What to do when you’re attached to someone with ambivalent feelings

Rebel Kid asks:

Lately I’ve been really upset. I met a girl online 7 months ago and we both like each other. 6 months ago she asked me out but broke up with me two days later because she thought we do not know each other enough and that she’s a terrible person and she might break my heart. I was really hurt cause I actually fell for her, but after a few days things became better.  We started talking and after a while we even told each other how we just want to touch each other and feel each other and how it’s getting hard to stay away. But suddenly she stopped texting me often. She said she likes my art but doesn’t like it when it’s dedicated to her. I thought she doesn’t love herself and maybe I could change that. I tried by not dedicating my art to her too often, and things were again fine. But since a month ago we haven’t been talking properly. I put in all my efforts because I love her, but I feel she doesn’t and she even admitted it. She said half of her heart wants to hold on but other half wants to let go, and she doesn’t understand why people stay – she says she can be alone for the rest of her life. I can’t stop thinking about her, I stop myself from texting her but sometimes I just do which leads to a dead conversation. I really don’t know what to say to her now that she clearly stated that she’s confused and she doesn’t know if she even wants to talk to me. She says it’s her and not me. I always understood, but now I feel like I was just time passing for her and now when she’s bored with me she doesn’t want to stay. It makes me feel terrible and I can’t even take out my anger cause I love her so much that I can’t even think of hurting her by my words. What should I do?

Hi Rebel Kid –

My friend, you are a victim of something called Ambivalence.  We dogs are pretty incapable of it – we have strong feelings about everything.  But humans, with your larger brains, often seem to experience it.  How did you feel about school last year?  Oh it was okay, some was great and some was boring and most was all right.  How do you feel about your parents’ car?  Oh it’s okay, it’s not a cool Corvette but it’s not a boring whatever either.  And, dear miss, what do you think of Rebel Kid?  Oh I love him but I don’t want to be with him and I’m not sure I even want to talk with him…

It’s got to just drive you nuts!

Now it’s totally natural for you to put a lot of effort into figuring out what’s going on with her, and why she acts this way. 

But here’s my bad news – it won’t matter.

Maybe she’s afraid of commitment because her parents had a horrible divorce and she doesn’t trust long-term relationships.  Maybe she’s afraid of her own feelings, especially about physical intimacy.  Maybe there’s something about you she doesn’t like or can’t accept, but she doesn’t want to tell you about it.

But finding out about any of these won’t make her want the relationship you want.  Or rather, it might over time, but I doubt you want to wait years for her.

So my advice, which is painful I know, is to let go.  To acknowledge that you two almost had a really great relationship, which shows that you are fully capable of having one with someone else, but that she is not.  At least not now.

Think of what it would be like (I know this sounds very rough) if you were in a wonderful romance with someone just right for you and she suddenly died.  That would be horrible, right?  Devastating.  You’d cry and grieve and miss her like anything.  And then… at some point, you’d move on.  You’d find someone else, and while they’d never be exactly the same as she’d been, your relationship could be just as good.

Well that’s what’s happened to you.  Because you and this girl had so much you liked about each other, you experienced being in a perfect relationship.  But that perfect part of her died, went away.  She wasn’t able to keep it there. 

So while the good news is that the actual person is still alive, you still need to grieve the relationship just as you would have if she weren’t.

Because – and here’s my main point – what matters isn’t the underlying reasons for the way she’s treating you… it’s that you deserve to be treated better.  Even she says so. 

So be a little selfish, and move on.  It doesn’t mean that you two can’t be friends, or even get together at a later time when she’s more capable.

But for right now, it sounds like she’s being very honest about her ambivalence – feeling more than one way about you at the same time.  And the most respectful thing you can do in return for her honesty is to accept what she says, and kindly, lovingly, step away.

Even if it hurts. 

Because the more it hurts, the more it shows how capable you are of love.  And that love should be given to someone who can happily receive it.

All my very best,


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