First Heartbreak


First Heartbreak


your avatar   Elly, 27-year-old woman

Please help! My heart is broken for the first time in my life and it feels like crap!

We were together for 8 months. I'm 27 he is 26. He was the one who asked me to be his girlfriend, not the other way around. He told me he loved me and I told him that I loved him too. I met his whole family, his daughter, and his friends. He told me that they all love me. But recently I noticed him acting differently around me. He was quieter, didn't want to see me very often, always had other plans, etc. When I asked him if everything was OK, he said that I'm a brilliant girlfriend and very good person, but that he is not ready for a serious relationship. And it looked so easy for him. He told me to forget about him and not to be sad.

I'm not the clingy type. I'm not talking babies, marriage or moving in together. In fact, I enjoyed going out with him, watching football, drifting, etc. So what did I do wrong?


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Elly

The thing I pick up on is that you assume that you did something wrong. There are all sorts of other possibilities.

Some people, all too many in our crazy society, have commitment phobia. They want all that comes with having a loving partner, but when it gets to the point of them needing to make a commitment of their own, they get terrified. This is called "avoidant attachment style". You can look it up on my website at:

He may have this problem. Or he may love you fully, and wish for nothing more than to settle down with you, but has some problem such as an important exam to study for, being bullied by the boss at work or a serious health problem he doesn't want to worry you with.

Or he may be suffering from depression. One thing depression can do to a person is to have the belief that "Elly is so wonderful, and I love her. How can I impose a stupid, horrid fellow like me on her! I'll do her the favor of letting her find a guy who is good for her."

Or it could be something you said that you meant one way, and he read into it a meaning you did not intend at all. This is "mind-reading." The most frequent source of conflict between any two people is when one puts an unintended meaning on words or actions of the other.

A final possibility is that you are the one doing the mind-reading. He may be completely happy having you as his girlfriend, but you have read distancing into his actions that he didn't mean at all.

I suggest you show him this message from me, and ask if I am wrong in all my suppositions, or if one of them hits the mark. If in fact there are real tensions developing, then now is the time to seek the services of a psychologist or other person competent at couples work. Most people look for that kind of help after years of hurting each other, when it is often too late. By doing it early in the relationship, you can ensure that it goes in the right direction from the very start.

Good luck,


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


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