Question: Long story short: I’m in my 20s, he is 10 years older. The two of us broke up earlier this year. He had slept with two other women while we were together. I was disgusted and called it off. Wanting to be amicable, I left the door open for a potential future friendship, but I told him I needed time. I wish it had ended there, but about a month ago, I contacted him in a moment of loneliness and apologized for cutting it off. I also said that I tend to be shy about expressing my true feelings, and that I was sorry.
After a month of casually texting and emailing back and forth, he suddenly texted asking to meet me. After a few texts back and forth, I discovered that he had traveled 4,000 km without warning to Bali to see me. I panicked and texted him to leave me alone, and everything ended there. I never wanted to start a romantic relationship again; I had only wanted to restart our friendship. I hate that I had to hurt him, but at the same time, I don’t want to see him again. I feel as if he was trying to pressure me into doing something I didn’t want to do, but I still can’t justify my behavior. Did I do wrong? Was I leading him on?
Dr. ZZ: The guy apparently mistook your friendly messages for a romantic overture and made what he thought was an elaborate romantic gesture in return, except it felt more like stalking. That isn’t about you “leading him on”; it’s about a story he told himself in his head about what you wanted and about what would happen when he showed up. If you felt as if he was trying to pressure you into doing something you didn’t want to do, you felt correctly. You learned what he was like the first time you parted ways, and then you tried to give him another chance to be in your life as a friend, and he blew it.
You did the right thing by not meeting him. Your instincts were protecting you. I’m sure it was very hurtful for him when you did not want to meet him, but that’s not your fault. He set himself up for a fall and overstepped your boundaries. Hopefully he will learn to save elaborate, romantic gestures for people who are actually interested in his elaborate, romantic gestures. Because he has not been in touch with you since you asked him to leave you alone, I imagine you’re safe from further pop-ins. Still, it may help you feel better to block him on email and social media, and see if you can block texts and calls from him on your cell phone. It’s one step closer to leaving him and everything about him entirely in the past.
Question: I’m in my 30’s and have been living in Bali for about 6 months. I’m a full-time student and involved in volunteer work. For about a month, I have been dating a man who is a couple of years older than I. He is divorced and a bit shorter as well. I have tried to overlook it, but I feel a little embarrassed by our almost 5 cm height difference.
At first, we agreed to keep our relationship casual, but he keeps telling me that he feels a unique connection and can fall in love with me. Knowing how commitment-phobic I am, he teases me about introducing me to his parents and planning a wedding. Passively but progressively, he keeps trying to move things to another level. It all seems weird, and I’m hoping that the glow and the newness of this will wear out soon even though we get along well, we have great sexual chemistry, and I generally feel relaxed and comfortable with him.
It seems ridiculous to break up with him because he likes me too much, and I’ve been honest all along about my intentions. I like things as they are, and I like feeling loved and desired, but I’m afraid of things becoming more serious without my realizing it before it’s too late. I also feel horrible saying this, but I feel as if I can do better.
Dr. ZZ: Sometimes we meet someone who is nice and sexy and likes us a lot, and we cannot think of a single reason to break up with them except for the fact that they are not the right person for us, and we know it. If you’ve been honest with this man, and you’re enjoying dating, then keep dating. But, know that the time is coming when he will push you for some kind of commitment, you’ll say no, and you will have to remind him that you told him from the start that you didn’t want that. Even though you’ve been honest, he will probably feel angry and betrayed because you appear to be dating someone who may not be hearing your “no” when you speak. He may be hearing only what he wants to hear.
One month is way too soon to be talking about marriage and meeting families. You may want to start seriously limiting how often you see him – say, no more than 2-3 times per month – and make an effort to meet other people. The best way to make your “no” heard is to enforce it. If you’re already embarrassed to be seen with him and sense you can do better, then the kind thing is to put a stop to it now. It won’t get any easier. Bottom line: enjoy your experience of Bali whatever you decide.
Dr. ZZ has a Ph.D. in Counseling and a doctorate in Natural Healing. Drawing on a background of over thirty years as a professional therapist, she offers self-help in the areas health, relationship and personal growth. All queries are answered by email and, if they appear in print, are subject to editing. Please email your questions : <firstname.lastname@example.org> All identifying information is kept strictly confidential.
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