“He Dumped Me, But I Don’t Want to Give Up on Us”

“Pete” and I started dating this past June. Pete is 29 and seems to be a bit of a commitment-phobe as his longest relationship was less than a year; I am 25 and have been in two major relationships (including one emotionally-abusive marriage from which I had just gotten a divorce in May). But after only two months with Pete, I realized I had never been in love in the past. There is just something about him that I have never felt about anyone before. We had an amazing connection that scared me, so I held back a little bit. He seemed to have trouble expressing himself as well, and I was still emotionally bruised from the past.

Anyway, Pete started taking a course in September that was to last nine weeks and take up nearly all of his time. We made a date every Sunday though because we weren’t ready to end our relationship. It was frustrating not being able to spend as much time with each other, and I wanted some security. I got the courage to ask him to be my boyfriend and then he ended things. He said he felt like he wasn’t able to give me the attention I deserved, that he felt selfish for holding on to me so long, and that he wants to be friends. That night I sent him an email:

You asked me why I wanted you to be my boyfriend (at least I think that’s what you said, I was a bit overwhelmed at the time) and the reason wasn’t just because I liked you or actually enjoyed hearing about your day. If I was being honest, I was kind of crazy about you, you made me feel sexy and beautiful, you inspired me to be better – (not last night, that was just awkward, like something you would write in a yearbook – ‘you’ll do great things’) – and you actually seemed to value my opinion (you might not know how rare this is).

We rocked out to Elton John for hours and we discovered how uncool theater is. I accidentally said, “You’re so soft,” in bed, you dropped me at the Deltron 3030 concert, the entire MGMT concert! I did have fun; I hope you did too. You said you felt like you were always talking about yourself, but I felt the same about me. I have never been so mentally or physically attracted to someone. When I had said that sometimes you made me nervous, it was more of a butterflies-in-my-stomach kind of thing. I was afraid at how much I was starting to like you so quickly. I was surprised that I was okay with your new schedule and even more shocked that I was willing to wait it out.

I thought it was unfair when you said, ‘Sorry we couldn’t make this work,’ because I honestly tried to make it work. I was aware that things were a bit one-sided (although I had hoped it was just because you were shy and awkward – which I loved about you) and that this ‘relationship,’ or whatever it was, was probably not just bad timing.

When I asked you if you wanted to be my boyfriend, I wasn’t asking for more commitment or more of your time; I was just asking for security and to not feel like a booty call whenever we ran into your roommates. I was hoping I meant more to you.

You were right about one thing last night, I did deserve better (for one, you were pretty selfish in bed – might want to work on that one. Also, the only time you told me that I was beautiful, to my face, was last night and you couldn’t even look me in the eye when you said it).

Your text last night was weird, ‘Sorry. You are a beautiful and caring woman. I’m not sure you fully appreciate it. Thanks for sharing your time with me.’ Thanking me for sharing my time sounds transactional.

I don’t want to be friends. I’m sorry. We didn’t start as friends.
‘Friends’ means that you don’t mind seeing the other person dating other people.

I know one of your start-up ideas will work out and hope that it’s everything you wanted.

I hope you learn to open up to people – maybe start with your friends.

Take care.

P.S. It felt demeaning when you said that you thought I was special. I’m definitely not feeling special now.

P.P.S. It was sad how little it seemed to affect you yesterday. I didn’t feel comfortable to show you how I actually felt because it seemed like a routine for you.

P.P.P.S. One night, about a month ago, I think you accidentally said that you loved me and I pretended that I didn’t hear it because I wasn’t sure you meant it that way especially since you said that you have never been. I always wondered. It feels good to finally mention it.

He replied, thanking me for my email and apologizing again. He also wrote:

I guess I was simply afraid of growing dependent on someone other than myself. Also, the thought of continuing our relationship, and increasing the risk of hurting you more, made me feel incredibly guilty and selfish. Lastly, I don’t exactly recall the moment that I dropped the ‘L’ word, though there are many things about you that I do love. Perhaps it was a Freudian slip ;). Take good care of yourself.

Then he texted me the next day, saying I deserved a better explanation and asked if he could buy me coffee over the weekend. So, I met with him and we had a heart-to-heart, talking for three hours straight. He said that, after he read my email, he realized that no one has ever felt for him so deeply. He then told me that he didn’t see the relationship becoming long-term. He also mentioned that he had wanted to take me to visit his friends and family in New Zealand, which confuses me because he said he didn’t see a future. Right before we parted he said, “I feel like things may have ended prematurely.”

I don’t want to give up on this. As sad as this may seem, this was the most real relationship I have ever been in. Even though he has trouble speaking from the heart, he has always been honest with me. All I wanted to do was kiss him and have him tell me everything was going to be okay. I don’t want to give up, but if you think it’s time to move on, I will try my hardest. — Not Feeling Special

You sound to me like someone who has been through a lot of struggle and just wants to feel good again (or feel good finally). And I can understand the temptation to cling to a relationship that in many ways feels “real” or like the best thing you’ve had in your life in a long time, but you also have to look at the large picture and consider everything before you decide this is something worth fighting for or pursuing. First of all, and certainly not the least important factor, “Pete” told you he doesn’t see a future with you. That was a really honest and even kind thing to tell you. He feels like you DO see a future with him and, realizing how hard you’re falling, he wanted to spare you the hurt of investing so much energy and time into something he feels has an eventual end point.

