October 5, 2005 12:00 AM

Let her go George

I agree with Roise and Sherry that you, George, need to let this girl go completely. I became a friend to a guy when he was going through a devoice and just like you I did everything I could to be the best friend possible to him. After 5 years of friendship we decided to date which went off and on for 3 years. Finally in the 8th year I told him that I was really ready to get married and I needed to know what he wanted to do. I had never been married and I wanted to be a real couple so that we could do real couple things. The guy told me that he needed some space and time to think, he wanted to make sure this was really the right thing to do. So I said well I have been waiting this long why not. The guy and I never lost touch with each other we did not see each other as much but we still talked to each other on the phone at least once every two weeks. After about six months after we broke up he started coming back around telling me how much he loved me, cared for me, I was the best female friend he has ever had, etc. etc. So one day he called and asked if we could meet somewhere to talk and I said sure. We met at a park only for him to tell me that he got married two weeks earlier. So of course, I know from experience that it really really hurts but you must forgive and move on. "Weeping may endure for a night but joy will come in the morning". Hang in there George everything is going to work out just fine. This is only a trial to make you a better, wiser, and stronger person. Be blessd.
Shana Tovah

(3) Sam, September 30, 2005 12:00 AM

It just hurts!!

I can completely identify with George...just a year ago I met this wonderful girl at university where i was studying, we got on really well and soon started going out..I found her to be really nice, sweet and a true lady I could have a future with, but soon i realized that things were not exactly working out and that she was pulling away, but everytime i do decide to let go and give her the space she needs, i would just have her coming back, and the cycle continued to the point were both getting so frustrated that just a few days ago, she called me to say this so typical line of "you are a really nice person, please let us be friends only". It hurts enough that after a whole year of emotional build-up she ends it like that, let alone the fact that she now wants me to hang around still, I know I should not because if I do, I will never be able to get over her and as platonic as the relationship might be, at the back of my mind I will alwasy be thinking "maybe one day things would work out". So it is for the best just to move on, there is no point in staying around, it will just prolong the pain. I am still in deep pain but i know that it will be over soon, it has to.
I also over-accomidated for her needs and maybe that was my mistake, But I try not to have any hard feelings for her because now i understand what went on, and after all, it was an experience in social and emotional growth. I still wish her all happiness, but for once I am now looking out for whats in my best interest, that is to let go and completely forget about her.
Believe me, when the other partner in a relationship start showing those cold signs, its best to move on because all that is happening is that the other partner is unsure and undecisive, staying around will only make things worst because it soon gets frustrating and then the feelings of resentments start to grow out of control, so if that girl is still interested in you George, she will come back,but till then, try to forget about her and to put things into prospective, and even when she does, make sure that she has made a conscious and assertive decision, and not just to keep you in there whilst she makes up her mind.
All the best of luck
Shana tovah

(2) Perri, September 26, 2005 12:00 AM

Been There, Done That

To George, and the many out there in the same boat,

Realize that when a deep relationship like that ends, it is a loss. We deal with a loss by mourning. Judaism has details on how the mourning process progresses. Since my breakup about six months ago, I have truly seen it work.

The first week (Shivah) is practically unbearable. The pain is constant, unremitting, and you truly don't want to take part in life. This is not depression, although it can turn into it if it goes too long.

The first month (Shloshim), is still pretty painful. You start to get back into the swing of things, but every little thing reminds you of your dear one (and unless you are truly angry, that's still how you think of him/her).

A year (yahrtzeit)--I'm not up to it yet, but I see, now that I'm halfway there, how it actually is possible to heal. The pain is still there, and it is still real, but I've gotten my clarity back and I see how it would not have been a good marriage. The foundations in character traits were simply too shaky to build on. For the first year, each event (holidays, summer, fall, etc.) is viewed in terms of "how would this be different if I were married now?", but once you've been through it all once, it's different.

George, and all the rest of you, I wish you the best of luck. It hurts to no end, and few can really understand, because they expect that after a few days of wallowing, you're okay--and you're not, even though you are not a pity case. But, just remember, you're normal, and eventually, you'll be okay--and even better, you are sure to find the right one someday. May we all be zoche (merit) to find our rightful life partners at the right time (may that right time be soon!)

Ksiva V'Chasima Tova!

(1) Annie, September 25, 2005 12:00 AM

Poor George

Poor George; he sounds like such a nice man and is obviously in a great deal of pain.

I hope that it all works out for him one way or other. I agree that he has to let Michelle go, emotionally at least, easy as it is to say this when it's not you who are in this situation.

From Michelle's point of view, it is much too soon to ask her to begin another relationship; she needs some time for the wounds to heal. Divorce at 25 is awful. She may also need time to be young & free again, as she must have married very young.

There are no easy answers to this,but I hope that George finds happiness-my love and best wishes to you, George, whatever happens.

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