My girlfriend doesn’t want me. I met her in France and when I left we made plans for the future, but despite my efforts a life together doesn’t seem hopeful. I’ve Skyped her a few times recently and we ended saying: “I love you.” I sent her a letter about how I want her here for Christmas. She said she’d apply for jobs in the Boston area, and I’ve been helping her. Yet I believe she only said this (and other things) in the moment, to appease me and continue on with something else. She just keeps taking her distance, pulling back. I know her dad is her chief adviser, and she said that: “He is against me.” She’s 26 and I’m 23 – I’m aware of the age gap. I feel strongly for her and there are some things about her I wish were different. I feel there are more compatible women for me out there. Yet this woman, the French one, I am really having difficulty letting go of, and I wonder why we aren’t together, and why she doesn’t feel the same way about me. Despite the I love you’s at the end of our Skype calls, when she writes to me it’s cold, logical, friend-like but not loving. A while ago her friend said that it’s best that I just forget about her.
This first appeared in the Guardian
I’m not sure if the first line of what the Guardian printed is really the first line of your letter but, if it is, then it is an odd problem. What you seem to be saying is that you are in a relationship with someone who doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you. Someone preoccupied with ‘something else’.
There is a great deal of confusion here and it’s not at all clear what you are asking of the advice columnist. You seem to be expecting the columnist to agree with your girlfriend’s friend (a convoluted way of second guessing her feelings) – ‘best just forget about her.’ Though it’s clear what the friend means, it’s quite odd wording – we can’t choose to forget important aspects of our lives.
You say her communications are cold and flat but this letter (despite a repetition of ‘I love you’ is very cold and flat). What your girlfriend says to you directly is loving and reassuring, but you suspect that the truth is different. You have decided for her that she’s not keen, though she says she is. You suspect her of keeping her real, negative, feelings secret from you ‘to appease you’. Why?
You also say she’s not ideal for you anyway. I’m not sure if this is a defence against being hurt or whether the reticence, in fact, comes from you.
You’re aware of the age gap, you’d prefer to be with someone else, you feel her dad disapproves and a friend has suggested it’s over. She, however, says she loves you. From this letter it sounds as though you don’t love her but for some reason you don’t dare to accept that and you’ve projected your own doubts and fears into her. There is no other evidence of her reticence. Only your private fears.
The fact that she is older and that her father disapproves shoves your whole issue into the Oedipal arena. You have strong feelings for mum though you know it’s not going to be a fruitful relationship in the long-term and know someone else would be better for you. She provides you with empty-seeming platitudes ‘to appease you’ while she gets on with ‘something else’. It’s easy to imagine a busy mum fobbing a needy child off with affectionate words that sound empty. Dad forbids the relationship in any case.
However, your fear that perhaps mum doesn’t really love you is important. Might that be true? Do you fear that your actual mum isn’t as loving as you’d like? Very obviously I can’t know this from your letter but I suspect that’s right. Mum says she loves you and you hope that she does but that Dad is a bit forbidding so you never got close to her. However, there is a nagging doubt that she doesn’t love you, dad or no dad.
The ‘my girlfriend doesn’t want me’ is such a devastating beginning and I wonder if you feel very rejected indeed by your mum? Are you even adopted? Okay, going a bit far now with the extrapolation. I also wonder what ‘French’ means to you. From your letter it seems important that she’s French. A happy family holiday when you DID feel loved? A French birth mother?? (I know, I know).
Anyway, it seems you don’t really want to continue the relationship with this woman. A defence against being dropped or a projection of your doubts into her, I can’t know (of course). But I think this is about your own doubts and fears about being loved in a very fundamental way and has little to do with this woman who you yourself feel is unsuitable. What you can’t let go of are your deep-seated issues about whether or not you are loved by, I think, your mother. That is probably the button that this relationship is pressing and is why you’re so confused. Your feelings of loss and being unloved have got mixed up in your relationship with a woman about whom you are only able to feel, at best, ambivalent. You probably unconsciously selected her as ideal for this psychic purpose.
Why are you guessing at her feelings and writing to a newspaper instead of talking to her about your fears? Because your fear of rejection is so extreme and because it comes from an infantile place that cannot articulate the terror.
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