I come to you in a time of great heartache and need.

Last Friday, March 1, my girlfriend of 16 months broke up with me. It was sudden and very unexpected. Earlier that day, while at work, I could tell something was wrong, but she still said she loved me and would see me later that evening. When I arrived at her house and walked up the driveway, she was already coming down the walk in tears and saying the dreaded words: "We need to talk."

She had earlier complained about how we were in a rut and that she wanted to shake things up. For weeks I've been spitballing ideas with her about different activities we could do together (we did 1 session of yoga together, as she suggested, on Thursday February 28th). But trying to get her to make some decisions on things she wants to do as a couple was difficult. (She's terrible with decisions.) I've felt like somehow she's been off-kilter for a while now, but everytime I asked what was wrong, or prodded her to open up and let me know how she feels, she shut me out. (She also admitted in the break up conversation that she's not a great communicator.)

She said the primary reason for breaking up is our sex drives. I have a very high libido (true) and she said that I don't understand how much she does NOT want to have sex. To further complicate this issue, she was a virgin before we started dating. She said she felt guilty about making me feel guilty about wanting sex and not getting it. I accept some blame for pressuring her for sex. Weeks before she placed limits on the amount of time I spent with her, which was already limited due to our rediculous time commitments. I tried expressing to her that I don't mean to pressure her for sex, but since I was only seeing her once a week when I used to see her 3-5 times per week. She found sex fun and exciting at the start and we had it about twice a week. I honestly don't know what to make of all this.

I don't know if she still loves me, but I love her, and I can't stand how miserable I am, and how worried I am about her. To further complicate matters, we work together occasionally. I worry that she's going to break down in tears every time she sees me. And I know that she needs space right now, more than anything else, but all I want right now—more than anything in the world—is to hold her in my arms.

My siblings are both being very supportive and are telling me to give her space, but talk to her sometime in the future when I'm in a calm state of mind. I want to talk to her, to understand her, but I can't reconcile my needs with hers at this juncture.

Please Help

My response after the jump...


You got dumped, PH—and if you didn't see that dump coming, kiddo, you're blind.

Based on her prior-to-dumping actions, PH, I'd say your ex wanted out of this relationship for months. She was pulling away from you, limiting contact with you, and went from enjoying sex with you twice a week to avoiding sex on the one day a week she agreed to see you. She probably hoped you would grow so frustrated that you would end the relationship yourself. But you didn't end it. You just kept spitballing ideas about activities she wouldn't make time for and asking her for sex that she didn't want to have. That you didn't see what was coming—that you didn't know that "we need to talk" was imminent—leaves me wondering what else you might have missed over the sixteen months you were together.

It sounds like your girlfriend is young—it sounds like you're both young—and, like most young women, she was socialized to defer to men. That may be why she had a hard time communicating with you about what she wanted. I'm thinking she knew what she wanted, PH, but she also knew that what she wanted wasn't what you wanted. So she said nothing or she was vague or she was noncommittal and all of that made her look indecisive and like a not-so-great communicator. It's also possible that she was afraid to tell you—you in particular—what it was that she wanted. I'm not going to subject you a psych workup based on a single distraught email, PH, but you come across as a bit controlling. (And the way you rattle off dates is a little creepy.) If she was young and inexperienced and girlishly deferring, PH, and you were young and inexperienced and boyishly controlling, well, that's a combo that sets a guy up for a shock when his girlfriend finally works up the nerve to dump him. Controlling guys with deferential girlfriends typically don't see that "we need to talk" coming.

Well, she's made a decision now—this relationship is over—and she's communicated that decision to you. Your job now is to grieve the relationship, try to get over her, and do a little self-assessment before you start dating anyone else. Look back over the last sixteen months and ask yourself if you made any mistakes. Learn from those mistakes and avoid repeating them in subsequent relationships—that's pretty much all you can do.

Finally, PH, my inbox is full of email from men and women with high libidos complaining about how miserable they are with their low-libido partners. Mix-matched libidos is not a problem that gets better with time. From where I'm sitting—and I'm sitting at Ann Landers' desk—it looks like you two weren't sexually compatible and this relationship was doomed.

I know it hurts right now, PH, but I think your ex did you a favor.