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Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: My hopelessly romantic ex says I'm not 'the one'.

This reader's ex-boyfriend says he just wants to be friends. Is it possible to convince him otherwise?
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Dear Virginia,


My boyfriend has broken up with me recently. We had a great relationship, we loved each other's company and made each other truly happy but he just didn't know whether I was "the one". He wants to stay friends and he keeps saying he needs to keep in touch with me as he misses me, and keeps calling and texting. He says he regrets it but has done nothing to try to get back with me. I want to cut him off completely as it's so difficult for me to move on if he is there all the time but am finding it hard to do so. I shouldn't hope he will one day come back to me, should I? What are the odds?


Yours sincerely,



One way of absolutely ensuring your boyfriend won’t come back to you is by agreeing to be friends with him. And I’m wondering whether this tendency to compliance in you might not be the very reason he’s split up with you in the first place. Compliance is a very attractive, admirable and special gift. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you storm around the place shouting “Me! Me! Me!” all  the time. But you should use your gift selectively. There’s a time to be compliant and conciliatory, and a time when that’s not the right game to play at all.

Now is the time to put your foot down. If he doesn’t want you, then he’s not having you. He can’t get half of you, or only certain bits of you, or have you on the side or in the wings,  hanging about, waiting. No. You must tell him that he’s said it’s over and it’s over. If your tendency to comply gets the better of you, say it’s better for him as well as you. He made the right decision, tell him, and he shouldn’t try to go back on it.

After all, it’s only when he realises he can’t have any of you that you’ll be giving him a chance to miss you properly. He’ll begin to realise – which he can’t now, while you’re dithering – what life without you is like. Almost certainly, if what you say about how well you get on is true, he won’t like life without you. And he’ll come back. But he can’t return unless he’s retreated in the first place – and at the moment he hasn’t retreated. You’re still thinking of  being “friends”. 

My advice to you is not just to say it’s over, but to make it very clear that you’ve found someone else. Who cares that you haven’t. Just give the impression that you’ve got another man around who’s dying to marry you. I know it sounds corny and deceptive, but it’s a recipe that’s as tried and tested as making a white sauce.

Honestly! The way he talks about you not being “the one”! It sounds as if he’s been reading far too many Mills & Boone novels. No one is ever “the one”. There are millions of people all  round the world we could make a reasonably happy relationship with. A dose of your complete absence and the threat of being swept away by someone else will,  I hope, send a shower of reality on to this barmy romantic and make him realise that he’d better snap you up pretty quickly or he’ll have lost out on what sounds like a very enjoyable and happy future.

Readers say…

Cut him off yourself

If your boyfriend has told you that you are not “the one”, then you are not. He obviously misses you as a “friend”, hence the calls and the texts. In order for you to have some control, or even to have some say, you must cut him off yourself, and move on. Yes, it is hard, but you’ll know where you stand, and that is not by his side. As soon as he finds someone who he thinks might be “the one” (and are you going to wait around for that to happen?), he will stop the calls and the texts. And if you are still waiting for him, this will be even harder.

Lin Hawkins, by email

You need space

Angela is right to want some space between her and her ex-boyfriend. How can she grieve the end of her relationship if the body won’t stay buried? She needs to tell the ex, kindly but firmly, that the separation has to be complete for now. She can’t be his friend until those feelings are allowed to die, and they won’t die if he keeps intruding into her life. Certainly they could reconnect and become friends at some point, but now the pain is just too acute. She should then block him on her phone and on social media.

Charlene, by email

Next week’s  dilemma

Dear Virginia,

I’ve left my husband after six children and 35 years of marriage. We had just grown apart. I now live with my husband’s best friend – ex-best friend! –  who’s urging me to go for what money I’m entitled to in my divorce, or I’ll regret  it later. I don’t want my husband to have to sell the home that’s been in the family for years, and I also have a small income of my own. I feel my new partner should support me, as he stole me from my husband. My ex isn’t speaking to me, and I’m in a muddle. I want to do the honourable thing and I’m torn.

Yours sincerely,


What would you advise Geraldine to do?

Email your dilemmas and comments to dilemmas@independent.co.uk. Anyone whose  advice is quoted or whose dilemma is published  will receive a £25 voucher from the wine website Fine Wine Sellers.