I think my girlfriend is going to leave me. She has started to be cold and distant and if I ask her if something is wrong she just says a syllable like “nothing” or “okay”. I love her so much, but I feel like I’m going crazy watching her for signs that she doesn’t love me anymore.
I started exercising more in an attempt (perhaps pathetic) to remind her that I am attractive and that I have a future and I am trying not to probe her too much about what is going on or disturb her with serious conversations. What else can I do? I don’t want to lose her.
Eleanor says: I am going to say two things in a row that will be painful to read. The first is that he could be telling the truth when he says nothing is wrong. Sometimes we convince ourselves that our partners are not satisfied with us when we really We are. This past year made millions of us feel physically lazy, stuck at work, and bored at home. You could be analyzing that dissatisfaction as if it came from her, because at least that way it seems that it can be resolved.
So try to think about whether to ask “are you mad at me?” it is a way to calm some other feeling. If so, work with her to find a calming mechanism that works, because this one doesn’t seem to do it, and you don’t want her to feel like you’re trying to fill a strainer.
Now, the second painful thing. Suppose you are right and she is getting tired of you. So if you want to leave, you will.
I know that’s not comforting. But at least it is concrete. Right now you are stuck in a place with nothing concrete; your perception does not match what she is telling you and you are feeling things that she denies. It’s crazy. So hold on to this certainty even if it hurts: you can’t make someone love you.
That might break your heart as much as her, but it can also be a relief. You can exhale. You can end the agony of trying on this dress or that joke or this personality, hoping that if you modify enough variables you will make it stay. You can not.
The reason you can’t is that their decision to leave is not just a reaction to you. This is a difficult thing to internalize. We feel so confident in the agony of early love that consistency seems to demand that we feel ashamed when we lose it.
But in fact, all your effort, change, and appeasement can only contribute to a limited amount of your decision. The rest is made up of things that have nothing to do with you, like what she wants from her future, or if she feels the need to reinvent herself and the closest ticket to a transformative experience is to separate from you.
Losing her will still be a terrible pain, if she goes away. It will feel like something has blown a hole through your rib cage and all you can do is try to find a way to breathe that doesn’t hurt. You will regret the future that you learned that you will not get. But try to protect your grieving heart against the idea that you have learned more than that. All you’ve learned is what she wanted; you have not learned about yourself, your worth, or your kindness.
And if you can take a deep breath now and calm yourself knowing that all your best efforts won’t stop her from leaving, if you really want to, you can avoid something that a lot of people never do: You can avoid falling at the feet of someone who no longer loves you.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism