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Should I stay or Should I go?


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I apologize upfront for this being a long post (especially being my first). However I thought it was important to include a lot of this information.


2 years ago I was contacted by a very attractive woman on one of the online dating sites. I was 45 and she was 41. We decided to meet and hit it off immediately. We went slow and let the relationship build. I got to meet her daughter and the two of us similarly hit it off. We spent the majority of the first year in what could only be described as near-bliss. We went to Disneyworld, NYC and really did all the things that happy families do. Having never had kids this whole experience was incredibly powerful for me. I loved it. It was happiness like nothing I'd really ever experienced. I thought I hit the jackpot!


Right after Christmas last year, my Mom fell ill. She was 82 and in fairly poor health anyway, so I was obviously very concerned. My GF was very supportive of me and I spent the week between Christmas and New Years with my mom. Fortunately she recovered and went home right after New Years.


My first day back to work after the start of the New Year (2008) I got in the middle of a power struggle between two managers on the project I was working on. I became a casualty of this rift and wound up being removed from the project. I didn't do anything to cause this and there was little I could do to rectify it. It was a sad time for me. I knew things would eventually work out but I found myself in career limbo for about 2 months. Things started to straighten out around the end of February. Again, my GF was very supportive, although I did notice that it felt like she was pulling back from me a little. Just little things like making a bunch of new priorities with her time and being less available to me. She also developed a habit of not listening to me, to the extent that she's ask me an opinion on something that just 10 minutes earlier we'd discussed. That was kinda hard.


In the middle of March I got a phone call that my mom was back in the hospital. The doctors said they didn't think she'd survive the week. In the end they were right. I headed back up to my mom's and spent most of that week with her. I called to get my sister and her husband moving on getting into town. She's a piece of work that I don't want to get into right now, but she wouldn't/couldn't come until she was assured that mom (or in this case me since I was handling mom's finances by this time) would pay for the trip and pet sitting bills. This was frustrating but I took care of it. I admit I was on the phone regularly with my GF during that time and was probably not in the brightest and happiest mood because of the whole ordeal. My GF came up to be with me at my mom's funeral and we drove back home together.


She (again) reorganized the following weekend to be away from me because she had a friend coming in from out-of-town. The following week from that she called and told me "this isn't working for me anymore". I was shocked. I hadn't even seen her since the funeral. She later told me that she couldn't and wouldn't live with the cloud of negativism that followed me around anymore. This was something I just couldn't understand. Yes, I was going through some tough times, and they were hitting me one after another in quick succession, but they were over a relatively short time. Outside that time things were awesome. And during that time I honestly don't think, nor do any of my friends who witnessed me during that period, that I handled anything in any more negative way than anyone else would have in the same situation.


Now let me provide some background. My GF (now ex-GF) had her own share of rough experiences several years before I met her. Her mom and dad died a year apart. Two years later her husband killed himself. We discussed all these traumatic experiences and what they did to her. She admitted that after her husband died that she didn't get out of bed for almost a month. She also said she took a year off from work to deal with her issues and recover. I always considered her strong and resilient for her ability to put her life back together. Now I will say (and she would agree) her following dating experiences were not too great. One of her next BFs turned out to be quite abusive (mentally and physically) and was diagnosed as being bi polar. Her daughter was downright terrified of the guy. In the end she got a restraining order to get him away, and when he broke it she had him jailed for 6 months. But here's the kicker for me… She said that he asked her to marry him and she reluctantly agreed. When things were rough she made the two of them go to counseling. She determined (with the counselor) that the a-hole was not a candidate for therapy. He needed deep medication. I have to concede that I'm still very hurt that she'd put such an effort into wanting a relationship with this guy and she just up and dumped my ass with no effort whatsoever.


We spent most of the rest of 2008 apart but communicative. She admitted that she hadn't closed the door on someday reconnecting with me. We had dinner a few times and met socially on a couple of other occasions. The first time was very powerful. Her body language was very closed (crossed arms, looking away, etc.) but the time was pleasant. As we prepared to leave each other there was a very powerful moment. She came over to hug me goodbye. The hug started very tentative and then she held me tighter. I looked in her eyes and she looked into mine as we stopped the embrace, and I saw tears starting to form in her eyes. I kept looking directly into her eyes as I told her that I understood that she needed some time to figure out what was going on in her life but that I wanted to maintain some level of an emotional tie to her. She stepped back and looked away from me. Little by little our meetings became a bit more comfortable, including a couple of occasions when she was quite affectionate and took time to make sure she gave me a great hug and kiss goodbye. Then, somewhere around September she started cooling off a little again. The dialog was friendly but she started using the 'friend' comment about me a lot more. Still, her body language and attitude screamed that she still has feelings for me but can't allow herself to act on them.


