Why Did My Relationship Break Up?

Dear Neil: I was engaged to a woman with whom I had a wonderful and virtually trouble-free 2 year relationship. Other than a couple of odd breakups precipitated by her and never explained, we never so much as argued. She moved in with her son and we got engaged. I bought her a ring, we introduced each other to our parents, consolidated finances and so on. There were zero signs of trouble, and my daughter was already calling her “stepmom.” 3 weeks after she moved in, I left town on a business trip. The next day I received a text: “Our relationship is over. I have moved out. Don’t try to contact me.” It was the last time I was ever to hear from her.

She blocked me in every imaginable way: phone, text, email, social media—and she successfully convinced people whom I had met through her to also block me. I made a handful of attempts to circumvent her blocks that were met with calls from cops and letters from lawyers threatening a restraining order. (I never so much as raised my voice to her—ever.) She acted as if I was a threat to her life, and she never picked up the rest of her belongings. This was 3 years ago, and I have not heard a word from her since. I know she is not dating anyone, and that she is not married. I am left with only guesses about what happened. What are your thoughts? I still think about her a lot.

Just Don’t Understand in Michigan

Dear Don’t Understand: She had a hesitation about you which she apparently didn’t verbalize, but was evident in her unsuccessful earlier attempts to break up with you. It could be that she was still emotionally tied to someone else, but that their relationship didn’t work out after she left you. It could be that she was simply not as taken with you as you were with her, and that she didn’t feel strong enough to say no to you unless she cut all ties to you.

It could also be that she felt undeserving of all the love and acceptance you and your daughter showered on her. If she had low self-esteem and felt inferior, she may have feared that once you found out who she really was you would leave her—so she rejected you before she feared you would reject her. Also, you say that you consolidated finances with each other, but you never mentioned what happened to those finances when she left, so I wonder whether one of her motives was running off with your money. It could also be that things got too close for her, especially if she grew up learning that people close to you hurt you, so she cut things off before she got hurt.

Whatever her reasons, your task is to heal from this so you are free to move on and find someone who wants you—and who will not run away from you when things get close. In order to do that, you’re going to have to let go of any thoughts of reconciling with her. (I doubt you would ever be able to trust her again anyway.) Let go of this so you can love again. And in the future, if someone breaks up with you and then comes back, make sure you insist on a very thorough discussion about what happened and how the two of you can prevent it from happening again in the future.

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