Q: Dear Meredith,
My most recent ex just began graduate school halfway across the country. She will be there for the next three years. We haven't dated since late 2011, and yet she's all I think about.
The back story: We were on and off since 2009. Sure, we had our fights. But we both acknowledged a deeper connection than with any previous significant other. Our relationship was part of my reason for moving to Boston; she landed a great job, and I took the chance with her. After several months, her unhappiness with our situation caused her to dump me. In her mind, complacency was to blame. I have my doubts.
Since then, we have had irregular conversations by phone, and even a fling when she visited recently. We both discussed our feelings for one another, which by and large were still mutual, but realized the diverging paths our lives are now taking.
Don't get me wrong, I haven't stopped admiring women that I encounter personally. However, I find myself again and again refusing to ask out someone new. The idea of rejection, even once, is too overwhelming. I understand how unrealistic that is, and that asking others on a date is essentially a numbers game -- one out of ten will likely say yes. But I'm hung up on this girl. I'd rather wait for her than try again. Am I crazy?
– Hung Up, Boston
A: Is this about a fear of rejection or the confusing relationship you have with your ex? Because it sounds like you assume that your ex will come around after she finishes her grad program. You need to be honest with yourself about what you're waiting for, if anything.
Think about what she said to you during that "diverging paths" conversation. If it was ambiguous, ask her to clarify. She either wants to get back together or she doesn't. If she really said that you're moving in different directions, then please, no more visits and thoughts about waiting. Mourn the breakup and cut off contact. Then spend some time with women as friends. You don't have to make this a numbers game, asking out 40 women to get four dates (that sounds exhausting); you just have to ask some people to hang out, alone or in groups. Maybe one of the outings turns into a date. Who knows? As long as it's a change of scenery, it's a good thing.
Please remember that your ex ended the relationship when you were in the same city and on the same path. Now you need a path of your own. New companions (with or without romantic potential) will give you some perspective on the ex and what you really want for your future.
Readers? Should he ask her to clarify? Is this about fear of rejection or about him waiting for the ex? Does he have to cut her off? What should he do? Help.
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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.