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I hope this is the right forum... I have a relationship I would like to post about, not so much to get advice (though any advice would be appreciated) but just because I never get to talk to anyone about it! I respect most of the people here so it seems like the right place. Anyway... this concerns my ex-girlfriend. Even though we broke up (or to be more specific she broke up with me) we are still friends and we talk a lot. She broke up with me because she feels it is impossible for her to have a relationship and pursue her studies at the same time. I greatly value her friendship, but it is a surprisingly difficult situation for me because of feelings I still have for her. There are many things I like about her... I like her personality, she is very smart, she is ambitious, etc. and she is also very physically attractive to me. There are things I don't like too, of course (and some things I find very annoying) but none of those things are enough to make me not like her. Fortunately for me she moved to another city, but we still write e-mails and call all the time. And we see each other now and then, when she comes to visit her family (and that usually leads to us fooling around which is even more confusing for me!) I guess I would say that I am not over her yet and am not sure how to do so (and we broke up about 2 and a half years ago so the situation is getting old.) I think I just need to meet someone new, but that is not so easy and I haven't had much luck yet. It is hard being a grad student and meeting someone, at least on this campus! Everyone is ~6 years younger than me, which wouldn’t be so bad but it seems like everyone is also über-liberal. Anyway, I have thought about not being friends with her anymore, but I really do like her as a friend so I don't really want that to happen. But the way things are sucks too, so I am very confused and unhappy about it. I would say that she is my best friend so I talk to her about many problems I have and feelings and things like that, but it always makes me feel ashamed of myself... like the only person I can talk to is the woman who broke up with me. I don't think that is a correct way to feel, but it is hard to change. So, that is about what I wanted to say, I hope it is not too annoying to post this but like I said I never get to talk to anyone about this (except with her, which is obviously not so helpful :D .) Feel free to post any comments or advice or anything!

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The solution to your problem is simple :

Sit in the lotus postition for half an hour, empty your mind of all thought and then contemplate the patterns of veins on a leaf.

Just kidding. But seriously, you need to go into more detail. What were her annoying traits, what was she studying and why can't you just wait until she's finished her studies before getting back with her ?

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You definately dont need to "fool around" with her when you see her. It greatly exacerbates the problem. If you really care for her, you should demand the respect you deserve and either be in a romantic relationship with her, or just be friends, but do not go the in-between route. About meeting other people, yeah it's hard and it sucks, but sometimes thats the way it is. Don't inflict damage upon yourself by messing with someone and confusing yourself.

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I was in a very similar situation to the one you are describing. I had (have) the exact same type of relationship with one of my ex-girl friends. We would "fool around" everytime we saw each other for about two or three years after we broke up. Eventually that part of our relationship ceased (we both moved on romantically). We remained close friends and she is still one of my best friends today.

I have found that I don't completely get over one relationship until I get involved in another. If you are like me, as soon as you meet someone new your romantic feelings for this girl will fade, as your primary focus will be on the new girl. And if you truly value your ex's friendship, that part of your relationship will remain.

If your relationship with her is anything like the relationship I have with my ex-girl friend, I would strongly recommend that you remain friends. Someone that you are that close with can be an invaluable friend down the road. It is someone who are you are comfortable discussing anthing with, including things that you are not willing to talk to your family, male friends, or current girl friend about.

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J. Hall: Sure, I don't mind giving more detail, I just didn't want to say too much in my first post for fear of boring everyone to death. If I go into too much detail you have no one to blame but yourself :D . Here are some things I don't like about her

  • She is a little too obsessed with her research... I like the fact that she is ambitious and works hard, but she sometimes pursues it to what I consider a destructive level. One time she worked for like 50 hours straight, not because the research required it but because she just has to do research. It usually doesn’t bother me so much, but sometimes I can tell she is getting close to the edge because of it and that can be disturbing.
  • This is a little strange to describe, but she has problems at the beginning of any kind of physical intimacy. She just doesn’t like to be touched when she isn't ... well, excited. After a little while she will get into it and there is no problem, but at the beginning it is not so fun for me. And she will [almost] never initiate anything, which I personally find annoying.
  • Sometimes I think she can be inconsiderate of my feelings... it is pretty rare to get a compliment from her, even the usual "you look nice tonight" ones that you expect in a relationship. She says she doesn’t do things like that because she thinks that when you say them all the time they lose meaning, but it is still strange and annoying. She did send me flowers on Valentine's day, though, so I guess I can't be too annoyed.

