Virginia Ironside's dilemmas: My boyfriend's family said he couldn't marry me, so we broke up

"You can’t just leap from being adoring lovers to being friends overnight"

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Dear Virginia,

My boyfriend was Hindu, but as his family said it was impossible for him to marry me, and as I’m looking for a long-term relationship, I gave him up after six months. At the end, I said a lot of hurtful things I didn’t mean. During our relationship, he treated me like a princess and told me he loved me every day. But he’s now cut me out of his life, even though I’ve written begging him to forgive me. I’m finding it very difficult because I’ve always stayed friends with my exes. I wonder if he ever really meant what he said to me in the past.

Yours sincerely, Trish

Virginia says...

I do think you’re expecting a lot, Trish.  You don’t say exactly what it was that you said to your boyfriend, but not everyone gets over a barrage of abuse after it’s been hurled at them, even if they do receive an apology afterwards.

I also think you’re asking a lot by expecting to remain friends. Like you, I like to remain friends with everyone, sometimes even people I don’t like very much, but not everybody feels the same. And many people find the idea of remaining friends with an ex quite preposterous. Maybe he’s one of these.

You don’t, also, say how long ago you split up. If it’s recent, you can hardly blame him for being cool. You can’t just leap from being adoring lovers to being friends overnight. You have to go through a cooling off period – often quite unpleasant – while each person gets adjusted to the new circumstances. It may take up to a year or more, depending on how close you were, how badly you and he each behaved and how wounded one or other party is.

You ask whether your friend meant what he said to you. Judging by his reaction, I suspect that he meant every word and that’s why his reaction to your dropping him has been to cut you off completely. His most tender feelings have been completely trampled on and he’s too hurt to consider seeing you. It’s too painful.

For all you know, he might have been thinking that he could have managed to be with you long-term, despite his parents’ views. He might have been really struggling with his faith. Or it could be that he’s told his parents and they, horrified, have made him promise he’ll never be in touch with you again.

Or perhaps he feels that if he saw you again, he’d fall in love with all over again, and feels (wrongly, of course) that you’re an evil influence, trying to entice him away from his Chosen Path. (I notice that you don’t say whether or not you loved him enough to consider trying to convert to the Hindu faith.)

Let’s be honest. There were insuperable problems in your relationship. It’s highly unlikely it would ever have worked. He’s from a closed culture when it comes to marriage, and he’s out of bounds. I’m sure you miss the loving talk, but perhaps – and this has got nothing to do with his religion  – he was rather an inflexible sort of person anyway, someone who only saw things in terms of black and white, and not someone you would have been happy being with long-term. He might have been something of a control freak and it could be that you’re well out of the whole muddle.

Give him a break and stop contacting him. Or have the decency to wait a goodish time before you get in touch again. And in the meantime, find someone who, though he might perhaps be less romantic, at least is more available and relaxed.

Readers say...

Leave the poor man alone

Have you actually reread your letter? What comes across is a person who is self-centred, immature and insensitive. You initiated the break-up, you were totally horrid to him in doing so, and now you are surprised that he wants nothing more to do with you. How did you know that he wasn’t summoning up the courage to tell his family that you were the one he wanted above all and to defy their edicts?

Just leave the poor man alone, accept that this is one ex’s scalp that you won’t get to hang on your trophy wall, and move on. Oh, and next time you decide to break up a relationship, have the grace to do it gently and kindly. Then the next one might be prepared to stay friends.

Diana Briscoe, by email

You have wounded him

Really, Trish, really? You date a man who clearly loves you and “treats you like a princess”. Then you ditch him at the first sign of trouble and say some terrible things that you “didn’t mean”. You now expect him to be nice to you. You have wounded him deeply and he chooses to move on without you. Please respect his wishes and leave  him alone. 

Julia, by email

Next time, fail better

It’s always easier to absolve ourselves than it is to take responsibility for our actions. Chances are he meant what he said, and that’s why he cant bring himself to speak to you now.

You went out of your way to hurt him, and now you are seeking to excuse yourself by fantasising that he was cruel to you first, saying things that he didn’t mean, just as you have done.

However much it hurts in the short term, the best we can hope for is to make different mistakes in the future.

Sten, by email

He will need more time

Give him time. he will also be hurting after the relationship ended, and after you saying hurtful things, whether you meant them or not. He will need time before you may possibly be able to form a friendship.

Angie Laird, by email 

Next week's dilemma

For weeks now, my son and I have been planning his move into a new flat. We’ve had a lot of fun, and the plan was that I would help him move. We are very close and I know he wanted me to help. But in the last month I’ve had to have some quite serious unexpected surgery, and suddenly my son said I shouldn’t help him move. He says I should “stay at home and take care of myself”. Though I’m still a bit weak, there’s no medical reason not to help him. I’m finding myself childishly distressed about it and getting really depressed. I’d been so looking forward to it all, after all our plans. 

Yours sincerely, Perri 

What would you advise Perri to do?  Write to dilemmas@independent.co.uk. Anyone whose advice is quoted or whose dilemma is published will receive a box of Belgian Chocolates from funkyhampers.com

(twitter.com/funkyhampers)

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