Now, maybe, that end point is a long way off. Maybe Pete could happily date you for several years even before deciding he was at a stage in his life where he was ready to “settle down,” and that would mean finding the relationship that would be very long-term and not just temporary. And it’s even possible than in the next few years, if you two dated that long, he might have a change of heart. Maybe he would fall in love with you in a way you want him to — in a way that would have him wanting to commit to you forever. But considering that he already told you that he doesn’t see that happening, there’s a pretty good chance he would leave you eventually, and I think it would be much harder to be left later than to be left now.

So, yes, Pete thinks maybe he broke up with you prematurely, and yes, that does seem to indicate that he would enjoy spending more time with you. Maybe he’d take you to meet his family in New Zealand. Maybe you two could enjoy other trips together and holidays and weekends hanging out while he progressed in his career. Maybe for a while, you could be his companion — not quite a girlfriend, but certainly a step above a booty call. But that doesn’t mean you have the security you crave. In fact, knowing what you know now — that Pete doesn’t see a future with you — that he sees your relationship ending eventually — would, I think, create the exact opposite of security. Wouldn’t you always be wondering when the end was coming? Wouldn’t you always be worried about him growing bored and finally being done with you? And isn’t that a pretty horrible way to feel? Especially in relation to someone you have such strong feelings for yourself? It throws the whole power dynamic off, and as someone who already has an emotionally abusive marriage under her belt, you don’t need to be in another relationship where your own power is so limited.

And speaking of that emotionally abusive marriage: you say the divorce was finalized in May. And then you started dating Pete in June? You know, you could probably benefit from a stretch of time with NO relationship drama. You could probably benefit from being alone for a while and finding the security you crave from a life outside of a relationship — from yourself and your support system and a life that you are an active participant in. Fill your days with things that bring you joy and that’s where security comes from — knowing that YOU have control and power in creating a happy existence and that you don’t have to rely on a boyfriend to do that for you. That’s where you get power. And once you have it, you’ll never again settle for a relationship that so greatly diminishes that power.


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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. If a relationship prompts you to write e-mails like this one – automatic MOA.

    1. starpattern says:

      Yeah, this is what it boils down to. Haha.

  2. artsygirl says:

    Yes on the May/June timeline – for the love of God, LW, give yourself sometime. It is possible Pete is THE ONE but it is also possible that he is a rebound who doesn’t treat you like shit and therefore you became too attached too quickly.

    1. Isn’t divorce finalised quite a long time after separation in most places? Most recent divorcees I know are actually well past the drama when the decree comes through.

      1. artsygirl says:

        The time between legal separation and divorce depends from state to state – in mine I think it is 3 months. IMHO, she is coming off a traumatic experience (divorce and before that a toxic relationship) and then jumping right into a relationship which she believes is serious. It might be perfectly healthy for her, but to me there is always the worry that this could be a rebound relationship – especially if she is a serial monogamist who wants to get into committed relationship right away.

      2. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        My divorce didn’t have a single disputed issue and it took 6 months. Dumb.

  3. kerrycontrary says:

    Oh geez, isn’t unrequited love the worst? I get LW, I do. Listen to people when they tell you who they are: Pete said he doesn’t see a future with you. Listen to him. Cut off contact since it will be hard for you to be in constant communication with him.

  4. I feel icky inside after only reading 2 paragraphs of that email.

    1. Getting serious, WWS, especially her 2nd to last paragraph.

  5. That was a lovely, compassionate answer Wendy. Listen to her LW!

  6. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

    This guy sounds like one of those people who wants to be the eternal good guy, so he is sending all these texts and responding to your emails in a nice way and trying to reassure you that you are a great girl etc and instead, is just giving false hope (I don’t think he is a bad guy at all, just people do this a lot when they are the breaker-upper to assuage their guilt and it backfires imo). Don’t read into all of the things he is saying or texting. The quicker you accept what he actually did (break-up with you) and what he said then (I don’t see a future with you) as the truth, the better it will be. I think that you guys need to cut off the communication and you need to take some time to be alone. Don’t be friends, don’t email him, don’t text him. If he has no intentions of getting back together with you, this is just hurting you more in the end. I am really sorry you are going through a sort of break-up so quickly after a divorce, but girl, take some time for you. Relationships are great but so is being alone and rediscovering things that you love and that make you a happy person. Here is a secret from a single girl- its so nice to not have to deal with the drama that relationships and especially dating in this day and age can bring. So please just slow down and focus on yourself for awhile.

    1. Lily in NYC says:

      This! LW, the worst thing you can do is analyze every word he says for deeper meaning. You are just going to feel worse and nothing is going to change. I’m sorry; I know it hurts.

  7. lets_be_honest says:

    p.p.p.p.p.p.s. you sound a little insane

  8. Liquid Luck says:

    LW, you just got out of an abusive marriage. I’m sure it’s left you with some baggage and scars, probably many you haven’t even realized yet. I think you would benefit from seeing a therapist. The key to finding a solid, happy relationship is not needing one. You should learn to be happy with yourself, because if you don’t have that foundation then no guy will be able to really make you happy. It’s not your partner’s job to make you a complete person, you have to be one all on your own. The pressure you put on someone by asking them to take on the task of making you a whole is too much for any relationship to withstand healthily.

