Long distance: Should I pursue?

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I’d like to understand what happened?

Dear Guys,

About three months ago I started seeing a guy even though we both knew I was moving to England for work at some point. (It wasn’t clear when I’d be leaving. We’re from Canada) I was okay with just a fling because I told myself I would not get attached. He always instigated texting and calling me the entire time. Sometimes it would take him a couple of days to contact me but I would then take the same amount of time to return his text or call, so I know we were both playing it cool, even though we’d still always get together. He would also often invite me out to hang with his friends.

Before I left for England (2 months into our “relationship” – I don’t know what to call it) he would send me funny Youtube links about not going to London, with a little ‘lol’ next to the link. And when I was at the airport ready to go he texted me to say he’d miss spending time with me.

Once I was in England he decided to go to Rome for a vacation by himself. (He arranged this long before we started seeing each other.) He offered to buy me a ticket to visit him for a few days while he was there. Obviously I agreed but because the ticket was more than what we expected I split the cost with him, which was totally fine by me. We had a great time; he always made an effort to hold my hand while we were walking, reach out for my hand at dinner. He was always sweet and respectful. On our last night he really opened up to me about a lot of painful events that happened when he was growing up, much of which I think very few of his friends are aware of and I’m not sure if now he feels he needs to put his defenses up all over again. We both left Rome just over a week ago and since then he hasn’t been initiating contact with me as much as he used to, such as email or instant messaging. He always responds to me if I message him and he’s happy to hear from me, but it bothers me that I’m the one who seems to be doing most of the instigating now. I can’t tell if I should continue to be interested in him. My move isn’t supposed to be permanent though I don’t know how long it will be for, so I don’t want to let go of the relationship potential. But I’m also wondering if he is just not interested anymore…



Dear Sadie,

Thanks for writing to us.

We’d be very surprised if he was no longer interested in you. In fact, to us it sounds quite the contrary. Since he opened up to you during your time in Rome together, he may be feeling vulnerable. He probably feels like he’s revealed his true feelings, but he’s not sure where you stand with the relationship. If he’s feeling insecure, this could be the reason he’s pulled away.

We realize your situation is complicated. Adding a long distance component to any relationship only further complicates matters. But both of you have made things even more confusing and complicated by continuing to “play it cool.” Of course we understand why you began the relationship that way. However, the time for playing it cool has long been over. We wish you had discussed your relationship before you left for England, but it’s not too late to begin this discussion now.

So our answer is: Yes, you should pursue the relationship, but only if you really care for this guy. We can’t guarantee that he’ll reciprocate, but based on his actions, he certainly seems very interested. Examples: Haven’t you met his friends? Didn’t he invite you to Rome? And wasn’t he sweet the whole time? And didn’t he confide in you some very personal experiences? And hasn’t he been consistently interested for the last few months? All of these examples say one thing: He’s interested. Unless of course something happened in Rome that you haven’t mentioned. (Something like: Awkward sex? or something in that family.)

So it’s time to let your defenses down and talk to him about how you feel, and what you’re thinking. If he reciprocates you’ll both work together to figure out how to make it work. If he doesn’t, then you no longer need to waste your time worrying whether he really likes you or not. In our eyes, it’s a win-win move, even though we understand it’s never easy to let your guard down.

Last thing: We realize you are in England and he’s in Canada, but even that distance is not impossible to cope with. People have dealt with far worse. And maybe once you square things away, both of you will see this relationship in a different light, and you’ll reevaluate your priorities. (Sometimes people get so stuck in their ways they don’t realize they can do whatever they want with their life, even if it requires swimming against the current.) Love is not something to take for granted. It certainly doesn’t happen every day. So we think you should make it a priority. It’s at least worth exploring.

We wish you the best. Please keep us posted on your situation.


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18 Comments on Long distance: Should I pursue?

