Dear Dr. G, I just discovered your advice page and have to admit I found it very useful and interesting so I thought why don’t I ask you for some advice on my situation.

I met this guy online years ago and we became online friends. We were both in relationships, lost touch many times but eventually just over a year ago we started talking again. We became very close friends and I learned so much about him. He was so wonderful to me and helped me through rough times. He always joked about how much he likes me and how one day I’ll see it too 🙂 When my long term relationship ended, he was a shoulder to cry on, a better friend than any of my friends who live here. Over the months I realized he wasn’t joking, he really did have feelings for me and as we got closer I found myself falling for him as well. We both admitted as silly as it sounds and as much as we never thought we be in this situation we had fallen for each other.

A couple of silly things and the distance made me end whatever it was that we had. He begged, wrote letters and gifts and asked for me back. Eventually, I realized how much I really liked him and how silly I was so we started off where we left off. He then booked a ticket and traveled to this side of the world to meet me. We hit it off instantly! the couple of months we spent together was amazing and I found myself in love with him. However, because of our circumstances, I won’t be able to see him again till later this year when we plan to meet each other’s parents. He has offered to pay for my trip and organize for my trip and organize my stay.

Meanwhile, he has been acting differently. He is still wonderful to me but perhaps has gotten too comfortable. He doesn’t call as much as he used to, he doesn’t seem to care as much and when I discussed this with him he says maybe even though his feelings have grown that childish innocent phase/feeling is gone? I’m confused if this just means the honeymoon period has ended or it could mean there is something going on? Had it not been a long-term relationship I would consider this normal. He hasn’t changed as a person but merely less affectionate. I also have no experience with long term relationships and I’m not sure what factors I should consider?

– Melody, 31, Washington DC

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Dear Melody,

Thank you for sharing your dilemma with our community. I am confident that there are many people reading your post and empathizing with it. I’ll share my thoughts.

First, it is unclear to me what the timeframe is for this current relationship. Although you said that you knew each other years ago, I’m not sure how long your current long-distance, long-term relationship has been going on…but it sounds like it has been “on” for at least one year, so let’s go with that.

Assuming that you are both in this committed long-term, long-distance relationship, I have to say that I’m not so sure that you should be “over the honeymoon phase” so soon. You’re not married yet! You’re not even in the same city? Country? Continent? The excitement to see each other, spend time together, and make future plans that involve living with or closer to each other should be keeping you both totally on your toes and in love. If things are dwindling, there is a reason. You may not have all the information. He may know something that you do not know and that he has chosen not to tell you because he does not want to hurt you. Perhaps he has decided that this is not what he wants any longer? Perhaps he has met another woman with whom he has a stronger connection? Perhaps he is under terrible stress at work or in jeopardy of losing his livelihood. Who knows! But there is something that you do not know that would likely explain his change in behavior. All you can do is ask him directly, but you have no control over whether he discloses or not.

Here is a reality check. A long-distance relationship can feel very real, and the emotions that you develop for another individual are also very real, HOWEVER, a long-distance relationship does not substitute or come close to being in a relationship with someone in the same city or cohabitating with them. It is critical at some point in the relationship to just BE closer to the other person – physically, geographically, environmentally. When you are long-distance you are simply not involved in the other person’s life in the same way. You need to meet their family, friends, see them in their own “space” on a bad day and a good day.

Also, as a relationship develops, you should be feeling more excited and in love. Okay, perhaps you both become more comfortable, but that does not mean neglectful! If he has stopped calling or showing you affection, then there is something wrong, something that you do not know. And if this is not true, if he is taking your relationship for granted this early on, then you don’t want him. Walk away. You aren’t even married yet and he’s already becoming complacent? WALK AWAY!

My Advice: Try talking to him very directly. Tell him how you feel (in a non-accusatory way so as not to cause defensiveness on his part) and ask him if there is something that he is not sharing with you that might explain this sudden change in his behavior. If you cannot gain clarity on this, assume he is hiding something. Call him on it, and tell him that you are going to take a step back until he figures things out. He can call you when he’s ready, and if he’s lucky, you’ll still be available. But then again, maybe you would have met someone better by then…oh well, his loss.

Sincerely,

– Dr. G.

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Important: Responses or feedback provided to your posts are NOT a substitute for therapy or in any way meant to be therapeutic. While I hope my feedback will be beneficial, please understand that responses should be interpreted with caution and in the appropriate context, as often very limited information is provided.

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