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Love Letters

Dating a woman who’s sad about her ex

Q. I am a man in my early 20s who is attending grad school in Boston. I met a wonderful woman, a fellow student, at a party and we hit it off. She had been in a long-distance relationship for two years and was looking for a way out. A few weeks later, she broke it off.

We began dating immediately after her breakup. We’ve had a lot of great times, but she still gets very sad and misses her ex now and then. It’s really held back our relationship from developing further. We took a break at one point because of it, though it didn’t last long. I know she loves me and I love her too.

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She is working on the West Coast for the summer while I stay here. I’m supposed to visit in two weeks for her birthday, but last week she fell into one of her “sad”’ cycles and became distant.

It’s rough because we have great chemistry and I feel she could be the one. At the same time, I’m not sure if continuing to date her is helping either of us — or if it’s just a sign I lack self-respect.

Should I continue to brush off these cycles? How long should I expect this to continue? And is there anything I can do to help her?

Stuck in Confusion, Boston

A. I don’t mind that she has “sad cycles.” I do mind that they’re about her ex.

Your girlfriend doesn’t appear to be over this guy, and her moods are making you feel bad about yourself. If she’s had more than a few of these cycles, I’d guess that she just isn’t ready for another serious relationship.

We all have moments of sadness about losing our exes, but we’re not supposed to burden our new partners with that information. I appreciate her honesty, but really, how are you supposed to help? Call her ex and invite him to see her? Just stay away until she tells you to come back? What are you supposed to say to her about all of this?

If she doesn’t want to see you this summer, consider letting her go. She started a relationship with you before she was sure about her breakup, and now you’re putting up with the aftermath. She should be having sad cycles about alienating you. She should be panicked that she’s pushing you away.

READERS RESPOND:

She’s clearly not ready to date. At the very least she is certainly not ready for another relationship. Time to back off.

Dude, she’s hung up on her ex. Give her a break. And some space.

I’d like to know if this ex lives on the West Coast too? Where she happens to be this summer?

You are the rebound man . . . face it.

Column is edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.com.
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