Q: My ex of nine months broke up with me a few months ago. I was devastated. He told me that he "couldn't be himself around me" because he was nervous that I would get mad or start an argument. He said that those fears started a few weeks prior to him breaking up with me.
He told me that he still wanted me in his life and wanted to be friends. I thought I could do that, so we tried for about a month. We just talked by texting and if I saw him out at the bar we would say hi and talk for a little bit. He told me he was still attracted to me, and we would flirt through texting and stuff, and it just seemed like he really did miss me.
One night, he told me to come outside of the bar, and I did. He was waiting for me out there by himself. We talked for about five minutes and he really was acting like he missed me a lot. At the end of our talk, he put his forehead on mine and we just stood there in silence. Then he abruptly walked away. I asked him later that night to walk me home and he said no. I said all I wanted to do was talk and that's it. He said we'd talk the next day.
So the next day I texted him and asked him if he wanted to talk. He said, "What is there to talk about?" And right then I knew I had screwed up by thinking that he actually wanted to get back together. He told me that our outside talk had meant nothing because he was drunk, so I reacted the same way I used to react in our relationship -- angry and upset and saying mean things. He then told me, yet again, "I know we can be happy together, but I can't be myself around you because I don't know how you are going to react." Maybe he was testing me.
The day after, I apologized to him for the things I said, but then told him that he was leading me on. He told me that he is "done being sympathetic to me, I reacted the way he thought I would." It's been a few weeks and we still haven't talked.
Did I ruin my second chance? He knows we can be happy together, but will he give me another chance down the line? I am working on changing how I react to things, not just for him but for myself. Are there such things as third chances? I miss talking to him and I want to be his friend, but after the way I reacted to him he doesn't know if he can be friends with me. What should I do?
– Hurt and Confused, NY
A: You do need to work on your communication skills, HAC, but he's the one who caused this most recent mess. It wasn't a second chance. It was him behaving like a jerk, getting drunk and doing a forehead kiss when he knew it would mess with your head (no pun intended).
The grown-up thing to do is to cut him off, accept that you both made mistakes that contributed to the end of your relationship, and then find a different bar. There are so many bars out there. You shouldn't be anywhere near him. Keep your forehead safe.
I understand that you're feeling accountable right now -- and again, you do need to work on calm, mature communication -- but please remember that your ex has been selfish about his needs. He shouldn't be leading you on. He shouldn't be demanding friendship and texting you after breaking up with you. The forehead bump would have sent most people over the edge. You might have failed some tests, but so did he. Missing him doesn't mean that you want him back.
Ask some friends to take you shopping for a new bar this weekend. It'll be fun – and therapeutic.
Readers? Did she fail a test here? Is this her fault? Is it possible that he was only upset about things for just a few weeks before the breakup? What do you think of the forehead fiasco? Help.
Recent blog posts
Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.