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Parallax - Advice            January 15, 2001

  Jealousy drove her away...

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I dated this girl for about five months, and in the course of that time I fell in love with her. I've never felt this way about anyone and it made me super-protective of her. I was jealous, and constantly hovered over her (fearing I'd lose her), so she got fed up and started dating her ex-boyfriend. It's now been a year, and although I've dated many women over that time, no one gives me the feeling that she gives/gave me. I wrote her an e-mail not long ago telling her I was still in love with her. She wrote back saying she still cared about me and wanted to know what was going on in my life. Since then I have asked her out many times and she has refused. I know she still cares - she constantly smiles and waves when she sees me, and her friends say she speaks of me. I think she might be scared that I am the same way I was when we last dated. I've learned a lot from that experience, but I don't feel that simply telling her that would do the trick. What do you suggest?

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Her view:

Dear Yearning,

You have to prove it to her. You can't just date her immediately. I suggest you adopt the friend role and behave normally - almost 'too cool.' Don't bring up dating, your relationship, or your obsession.

As well, you must be serious about having changed your ways. If you get her back and revert to same old obsessed and jealous guy, she'll turn and run and your effort will have been all for naught.

Give her a friendship proposal. Tell her you know she is not interested in dating and that's fine, but there is no reason you can't be friends. If she still cares for you as a person, she'll eventually concede on the friendship. I'm sure part of her really misses you and she'll want you around.

Move in slowly as the friend, and be a great friend. Focus on your life and interests. Include her where it makes sense, but don't involve her in everything - remember you are just friends. Let the friendship blossom, and when you feel the time is right, proposition her with more. Remember this is a long drawn-out process, so take it slowly - it will take months. Just make sure you're up for this kind of effort.

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His view:

Dear Yearning,

You have the bad luck of being in the middle of a very potent combination of circumstances. First, you are still in love with a girl who's back with her ex-boyfriend. Second, you actually believe that she left you because of how you acted, and not because she loved him more. On top of that, she's very nice and can't help responding to your e-mails…she waves, smiles, and even mentions you to her friends.

I'm sorry to say this, but you are grasping at straws here - very, very flimsy straws. I've been in similar situations, and it's super-painful to let go without knowing you've given her every opportunity to correct her 'mistake.'

If you're looking for a trick, forget the whole 'I'm different now' angle and try the friendship back door instead. Figure out a way to see her as friends and weasel your way back onto her front page. Beware of crossing the line - stay on the 'friends' side of things. Once you've spent some quality time with her, reassess (objectively) your chances, and decide if you should go for it again.

Maybe - just maybe - those straws aren't as flimsy as I think they are...

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