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Ask Ellie: Sometimes, falling out of love is just fear of commitment

Sometimes the line between close friends/love gets blurred. Don’t avoid a deeper relationship through fear of commitment.

Dear Ellie: I’ve been dating a woman for more than six years, and I recently decided to end things. I realized a while ago that while I still loved her, it wasn’t romantic love. I wanted to be fair and give her a chance at happiness with someone who loves her romantically.

She took it hard when I told her my decision, and I’m still not feeling much better.

We were a big part of each other’s lives. I keep seeing reminders of her. I’m now wondering if I did the right thing, or am I just looking back at our relationship through rose-coloured glasses?

Wrong Decision?

There are so many questions begging to be asked about your story, but I’m doubting that you’ve answered them to yourself in a thoughtful way.

You’ve left out the important details which would define your relationship with her, so here’s a check list of what’s essential to consider:

To date someone for six years, without romance, would equate to having had a close friend. BUT, to date someone and perhaps have sex and perhaps also share the intimacy of deep communication about feelings, is usually “love.”

Confront the reality of the relationship. If there was more to it than close friendship, maybe you’ve been afraid of commitment. In other words, it’s not her that you think you don’t love, but maybe it’s you who’s been afraid to move forward in life lest it involve changes you might have to make.

While these thoughts are conjecture on my part, I’m suggesting you do this internal truth-seeking for yourself.

There’s a reason why you feel miserable about breaking off the relationship. Instead of feeling kind, smart, and free of her, you’re doubting yourself for hurting the person you cared about most.

Work it out in your mind. There’s nothing more emotionally devasting to someone than being dumped … and then having the same person come back saying they made a mistake.

BUT, if you do feel that way after answering my questions to yourself, go see her in person and say, “I love you. I was afraid, but now I’m not.”

Dear Ellie: I’m a woman, early-60s, who’s been married twice, now on my own. I met a man a few years older with the same track record, and we hit it off. We’re both sports-minded and enjoy tennis, golf, and other activities together.

That changed when he kept talking in glowing terms about his second wife, though he’d divorced her because of her addictions and doing nothing about them.

We’d dated for several months when I learned that he was also seeing a woman in her 40s. That ended my interest in a deeper relationship and I told him so.

Now, we’re just friends, good company, comfortable together, though he sometimes tries to get romantic. I brush him off. Am I wrong to be so firm about refusing to share a man physically?

I Still Have Standards

Your standards are part of who you are and pride yourself in being. It’s apparent that you’d likely be angry and hurt if you knew that he was sharing intimacy and sex with both of you, during the same period of dating. Nevertheless, you now know that could happen, if you let it.

It doesn’t matter what other people can accept in their personal lives, this is about your values and self-respect.

Enjoy the casual, comfortable part of the friendship, and the shared interests in activities that keep you physically fit while having fun.

Dear Readers: I’m continuing here on yesterday’s topic of anxiety. Psychologist Dr. Bethany Cook suggests that monthly therapy may be enough for some people’s anxiety. She also notes that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy offers some anxiety-reducing techniques.

She suggests to people frequently feeling anxious, to “list what you personally have control over in your life plus things you don’t control.

“Then, re-examine the list when you start feeling overwhelmed and give yourself a reality check.”

Her examples of things you have control over: How you respond to news. How you treat others and yourself. Your perspective (glass half full/half empty). How you spend any free time you have.

Things you don’t have control over: The weather. Other people’s opinions. COVID rules. Your kids.

And finally, what about taking medication for anxiety? “Meds can definitely take the edge off some anxiety, so it’s worth discussing with your family doctor,” she advises.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Sometimes the line between close friends/love gets blurred. Don’t avoid a deeper relationship through fear of commitment.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca.

Follow twitter.com/ellieadvice

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