On December 1st we had a very friendly conversation about Thanksgiving, her daughter, and upcoming plans for the Holiday. Then, at the end of the conversation she says, "Hey… I don't know if you'll find this upsetting or not, but I've started seeing someone". That was quite a blow. I suppose I knew this was coming but the bomb was pretty upsetting. I felt like I did back in the spring when she first broke up with me. She said she still wants to be friends, and we discussed how our contact should change based on her new relationship. She said, "I don't see anything wrong with an occasional email to keep up to date". I asked if it would be appropriate if I sent her daughter a small Christmas gift. I was surprised that she said it would be perfectly appropriate.


I decided that I needed to effectively stop all contact with her. I figured that, at best, after the New Year I'd send a one line email asking if she had a nice Holiday, but wasn't sure I'd even do that. Just before Christmas, she called me. I was very surprised. She set the rules on our dialog and then immediately broke them. She said that her daughter loved the Christmas gift and went on and on about how great it was. She also asked me if I could do her neighbor (and one of our mutual friends when we were together) a favor. The neighbor is going through a rough divorce with financial complications and needed to quickly sell some household items to help make mortgage payments. My ex-GF knows I'm internet savvy and very active with eBay and craigslist so suggested that maybe I could help. My ex-GF and her neighbor live almost 2-hours away. I KNOW there are folks closer by that could help with something as simple as that so I questioned her motives for calling me. I was also a bit offended by the comment "Maybe helping her you'll be helping yourself as well". That seemed very condescending. I should have said no, but I am quite fond of the neighbor and felt bad for her situation, so I called and arranged to come over to help. The neighbor very much appreciated my help and companionship for the day. However, I also got intel I wasn't expecting and really didn't want. The new BF, apparently is another local loser with three failed marriages under his belt, and is rumored to have quite a temper. The neighbor doesn't expect the relationship to last and said she wouldn't be at all surprised of my ex-GF would come back around looking for me.


All my friends, and now one of hers, fully expect my ex-GF to try to reconnect at me at some point. My feelings alternate from sadness to anger. I feel incredibly betrayed because I stood by her during some very difficult times for her and she walked away from me when I needed her. I'm also upset that she found it so difficult to act on her ongoing feelings for me but found it easy to return to a failed pattern of attraction to dysfunctional men.


I'm in a quandary. I don't WANT to give up on this relationship but I know it's neither wise nor healthy to wait around. For the record, I am going out and dating, however my heart isn't really into it at this point. I suppose my heart is still healing and a LTR is best held at bay until I progress further, but I do enjoy getting out and meeting new people. I've read both "How to get over a breakup" and "How to STOP your breakup", and am just trying to decide how I should act, what I should think, or what I should/shouldn't do. How to STOP your breakup talks about stopping pursuing (which I clearly have), but the dirty tricks make sure your ex knows you're doing ok. As I said, we live 2 hours away. It's not like we're gonna cross paths at the grocery store. How do I assure that?


I need opinions and advice. This seemed like the right place to come. Can you help?

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She has not figured out that the excitement of being with men that are bad for her is not a recipe for long term happiness. You have lost a surrogate daughter also, and that pain is probably worse.

Get on with your life, with no expectation of ever seeing her again. If you feel like dating, do it. If not, don't. But do not wait for her. If she wants you back, that 2 hour drive is hers to make, not yours. If you don't make the bar high for getting you now, you will lose her respect and more importantly, yours.

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If you keep doing her favors and sticking around, she's only going to be more confused. If she wants to be with you, deep down, when you become unavailable, that's when she's going to know that she lost a great thing.


It sounds cliche, the whole, "If you love something, let it go" thing, but it's the truth. If you let her keep you close, she won't ever miss you.


Tell her you need space, and that she's manipulating you and you don't like it. Then, don't contact her.


Go on dates, have fun, etc. If she never calls, at least you'll have stood up for yourself, and you'll get over her. If she calls, it'll be because your absense hit her harder than she expected, and she'll realize that she wants/needs you.

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