    So find a therapist to help you through your relationship baggage. Now that you’re single, focus on you. Take a class for something you’ve always wanted to learn, travel somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Is there anything you’ve wanted to try that your husband held you back from doing? Do it now. Are there any friends you’ve neglected because of your bad marriage? Reach out to them. Make new friends; it’s harder as an adult, but it’s not impossible if you’re willing to put yourself out there. Work on becoming the very best version of yourself that you can, and the rest will fall into place.

    And please try to remember that rejection is not always about you. Being rejected by someone (whether it’s a romantic partner of someone you hoped would be a new friend) is often just about a mismatch in personality or values. Most of the time, it isn’t about one person doing something wrong or not being good enough, it’s simply about two people not being a good match. Cake and cheese are both awesome on their own, but you would never put them together. People can be the same way-awesome individually, but just not a great pair. So try not to let this get you down about yourself.

    1. “Cake and cheese are both awesome on their own, but you would never put them together. ”

      DUH… it’s called cheesecake, and it’s delicious! Otherwise, I agree with everything 100% 🙂

      1. Liquid Luck says:

        You know, I LOVE cream cheese. But I have a hard time lumping it in with other cheeses. I know it technically is cheese, but to me it’s just something so different. I think it should have it’s own special food category of deliciousness.

        Also, the person who first gave me that line (sadly, I didn’t invent that particular piece of wisdom myself) did so in a note with a drawing of a piece of cake with a cheese wedge on top, so I always picture that drawing when I think about it. It hung in my college apartment for years 🙂

  9. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

    to be honest, I couldn’t even read the entire email because it made me feel so awkward. Emails like this after break-ups are something that should be written (if you must) but never ever ever ever sent.

    1. I couldn’t read it, either! I have two different e-mails to my recent ex that I’ll never, ever, ever send.

      About a year ago, one of my good friends sent her ex an e-mail that was LONG, awkward, and embarrassing. (Among other things, she quoted Grey’s Anatomy to him to explain how she was feeling.) They’d only dated for 2? 3? months before it ended, and I didn’t know how to tell her to her face that she was a basketcase because she was in SO much pain. Her ex responded to say something like, “Okay.” The breakup aftermath went on for about a year. Oof.

      LW, I’m sorry you’re in pain. You should try not to send any more e-mails trying to change the state of things. It sonds like what you really need is “you” time.

      1. You’re not going to share the Grey’s quote? Was it that she thought he was her person?

      2. Part of me wants to share the entire letter — I re-read it last night during an “I’m so sad about my breakup, maybe being CRAYZAY is the answer!” to remind myself about why it is, in fact, not a good idea to be crazy — but you’d all cringe, and I’d feel like an asshole.

        Basically, this particular e-mail was one of many, but it was by far the longest and more cringe-worthy. By the time it was sent, their 2? 3? month relationship had been over for 6 months after he’d realized he wanted to be with his ex-girlfriend. He and my friend worked for the same company and still saw one another sometimes. He’d be nice to her, she’d think it “meant” something. So, that’s the backstory.

        The Grey’s anatomy quote was the one where McDreamy insinuates that Meredith is a tramp because she slept with McVet? (I can’t remember all the way back to season 1.) And Meredith turns around and says something like, “When I met you, I was done! Then you picked Addison! You don’t get to judge me for how I put myself back together after you broke me!”

        I felt bad for my friend’s pain, I really did, because though their relationship was short, the breakup was sad and everyone knows how much it hurts to be dumped for someone else. But still. That quote was just one “gem” of many from that e-mail.

        (I feel like a terrible person for sharing this anecdote. She admitted to me within the past couple weeks that she would send the e-mails in her weakest moments, then hate herself.)

      3. Here’s the real quote, not just my vague recollection of what was said on TV in ’06, haha:

        “When I met you, I thought I had found the person that I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I was done. So all the boys, and all the bars, and all the obvious daddy issues, who cared? Because I was done. You left me. You chose Addison. I’m all glued back together now. I make no apologies for how I chose to repair what you broke.”

      4. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        alkgj no.

      5. Oh, wow, haha.

        This half-inspired me to be like, “Oooh let’s all post the worst parts of our post-break up emails!” but I just looked through mine, & they’re terribly wordy & less embarrassing, & more just sentimental as fuck? (Because they weren’t sent right after the breakup, they were exchanges from like months after & both my ex & I are romanticizing the fuck out of our relationship.)

      6. I feel like such an ass for outting my friend for how she handled her pain. I’m truly not trying to judge her since I’m pretty sure I said some stupid things during Closure Talk with my recent ex — the conversation where he was all about his lesbian ex-wife and how it was still affecting him and such — but I didn’t really think to myself how stupid I was being until after we stopped talking and texting. People say & do dumb shit when they’re emotional. I know because I’m the kind of people I’m talking about. I honestly just feel so sad when I see someone in so much pain that they’re coming a little unglued. 🙁

      7. I deleted all correspondence between myself and The Ex. At one point I had EVERY email and IM saved. I knew if I didn’t get rid of it, I’d still be going through it periodically, even now- seven years later.

      8. TaraMonster says:

        Ah don’t beat yourself up. We’ve all been your friend at one point. Which was why you posted about it. And honestly, the LW might be better able to see the reality of her own actions by reading that anecdote. That’s why we share things here, right? Because DW is a safe place where we learn and grow… Like Gulla Gulla Island… with sex and wine and relationship drama.

