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Parallax - Advice            October 23, 2000

  Obsessive love is an oxymoron, and this guy is acting the part!

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I was engaged to my girlfriend of two years, and we both felt we had found someone with whom we could spend the rest of our lives. However, we made a mistake and went through a very difficult period. I didn't know how to deal with the problem, and I shut down emotionally. She didn't feel loved by me and told me that she needed time and space to figure things out. So, in January of this year, we separated.

Since that time, I've worked hard to change myself. I realize the mistakes I've made, I love this woman dearly and I would do anything for her - I truly believe I've changed. I want to tell her and show her that I have changed, but she doesn't want to talk about it because it is still too painful. She has told me many times that I must let her go, and let her come to me when she's ready.

My problem is that I cannot let her go because I hurt her. I keep bringing it up, because I want to fix things, but all I do is upset her and push her away. The frustrating part is that I know what I'm doing is wrong, but I keep doing it anyway. I think part of the problem is that she continues to send me signals that she wants to be with me. She tells me she still loves me, but she's just not ready. I feel like I'm in limbo. We can't go forward until she is ready, and I cannot give her the space she needs. How do I let her go?

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Her view:

Dear Limboman,

Just do it. Flip a switch. Tell yourself that you've behaved in an awful manner, and what this girl needs, is for you to give her some space. Then decide how to implement this, and don't waver. You've treated her badly before - why continue to treat her badly and cause her stress? She needs to come to terms with a number of things - in her own time. The least you can do is give her that.

The hard truth is, you don't have a choice. If you keep pushing, she will leave you forever and any chance you might have had will surely be lost. So stop being selfish - she can see right through your selfishness and that's part of what's bothering her. Do something that's right for her, but causes you a bit of suffering. If you really love her, you'll support her in her needs - which she is being extremely clear about, I might add. That's a rarity in this business.

If you have no self-control whatsoever, and cannot keep your foot out of your mouth, one option is to not talk to her for a while, allowing her the freedom and space she needs. Now, in my mind, this is even more difficult. However, if that's the only way the subject will die for a while, then I suggest you implement such drastic measures.

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His view:

Dear Limboman,

I could suggest some gimmicks. Every time you feel the guilt coming on, and you just want to sit in a dark room and replay all your mistakes in your head, try writing her a letter. Write it all, get it out of your system, and then hide the letter in a closet. If you're not a writer, take a long vacation. Go away for six weeks. If you work for one of those multi-nationals, get them to transfer you to another city.

But my true impulse is to say, 'Get a grip.' Let her go, man. You understand the situation quite well, so quit hiding in the logic of it. Force yourself to stop. Don't worry about her. The fact that she keeps sending you signals should be reassurance that she doesn't want to lose you either.

If you simply don't have the self-discipline, then ask her for help. After all, this is partly her fault because she is being unfair to you. She claims she needs space to recover, but she's not willing to break it off entirely. Tell her she has to let you go - no more signals and no more talking. Maybe if she pushes and you pull, you'll create the real space she needs.

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