Dear Dr. Love,Oh, if you’re reading this perhaps my luck has turned. I tried to find something pertinent to my situation in your archives, but to no avail.I’ve never been so messed up over a woman. I’ve only known her for a month, but the more I learn about her, the stronger my feelings get. I’m a (normally) level headed 29 year old guy who’s been married young and divorced several years ago. Throughout my personal love quest, I’ve met a fair amount of women but never, ever, anyone who’s affected me like her.We started this crazy journey in a whirlwind of straightforwardness, honesty and communication which is probably a huge part of my attraction to her. We were passionate for the first few days, but she got confused and scared and pushed me away from romancing her, and getting really close.She has told me that she’s never been fulfilled in a relationship, and her last one was really bad. She says she has issues. ‘I’m really not in a place where I can be in a relationship right now.’ is what she’s told me, but if she was ready, I would definitely be the one. She tells me all the cliches; she’s never felt like this before, never met a man she could talk to like this, I challenge her mind, and on and on. It’s like we were meant for each other, I feel the same way about her so everything should be grand. So for the last three weeks I’ve been in a holding pattern, hoping that she’ll open up to me sooner than later, and get romantically involved. We’ve seen each other at least every other day, and we’ve built an excellent friendship, and I know that I would rather have her as a friend than nothing at all.Last night I told her that it’s eating me up inside too much to bear. I can’t just end our friendship obviously, but being around her but not with her is really, really hard on my head. So to save my head, I thought I could just resign myself to friendship, and stop longing for her. I thought I could turn a switch, just like that but I can’t.Being a romantic, the tragedy of the whole situation has me in tears, so brutal! Half of me is really, really upset because we may never be together, or at least have a try at it. The other half feels fortunate to have had these feelings in the first place, and life is beautiful.What do I do? Do I simply go on day by day as her friend, and try to suppress the hope that we’ll be together some day? Should I gently press her ex issues, tactfully try to help her? I just want her to be happy, and I think she’s happy now, but arrrrrgh!Please advise; the thought of life without her makes me utterly despondent.Thanks for your time,Classic Tragedy Guy
This woman sounds utterly traumatized by past relationships and terrified to take another plunge. You called it right when you said that you’re in a holding pattern. She is frozen in place and there is no progress. You are turning yourself into an emotional pretzel–trying to turn off your longing for more than a friendship when this isn’t how you feel at all.Rather than expend energy on achieving the impossible, by this I mean trying to force yourself to feel what you don’t feel, why not become proactive and take charge of the situation. Here’s what I would suggest.Tell her that you have no problem waiting while she resolves her issues, under the condition that she is actually working on resolving them. Tell her that problems don’t go away by themselves and time doesn’t heal them either.Ask her to go into therapy and actively work on her issues. If she’s working on herself and moving forward, you will feel much more comfortable in waiting. If, on the other hand, she refuses to get help, then what you see is what you get. Her terror of intimacy will remain and you will feel tortured till the end of time.If this is the way the story plays out, you will then be left with no choice but to grieve and let her go or continue the contact and torture yourself. When you take charge as I suggest, you will feel less buffeted about by her indecision.Taking a stand and feeling more in charge should help you feel less tortured. Let me know what happens next.