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I feel stuck,I know I love him but don't know if I can trust him.

Tagged as: Big Questions, Breaking up, Dating, Love stories, The ex-factor, Troubled relationships, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (10 January 2018) 9 Answers - (Newest, 11 January 2018)
A female United States age 22-25, anonymous writes:

I’ll spare the gory details, but I dated this guy for about 9 months (September ‘16 - Jun ‘17). It was the happiest relationship of my life. I was the first to say I love you (which I’ve never done before) about 6 months in; he said it, then took it back. He said he wasn’t ready, wasn’t sure he felt what I was feeling. I wanted to break things off (my ego was pretty badly bruised), but he asked me for more time to see if he could be more open and vulnerable with me. I gave it another 3 months. I felt horrible ending things, because his actions never made me doubt for a second that he loved me - I’ve honestly never dated such a kind and caring person. When I got hit with the flu and strep throat in the same weekend, he bought basically the entire pharmacy and brought it to me. Once when I was having a panic attack, he not only came over and helped me through it, he unloaded all of my groceries for me and then sat by me and stroked my hair until I fell asleep. I got my dream job the same day as a party his work was hosting that we went to; he introduced me to everyone there as “this is my girlfriend, she just got her dream job!” The breakup just felt so unnecessary, but it was crushing to me that he couldn’t vocalize his feelings or commit to anything between us in the future. He let me walk away and I made up my mind to close the door and view our relationship for what is was: a happy time in my life with a wonderful person; something I could look back on fondly if not a little sadly/wistfully.

Fast forward a few months and I get a text asking if we can talk. I’m not the kind of person who can be friends with her exes, so this text caught me off guard as it was the first time I’d heard from him in months. I hesitantly agreed. We went for a walk and he expressed that he wanted us to try again; I became a bit frustrated and told him how upsetting it has been to be the one that had had to break things off the first time. I told him I felt he was being a bit selfish. He still couldn’t tell me how he felt about me definitively. I’m not sure why, but I agreed to go on a date with him. Within a few weeks it became apparent that nothing had really changed. He invited me to a wedding, then took back the invitation a week before we were supposed to go. He told me he didn’t think it was a good idea for me to come with him; he couldn’t tell me why, but it essentially seemed that taking me as his wedding date was too much commitment. I once again ended things and berated myself for giving him a second chance.

When we broke up the second time, I suggested (as someone who has had emotional intimacy problems and struggled with my mental health most of my life) that he see a therapist. I didn’t do it because I wanted him to change for me, I thought he would be out of my life. I’ve since felt a lot of guilt over this, because I was worried I was only suggesting it because it seemed implausible that anyone *couldn’t* be in love with me.

On New Year’s Day, I found a letter from him on my front porch. Again, we haven’t talked in about 3 months at this point. In the letter (which was 9 handwritten pages), he apologized for everything he put me through last year. He told me he had taken my advice and found a therapist. He says he’s changed, not just in the context of relationships but changed himself in the context of his life, how he operates on a day to day basis. He says he’s become less focused on the long term and what his next great adventure will be and is learning to appreciate the little things. He says through all of this, he’s realized that he was wrong, that he wants me in his life, even though he knows that is an unlikely possibility. He used my name and “love” together in a sentence for the first time since I met him.

We’ve texted a bit since the letter. I told him I am very bitter/angry over his actions last fall, that I felt he had pressured me into trying again without really working on himself first - like he’d been using me as an experiment to see if he can feel things. He says he understands all of this, agrees that he was selfish, and is willing to do anything to prove he’s changed, even if it “takes years.”

I really do love this dude, for whatever dumb reason the universe has decided. Like, I’ve had a few long term relationships, one of which was very abusive. I’ve dated nice guys and losers and a few in between. I’ve just never clicked with someone like I do with him. But I’m also not stupid. I know there’s a honeymoon period when you start working on yourself where you’re like “I’ve changed! I’m a new person! I want to share the new me with the world!” I also don’t know how I’m supposed to trust him - he’s never lied to me, he’s actually one of the most honest people I’ve ever met. But I feel like I can’t trust his intent, if that makes sense.