Does that paint more of a picture? As for why I don't just wait for her... first, she won't graduate for like 5 more years and I am frankly tired of waiting. Second, I don't have any guarantee that she will want me to be with her then. Or it may be that I don't want to be with her then. So, I am not really a big fan of waiting.

FaSheezy: Yes, I know you are right, and one problem I have is that I sometimes really hate myself for my weakness of continuing to do things like that. I am just really at an age where I can still fool around without medical help and I want to take advantage of it (I am exaggerating because I am only 25, but I feel old.) I haven't been with anyone but her in the time we have been broken up, so it is really hard to resist. And I think she is really good looking (she is 6 feet tall which I personally find very attractive.) I just need to force myself to stop. I have considered just not meeting her anymore... perhaps that I what I should do. I think part of it is that I want someone to want me... weakness on my part.

Bryan: I think you are completely correct, and that is why I would really like to meet someone new. I know that no matter what we will still be friends, it is just very hard for me right now... I need to let go of that part of our relationship, but there is nothing else for me to fill that part with so it is difficult. Is it normal to feel this way? This is another area where I feel I am weak and that I am not acting like a correct person should... I should be just as happy by myself but I am not.

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Bryan: I think you are completely correct, and that is why I would really like to meet someone new.  I know that no matter what we will still be friends, it is just very hard for me right now... I need to let go of that part of our relationship, but there is nothing else for me to fill that part with so it is difficult. Is it normal to feel this way? This is another area where I feel I am weak and that I am not acting like a correct person should... I should be just as happy by myself but I am not.

I would not say that it is abnormal to feel the way that you are feeling. Just keep in mind that the situation is temporary, you are not doomed to roam the Earth alone for the rest of your days. I don't think you need to change anything with your current ex (including the occasional "hook-ups") as long as it is not destructive to you or her. Just keep your current relationship in the context of the two of you being close friends, and know that you will eventually meet someone new. If you think that your current relationship with her is holding you back from meeting someone else, then maybe you could take a step back from her. But it does not sound like this is the case (especially since she lives in another town).

You can also put the possibility of the two of you getting back together on the back burner as something that could occur down the road. I have found that this is a good way to deal with getting over a relationship for the short run. You don't have to totally close the door on it, but just keep in mind that it probably won't happen in the near future. It will help you deal with your immediate feelings and over the long run those feelings will probably fade away.

As far as your situation of being in grad school and having difficulty meeting someone on campus, I completely empathize with you. I am in the exact same situation; I'm also 25, going to school with people younger than me (I'm getting another BS degree), and have not been romantically involved with anyone in over a year. Sometimes its lonely, but I'm optimistic (as you should be) that I will find someone worth dating soon.

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I just can't help but jump in!

Now scientist, you need to assess the situation rationally:

You must be clear on the following:

1). Do you love your ex? (from what you said, my guess is that you do.)

2). Does she love you? (from what you said, my gut feeling is no)

A meaningful romantic relationship requires the answer of "yes" to both above questions. If there is one "no", then you have to give it up. If you accept this with your reason, then you must accept this emotionally as well. Talking to your ex everyday and fooling around whenever you see her will not help you to become emotionally detached.

As soon as you are emotionally detached from your ex, you will have a new altitude toward potentially new relationships. And then you can decide whether you will or will not remain close friend with your ex - this should not jeopardize the pursuit of your future meaningful romance.

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And then you can decide whether you will or will not remain close friend with your ex - this should not jeopardize the pursuit of your future meaningful romance.

I would like to add that remaining close friends with a former sexual partner would not fly with any kind of romantic relationship I can imagine. Your true love will want to own you completely and will most likely not tolerate having an "ex" around "as a friend."

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I hope this is the right forum... I have a relationship I would like to post about, not so much to get advice (though any advice would be appreciated) but just because I never get to talk to anyone about it! [...]

Scientist, I have several questions and suggestions for thought, based on personal experience similar to yours, many years ago. (I am now 60.)

1. I gained great value, twice in my life, from talking to a psychotherapist, for a few sessions each time. The two I talked to, several years apart, were very helpful to me in getting to the root of two problems.

The psychotherapists I went to were MSWs -- Masters in Social Work. Don't let the image of "social worker" fool you. They were trained in counseling in common social problems, which of course also involve personal issues. They were in private practice, that is, in their own business. They mostly asked questions, but sometimes they made suggestions. Some of their suggestions were worthless, but others got me to thinking -- which is the whole point of having someone to talk with (not just to).

