Question: Dear Luise: I started dating a semi-coworker about seven months ago. For the first two months we were together he said that he had just gotten out of a one year relationship and wasn’t ready to move on to another. So, we just hung out, had great conversation and talked to each other at least three times a week. Back in July, he wanted to officially date cuz he was falling for me and didn’t want me to date anyone else. For the next two months it was great! We spent a lot of time together, my friends and family loved him, and his friends and family loved me! He later found out his ex-girlfriend immediately got engaged after their breakup, and that really bothered him. He told me that after two months of officially dating he wanted to be alone, and needed to figure out what he wanted. I later found out that he had his dating profile plastered on Yahoo, and Match.com. His title on these websites was “looking for true love.” All he was looking for on the Internet was what we had together. Of course he completely denied ever looking on the Internet for a date. He has called me for the past three months (since we broke up) and have fooled around and gone out a few times. He even told me that he wanted me to take him back, then a few days later he said that he still wasn’t ready to date. I just found out that he hasn’t been calling me the past week, and it’s because he found a new girlfriend on the Internet. I know he’s no good, but I fell for him hard, and all I do is feel sad and want him to care for me like he did before. I just don’t understand why or how he could do this to me. I need some sound advice and guidance to help me heal. R.
Answer: Dear R.: It seems to me that when we find someone attractive and enter into a new relationship, we can’t help but make up a lot of stuff about the person. What we see, we like…so that must be the way the person is through and through, right? Not necessarily and certainly not always.
People often act the way they think we want them to act at first but it may be hard to keep the pretense up after the novelty wears off. There are those who actually like “falling” in love a lot better than they like “being” in love. Someone new can be pretty exciting. Conquest has a certain appeal to the immature. Then, to cover up their lack of staying power, they say the current love interest just isn’t “the one.” Those who are more grown up and ready for commitment can move past infatuation. The guy you describe probably isn’t able to sincerely and consistently care to the degree that you want him to. He can fake it but he can’t maintain it and may never be able to. It’s possible to actually grow old without growing up.
One thing that helped me when I had a similar experience was to face the fact that the person I “lost” never really existed. That’s because the guy I made up in my head and heart would never have acted like that…would never have done what he did. We can’t “lose” those we don’t have. They aren’t real. What happens is we get attached to a fantasy of our own making. It still feels like a loss, don’t misunderstand me, and it still hurts. But in the long run it’s easier to let go of a fictitious person, someone we have given wonderful qualities to that they don’t actually possess, than it is to experience being rejected by someone of substance.
He’s also basically dishonest. You found that out through his Internet activities. He’s not anyone you would want in your life. Not really. It sounds to me like you may have had a narrow escape. Look at him and at your experience with clarity. It’s the best antidote. Blessings, Luise