Some business: The techies (who probably resent being called "the techies") are going to increase the number of comments on every page to whatever the maximum is. I think it’s 25. That should help our first problem. They’re also going to fix the site so that when you click to another page of comments, you don’t have to see the letter again. Also, I’m working to tone down the censorship. I don’t want any of our respectful Love Letters readers to feel as though they can’t express themselves.
Today’s letter is from a reader who probably has a beautiful accent.
Meredith, I enjoy reading your column and your readers' comments. I have been puzzled by this man's behavior and I'd like to see what you and your readers have to say about it. As you can see from my post, I'm not a native English writer. I'd like to see if there is any lesson to be learned here.
I met this man a little over 4 month ago on Match.com. I'm 45, divorced with a child. He is 53, never married.
We started with seeing each other once a week and lately we have been seeing each other more often. I thought things are going well when he told me two weeks ago that he had plans to take his parents out and asked me if I'd like to join them.
He would normally call me everyday after work on his way driving home. He has a very busy schedule and lately he couldn't make plans to go out until almost last minutes. That doesn't work with me because I have a child and I need a little more planning. We talked about it and he said he doesn't want to disappoint me and we both compromised on our schedule.
Given his busy schedule, I suggested that we could fix a particular weekend day to be our day to see each other. He said he wanted to see me more than that. I thought that's a good sign since he wanted to spend more time with me. So we tried to find a day during the week to get together.
Last Saturday, we had a great time together. I cooked him a dinner and we went out for a movie afterwards. On Sunday, I asked if he'd like to go to dancing together on Monday night, he said he has to see how his work goes on Monday. I emailed him Monday to ask if he is able to make it and he said "hope to see you tonight." He finally called me at 6pm that he is on his way. I really appreciated that he made the effort to join me for dancing after a busy day at work. He later told me that he enjoyed the dancing and will check his schedule to see if we could do it again.
On Tuesday, I found that he updated his profile online. I emailed him and asked him if he still wanted to see what else is out there and I said that's OK, I understand that. He was traveling but did return my email saying he just made a "minor change." We spoke once on the phone after that and he said our distance (we live 40 miles away) and his schedule have made things difficult and he needed to figure out what he wants in his life. However, he did say he will call me the next day to talk about it and he said he is not ready to end the relationship since he enjoys being with me.
Needless to say, he hasn't called me and hasn't returned my emails. Why does a man choose to "disappear" instead of having a conversation to end things? I felt that's hurtful given all the positive signs he gave me. We both are mature adults and we had 4+ months of good times together. Why can't we have a conversation to end things? Is this a culture thing that I'm not aware of?
– Did I Drive Him Away?, Waltham
DIDHA, avoiding an honest break-up is a cultural thing. It’s the culture of lame, one that our readers will probably tell you they're familiar with.
There are a lot of people out there who will do anything to avoid actually breaking up with someone. They disappear – as if the people they’ve been dating might not notice. Part of it is that these people don’t want to be the bad guy. Part of it is that they’re not totally sure they want to end things. Regardless, it’s lame.
In this case, it sounds like your guy wants to move on, but that he’d rather not officially end things with you, just in case he changes his mind.
Sometimes we’re forced to break up with ourselves, to put closure on something without the help of the person who has done the damage.
Just know this: it doesn’t sound like you did anything to drive him away. He’s a dater. The relationship was starting to move in a more serious direction with more frequent obligations so he took the safe route and bailed. All that means is that he’s not the guy you hoped he’d be. You have every right to get back online.
I know it’s disappointing, but better to find out after four months.
But you’re right – we all deserve to be dumped, in person and with some empathy, if possible. He made it about halfway through the break-up and got scared.
I’m willing to bet that you’ll hear from him again. Daters who are afraid to dump often turn up after they’ve lost their welcome. Hopefully by the time he resurfaces, you won’t have any desire to call him back.
Readers? Is this disappearing act a cultural thing? Why do people avoid breaking up? Did this letter writer do something to drive this man away? Share thoughts here.
Speaking of Love
"I say if you love something, set it in a small cage and pester and smother it with love until it either loves you back or dies."
— Mindy Kaling
CAN’T HELP MYSELF is Meredith’s memoir about giving advice, learning from readers, working with an ex, and moms and daughters. It’s also a story about how an online community can become another kind of family.