What to do when he/she won’t talk to you.

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Assuming you want to chat with them.

© Al Turtle 2005

Yellowstone Park, quiet time. Amazingly this is a very common occurrence, and there is something you can do.  I am particularly familiar with this as I am the kind of guy who can talk with someone about intimate subjects for 60 hours, or more, straight.  I can drive everyone crazy, and they didn't use to want to talk with me much. (Also check out my papers on Reliable Membership and on the Testicle Principle.)

Rule: People won't talk cuz they don't feel safe to.

This is a pretty simple and very reliable rule.  I suggest you learn it.  I have found it helps when I want someone to talk to me and they won't.  What is typical for me is to try to push them to talk.  I had tried thousands of ways, it seemed.  My ways never worked.  So finally I accepted the idea that "pushing doesn't work."   Of course many of my pushing techniques were very tricky and subtle.  Still my partner could instantly see, or feel through me and see my pushing.  It just didn't work.

Thus my first task is to start to help them feel safe.  I have found this is both very difficult and easy.  Making anyone feel anything is pretty near impossible.  They will feel what they chose to feel, darn them.   Still there are lots of things that trigger a sense of safety in a person.  And there are lots of things that tend to make a person feel unsafe.  Find 'em. Remove 'em.

So let's look at the situation you are in.  Someone won't talk to you.  Is it that they won't talk to anyone about anything?  Or is it that they won't talk to you, personally?  These are very different situations, and you have to ask yourself which it is. 

If they won't talk to anyone about anything, it may be quite difficult to get them to talk.  Somehow they have probably learned to be unsafe with everyone.  Could easily be that this comes directly from when they were little.  You have to work to overcome that.  It's still possible, just difficult and may take a  long time with a lot of patience.  (Of course, if this is your partner, you picked them.  And this problem is part of your personal challenge in life.)

If they won't talk with just you, I think the situation is easier.  Here's the thought.  You are doing things or have done things, probably lots of things, that tend to make them feel unsafe.  You probably don't know what these things are, but these are actions you "can change."  What you are doing does not work for you.  

Now, remember, what you do is normal for you. You have to identify what those things are that you do, and learn to replace your behaviors with something better – something that works.  Sure this can be difficult, but it is your behavior and therefore you can change it.  You have this power.  (To understand the issues of Safety, click here for many articles.)

Principle #1: Develop and Demonstrate Patience

Probably the first thing you need is to send the message that "you can wait."  That means you need to learn patience.  Now before you decide that this is hopeless, just remember that patience is a set of skills. Patience is a learned thing.  All children are born "impatient."   That's normal.  It is also normal for us to learn "patience," when we grow up.  It is kind of like learning to tie your shoes laces. But some people have not learned patience — YET.   

Patience is the habit of comfort when things don't happen at the pace you desire. Easiest way to learn patience is to spend a large amount of time in a slow situation with people who are already very patient. You can learn it by example. Ask others how they learned it.  You can also take courses in Meditation, Yoga, and many east Asia disciplines.  Practice it.

I still practice intentionally missing traffic lights.  If the light is green, I may slow a little.  If it turns yellow, I really try to stop.  And then I practice enjoying the "tiny vacation" I get while the light is red. 

Principle #2: Invite, instead of Push

This is pretty straight forward.  Learn to never ask questions.  Invite instead.  It sounds like this.  "I was wondering about something you did the other day.  If you ever figure out what was going on for you when you did that, I'd love to hear about it.  In the meantime, let's have dinner."  Notice how these are all statements with no question mark at the end of them.  Many people feel pushed by questions.  Just being asked a question often feels like an attack.  So, just don't do it. (To understand the issue of Pushing, click here.)

Principle #3: Gently Listen

Wow, is this one valuable!  I suggest you show only moderate eagerness when listening, but invite them to say anything they want.  Never interrupt.  Never add more questions.  Just listen and encourage them to say it all. Accept whatever they say.  Never, never, never argue.  Learn Mirroring so as to help train yourself to relax while listening to anything they say.


