Pushing Her Away
Q: I dated this girl for almost a year and fell deeply in love with her. We couldn't spend too much time with each other due to work. I'm an accountant and work too much. When I had the time, she was busy, and when we did spend time together, she would bring her friends. I decided to stay away and end the relationship, but I still love her and she says the same. We are trying just to keep company but it seems as if every time we talk we both end up hurting each other's feelings. I have strong feelings for her and she asks me all the time how I am doing and I don't want to share that with her. I just want to know why I don't want to be open like I used to be. I usually say things to keep her away. She wants to talk to me every day and I don't want hear from her but at the same time I think I am closing my doors to her. Some help understanding is what I need. -- Edwin, 22
Dr. Susan: I get the feeling both of you were ambivalent about this relationship from the beginning, which is totally normal when you're both so young. Otherwise you wouldn't have worked quite so much and you would have made some time to be with her. You say you fell in love with her but it's more likely you were deeply attracted to her and that's all. I suspect you were more attracted than she was, by the evidence. I suspect that you continue to harbor resentment towards her for not being available those times you made time for her, and for bringing her friends along rather than devoting her energies only to you. I don't think you trust her feelings for you. It may not be possible to "downgrade" your relationship from "love" to simply "keeping company." You may not be able to get this relationship back to where it was. Too many strong feelings get stirred up each time you communicate, but you're both unwilling to be totally honest about what those feelings are. Thus you miscommunicate, you hurt one another, and you push her away. It's time for the two of you to talk this all through and figure out what your true feelings are.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.