Your school may offer counseling services similar to this. Consider it. Gaining value from such people does not mean we are crazy. We live in a division of labor society, and such people, if competent, have something to trade.

2. What are your long-term goals for romantic relationship and friendships in general? What are your requirements for each?

Over a period of time, it is very important to know what your criteria are. If you don't know, you will never find them.

3. Why are you opposed to becoming friends with or romantically involved with someone younger than you? As an older male, you have more experience in life to offer younger women. Sometimes that can help make a good match.

4. Do you believe that a romantic relationship, in every situation, must be all or nothing? In some situations in life, "term" relationships may be appropriate, if both people understand the situation.

The classic example is wartime relationships. Conditions threaten even life itself, and there may be no longterm future. Grad school isn't quite as bad as war, but it is likewise very stressful and may lead to a parting of the ways at the end.

5. What are your favorite leisure activities? Can you meet women through them?

If not, then add at least one leisure activity that allows you to do so. At certain times in my life, I went to cooking classes and aerobic dance classes -- 90% women. Great places to start.

P. S. -- I can relate to your attraction to tall women. I have always been attracted to tall women too. A friend long ago asked me, "Burgess, are all your women friends basketball players?" That got me to thinking in a new direction.

I opened up to seeing women as whole individuals not just a certain body type (as delightful as that is). Nevertheless I always remained attracted to active women, and so my women friends and romantic partners were mountain climbers, karate students, marathon runners, and Iron Man (or rather, Woman) competitors. That was fine, because I liked similar activities and we had a lot of common ground in addition to sense of life and basic, though only implicit values.

Developing relationships is sometimes painful and difficult, but it is always revealing about oneself -- and therefore offers great opportunities for self-improvement that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

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I would like to add that remaining close friends with a former sexual partner would not fly with any kind of romantic relationship I can imagine. Your true love will want to own you completely and will most likely not tolerate having an "ex" around "as a friend."

I completely agree.

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I would like to add that remaining close friends with a former sexual partner would not fly with any kind of romantic relationship I can imagine. Your true love will want to own you completely and will most likely not tolerate having an "ex" around "as a friend."

What about Dagny Taggart’s relationship with Hank Reardon?

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What about Dagny Taggart’s relationship with Hank Reardon?

THANK YOU! Let me just take my 35th anniversary edition of Atlas Shrugged off of the shelf and turn to page 425. Follow along, please:

“Hank, I want nothing form you except what you wish to give me.  Do you remember that you called me a trader once?  I want you to come to me seeking nothing but your own enjoyment.  So long as you wish to remain married, whatever your reason, I have no right to resent it.  My way of trading is to know that the joy you give me is paid for by the joy you get from me—not by your suffering or mine.  I don’t accept sacrifices and I don’t make them.  If you asked me for more than you meant to me, I would refuse.  If you asked me to give up the railroad, I’d leave you.  If ever the pleasure of one has to be bought by the pain of the other, there better be no trade at all.  A trade by which on gains and the other loses is fraud.  You don’t do it in business, Hank.  Don’t do it in you own life.”

If I had to choose the one area of my life where Objectivism clearly proved the most useful, it would be in regard to relationships. With all due respect, it doesn’t sound like you have much self-respect. There are other areas where I continue to try and understand Objectivism and how it works in the real world (as opposed to in a novel), but here it truly shines. I hope this helps! [insert stupid smiley face here]

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You mean what about Hand Reardon and Francisco's relationship? I think that one is based on the fact that they were already friends. Remember that they almost killed each other in that one scene in Dagny's apartment.

No, I meant what I meant. Yes, they almost did, but most of that tension was caused by Reardon and Dagny’s ignorance of Francisco personality due to his secrecy. But regardless, at the conclusion of Atlas Shrugged Dagny had exchanged hands three times but remained friends with the first two men and all three men remained friends with each other as well.

So in response to what you wrote:

I would like to add that remaining close friends with a former sexual partner would not fly with any kind of romantic relationship I can imagine. Your true love will want to own you completely and will most likely not tolerate having an "ex" around "as a friend."

I sincerely disagree and provided Dagny’s relationship with Reardon as a counter-example – seeing as how they were lovers for a time but remained close friends after even though they no longer “…owned [each other] completely…”.