What to do when he/she won’t talk to you. — 74 Comments

  1. Last july i met an amazng woman and yes we moved way too fastand bought a house together in December. She was still married when I met her but swore time and time again it aas over. I have been having issues withh binge drinking from being over strsssed because of her 2 kids and her quitting her job which put a greatt financiial strain on me. I was supporting her dream to find a betterjob which she did in August. Everything was going great until I got news ofmy uncle n his death bed. I saw him and went out ad came home locked myself in my bedroom and ggot drunk. She left me me and it seemed prettyy much over. A we goes by I find a picure of her and the ex kissing at a concert and recalled we were togeter at that very moment. What happpened next im ashamed to admit but I trashed the entire house everything that was was hers was in a heap. I felt so totally played and full of anger and hurt. Well no im stuck eatting my oon regret missing a woman I deeply loved and have no clue what to do next. A big part of me wants to make amends and try and in her back. Its been three weeks since the night of destruction and carnage and all I want to do is talk somehow to openthe dialoogue so we can both heal

    • Dear Gerry, I love examples of doing the wrong thing. (I’ve got plenty from my past.) We’re all human. Sounds as if you’ve got to get better at taking care of yourself (the alcohol and temper stuff) and working on Making Amends. My general rule is when I let out my temper, I have to pay for it fully in cash, time, effort. And my thoughts are you don’t have issues with binge drinking but instead with the issues that lead you to binge drink. Fix ‘em. Get some good help. As she is amazing, then she’s worth it. Get to work.

  2. my ex boyfriend of 9 years cheated on me 5 months ago. He asked for forgiveness and yes I gave it to him. A month ago he started acting distant the same way he did around the time he was cheating so, I assumed he was cheating again. we got into a stupid argument that spiraled out of control, because I already thought he was cheating and using the argument to get out of the relationship. I told him I was seeing someone else, however; I was lying I have never and would never cheat but it hurt me so bad to think he was cheating again I wanted him to think I was to. I know that was bad but the words flew out of my mouth before I could catch them. He dropped me off at my house and told me to have a good life. It has been 32 days and not one word from him after we had no contact for about 3 weeks I sent him an apology and told him at the end of the day and all was said and done, I lost my friend. Will he ever be able to get past what I said? My heart is hurting so bad, and I am consumed with regret.

    • Dear Cali, No. He won’t ever forget. Human brains ain’t built that way. But he could understand! What’s going on that he’s “cheating.” Seems to me as if you two are wandering around in the Power Struggle, and hurting each other in the process of trying to get love. As I often say, check out my Map of Relationships and make some solid and useful choices. All that hurt isn’t useful to him or you. Go for Vintage Love.

  3. Al I have a question. I was dating this girl for a couple months and we were getting along great. In hindsight we probably moved way too fast. We were really good friends before we started dating. We’ve known each other for about 4 years. We always had mutual feelings for each other but the timing was never right. We finally got together and it was great. Spent a lot of time together. Seemed to be going great. Then her ex starts getting jealous of us and starts trying to win her back. They have kids together so they have a strong bond(they haven’t been together in years, he cheated on her numerous times). Recently we split up her saying she needs to focus on herself and kids. We kept in contact and still hung out quite a bit. But about a week ago she told me she was confused about her feelings for me and her ex. She has since stopped talking to me. Any advice? I really miss my friend if nothing else.

  4. Hi Al,

    I had been in a relationship with a man on and off for 3 years. When we were together, he had trouble to commit. He kept wanting to go out and do his own things. We have had lots of talks about it, things never seem to get better for longer than a week. I decided to break up and move on. After a while, he would contact me again and said how much he regretted not treating me well, and that he wanted to make a change. I believed, and got back with him and started another cycle. Finally i convinced him to go see a counsellor. we were doing well for a couple of months until one day i found out he was secretly in touch with an ex. I made a mistake to look at his phone as I couldn’t trust what he said. And I saw him saying i love you to this ex. I tried not to say anything but eventually couldn’t fight it and confronted him. He was very angry and said he did love her more than me. So we broke up.

    Later on, he got in touch again explaining they were just friends etc, and he wouldn’t get in touch with her again if it upsets me. I chose to move on as i was very hurt, and very overwhelmed by the sense of betrayal. I had trusted him fully prior to this. Recently, he sent a hearty email and asked me to give him another chance. I told him that i didn’t believe him and the ex would really come clear like that. We stopped talking for a while. He sent me a message after our football team lost. I rang him up and we had a good chat about footy and other stuff. He then continued to call me everyday after that. One week later, i told him we needed to stop being in touch, because we were exes, the bond is still there, that would make it easy to cross the boundary. And make it hard for both of us to move on. He went on and told me he was going to see his ex in other state for a week. He said he had realised how much this ex is affecting his love life. he wanted to go and spend sometime with the ex to figure out what really was going on between them. It was the same place where we had our only holiday together. I was in total disbelief, and hurt and anger. I told him no to contact me no matter what result he gets from his visit. When I had calmed down i knew he was doing the right thing for the long run. But still hurtful for me, to finally confirm it was more than friendship between them. i asked him if he wanted to have a chat before he went, he refused. I’ve invited him a few times to chat after he came back, he had never got back to me since. I knew things didnt work out with the ex as I saw him active on a dating site recently. I have this mixture of feelings. I feel less betrayed in a way that they didn’t hit it off. I feel guilty that i didnt support him to go figure things out. I feel hurt that he didn’t want to talk to me. I know i should just let it go and move on. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What should i do?


