I said the wrong thing and he became a different person

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All my life I’ve hoped to meet a man who is kind, smart, artistic, faithful, consistent, and a great communicator. I was blessed to meet such a man 3,000 miles away while I was on vacation. Given the distance after I left, we talked for hours everyday. He was an open book, which I found very refreshing - no games.

Though he comes with many great attributes, he does have a lot going on in his life. One of the things he disclosed was that he suffered abuse as a child. I was sad and angry that this happened to him but I was simultaneously in awe at how he seemed to triumph over this trauma and created a good life for himself - so I thought.

We had our first argument recently - over something most would consider very minor. However, I felt like I was with a different person. Long story short, we haven't spoken in a few days and I'm fine with that. The space has given me time to think about whether I am fully equipped to support someone with this kind of trauma. Assuming that is where his over reaction derived from. Unbeknownst to me, I walked over a minefield.

As much as I would love to work things out, I'm scared this "other version" of him will appear again. I know I will not be able to handle it if it does. I guess my question is – how does one navigate a relationship with someone who has experienced this kind of past? At this point, I think we would be better off as friends. Even as a friend, I want to be supportive and respectful of his boundaries and all that he has been through. I don't know what his triggers are and how to avoid them. Whether I remain his girlfriend or not, I care about him and I don't want to pile on to the trauma he has already experienced.

– Minefields

This is something you could work on with a potential parter – maybe – if you were in the space to do it. When someone is 3,000 miles away, it's a lot harder to figure out communication and how to deal with trauma. Your gut seems to be telling you that.

And for the record, yes, you're assuming his behavior is about his childhood, but this – the way he responded to you – could be about many things.

All you know for sure is how he made you feel.

Right now, think about what kind of friendship you want to offer this person, if any. You care about him, but it's not your job to stick around because of his past. You want to be there for him, but not at your own expense. What's best for you? Do you really want to spend a lot of time on someone you're not dating, who's also very far away?

He hasn't reached out (for now). Take this space and get used to him being absent from your routine. You don't have to fix or decode anything because he's not asking you to. It's OK to prioritize yourself. Remember that if/when he calls.

– Meredith

Readers? Thoughts on a friendship or more here?