      9. TaraMonster says:

        A couple years ago I noticed a folder in my email that was kinda buried. It was full of painfully embarrassing emails between my end-of-high-school/beginning-of-college boyfriend and I. I read a couple. Skimmed really. Then deleted the folder. It was oddly satisfying, I guess because I was so completely over and done with that part of my life that even rereading those exchanges was unnecessary.

        And those are the only emails of that nature that I have ever sent. My rule of thumb since then has always been that there is NO REASON to send those emails. By all means, write them if you have to. Then DELETE DELETE DELETE!

        With my most recent breakup, I had notes in my iPhone with emails I never intended to send. I deleted those while standing on the subway platform a few months back. I was just like… fuck this. I am so done reflecting about this. I had already tossed out anything hand written to him with much the same attitude. It may seem like a small thing, but it was a powerful feeling to put that stuff behind me.

      10. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        yeah I sent the most mortifying email when my first bf and I broke up. we had been together for 3 years and I was only 20 but still, just thinking about the things I put into that email makes me cringe. I probably quoted some really dumb things too…

      11. I think a lot of people (at least in my experience?) have made those kinds of mistakes, then they realize, “Oh, yeah, that was really embarrassing.” And then they don’t do it anymore. Haha.

      12. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        yeah i had to send that first one to know how big of a mistake it was and now i don’t even write that email.

    2. Seriously, you NEVER, NEVER send those emails!!!

    3. Oh man, I skipped it, too (after the first paragraph and a half). I was like….. I feel squicky. Then I kept scrolling and was like TL;DR.

  10. Lemongrass says:

    You don’t get to negotiate a break up. If someone breaks up with you, that is their right and you don’t get to take it away no matter how much it hurts. You may be willing to put in the work but he isn’t. That means that he doesn’t think that your relationship is WORTH it. You don’t want to be in a relationship with someone who thinks that. Eat some Haagen daz, listen to some break up music and stand on your own two feet emotionally.

  11. starpattern says:

    Aw LW. This was so painful to read, I couldn’t even make it through all the e-mails. Please, please, take time off from dating and just work on making yourself stronger. You are not being objective at all – Pete is not the last guy in the world that is going to make you feel good. You would probably benefit a lot from therapy, and just focusing solely on yourself for a (long) while.

  12. WWS. Also, please see a therapist. You need to figure out why so much of your self-worth derives from other people.

    I really get where you’re coming from. I’ve felt that way too. For a long time. And therapy really helped me. Also, getting to a place where I felt good about myself, whether or not a man was reassuring me, is I think the biggest thing that prepared me to have a stable, healthy relationship at last. In order to get there, you need to figure out who you are, on your own, for a while. If you’re already divorced at 25, with another serious relationship before that marriage too, it sounds like you haven’t spent a lot of your adult life being single. Try it. It’s not as terrifying as it seems.

    Also, read Jane Eyre. It’s about a woman with a steely sense of self-respect who gets into the most “real” romance of her life…and then sticks to her guns when things get bad, even if it means losing her man.

    1. Also, this is going to sound really cynical and might be hard to read, but — you have to be realistic that the reason Pete might take you back, at least temporarily, is just because it’s really hard to walk away from that much attention and flattery. Maybe he’s not doing it deliberately, to “use” you, but it can be really hard to leave someone who loves you so much, just because that feeling is so good. I’m not saying it as a knock on him. I know how that feels, too. It can be hard to walk away from someone who promises to love you more than anyone else in the world. But that doesn’t mean he feels the same.

    2. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

      Love Jane Eyre…its been too long since I read it, I like to every few months or so. I think I am going to pick it up, such a great fall read. Also the newest movie adaptation is my favorite thing ever.

      1. Have you seen the BBC series from the 80s? That is by far my favorite screen adaptation and the truest to the book, IMO. However, Timothy Dalton is probably too attractive to play Rochester, but ehhh… I can live with it 😉

      2. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        I have seen parts and have it in my netflix instant queue but have been putting it off because it is sort of old-fashioned. I will start watching it though based on this recommendation 🙂

      3. So is Fassbender!

      1. I LOVE THESE

      2. me too! Did you read the Gone with the Wind one? That was amazing.

      3. Ah, yes! But you reminded me I need to read it again 😀 Sooo good. (The writer has her own site now, The Toast, in case you guys don’t know! http://the-toast.net/ My favorite recent one is the Edgar Allan Poe one)

  13. TaraMonster says:

    That’s the kind of email you never even show your best friend because you wrote it after too much Sauvignon blanc.

    Also, when I typed my username in just now, my new iPhone tried to auto correct it to say “Fatwa Monster”. This amuses me.

    1. I was texting my friend on a new phone and tried to type “happiness” and it showed up as “his penis” instead. So basically I told my friend – in the middle of an emotional relationship crisis – that she deserved his penis.

      1. TaraMonster says:

        I hope you sent a screenshot of that to damnyouautocorrect.com!

      2. Maybe it really is a Smart Phone…

  14. What’s that old saying, “Your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear what you say?” That needs to become the LW’s motto. Pete’s *actions* indicate that he doesn’t want a relationship with her; all the other stuff–emails/texts/etc–is just fluff designed to let her down gently.

