Should I give her space? Talk to her again?

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Luoyang asks:

So I’ve been seeing this girl for a while now. We’ve gone on a couple of dates and she seems to really like me. We’ve held hands and kissed and all that stuff. Problem is on our most recent date she tells me that she’s not completely over her ex. According to her it’s not that she still has feelings but it was a really bad breakup and she’s still mad. Because of this she wants to take it slow until she’s really over him and is ready to trust again. I’m fine with this because we were already going slow. The rest of the date went really well but near the end she started getting quiet and distant. We barely said anything on the way home. She even deleted a picture of us from her snapchat.

Anyway, I’m wondering what do I do from here? Should I not contact her for a little bit so she can sort out her feelings? Or would that do more harm than good?

Demetrius says:

Here are four things that I ask myself whenever I’m in a situation like this, or really any dating situation where some action is required:

  • What’s my goal? 
  • Who does it help if I do things to reach my goal?
  • Who does it harm if I do things to reach my goal?
  • What are the odds that I’ll do more harm than good to myself and others if I go through with those actions?

As a thought experiment, let’s try this out in your situation, but first let’s lay it out as frankly as possible. You’ve been seeing this girl for a while. Not long, but long enough where you know if you like this person or not. The problem is, she isn’t over her ex. Like, really, really not over her ex. Instead of her doing the smart thing and ending things immediately, she’d rather keep you around as an emotional safety net for her. Oh, I’m sorry, was that not clear. RIGHT, my bad, I guess I forgot to mention it. She’s using you as an emotional safety net. While she’s processing her breakup, and anger over said breakup, she can lean on someone to be an emotional rock, while also keeping them at arm’s length. It’s tough to process a break when you’re going it alone, but luckily she has you there, taking her out, showing her a good time, waiting in the wings, “taking it slow” as you say. Now you’re at a crossroads, you can either stay the course or pivot.

Now that the situation is laid out as plainly as possible, let’s ask ourselves those four questions. Your goal, it seems to me, is to continue dating this girl. Spoiler: I think you shouldn’t even be entertaining the idea of dating her, but let’s get through these questions. The thing you want to do (or are at least considering) is giving her space, so she has some time to process things. In this case, yes, some space would be helping her. Doing so, however, will harm you, either directly by making you waste your emotional investment (and time) into someone who isn’t emotionally available, or you could hurt yourself indirectly by limiting the amount of energy you dedicate to meeting someone else. The odds are good that continuing to pursue her, even if you give her a lot of space, will do more harm than good to both yourself, and to her. She clearly needs to not be dating right now, and giving her space would only be a half measure.

Now, here’s the secret 5th question you should ask yourself: Is my goal a smart goal? In your case, no, it’s not. There is nothing good that can come out of continuing to see her, and it’s not smart to purposefully put yourself in a bad position. You might be thinking that if you stick around and become her emotional rock, you’ll be seen as a viable dating option. Newsflash: NOPE. Even in a best case scenario, no matter what you do, you’ll always be tied to the ex that she hates. You wont be “this fun person I’ve been dating” you’ll be “the person that helped me get over my ex. Life isn’t some romantic comedy where you have to fight for the affection of women you barely know. You shouldn’t be trying to date the most difficult catch out there, you should be trying to date your equal. You seem like a smart, caring person who is emotionally available, and as nice and kind as she seems, she’s just not emotionally equipped to build a real bond with you. She’s not a bad person for wanting to date you at a slow pace, but she’s neither doing you, or herself any favors by trying to stick things out with you. I’m sure she’s lovely, and I’m sure that at another time in her life she’d have been a great match for you, but now is not that time.

You don’t need to give her space, or try to talk to her again, you need to end things. Period.

Good Luck Out There.

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