    • Hello Lily, Tis so confusing for you, I imagine. The whole “dumb” idea is that you can only fall in love with one person, Mr. Right, Ms Right, seems a bit exposed. I’ve written on this (Finding Mr. Ms Right) in an effort to get my own ideas clear. I think there are a vast number of people one can “fall in love with”, but you can only work with one at a time. He sounds caught trying to decide whether you or the ex is “the” right one, when probably both are good candidates. I cover the pattern of partner selection in my paper on Map of Relationship.

      And while he’s in this confusion, sounds as if you are also. What do you want? Go for that!

      Good luck.

      • Thanks a lot for your reply, Al. To be honest, Im a little broken, and not sure what to fight for now. It seems like my ex is moving on from both me and his ex. Guess he has had enough of every one being confused and hurt too. I’ve read quite a few of your articles. Especially the one you talked about clingers and avoiders, explains our situation very well. Basically every time (not this time yet) when i finally decided to let it go and move on, he came back to me. Every time when I wanted to communicate and work on things, he would run away. I’m feeling a little tired of the whole thing now. So much separation, and not enough togetherness. I guess what kept me going is that, he has told me many many times that he has got this thing since he was a teenager. He had a tough childhood, growing up in a family while mum and dad never seemed to get on, and had separated after over 30 years of bitter marriage. He longs for stability and settling down starting a family, but scares of commitment, constantly worrying about things. Last time we spoke he told me that he felt silly to be giving up something (our relationship) that was going well just incase it doesn’t work out. Every time when he told me he wanted to make a change of the old habit, I couldn’t help to want to take him back and make it work. Now he has gone to spend time with his ex, he is currently active on a dating site, and he is not talking to me. I feel like im running out of steam. I’m starting to think, maybe there is not enough in it for me to keep going? I see your example, and very impressed that you could live happily on 50 units of love when you needed (or wanted) 150. I’m starting to think maybe i should go find someone that can at least give me somewhere near 100. But the feelings are there, the bond is there, and it is hard even to think that our future will not have each other. After all, we have really loved each other.

        • Good luck, Lily. I hear the bond is there and sounds like it is there for both of you. I think that is just the normal sign of the Imago working in both of you and that each are a “close enough” Imago match. That’s good. And to me that means get to work repairing the two sets of damage you experienced as kids. I believe that thought/sense that you can’t imagine a future without each other is just the awareness of that deep and usually unconscious drive to get on with the “healing.” Remember all you can do is speed this process up or slow it down. I don’t think you can stop it. We humans are “recovering fiends.”

          You could drop this guy, but you would just have to find another who will turn out to be a pain in the butt (maybe less maybe a lot more). And remember there are lots of potential Imago matches out there. He, in no way, is the only one.

          My guess is that if he had a tough childhood, so did you, whether you believe it at this point or not.

          I personally would spend more time looking at how to self-nurture and less time being dependent/focused on him. I doubt his job is to meet your needs for contact, but rather to meet your needs for practicing balancing your needs for connection and his needs for space. At least that was/is true for me.

          Good luck.

        • Aha! Al, your 3 paragraphs raised 3 questions or confusions.

          First, when you said ‘healing’, do you mean Healing on our own or healing together as a couple? I guess if I’m here, then it’s obvious part of me still want to heal as a couple, but he is not talking to me. And I can’t and have no intention to make him to work with me. During the past 8 months of our separation, I’ve actually met a guy that seems to be able to give me love units. But strangely, I don’t feel a connection with him. Hence stop struggling.

          2nd, I loved it when you said ‘whether you admit at this point of time or not’! I actually thought that I had pretty good childhood. I grew up in a loving family, where everyone is caring and supportive. Forgot to mention I’m from Asian culture, he is western. Maybe that is the problem? We are there for each other, look after each other, his family seems to be quite independent. People just go off doing their own thing.