Basically, I’m stuck in this dumb grey area where I know I love him and if I somehow knew definitively that this would work out, I’d jump headfirst back into those shark-infested waters (despite having had both my legs bitten off previously, if you’ll excuse the metaphor). At the same time, I am bitter and not sure I can trust him. I’m not sure what to do. I’m in no hurry, because if he’s telling the truth then he’s willing to wait and if he’s not then I guess it doesn’t matter because that means he’s lying and I’m not here for a liar. I just need some guidance and advice (also, I’ve posted on here in the past and sometimes people are really mean in their responses - not to sound whiny, but I’m not here to be berated, please).

View related questions: broke up, crush, her ex, I love you, liar, period, text, wedding

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A female reader, DrSheilaD United States +, writes (11 January 2018):

"I really do love this dude, for whatever dumb reason the universe has decided."

I picked up on the line above. I have a few questions:

What is so lovable about him? Nice that he came through a couple of times; those are things you do for each other. But, what about all the things necessary to make a healthy relationship? character, education (on whatever level), motivation? employment? money management? is he a slob? neatnik? a little of both? etc. What about him would make him a good husband? and father.

"Whatever dumb reason the universe has decided."

I know you meant this to be light, but it isn't the universe. The first 6 months are clearly still the lust phase. Everything is new; everyone on best behavior; sex is great. But it is lust. That is why most people do not leap into marriage. Unfortunately, you got stuck at 6 months. cause he took back that he loved you.

Have you been invested in this man BECAUSE you couldn't get him and not for who he is? "you couldn't believe he didn't love you?" There is no one size fits all in relationships. I have a theory "We Become One Parent and Marry The Other." If you want to read it, let me know; will send.

You have anxiety attack issues and mental health issues? How does he factor? Is he your rock? Does he make you feel safe?

Do you want him, warts and all, or some kind of a hero.

And, lastly what are his worst qualities?

Best of luck with decisions.


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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (10 January 2018):


"They might get hurt by it.'

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (10 January 2018):

I think there are some very simple messages within your post that are being overlooked. I also think there is something very profound that is being overlooked about you, and the guy you're telling us about. I'm going to bring that out to you, and perhaps it will be helpful.

People who struggle with insecurities and abandonment-issues tend to smother people they're involved with romantically. In our modern-world; people grapple desperately for assurances, acceptance, and kept promises. They need immediate-gratification and want guarantees. They will kill relationship after relationship demanding something solid and unbreakable; before they even fully know who they are, or the person they are setting all their high-expectations upon.

You wanted too much too early. You are struggling with personal-demons and have some mental-health issues which you didn't much explain; but I am almost certain it attributed to his difficulty in deciding how he feels about you. He was totally uncertain of what he could look forward to; if he had committed to you. Like so many young women, you fall too quickly; and look too far into the future for the longevity of a relationship. While a relationship is still in a fetal-stage. Stay in the present. Use the past only for stored lessons you've learned; and the interactive-skills you've developed to avoid repeating mistakes. Don't punish people in your present for the crimes of people in your past.

Establishing your feelings about a person should work synchronized with their feelings. You have to be on the same page. Patience is not a word people like to use or practice. Sometimes they need it more than love.

That young man, if I go by your description, had few problems when he met you. You introduced him to yours. Even went so far as to suggest he get therapy; because he must have problems if he couldn't fall in-love fast enough for you. He took your advice, maybe because he did have his own problems to deal with; but it didn't solve the issues that he has to deal with that you will introduce into the relationship, and into his life. If he wants children, what would you pass-down to them genetically? Would there be side-effects from your medications, if you got pregnant?

I don't gain many fans by saying this; but I write these posts, because I have the wisdom of experience. You/we have no right to expect more from someone else than you/we can give back. When you commit yourself, you must give the best of yourself; and expect no more or less from others. You must realize that there are risks being taken on both sides. You, yourself, me, and I are not the only person in a couple. Somewhere he fits into the whole picture. His needs, his fears, his feelings, and what he contributes.

If he carries all the load, it's not a relationship. It's a dependency. He's being used as a caretaker and/or a crutch. You're supposed to take care of each other. You should both have your own individual strengths. Weaknesses and flaws are a given, because we're only human. Nobody's perfect. We should all be a steady work-in-progress. You're never too old to learn. Set only standards you yourself can meet.

