Anon asks: Hey Isaac! I met this guy seven months ago, we started talking every day and were clearly interested in each other. A month in he said he was very attracted to me, but I asked him if he had a girlfriend, he said yes, so I told him it should just be platonic. We were still clearly interested and talking all the time but he didn’t mention the attraction again until two weeks ago. We hung out, he said he and his girlfriend were on a break, and we hooked up. Now he’s distant — thoughts?
Hey, gidday mate. My thoughts on this are pretty simple. Whenever we get involved with someone who’s in a relationship, we end up getting burned, because it’s very difficult for the excitement of the new to trump history.
Without knowing too much about the situation, I imagine it’s something like this: The dude is having problems with his girlfriend, he meets you, there’s a spark, and you give him exactly what he needs in this moment — attention, an ego boost, plus the attraction you mentioned. The problem is that he’s in an on-again/off-again dance with his girlfriend, and you might have been exactly what he needed to remind himself of how much he loves her.
My therapist is always talking about how it’s difficult to keep the fire alive in a longterm relationship, how normal it is to get crushes on other people while we’re in a relationship, and how these crushes can even be healthy because they introduce a new dynamic into our longterm relationships which can help to reignite the fire. (I have to admit that the old fashioned romantic in me hates this idea, but I do understand where she’s coming from.)
Your dude was on a break with his girlfriend. The two of you hooked up, and now he’s distant. Any number of things could have happened: He might have felt guilty about what he did and gone back to her; he might have freaked out that she was sleeping with someone else as well and gone back to her; he might have realized that he still loves her and wants to keep trying… and gone back to her. All signs lead to him going back to her. Because that’s usually what people do.
Breakups are rarely black and white, there’s a whole heap of grey area involved. So whenever we inject ourselves into a situation where two people have unfinished business, we’re playing with fire.
Why is he distant? Because he probably went back to his girlfriend and he doesn’t want her to find out what happened. Will you hear from him again? All signs lead to yes, because there’s a high probability that he and his girlfriend will have problems again at some point in the near future, and you’re the easiest candidate to give him exactly what he needs when the shit hits the fan.
The good news is that you’re in control of yourself, and you get to decide whether or not to allow him to come crawling back in the eventuality that he hits you up. And like I said, he will. People don’t go on breaks because their relationships are thriving, and two weeks away from each other probably won’t turn either of them into constitutionally different people.
So tread with caution. I always think it’s safer to avoid people who jump from one relationship to another, because all they’re doing is hiding from themselves, and all that emotional baggage has to come exploding out at some point.
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