“Can Women Really Get Too Mentally Drained to Date?”

A year and eight months ago I met a girl who was in a long-distance relationship. When we met, it was instant attraction, and we hooked up on our first date and kept hooking up! At the time she said she wanted to keep it purely platonic, meaning physical, and that’s how we continued for the following three months. I could tell that we both had started falling for each other. Then she told me her relationship with her boyfriend had ended, and we kept seeing each other.

We spent New Year’s and Valentine’s Day together, and then she, in a very indirect way, asked me to keep “my magic” for her only and to not share it with other girls. (She always said I made her feel “magical” due to awesome sex and chemistry). Not exactly a traditional way to ask someone to be exclusive, but it counts, right?

We kept dating, seeing each other once or twice a week. Throughout the year and eight months, I have always behaved with patience, strength, and love; I never forced a relationship (or even brought up the topic), but I kept planning dates and let her come to me. Then one day I finally asked how she felt about cheating on her ex, and she said that she had not been in a good place at the time, that she felt an instant connection with me, and that she couldn’t help but follow that. She said she had never done that before. I do believe cheaters can learn and stop and change. Just because someone cheated once doesn’t mean she’s always going to be a cheater, right??

Well, lately, she has grown more stressed and beaten down emotionally with school. Sometimes we have not seen each other for two weeks at a time. And then she just made the decisions to move to another state in a few months for med school and to break up with me. I told her not to worry about the relationship and that we could keep this going and have fun. She declined that. She said she barely has time to do her school work, let alone dedicate a few hours to me every Saturday evening. She said I DESERVE better.

Anyway, here are some questions I’m hoping you can answer:

1. Can cheaters change? In my situation, my girlfriend was deeply regretful about the cheating and told me openly that she had been wrong but felt very connected to me! She always returned my calls. I was always in the masculine role — courting and planning dates, while she was in the feminine role, following my lead.

2. Can women get so mentally and emotionally drained due to school that it’s hard to be in a relationship, even if it’s dating each other every two weeks?

Your insight is MUCH appreciated. — Saving the Magic For Her

Before I answer your questions about people and women in general, I need to get something out of the way about your girlfriend (well, ex-girlfriend), specifically: She no longer wants your magic. She may not have said it to you in those terms exactly, but she doesn’t need or want you to save your magic for her anymore. You are free to share and give it to whomever you’d like, except for her because she doesn’t want it. How can I be sure? Because I’m a woman and all women totally think alike and so, therefore, I know exactly what she is thinking and feeling since we are both women. JK! Women don’t all think alike. I really can’t be 100% certain of your (ex-)girlfriend’s true feelings, but it certainly sounds like she’s over the magic you’ve been offering her and that you’d be wise to just MOA. She basically gave you the whole “it’s not you, it’s me” speech which, regardless of gender, is code for: “I’m over you.”

Now, onto your specific questions:

1. Of course, people who cheat once can go on to have relationships in which they are faithful. It happens all the time. I’m not sure that a girlfriend always returning your calls is necessarily indicative of faithfulness though, and I sure as shit don’t know what you being in a “masculine” role or your (ex)girlfriend being in a “feminine” role has to do with cheating (or anything else, for that matter). You do know that this is 2015, right? Get this: Women are actually just as engaged in the courting process as men are!! I know! Crazy, right? Sometimes women even plan the dates! And a lot of times, there’s no “lead” to follow because both partners are EQUALS! And, again, this has nothing to do with cheating or not cheating or measuring someone’s faithfulness or commitment or any of that. Being equally invested in a relationship is simply a sign of . . . being equally invested and interested. Isn’t that cool?

2. And, yes, women CAN get mentally and emotionally drained! Wild, right? It usually happens when they, get this, are mentally and emotionally invested is something — like school, career, family, friends, relationships, EVEN SPORTS!! Now, can women get so emotionally and mentally drained that they can’t be in a relationship? Well, yes. But that really only happens when the relationship isn’t valuable enough to them to invest any of the precious bit of mental and emotional energy in their reserves after investing in the other important things in their lives. They weigh their investment vs. their return on their investment and decide whether the relationship is worth it and, if it’s not, they give some kind of speech about how the other person deserves more and they just don’t have time or energy for a relationship and “it’s not you, it’s me.” Sound familiar?

tl;dr: She’s not into you enough to date you anymore. MOA.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. TheRascal says:

    LW: I’m getting hung up on your definition of “platonic” and it’s all I care to comment on. Uh, it doesn’t mean what you think it means. It’s definition is: “of, relating to, or having a close relationship in which there is no romance or sex.”
    And, WWS.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Thank you, that really bugged me!

