Q: After a few weeks of really hitting it off with a girl, our dating came to a sudden halt after she discovered I had a piece of furniture she had bought for her ex-husband. I had mentioned that the man who sold it to me might have been flirting with me. As it turns out, she left him 18 months ago because of her suspicions about his preferences.
I realize the weirdness of the coincidence and that it stoked up hurtful memories of her (only) relationship. I've given her a few weeks of space, but now I want to reach out to her, even just to get to know her better. She's very inexperienced at dating, rushes through life without allowing herself to really "feel" things and states that she is "broken in terms of men." But beneath them I see a gold mine of an amazing woman. How should I approach this?
A: If she's a gold mine, then that makes you the miner of her gold, and I'm fundamentally uncomfortable with that. People can encourage us, inspire us, bring out our best, teach us by example, but our gifts are our own to mine, or ignore, as we see fit.
She is who she is. That happens to be someone who spun the tragic yarn to someone she'd known less than a month. Broken, numb, lashed by painful memories? It sounds to me as if she sucked you in, but good, by working your levers of attraction — Google "love bombing" — and pity. Combine the two, and you've got a bad idea in treating any love interest as a project, and a worse idea in mistaking this woman's flashy lures for gold.
If she's in fact "amazing," then she will work hard to get herself well. When she's stronger, she'll know where to find you.