Being "Nice" Holds No Guarantees

Dear Dating Coach-

My girlfriend and I are never married singles who have been in a relationship for over two years. She is a travel nurse who is away 8 weeks at a time; but I often go to see her or she comes home at the halfway point of her trip. This past winter she was in a ski area and I went and stayed 3x for weeks at a time, and it was the best winter we ever had, no conflicts and great physical and emotional intimacy. She worked 10 hour shifts and I happily took on the role of "houseboy" and did all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. I love her dearly and was not afraid to show it.

I was getting all excited for her to come home as I felt I had finally met the woman I could stay with forever...Then she dumped me over the phone. She had gotten mad about something small and silly at the end of our last visit, then did not call or email for a few days, did some thinking and announced she did not think things were that great between us. This is nuts, they could not be better. I am so deeply saddened and disappointed with this stomach wrenching, life changing breakup. I have emailed her all sorts of lovely thoughts and points of view, but she has not commented on them. Her replies are simple one liners.

I have gone beyond the call to be a good man to this woman. I am thoughtful, good in bed and affectionate. Throughout the relationship, she has expressed satisfaction with me and what we have together. I feel like I am getting the short end of her fear of commitment. Her wrap after we talked late last night was that she has been working on things for a year and does not feel she is still in love as much as she should be. I say for a couple to be working on their relationship BOTH parties need to know there is an issue...I have been led down the path like a lamb. She will be home in two weeks and thinks working on things or getting professional help won't change how she feels. I have no idea how to deal with this or if/how to let go. --Nice Guy Who Deserves Better

Dear Nice Guy Who Deserves Better--

Let me begin by saying I am sorry for what you are going through, and can appreciate that you are in shock over this sudden loss of your relationship. From what you have written, it seems that this has been coming for at least one year, and it is too bad that your ex did not share her doubts when they first became apparent to her. It may not have changed the outcome, but it would have allowed you to deal with any issues together and would have helped you to better understand what was not working for her, which helps tremendously with closure. Unfortunately, you may never get that closure and therefore, would benefit from seeing the relationship in a more realistic light.

To begin with--things were probably not as perfect as you are remembering them. There were good times and your ex obviously was getting at least some of her needs met, as it took her a year to "work on things" before making the decision to break up. However, there must have been at least subtle signs of stormy waters ahead. For instance, you said that last winter was the best one you had experienced together, no conflicts, etc. This implies that not all your time together was conflict free. When she said recently that things are not so great between you two; your response was that her comment was "nuts" and things could not be better. Apparently, they felt great from your end, but not hers. Your response was one of denial and a dismissal of what she was feeling/experiencing. I can't help but wonder if she tried to bring up issues along the way, only to be met with denial and a dismissal of her concerns.

Right now you may be feeling as though I am taking her side, or worse, blaming you. I am doing neither. What I am attempting to do is to point out the possibility that there were things you missed or closed yourself off to, due to the very real fear of losing someone you cared so much for. Ironically, if this did occur--it would have decreased your chances of working things out satisfactorily due to the loss of true intimacy that would have occurred. This is why counseling is helpful to couples, but sometimes it can be too late as the distance has grown too far. I also noted denial in your first sentence. You referred to your ex as your girlfriend. I know the break is recent, but again, this can be an important clue to how you deal with loss, especially one as devastating as this.

You are grieving and need help. I recommend that you go to counseling by yourself. You'd be amazed at how useful it could be for you. I also recommend that you read my article on the topic of dealing with lost love. You can find it on:

(from September 2008)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

"Getting Closure When It's Over"
List of more
"Grieving Lost Love"

"When love vanishes"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


Copyright 2008-2015 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.

Distribution Rights: The above material is copyrighted, but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. However, you may not copy it to a web site.

Reprint permission will be granted, upon request, to student newspapers, universities, and other nonprofit organizations. Advance written permission must be obtained for any reprinting of this material in altered or modified form.