          Lastly, I’m aware of that it is not his job to talk to me, especially now we aren’t together. It just seems like if he is doing his own thing, getting out there finding potential match. Maybe I should do the same too? I’m kind of worrying that he would come back again as soon as I start to let go. Should I just make my own decision and stick to it?

        • Ok Lily, Let’s see.

          By Healing I am referring, clumsily, to re-mediating the damage you both sustained in childhood. Step one is to create a space, the relationship, that has healing rather than damaging properties – i.e. Skills of the Biological Dream to be specific. Step two and onward is a) completing the unresolved emotions and b) learning the soothing skills that are specific to your differing injuries. So the way I’d say it, learning as a couple to reliable heal each other’s wounds.

          It has been my experience again and again that cultural differences are fascinating but don’t change the Imago dynamics at all. The pain of childhood is different in western and eastern cultures, but not missing. If your partner had a rough childhood, so did you. That’s a good guiding principle. “You always fall in love with someone equally damaged.” You may not have yet identified your wounding yet. Sounds like you haven’t, and that may be a problem. I’d love a penny for every time I have heard a person tell me “I had a pretty good childhood.” The measures of whether a child’s experiences are painful or damaging are not in the eyes of the parents. Tis more about the Lizard, et. al. By looking at who you picked and what his traits and trials are, I could make guesses about yours. I suggest you don’t rush to illuminate this area. Take your time.

          Whenever and however you make the decision to “move on,” he may “out of the blue” suddenly return. I’ve seen one couple remarry three times over many years. Journeys just continue. You’ll have to deal with a) that decision of move on and b) what to do if he resurfaces all based on what’s going on at the time.

          Good luck.

      • Al, what you said makes perfect sense. Easier said than done for us though. For the last almost 4 years we were going round and round in a circle. Maybe did more deepening each other’s wounds than healing. Well, Maybe did get to know each other a bit more and got better at some things. But overall still terrible at the whole relationship thing. We both have a lot of fear worring that we will keep doing the same thing if we see each other again. And of cause the fear doesn’t help to work on things at all. My ex once said that he felt like he couldn’t live without me, and couldn’t live with me. Which precisely describes the situation. When we were together, he often gets moody, impatient, and distant out of the blue. Which makes me feel insecure, constantly watching out when he was going to get into a bad mood. I could usually tried to stay cool and give him a chance to calm down. But most of the times it wouldn’t work, he would continue on, and I would feel hurt. Then a fight would start. He would block all the communication. I would give up trying. He would then miss me and regret not treating me well, and wanted to get back in touch. And he has done it again. He is back in touch. And i dont know what to do.

        This is way to exhausting. I think maybe we aren’t suitable for each other? He needs a lot of time and space for himself. But I want someone that would share a lot more with me. By saying that, i think I’m not overly clingy. We hardly spent a whole weekend together in 3 years. We never spent a Christmas or new year or my birthday together. He never remembered my birthday which i didn’t really mind as I’m not big on birthdays. But i helped him to celebrate his every year. My family is not here, i spent every Christmas and new year with my friends or on my own, while he celebrated Christmas with his family and went off to festivals for new year on his won. He kept saying that he loved me and valued me a lot, but i never felt cherished. I felt that anything else was more important than our relationship. He would rather spending time with his mates or doing things he likes than spending time with me. He kept standing me up cancelling our plans when We were together.

        But why I’m still thinking of him? The article you wrote about finding mr right /miss right made sense. We kind of fell in love the first time we met, even though we didn’t get together until a year later. We both felt each other was special and there was some kind of connection between us. He just felt familiar, as it was meant to be kind of thing. Even though we have been through so much negative experience, i dare say the chemistry is still there. If we see each other again it would be very easy to get suck in the cycle again. I’m really tired and scared of the cycle. I thought there are only two ways to end the cycle, A, stick to breaking up and try my best to find someone else, B, make it work with him. However, i only have control on the first option, the second is too hard with him ‘not sure’ about me. So it seems like option A is my only option to end the cycle. What do you think?

        • Hi Lily, If you put my two papers together (“Map of Relationships” and “Finding Mr. Ms. Right”) your situation seems so normal that many of your heartfelt sentences now seem to me like cliches. “why I’m still thinking of him” “there are only two ways to end the cycle” “This is way to exhausting.” “I think maybe we aren’t suitable for each other?” “Easier said than done.” “He needs a lot of time and space for himself. But I want someone that would share a lot more with me.” etc, etc. And because all this pain and struggle and exhaustion is repeated in millions of couples, there have got to be better solutions out there. I think there are.

