He let me believe we were in a relationship

Dear Meredith,

I am 31 and I recently found myself in a "relationship" with a man who is 25. We met at work. Our interaction in the office is minimal, but we see each other daily.

We instantly hit it off and started hanging out almost seven nights a week. We'd go out to dinner, take walks with my dog, etc. On the weekends we would go on trips and hang out with mutual friends from work. For two months we hung out nonstop and the chemistry was great. I even met his family. All signs pointed to him being very into me, and I was enjoying the attention and time we were spending together – which I admit was a lot.

Things got weird a few days after my birthday. On that day, he surprised me with flowers set up on my counter with a photo of us, and it was a total delight. But right after that, he became distant. I was confused when the calls and texts stopped out of the blue for a few days. He reached out and apologized and said I had nothing to worry about. He said he'd just needed space, and I thought that was reasonable so we began hanging out again. Then my friend saw him at a concert with his arm around another woman. I confronted him and he completely stopped talking to me. He would not provide an explanation.

I was also embarrassed because by this time, everyone in my office knew we were "dating." The last time we hung out he gave me a kiss goodbye and it appeared nothing was wrong, but he essentially never spoke to me again. Stopped answering my texts, stopped calling, yet we still saw each other at work daily. When we're in the same social situations, like getting beers after work, he now goes to the bar and sits alone instead of joining the group, which makes things awkward for me and our mutual friends. I tried to confront him and ask what's happening, but he will not provide an explanation.

We recently spoke briefly and he proceeded to tell me: "Sorry, we were never dating, and I don't want a relationship." This hurt because he behaved as though we were in a relationship. I have been replaying the last days we spent together in my head and I can't figure out what happened. What did I do wrong? Who was the woman at the concert? What could I have done differently? It pains me to see him daily at work. All I can think of is why I was so dumb to let this guy treat me like this. How can I move on? Will I ever get my answers?

– Burnt by a little boy


Please stop asking what you could have done differently. This isn't your fault, and it was never on you to behave a certain way to keep him around. He was very into you, and you reciprocated. Sometimes people are disappointing without warning. It doesn't sound like you could have anticipated this ending.

It's possible that he's not giving you answers because he doesn't know them. Maybe he went with his gut – but he has no idea why his gut wanted him to run. The sign-off of your letter suggests you know he has some issues with maturity. He might not be the kind of person who can understand his own intentions and talk about them.

That said, he is giving you some answers. He has told/shown you that 1. He doesn't want a relationship. (Yes, he did seem to want one for a few months, but for whatever reason, he changed his mind.) 2. He does not want exclusivity. 3. He would rather be the moody guy in the corner than be kind to you at an event. He'd rather brood and make everyone uncomfortable than not show up at all. 4. He can't be consistent. He is someone who will give you flowers one day and disappear the next. That means he's not the partner you want or need.

Stop the internal investigation of the breakup and focus your energy on keeping good company. When you see him, take a good look, because you don't want to be with the person he's become.

– Meredith

Readers? Any trick to getting over this kind of breakup? What are the answers here?