This week, one reader wants to know if she can be friends with a man who recently told her he did not want a relationship with her, while another wants to know what to do about an on-again, off-again relationship. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.
Q: There is a lot of talk of reconciliation with someone who you were once in a relationship with. But what about reconciling just to be friends? I recently ended a short fling with a guy because he did not want to have a relationship (I was unaware of this). He wants to be friends because we got along great, and I am on the fence about it. He has respected my space, which I appreciate, and has not been overstepping his boundaries. I do forgive him. When is the best time to reconcile without romance, and what is the best way to do it? —Making Amends
Dear Making Amends,
Fling-mates could become friends as long as both can handle their new platonic status. Unaware of dude’s rejection of a relationship, you were miffed by the letdown. While he’s content to glide easily from love to friendship, girl, you’re “on the fence” because you still care. It's too soon for you to be friends. If you were to re-convene right now in sexless status, you might unconsciously press for love—and he’d break it off again.
My Gilda-Gram™ advises, “Reject rejection by changing your address.” Yes, girlfriend, move away from boy who hurt you! Relocate from the intersection of Heartache and Heartbreak to a street called Love. Only there will you find someone who wants what you do. Don’t waste any more time. The moving van is leaving! —Dr. Gilda
Q: I'm a 32-year-old single full-time working parent. The man I love and to whom I was engaged moved out six months ago, citing he felt I didn't love him. After two weeks, we worked through it and he moved back, promising never to abandon me again. Fast-forward four months, he withdrew again, and my gut told me he was going to leave again (my worst fear). Sure enough, he ended the relationship and moved out the same day. He told me he loved me more than anyone, but he didn't feel that I loved him. When I pleaded, he said that I was only trying to convince him. Now he's completely shut down, guarded, and refuses contact. I love and adore him, and I believe he's my soul mate. I don't know what to do. Help! —On-Again, Off-Again Soul Mate
Dear On-Again, Off-Again,
Girlfriend, what do you “love and adore” about this vanishing “soul mate”? You’ve swallowed his hollow words, but his behavior makes them indigestible. Of course you “don’t know what to do” now that you’ve realized your guy’s a ghost. You think “we worked through it” last time he left. Oh, really? Boyfriend may feel that no one can ever love him enough, an issue that requires professional help. Meanwhile, you must redefine “soul mate” as consistent, reliable, and “Safe,” the title of Katie Armiger’s song. Can you or your kids say to boyfriend the words that Armiger sings, “You make me feel safe”? Remove the rose-colored glasses, and see this guy as a no-show! This problem only becomes yours if you keep believing he’s capable of love. —Dr. Gilda
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Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor emerita, has written 15 books, and her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”—Second Edition. She provides advice and coaching via Skype, email and phone.