Q: I am a musician, and until recently I was dating the drummer in my band. We knew it was risky, but he was the most amazing guy I'd ever been close to and we were so head-over-heels for each other at the time that we risked it, and now it's over for the time being. I had originally been worried that I'd break his heart, but things got really messed up and at some point in the last three months, he started really pulling away and eventually ended it. Now I'm the one whose heart is really broken.
He developed interest in other girls and even kissed someone else. We've only been broken up for a month, but he says he's felt distant from me for a lot longer.
My question is this: What can I do to restart with him? I know that for the time being we can't be together and that I can't force him to revisit the relationship. He says he isn't interested in having a relationship at all right now, and that whenever we talk things just end up going around in circles. He's probably right. I just can't handle having inane pointless conversations with him. I miss our closeness and being a person he felt connected to and cared about. I would even be happier at this point with some sense of friendship at the very least ... to me it's all happened so fast that I don't know what to do with myself. I feel like every time I reach out to him, no matter how little pressure or little pain I show him, it only pushes him away.
I should mention that we recently took a trip with the band, and I could feel his attraction to me getting stronger and stronger, which I found really confusing and disconcerting. That night, after the gig was over, in the excitement of a fun day spent together, we hung alone and eventually our chemistry won over and we slept together again. It was incredible, though I know it was probably a mistake because it made me vulnerable. The next day I tried to calm myself down, tried to figure out how to not bring it up, but we ended up talking about it. When I pressed him to say something about his feelings, he said that he doesn't think he's in love with me. He also said he's not in love with anyone, he said he feels emotionally numb. He also admitted, after being asked, that he's not over the pain he felt from a previous relationship that hurt him deeply, and that he doesn't feel like he can really trust anyone enough to let himself fall all the way in love with them.
We are still involved professionally and I think we're both pretty committed to making that work for the time being. But he's hot and cold. I can't seem to let go of some hope that I have for the future with him.
How do I handle myself? What do I do to take away his negative image of me and restart? It's hard to really play the "hard-to-get" game when you're involved with someone professionally, and if I quit playing with this band and find another one to join then I might not see him for a very long time.
I don't know what to do!
– Sad in Boston
A: If the drummer is the only reason that you're with this band, find a new band.
But if you love the band, you must stick with it and learn self-control. The drummer is attracted to you but he doesn't want to be your boyfriend. That means you can't sleep with him. Ever.
This is like any other failed office romance. You must set boundaries and maintain them. You must keep your distance as much as you can until it starts to feel platonic again. I know that's not what you want to hear, but it's the truth. Sorry.
If you're stressed and sad about all of this, write a song. Date another musician. Cover your favorite break-up song. The energy that comes with this kind of passionate breakup ... it's kind of priceless. It spawns the best music. Be the Stevie Nicks. Put on a dreamy outfit and be the star. That's what has to happen here.
The sooner you stop dreaming of a future together, the sooner you'll be able to reset your relationship. Let this be over. Break the chain.
Readers? How do you work with an ex? How can she ignore his attraction? Should she quit the band? Is this a different experience for musicians? What should she do?
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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.