May 11, 2005 in Features

It’s obvious to her friends he’s not game

Carolyn Hax The Washington Post

Dear Carolyn: I have recently become friends again with an ex-boyfriend. We went out for 10 months about four years ago. We had a wonderful relationship and broke up only because he was premed and our schedules were just opposite with no time to spend together. Now we attend the same graduate school. We ran into one another about a month ago and have since had dinner once, gone to the movies once and worked out together twice a week. We also manage to speak on the phone at least three times a week.

I don’t know if he is interested in me romantically again, or are we just friends? On one hand it seems strange to have all this contact if we are just friends, but on the other he hasn’t tried to kiss me or anything. I would just ask him but all my friends say it’s too early. Am I wrong for wanting to know his intentions before my feelings get the best of me? The old feelings are starting to resurface. – Just Wondering …

If I were to survey your friends, I have a feeling they’d say the same thing I’m thinking, that “all this contact” sounds brutally Platonic (or friends-potentially-with-benefits-ic).

They might even flag the original breakup rationale as suspicious. “No love,” I could see. That, or the somehow more embarrassing “not fully reciprocated interest.” But “no time”? For the things they care most about, people find time. They just do. Even premeds.

I say this about your friends because, “Wait and see,” is what people say when they’re hoping they’re wrong that their friend is about to get hurt.

I’m not your friend so I can pull the pin and duck: If you feel unsure of his intentions, then ask.

But go into it prepared to hear the worst, because if the news were good, I think you’d feel sure. And because, why not? It’s not like we brace for the best.

Dear Carolyn: I am currently in a relationship with a woman who doesn’t get along with my family, despises my hobbies (she thinks my playing hockey is foolish and childish), and generally has different tastes than I have. She is totally dedicated to me otherwise, yet I feel like I’ll never be able to marry her because we’re incompatible. How do I go about explaining this and handling the probable breakup without hurting her too much? That’s my biggest fear. – Washington

So, she’s “totally dedicated” to the 20 percent of you that doesn’t outright repulse her.

If I were you, staying in this relationship out of fear of hurting her feelings (translation: fear of your own discomfort) would be my biggest fear.

Explain that you don’t see a future with her because you’re incompatible. It’s kind, fair, direct, definitive.

It’s also easy to enforce, for lack of a gentler word. If she responds with a pledge to adapt or reconcile or blind herself to your polluted ancestry and juvenile ways, you can refuse just as kindly and fairly. And, firmly. Say no, thank you – you’d both suffer if it took an effort for her just to like you.

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