Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Let My Guard Down and He Disappeared”

I have an idea of what you’ll probably tell me, but I need to hear it from someone else. Things ended with a really great guy back in February. I’m from Canada and living in Mexico, and that’s where I met him. He’s Mexican, but he lives in Italy and was supposed to be here only one month visiting. Well, one month turned into way longer.

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.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

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

14 comments… add one
  • avatar

    JD June 8, 2018, 8:37 am

    It doesn’t sound to me like he got mad just wasn’t interested in someone who won’t open up to them. She flat out said she won’t. LW sounds like a lot of fucking work. Not even being able to return a call. No one likes bad news. Grow up. She is in no place to date.

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  • avatar

    Moe June 8, 2018, 8:48 am

    I have a question. Did HE let HIS “guard down”? Did he enter into the relationship with an open heart ready to trust? The term used in this way is confusing to me. Does it mean to relax enough to enjoy yourself and give him the benefit of the doubt with small things or does it mean to tell him every last detail about your life whenever he asks? I agree with Wendy that for both men AND women, it is prudent and healthy to be reserved at first and slowly open up. To me, the term is different than “I wasn’t trusting enough”. To me, it means when you are in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation, to make the mistake of not protecting yourself emotionally and physically to keep yourself safe. The question I have is what your brain was telling you to protect yourself FROM.

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    • avatar

      Kate June 8, 2018, 9:02 am

      Agree. I think some people (younger people?) have this idea that you have to get very close and personal very quickly, and open up and share everything about yourselves, for it to be “real.” You don’t. Abuse of that NYT “36 questions” thing drives me crazy. That was a social experiment, NOT a directive that a new couple should grill each other on those 35 extremely personal and invasive questions in order to complete some love sprint and cross a finish line. It should happen naturally.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros June 8, 2018, 9:07 am

      Yep. I was dating a guy for a couple of months, and he was already like, “You don’t open up!” I told him all sorts of things about my life, so I don’t know what he was looking for. Maybe he thought that we all have some sort of tragic secrets to share? Anyway, he turned out to be still with his ex at the same time.

      I also noticed quite a few guys who only wanted something casual to expect me to be super open with them, which I found silly. If you want a very deep, emotional relationship with someone, then have a relationship. If you don’t want a relationship, then you may not get the depth that you seem to want.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros June 8, 2018, 8:48 am

    You didn’t really give enough detail to really assess the situation. How long did you two date? What did he say when you broke up? What are some of the questions he asked? What are examples of how you put up walls (besides not answering his questions)? Did he leave a voicemail?

    Your situation could be where you were super standoffish and acted uninterested despite dating for like a year. Or it could be that you only dated for two months and he asked questions that were none of his business at that time and was pushy about it. There’s no way of knowing.

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  • avatar

    JD June 8, 2018, 8:57 am

    The “i hoped we would bump into each other in the city” shows her complete immaturity and thinking that life is a rom com. Regardless of who was right or wrong her grasp on how relationships work is, well not existent. There is zero point in even thinking about this anymore.

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    • avatar

      Rebecca June 8, 2018, 2:16 pm

      ^^Telenovela.

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  • avatar

    brise June 8, 2018, 10:47 am

    I think you take too much blame on yourself. It was as much his reponsibility as yours. In a good partnership, you don’t feel pressured. You open up little by little as you feel more and more confident. It happens from itself, while sharing experiences together. You can’t force intimacy.
    Apparently, you both just weren’t compatible. Too different personalities. He seems inquisitive. Plus, the circumstances were complicated. I think you should just consider it as a romantic experience. You had a great time, you learned one or two things on yourself and on men, on partnership. That’s it. Don’t blame yourself.
    As for the last call: you just found closure in expressing what you had to say in your letter. It was somehow a good bye letter. And he knew, you knew it.
    This is all good, you will move on.

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  • avatar

    Ale June 8, 2018, 11:33 am

    I think he was interested but he found out earlier that they weren’t a match. LW doesn’t know that yet but will soon.
    LW you don’t have to change, you are who you are. If you don’t like personal questions, then don’t answer them. Nobody has to force you to be who you are not.

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  • avatar

    csp June 8, 2018, 12:02 pm

    LW – I think you need to learn some social skills. Try The art of charm/Jordan Harbinger show. You need to learn some basic answers that make people feel safe with you.

    For example… you are from canada and maybe you ran away to mexico because you have a terrible upbringing. I am making this up by the way. If you say “I don’t want to talk about my past.” people feel on guard and untrusting and assume the worst. If you say “My dad wasn’t ever really around and my mom’s new boyfriend and her moved away so I decided to move to Mexico because it is my favorite country in the world.” That gives a little detail but not the terrible stuff but people don’t assume your are running from the law.

    I am saying that a little truth goes a long way and if you have practiced answers, it won’t feel so overwhelming. You can keep a guard up but not isolate yourself so much that you make other people uncomfortable.

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  • avatar

    Teri Anne June 8, 2018, 1:42 pm

    After reading DW every day, I am finding a common theme. A LW will describe bad behavior from her boyfriend and then blame herself for the problem. Today the LW blames herself for the breakup because she refused to answer very personal questions. No, the BF is being a jerk. A kind man would be gentle with her, and work to gain her trust rather than become angry and berate her.

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    • avatar

      saneinca June 8, 2018, 9:09 pm

      Don’t you know if you love him you should provide naked selfies or you are not opening up. LOL

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  • avatar

    Rava June 11, 2018, 6:32 am

    I am also quite a reserved person. I once dated a guy from Chili. He was passionate, open about everything… he never expected me to be the same as he. He was genuinely interested, but would never push for more intimacy (on any level). I say this because you talk about the cultural difference, and I understand this may seem like a cultural thing, but I agree with Wendy that what you’re describing raises some red flags of misogyny – regardless where he’s from. You are allowed to have (emotional) personal space.

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  • avatar

    Alice June 13, 2018, 9:44 am

    I’ve been there! dated a guy from Mexico . He would ask me how much money I make, whens the last time i had sex…etc. To me, i thought it was kinda rude to ask…different culture I guess. Meanwhile, he had a long tierm girlfriend, so best have you’re guard up in the begining.

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