If you have a true romantic relationship it should go without saying that the two of you are of great value to each other beyond sex. If you can’t “tolerate” having an ex around after the relationship I would say you have a psychological problem. It is a problem because you judged this person to be of great value and presumably you haven’t found otherwise,, so now you have to keep your distance from them? – this rings of sacrifice.

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If you have a true romantic relationship it should go without saying that the two of you are of great value to each other beyond sex.  If you can’t “tolerate” having an ex around after the relationship I would say you have a psychological problem.

I see the confusion here: you are assuming a genuine romantic relationship. I was assuming a non-romantic relationship that is riddled with psychological problems (like the one in this thread; no offense, but it is).

No, I meant what I meant.

Oh, you meant with Hank after Galt. I was thinking in terms of Hank when he was the "new guy." I get what you meant now.

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I would like to add that remaining close friends with a former sexual partner would not fly with any kind of romantic relationship I can imagine. Your true love will want to own you completely and will most likely not tolerate having an "ex" around "as a friend."

You need to work on your imagination! I was in a five-year sexual relationship with someone who is today, my best friend. When we broke up seven years ago it was kind of ugly. Today, this person lives in my house (granted, it's a big house). Now, I have dated people who have a problem with this arrangement; they’re clearly too insecure with themselves to understand that it is possible. The person with whom I am involved with today has no problem with my ex living in my house. If it did become a problem, I would end the relationship with the person I’m dating.

When you say, “Your true love will want to own you completely […]” these are the kind of people you need to avoid. Honestly, it sounds just like codependence.

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When you say, “Your true love will want to own you completely […]” these are the kind of people you need to avoid.  Honestly, it sounds just like codependence.

Interesting position. I do not share it, and I can think of no common ground to appeal to just now. I can only say that true and romantic love is an act of exclusivity; lovers in such a relationship define the other as theirs and theirs alone; and they self-describe the same way. My wife is mine and I am hers in such a way that permits no sharing on any level.

BTW, I won't be replying to anything else in this thread as we are already drifting off-topic. If someone wants to start a new thread, they are welcome.

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I see the confusion here: you are assuming a genuine romantic relationship. I was assuming a non-romantic relationship that is riddled with psychological problems (like the one in this thread; no offense, but it is).

Fair enough… I figured when you said, “…any kind of romantic relationship I can imagine” and “your true love”, that you meant a genuine "romantic" relationship – in which case you were asking for a broadside. You wouldn’t have fooled me had you originally said something more along long the lines of, “any psychological problem riddled relationship I can imagine.” :D

But on the subject of psychological problem riddled relationships - I think there is a lot to disagree on and very little that can be resolved, so my principle concerning them is to keep my distance.

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Fair enough… I figured when you said, “…any kind of romantic relationship I can imagine” and “your true love”, that you meant a genuine "romantic" relationship – in which case you were asking for a broadside.  You wouldn’t have fooled me had you originally said something more along long the lines of, “any psychological problem riddled relationship I can imagine.”  :D

The error was mine in being less than clear. I was writing from within the context of the thread without specifying that that was what I was doing. I honestly couldn't speak of what someone does when they have more than one romantic relationship in their lives; as I have had only one: the one with my wife who I love.

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Hello, I am the same member as "Scientist," I just got logged out when the site switched over and now I can't remember my password! The e-mail address I made that account with no longer works, so until I remember what the password was I will have to use this account. Anyway, I will handle the replies in order (but feel free to make comments on anything, you don't have to just stick to the reply I make to you!)

labrat: No, I wouldn’t say I love her, I just like her a lot and really respect her. How do you know if you are in love with someone? I always thought it would be an easily recognizable feeling. Certainly she doesn’t love me. The major reason I keep talking to her is because she is my only really close friend here. It is sometimes difficult, but I think it would be more difficult being really alone. I guess the real solution is to make some more close friends and then it would be easier to let go.

BurgessLau: I will try to answer each of your points :D.

