DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I know your slogan says, “helping nerds get the girls” but I’m bi and this particular question pertains to a guy.
My issue is that last year I dumped him; after he moved in with his mother I basically felt extremely emotionally separated from him. We had been semi-long distance ever since we met, as we met over an online program called “Second Life” and we are both gamers, huge nerds and both huge Spillios [Fans of Spill.com – Doc]. The issue is.. after the break up, we started talking again a few months later, and I’ve noticed that I’m still madly in love with him, to the point that I actually sabotage myself from getting anything else going with anyone. I’ve asked him back multiple times and all I’ve gotten is “maybe” and “we’ll see” It’s driving me insane because even he admits he still has feelings for me; he even calls me when he needs someone to talk to, when he needs someone who understands him and backs him up. I do all of that.. and he even breaks down at times, apologizing for being such an “asshole” – referring to him not taking me back. Which brings me to my question..
Knowing all of this, how can I convince him to stop being such a p--sy and just trust me again? Ya know.. take me back? I know his heart on a major level wants it and he sucks at hiding it but his pride is cock blocking (so to speak).
This is really a problem because until I close that chapter one way or another, I can’t move on, and trust me I’ve tried. It’s only going to be worse because he’s moving in with me, so he can further his career as an animator.
I’m afraid im gonna lose it or just end up treating him like s--t cause i want to protect myself.
Any advice on this?
The Heart Needs A Second Chance
DEAR THE HEART NEEDS A SECOND CHANCE: OK off the bat: let’s drop “p--sy” as a synonym for cowardice or weakness, huh? It’s like using “gay” to mean useless, pointless, disappointing or inferior; it’s equating having a vagina with being weak and that’s insulting at best.
With that out of the way…
I hate to tell you this, THNSC, but he’s given you an answer. You just don’t like the answer you got.
Those “maybe’s” and “we’ll see’s” you’re getting whenever you bring up the topic? Those are what are known as “soft no’s” – socially acceptable ways of saying “no” without saying the actual word. He doesn’t want to tell you “no” straight up for any number of reasons – you’re moving in together likely being the biggest – but he also is making it clear that he doesn’t want to have a romantic or sexual relationship with you.
“But wait,” I hear you cry, “he’s said he still has feelings for me!” I’m sure he does; feelings are complex and complicated beasts that don’t follow logic or reason the way we’d like at times. Breaking up with someone doesn’t automatically mean that the affection you had for them – or vice versa – has vanished or turned to hate. Plenty of people still have loving feelings for their exes and wish things could be different. But love isn’t magic. Loving someone isn’t a sign that you two are right for each other. Having strong feelings for somebody isn’t indication that you’re compatible or that you and they are right for each other. You can love someone until your teeth ache and your heart burns, but that doesn’t mean you and they could make a relationship work. And while love – or something like it – may motivate you to try to fix things or try to resolve the issues between you, it doesn’t clear the problems away.
Some things just won’t work, no matter how many ways you try to cram them together. Some gaps are just too wide to be crossed, some hurts are just too deep to be forgotten even after having been forgiven and sometimes you and they are on such different paths that there isn’t any way for the two of you to continue on the journey together without giving up important pieces of yourself in the process. And no matter how it may feel in the moment, love doesn’t mean that giving up those pieces won’t damage you and the relationship and risk curdling that love into something dark and ugly.
It’s like the song says: sometimes love just ain’t enough.
You know this already. You broke up with him because things had become untenable in your relationship. You had feelings for him, but you also had needs that weren’t being met, needs that he couldn’t or wouldn’t meet. And so you ended the relationship. And hey, that’s absolutely legitimate. That’s a valid and completely reasonable cause to end a relationship, despite how you felt.
But then there’s the fact that you can’t get over him. And it’s not that I’m not sympathetic – believe me, I absolutely can understand getting hung up on someone who just doesn’t love you the way you wish they did or a relationship that you wish hadn’t ended. But if I’m being honest? That’s more of a “you” problem than a “him” problem. And if I’m still being honest, that’s what you should be working on, not trying to change his mind.
Now, part of the problem is that I think you didn’t give yourself enough time to mourn the loss of the relationship and move on. This is one of the reasons why taking the Nuclear Option after a break up – cutting off all contact, muting, unfollowing or blocking on all social media, etc. – can be an important step. I tell people to do this not because they broke your heart AND NOW THEY’RE DEAD TO YOU, nor because it’s how you supposedly make them miss you and come crawling back. I tell people to do this, at least for a while, because it’s really hard to heal when you keep picking at the scab.