  1. Thanks so much for your feedback! It gave me the courage to at least talk to him to see what was going on through his head. I’m never usually brave enough to take that step. I opened up about it last week I wanted to let you know the outcome because you gave me such a thoughtful response, which I really appreciate. I asked him that if I hadn’t moved if he would’ve left what we had as a fling and just stayed friends, which totally caught him off guard lol. He said it would be as much up to me as to him and he didn’t think he had any expectations other than friendship and that anything could have happened, but that he certainly doesn’t like to think of it as a fling (he definitely thinks we would’ve continued to see each other but couldn’t say in what capacity). He told me “you know I care about you” (obvious to him I guess) and I can somewhat understand only thinking friendship because we both knew I was leaving. But he has a lot of “girls who are friends”… so maybe that’s how he establishes his friendships with them? Mia culpa if so. He also said he has the mindset that all his relationships will fail and that he doesn’t think he’d be a good boyfriend at the moment so I don’t think he wants to try with me, especially overseas I would think. Soooo… the good thing though is that we’re still on good terms, we do still instant message each other relatively frequently – I let him do most of the initiating and he’s pretty good at it but is still totally avoiding talking to me “real time” – he always waits till I’m most likely sleeping before he’ll message me and if we’re ever online at the same time he waits until I’m offline before messaging me. But when he went out of town this past weekend he told me in advance that he’d be gone but would talk to me when he got back. I still totally care about him and am happy to be his friend, I guess he has a lot to work through and even if he’s just saying that stuff to let me down gently I’m ok with that too. I’m just glad I finally asked, because it really wasn’t as big a deal as I expected it to be. Phew 🙂

    None of my friends understand what he’s thinking either (nothing awkward happened in Rome). We keep speculating that maybe you guys are right and that he is indeed feeling vulnerable (or maybe disappointed or something) but I’m sure his defenses are back up so I’m trying to not let it bother me or ask him again. At the same time, it’s really only been just over a week since I brought this up to him and at that time he said he needed to collect his thoughts… so maybe that’s what he’s doing..sheesh. But I’m for sure going to keep perusing your site – you have good advice so thank you again!


  2. @Sadie….Thanks for the update. We’re really happy you had a conversation with him. And that it wasn’t so bad! 🙂 Feel free to ask another question anytime. And your
    friends too. Take care and keep us posted.

  3. About six months ago, I broke up with my long term boyfriend. I had, had a series of traumatic deaths in my family, and needed some time to repair me. As well as, we had been doing quite a bit of bickering in the weeks leading up to my final decision to leave.
    Apparently, he took our breakup exceptionally hard, which I really wouldn’t have expected anything less. I kind of blindsided him with this decision, then I broke off communication entirely. However, during this time I never stopped loving or caring about him.
    A month or so ago, I Skyped him, I have honestly never seen a smile on a mans face before as when we saw each other for the first time.
    We discussed all kinds of stuff during the following weeks including getting back together. He stated that he isn’t completely opposed to the idea, but it isn’t something that he wants to do right away. And, I completely understand, I don’t want to jump into things head first either.
    Anyway, shortly after regaining contact, we spent the weekend together. Days and nights, and it was great! we had a blast. Before our meeting, we decided to keep things light, and not bring up anything that could possibly spoil out time together, including getting back together.
    After hanging out, things went kind of cold. I initiated contact a couple of times, but his responses seemed distant, and not at all personal.
    I tried to just let it ride, but after a couple of weeks of “What the heck is going on?”, I bit the bullet and flat out asked him. He responded by saying that he would like to set up a time and day for us to hang out again. He also said that he does want to hear about the things that are going on in my life, but for him it’s still too soon for us to be talking to each other all the time. Because, “it would feel like we we’re back in a relationship, which is not where we are right now.”, and although, he hasn’t meant to come across as distant or impersonal, the distance I had been feeling was “kind of” intentional on his part.
    Are these the words of a man who is afraid of getting hurt again? Or do you think he’s just over it?
    I’ve thought about his wording, and I can see it going either way. So, I’m hoping that another man can help me with any translation I may be missing with my hopeful mind.
    I definitely am not going to ask him to elaborate. I plan on just giving him his space and going with the flow, assuming that there is a flow to be going with 🙂
    Thanks, it really helps to have a guys perspective on things!

