December 19, 2014

Ask Me Anything: Relationship Red Flags (Weekly Advice Column).


Dear Elephants,

Welcome to this week’s Ask Me Anything, where no question is out of bounds! To submit questions for next week, please email me at [email protected] or private message me on Facebook.
I look forward to hearing from you!

Dear Erica,

I’m an 18 year old girl. I was dating this guy for the past couple months and while we were dating it was amazing. He is 25, and we both agreed that we had a connection that we had never felt before. This is major to me.

Before we started dating I knew he had been in a relationship for four years. I thought it had ended a year ago, when it had only been a few months. He explained that towards the end of the relationship he was getting really fed up and when I asked if he had moved on he said yes. The main reason, according to him, why they broke up is because his parents are deaf and she hadn’t learned a bit of sign language during their four years. I’m hearing impaired and already know ASL so it was a nice fit, and we continued.

A few weeks into our relationship, he came to me crying, explaining that he still had feelings for his ex. I told him I understood and gave him his time. A few days later he decided he just wanted to be friends. But, another few days later, he said he messed up really bad and didn’t want to lose me. So I gave him another chance. I don’t trust easily, but for some reason I really trusted that he was genuine. By the way, he lives two hours away, so every time we visited, we spent at least eight hours with each other and we always had such a great time, but we had this ability to talk seriously too. I can’t explain it.

We had an amazing time after he decided to be with me and I was beginning to get comfortable with his trying to prove to me that he had drawn the line with his ex. A few days ago however I had a funny feeling and asked how he was feeling about his ex. He said he was still grieving, but that he didn’t want to lose me, that he really wanted to be with me.

A few hours after that he said he couldn’t do it anymore and needed a break. I thought that he just needed space and time to grieve, but he later said that his ex was the one. He said that a lot, and refused to see me. It broke my heart and I feel like a fool though I don’t think he intended to do me wrong. Even though I am biased, I think he is making a huge mistake going back to her. At one point he said his ex didn’t want him back, which is when he felt better, but apparently does now, they are talking again.

I understand that having spent so much time together that it’s hard for him to see her red flags. I worry that it won’t last for him, and that his heart will be broken again, when I know I would take care of his. I’ve been as empathetic as possible throughout this.

The advice I’m looking for is, how do I get rid of this hope, to let go, of the fact that he may come back to me again? If he does… is it smart to try again? It just seemed so perfect with him. I try to think that it may be a blessing in disguise, but it hurts.

I’ve had a first love before, and its nothing like this feeling I have for him. It seems like he will come back, and I’d like to say that I would wait for him, but the amount of time he needs to get over her is more than I want to give. I think he knows I’m the better choice, he really likes me, but I just can’t compete with the love they had, right? The way we click and connect is just something I don’t think I can let go of.

Hopefully that wasn’t too scrambled! I really appreciate the opportunity to vent. Please let me know your opinion!


Dear CouCou,

Worry less about the red flags your guy’s girlfriend is waving at him and more about the ones he’s waving at you.

One of the great things about writing down your most perplexing questions– as you have done very candidly here– is that you can look at what you wrote and achieve almost immediate clarity.

Based on what you’ve told me, this guy was dishonest with you about when he broke up with his ex, then dumped you twice. No doubt this hurts– being rejected sucks. But that is what he is doing– rejecting you. It is not your concern whether he is making a mistake being with his ex or not being with you, he has made his decision and so you move on.

How to do this? Just be your beautiful 18 year old self, and know that life has but begun. Later, when you meet a real man who can honor you the way you’re meant to be honored, you’ll look back on this tryst and thank your lucky stars this guy released you.


Dear Erica,

After undergoing a lot of training to develop myself, to look at the places of myself that I haven’t been able to see for decades and seemingly putting it all together I met a wonderful man. We fell in love in a whirlwind and I know I stepped over some red flags that could have kept me from being brokenhearted. I was, however, committed to falling in love.

Of course those red flags started waving wildly—the divorce he is going through wasn’t progressing too quickly, we live in different countries (isn’t that what air miles are for?) and he was less and less available to talk to me.

I get it—he’s not in a place to start a new relationship, it’s not the right time and do I really want someone that isn’t communicative? (No, I do not.)

I am at a loss as to how to “get over it” and “let it go.” I think I’m more sad about the loss of the possibility than the loss of him (although he really is a wonderful, flawed, lovely man).

I haven’t filled my life with anything else and I feel stuck. Stuck in how I feel, stuck in the city I live in, stuck in the country I live in.Stuck.Sorry this is so wordy—what I’d like clarity around is how to feel complete with the relationship and get on with my life.


Dear Stuck,My gut tells me this really isn’t about letting go of the relationship at all, but about finding something less scary than the realities of your life to focus on.It seems to me you were using this relationship to fill a void that remained inside you despite the work you did trying to “develop” yourself. It’s understandable—that sort of work is hard—but I don’t think you are done with it yet. Your continued feeling of stuck-ness is a testament to that.How you “get over it” is to turn back inward toward yourself. You have been brave and intelligent enough to do this before, you can do it again. You have some monumental questions to mull—why does your life feel so empty, what actions could you take to fill yourself up, what do you want the big picture of your life to look like, where would you like to be in 10 years?

If it seems too overwhelming to look for answers on your own, find a therapist to help. This doesn’t cancel out the progress you’ve already made, it just means you’re not quite as far along as you thought.


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Author: Erica Leibrandt

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wikipedia

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