After two bad break-ups and a year off from relationships, I finally decided to give it a try with this new guy, David. He’d never had a girlfriend before, and said he said he didn’t want to just hook up, but wanted a relationship, which was great news for me, as I felt like I’d finally met someone I was willing to put my heart on the line for. Because he holds an executive position in our student government and is taking four classes, we didn’t get to see much of each other, but I was fine with that. Then, after not quite a month, he blindsided me with a break up. He said he really liked me but didn’t have enough time to give me proper attention. What killed me is that he was completely unwilling to compromise or try to work things out. His reasons sounded a bit fishy to me, so I started asking around, and discovered he’d told two other girls last semester the exact same thing.
Since the problem appears to be his trust/commitment issues in general and not us not liking each other, or so much the bullshit “time” excuse he initially gave, I think we could work it out. So my question is: how on earth do I approach getting back together with a guy who has trust issues? I kind of want him to know that I have experience with people who have trust/commitment issues and I’m willing to take things slow and be patient, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea to directly say that to him. So, how do I convince him to take a chance on me? — Committed to a Commitment-phobe
So, because a guy decides after a month that he doesn’t want to date you anymore — and has alleged history of making the same decision about two other women in his past — he’s a “commitment-phobe”? That’s an awfully big leap to make, though I can certainly understand the temptation to make it. Looking back at my own romantic past and the guys who unceremoniously dumped me after a few weeks of dating, I can imagine now how I might have avoided some relatively painful ego bruising if I’d only accepted that the real reason I was suddenly single was because the poor fools were commitment-phobes! Instead, I was silly enough to assume that the guys had gotten to know me well enough to decide, for whatever reason, that I wasn’t a good match for them. It never even dawned on me that if the poor saps had arrived at similar conclusions about other young women that the problem might actually be theirs — that there might be something wrong with them.
I’m being facetious, of course. Not because I’m mocking you, because, truly, we’ve all been where you are. We all know how easy it can be to manufacture reasons for being dumped that have nothing — nothing at all — to do with the idea that maybe he or she simply isn’t into us. What’s worse is when we convince ourselves that not only is he still very much into us, but he didn’t really mean to break up with us at all! Why, he’s just scared, see. This was just some silly tactic to see how committed we are to him, see. Once we convince him that we’re in it — we’re really in it and nothing he can say or do will drive us away — our relationship will once again be fantastic. … Or, you know, as fantastic as it can be when he hardly makes time for us. But, that’s just a technicality! He can’t help that he’s busy. It surely has nothing to do with his feelings for us.
Ah, but dear LW, it does. If a guy really wants to spend time with you, he’ll find the time. If he really wants a relationship with you, nothing — not four classes, not an executive position on the student government — will stand in his way. The truth is, he just wasn’t into it all that much. He realized after a few weeks with you that, for whatever reason, you weren’t a good match for him. I know that’s a tough pill to swallow — especially if you felt he was a good match for you. But I promise, the faster you get it down, the easier it will be to move on.
If you’re worried about bruising your ego, then trust me on this: the last thing you want to do is try to convince this guy to give you another chance. The last thing you want to do is to tell him you “have experience with people who have commitment issues.” It wasn’t commitment issues that led to your breakup. He just didn’t want to date you anymore. The “bullshit time excuse” he gave was his way of letting you down easy. Just because he’s let other girls down the same way doesn’t make it any less so. MOA, darlin’. MOA with your head held high and the knowledge that if this guy felt in his heart that you weren’t the right match for him, then he wasn’t the right match for you. The good news is, the next guy (or the guy after that, or the guy after that) just very well might be.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.