          I always see three choices: Door #1 (Build a great relationship), Door #2 (put up with it and go on living in pain), Door #3 (split up and go find another familiar and unsuitable person and start again). Since he’s gone, it seems (I don’t trust it) then you are on to starting again. Long journey. And remember what this (today’s and yesterday’s) situation feels like, cuz you’ll probably be back here again in a few years. It is that awareness that lead me to choose Door #1 every time. And it takes only one to build a great relationship.

          Good luck.

        • Haha, Al. I think you are the only one that encourages me to keep working on things. Everyone else seem to think there are plenty of nice people around, why waste time on someone that doesn’t appreciate who I’m and what I do. i used to think like you do for a long time. I thought it would be quicker to work on the current relationship of the time then starting from scratch. Hence i was the one that acted as the one wanted the relationship more than my ex. Which Apperantly scared him off. To be honest, i did want it to work, but more importantly, I just wanted to try, so i wouldn’t regret not trying. I offered to go on counselling with him. But he thought there was no point for us to go together, as he wasn’t sure if he wanted it to work. I guess i could try to focus on improving myself. But I have a sense that he is so much in a habit of not feeling satisfied with me, and it is true that there are a lot differences between us that would never go away, for example, our cultural differences. It hurts too much when the one you love most isn’t happy with who you are. And kept in touch with other people even if not close to traditional definition of cheating. He happens to be a very charming person, everyone seems to like him a lot. I dont feel secure to gamble. And i totally agree with you. It is a cycle. I have done it for 3 years and 8 months, and still struggling. It wouldn’t Take much for the cycle to go on. It sounds like he has done it with his other ex for over 6 years too. So he is very sick of the cycle too. We kind of both feel there is no way out. I know you think it only takes one person to make a relationship work. But I dont have much faith in myself. Too much fears and too easily upset. Sorry to be negative. :-)

        • Yes, Lily, I’ve seen this before. Take your time and keep a going.

          There once was a pregnant woman who had not delivered in over three years.
          The doctors got worried and finally opened her up.
          Inside were two tiny grey haired guys both saying, “No no, you go first.”

          I can’t and won’t suggest what you should do. That is too important a decision for you for someone like me to make. You do what you choose.

          I am used to the idea that he probably has given up on you cuz “he thinks you are hopeless.” Making the decision to focus on him and to decide “he is hopeless” is your call.

          But when it comes to the phrase, “I guess I could try to focus on improving myself” seems to me there is a door open. I tend to be optimistic. I actually believe that is nature’s way. You can give up on him. As I said, that’s your “call.” I wouldn’t give on you and hope you won’t.

        • Hi, Al. I got your joke! It made me laugh. I used to say the same thing to my ex. Now I’m needing the same wake up call.
          I’m negative about getting back with this guy. And have told him that it’s probably better if we stick to no contact. Can’t stand being part of the complicated situation while he remains close to an ex. And just now I remember I’m actually under the topic of ‘what to do when he wouldn’t talk to you’. Oops. His turn to get on the same topic. We are just so silly. I guess I’m too impatient. It took him 7weeks to get back to me while I ran out patience in a month also. It made me sad and bitter when every little positive move takes months, and all the negative things can happen any minute. I’m sure it makes sense to you. :-)

          But I’m positive enough to keep going with my life though. I’m sure there would be more people that I could fall for. And since I’ve learnt so much in the past few years, hopefuly I could do a better job than I did last time. And thank you for not giving up on me. :-)

        • Thanks for not giving up on me, Al. I’m not giving up either. I think I’m still positive enough to keep going. Perhaps just not with the same person. It’s hard to imagine a way forward with the same person after all the dramas. I don’t feel that I could trust him fully again. He and his ex are very attached to each other, even it has been 6 years after they broke up. I can’t see how that would go away. I understand the reason why he kept in touch with other people and why he didn’t tell me, it’s obvious I didn’t satisfy his needs. I don’t blame him for that. I meant why would he want to stick to me, if he thinks he could get more else where. I don’t even mind if he stays friends with an ex. But what they were doing was beyond what I could cope with. For example, the ex would ring him up late at night, early in the morning, they would say I love you to each other; they would see each other every now and then, spend a whole weekend, even a week together. If not due to physical distance, I am sure they would have been seeing each other more often. And I was completely unaware of those things before. I often think maybe they are more suitable for each other than me and the guy. And have actually suggested them to make it work when I first found out about her 8 months ago, and again when my ex told me he was flying to see her for a week. But this guy just couldn’t make up his mind what to do. So I have to. Otherwise we would go on forever.

