Dear Wendy: “Why Didn’t She Want To Be Close To Me?”

My last relationship ended badly and I’m looking for some clarity. All throughout our time together (on again, off again over a period of several years), she seemed impossible to get close to. Whenever we hung out at her place, she always kept her overprotective dog (who would growl whenever I got near her) close at hand and, when we’d go to my place … well, one night we’d be cuddling on the couch watching television just fine and the next I couldn’t get within three feet of her without her hopping up for a drink and settling back down across the room. It took quite a while for us to get physical and, once we did, she started making excuses and becoming distant. Finally, after confronting her about it, she threw it on me for being “too clingy” among other things that I just didn’t get, and we proceeded to never speak to each other again. Even after several months I’ve still got this nagging itch of confusion that just won’t let me go. I mean, was she just not ready for a relationship? Was I a rather lengthy trial run or safety boyfriend? Any thoughts? — Untouchable?

I don’t know your ex-girlfriend, Untouchable, and I don’t know why she behaved the way she did and why things ended up not working out between you two. Maybe she was sexually abused in her past and had unresolved issues surrounding that, maybe she was a lesbian and hadn’t come out yet and was experimenting with you to see if she could come around to being into men, or maybe she simply wasn’t, as you say, “ready for a relationship.” You could drive yourself crazy trying to figure out why your ex couldn’t love you the way you wanted to be loved or couldn’t give you what you were able to give her, but the fact is most relationships simply don’t work out and love sucks until it doesn’t.

I don’t mean to downplay your hurt or suggest that what you’re feeling right now doesn’t matter or doesn’t mean anything. It means something to you, and I get that. But what I’m saying is that this relationship not working out — your ex-girlfriend having apparent intimacy issues — isn’t a reflection on you. It doesn’t mean you’re “untouchable.” It doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy of a solid, mutually satisfying relationship. And it most certainly doesn’t mean you aren’t lovable. You are lovable. And one day you’re going to find someone who is receptive to the love you have to give and will return it in spades. But it may not happen next week or next month or next year. It may not even be the next woman you get serious with. You might get hurt again. Odds are you probably will. And you’ll probably be confused again and you may even date someone else who seems “wrong” for you in retrospect.

But it’s important to keep perspective. With every relationship that ends — with every person you date who isn’t Ms. Right Forever — you’re that much closer to finding the one who is. And when you do, you’ll get that clarity you so desperately want right now. You may not understand why certain relationships ended or why certain ex-girlfriends behaved the way they did, but you’ll finally understand why you had to have those experiences. Because in experiencing those relationships that didn’t feel right for whatever reason, you’ll be able to recognize and appreciate when you find the one that does. And when you get there, the bumpy road you traveled to find her will so be worth it.

Follow me on Twitter and get relationship tips and updates on new Dear Wendy columns!

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at {encode=”[email protected]” title=”[email protected]”}.