She Says I Shouldn’t Get My Hopes Up

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Hi Meredith,

I’ve known my ex for about three years. When we first met, I was still recovering from a series of rough breakups, one of them with my high school sweetheart. Needless to say, I found her company comforting, and it’d be fair to say that she helped me rebuild myself and my self-esteem. After about two years of missteps and talking, we started dating in the late summer of 2020. Our romantic relationship didn’t go so well. Unfortunately, we had both been through our first deployments with the Navy that year, and reintegrating into the “real world” (which was a different landscape due to COVID-19) and the stresses that it brings caused fissures, fractures, and eventually she initiated our breakup.

We remained friends, though we were both standoffish in our own ways, and it took until our deployment this year to fully reconnect and start talking again. The thing is, a part of me will always hold feelings for her, and while I’ve tried less extreme measures to put distance between myself and her before, I inevitably get drawn back to her. I’m not a particularly hard person to read, and I think she sees that I get confused over her intentions (we spend as much time together as work allows, talking, eating meals, etc., and she only spends that free time with me). She regularly reminds me that I “shouldn’t get my hopes up,” which stabs at my heart like a dagger, even though I know that there really is no chance at our romantic relationship rekindling. In about a month, I’ll be transferring half a world away from where she’s currently stationed. My question is, should I go and remove myself from her life, or keep up this facade of pretending we’re friends and things are OK? I told her the other day that when it comes to her, the only hope I have for the future is happiness on her terms. I just don’t think that for her happiness or my own, I can realistically remain in her life the way I hoped. She’s the Yin to my Yang, opposites in all the ways we need them, but I’m tired of being confused, and maybe she is too.

– Adrift in the sea of confusion


“In about a month, I’ll be transferring half a world away from where she’s currently stationed.”

I think that’s the answer. You need to figure out what to do for the next month – how much time and attention to give her – and then you’ll be pulled away. My advice is to contact/see her when it feels right over the next few weeks, but to prepare your brain for a real ending when you leave. It’s not that you’ll delete her from your life, but you’ll begin to think of her as a real ex instead of a friend with potential.

She’s telling you not to get your hopes up. That’s a vague (maybe immature) way of saying, “I like you around and know you’re into me, and I don’t want to cut you loose, but … I make no promises.”

That’s the part that disturbs me the most – the “don’t get your hopes up” line. Clearly she knows this arrangement is confusing you. . And yet it continues like this, as a gigantic maybe. That’s not good for either of you.

Making massive decisions about her over the next month seems unnecessary. You’ll want to say goodbye, so do that. But let this deployment be a real departure.

She’s not your soul mate, by the way; she’s just someone you really like, a person you met at an important time. There are other people capable engaging with you that way. You probably won’t find them if you don’t make space for something new.

– Meredith

Readers? Does this remind you of the recent “we’re about be to be long-distance” letter? How do you use a month

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