          Sorry to ramble. I get your joke. It made me laugh. I used to say the same thing to my ex to make up his mind who he wanted to work on things with. Now I’m needing the same wake up call. Maybe I should take a break from it all and have some peace and quiet, then see what’s out there. Since I’ve been learning so much lately, hopefully I’ll be able to do a better job next time around. :-)


        • Dear Lily, Keep a going. Your sharing reminded me of a bunch of things.

          One is how much we all need wakeup calls. I created a whole bunch of signs for my walls to help “keep waking me up” to the wisdoms I was learning. I’d just forget, or “go to sleep.” When I found myself quoting my own signs in normal conversation, I was able to put them away. Just a thought.

          At this point, following my Map of Relationships, he’s probably comparing you to his ex. Remember he fell in love with her once and with you, and he pulled away from both. That probably puts you two, you and his ex, on some vague sort of equal footing. Pulling way means he probably thought both of you to be “hopeless.” If you distinguish yourself by working on yourself, appearing to be changing, learning, growing up, and thus a source of a “little hope” to him, then you have the advantage. That’s what Step 3, “work on yourself visibly”, is all about.

          As you wake up, you’ll likely discover things “you think you did wrong’ in the past. This is great and useful. Check out Drawer #2 in my analogy of the 3-drawer toolbox. Learn to proactively see and even speak about your mistakes. Learn to Make Amends easily.

          Good luck whatever you decide to do.

        • Thanks Al. I’ve found your articles very useful. I know there are lots of things I could get better at. And I’m keen to improve myself.

          Again, what you said makes perfect sense. There are ways to work on things to get back with my ex. But I don’t think I want to. I’m terrible at ‘competitions’ like this. If someone is wondering around between me and another person. I would suggest the other person, and walk away. I feel like I’m prepared to work on things, Im happy to give it all if my effort is not reciprocated, at lest respected.

          I think What I have been struggling is more about how to move on from it, than how to get back in it. I’m tired, I want to give it up. I was hoping you, a neutral person, an expert in the field rather than my friends and family who would inevitably have biased opinions, would tell me the same thing, to forget about it, and move on find someone more suitable. I was hoping there is such thing of someone more suitable and that it wouldn’t be so hard. By the sound, you are suggesting that I would get stuck with similar kind of person anyway. Have to say That is depressing. Do you really not think some people are easier to have a relationship with than the others? Do you really think that I would not be attracted by someone that are more equipped with their toolbox? Or you just think it’s quicker to creat something than to look for something?
          Sorry to be a pain.

        • Dear Lily, Along these paths of relationships I think people just struggle. I think it a very youthful idea to be depressed about life being hard. It is. Tis quite possible that you can find another partner who has more tools in their tool box, but I don’t think you can avoid having to “clean and sharpen” yours and I certainly don’t think you can avoid having to use them tools more than you’ve ever dreamed.

          A nice guy, I know, wrote me a tiny poem this morning.

          “It seems to me that
          the unsavory conclusion of Imago, is that
          all relationships are doomed
          unless something dramatic happens,
          namely the learning of skills.”

          I don’t think of you as a pain, Lily. Just a friend who’s learning, like me. Good luck.

        • Ok, I think that makes sense. Thank you so much, Al. :-)

          He is officially back in touch. Calling and texting. Also being very clear and honest that he and his ex aren’t together, but they remain and will remain very close and speak often. And he thinks what matters is what happens between us, his relationship with his ex isn’t a problem. Which i do agree, But i don’t feel my heart is big enough to accommodate that. I think I would be ok if they could stick to the boundaries, but given what happened, I don’t feel I could trust them. Any wisdom in this area?

        • What comes to mind, Lily, is that one or the other of you will need to get serious about wanting a great relationship. Getting serious, waking up, probably means deciding not to live in fantasy relationship, but to settle down and really talk. “Calling, texting” won’t do it. Committing to yourself first, to your partner, to the relationship, now that’s probably what’s necessary. You can go on like this for a whole lot of years. Sadly.

          Good luck.