  1. Your school may offer counseling services similar to this. Consider it.
    My school does have counseling services, and I have considered it, but I don't know how much it would help. It would be nice to talk to someone, but none of the core issues would be resolved (I am lonely, have trouble meeting women, I still have feelings for my ex, etc.) Well, perhaps I should look more carefully at it.
  2. What are your long-term goals for romantic relationship and friendships in general? What are your requirements for each?
    I do have requirements, but I don't have a checklist or anything that I use when I meet someone! The first thing is that I have to enjoy being with the woman. She has to be able to carry on a conversation... doesn’t have to be the smartest person who has ever lived, but I expect a reasonable degree of intelligence and education. She has to have some ambition for her life. We have to have a shared set of values... not that we have to agree on everything (and that might even be boring,) but if she is a devout communist then obviously it is not going to work! As an example of this, there is a girl who is interested in me, but she is a very fundamentalist Christian. There would be many issues there that I think would prevent any kind of workable relationship between us. I want someone who takes care of them self physically... not that they have to be in great shape or an athlete, but if they are very overweight or don't shower or something then I think that indicates other problems. I personally do not want children, though that is something that I could talk about and decide about later in a relationship. These are very general things, but is this giving you an idea?
  3. Why are you opposed to becoming friends with or romantically involved with someone younger than you?
    I don't think there is anything wrong with me becoming involved with someone younger than me, but in my experience here the younger women are very immature and I am just not interested! I am talking about freshmen in college. Most of the girls I meet are through teaching (which really isn't the best way to meet people, anyway.) If I met a mature person who was younger then there would be no problem being friends or having a relationship. I'm not that old, but it seems like there is a big divide between myself and the students I see now... I don't dress fashionably, I'm not into all the modern fads, and to be honest I am not the best looking man who has ever lived, so I just don't think younger women are that interested in me.
  4. Do you believe that a romantic relationship, in every situation, must be all or nothing?
    No, and I might be happy with a relationship that I knew had a chance of ending when grad school was over. I honestly think I need more romantic experience before going into a "final" relationship, so such a situation would be acceptable to me.
  5. What are your favorite leisure activities? Can you meet women through them?
    No, and that is a problem I recognize. I am teaching myself how to draw and paint, which I enjoy but it is pretty much a solo effort (especially considering I can't stand the kind of artwork made on campus.) I also like architecture very much and like looking at different buildings, doing drawings of buildings I imagine, etc. but that is also pretty solo. I have done things in the past with the purpose of meeting women, but it has always been a bad experience for me. I never meet anyone, and that spoils the entire thing for me when I should be enjoying it. I do go to the museum here, to the bookstores and places like that, but frankly those are horrible places for meeting people, at least for me. The most popular leisure activity on campus is getting drunk, and as I don't drink it is hard to participate :)

So, does that cover your questions? I can be more specific if you want, I just don't want to bore everyone to death!

Developing relationships is sometimes painful and difficult, but it is always revealing about oneself -- and therefore offers great opportunities for self-improvement that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Yes, I agree. At least theoretically, as I have not been in very many relationships! :) That is one of the major reasons I want one... it is not that I can't be happy by myself, but I really feel that I am missing something at my age being alone.

Inspector:

I was assuming a non-romantic relationship that is riddled with psychological problems (like the one in this thread; no offense, but it is).
Well, I don't know if I would use the word "riddled," but I don't take offense. The problem is really two things. Firstly, I haven't been in a relationship since her and so it is difficult to get rid of some of the feelings I have. Secondly, I have to find a way to eliminate some of the emotions I have on my own. It has been two and a half years, so I don't think time is helping the process very much. I hope everyone doesn’t think I sit at home all day thinking about this! Most of the time it doesn’t bother me at all, right now is a little harder than normal because of things going on at my department but even so it is not so bad. Regardless of how much it affects me, this is something I need to get over and deal with, which is why I posted.

General posts about being friends with someone after a relationship is over: I tend to agree with the position that if someone can't handle you being friends with an ex then they are not suitable, but again I have to admit my ignorance of relationships. Thinking about the way I would feel, I can see why it might be difficult for someone to deal with. Anyway, I found the discussion interesting.

So, I hope that covers it! Just posting and reading what everyone says is helping, so I want to thank everyone. Keep posting if you want, I think all the posts are interesting and informative, but don't feel obligated to respond!

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Let me make sure I understand everything:

This woman dumped you 2 1/2 years ago, saying, in effect, that she doesn't have time for you anymore. Now the two of you are "friends" (you say best friends) though you still have romantic feelings for her. She has moved to another city, but you call and e-mail her all the time. When you do see each other, you engage in meaningless physical affection — meaningless to her, at least, since you obviously no longer represent any serious romantic value to her. She's indifferent to your touch and insensitive to your feelings (though she did perform the ultra-feminine gesture of sending you flowers on Valentine's Day). You're isolated from women and from friends in general, have no one to talk to, have had no other romantic involvement since the breakup, and — face it — at least a part of you would love nothing more than for this woman to change her mind and "take you back," which you know full well isn't going to happen.