      1. Yeah, me, too.

  2. Your ex never sounded as invested in this ‘relationship’ or magical connection as you. You have equated that to the masculine and feminine roles, but honestly it sounds like she was kind of apathetic to your relationship. Like Wendy said women can and do actually plan dates. Especially when they are invested in the relationship and think it’s worth putting time and effort in to it, something to be said for both men and women. She also decided to make a major life decision without you. That does not point to someone who is invested in a relationship. How long would you be happy only seeing her twice a week anyway? Not pressuring someone doesn’t make your relationship good. Communicating and being on the same page is part of a good relationship and it doesn’t sound like you all did that. Also the excuse of you deserve better is used so often, it’s easier to say that than I don’t really want to date you anymore.

  3. Juliecatharine says:

    WWS! Don’t you want to be with someone who actually wants to spend time with you? You’re compromising yourself by hanging around waiting for her scraps. She’s been pretty clear about not wanting to invest any energy in you. After almost two years semi-together there should be a lot more openness and communication. Let this one go, be more forthright about what you want in the future, and remember that all women are different!

  4. RedroverRedrover says:

    It sounds like she was basically just sleeping with you because it was easy. The roles you describe are not “masculine” and “feminine”, they are “user” and “use-ee”. Think about it. You had great chemistry, and she would sleep with you, but she wouldn’t put any effort out. You did everything. You pursued her, you planned everything, and she just had to show up. And when she got too busy, she didn’t even do that. And on top of that, you didn’t ever apply any pressure or make her feel bad, which meant it was super easy for her to just keep doing this. And when you did ask for more, she took off. So, yeah. Wendy’s right, she wasn’t that into you. And frankly I think she was incredibly selfish to ask you not to sleep with anyone else, when she didn’t want anything serious anyway.
    Also I’d advise you to rethink your concept of what is masculine and feminine. If someone likes someone, it doesn’t matter what gender they are, they will make an effort to see that person. Your role wasn’t really masculine at all, it was more like “doormat”. I think you might need to work on your self-esteem a bit and not let someone walk all over you like this. In your next relationship, if she doesn’t make any effort, take that as a sign that she’s not interested enough and move on.

    1. Agreed with the user/use-ee stuff. Even when she asked him to “reserve his magic for her” (ew) she didn’t indicate she was reciprocating (sounds like the LW just assumed). A user would def ask a person to be faithful to them without being faithful back.

  5. Yes, women can be too drained to date. As Wendy said, I’ve weighed the pros and cons of dating and right now, I’m just not interested in investing any time finding a life long partner, or hell, even someone/people to casually date. I have zero desire to try the on-line thing. I’m just blah about the whole thing. I’ve decided to focus on my career and friends and just doing things I want to do.
    Also, like RedRover said, you sound like a doormat.

    1. Also, it doesn’t matter why she doesn’t want to see you anymore, or if her reason is “valid” according to you. What does matter is that she told you what she wants and it isn’t you. Does it suck, yes? Of course, but that’s the dating game… sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

      1. RedroverRedrover says:

        Yeah, that bugged me. Like if he could prove she was lying, it would make a difference. The whole letter came off as a little bit sexist to me. Like this isn’t a real issue that women might actually have. And then the description of gender roles… yeah.

      2. I got the same feeling, I also disliked the use of the word girls, maybe because of that undertone of weird gender roles.

      3. Unfortunately, that’s why I felt the need to post what I said, making it a valid reason… and after I posted, I realized that’s complete B.S. that her reason should be justified and examples should be given of women actually being too busy to date. It doesn’t matter the reason. At all. What matters is the person said no thank you. That goes for both genders.

  6. 1. I am pessimistic about this. I tend to avoid past cheaters, however, I do have a friend who has confessed to cheating in the past and who is in a, shall we say, unfulfilling marriage, and who has remained faithful to his wife. So maybe there is hope.
    2. Short answer: Yes. There are lots and lots of reason why someone chooses not to date. Maybe they don’t know what they want, maybe other aspects of their life are eating up too much time and energy. For me, I got tired of putting up with the bullshit. All the reasons your ex-girlfriend cited are perfectly valid. MOA.

  7. findingtheearth says:

    Oh yes, women can be too drained to date. I am a single mom, taking online classes for a Master’s Degree, and the thought of dating just makes me tired. I barely have time to put into myself, and especially not another person. Also, med school will be tough. Are you really willing to deal with rigorous course work, odd hours, and studying she will be required to do?

