Dear Dr. Neder,
I saw your articles on the Internet and was hoping that you would give me some advice. My ex-boyfriend broke up with me almost five months ago. He and I were friends for a few years before we dated, and we dated for about 11 months. What bothered him most (as far as he would tell) was that he felt that we didn't have "connections." He wanted us to "see eye to eye" and "be on the same page," and yet as much as we tried, we always ended up misunderstanding each other. The communication problems were really bothering the both of us, but particularly to him. When we broke up, he claimed that he had tried six months to connect with me, but it wasn't successful. So then one day he came to the conclusion that "we would never connect," and then every time he saw me after that, he would think, "the connection will just happen," but it never did. So finally he felt completely exhausted and had to break up with me.
At first we agreed to stay friends, but over time I guess I apologized too much and told him too much that I still cared about him, that it ended up pushing him further away. I feel really guilty for not being able to create more connection with him. I wish I had been more understanding and less argumentative -- perhaps it could have made him feel better and more understood that way. Another thing is I was too needy -- at least in his eyes. I know I should love myself more now and cling less to him, and I want to be a better girlfriend to him if we could get back together. But it's too late now. I have been trying to improve myself over the months, and I really wish for another shot. I have given him some time and space. I didn't contact him for over a month before calling him again.
But then he got scared and pulled away. And this time, he emailed me and said that he had already moved on and was interested in someone else. He said he wanted me to move on and date other guys as well. He also said we needed to "take a break" from contacting one another because it was "proving difficult for us to have a friendship." I don't know what to do. I stopped emailing him, but I still wish that some day, down the line, maybe we could be friends again ... or even fall back in love.
Dr. Neder, could you please give me some insights into what you see in this situation? I know that perhaps right now there's not too much I could do, and I'm willing to wait. How long do you think I should wait before trying to contact him again? Is it possible at all for anything to work out in the future after people have "fallen out of love"? I'd appreciate your time and response. Thank you very much and I hope to hear from you!
Connection is so often (as in your case) a problem with simple communication skills. I'm not sure you can get what you want here, but at least you can solve this problem for future.
The fact is, men and women communicate in different ways, but that's not the end of the story. People of both sexes even use different communication "systems". In my books "Being a Man in a Woman's World I & II" I talk about 4 different communication systems. This is all too complicated to get into deeply via email, but let me offer some things that will help.
Most men use a very direct form of communication whereas women often use an indirect form. When a man says "I'm tired" it means he needs to rest. When a woman says "I'm tired" it can mean anything from her need to rest to being "tired and done" with the relationship! Men often see this lack of specificity in communication as tedious and confusing, just as women often see men's lack of breadth in their communication as unsophisticated!
Likewise, women often use language to explore how they think about an issue. They'll speak about every aspect of it in order get a better picture. This drives many men crazy because they want to go right to the major points of the issue and then spend their time using logic to solve it like a problem - which drives women crazy!
From these few examples, you can see how far apart men's and women's communication systems can be! This is why we often don't feel "connected" between us. Our own communication systems keep us apart.
The good news of this is that you CAN learn to speak to men in our language and even teach men how to speak to you in yours. Understanding these differences help you break through to much better connection. This is particularly critical when you argue because we all tend to revert to the systems that are most comfortable to us when we're hurt or angry and ignore the systems our partner uses!
With this said, I'm not sure you can repair all the damage that has gone on between you two. He's obviously on to other things now and feels that dealing with you is taking him backwards. I'd normally recommend giving him a few months to see if he changes his mind, but since it's been even longer than that, I doubt he will.
Hopefully, armed with this new information, you can turn your next relationship into a uniquely "connected" one.
Have a love, dating, relationship, sex or man/woman question? I answer all email. You can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for answers. For more information about my books, "Being a Man in a Woman's World" (volumes I & II), and other products visit: www.beingaman.com. Check out the discussion group at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/beingaman.
Copyright (c) 2005, Dr. Dennis W. Neder
All rights reserved.
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