Am I fairly on track here?

Why are you doing this to yourself?

"Friendship" — where one party has romantic feelings for the other — is a long, slow emotional torture. Unrequited love is tough enough as it is, never mind when you drag it out across years in an uneven (and fundamentally dishonest) quasi-relationship.

Not only that, but she dumped you. It's no wonder you're miserable: you're trying to be best buddies with someone who isn't even casual acquaintance material. You're trying to break the Law of Identity. That a woman is willing to keep you around for amusement and sexual gratification after making it clear that you don't make the grade as her long-term lover, shouldn't be viewed as some sort of consolation prize, or as a terribly bright prospect for a quality friendship.

You say you really like and respect her. But how much does she respect you? (While we're at it, how much do you respect yourself?) Be honest: these "mixed signals" are much more a sign of lack of integrity than any real uncertainty about the nature of the relationship. And your constant giving in and letting her drag your feelings around isn't doing much for your mental health and emotional well-being.

Given your view of what's acceptable behavior, I worry for your future relationships — should you ever get off the phone and get around to having one. Are you always going to let a woman run the show like this? Will you always be this "nice" — and this weak? Women, contrary to popular belief, don't want a man they can dominate and control: a real woman wants a hero; a man she can look up to and admire.

One of the worst things we men do is to have ambiguous relationships with women. As the man, you're the initiator and prime mover: it's up to you to ask the woman out, to take the lead, and to set the overall tone and direction of the relationship. She can follow your lead, of course, or not. But if your feelings and hers don't match, you can't try to strike some weird, woozy "compromise" and expect anything but pain and heartache to come from it.

I think you need to get out more and make a real effort to date women. As it is, the only thing you're making is excuses. You're wasting your time and destroying your confidence by focusing on something which should have been buried in the past a long time ago. The good news is that self-confidence and self-respect are generated through taking positive action: by doing the right thing. If you approach the process of dating and love with enthusiasm, and see every experience (including this one) as an opportunity to learn and grow, you'll soon develop the awareness and the inner conviction necessary to have a strong, lasting, and happy relationship.

One last thing: Although I'm being hard on you, and I think you're being appropriately hard on yourself, the last thing you need right now is a sense of unearned guilt. Romantic understanding and skill is something that a man — every man — has to learn; unlike women, we can't just introspect and examine our own nature to see what romance is all about. Show me any truly aware, romantic man and I'll show you a guy with at least a few very painful experiences and disappointments in his past. What sets the romantic man apart from his less-enlightened brethren is not his ability never to make mistakes, but his willingness to examine and learn from them.

Don't worry about what a "correct person" would do, or what is the "correct" way to feel — that's nonsense, and will only keep you stuck. Remember that you're in this life, I assume, to experience happiness and to find fulfillment. That should be your purpose and your goal, not conformity to some ideal of how one is "supposed" to act or feel.

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Speak the truth Kevin! I wanted to burst out an "Amen!" "Hallelejuah!" but uh.. ya know.. I am so absolutely gut-wrenchingly SICK of "I... I.. I just can't help it.." YES THE **** YOU CAN! I apologize for the language, but really. Stop rationalizing! Open your eyes, see what you are doing to yourself and make the action to STOP. Or.. keep going, just dont complain when it all falls apart.

<FC: Please do not curse in a public forum. Multiple postings were deleted, as you requested.>

Edited by Free Capitalist
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Scientist: it sounds to me like you aren't sure what you want. Don't be passive and just accept whatever relationship your ex gives. Determine what you want, and pursue it.

If you want a romantic relationship with your ex, then put your foot down and don't settle for less. Insist that she make you a priority, and if she won't, for God's sake, move on. Life's too short.

If you want just friendship, then restrict your activities together to those of friends.

If you want to be "friends with benefits"... good luck. I wonder to what extent that's actually possible. I suspect one person in the relationship sees it as FWB, while the isn't clear about the situation, and secretly hopes a real relationship will flourish.

Have you discussed this with her? Why is she willing to put you in this position? Why is she sending you mixed messages? Ask her directly.

FaSheezy: From a woman's perspective, why do some women do this? Why are they willing to try to be "just friends" with an ex? And then throw in the mixed signals by fooling around?

