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There's no substitute for time

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

In a world of instant gratification and constantly wondering “What’s next?” I’m not surprised someone sent this question to me the other day.

In fact, most days I get questions from people asking why a relationship ended when it did and wondering if they could have prevented the time and the heartbreak. Often, the answer is no.

Question: Hi! I’ve been exclusively dating someone for four months. I’m 38 years old. He initiated the relationship, but now he doesn’t want a relationship. Do you have any advice for me?

This was my response:

I understand how disappointing that can feel. But I truly believe it took that four months for him to know that he didn't want the relationship. That doesn't mean he was stringing you along. And it doesn't mean he lied about his intentions. Without knowing him or the exact situation beyond the question you asked, while I can say that it is certainly disappointing (and we have all felt this way at some point or another), it is also a part of dating. And it might be you next time who realizes you don't want a relationship with someone after a number of months. It’s no one’s fault.

 

For better or worse (and I know it feels like worse right now), there is no way to avoid this. There is also no substitute for getting to know people over time, meaning that we all have to go through situations like this. It's just part of the journey and process. And there is no way to predict or prevent it again. So keep doing what you're doing and taking chances. But we will never be able to control other people or outcomes.

To elaborate a bit, when it comes down to it, it’s important to remember that dating is a learning experience for both parties involved. While it’s natural to feel hurt or disappointed when someone decides they don’t want a relationship after a few months, it’s also an opportunity to reflect on what you’ve learned about yourself and your needs in a partner. Take some time to consider the positive aspects of your connection (and that you found someone you really liked, if there was any doubt that would happen) and what qualities you’d like to seek in future relationships. This introspection can be incredibly valuable as you move forward.

Another key point to consider is communication. While it might feel like he led you on, it’s also possible that he was trying to figure out his own feelings and intentions. Dating can be a process of discovery for both people, and sometimes it takes a while for people to realize what they truly want... or don’t. In any future relationships, encouraging open and honest communication from the beginning can help both you and your partner understand each other more clearly. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions early on – it can save both of you a lot of heartache down the road.

Lastly, and most importantly, keep your chin up and don’t lose hope. Each dating experience brings you one step closer to finding the right person for you. It hurts now, of course, but time does, in fact, heal all wounds (as cliché as it sounds). Keep an open heart and mind, and remember that every relationship, even those that don’t work out, teaches you more about what you’re looking for and what you need to be happy. You deserve a relationship where both people are equally invested and excited about the future.


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