Our relationship ended in part due to my bad habit of not letting my guard down, plus his super personal questions that I didn’t want to answer and his getting really upset over it. (Cultural differences: Canadians are way more reserved.) He gave me lots of chances and I blew through all of them. After we stopped talking, I wrote him a personal message, with things I’ve never told anyone. He called me the next day, which happened to be Valentine’s Day. I didn’t hear the phone ring and he never called me back. I know you’re wondering: Why didn’t I call him back? I have this thing that if I think it’s bad news, I don’t want to know — it gives me anxiety. Now I’m going to wonder forever what he was going to say…
I always kind of hoped we’d run into each other in the city and I could just give him a big hug and sort of make things better. I found out he’s back in Italy though, so that’s never going to happen, kind of like that last nail in the coffin. I never really get upset over someone. I guess it’s because I actually met a guy who just made me laugh (that’s all I really want), who would send me good morning/goodnight texts, and who was just an overall nice guy.
I know — I need to get over him. I’ve been out with a few guys since and, just like always, they’re horrible! And no, I’m not being overly dramatic. Two guys already had long-term girlfriends and the other was just looking for one thing only. So, what would be your two cents? — Canadian in Mexico
I guess I don’t think the guy you’ve described sounds “really great.” He got angry with you when you didn’t answer personal questions you weren’t ready to answer, and then he ignored you when you did finally open up, making only the most minimal effort to call you once. I’m not sure what it means that he “gave you lots of chances” to answer his super-personal questions, but that kind of description doesn’t exactly scream “sensitive, compassionate guy.” He sounds kind of controlling, actually, like “Answer my personal questions or else!” And I’m curious what those personal questions were that he felt so entitled to know the answers to that he got angry when you avoided them? My misogyny radar is going off big-time.
But you aren’t without blame here. You could have called the guy back when you missed his call if you were so consumed with wonder over what he was going to say. But I think you knew on some level that what he was going to say was probably something along the lines of, “Thank you for trusting me with your personal baggage, but it’s too late and I think we’re better off as friends.” The fact that you haven’t heard a peep from him since is a pretty good indication that his call wasn’t going to be an offer to give your relationship another try. It was going to be a good-bye call of some sorts so he could tell himself he was a gentleman and didn’t leave you hanging after you finally spilled your guts.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a guard up and resisting super-personal questions from new boyfriends you aren’t ready to share everything with. Generally speaking, as trust is built with someone, the guard starts eroding organically. A “really great guy” would know that intuitively and would work on building the trust rather than inorganically pressuring someone to break down her guard before she’s ready. This is a pretty good way, actually, of weeding out the “really great” guys from the mediocre ones. A guy who can find the balance between expressing interest and practicing patience is a candidate for a “keeper.” You say “all you want” is a guy who can make you laugh. That’s a wonderful trait, sure, but I think it’s time to expand what you’re looking for to include patience and interest in building trust.
In the meantime, why not take a break from dating? When you have a series of horrible dates on the heels of a breakup that has left you a little scarred, your perspective is going to be skewed and you’re much more likely to fall victim to self-fulling prophecy. That is, on a subconscious level you’re probably looking for guys who will validate the suspicion you have that most of them are jerks. As long as you keep finding jerks, you won’t be tempted to “let your guard down” and get hurt again like the last time you opened up to someone only to be rejected.
I promise, there’s someone for you who will love and accept you for all the pieces of your personal history who make you who you are. But he won’t be the guy pressuring you to open up before you’re ready. He’ll be the guy patiently laying the blocks of trust, the foundation upon which all strong relationships are built.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.