It’s hard to get over a break up when you don’t get the perspective and distance you need from the relationship so that you can see why the break up happened, come to terms with your side of things, make your peace and – hopefully – learn from it, so you can do better and be better. And as much as folks may genuinely want to be friends after the break up, sometimes that friendship can’t happen until you’ve both processed things… which can take months or years. Staying in contact or getting back in touch before you’ve really healed and given yourself closure is almost always about the absence of the familiar or not accepting the truth, rather than recognizing that maybe the break up was a mistake.
And this is especially true if things haven’t changed. If you’re a regular here, then you know that I have a series of questions for people to ask themselves before they try to get back with their exes:
Question #1: Why did you break up in the first place?
Question #2: Has the reason why you broke up changed?
Question #3: Why Now?
Question #4: Do you miss THEM, or do you miss what they represent?
Question #5: Are they right for you, NOW?
Right now, you’re at question #2: have the circumstances that caused your break up changed? There’s nothing in your question that suggests it has.
Your ex, on the other hand, is at question #5: are they right for you, now. And it seems pretty clear from their response that the answer is “no”. And honestly? I think they’re right.
Look at what’s been going on here. You’ve been asking over and over again for them to come back to you and they’ve given you soft nos and non-committal answers that are clearly meant to just end the conversation, and you won’t respect their answer. These conversations have gotten so fraught that they’re crying and blaming themselves for not wanting to be back in a relationship with you. That is, to be blunt, a deeply s--tty thing to be doing to somebody, especially someone you care about. And it betrays a lack of perception or self-awareness that you desperately need to make a relationship work.
I mean, you say “I’m afraid im gonna lose it or just end up treating him like s--t cause i want to protect myself,” but you don’t seem to recognize that this is what your ex is doing: protecting himself. He knows that the two of you aren’t a good fit and that it’s not going to work. He’s trying to protect himself from being hurt again.
Just as importantly though: you’re already treating him like s--t. You’re making him cry over this, my dude. That should be your “oh, s--t, maybe I’m wrong” signal. He’s trying to salvage what he can of your past relationship and you’re just saying over and over again that its not enough, you want more.
Well, you want more than he could give… that’s why you dumped him the first time, and that’s why he won’t come back to you now. The things that broke you up in the first place are still in effect.
Also, there’re a lot of different ways to protect yourself than treating him like s--t, and you shouldn’t be considering that as an option in the first place. Don’t want it to happen? Well that’s going to depend on you making choices, not just accepting that this might be an inevitability.
So what do you need to do here? Well to start with, I think he needs to find a different roommate; living together the way you all are now is a profoundly bad idea.
The next thing is that I think you need to stop talking to him until you’ve actually given yourself closure. Yeah, he’s reaching out to you for support, but the support you’re giving is coming with a price tag of “ok, but now I press my case for you to come back to me”, and that’s not cool. He needs friends who aren’t going to leverage his being in their lives as an opportunity to try to get back into a relationship with him. Tell him straight up: “look, I care about you, but I’m not in a place where I can be a good friend to you yet. The way I’m feeling and the way I’m behaving isn’t fair to you, and it’s only making things worse. I value you, but I need to step away for a while so I can get to a place where I can be the friend you deserve.”
And then you pull the trigger on the Nuclear Option. You don’t need to block or unfollow him, but at the very least need to mute or hide him and put as many inconveniences between yourself and getting in touch with him as you can. I think part of the reason why you haven’t been able to get over him is that you never fully accepted that the relationship was over. Being in contact meant that you could still feed the fantasy that you could make it work a second time around. But right now, clearly, you can’t. So put the possibility of it out of reach; accept that it’s not happening. Mourn the loss of that dream; it sucks and it’s painful and you should let yourself feel those feels. But part of mourning is to come to acceptance, which is where you need to be. The sooner you stop letting the idea of getting back with him hang in your mind as a possibility, the sooner you’ll be able to move on and find a partner who you can be with and can be with you.
But that can’t come until you let go of him and process your feelings and your behavior. So let this go, HNSC; it’s the kindest thing you can do for him and for yourself. As amazing as I’m sure he is, there will be others who are just as great. And, more importantly, you and they will be in a place where you’ll have more than just love to make things work between you.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org