        • Hi Al,
          I think that we are both very serious about wanting a relationship, maybe too serious. To a point, we spent more time worring about things than working on things. Which is silly i know. We both have so much fear and doubt to overcome on the road of love. Sometimes, giving up each other does feel like an easier option…
          On a lighter note, we have had some nice chats about other things. And a talk about our relationship without getting upset. We both realised that there is a strong bond between us. And we have a lot to work on if we were to see each other again. I dont know how this is going to go. But I’m trying to stay patient, just be nice and honest. I kind of set myself a time limit. Once the time is up, I’ll reassess the situation. If we aren’t getting anywhere by then. I think I’ll let it go.
          Thank you so much for all your support, Al.
          Lily :-)

    • Hi Al,
      What a rocky road it is to love! Me and this guy finally managed to communicate and met up last week for the first time in 6 or 7 months. It was nice to see him. Strangely, everything felt the same, it was as comfortable as we were seeing each other every day. We planed to meet again on this Friday night, but I canceled it because his ex flew interstate here to spend a few days with him before she goes overseas. He didn’t tell me about it Until I asked him how he was going with the ex. So he was going to go out with me on Friday, then spend the rest of the weekend with the ex. The ex might be staying at his place. I’m not sure. I feel hurt. And I just couldn’t do it. I told him if he still wants our relationship, it’s going to take a bit more commitment. He told me they are good friends and they will always be. He said he wouldn’t be able to talk a while, because it pushes him away when I demand things. And he alway blocks contact when he is with the ex anyway. I’m not trying to talk anymore. It’s all too much, and too painful. Please tell me letting go is the right thing to do. I’m running out of energy.


      • Not easy, Lily. “Right” or “wrong”? Here’s a quote from myself: “As an old timer in the field of Program and Project Management, I have come to believe that one can never make the right decision. The term “right decision” is to me happily symbiotic, assuming that there really is such a thing. For a working definition, I think that the closest one can come to a “right” decision is a decision that you look back on much later and believe was a good decision. Using the concept of PreValidation, we can even arrive at the idea that all decisions are, in a special/unique way, right. By definition, each decision is the best that a person can make at that time.”

        “Right” or “wrong?” Who can tell? Sorry I am not more helpful. Do what you think is right.

        • Thanks Al. Sometimes i do feel it’s all so hard, and sad. I feel like I can’t go on. But I know that’s all temporary. I will get over this, hopefully be a little more grown up next time around.
          By the way, I did something silly. I was so confused, not sure if I was really being paranoid as this guy said. He kept saying that they are just really good friends and I shouldn’t be focusing on it. I got in touch with the girl to clarify what was really going on. She got very upset and defensive. I feel so bad. I didn’t mean to blame her or anything. I was just trying to get some clarity! She didn’t talk to me but went on and had a fight with this guy for telling me things. This guy then got mad at me for getting in touch with his ex. What a stupid situation we created ourselves! I understand that he hid me from her, hid her from me is Because he is afraid of losing either of us. But what a mess!

        • Great story, Lily. I certainly did stuff as dumb as that. Got to forgive yourself! Your elder self, the one that is/will be 60, will look back on your actions with a kind smile of understanding and amusement. Betcha

        • Hi Al.
          I’m feeling so depressed and betrayed. 9months ago, i found out my boyfriend was secretly in touch with his ex all the way along our 3 years relationship. He was making excuses to be alone to call his ex back. And they were saying i love you to each other. Then he was calling me every day right before flying to other state to see his ex for a week. He met up with me for the first time in 9 months. He invited me out while his ex was here to spend the last few days with him before she went overseas. I don’t feel that’s just friendship between them as this guy said. Is it normal to feel hurt and betrayed? Or am i crazy like they both said? I sometimes get caught in thoughts thinking why would he keep hurting me if he really cares about me and our relationship? Why would he keep lying to me if they really just friends? I feel so sad and disappointed every time i decided to stop being paranoid, there is always something right on my face…
          Btw, I’m no longer in touch with this guy anymore. I dont think i could trust him again. I feel that their relationship no matter what it it’s , it’s much stronger than ours. I can’t share him with her, and i dont feel i could compete with her. I guess this is really it for me and this guy. I wish i could get rid of this sense of betrayal earlier..

        • My thoughts: “You should feel depressed.” “You have been betrayed.” “You can’t trust him (them).” Probably he can’t even trust himself.

          Now what do you do?

          Do the things you need to do to take care of your depression and grief. Learn that he cannot make you feel anything. He cannot hurt you. That feeling of hurt is under your control. Learn to move forward with your life regardless of what he does. Maybe find a good counselor to walk with you over the next few months.