  4. @Stacia…..Based on the way the two of you broke up, it’s our best guess that these are the words of a guy afraid of getting hurt again, or someone not willing to go through what he endured six months ago. The only other possibility is that he’s completely shut off his heart to you, but he’s still open to being physical with you. (This isn’t likely, but guys will do this. It’s not necessarily vindictive. It’s more in the camp of Friends with Benefits.) We don’t think this is what’s going on, but we thought you should know that this is a possibility. We think you need to be patient if you really want to get back together at some point. If he’s willing to give it a try he’ll open up slowly. Because before the two of you can get back together he needs to be able to explain to you what you put him through and have you understand that it can’t happen again. And you need to reassure him over and over. But proceed slowly on this. Take your cues from him. Hope this helps. Good luck. We wish you the best. Keep us posted as this progresses and feel free to ask as many questions as you like.

  5. Thanks for the response! Last night after I wrote, he e-mailed me and asked if we could Skype ( I forgot to mention last time, that we have been living a couple of hours apart from each other for the past year or so, due to work. He had asked me to move with him, but I am a divorced parent and my ex husband was not willing to let me move out of state with our son. I have no children with the man in question. ).
    While we were talking, he asked me to update him on the things that have been going on in my life, and he gave me the run down about whats been going on in his as well.
    I asked him if we would be intimate during our visit and he said that he really wants and would love to, but he didn’t know if it would be in the best interest or not. I asked him why, and he responded that, he “doesn’t know what we are right now and that having sex would blur the lines even more.” I do respect where he is coming from, and trust that he will make whatever decision is right for him. So, I told him that I would not try to persuade him, and that, that was something he would need to figure out on his own.
    By him saying that he doesn’t know what we are right now,
    could this mean that he is in fact contemplating a reunion? And, what do you make of the “blurring the lines” comment?
    Of course, I see both of these statements as optimistic and positive, but as an avid over-thinker, I don’t want to be reading too much into it, and possibly allowing my mind to twist what he is saying into what I would like to hear rather that what actually may be being said.
    I don’t know if age matters among any of this, but I am 33 and he is 29.
    Guys perspective?

  6. @Stacia……We see his comments as positive. Like we said before, in these kinds of situations there’s always a chance the guy could just be into just the sex. It’s familiar. Easy. But he’s saying the opposite which tells us he’s actually considering the possibility of getting back together. You see Stacia, when a woman dumps a guy, it’s not just sad for him, his ego is also wounded. He needs to feel strong before he begins again with you. He might feel like he’s in a better place now than six months ago, but he’s waiting to see how he feels with you. We could see your visit going three ways. 1. It stays casual, fun, like two people getting to know one another. 2. He wants to process what happened and talk to you about how he feels. 3. Or some combination of the two. Whatever he wants we think you should let him take the lead. If it’s a casual/fun visit then be that. If it’s a more serious when then your “job” is to be open and honest and try to make him understand what happened and that you’re in a different place now. Also, let him know how sorry you are for putting him through the breakup and that you won’t do it again. Remember, he needs to get back together with you on his own terms. His ego won’t have it any other way.

  7. My situation is oh-so-similar to Sadie’s :

    I met Tim while volunteering at a youth track program last summer. I knew I’d hit the jackpot: A mid twenty year old boy volunteering his time coaching youth track. You don’t find many guys who are willing to do that. Also, not meeting a guy in a bar is a goal of mine 🙂 Tim and I went on a few amazing dates last summer. In fact, I can clearly paint a picture of the moment I fell in love with him during a hike to a mountain waterfall a few months after we met….. Him wearing his pack with fishing poles sticking out of the top. Our time together was cut short when he moved to Seattle for dental school in early July. I knew we had a great thing going, but I told myself that there would be no way, after this short of time knowing each other, that we could carry on a long distance relationship. I had a rough time with that, but I have a very busy and stressful job, kept myself busy with sports, friends, etc. Then one afternoon, as I was working late I received a picture message from Tim. He had snuck a picture of me with his cell phone during that same hike I feel head over heels for him. It was nice to know he was thinking of me. It made my day, my week, my month. Thereafter, we spent a few evenings on the phone together catching up, and as December (his holiday break) grew nearer we planned a few dates.

