Sunday, May 27, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It:

Carolyn Hax is away. The following is a past column.

Q: My long-distance girlfriend of five years has suddenly come to the realization that I'm too "emotionally dependent" on her. Because I add to, and cannot relieve her of, other emotional burdens (her mom, sister and school are all stress factors), she has decided to break things off. She also thinks that after so many years of this relationship, I don't understand her feelings enough (like when I get upset when she doesn't return calls). I thought emotional dependence is part of being in a relationship. When we move to the same city (planned, soon), aren't these problems rectifiable? I know it sounds bleak, but after all these years and an awesome relationship, now she realizes this? Is something else at work here?

East Coast

A: There's always something else at work with a rejection like that. Every rejection has wiggle room (except "I don't love you anymore," which pretty much quashes debate). Your ex, for example, offered a specific complaint — thereby leaving the door open for you to rebut the complaint, and replay every moment of the last five years in your head, and nurture little sprouts of hope, and argue to her in anguished midnight phone calls that you really can change even though you're technically not any more of an emotional burden than any other boyfriend would be because boyfriends are (muffled wail) supposed to be an emotional burden.

But here's the unspoken "something else at work" beyond a rejection like hers: You may want to fix the problem, but she doesn't. For whatever reason, she decided there was too much bad to make the "awesome" worth saving, no matter how awesome it was.

My guess is, this decision wasn't sudden so much as your introduction to it was. Regardless of how quickly she came to it, it is simply her opinion, and an opinion is not "rectifiable" unless she wants it to be. Let fate have this one, and let go.

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