Dear Dr. LoveI have been dating my current girlfriend for the last year and a half. Last week, she informed me that she wanted some space to focus on herself. The relationship is one of long distance. She is in Indiana, I am in New Jersey. We made the time to see each other just about every other month. The relationship was working well. I know that she still loves me, but when she told me that she wanted space and that she wasn’t sure how she felt, I was heartbroken.Now I sit thinking about her, not able to call because we decided that we would just not talk on the phone for a bit, to sort of ‘heal’ what happend over the last week. I am very confused. I love her very much. I have been told by so many friends, ‘give up,’ or ‘forget about her and move on.’ My parents never want me to speak with her again. So I now have a conflict. My heart tells me to wait, my mind tells me to date others. She is my only love. She is 20, and I am 23. I should add that she is working as an intern in the senate. I hope you can give me some advice, Dr. I would really appreciate this. I know she still cares about me, I just don’t understand why all of a sudden she did this. Thank you in advance for your reply.Sincerely, Heart Stuck
What a tough spot you’re in. I can see why you are perplexed about why your girlfriend has demanded this time apart–she hasn’t told you what’s going on. What concerns me is that she is not discussing her feelings with you, and instead chooses to act them out by distancing, withdrawing, etc. The fact that she is not verbally dealing with her issues is very hurtful for you and the relationship.I understand that your heart says to wait for her. If you decide to do this, then set an end-date for yourself so that you don’t wait forever. And, when you finally resume your contact, you need to talk with her about the effect that her distancing has had on you. You need to ask her if she is willing to commit to talking with you when her feelings arise, rather than cut off from you. If she is willing to recognize that her way doesn’t work and if she gives you the feeling that she will work on improving this pattern, then you have a workable relationship and a bright relationship future.If she is unwilling to change this pattern, you must be prepared to be heart stuck, on and off, for the rest of your life. If it turns out that she is unwilling to work on this with you, then your head must enter the picture, and help you make a serious decision before it’s too late. You must ask yourself: Am I willing to live with periods of separation whenever she becomes upset? If your answer is no, then you will have the answer to your question about whether or not to move on and date others. Good luck. I hope she is willing to work on herself and learn to talk with you rather than run for the hills. Please let me know what happens.