    Christmas came and we had the best of times. To give you the best description I can without going overboard, I didn’t show up to work until 10 and 11 am each morning after we hung out. That’s a big deal for me 🙂 I just didn’t want to leave his side. I dropped him off at the airport one afternoon and as we said our goodbyes I was sad, but very so excited I had gotten to spend more time with him. We spent countless hours on the phone the next few months. That’s what I loved the most about Tim. He’s not too keen on text messages and would much rather spend time on the phone. He sent me flowers on Valentines Day 🙂 , would call me beautiful, would share milestones in his classes and labs, told me all about his new roommates and friends. Oh, and he even picked up running at some point in time and had even participated in some races. I am an avid runner and I feel like maybe that was his way of trying out new interests of mine.
    But this whole time I’m still telling myself that he doesn’t want a serious relationship… we hadn’t talked about ever being monogamous or being anything more that friends. I had to keep repeating that to myself after I would melt every time I heard his voice. He made me feel comfortable and loved and it was hard to not feel like we were more than just friends… but I stayed strong.

    Then one evening he called and asked if I wanted to come visit Seattle and run a half marathon that he and some classmates were signing up for. I obviously accepted the invitation and planned my trip. Fast forward to my trip in April. Our communication had dwindled a bit, but he was getting deep into his practicals and I didn’t mind not talking to him all that much because I was going to see him in a short period of time. I flew to Seattle and Tim picked me up with a bottle of wine and cozy blanket. We drove to a park he runs through every morning which overlooked his apartment and school building. It was hands down the best date I have ever been on. I held back tears the whole time we sat on the park bench and shook my head that I could be this lucky. He had every day planned out for us from morning to evening. The first few days I was in Seattle were amazing. We played like kids and I was in heaven. Then something changed, real quick. All of a sudden I had the feeling I was overstaying my welcome and I wasn’t sensing the same affection from him I had gotten in our first few rendezvous. Early on when I was planning my trip I told him I had intended staying in a hotel, but he shot that down right away. Looking back I really should have stuck to that plan. (I wanted a few days that I could be with Tim, then a few days that I could be a tourist and relax in a hotel room… I didn’t want to invade his space) My last few days there were a bit weird, but he was in class and I toured around Seattle on my own which was amazing. We ate dinner together those nights and the morning I left we embraced for what seemed like hours and that was that.

    Between early April and early July we only spoke on the phone once and exchanged maybe 3 text messages and emails, but nothing was ever mentioned about the ‘issues’ that were going on.

    Tim was back in town for a few weeks in late June and early July. His schedule was filled with weddings, bachelor parties, hikes, fishing, and catching up with his family and friends. I saw him once… for coffee. We sat and chatted for hours and caught up on each other lives. We both smiled all the while and I felt like there was never an issue to be had. As we said our goodbyes he said a simple “keep in touch” …

    I would love your advice and insight on what his feeling are for me and what the heck to do with my heartbroken self 🙂

  8. @Molly….Something isn’t adding up here. Can you clarify a few points for us before we answer? We’re assuming the two of you were intimate physically, right? And you acted like boyfriend and girlfriend? But had the two of you ever discussed being in a committed relationship, or was this just something you assumed? And how many months in total was your relationship?

  9. @OneoftheGuys
    Thank you for the quick reply to my situation.
    Tim and I met May 2011 (so we’ve known each other 14 total months). He moved in July 2011 and we were NOT physically intimate during those two months. We kept in touch just a bit between July and December, but none of the conversations were ‘relationshipy’…. just catching each other up on what has been going on in each of our lives…. him mostly talking about dental school and it’s life consuming schedule.
    He was able to come back for a Christmas break in December 2011 and we were intimate. We kept in touch a great deal more in January through March…. but again, never did we have the ‘relationship’ talk… but I recognized some actions that led me to believe a bit more that just friends… like the Valentine’s Day flowers, the sweet text messages, chatting on the few a few times a week, always having a Sunday evening conversation, telling me personal issues going on with his family and friends, etc etc.
    We were also intimate during my trip there in April.
    We met for coffee last week… nothing physical happened there other than some long hugs to greet each other and as we said our goodbyes.
    To clarify more about your questions above… no we never did discuss being in a committed relationship… that was something that I assumed.
    Acting like boyfriend and girlfriend….? More-so did we act like boyfriend and girlfriend after his Christmas visit. We would spend a lot of time on the phone, sent lots of sweet text messages, he sent flowers, I sent care packages…. but really, he could have been dating others and I just didn’t know it. I though, did not. I care a great deal for Tim and even though we weren’t/aren’t dating I would need to meet Superman to trump the way I feel about him.

