I want my girlfriend back

I showed up unannounced in Asia to try to reconcile: Now she wants no contact!

Published July 23, 2009 10:10AM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

Just over a year ago, I broke up with a pretty special girlfriend. We had a great seven months together. But I am a little older than she is, and we were heading in quite different directions. I was thinking about a quieter life. She was applying for overseas aid work.

Then, out of the blue, I was offered a great job back home. So I left. It was terribly hard on both of us. She wanted to come with me. I said no. She posted a heartbreaking picture on her Facebook profile -- an adaptation of a picture she had painted for me the previous Christmas. I wrote and told her it was for the best. She disagreed.

Months went by. She went to Asia on a one-year aid program. Meanwhile, my corporate dream job was slowly turning into a nightmare. I suffered a burnout. As therapy, I did a one-month road trip. It helped me re-evaluate pretty much everything. When I got home, I enrolled in veterinary school. I also bought a plane ticket.

What I did next was either extremely romantic or extremely foolish: I turned up in Asia unannounced. She almost fell over, aghast. She told me that she was in love with someone else. They'd been together for a while, and besides, she'd gotten over me 11 months ago. We met later for lunch. She made it clear that she was not interested in any sort of future reunion. Of course I didn't want to believe her. I didn't believe that she could "switch off" her feelings so completely, especially for her first love.

We had a brief e-mail exchange over the following couple of weeks. Although she was firm, she was kind -- even offering to hear me out in any sort of e-mail rant I might like to send her. But not long thereafter, she blocked me on Facebook and wrote me a long, angry e-mail. She told me to never communicate with her, ever again.

Of course I was upset and confused. But a few days later, I noticed that her boyfriend was no longer on her "friend list." Then, exactly one year to the day since I'd e-mailed her in response to her heartbreaking Facebook profile pic, the picture appeared once again. And it's still there, almost a month later.

So Cary, what to do? I know she asked me not to write to her, but I wonder about her very public "sad" picture, its timing and its significance to me. Why not just write to me? I wonder if pride is the reason. Or perhaps she's afraid of risking her heart again, after I managed to hurt her twice. Maybe it has nothing to do with me. Perhaps she's using it to mourn her more recent loss.

I dearly love this woman, and while I don't want to cause her further upset, I also don't want to let a potential chance slip away. Of course the other option is to simply "move on." Of course there's a cold logic to that. But I think cold logic was partly to blame for my breakdown.

Born-Again Romantic

Dear Born Again,

It's pretty clear that you broke up with her and that she's refused your attempts to get back together. Some of her behavior may be hard to decode, but her basic message is clear: She's asked you not to contact her. So I think you should take her request at face value and stop contacting her -- with one exception: I do not think it would violate the spirit of her request to simply acknowledge it and promise to abide by it. I say this because you have acted unpredictably in the past. She cannot know if you will abide by her request or not, and may be uneasy on that point. You can put her mind at ease. Therefore, in my view, replying to her to say only that you understand and plan to abide by her request has some merit.

If you agree, I suggest you write to her via regular post -- not e-mail. Tell her that you realize it was wrong to try to get back together with her, and that while you could not accept her refusal at first, you now accept it and will abide by her wishes. Promise not to contact her again. Make this your last correspondence. Wish her well. Say goodbye.

Remember, you were the one who broke up with her. She didn't want to break up. She wanted to stay together. Now, while she may not be able to "switch off" her feelings, it is clear that she has adjusted to reality.

I suggest you try to do the same.

While thoughts of her will no doubt remain, you can eliminate temptations and triggers. First, remove all electronic connections to her. It is too easy to contact her when you have many instantaneous options. So eliminate your presence on her Facebook page and on any other networking sites. If you follow her on Twitter, or she follows you, eliminate that connection. If her e-mail address is in your address book, delete it. If her phone number is in your phone, delete it. If you are connected on any instant messaging service, likewise eliminate her from that. Then gather all physical pictures, mementos and letters you may have and put them into deep storage. Don't just put them into a drawer to periodically examine wistfully. Put them away.

You may not be able to "move on" psychologically, but you can certainly move on physically, and you can abide by your decision to stop contacting her.

End it. Don't go back. Study hard.


What? You want more advice?

By Cary Tennis

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