A reader writes in on a predicament (abridged):
“Beginning of May my girlfriend of 3 year asked to take a break. I didn’t ask why but I know it’s because I wasn’t treating her the way I should. I agreed and for the next month I would text her here and there telling her that I missed her and what not.
Mid June I asked to talk with her so we did. I told her that I still wanted to be with her and she said that she had spent the past month trying to move on. Pretty much we were heading in different direction.
Despite that she said that she needed time to figure out what she wanted so she asked for the rest of the month to think. Begging of July I texted her asking to talk and how that conversation basically ended was her saying she can’t trust me right now and that we view life differently.
I was pretty uninvolved in our relationship and I understand that all of this is pretty much my doing. She asked me to change, to put our relationship as more of a priority and to be more empathetic on how she felt. But I would just brush it off and took her for granted.
Her leaving woke me up and I want to get the opportunity to change If it means fixing our relationship. I don’t know if I’ll get that chance because she doesn’t feel like she can trust me.
This is a relationship where we both talked about getting married and building lives together. I love her and at some point I know she loved me. I just don’t know what to do right now. I don’t want to let go of the life we had planned. I mean I was planning on asking her or marry me at the end of this year.
I’m trying to give her space right now but I don’t know if I should start to move on. I don’t know if I’m her mind we’re completely done or not. I don’t feel like she ever gave me a straight answer and she won’t talk to me. I honestly just don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be that guy dwelling on the past while she is moving on.”
I feel bad for the guy. The survival rate of these sort of mistakes is close to zero (sorry dude, though some tips later in the email).But I’m not talking about the mistakes he made in the relationship, rather the ones he made after.
Let me explain:
It’s been awhile since I’ve discussed these topics — my interests deepen, and I’ve gotten into all sorts of other material relating to attraction.
But there’s a reason I haven’t removed the free PDF on comfort and desire all of you get when you join this list.
These are crucial topics in attraction.
What I’m about to say I’ve written about in detail here.
But to summarize…
My friend, the reader, made a classic yet critical mistake.
He traded desire for comfort… which meant in the end he got neither.
He made big mistakes in the relationship because he was not giving his girlfriend any real attention — which if you follow me, you know is tantamount to emotional abuse to women.
But here’s the thing: while this was terrible for her to deal with, she stayed with him as long as she did because in all other respects this guy was very desirable (he’s an athlete, wasn’t chasing her, etc)So though it was diminishing, he had desire.
But when she asked for a break, he began chasing. He lost his frame.
And that’s when he really lost her.If he had instead asked to meet. Flirted with her, made her feel attracted to him again… and then noted that he understood her position… only then apologizing.
In other words, he had to come in like a confident man, confident in her love for him… framing it like everything was fine now, rather than trying to negotiate with her about it.
If done like this, there was a pretty good chance (though still obviously not guaranteed) that she would have come back.
Cause here’s the thing:
So long as you have her desire, you have a chance.
Desire is not enough to keep her. It’s not enough to have a good relationship or at a certain point even a “liaison.”
But if she wants you, you have a psychological foothold that you can build off of. You can gradually introduce more comfort, repair the trust.
If you CHASE though, the desire evaporates… because she can sense that the changes are only about keeping her, which means you are orienting your behavior towards her, which means she neither wants you nor trust you.
Apologize… but never capitulate.
Never let her see desperation from you.
Now, can this relationship be saved?
As I said, probably not.Women who are denied attention from men they want, only to have those men throw attention when they start to lose said women…
These men don’t have a lot of leverage.
But there is a chance.
My guy would have to meet with her in person, and just be fully real with her. Tell her he was grateful for waking him up. Telling her THE TRUTH… that he was going to propose to her, and that he thought she would regret leaving this relationship later, that she was making a mistake…… but also that he understood, and wished her the best if she decided to start over. He was ready for a new start as a boyfriend, whether with her or someone else.
If he did this, it MIGHT snap her out of her game. Because she’d realize he had changed for him, not her, and that he wasn’t chasing her. Just putting a big decision in front of her.
At any rate, a little tactical advice I’m sure many of you might benefit from.
But I’ve got to admit writing about this stuff frustrates me… because what this guy did is what so many of you stupidly do.
You WAIT until things are really in the shitter to seek out help.
You’re like the guy who smokes a pack a day, scarfs down fast food on the reg, who has to go to the doctor 20 years later for chest pains… only to find out his heart is failing and he needs a transplant or he’s going to die.
Just imagine what would have happened to this guy if he took it seriously when the first symptoms occurred… or better yet, sought out prevention all together.
Anyway, water under the bridge.
Fortunately affairs of the heart are rarely physically life threatening.
But emotionally… they do leave wounds that can take years to recover from.
If you want to avoid or recuperate from them, apply here: www.patstedman.com/application