    I think sometimes, it’s very easy to hear what we *want* to hear from someone, and ignore that person’s actions. It’s much more pleasant to focus on “He thinks I’m beautiful!” and not, “…but he just broke up with me.” A good partner in a relationship is going to show you in effort AND words that s/he cares for you and you’re a priority in his/her life.

  15. When I was 17, I had a huge crush on this guy I worked with, who was…maybe 21. We flirted at work, and eventually started talking on the phone. I broke up with my boyfriend because this guy seemed interested (and that relationship had run its course too) and I hung out with the guy a couple of times, slept with him of course, and it was great. The first time I’d ever had a guy who I had a crush on like me back! And then he started dating another girl that we worked with…who was closer to his age, and also gorgeous. I made the mistake of trying to explain to him one night on the phone why this sucked so bad for me. To be sort of tossed aside for another girl. He told me I needed a psychiatrist, haha.

    I think, LW, that your story reminded me of this, because sometimes being rejected makes us awfully pathetic. We start to wonder what is wrong with US, when really, a break-up is more about him, and what he wants/needs at the time. He has already told you he doesn’t see a future, you have to accept him at his word.

  16. Also, why does it necessarily mean he’s “afraid of commitment” just because he hasn’t had a long relationship? A lot of times, that’s just circumstances.

  17. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    Awww, you guys go easy on the LW, she’s so heart broken and sad! That said, I I couldn’t read the whole email; I felt so bad for her.

    LW, we’ve all been there, even all the “yikes! get help” commenters, and we’ve all needed help, so there’s no shame. You’re not nuts; you’re heartbroken and sad and you have some healing to do. Listen to Wendy!

    1. I’m with AP! People don’t always think clearly when they’re heartbroken. Sometimes even when you’re capable of thinking logically (“I know I deserve better than X, Y, and Z!” or “If he wanted to be with me, he’d be with me!”), it takes a little while for your heart to catch up. I’ve been there, and so have most people I know — even the ones who are the most put together in other aspects of their lives.

      1. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        yeah I agree completely. The main reason I couldn’t go through with reading is because I was getting some too-real flashbacks to my own heartbreak and it is really hard for me to see someone be so sad about something they are getting cooky with it, because ya been there and it ain’t pretty. I think we can admit though she is being over the top and for her own good needs to reign it in and lock it up.

      2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        We need a TW: If you’ve been *that girl* recently, stop reading now

    2. And this is why we love AP.

    3. I’m glad you said that AP. It makes me almost cry with shame to think about the Letter I wrote my ex of 8 years after months of trying to get him back like the biggest loser on earth. I dumped him, but he had a new girlfriend and I seriously lost my mind. God. And I was 26! Old enough to know better. So yeah I found this letter difficult to read too, but mostly because it reminds me of my own super embarrassing behavior.

  18. Truthfully, I only skimmed the letter and certainly didn’t read the strange email, but LW it’s time to MOA. This guy was kind to you and told you that he didn’t see a future with you. If you respect him, then respect his decision. You can’t be in a relationship if the other person doesn’t want to be.

  19. Okay, so to actually respond: You need to let this go. He told you how he felt about you, & he doesn’t see a future with you. I’m guessing your emails made him feel that awful combination of guilty/flattered, which is why he’s still being nice/making vague references to future plans. Don’t do this to yourself. Sending those emails was just a way to drag out the breakup; you can’t negotiate your way back in (even if you HOPE you can, even if it SEEMS like that’s the way it’s going. Listen to Wendy, & to everybody else. And listen to Pete’s statement that he ~doesn’t~ want a relationship, that he ~doesn’t~ feel the same way about you as you do about him.)

    As an aside: I dunno, I get others have sent emails that they regretted in the wake of a breakup, but the LW’s read really manipulatively to me? It comes off much more calculating than just a simple heartbroken bad decision email. (And very weird to mention the fact that he was apparently lazy in bed…)

    LW, I know you said you came out of an emotionally abusive marriage, & obviously I don’t know the details, but is it possible you’ve picked up on some bad communication patterns from that partnership? Maybe as a way to cope with/control your ex’s moods? It’s a shot in the dark, & maybe not appropriate to bring up, but it’s the first (okay, maybe, like, FOURTH) thing I thought after reading through your letter & the copied letters to this guy. Either way, move on, seek therapy, & be single.

    1. Avatar photo meadowphoenix says:

      I got the same feeling about that email, Fabelle.

  20. Avatar photo meadowphoenix says:

    So I’ll be honest and probably a little harsh and say that your email made me think you were breaking up with him, and this was the letter where you said why. Otherwise, I’m not sure what you thought you would accomplish by making passive-aggressive comments about his openness to his friends or just plain aggressive comments about how good he is in bed. Are you trying to make him feel bad enough so that he’ll stay with you?

    So here’s where I’ll be harsh. I get that you’re upset and that’s part of why you wrote an “I want you back” email like you were writing “You’re really not as good as you think you are but I still love you, that’s how dedicated I am” email. Can you see how manipulative the second email sounds? That was what some people call “negging” where you try to entice someone into engaging with you by telling them what’s unlikeable about them but saying you like them anyway.