          Just my guesses. Good luck.

        • I agree. What happened has happened. More important is how i recover from all these and move forward with my life. And stop letting other people’s behaviours affecting my happiness and well being. They too have their own things to deal with. They are just doing the best they can. I don’t blame anyone for all these. Just feel sad that two people fall in love with each other can end up so badly. We are so silly and hopeless. I guess that it is always going to hurt when we fall in love with someone wanting to make it work, while the other person has other equally important or even more important people or things in their life to attend to. Maybe one door closes, another window will open. I won’t give up. Just feeling a little down. :-)

  5. Last year I went on a cruise in March. In January I had just gotten out of a 5 year relationship so it was only 3 months later. I was missing my ex right before the cruise but I met this amazing girl from Chicago and we immediately hit it off. I’m from New Jersey but we continued to talk after the cruise and about 2 weeks later she came to NJ and it was an amazing time and I realized I was starting to fall for her. Unfortunately having just gotten out of a long relationship I was still torn about my ex as well. To make a long story short it was hard for me to give this new girl a real chance. Eventually after months of us going back and forth to Chicago and NJ things kind of fell apart and in January of this year (2014) we officially went our separate ways. I realized how much I really did love her during that time and even tho she had started talking to someone else she agreed to meet me for dinner in Chicago near the end of February. It went amazingly well and things looked like they were getting better. The 3 hour phone calls full of laughter and talking about everything under the sun were back and we were now talking about her moving in with me. We hit a couple of bumps in the road along the way but in May she made the move here. It was tough and she was having trouble finding a job and after a month she tearfully told me she was very homesick and wanted to go home. I was upset but I understood. It was hard when she first went back and she started talking to someone about 2 weeks later which really bothered me. Even after she started talking to him she called me one day crying because she said she was so confused if she should move on or not. We went back and forth like this till the week after July 4th and then we got in a huge fight and I said a lot of things that I didn’t mean out of frustration. Since then we have literally only talked twice in the past month and it is killing me. She showed signs of jealousy on my birthday (7/25 is my birthday, today is 8/8) as she knew I have been getting myself back out there and at 2AM the day after my birthday she commented on 3 of my instagram pictures and she doesn’t follow me and told me she did it because she drank a little and was showing me to her best friends mom. I’m just confused as to what to do now. I love her and feel no closure and I’m trying the no contact thing but it sucks because she’s all I think about. Any advice? Sorry for the length lol

    • Well, Tom, that is a pretty interesting experience. Given my Map of Relationships and that stuff I wrote in Finding Mr. Ms. Right I can guess you got yourself into an tricky situation.

      First your ex was probably a pretty good Imago Match, and you split during the Power Struggle. She’s still, and will always be, an Imago Match. This second, the cruise gal, sounds like a strong potential as another Imago Match, but you are not very deeply into the Power Struggle with her or she with you. And to find our more you have to spend time with her and you’ve got the different cities issue – long distance relationships are tough.

      So what does the Map tell you. Quickest way to Vintage Love is to go to work with that Ex. Next quickest is to develop the Relationship with cruise gal, if she is willing. Third, and slowest, is to find a new partner.

      Remember, “the only thing that makes you forget your last Imago Match is your next Imago Match.”

      At least these are my guesses.

    • Thanks Al. I know what you meant. It’s not a question to ask. I really don’t want to ask for commitment that he is not keen to make. It loses its meaning if i had to ask for it. And i think that I have a pretty small heart. I couldn’t tolerate it. I feel hurt when these sort of things happen, especially when it came like a surprise. No doubt they have deep connection. It seems they are sure that their relationship is going to be lifelong. I dont think i would want to deal with it for the rest of my life. It would be crap. Having Someone calling texting my partner telling him how much she loves him and how much she needs him in his life. They want to spend holidays and weekends alone. They want me to understand and relax. I know if i tried, if i just go out with him and continue to work on myself make myself a better partner, I might be able to win him over. But Al, my heart is not big enough. I’m getting more and more broken, more and more bitter. I need to get out. I really like it when you say any decision is the right decision one can make at the point of time. I’m going to try not to look back again whatever happens. 4 years is way too long to be going around in a circle. If I’m not able to make it work. My only option is to give them my blessing and let it go.

      • I think your first option is to take care of that heart. Very important to commit to yourself and your well-being. If your heart is small (I doubt it), then be very careful with it. Hang in there.

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