As I mentioned yesterday, we have an athlete coming in to give some guest advice. Send letters today to meregoldstein at gmail dot com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe you'll get double advice.
In other news, this letter is definitely from the UK.
Six months ago, I met a wonderful, attentive man through online dating. By the end of our second, (24-hour!) date, there had been intimacy and intensity, which scared me and enchanted me in equal measure.
He was already planning our third date and talking about me meeting his friends and staying over at his place in the coming weeks. He was good looking, generous, behaved like a gentleman, and was incredibly attentive. So much so that I buried my gut feeling that this was too intense, convincing myself that I was just scared at the prospect of a committed relationship with someone who I was afraid of losing.
As the weeks rolled on, so too did the first lot of arguments. I'm very relaxed and open-minded, but I realized we clashed on several topics such as having children. Six weeks in, whilst already an official couple, he reacted badly to me declining his offer of a lift back home from an event with my friends. He found me declining on the basis that I'd already made plans to get there and back "weird," and this escalated into a big row.
Other matters, such as me receiving a message from someone who'd previously messaged me online, and my responding with general patter and eventually "I'm sorry I have a boyfriend," was met with hostility. He asked why I didn't just ignore it, etc.
Fast forward and we're spending time with my friends. They pick up that he has strong, fixed opinions on politics, relationships, and other matters, and I find myself becoming increasingly quiet because I predict "blow ups." They concede that he is lovely, but they noticed how I was withdrawing from being myself.
We spent Valentines weekend half enamored, half in hostility. Fast forward a couple of weeks and he makes a comment about women staying in abusive relationships being "pathetic," amongst other topics, and I try and say "Let's change the subject," but this culminates in an ugly row; he says I'm angry, emotionless, never grateful for him taking me places, etc. He threatens to leave my house because he can't see how to make it work (which later becomes a recurring theme).
Finally we're due to go away to see my parents. During the trip, we barely speak. I burst into tears at the hotel, I tell him how much I love him but that the pieces don't fit, and neither of us make the other happy.
He's sad. I'm sad. He asks me what I want and I tell him earnestly that I wanted more than anything to be with him, but it doesn't fit. He's more invested, he wants marriage, I want travel. He's 27, I'm 23. The painful thing is, apart from both of our crying, he concedes, "This happens to me a lot in my life." He feels I've strung him along. He tells me never to contact him because it hurts so much. He leaves.
I feel empty. I'm also heartbroken myself but more so because I worry that he was right. Should I have asserted myself in the beginning? I don't feel complete, like I hurt someone unnecessarily who I care deeply about. I've never tried to make something work so much in my life.
– Empty, UK
You both made mistakes during the relationship. You didn't assert yourself and kept things going when it was clear that you had different goals. He moved too fast, didn't pay attention to the signs, and got angry instead of getting honest. You both tried to make it work, but it shouldn't be so difficult during the first six months of a relationship.
You must accept that you're going to feel like the bad guy for a while. That's what happens after a break up -- people feel bad. But feeling like the bad guy doesn't mean that you're actually a bad guy. The fact that you feel terrible means that you're not so bad at all.
You've learned from this. Hopefully he has too. If this happens to him a lot, he has to know that it's not just you. He played a part in this breakup and needs to accept some accountability.
Forgive yourself and move on.
Readers? Is this her fault? Did she hurt him unnecessarily? What can she take from this?