It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Sick of the Pattern” who wrote in after a vacation with a girlfriend of six months didn’t go very well and made them both question the relationship and whether they were a match.
He wrote: “This has been happening for the last twenty years and it’s the same old pattern. I date a woman for three to six months, anxiety sets in, relationship ends, and anxiety dissipates. I’m sick of it.
I’m even beginning to question myself as to whether I truly want a relationship and whether, perhaps, I secretly want to remain on my own and avoid the challenges that relationships bring. Can you help?”
It’s been nearly eight months since he first wrote in. Here’s his update:
Two weeks later, I sent a message to see if she wanted to see a movie. She replied back saying she was busy that week but the following week would be less busy. In other words, she would be available. I never texted her again.
It’s now the end of April 2018 and I still think about her. There have been several women that have shown interest in me but I find faults (not that I’m perfect). But the real reason is Louise. For example – when a woman has shown interest in me, I think to myself: What about Louise? I can’t do that to Louise. I feel bad for moving on. I feel sad for moving on. What about Louise? What’s to become of Louise?
My therapist thinks that maybe I haven’t met anyone that I really like or maybe Louise is unfinished business.
Maybe I didn’t get close enough to her when I was dating her. I mean I saw her twice a week but never met her family or friends. And then after six months, we went on a vacation and we were together 24/7. It’s the vacation that caused the split.
My therapist also thinks:
– I’m a commitment phobe. He thinks I want a woman but, in my mind, I don’t think I need one. And it doesn’t matter whom I date, I‘ll find a reason not to get close. I’ll find an excuse not to commit. I‘ll find defense mechanisms. I have trust issues.
– He thinks that the reasons why Louise wanted to stay as friends after the holiday was not because of my selfish, weird, and unromantic behavior, it’s because she thought that I didn’t like her enough. That I wasn’t into her enough. Her commenting about my selfish, weird, and unromantic behavior was just her way of getting back at me.
– He thinks that I should buy her a rose and that I’m keen on her. The reason is that I’m still talking about her five to six months later.
– He thinks I didn’t want to be compatible on the vacation.
– He thinks that I’m probably attached to her and I don’t even know it.
– He thinks I need to make a decision. Ring her or let it go.
Louise is still single. I’ve seen her on an online dating site. You could say that because I’m not with her, my decision has been made. But I still think about her six months later. I haven’t had sex with anyone since.
And assuming she was interested in giving it another go, how can I be sure that I won’t come up with defense mechanisms. Well, my therapist advised to breathe my anxiety out and to focus on the positives of being in a relationship. He thinks I focus on the negatives.
Let me reiterate, and my therapist has confirmed this, no matter who the woman is I’m dating, I’ll find an excuse not to commit. I just need to deal with it.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to make a decision. It feels like I haven’t moved on. It feels like I can’t move on. It’s like I can’t move on until Louise moves on or I can’t move on unless Louise tells me to move on (if I try to get back with her). How do I make a decision? And how do I know it’s the right decision. I’m very indecisive, aren’t I?
If you were in my position, would you move on or call Louise up (assuming she even wants to meet up)?
I’m not sure what you mean by “If you were in my position.” What, exactly, is your position? That you still like a woman who is single and has shown continued interest in you, but you don’t trust yourself not to mess things up if you reach out to her again because you’re a commitment phobe and you have multiple defense mechanisms you employ when you start getting too close to someone? I think unless you have reason to believe you’ve made serious progress in therapy and that you are less likely than ever to employ these defense mechanisms, and that you are more interested in commitment than ever, you should leave poor Louise the fuck alone.
And judging from your behavior — reaching out to Louise multiple times but failing to ask for another shot — and your inability to make a decision, and your therapists’ suggestion that you will find fault in whomever you date and that you’re a commitment phobe who just needs to “deal with it,” I don’t think you’re ready for a serious relationship. And you may not ever be ready. Maybe THAT is what you need to “deal with,” instead of dragging someone else into your issues in hopes that maybe this time will be different or maybe that, once she tells you it’s really over and she’s moving on, you will be cured of your longing for her. Please, unless you feel really sure you want to be with her, leave her alone. Single women on dating sites have enough to deal with without some guy they dated for six months a year ago lingering and hoping she’ll be the fix to all the problems he and his therapist(s) haven’t been able to solve over the course of 20+ years of dating.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
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