Q: I met a great guy a few years back, and we clicked instantly -- it was like we had known each other for years and years. At the time, he was separated from his wife, and our friendship flourished too soon. He got scared and backed away, and then he and his wife gave their marriage another shot. We couldn't be friends, he said, because people saw me as the "other women," which is so far from the truth.
Fast-forward a few years: He and his wife have decided to divorce. When I heard, I contacted him. He still links me to the "bad time" in his life and says he wants nothing to do with me. He tries to make me hate him when I know he cares. I can call him randomly and we will stay on the phone for hours. He never hangs up the phone on me, but tries to push me away with his words.
The connection we had is something I can't forget. I have tried explaining that we are both different people now and have matured, but he won't let the past go, move on, and live in the moment. Maybe I'm too hopeful, but how can I make him realize that yes, we met at an awkward time, but I can bet my life that if things were different, we would be together now?
Am I beating a dead horse? Or is there hope?
-- S.T. Buffalo
A: I understand that letting go of the past can be difficult, and it's easier to hold on to false hope than it is to face the realization that he's not interested, but it's definitely time for you to move on.
He has clearly expressed that he does not want to hear from you or have you in his life, but the fact that he stays on the phone with you for hours does present mixed signals. This probably means that he is selfish. However wrong, cruel, or unfair that may seem, a relationship requires both people to be fully involved, and it's obvious that he's not willing to go that route with you at this point. Regardless of how we think a situation should turn out, or how a person should feel or act, we can not force these things.
My advice would be to put him out of your mind, stop contacting him -- cold turkey. That means no phone calls, no e-mails, no texts -- and get out there and meet new people. When you stop contacting him, he may try to get in touch with you, but the most important step in moving on is cutting contact completely, so do not respond to him during this time of moving forward.
If he wants to be in touch with you in the future, after you've moved on, you will be in a much healthier state of mind to make the decision of whether to let him back into your life.
Once you've done that, remove all of the physical memories you have of him from your home. If you're hanging on to pictures, gifts, or other objects that he's given you or that remind you of him, get rid of them; if you can't bring yourself to throw them out, put them in a box and store it away.
Finally, focus on the more positive aspects of your life; spending time with friends and family will keep you busy and will help distract you from thoughts of him. Go out on the town, join a club, or pick up a new hobby and start making some connections with new people.
Patti Novak owns Buffalo Niagara Introductions (www.buffaloniagaraintro.com). E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your initials and hometown.