Sex and The City: Her surprise exit

I really liked an older divorcee and I thought she liked me too. She often mentioned how she wanted to settle again with a loving man and I too had told her that I felt like it was time for me to settle down too. I helped her through many of her woes and she profusely expressed how lucky she was to have me in her life. However, the moment I verbally shared my romantic interest, she looked shocked and upset. She backed off completely and we are not in contact anymore. I cannot understand how I got the signals so wrong. Was she just using me and stringing me along? Did I do something wrong ? I don’t understand. Please explain and guide me.

Ans: We are not privy to the internal processes of people unless they are willing to share what they are thinking and feeling about a situation. Bearing this unfortunate situation in mind, we have to base our hunches on a hypothesis that often requires testing. This help to index the information we seek and make it reliable. Without meeting this lady, there is absolutely no way in which I would be able to gauge what may have very well ‘spooked’ her after she decided to back off from you.

Without knowing her relationship, social, marital and family history, it would indeed prove a challenge for you and for me to figure out what catapulted her exit from your life. There are no simple answers to such things so you must wait a little. There are many people in this whose greatest decision may very well be prolonging their ‘state of indecision’ so as to find warmth and familiarity in the state of limbo they find themselves in.

This is a personal decision for them to make since we may have oblivious to the pain, betrayal, guilt, anger, anxiety or even paranoias they carry within them. A friend of mine in college once took me along with him to a prayer meeting for company. I remember an elderly gentleman commenting ‘the lord moves in mysterious ways’ as a part of the long speech he made.

It’s a line few people are able to explain rationally to me. I didn’t get into an argument with them but I continued to observe the droves of people who’ve convinced themselves of the trust they place in the ‘will’ of some being or force that they’ve never seen, met or spoken to. Our mind always finds creative ways to believe whatever it wants to believe. The mind works double shifts to protect the integrity of a narrative (self, other and world based viewpoint) that we have held on to – for a considerable amount of time.

Similarly, the divorcee you were involved with has certain innate thinking processes that she may not be fully aware of or may have trouble facing at the moment. There may be an inner script that puts her in a state of ‘vigil’ and ‘distancing’ based on what she thinks ‘men have always wanted from her’.

A divorce commonly implies emotional baggage for this very reason. What does she really feel about men and about being in love? It is difficult to gauge her intent based on the words she has exchanged with you. Words are cheap in today’s text heavy, tweet-friendly world where everyone has access to a publishing platform where they can speak what they want with very little censorship. It is also commonly observed that some men and women choose to punish their new partners for the trespasses made by their ex-spouses.

Could something like this be happening? We have no way to definitively know at this point unless she volunteers information about what she drifted apart from you. Either you’re going to have to speak to her to put all curiosities at rest or you’re going to have to turn into Sherlock Holmes and try to put together a puzzle with multiple combinations. Reflect on what you could have done or said to her - that put her on the backfoot or that may have caught her off guard. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s your fault or that you have been negligent in some way. Every person works with the information that they have as opposed to the insights that they wish they had.

People work, think and plan their lives at different speeds. A new romantic engagement does require a fair bit of work – doesn’t it? Could things have been too fast in the relationship for her? Could she have been spending time with you as a way to fill a void in her life and boost her self-esteem? Maybe there was a limited purpose that you served? I’m not saying these things to exacerbate your confusion but to investigate this situation, you’re going to have to try and draw up various possibilities without getting too attached to one stream of thought.

Could she have been told by someone she trusts that she must avoid being in a new relationship? Was there something about your past that she didn’t like or understand? What if she was simply waiting for a reason to find some flaw with you to justify her exit? The human species are earmarked by their desires to deal with unpleasant or unfamiliar situations in the fight, flight or freeze response patterns. She has chosen ‘flight’ because that may have served her well in the past when she felt like she was losing control. Don’t take it personally. Right or wrong is often understood through the lens of time and subjective propriety.

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