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Wedding Woes

Four men...but at least this one is on the way out?

Dear Prudence,
This summer, I dated a guy I met through our internship program for a few months. The relationship was very intense, but we live on different sides of the country, and I broke things off a few weeks after we left because I wasn’t ready for a long-term, long-distance commitment. A few months later, he called me out of the blue and told me he’d gotten a serious medical diagnosis, and wanted to bring up our past relationship. I’d been missing him and felt terrible for him, so I promised to visit and talked about the future with him.

A week into our reconnection, he started getting possessive and irritated that I wasn’t spending enough time talking to him. He’d say things like I was the only thing in his life worth fighting for, and I had to tell him that while I cared for him, he was making me feel uncomfortable; he responded by telling me that he had lied about the original diagnosis and that it was much worse and he didn’t “have much time left.” I honestly did not know what to think of this, and perhaps in shock, I canceled my plans to see him and haven’t spoken to him since. I feel guilty, that regardless of our past relationship, simply because I care about him as a person I owe him some measure of compassion in this really messed-up place in his life. I also feel ashamed that I’m being selfish, that I don’t want to accept the responsibility of being there for him as he dies. I want to reach out and apologize for overreacting, but I also don’t want to be subject to a situation where he expects me to be an emotional crutch from the other side of the country. I don’t really know what the right answer here is.

—How to Help

Re: Four men...but at least this one is on the way out?

  • Maybe I am just jaded by the number of times I have heard this line (and similar) used by people to force relationships were there isn't anything there.  I think LW should consider the fact that he could be telling the truth but either way they should not feel like they owe anything to this person.  In LW's shoes I would not respond to this person given their past behavior. 

  • bleve0821bleve0821 The Shire member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    Yeah, this screams manipulative and controlling to me.  Whether or not he is really, truly ill does not give him liberty to use it as leverage against anyone else.  The relationship ended, LW made it clear she did not want to pursue one, regardless of the reasons.  I have never found the reasons why a relationship ended to be important.

    I don't think LW should feel compelled for ANY reason to rekindle it, or feel obligated to him for any reason.  It was a summer fling, nothing more, and it ended.  She owes him nothing.  It sucks that he may be sick, but it sounds like the relationship ended months before the diagnosis came out.

    I do think, if LW is feeling any measure of guilt, she should talk to someone about it so she can stand by and live with whatever decision she ends up making.

    "And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me..."
    --Philip Pullman

  • short+sassyshort+sassy member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited November 2016

    I think her biggest mistake was agreeing to taking a trip out to visit him.  I would have nipped this in the bud at that point.  Like "I care about you and am concerned about your prognosis, but things ended between us romantically and I cannot be there for you in that capacity.  Let's be friends.  Stay in touch.  Yadda, yadda."

    If it were me, I'd get back in touch with him.  Apologize for abruptly stopping communication.  But point out it was because I was very concerned about his seeming dependence on me.  And then proceed into the (above) "yadda, yadda" conversation.

    I had a brief, weird "relationship" like this.  No claims of "oh, I'm dying", probably because he didn't think of it.  But he got really attached, really fast.  It was emotionally unhealthy for him and a little scary for me.  I was interested in him, but broke things off.  I told him it was because we were just in two totally different places in the relationship.  As in, we've only had one date and a lot of phone/IM conversations, so things are still really casual for me vs. "being your destiny and you can't wait to see me in my wedding dress".

    I hope he hid the crazy better and longer for the next one.

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • LW needs to seek counseling to know she isn't to blame for walking away. The guy sounds manipulative, regardless whether his health issues are legit or not.
  • LW needs to seek counseling to know she isn't to blame for walking away. The guy sounds manipulative, regardless whether his health issues are legit or not.
    Right?  Also, I wonder if there's a part of her that liked him 'needing' her and the drama of the intensity they supposedly had.  But she's found out it's way more than she wants to put up with. 

    If they were in an internship program, I wonder if they have mutual friends from that.  That way she could find out info about him, but wouldn't have to be in contact with him. 

    But I'm sort of on team "cut him off for good" because if she sticks around him, I don't see it ending well. 
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