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Thanks for the additional comments! I will only deal with Kevin Delaney's comments in this post, as it is long enough as it is :)

Kevin Delaney:

This woman dumped you 2 1/2 years ago, saying, in effect, that she doesn't have time for you anymore. Now the two of you are "friends" (you say best friends) though you still have romantic feelings for her. She has moved to another city, but you call and e-mail her all the time. When you do see each other, you engage in meaningless physical affection — meaningless to her, at least, since you obviously no longer represent any serious romantic value to her. She's indifferent to your touch and insensitive to your feelings (though she did perform the ultra-feminine gesture of sending you flowers on Valentine's Day). You're isolated from women and from friends in general, have no one to talk to, have had no other romantic involvement since the breakup, and — face it — at least a part of you would love nothing more than for this woman to change her mind and "take you back," which you know full well isn't going to happen.

You are generally correct, though I think I made the situation seem worse than it is. I do have other friends, just no one who I am really close with and who I can seriously talk to about this stuff.

"Friendship" — where one party has romantic feelings for the other — is a long, slow emotional torture. Unrequited love is tough enough as it is, never mind when you drag it out across years in an uneven (and fundamentally dishonest) quasi-relationship.

This is why I am trying to figure out what is going on. It has always been my assumption that when I start a new relationship any feelings I have for the girl we are talking about will go away and then there will be no problem being friends.

Not only that, but she dumped you. It's no wonder you're miserable: you're trying to be best buddies with someone who isn't even casual acquaintance material. You're trying to break the Law of Identity. That a woman is willing to keep you around for amusement and sexual gratification after making it clear that you don't make the grade as her long-term lover, shouldn't be viewed as some sort of consolation prize, or as a terribly bright prospect for a quality friendship.

Do you think that just because she broke up with me it is impossible to have a friendship? Is the only relationship possible between people of different sexes romantic? I am seriously asking, here. This is something I have thought about a lot. If I thought it would be better to not be friends with this woman and to never see her again I would do it, but right now I am not sure what is the best course to take (which is the point of the topic.) My problem is not that I can't bring myself to leave, but deciding if leaving is the best course of action. Will my feelings go away if I never talk to her again? And there are good things about the relationship too that I would miss.

You say you really like and respect her. But how much does she respect you? (While we're at it, how much do you respect yourself?) Be honest: these "mixed signals" are much more a sign of lack of integrity than any real uncertainty about the nature of the relationship. And your constant giving in and letting her drag your feelings around isn't doing much for your mental health and emotional well-being.

Well, I can't argue with you much here.

I think you need to get out more and make a real effort to date women...

I am trying. But I am very frustrated! It is not, and I cannot be too emphatic about this, not enough to just talk to women. There is a learned skill to the entire process, from selecting people you are interested in to getting them on a date. I haven't learned this skill yet, so I always strike out. It is not just a matter of practice, because practice only works if you have a general idea of what you are doing. It is like if I gave a physics class where there was no notes, no textbook, nothing available on the web and then I expected them to learn from taking the test. Some of them could learn this way, but many would not. Most men learn this skill when they are a lot younger, and by the time they are my age it is so ingrained they don't even think there is a skill involved (like typing, most of us can do it so easily it seems natural but there was a learning process involved.) For whatever reason I didn't pick up this skill and I am paying for it now. I am sure it is something I can learn, I just don't know how (and talking to random women isn't going to help.) I am very frustrated because what I am doing now isn't working, but I don't know what else to do. And I do talk to women, I just can't seem to complete the job (just yesterday I tried and failed, though at least she said that she was "flattered" I asked.) I have never successfully asked a girl out. The girl in question asked me out. It is irrational to continue an unsuccessful practice over and over again and somehow expect a different result. This isn't an excuse, either; this problem is no one's fault but mine, and I am the one who is going to have to fix it. I just don't know how! Anyway, I am sorry if that was too strong, I am just really frustrated and tired of the whole thing.

Well, I think everything you said was right on target, and I really just have to do some serious thinking and make some hard choices. And you aren't being hard on me... if anything, I need to be much harder on myself (without feeling guilty, as you point out.) Do you really think that women really want a more aggressive man? It seems logical, but it goes against everything I have been taught (though I can's say my education in this area has been of high quality) and epically against everything women say they want. Perhaps that is really my problem, I am too soft. When is your book coming out? I think I could really use it! :)

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