Dear Wendy: “He Called Me His Girlfriend, Then Disappeared”
I went on a first date with this amazing guy the day before Thanksgiving. We made a great connection and hung out all weekend. We both agreed that it felt right and marveled at how easy it was to spend time with each other, and on Sunday he even called me his girlfriend! Normally, I don’t jump into things like that, but we were so into each other that I threw caution to the wind and went with it. A few days later, he called me and said that something happened to his dad (whom he said he has issues with) and that he was hospitalized in a city two hours south of here. He said he needed to focus all his energy on dealing with that and that he couldn’t be my boyfriend right now, explaining that he didn’t want to be with me at all if he couldn’t be with me 100 percent. He said it would be a few weeks before things got back to normal, and then maybe we could start dating again. I’m an eternal optimist and I want to believe that he still wants to be with me eventually, but I can’t ignore my logical side. I think that if he wanted to talk to me, he would have called me by now. Normally, I would shrug it off and move on already, but I’ve never met anyone with whom I’ve had such a strong connection. I want to be with him, and the things he has said lead me to believe that he feels the same way. What should I do? — Rushed Love Lost
You should MOA, and here’s why: his story’s so fishy he could put Long John Silver’s out of business. Even if he’s telling the truth about his dad being in the hospital, there’s no reason he can’t stay in at least minimal contact with you through short phone calls and texts — especially if he expects things to “get back to normal” in a few weeks. A few weeks is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to a potential long-term relationship. Wouldn’t you have been a lot more understanding if he explained how his focus was going to have to be on his dad for a few weeks and he’d understand if you didn’t want to stick around, but hoped if you saw potential between the two of you, like he did, you’d be patient for the time-being? But he didn’t say that. He said it was all or nothing, which is just weird. Even if he’s being 100-percent honest, which is an idea about as far-fetched as Jon Hamm showing up under my tree Christmas morning, would you really want to be with someone who can only give one thing his attention at a time? Stuff always comes up in people’s lives that demands immediate attention — family drama, illness, and work/school stress, just to name a few; if we all put the brakes on our personal relationships every time we had something else going on, the whole world would be single. Consider this a bullet dodged, RLL, and move on before you waste any more time on this guy.
Seven months after graduation, I’m finally moving away from the city where I went to college to go volunteer Peace Corps-style in Eastern Europe for a year. My best friend is helping me drive my car and belongings back to my parents’ house before I leave the country, which is a three day drive. This is a big move and I genuinely need her help because there’s no one else that’s willing or that I want to spend three days in a car with. This is a time of a lot of changes for both of us, and making arrangements has been challenging and has put a strain on our friendship lately. Every time we talk about the trip she says something that makes me feel guilty about asking her to do this, usually something concerning money or her boyfriend. I understand that she has these issues, but she reassures me that she will be there for me and I don’t need to worry that she will help me make this move. I know it’s not easy for her to do this right now, but it is possible and we always have an amazing time traveling together so I wish we could just get excited about this road trip; Instead, I feel as though we are constantly walking on eggshells when we’re around each other. She has also talked about feeling “tied down” by her relationships and that she doesn’t have any time for herself, which also makes me feel bad because we spend so much time together. We’ve been friends for four years and are getting ready to say goodbye for a year so I want to make these last few weeks good, not a time that I’m feeling relieved that we are taking a break (even though in some ways I am). How can we deal with the issues that we have and not let this stress ruin our trip and our goodbye? — Leaving Everything Behind
Have you considered that your friend’s comments about the road trip being inconvenient for her are about more than just spending three days away from home? Granted, if your friend is missing work, shuffling her schedule or, God forbid, forking over some of her own money to help you move, she’s certainly entitled to feel put out. If that’s the case, it’s up to you to make the road trip as easy as possible for her, including picking up the tab and even covering any lost wages at work, if you can. You should also be sure to express how grateful you are for her help and friendship and how much you’re going to miss her while you’re gone, because I suspect at least some of her attitude is directly tied to the anxiety and sadness she feels over losing you in her day-to-day life for the next year.
Think about it: You’re moving to Eastern Europe for a year where you’ll have a total change of scenery, exciting opportunities, and meet lots of new people who will help shape your experiences over the coming year. Your best friend, however, will remain in the same place with the same people and have a sudden void in her life that your absence will leave. She may feel relieved, like you, to “have a break,” but more than likely, she’s probably just really sad that her BFF is going to be gone for so long. So, cut her some slack. Understand that the recent strain on your relationship probably has a lot less to do with the logistics of a three-day road trip than about the emotional implications of the two of you being separated for a whole year. In the coming days before your big move, be sure to reiterate to your friend how grateful you are for her help, and express some of your own anxieties about this adventure you’re going on and how much you’re going to miss the daily, in-person support of your best friend while you’re experiencing so many new — and probably challenging — things. Knowing you’ll be missing her as much as she’ll be missing you will go a long way in making your friend feel connected to you and not so much like she’s simply being left behind.
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