Q. I met a guy during the pandemic and we’ve been dating for the past year now. When we first got together, we spent a lot of time with each other. He has a busy work schedule, so he would always make time after work to come and see me, or keep days off for us to spend together. A few months later, I realized he was spending less time with me. He could go more than two weeks without seeing me. I don’t know if he got too comfortable after chasing me for so long, or if he just wasn’t interested anymore. I wasn’t used to this, as I’ve always been the center of someone’s world and so this was all new to me.
I discussed it with him, without biting his head off, and he said he’d try to make it work. He recognized that it was unfair to me and our relationship. I also found that he was very emotionally unavailable. It took him forever to tell me he loved me. I had the feeling but I was scared to tell him, but eventually I did because I felt so strongly for him. I did it over text as I didn’t have the courage to say it face to face, just in case he didn’t feel the same. Thankfully he did.
Fast forward and he had a lot of pressure from his family about marriage. We come from traditional Asian households, so things work a little differently. He ended up breaking up with me in December, and then we’d break up and get back together every two months. The thing that tops it the most is that he told me he wanted to get married to me, so I told my family. He told me he’d have his mum call to have the initial discussions with my mum, but that didn’t happen. When I addressed him about it two weeks later, he said he “forgot.” It seems like he got cold feet. He just said he couldn’t make me happy and that he can’t see us working out. I feel a bit disheartened because I really tried to make this relationship work, but truthfully it seems like I was the only one who wanted that.
How do I move on from this? I feel like my confidence is gone and I can’t stand the thought of dating again.
A. “I feel like my confidence is gone and I can’t stand the thought of dating again.”
You don’t have to start dating again right this second. You’re exhausted after the ups and downs of this relationship, and you need time to heal and rest. Please do that.
Also know that this was not wasted time. The experience taught you a lot about what you don’t want. And ... who else would you have been meeting in a pandemic? You spent this complicated year figuring out that you can love someone even if you dislike the way they treat you. It’s better to love the whole package — to be able to say that you love the person and the relationship.
Your confidence should come back over time. Remember, this man wanted to be with you — he was into this — but he wasn’t ready for forever and had other priorities. Honestly, what happened was all about him, not about your shortcomings.
One more thought: The right partner might need more time before they make you the center of their universe, especially in a world that isn’t locked down because of a pandemic. A good relationship can be a slower burn. Also, maybe it’ll feel more like equal partnership instead of ... whatever this was.
That doesn’t mean the person should feel breezy about not seeing you for weeks at a time, of course. It’s more about balance and growth.
You make a telling statement that you have always been the center of someone’s world. Spend some time being single and not at the center of another person’s world. You may gain valuable perspective on how to approach future relationships.
Dating is a discovery period and people have to expect that, at any time, a person changes their mind.
“I feel like my confidence is gone and I can’t stand the thought of dating again.” If that is the case, then TAKE A BREAK from dating. I was offline from March 2020 until I got my second vaccine (early May). Wait until you’re ready, and then put yourself back out there.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.