He drifts in and out

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Hi Meredith,

There is a man who has been in my life for almost 10 years. He seems to drift in whenever we are closer geographically, or recently because COVID has everyone a little more bored than usual. We are from the same hometown, but work and school has taken us to different places over the years. The problem is that whenever he drifts back in, I find myself wanting him to stick around, but often he does not. We have always had an intense relationship. I've felt sparks in the past, and people have commented, unprovoked, on how good we are together, but we've never actually dated. His dating life has been much more active than mine, but he is currently single.

A few weeks ago, he reached out after about two years of not talking to each other, but then he disappeared again. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and say it's because I have moved across the country. But I feel like with today's technology, long-distance is doable, so I am angry with him for not maintaining contact. Did he just want to check up on me with a test that I didn't understand or pass? My friends say not to reach back out since he knows how to get in touch, but what if he just doesn't know how to make a first move or if it would be welcome?

Additionally, if I am to reach out, I'm not sure how to go about it. I have never had a serious boyfriend, as I always felt the need to focus on other things than dating. Being single in the past has made me feel empowered, but with the pandemic, mostly I feel lonely. I am confident that my desire for him is not due to loneliness, as I have met other men, but I always go back to him and want to know if we actually have something.

– Hung-up and Confused

Your friends are right about him knowing how to get in touch with you. Many of us have become very good at long-distance communication. It's not that difficult.

That said, I think it might be helpful for you to reach out to him to have a candid conversation about what happened here – and what happens every time he shows up and then disappears. You can ask questions and state your needs. It might make you feel better to know that you've told him what you want, and that any present and future disappearances are all on him.

An honest talk also might make it easier for you to start making room for a more serious relationship. It's empowering to be single (trust me, I understand the high that comes with knowing you can be on your own), but there's great power and strength in becoming someone who can seek out partnership. For you, it might start with telling this person why this pattern no longer works. It's about clarity. Inviting him to offer more. Asking him to stay gone if he can't.

It's scary, but why not take some control here?

Say all of the things and know that if he doesn't reciprocate, this is a step toward whatever's next.

– Meredith

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