Dear Papa Bear,
So me and my ex-mate broke up just over a month ago. It was very complicated, but he said we could still be best friends and keep visiting each other, hanging out and everything. I thought that would be okay, he's a great guy and I'd be okay just being friends with him. At first it was going pretty good, I went to visit him once a week as usual and we'd hang out and everything. But all of a sudden he's just sort of stopped talking to me.
The last time I saw him was last month and since then we've been arranging dates for me to visit only for him to cancel at the last minute. The one that hurt the most though was when we set a date for me to visit, only for him to cancel in favor of hanging out with another friend, which made me feel very unwanted.
These days he won't respond to my texts and rarely responds to my Skype messages, which is our main way of contacting each other. He's been saying that he'll arrange a date for us to see a movie together. It's a remake of a movie we both watched and loved when we were going out. But he's been cancelling on that too. Every time the date we set comes around he always has an excuse for why we need to rearrange it. I wouldn't mind if he cancelled a couple of times, but this has been happening for weeks. I'm starting to wonder if he actually still wants to be friends or if he's just saying these things because he either doesn't want to hurt my feelings or just wants me to stop bugging him about it.
I really don't know what to do. I've been told by friends and family that I should forget him, or warn him that if he keeps cancelling then I'll stop being his friend, but I don't want to upset him. He's got a lot of stuff going on in his life right now and I don't want to add more stress by getting angry and upset with him. I haven't told him how upset this is making me for that reason. What do you think I should do?
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There are several things that could be happening here with your ex:
1. He’s changed his mind about being best friends and is feeding you false promises in the hope that you’ll eventually give up trying and leave him alone.
2. He’s got a new boyfriend (possibly the other friend you mention), and even though he’d like to see you, his new relationship is making it awkward so he keeps cancelling on you.
3. He’s got a new boyfriend and has completely lost interest in you.
4. He still has feelings for you, and he got scared that hanging out with you so much might make him want to be your boyfriend again, and he is fearful of going back down a road that led to a breakup last time.
5. He’s just an inconsiderate, self-involved jerk and blows you off because he’s a jackass and he’s full of crap.
6. There is something terribly wrong going on in his life—like, disastrously wrong—and he doesn’t want to bring you into the equation since you are no longer his boyfriend.
None of these reasons is very favorable to you. All of them indicate, for one reason or another, that this is the end of the end. It would have been nice if you could have remained friends, but he’s sending you a not-too-subtle (and cowardly) signal that he is done with you.
Getting “angry or upset” with him will certainly not rectify the situation; indeed, it would likely destroy any last chance you might have with him as a friend. At this point, if I were you, I wouldn’t give a damn about his stress. He had a friend in you, someone who could have been there for him if he was in trouble, but he has chosen to shut the door in your face. Number 6 above would be about the only case where I might sympathize with him a bit, but I rather doubt it is a possibility here. Although he has “a lot of stuff going on in his life right now” that might be stressful, judging by your letter he is not facing a critical problem.
The best thing for you to do is back off. Let him contact you. If he never contacts you, then you certainly have an answer about how much he cares about you. On the other paw, if he does contact you, you will have found a strategy that works when you want to talk to him.
Yours is not the first letter of this kind that has popped into my inbox. It’s always the same, and people don’t seem ready to admit to themselves that the person they want to contact them simply is no longer interested. It hurts, indeed, and it is not a very decent way to treat people, but that is how many people behave when they don’t want to deal with a situation or with a person: they simply ignore it and hope it will go away.
Good luck to you,
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