    I get the feeling you haven’t processed how your abusive marriage changed the way you relate to your romantic relationships emotionally. Please find a good therapist to help you deal with that. It can be kind of devastating to feel like you aren’t in control of your emotions, wants, and desires, and a therapist may be really helpful getting you to a place where you know what you’re looking for and you know what your standards are (I seriously doubt you really want a guy who you think isn’t as open as you need and isn’t that satisfying in bed; you are allowed to have more requirements than basic dateability factors, like treating you well and allowing you to have a good time).

    1. Alllll of this, yeah. ha

    2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      I thought the same thing about the e-mail…that is was her breaking up with him, not begging for him back.

  21. It sucks when someone who breaks up with you is SO nice, so fucking nice about it all. And will respond to your crazy, crazy letters with grace. But none of that means there is any hope for you two. At all. I think it can be hard to get over someone when they don’t act like a complete jerk. But stop putting him on this pedestal because he’s not the perfect guy you have imagined. Allow yourself to hate him if that’s what it takes to get over him.

  22. Such a perfectly written reply by Wendy. Wise and kind at the same time. I wish I had read this after numerous similar relationship/break-up woes in my 20s. I had a knack for finding JUST the kind o guy that LW describes here. I wasted so much time on them. I hope LW wises up much sooner and moves on to find Mr. Right.

  23. FossilChick says:

    LW, nooooooo! Do not pursue this. I have been there. The relationship was great — but it wasn’t really public. We acted like we were together, but he wouldn’t commit. He would tell me that he loved me, but maybe it was just like a really good friend or family member. It felt secure, but it was not. He was never going to put me first, help me out, or fight in the trenches with me. And at the end, the house of cards came crashing down on me because I *knew* and he *had told me* all along that this wasn’t a serious relationship. EJECT! You are better off using your time and energy focusing on you than a person who will happily string you along for their own benefit because you’re both “having fun” and he read you the disclaimer.

  24. AliceInDairyland says:

    Take ME to New Zealand Pete!!

  25. AliceInDairyland says:

    Also someone explain this to me….

    “I accidentally said, “You’re so soft,” in bed, you dropped me at the Deltron 3030 concert, the entire MGMT concert!”

    I don’t even understand, it’s like someone said “SAY RANDOM THINGS”

    1. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

      that was the point i stopped reading. when i got to “you’re so soft” i was just like oh no. can’t.

    2. Yeah, you and me both.

    3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      Yeah…no clue. I couldn’t even follow this beyond they where only unofficially dating for 4 months.

    4. lets_be_honest says:

      Romantic memories of a special love. Come on, Alice.

      1. AliceInDairyland says:

        I have written some pretty horrible emails myself, so I can’t judge. I just never sent them in to an advice columnist.

        Because my special lurv memories are too special to be shared.

    5. Painted_lady says:

      Also, “We discovered that theatre was uncool.”

      What’s this lately with making value judgments on things that just aren’t for you? New Yorkers are crazy, theatre is uncool. I know obviously I’m biased, but that whole thing was embarrassing, and the theatre part pissed me off. I can’t focus on anything else. Did they see one show and assume it was all ridiculous? Or did they see a whole bunch of shows of different genres and production values and nothing spoke to them?

      Whatever. LW, you are not ready to date. You just aren’t. It sounds like you really aren’t over your divorce, and even if you were, you need to sped time contemplating what a healthy relationship would look like for you. Also, quit dismissing entire art forms because you don’t like something. That makes you sound like a classless idiot.

      1. Painted_lady says:

        I may just be in a terrible mood today. There was a nasty injury at practice last night, I didn’t sleep well and kept dreaming about it, I haven’t eaten yet today, and the basketball coach bought a ticket for my game Saturday after telling me that it was “cute” that we called them games. Also, this has been the longest fucking week in the history of weeks.

      2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        yea, that was funny about theater – though i am not a fan of theater. mostly because i just don’t get it. but that’s definitely more a reflection of me not being cultured than it is about theater sucking! and i’d say theater is cool; cool people love it! it’s just every time i watch something i think how much more i’d like this if it were done on film; it’s like i’m always comparing apples to oranges and i want applies. it’s also like i’m an idiot kid and i think “how many more minutes until we can go outside?” i also don’t think i’ve seen good theater. i dunno. i’m in awe of people who do things i can’t do and that are so outside the box of what I do – like art, singing, dance, etc.

  26. sophronisba says:

    “Pete started taking a course in September that was to last nine weeks and take up nearly all of his time,” i.e. can’t be inconvenienced to make time for you = Not Into You

    “I got the courage to ask him to be my boyfriend and then he ended things.” = Not Into You

    “He said that, after he read my email, he realized that no one has ever felt for him so deeply,” i.e. not that HE had ever felt so deeply for someone, mind you, it’s all about him = Not Into You

    “He then told me that he didn’t see the relationship becoming long-term.” = Not Into You

    Sugar, do you need a clash of cymbals, a fire alarm, an earthquake to receive this message? Mr. Not So Wonderful is not into you and doesn’t want a relationship although if you insist, he’ll collect some of your goodies until he decides to move on or spots someone he is interested in.. Burn rubber getting away from this one and focus on recovering your self-esteem and clarity. You deserve so much more.

    1. Painted_lady says:

      Yeah, I’ve known people who’ve started new relationships in *med school* so if it were important enough, he’d make time. Harsh, but true. And trust me, you don’t want the guy who considers you his last priority. I’ve been there, and it suuuuucks.

