Dear Amy: I am a 63-year-old widower. My late wife died nine years ago. Dating has been brutal.

I dated a lady for two years. She is a nurse and is deeply involved in public health during this pandemic. It is overwhelming for her.

I tried to support her with gifts, books, and home-cooked dinners. Over time, our relationship went from intimate to wearing a mask and no touching.

She hinted around and told me that I don’t have to stay in the relationship. I told her we could make it. She continued to pull back.

Finally, I called her on it. I left that evening angry.

I took a day and realized I wasn’t angry with her but with covid. I wrote her a card, bought her flowers, and left them on her porch.

She is now ghosting me like an angry 15-year-old.

How do I resolve the pain of ghosting? I’m proud that I gave the relationship 100 percent. Yet the emotional pain of the instant cutoff of communication and the pretense that I do not exist is difficult.

How do I deal with that? Should I send her a letter? I need/want some sense of resolution. Heck, my house has a lot of stuff from her on the shelves!

— Left

Left: Your relationship might be yet another emotional casualty of covid. You seem to believe that this breakup was sudden, but it wasn’t. Your girlfriend provided multiple signals over a long period that she was pulling away from you.

Yes, write to her if you believe it would help you, understanding that it won’t change the outcome. Put the things she gave you into a box. Put the letter (or a copy) inside. Pour yourself a drink. Close the lid. Raise a toast to the end, and resolve to let time do its magic, to heal this loss. (c) Ask Amy

Wow, I feel sorry for this guy.

It feels as if he got demoted. That’s a concept I haven’t thought of since I was a kid. As kids, we could get demoted in school or extracurriculars. I was forever being demoted in ballet class because I had no natural ability.

As an adult, being demoted–as a concept–has left my mind. Until now. Huh.

So, this guy had a great relationship with this woman, and he was getting laid, and they were all happy, and then the coronavirus came along, and everything changed. She saw the devastation of it from the front lines and pulled away from the letter writer in a strict physical sense at first: no more sex, we’re wearing masks here, and I’m going to socially distance from you.

That probably felt like a slap in the face. And from what I understand about male psychology, once you’ve started having sex, there’s no going back. The male gets locked into it and starts to “need” it within that relationship, and there’s no way to go back in time and undo that. (I hope I’m not offending men everywhere. Please feel free to let me know if I’m intuiting that incorrectly.)

She hinted around and told me that I don’t have to stay in the relationship. I told her we could make it. She continued to pull back.

God bless this guy. He tried really hard. He even tells us that!

I’m proud that I gave the relationship 100 percent.

It’s worth being proud of, for sure. Relationships are the most important things we have. But the sad fact is that if the other person isn’t equally committed to maintaining and strengthening the relationship, then… there’s not a damned thing you can do. Not a damned thing.

I think Ask Amy gave him some good insight about how she was pulling away and how he saw it but was in denial about it. He notes that she was pulling away and dropping hints, but he was so committed to making it work that I don’t think he really “heard” her.

Quite honestly, for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t blame the coronavirus. I’d blame her. I can sort of understand what she must’ve been going through, working with coronavirus victims every day, being afraid and overwhelmed, and shutting down; but she lacked integrity in not spelling it out for him. The hint-dropping was cowardly and ineffective. She should’ve broken up with him. Instead, he flipped out and went off the deep end from the frustration of it all, and now he has to live with all that remorse over having acted that way, all because she couldn’t just speak up and say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t handle dating you at this time. I just can’t cope.”

I’m starting to wonder, though, if she’s having a nervous breakdown. She’s stressed out, she was overly fearful of the coronavirus to the point that her own boyfriend felt threatening to her (in a contagious sense), and she seems to have just shut down. Maybe she was struggling and going under, and he couldn’t see it.

Not that I blame him for being oblivious, because if that was the case, and she was struggling, she still shut him out to the point that he doesn’t even suspect it now. Maybe when he called her out, she was fighting off tears or struggling not to come undone. Because I have to say that her reaction to her boyfriend, as it pertains to the coronavirus, seems like a bit of overkill. (Absolutely no pun intended.)

Maybe I’m not responsible enough about preventing contagion, but I interact with my dad (who I live with) without wearing a mask all the time. Now, I get that the letter writer didn’t live with his girlfriend, but they were dating and having sex, for crying out loud. Don’t we have “bubbles”, or whatever? “Pods”? (Not Tide Pods.) I’m not sure what they’re called–groups of people we allow ourselves to interact with freely because of friend groups and family groups.

Yeah, if I were he, I’d write her one helluva letter. I’m trying to be sympathetic to his ex here, but she didn’t prioritize relationships, and that never sits well with me, since I’m a huge champion of relationships. People say, “You can’t take it with you,” meaning we leave behind our riches when we die, but I firmly believe that we can (and do) take our relationships with us into the afterlife and all future lives. But I digress.

I just hope that this guy isn’t being too hard on himself. He tried really hard, but he had nothing to work with. And to me, that’s one of the huge tragedies of relationships: when the other party isn’t as dedicated. It’s one thing I definitely seek out in friends: that awareness of how sacred and meaningful relationships are. But at the heart of the matter, there’s no way we can prevent ourselves from being dumped (one way or another) by a friend or significant other who doesn’t value relationships as much.


2 thoughts on “Demoted!

    1. That’s a very good possibility. I get the sense that he just couldn’t cope with the way things were and he self-destructed. I’d love to hear the woman’s POV here and know what she was saying that he wasn’t hearing. It’s a huge source of frustration to me that we always have to imagine it from the other side!!

      Liked by 2 people

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