  10. @Molly…..You might feel very strongly about Tim, but with this new information, it seems that Tim has taken advantage of your feelings. To go from being intimate a few times (including flowers/text/etc.) to a casual coffee when he was in town for TWO WEEKS is quite the mixed message. Maybe you’ve never talked about a relationship but believe us, Tim is well aware of how you feel. Maybe he was just “going with the flow” to see how he felt about you, but he certainly gave all the signals that he was as interested in you. So how then does he not make time for you when he comes home for two weeks? (All the activities you mention could have easily included you if he was really interested. Except the bachelor’s party.) Maybe you’re not open to meeting a new guy, but we only see you getting hurt here. (We hope we’re wrong. Truly) But be prepared. Tim may be wonderful on paper, but unless he follows up with action, he’s just a guy acting the part.

  11. @OneoftheGuys
    Thank you for the advice. I really appreciate it and am taking things day by day now. Tim has left and I hope to remain in casual contact with him, but for the most part I do believe it’s time for me to move on.
    Thanks again,

  12. @Molly….You’re welcome. Take care. Keep us posted.

  13. Me again 🙂
    The summer has been going really well and I’ve been keeping myself busy, maybe too busy. I’m tired! Anyways, this has kept me mind off of Tim quite a bit and I haven’t had the urge to contact him at all.
    Interestingly though, I’ve received a few emails from him asking how I’ve been doing and updating me on his life. I responded to the first one sent a few weeks back, and of course would love to keep in communication with him, but I’m not sure what I’m setting myself up for. Thoughts?!

  14. @Molly……Well, as long as you’re okay with the emails then respond. But you know that even innocuous emails will keep you treading water and possibly not moving forward. We just think you need to treat him as a friend, and be open to some new guys. (When you’re ready of course.) He just seems scattered. And who knows why he contacted you. Is he lonely? Is he reaching out to you just to keep you in his back pocket just in case? Is he specifically missing you? Or is he truly trying to be a friend? He has a history of being unclear, and untrustworthy. (As least from our perspective.)

  15. I like this guy and I don’t know if he likes me back. We are both university students and we stay on the same floor. We often play games in the homeroom with our friends and more than once he sits beside me. We don’t always eat together because most of the time he would eat with his friends. There was one time that the movie I love was going to be shown at 2am, so I asked him casually if he wanted to watch it too, and he said yes. I am really confused because he didn’t really seem to search me out just to talk to me, and he didn’t purposely chat with me on Facebook (only sometimes). Maybe he’s just shy or he doesn’t like me that way. Most of the time it was me who initiated the conversation over the internet. Besides, he’s an exchange student and is going to go back to US after few months and I would stuck in NZ…I am tired and I am frustrated. In my past I’ve liked a guy a lot. It was always me who initiated everything, then in the end I realized all the while he was liking my best friend and I was just his back-up plan. It was really hurtful. So right now, I am afraid to take the shot, hoping I will not experience the same thing again. Even though I don’t think it’s going to work out this time since we will be far from each other at the end of this semester, I still want to know if he likes me. Advices please?

  16. @Jessie……As you’ve already experienced in the past, it’s best to let the guy initiate. That way you’ll really know his true intentions. It’s hard to say what he’s thinking, but typically if a guy likes a girl, he pursues her. Maybe he’s shy, but you’ve already dropped plenty of hints that you’re kind of interested. The best thing to do now is be open and friendly and just see what happens. We know that’s frustrating, but honestly that’s the best plan. What do you think?

  17. Thank you for the prompt reply! I’ve thought of that before but his signs were so confusing that they’re driving me crazy. I guess I just need to be patient this time.

  18. @Jessie….Hang in there. And keep us posted as this progresses. Feel free to ask a follow up question anytime.

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