Q: I'm 25, and about a year ago, a buddy set me up with this girl, Abby. We dated for a while and then it got very serious, including daily sex. New Year's Eve a group of us went to a club. She told me she loved me and wanted to marry me. So, being the romantic and having the same feelings for her, my mind started going a mile a minute, making plans. Without telling her, I bought her the perfect ring, and we were to go out to a comedy club where her friend would be performing on Saturday evening and I was going to propose to her there. She calls that morning and tells me her friend could only reserve 3 seats, none for me. I told her to find out where the place is, and I would get a ticket before the evening. About 3, she calls and says, "I don't know how to tell you this. I feel that we have no romance and that we are more friends than anything."
At midnight that night, I left a note in her door, and it was still there when I stopped by at 8. I stuck around till she came home and we went upstairs to talk. I couldn't get anything out of her. I told her that I had something that I was going to do last night and that I am not okay just being friends. I told her I'd leave it on the table downstairs to give her time to think about it, and to call me either way.
When she hadn't called by 4, I had the friend who introduced us call her. He told me all she said was she didn't know how to feel more than just friends to me. And that IF I wanted the ring that I could come get it. I didn't want it back yet. I wanted to give her time, so I called her and told her goodnight. Two days later her mom called and said that Abby had told her that she loved me but she was scared, that I was the nicest guy she had been with and she didn't know how to handle it, and that she cried Sunday night. I called her later on and she told me her youngest was sick. The next day, I called her again to see how her night and day was and how the youngest was doing, she said they hadn't gotten much sleep. Then she asked, "Why do you keep calling like we are still together?" Is it possible that she fell out of love that quickly? Her relationship history includes two boyfriends in 12 years, both abusive. I feel lost. -- Jeff
Dr. Susan: It's torture, isn't it, Jeff, when someone you're crazy about doesn't know her own mind? Abby said she wanted to marry you and then broke up with you. My guess? Just a hunch, but maybe she's so used to being in abusive relationships that she has a hard time getting the excitement she craves when she's with someone as nice as you are. Not that "nice" is a bad word. But some women aren't grown-up enough to handle it when people treat them well. They only associate "friends" with niceness. Her feelings for you led her, briefly, to believe she could make a life with you, and then she blurted it out impulsively, as though she might change her mind if she waited. And indeed, she did chicken out and decide you weren't the one she wants after all. The fact that she stayed out all night doesn't bode well either. She may already have someone else. If not, you could always offer to talk to a therapist with her to see if her fears can be worked out, if that's what's actually going on.
You asked if someone can fall out of love that quickly. Only if it's not REAL love, which requires a commitment and a decision. If you're talking about sex and lust, sure, anyone can fall in or out without a moment's notice. I know you had a good relationship for a while, but apparently it wasn't the same in her mind as in yours. Don't expect your feelings to turn on a dime, like hers did. You're likely to continue feeling lost for some time to come. Don't constantly call her. Give her the time you said you were going to give her, and if nothing changes in a week or two, go get that ring.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.