He has to evaluate you and how you fit into his life. Young people are reckless about slinging the word "love" around; and in your age-group and younger, you're usually far too casual about using it. You're usually not ready for it when it finds you. So you have to pace yourself and adjust to your dosage. Like medicine, you can overdose taking too much too soon! There could be side-effects!

It's a red-flag when someone consistently recalls pain leftover from a previous relationship; while in the process of starting a new one. If that pain is still raw, or in the process of mending; the lingering pain or unhealed-wounds are going to manifest in behavior that scares your new love-interest.

Insecurity that isn't well-managed will pervade your new relationship. It may not even be apparent to you; but others will be affected by it. The might get hurt by it. If they're smart, they'll pump the brakes. Your young man's problem is being so young and inexperienced; he wasn't sure how to deal with it all, or how to process it. He truly likes you, but love just hasn't reached the pitch that you're expecting from him. He relented under pressure. He didn't know how to slow you down without hurting your feelings. Thus the confusion of going back and forth; and the uncertainty he presents. He is totally aware of your fragile mental-state; but he was almost stupidly-clumsy with how he handles things. You can't take love back! You can only retract what you've said. What hits the air that comes out of your mouth, can and will be held against you!

He spent a lot of time being your nurse-maid and rescuer. Constantly reassuring you. Attending to you and supporting you. As long as your post is, you say very little of what you've contributed to this relationship and how you've lifted him up. He realizes that being with you will be very demanding emotionally; and you're likely to be high-maintenance. He's unsure he's up to the task!

We men have highly developed "fight or flight" instincts. Women don't understand them. Male-behavior is usually characterized as selfish and unfeeling. Posts from women usually portray male-sensitivities and proclivities in a very negative and unstable light. Like we're always commitment-phobic and sending mixed-signals. There are pros and cons about everything and anyone we commit ourselves to. You'd be damned stupid, if you don't carefully consider all your pros and cons.

I wouldn't place a lot of faith in having anything strong or dependable with this young man. You are a very complex and complicated person. He has vacillated on his feelings for you and can't seem to make up his mind. He likes you, but can't handle your baggage. He doesn't know how to say that in the right words. His feelings draw him back; but he is in-conflict with his better judgement. He wants you, but not your problems. He has the right to be selfish and protective of his feelings. That is self-preservation.

If you need to hear the word love too soon, you might hear it without the true feelings behind it. Love is better demonstrated than said. I'd rather feel it coming and know it; than hear it, and see nothing to prove it.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (10 January 2018):

Honeypie agony auntI think your expectations are not in sync with him at all. You WANT things from him he isn't quite ready to share, you can't FORCE that from someone else. Even more so he didn't entire "get" what you wanted, which is why I think he fumbled with it. The whole saying thing and taking them back, it shows uncertainty.

Now, I get someone taking back "I love you" is hurtful. Totally get it. But I think I would prefer that, to someone saying "I love you" and not mean it. Sure he could have "faked it" and never told you that he didn't ACTUALLY know if it was love he felt. But he didn't, because honesty matters to him.

In general I think people put WAY to much emphasis on those 3 words. When you write about him and his ACTIONS shows a level of care, compassion and consideration that SHOWS he cares.

He seems like a really good guy but also like someone who MOVES slowly when it comes to relationships. HE wants to take his time, YOU don't. You just want what you want, and you want it now. And I'm not saying that to be mean. You just seem to know WHAT you want sooner and he doesn't. You took at as a personal offense that he isn't 100% sure. But I don't think it is. I don't think it's YOU he isn't sure about... It's himself.

If you DO decide to give him another chance, CURB your expectations. You can't RUSH a relationship, you can't RUSH emotions and you can't RUSH someone who likes to go slow. Try and let things evolve organically. Also, TELL him to NOT pull a "invite to a wedding" and then take it back. Better for him to NOT invite you at all. Same with saying things like "I love you". He needs to EXPRESS that he isn't ready instead of saying it and taking it back. You don't want to date an emotional yo-yo.

So yes, you both have some adjustments to make. That is what being in a relationship is all about. The dating period is where you get a feel for the other person and to see if they are a good match or not. Doesn't HAVE to be from now to the end if time.

People move at different speeds. People FEEL at different levels. Learn to compromise.

The fact that YOU are emotionally more "intelligent" and mature than him, doesn't mean he doesn't FEEL or have FEELINGS. He is a guy! Let him BREATHE in the relationship. Try not to PUSH him to be a round peg when he is a square one. He is who he is.