  8. 1. I don’t believe “once a cheater always a cheater,” but would avoid anyone who has recently cheated on someone–particularly some like this, who didn’t make a one-time mistake but rather cheated continuously for months before ending things. This has happened to me and I’m very sensitive about it because I understand being emotionally messed up and making a mistake that hurts someone, but cannot wrap my mind around treating another human being who cares about you with disrespect with enduring frequency.

    2. People can be too drained to date. Or they can just not want to make time for you in their busy schedules. People make time for what and who matters, so find someone who makes time for you.

  9. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

    She’s just not that into you, LW. And it doesn’t really matter why, because you should have more respect for yourself than to want to date someone who isn’t that into you.
    Like yourself enough to only want to give yourself to people who want to give themselves back to you.

  10. 1. Yes.
    2. Yes.
    LW, you need to know and remember something: WOMEN ARE PEOPLE (just like men are people!). If you need to, repeat it often, like a mantra. Write it on a post-it and stick it to the fridge. WOMEN ARE PEOPLE WOMEN ARE PEOPLE WOMEN ARE PEOPLE.

  11. Platonic: I do not think it means what you think it means.
    Also, most people in what you describe as her situation are not too emotionally drained to be in a relationship with someone they really want to be with. Being with someone you’re crazy about should not be a draining experience; it should be emotionally fulfilling (the majority of the time anyway). She’s just not crazy about being with you and that’s okay. Find someone who is!

  12. I think she played you. She claimed you had this “magical” connection and that she only wanted you…but she definitely has proven through her actions that you don’t mean all that much to her. And saying “save your magic especially for me” (ugh) isn’t the same as “we should be exclusive”. It sounds like you wanted a conventional relationship and she just wanted to make sure she had you available to her. It actually sounds like this all was about convenience to her — think of how this all started, you were there when her boyfriend was long distance. Instead of being faithful to her boyfriend she hooked up with you.
    Let her go. It doesn’t sound like she ever really valued you in a relationship sense, and it sounds like her move out of state to med school wasn’t something you were anticipating. Think about that for a minute: she was your girlfriend, but didn’t even TALK with you that this was something she was going to do. And she pulls the “it’s not you, it’s me” crap. In reality, she isn’t as into you as you want her to be. Which is fine; that type happens all the time. What ISN’T fine is how she has been stringing you along for such a long time. You CAN do better, and in that aspect she is right — you deserve better. I promise, plenty of girls want a committed guy like you who is looking for a relationship. You’ll find someone and you’ll realize “oh, THAT’S why it didn’t work with my ex girlfriend”.

    1. I think you’re making him out to be a better guy than he is. If he truly wanted a committed, conventional relationship he should probably not start them with someone who is cheating on their current significant other. I actually think he needs to think a lot about why he thinks being masculine and feminine and why someone has to have a valid reason to break up with him.

      1. RedroverRedrover says:

        Yeah, and the more I think about this, the more I think that HE took the stereotypically “feminine” role. Let yourself be used for sex and don’t voice your own needs because you’re afraid that if you do you’ll lose them. And then when they break up with you, wonder what happened when everything was so great. How often do we see female LWs with that pattern?
        I don’t know why this is bugging me so much, but it is. Would this guy ever ask if men can get so mentally drained that they can’t handle a relationship? He just seems like a “Nice Guy TM”. I don’t know why I’m getting that feeling, but I am.

      2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        what’s TM mean? i’d Google it but that seems like too much effort. …

      3. Avatar photo call-me-hobo says:

        It’s just like the “trademark” TM. “Nice Guys TM” is like internet shorthand for guys who rave about what nice guys they are/why can’t they get girlfriends/etc. when in actuality they aren’t really nice at all.


      4. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Ahhh, I see. I feel enlightened now.

      5. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

        YES. And, it sounds like she was dancing around the whole “are we/aren’t we in a relationship” the whole time, not *exactly* agreeing to being in a committed relationship / exclusivity, etc. from the start.

  13. Cleopatra Jones says:

    LW, here’s the thing….
    She cheated on her ex because frankly it was easier to use you as her escape from an unhappy relationship. Once she was out of the relationship, she didn’t ‘need’ you anymore.
    I’ve seen this a million times, a person wants to leave a relationship but doesn’t quite know how to do it. Then comes along someone who makes you feel happy/loved/cared for/ attractive [insert whatever is missing from the relationship] && they think, ‘wow, this is great. I totally want to spend my life with this wonderful person.’ Then they get out of the unhappy relationship (cause they’ve cheated so there’s no way they can back to to their partner without feeling bad), intending to be with their luvah. Then BAM!, they realize that now the problem (the old unhappy relationship) is over they don’t want to be in a relationship. So they gotta kick the luvah to the curb.
    Trust me, it happens all.of.the.time. Ha ha, it happened to me the other day at the grocery store. This dude that I randomly see in there asked me out for coffee and wanted to exchange phone numbers, so I said, “I’m married & this feels like you are asking me out on a date.” . He says, ‘I’m married too & that’s what I’m asking’. Then all of that was followed by how he is so unhappy with his wife but he can’t get a divorce because of kids, money, [insert lame ass excuse here].—
    To which my response was, ” I am not your escape plan from your unhappy relationship.” Then I walked away…cause ‘Homey don’t play that’ <—I'm bringing that back from the 90's. 🙂

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      I always love your advice and this one doesn’t disappoint!

