Say what?!

Dear Amy: Before the pandemic, I met a wonderful woman and fell in love. The catch? She was from New Zealand and had to return home in November 2019.

She and I made arrangements for me to move there.

Then the pandemic hit and created unending border closures. My flight was canceled by the airline.

We engaged in a long-distance relationship throughout the shutdowns, essentially living on video chat for eight to 10 hours at a stretch every single day for months.

We relied on one another for emotional support. I couldn’t imagine never seeing her again, but wasn’t sure when I would.

She hatched a plan to travel to the United States to fetch me, and we hired an immigration lawyer, who created an itinerary for our undertaking. The paperwork and documents we provided were time-consuming and invasive, but they were worth it if we could be together.

In September 2020, out of nowhere, she sent me an unthinkable text: “I think it’s time to move on from each other. This isn’t going to work, and this border closure could last for years.”

She blocked me on all fronts and forms of social media, and I never heard from her again.

I was utterly destroyed.

It felt like being left at the altar.

More than a year later, I still feel the hurt and abandonment of being so unceremoniously dropped at such a critical time by someone I had come to trust so completely.

It has affected my outlook about relationships and my ability to try again.

Sometimes I feel completely “over it,” but then I’m set back by some triggering behavior or thought.

I used to be a very hopeful, romantic and optimistic person.

Now, whenever I meet someone new, I find myself scanning them for signs of danger and looking around for the exits.

What can I do to cultivate a more trusting and less stymied outlook about romance?

— J, from New Orleans

J: This woman dropped you abruptly and in the worst possible way, without providing any personal justification or explanation. This says a lot about her, because she had the option to part as friends, as painful as that might have been for both of you.

Your reaction now is understandable. People who have been burned instinctively avoid getting too close to the flame in the future, but in avoiding future relationships, you are expecting others to pay for what happened in your own past.

This is the twisted symmetry of your emotional fallout.

We all carry our wounds in different ways. Time and positive experiences will help you to heal from this.

You should strive to be brave enough to have these experiences.

I hope you won’t let this loss change what is best and brightest about you. (c) Ask Amy

Whoa. They video chatted for eight to ten hours a day?! Oh my goodness.

I’m a huge communicator. I get thrilled whenever someone sends me an email. I’m all like, “Oh boy, an email!” I don’t video chat with anyone, though. For one thing, I lack the tech savvy. For another thing, I prefer emails.

Eight to ten hours a day. That’s equal to or greater than having a full-time job. I can’t even handle being on the road for one hour. Driving to visit my mom in Corydon when she lived there was very stressful to my brain. (That was an hour-long trip.)

Eight to ten hours.

Huh. If you’re not in physical proximity to the person you’re dating, maybe you shouldn’t try to pretend you are. Having the cameras rolling for that long seems extreme. “I’m going to the bathroom now… I’m taking out the trash now… Oh boy, Wheel of Fortune came on!… Time to feed the dog!”

There is no one with whom I’d want to interact via tech for eight to ten hours. No one. Okay, maybe Jesus. I’ll make an exception for Jesus. And that’s weird, because I’ve always prayed to have five minutes alone with Jesus. But eight to ten hours?! Oh my heavenly goodness. We’d run out of wine, and where would that leave us? Maybe He could properly part my hair. It’s never parted right. That would take what, like, five minutes? Huh.

For seriousness, if I had to spend eight to ten hours interacting with someone via tech one time, then I’d have to strategize to survive it. I would master shadow puppetry beforehand. I’d find whole books that I could recite. I’d find some karaoke videos. Eight hours’ worth of karaoke videos. [Shrugs.] It’s like when you have to take an eight- or ten-hour flight. You plan ahead, right? You pack entertainment. If you’re traveling internationally, you hope that the plane will have a screen on the back of the seat in front of you. And although the adventure of traveling is fun, you wouldn’t want to repeat it every single day for months unless you’re on the payroll.

Yeah, wow. Anyway, I feel sad for this guy. Perhaps she was his sole emotional support. Emotional support is a beautiful thing, but it’s best when we have more than one person to offer it to us. My best guess is that the letter writer had no one else in his life. I’d urge him to find a cadre of friends.

I used to be a very hopeful, romantic and optimistic person.

Now, whenever I meet someone new, I find myself scanning them for signs of danger and looking around for the exits.

He’s speaking metaphorically, right? Scanning for signs of danger and locating the exits really only makes sense if you’ve escaped a gruesome nightclub fire and lived to tell. I think that would traumatize anyone. Here’s a random tip: don’t follow the crowd to the main exit. You’ll get trampled or left behind. Use your head and find a lesser-known exit. Due to code, there have to be multiple exits.

But I digress. What were we talking about? Oh, right. [Shaking my head to clear it.]

What can I do to cultivate a more trusting and less stymied outlook about romance?

I think he misused stymied, but I’m not sure. Anyway, he just needs to have a support system already in place. He needs friends or family members to be connected to. A romantic interest can’t be your everything. He also needs to accept that his outlook has changed. You can’t magically undo the shift in perspective that experience brings. You just have to deal with it and work with it. He could get a therapist or do some soul-searching, or whatever. There are options.

Wow. Eight to ten hours.

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