You BOTH have a lot of lessons to learn, not just him. He is not going to instantly know what you want and DO what you would like him to do. You are not going to know his intentions all the time either. It takes time. 6-9 months is not a long time.

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A male reader, N91 United Kingdom + , writes (10 January 2018):

N91 agony auntI have to agree with the other posters.

I think the fact that he took it back means he isn't willing to say it until he truly means it. Of course it's hurtful to hear someone take something like that back, but then you know when you do hear it that it's genuine.

In all honesty this guy sounds like a good man, it's very rare I read posts on here and think that the asker would regret a breakup but I very much think that would be the case here. I don't see anything that is a huge red flag of him messing you around either.

He didn't try to hide you in the shadows or let you down with false promises, it sounded like he was proud of you and wanted to show you off from what you've described. If anything I think YOU may have said those 3 words too soon. 6 months really isn't a long time, I know people who didn't tell their partner they loved them until 2-3 years in. THAT is when you know it's genuine, when they've had time to think over their feelings and come to the conclusion rather than feeling forced into saying it in the heat of the moment.

I actually think you've posted here a few times before as your story sounds very familiar. It's crystal clear that you don't want things to end with this guy, so why let them? You need to get to the bottom of why you need to hear him say 'I love you' so soon? Let him develop at his own pace. If he's not showing any negative behaviours or red flags then why sabotage something that could be special?

I think you're being way too hard on him, almost selfish in fact that this guy has completely worked on himself in hopes to get you back but all you want to hear is I love you. He will say it when he's ready, some people really have trouble letting their guard down and being in touch with their emotions. I am someone who has that trait, I have had a number of girls in the past tell me how hard I am to read and that they don't know where they stand with me, simply because I find it hard to show my sensitive side and talk about how I feel. I am working on it and maybe your BF is similar. I wouldn't tell someone I loved them unless I truly meant it and it was coming from the heart.

You're being very stubborn and you're going to be kicking yourself if you shut him out and he finds someone else.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (10 January 2018):

I am sorry but despite the length of your post I feel there are alot of information you have omitted. e.g how old are you too. Has any of you been married before. Is he a foriegner and has to go back to his country. Is there religious or cultural diffrences between you. Is there age difference. What exactly is holding him back from commiting if he is that much interested in you??

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A female reader, MissKin United Kingdom + , writes (10 January 2018):

MissKin agony auntWhy are you so desperate for him to say 'i love you'? Personally I think being strong enough to say it and take it back shows he wants it to be genuine, wants to be sure he can way it without ever taking it back. He obviously takes the words very seriously and thinks they're a huge commitment.

Myself and my fiancé took over a year to say I love you, and when we did say it, it felt silly. Why was it such a big deal when I could tell how much we loved each other by how we acted?

Actions speak louder than words, but you are not listening.

Before you get back with him can I suggest YOU consider therapy and why you have this need to have someone be completely vulnerable to you and to meet your emotional demands asap rather than being able to trust them and give them time to reach their own conclusions and to understand their own emotions before you give up on them?

He sounds lovely and as if he adores you wanting to try for a third time when you keep dumping him because he can't say it.

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (10 January 2018):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntP.S. If you believe the universe has sent you this guy, then you must also believe the universe will send you what you NEED, not necessarily what you WANT. Every relationship needs compromise. Perhaps this is the universe's way of getting YOU to grow, as well as him?

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (10 January 2018):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntI always look at what people DO rather than listening to what they SAY. Words are cheap but, for me, actions say it all and actions don't lie. This guy proves over and over, in everyday little ways, how much he cares for you. So he is not big into florid declarations of love and "ever after" promises. Everyone is different. At least he is honest and determined not to lead you on.

I suspect, if you DON'T try again, you will spend the rest of your life wondering "what if". In your shoes I would start dating again but stop being so demanding and rigid in what you expect from him emotionally - at least for a while. Learn to live for the moment. After all, it's not like you have been dating for years and he is holding back on you. This guy genuinely cares for you but, by the sound of it, has never been in a relationship like this before, where he has felt so vulnerable. Give him a break and stop pressuring him into making great declarations of love. Let his actions speak for themselves. Be a bit less demanding and you may find you get what you need when you stop chasing it so hard.

Good luck.

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