  27. This guy told you what he wanted and it’s not what you want. Move on. Don’t be one of those desperate women who chase men who don’t want them. The whole meet the family thing? That happened to me and it’s a dick move. He’s trying to figure out how to let you down without the tears, or he’s just selfish. He shouldn’t have said it in the first place. In your state of mind,you could only interpret it as a sign he didn’t really want to let go. By the way, that email? Smacks of desperation. I know it felt good to tell him he was lousy in bed, but seriously, if he is, why do you want that? Especially after he dumped you. I know you’ve been through a lot. Please take time outside of a relationship to work on yourself so you can be a whole person. Then you can find a truly fulfilling relationship.

  28. Just let go an move on Your great relationship sounds pretty much imaginary, as in you were lonely, needed reassurance and a relationship to cling to, so you took your first rebound guy and let your mind shape him and the relationship into what you wanted, rather than what actually existed. You have so many signs that this guy doesn’t want a serious relationship with you (doesn’t recall that he ever said he loved you, and you only think he said it once, didn’t say you were beautiful until you were breaking up and couldn’t look you in the face as he said it, said he couldn’t give you time, actually broke up with you, was selfish in bed, won’t commit) to you that means he shy, afraid of commitment, unable to speak from the heart, but deeply, deeply in love with you. His words and actions say otherwise. Your emotions are screening all content from your brain and you interpret everything he says or does in a way that reinforces your fantasy. I don’t get the combination of your realizing this is the only time you’ve ever really unbeing distant, unable to express love or commitment, not having time for you, and being lousy in bed. Is this really your concept of true love and best relationship ever?

    1. Btw “I don’t think we can make this relationship work” doesn’t mean you havent’ been trying very hard to make it work. This guy knows that, it’s just not enough for him. He likely has also tried to make it work. He’s telling you that he just can’t. Trying isn’t enough and your trying even harder is not going to improve the situation. Some commenters have said that he will have difficulty walking away, because the intense level of love/interest you are directing his way is intoxicating. As a guy, I’ll take the opposite view. It quickly becomes annoying, then extremely uncomfortable, then downright intolerable. Intense love has to be mutual or else it comes across as almost pathologically desperate and clingy. It causes the unilateral recipient to feel both guilty and a little repulsed.

  29. You know it’s gonna be good when they start in on their special snowflake kind of love.

    And I agree with those above who say you should never be in a relationship that makes you send emails like that. Good lord, I haven’t written one of those since high school. When you get to your third PS…. that should be a wakeup call.

    Do you want to be with someone you have to beg to like you? No.

  30. New Zealand guy shout out!
    …….oh no. Sorry. He’s slipping and sliding, but he is absolutely breaking up with you. Actually, you’ll notice he was never your boyfriend. They do that sometimes. They think its saving your feelings, but it still hurts and thats ok.
    I second whoever said get some therapy. Your email reply is not normal and a really strange read.

  31. Avatar photo landygirl says:

    LW, find your self respect and move on with your life. There are other men out there who aren’t wishy washy man children with a fear of commitment.

    Also, you need therapy in a bad way.

  32. In many stories, TV shows, and movies, the female protagonist aches and anx’es and perseveres with the wonderful guy who is so slow to recognize that she is THE ONE. Somewhere just before the closing credits, true love prevails and they have a storybook wedding and their fairy tale life together begins.

    Sadly, real life is not a Disney production. If a guy dumps you, treat it as final and MOA.

    Wendy’s point about living single for a while and letting yourself settle out emotionally, etc. is great advice.

  33. I’ve written emails like this in the past. Do I send them to the individuals involved? Hell no! Sometimes a break-up is too fresh to start allowing stuff being thrown all willy-nilly about like this. Pete may have been good for you to help move on from your emotionally-abusive marriage, but you need to have time to yourself too. You just got out of a marriage, and the team you were supposed to form with your ex-husband ended up hurting you. It happens. Yet you need to develop the strength and conditioning within YOU first before you start another relationship, let alone another marriage team. There is no shame in being single if you can work it fabulously – and you owe it to yourself to try that.

  34. After reading this letter, I somehow feel like I’ve just had a pap smear.

    Awkward, uncomfortable, and I just wanted it to be over. I couldn’t even read the whole email. If I was this guy, I wpuld have said “get therapy. Have a nice life.”

  35. Sisisodapop says:

    Reading between the lines, it sounds like she has some serious codependency issues….. takes one to know one 😉 LW, please check out “Codependent No More” and “Women Who Love Too Much”. I really think you would benefit greatly from these books. I’d also like to recommend 6 months as a single woman to “reset your wiring” and take the time to ensure that you are as emotionally healthy as possible – in a mental place that allows you to be the best version of yourself – before you get into another relationship. Your future partner, and you, deserve it. I also second the advice to get a good therapist to help you work through and resolve some of the inevitable baggage that comes from being in an abusive relationship.

  36. sarolabelle says:

    when relationships work, they work. You communicate. The drama level is at <5%. You have fun, see each other, express mutual interest in each other. I hope you find that one day LW.

  37. This is really messed up. I’m sorry you’re going through this, but LW, you need to take a step back and look at this differently. He doesn’t want to be with you. It’s a horrible feeling, but do you really want to be with someone who doesn’t want you? That’s even worse. I think you were looking to him to be your safety net after the divorce was finalized. You were afraid to be alone. I get that — I think we all do. BUT, the fact of the matter is that you can’t be a good partner for someone else until you figure yourself out. You didn’t have any time to process the divorce and really figure out who you are. It’s important to have that time to yourself.

