Dear Neil: I don’t know how to start, but I am ever so desperate. I have fallen in love with a man who is 30 (I am 20), and we have been on and off for the past 18 months. We are also long distance, because he is in Belgium and I live in London. Throughout the course of the relationship, I have felt completely neglected by him. He did not call me, did not text me, and I have always been the one to travel to him, he has not visited me. When we are together, I feel he likes and cares for me, and he pays attention to me. But apart, he is often inattentive.
I love this man entirely, but yesterday he told me he was in love with someone else. He then invited me to come and see him, as friends, this weekend. I am terrified that this will be the last time I see him, and I don’t know what I should do. He says that although he likes me, he doesn’t feel connected to me. He never shares anything personal about himself to me, and he is very reserved. I love him dearly and I can’t lose him. Please help me.
Desperately Hanging On in London, UK
Dear London: The painful lesson everyone has to learn in a love relationship is that although it takes two people to create a relationship, it only takes one to end it. As unfair as that may sound to you, that is how intimate relationships work. And truthfully, you don’t want someone who doesn’t want you, because it hurts too much and it’s so unrewarding. You want someone who wants to be with you, try’s to connect with you, wants your attention, wants to please you and values your happiness. A relationship that does not have these emotions and behaviors creates too much brain damage—or heart damage.
This gentleman has been telling you, through his behaviors, that he’s just not that into you, as the expression goes. For the future, here’s how to tell when a man is just not that into you:
- Your partner has a wall up around himself. He doesn’t let himself get too involved, too close, too intimate, too emotionally available, too dependent or too vulnerable toward you. He’s cautious, held back, reserved.
- You put more effort than he does into the relationship. You’re trying harder than he is to make the relationship closer, warmer, more connected, more trusting, or to fix the problems in the relationship. He doesn’t give you a lot of his time, and he doesn’t give much of himself to you.
- He lacks empathy for your feelings, your needs or your expressed desires. He isn’t responsive to what you say you want. He wants to give what he feels like giving, rather than what you say you want or need.
- There’s too much of him, and not enough of you (or “us”). Both of you spend your time and energy looking to meet his wants and needs, but there isn’t a reciprocal effort to look out for you.
- Your partner focuses on the negative regarding you, and tends to minimize or ignore the good, thoughtful, caring, nurturing, loving things you offer. He focuses on what he doesn’t like about you, instead of what he does.
- When you don’t feel cherished, valued or respected by him, or when he doesn’t value how you feel.
- When there is a lack of personal sharing, dishonesty or lack of trust. It’s hard to fully trust someone who is secretive, hidden or withholding of personal information. It’s also hard to trust someone who doesn’t act trustworthy, or who has deceived, misled or betrayed you.
- If he betrays you, or betrays your trust. Mistrust is poisonous to a love relationship.
- If he uses hurtful, insensitive or demeaning words toward you. Or if he is angry or hostile toward you way too much of the time.
- When his addictions take priority over you, your feelings or the relationship. If an addiction to a substance (alcohol, drugs, food, etc.), a behavior (watching TV, sleeping, porn, anger, jealousy) or an attitude (unwarranted mistrust, selfishness) takes top priority, you’re going to be hurt, resentful and unhappy.
- Very little affection and/or sex.
- You no longer have fun together—or have common goals or interests. You will find yourself feeling increasingly alone and lonely in the relationship.