Dear Dr. Love,I am very confused and upset right now and am hoping you can help.I entered into a long distance relationship about 9 months ago with a girl from my home town. (I am 25 and in college and she is 21 and works.) The distance between us isn’t overwhelming (only a 5 hour drive) and I have been able to see her just about once or twice every month and over the holidays, but still we never had enough time.The first 3 months of our relationship involved regular phone calls and letters and we really got to know each other before actually dating. We went on our first dates over my Thanksgiving break when we also initiated a wonderful intimate relationship. We spent as much time together as we could over my Christmas break. We told each other we loved each other and how much we meant to each other; we also began our sexual relationship at this time. We became emotionally and physically bonded over the next couple of months and everything was perfect. In our letters and conversations we told each other how much we cared for each other; and we also talked about having a future together.I became more involved in my research at school so I could graduate in August, but still made whole-hearted efforts to see her and talk with her and write her. We always made it a point to tell each other how we were feeling (good or bad) rather than bottle up our emotions until we saw each other again. Then she stopped replying to my letters and her phone calls slowed down and I did not know why. When I asked about this, she just said she was busy at work and very tired I was shocked when about a month ago she asked for us to slow down our relationship as she needed space and didn’t feel comfortable with me anymore. She gave several reasons for this: my work has distanced us and she felt she wasn’t important to me anymore (this is not true as I always put her before my school work); she is not happy with her current job and desires a new career, but she is not sure where she is going in life and needs time to think; she is afraid of getting too close to me (her parents divorced when she was young) and does not want to make the same mistakes they did.I tried to give her the space she needed but not hearing from her hurt too much. I continued to send letters and call her, trying to tell her how I felt about this as well as get her to open up her feelings to me. She felt I was pressuring her and distanced herself from me even more. I became worried that I was losing her, and this past weekend I decided to go home and try to talk with her to resolve this. My worst fears became reality when she told me her feelings for me had changed (she did not love me like she used to) and she broke up with me. She said she doesn’t really know where her love for me went and she needed to find herself again. I told her I wanted to help her get through this but she said this is something she needs to do on her own. She told me she only wanted to be fair with me, but I don’t understand how this can be fair as my feelings are also involved in this. I feel like I not only lost my true love, but a best friend as well.I loved her with all my heart (and still do) and devoted myself to her and our relationship from the beginning, only wanting to make her happy. And she felt the same. If there was something I could do to help her get through this I would do it. I know in my heart that she is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with and I would never do anything to hurt her. I have never felt like this about anyone before; she means more to me than anyone ever has and I don’t want to lose her. She understood me better than anyone ever did, gave me the emotional support when I needed it, and gave me so much hope that we would have a future together that I can’t let her out of my life that easily. Soon the distance between us will be gone, and I was planning on having a’normal’ relationship with my girlfriend. Then this happened.I do not want to move on because no one else can replace the happiness and love she gave me; I am willing to wait for her and if there is a chance she will come back to me I want to be there to give it to her, but I do not know how long I should wait. I want her to know that I am here for her and will be waitng for her, but I’m afraid I pushed her too much already and I don’t want to push any more and do more damage. I left the communication lines open with her, but decided to myself as much as it hurts me, I would not write or call, but let her make the next move. She said she still wants to keep in touch while I’m at school and we would go out when I come home.What I don’t understand the most is how someone can say they love you and care about you so much, then just change their mind – I have never had second thoughts about how I felt about her. She told me that even though she fell out of love, she has never been given the kindness and generosity that I have given her, and she has never felt more loved and cared for and respected by anyone else in her life. Am I crazy for being confused? Is it natural for someone to lose their feelings like this? If this is normal, how often do people in this situation get back together, and stay together? Is there a good chance she will come back to me? Is there anything I can do (besides wait) to get her back into my life? Do you think I should make an effort to date her again when I move back home or let her make the decision about a relationship? I love her and am willing to give her another chance (if she comes back), but what can I do to prevent this from happening again?Your help in this will be greatly appreciated as I don’t know what I should do and I don’t want to lose the best person that ever came into my life.Heartbroken but Still in Love
You have been treated very badly. You asked many questions. The first one was how can someone love you one day and drop you the next.This behavior is called splitting and what this means is that the person you are in love with isn’t capable of tolerating both positive and negative feelings at the same time. You may have noticed that young children split all the time. When they are mad, they hate you and you might as well be dead. And, when they love you, you are all good. If you notice, many children’s fairy tales incorporate the splitting mechanism into the body of the stories (good fairy god mother, bad fairy god mother) in order to speak on a young child’s level.So, what you are dealing with here is a young woman who is developmentally fixated. In other words, one part of her psyche has not matured to the point that she can tolerate both positive and negative feelings toward you. And, when negative feelings arose, she had to kill you off.No wonder you are feeling dazed, confused, etc. You have been beheaded. And, yes you are correct to say that it isn’t fair for her to deal with her mixed feelings outside the context of the relationship. You are the other half of the relationship and all feelings concerning you and the relationship should be handled with you.But, she isn’t capable of this, because of the emotional level at which she operates.I know you love her terribly and would wait forever for her. True her resentment may subside, and she might come back to you. Can you see why I am concerned? If she does choose to take you back, do you see that you are vulnerable to being killed-off again the next time she is pissed at you.So, I think you need to realize first that you are taking a big risk in allowing her to hold all the cards here (while you sit patiently waiting for her to take you back).You need, it seems to me, to become more active in terms of your fate. And, you would be wise, before resuming again, to tell her that the only way you can allow yourself to become involved again as lovers is if you know that she is working on this issue. You can tell her that it is inevitable that you will say or do something to piss her off again, and you aren’t willing to be dropped like a hot potato again.You must ask her for her word, that she must promise to talk not act-out her anger by killing you off. If she can’t promise to do this, then you can’t safely resume an intimate relationship–not unless you feel like being an emotional yo-yo.I know that taking a stand like this will be hard. But, it is the only hope you have to save yourself, and paradoxically, to save this relationship. Because without this condition, the relationship will never thrive.Good luck. Let me know what happens.