    This reminds me of a guy I dated in August who I fell for HARD. He had finalized his divorce in May and had already dated two girls prior to me since the divorce. He was cute, funny, charming, respectful, and damn sexy. I had never dated anyone like him before and we did have a great connection which is one of the big reasons I fell for him. I could tell that he genuinely cared about me. He broke things off at the end of the month because he didn’t want to lead me on thinking that there was a potential for a relationship when he really just wanted to date girls and have no commitment. It sucked. I still find myself sometimes daydreaming about how he kissed me with insane passion, but now I see he did me a huge favor by ending things when he did. Otherwise I would have dated him for months and months thinking it was leading somewhere when it wasn’t.

    This guy did you a favor by ending things. Please believe him when he tells you there is no chance of you having a relationship with him.

    1. Painted_lady says:

      Look at you all wise and shit! I’m *still* bitter about getting dumped by certain guys! You’re all Yoda about it.

  38. A La Mode says:

    This is the shit BGM always rants about women doing.

    LW, why be with a man who is anything less than absolutely fucking ecstatic to be with you? You shouldn’t have to convince, and struggle with, a man to be in a happy, healthy relationship. Go do YOU AND ONLY YOU for a while, and let love find you when it’s the right time.

  39. I think you need to be careful about getting so attached to someone when you haven’t even established that you both want to be together. I’ve done it, too, and what I realized is that the very top of your list for a partner is someone who is interested in you. You can find someone who is super amazing and fun, and those things are great, but isn’t it more important that it’s someone who wants to be in a relationship with you?

    Aside from that, I want to address some things you said at the beginning of your letter. First, you assume he’s a commitment-phobe. That may be true, but nothing good comes of making assumptions about how someone else feels. You can’t know what someone else feels. You can try and try, but in the end, maybe it’s true and maybe not. And deciding that they have this presumably negative quality (and one that is supposedly “fixable”) to explain why they aren’t into you is very problematic. It ignores the fact that sometimes people just genuinely aren’t interested in you romantically and it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them or that they just have a problem that needs to be fixed.

    Second, you say that because you felt love now, you realized you didn’t feel love before. Emotions are much stronger when we are feeling them, so you’re always going to feel like you love someone more now than you did someone previously. Maybe a relationship went south or maybe you honestly didn’t love someone as much, but I’d be wary of trying to discount feelings simply because you’re no longer feeling them.

    1. Also, I JUST NOW read the email, and I’m sorry, but that comes across as pretty bonkers. It honestly makes no sense. In some ways, you’re telling him how much you like him, but then you’re saying all kinds of mean things about him. Then you’re getting upset that he said nice things to you and trying to convince him he told you that he loves you and creating a huge made-up scenario of why he may have said it.

      Post-breakup emails are almost always a bad idea.

  40. bittergaymark says:

    Yikes, if a guy wrote this everybody would say he was CRAZY! And rightly so, I must say. Take a step back, LW. Clearly, you are more in LOVE with the idea of being in love than you with the person you claim to be in love with.

    Seriously? Your email was pretty fucking bitchy.

    If I got an email like that — I am not sure I’d have even bothered to respond. Your EX is just being nice here in the most misguided way. Give up the fantasy — and work on being single for a while… You are simply so NOT ready for a relationship. Solve your issues and then start dating. DATING! Not BOYFRIENDING! There is a big difference.

  41. Yeah, to BGM’s point, as well as Wendy and others who pointed out your ex is just trying to be nice at this point and also that he’s somewhat intrigued/flattered by all the attention you’re giving him… To offer my perspective as someone who’s been on the other side of this, I would agree. With my ex-boyfriend, I knew the relationship wasn’t right and that he was a bit nuts, but the sex was pretty crazy and there were a lot of things I liked about him. I’d break up with him and feel a sense of relief like, ok, now I can move on. But then he’d come back at me with emails and phone calls not unlike yours, with all kinds of depth of feeling that he never expressed in everyday life, and flattery and such. And I’d fall for it and say ok, let’s talk. Just like your ex did here. It’s hard to resist. And then I’d get talked into getting back together with him and it turned into the unhealthiest most dysfunctional cycle ever, for years. The relationship was just all kinds of wrong, but he kept sucking me back in. Until I walked away for good and didn’t respond to his last-ditch effort to pull me back in: Let’s move in together! Let’s work on our issues! At that point, I was able to say no and end it permanently. Then we both moved on and found other people who are right for us.

    Point being, you should move on. The fact that he responded to your crazy email (which, as others pointed out, you should have written and then BURNED, not sent), and the fact that you guys talked and he said he’d like to spend more time with you, is not in any way an indication that he’s into you and wants to reconsider making you his girlfriend and committing to a relationship. He’s just responding to the sentiments in the email and getting sucked back in a little. If you were to try to give this another shot, it would end up in exactly the same place, because he’s not into having a relationship with you, and he’ll always be trying to get away, until he finally does for real. You do not want to live like that.

  42. Is it too much to expect to be placed on a pedestal, especially after the marriage that just ended. I would take a breather and examine how you can be whole emotionally before spending time really investing in the dating aspect of life.

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