I’ve been dating a loving, caring man since September 2020. He said he enjoyed all the times we’ve spent together and that he loved me.
The only issue was his erectile dysfunction (ED) for which he was receiving treatment, as Viagra wasn’t effective. He sought additional medical procedures.
I said that his passion and caring gestures meant the world to me and showed how much he loved me, but that I understand he was frustrated.
Then, a family issue arose with his 20-year-old daughter. He wanted to keep it private and needed some time.
I respected his wishes and only reached out periodically to say I was thinking of him, hoped his family situation improved, and I was there for him if he wanted to talk.
After four weeks I asked if we could go for a walk in the park and connect for a short time. He said things were worse. However, he mentioned that his daughter went to stay with her mom for a few weeks.
Last week I sent him a letter describing how much I loved him. I said I didn’t want to give up on us but if he wanted to part ways, I wished him and his family happiness.
I received a text saying he’d read my letter several times which made this harder but he thought it best if we part ways. He said he was a little messed up now and added he was like this many years ago and it affected all those around him, so he won't let it happen again.
He wrote that sometimes when you love someone you need to let them go and said he could not say “sorry” to me enough.
I wasn't expecting this and had thought he’d want to continue our relationship.
I want to support him but he said he just thinks he’ll grow old and die alone. I don't know if he’s so depressed and keeping to himself because he feels he doesn't deserve to be loved.
I want to be there for him but also want to respect his wishes. Not sure what to do.
He was clear about what he wants now: Respect his wishes.
After eight months of dating, his daughter’s needs came first and then he distanced. Your repeated outreach - though well meant - is nevertheless felt as pressure, since he’s experienced this kind of emotional low before and doesn’t want to hurt anyone else. Bottom line: He’s chosen to let you go.
I understand that you’re surprised, hurt, and still feeling you could’ve helped him and resumed the relationship.
Unfortunately, my impression is that he either can’t handle that level of attachment, isn’t willing to give it a serious try, and that continuing to reach out to him will only disappoint you more.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the grandmother who believes that her granddaughter, age five, doesn’t like her (April 28):
“Our four-year-old granddaughter also has other grandparents who spoil her. They have a big house and pool, so can provide her with different experiences than we can offer.
“But it’s important to avoid the comparison trap. I focus on things I can do with her, like playing together at our house and in the backyard. I don’t take her shopping as that’s something she can do with the other grandmother.
“Can this letter-writer drop the babysitting and help out in different ways? The reward is creating memories for when the grandchildren are older.”
Readers’ Commentary - Regarding poor stepdaughter-stepmother relationship:
“This stepmother needs to just draw back, and encourage the Dad to see the daughter on his own and stop trying to make them a "happy little family."
“In my case years ago, nothing I did or tried, helped. We only saw each other at family events.
“After 10 years of my being married to her Dad, she informed me that if I’d get out of the picture, her Mom and Dad would get back together!
“I realized there was no hope for a better relationship with her. Even the therapy she took did no good. However, therapy for me did help me accept the situation.
“A stepmother in this kind of situation just needs to focus on her relationship with her husband and nothing more. At some point the stepdaughter may put out a sign that she’s ready to see her. But don’t bank on it.”
Tip of the day:
When a dating partner wants total distance, it’s time to stop reaching out.