      1. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

        I agree!!!
        And GROSS to the guy at the grocery store. Ugh.

      2. Cleopatra Jones says:

        I just wanted to get a greek salad & cookie for my lunch. I didn’t need that dropped on me that morning. ugh.
        Besides, the only man that I could reasonably get a cheating pass on would be Daniel Craig. 😉

  14. Sunshine Brite says:

    Haha, like above, I just want to let you know that platonic does not mean physical only. It actually means pretty much anything else but that. Once a cheater always a cheater might not mean she would cheat every time but it sounds like she was going down the path of being in a bad spot again.
    Yes, someone can be too busy to date. Or the other person can want more than what is necessary to the other. I dated a guy in grad school for less than a week and ghosted when he got super pissed that I needed to do school stuff most of the next week as I was in an every other weekend graduate program. Got really insistent and overbearing fast. It sounds like you were looking for more and she knew she wasn’t the one to give you that.
    Also, let go of your ideas around gender roles. It’s very limiting in your relationships.

  15. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW I’m suspecting that the unstated portion of your question is whether she has been cheating on you and is leaving you to move on to whoever she has been cheating on your with. You’re wondering if she is following the pattern that she followed with you. That’s why you want to know if her excuse for breaking up is legitimate. The answer is who knows. Maybe she does have another guy lined up and is moving on, maybe she doesn’t and just isn’t feeling it anyway.

    Next time you want a meaningful relationship where you don’t have to worry about whether your partner might be a cheater, don’t start the relationship as an affair. I also noticed that she asked you to save your magic for her, you don’t mention that she promised to save her magic for you. So was this relationship always one-sided with you paying for everything (you being used) and you committing to a monogamous relationship while she committed to nothing. Don’t look for a relationship with a lead male and following female, look for a relationship where both of you are equals, equally committed, equally involved, equally invested both financially and emotionally.

  16. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    The question about cheaters seems odd – I mean, not at all relevant to your story, except that of course she cheated when she first got together with you. But now a ton of time has gone by and she seems to just be going with the flow with you, but not interested in anything more serious than a date once or twice a week – or recently as long as 2 weeks between dates. And now she’s flat-out told you she doesn’t want to date anymore once she leaves for medical school. I think this time with you has just been convenient. I bet if you had pushed for something more earlier, she would have ended it earlier. Time to MOA – and to let another lucky girl enjoy your magic!

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      I think he’s thinking of her cheating now because he’s afraid that it’s happening to him now.

  17. “We spent New Year’s and Valentine’s Day together, and then she, in a very indirect way, asked me to keep “my magic” for her only and to not share it with other girls. (She always said I made her feel “magical” due to awesome sex and chemistry). Not exactly a traditional way to ask someone to be exclusive, but it counts, right?”
    No, it doesn’t count. Not at all. It sounds like you never communicated in your ‘relationship’. How indirect are we talking? Short of saying “I want to be exclusive” and you saying “Sure, that sounds great”, it really doesn’t count. Especially in a relationship that started with cheating.

  18. There seem to be some unnecessary and sort of unusual gender distinctions going on here. I think job number one for you is to start seeing women as people with the same complicated motivations as men might have. And then job number two would be to see women as individuals, and not one collective, mysterious species. It kind of feels like you are asking Wendy for advice here so she can decode female behavior. Women are people. They cheat, they lie, they change their minds, they make big career decisions, and they deserve to be heard. So when this lady friend of yours says, “Thanks but no thanks,” you only have to do one thing: believe her and move on.

  19. LadyPants1984 says:

    This guy’s use of the word “emotionally” with “broken down” and “drained” is so BLAH. As others have mentioned, it’s not 1910. Likely, she’s neither of those things and may be very happy, focused and excited to be pursuing her career. It’s disappointing how some men interpret this kind of strength or a lack of interest in their proposals as some kind of feminine disorder. “She doesn’t want to date me! She must be terribly ill!” Just BLAH.

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