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Eveningstargazer, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 155
Experience:  Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
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My now ex-girlfriend, 20, and I, 24, had been seeing each

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My now ex-girlfriend, 20, and I, 24, had been seeing each other months. Things became very deep during this time, particularly in the last few months. We went on an amazing holiday, lived together few weeks and spent almost every night together.

We regularly told one another "I love you", she would refer to me as her “soulmate", tell me that she wanted to spend her life with me, wishfully discussed our future children and said, in all seriousness, that she would want to move to Australia with me after university. She even stated that she would be uncertain about an abortion, given that it would be my child. All of this was confirmed by a friend to whom she had said similiar things.

Now, I was already concerned about her suitability long-term relationship, given that she cheated on her ex-bf due to separation and didn't feel any guilt (although perhaps given her ex leaving 3 month holiday justifies it in some way). She also told a friend that despite her adoring me, she always self-sabotages and feared she might cheat reason at a festival. In addition to this, I was concerned by her love of male attention, even whilst in my company (perhaps attributable to insecurity over her weight – related to an eating disorder - and looks) She adored sex and admiration.

After 6 months together, we both departed , telling one another that we wanted things to work (again confirmed by a third party). She had, however, repeatedly said that she had never intended to go to uni with a bf, but couldn't deal with us breaking up, and was terrified of messing things up.

During our time apart, she spoke of her excitement over seeing me in the coming weeks and I received several very loving drunken phone calls saying that she needed me to be there to reassure her, that she missed me and loved me a great deal. But by around 3 weeks she had almost stopped making any effort to contact me.

I visited her days later, only to ignore me the entire time, to show no enthusiasm presence (almost annoyance), to text her new friends (and a guy, mentioned below) and to say that she didn't have the emotional or time capacity to make a relationship work alongside her demanding course (fair enough). She was, however, dispassionate this entire time.

After some probing, she admitted that she had been invited back to another guy's house and slept in his bed the night before, cuddling all night, but swore to me that nothing more intimate had happened and I think I believe her (given my understanding of her tone of voice etc). She was, however, flirtatiously texting this guy in front of me the entire time I was there, even as we ended things, and only showed any measure of interest when he responded.

We discussed how the long-distance scenario wasn't going to work and broke up amidst a great many tears. She also asked me to reassure her that we could reinstate things at a later date and after some settling in time (not unreasonable, although odd given her earlier behaviours). She said that she wished we had met after uni so that we could have a future together.

She seemed to be very loving and affectionate during the right moments i.e. watching a movie/in bed/after sex (particularly during the latter stages) but could also be disinterested and condescending. She could also be quite selfish - "forgetting her wallet", buying expensive items despite owing me money which I was in need of etc. She said that before she met me she found it very difficult to open up to people emotionally, even to her previous bf of 2 years, and had never discussed her previous issues surrounding eating disorders, her parents’ divorce and her issues with self-image.

She frequently said that she wished we had met after university, due to her propensity to engage in "self-sabotaging behaviours" – cheating, promiscuity in younger days, drug taking and clubbing - and was scared of ruining our relationship. She also frequently said that she was afraid that I was going to meet someone at university.

When we ended she was a mess, saying that she wished we had met after university so we could have had a future/still wanted a future etc, so she surely still cared? But at the same time, she said she rarely thought of me or her "old" life whilst at university, so perhaps the whole thing (OTT statements of love, future plans etc.) was just an infatuation that never developed into something deeper? Perhaps this is why she got over it so quickly? (In addition to many new distractions and this new guy).

We have spoken a few times in the months since during which she told me that she missed me and was hurt i had removed her from FB and asked time in non-contact (so that I could heal). I wish every day reconciliation (not sure if wise) but know that this is unlikely given her out of sight-out of mind stance. I also worry that removing her from FB, starting to see someone else (which she was upset about) and asking time apart has ruined any chance of a future (or perhaps that her guilt will prevent this)? I wonder how she looks back on the relationship. Finally I worry that, despite her saying that I had made her deliriously happy, she will be happier with this new guy, who I believe she is now seeing.

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Eveningstargazer replied 1 year ago.
Eveningstargazer :

there, I will do my best to assist you with this today. I will wait a few moments to see if you come online, otherwise I will switch to Q &A and answer your question there

Eveningstargazer :

I can see how this has been a difficult and stressful time . There does seem to have been a deep connection between the two of you despite your concerns that it was purely infatuation. However, individuals who suffer from an eating disorder can also struggle with regards ***** ***** intimate relationships. Their eating disorder (as you mentioned) is often rooted in a significant lack of self-esteem and an inability to validate themselves. Because you seem as though are a caring and supporting individual, you were most likely a significant departure from the other men she has had in her lived. You were different, special and gave her the support she needed. This played a huge rule in her love . This does not at all diminish the relationship the two of you had, it was still real emotions, but there is a possibility that this was her main motivation.

Eveningstargazer :

If she were to lose that validation (i.e. the two of you not being in as much contact) her motivation towards the relationship would decrease and her subconscious would seek out the next source of validation (the new guy). She clearly isn't getting the same special treatment that you gave her because she continues to reach out on occasion and craves your attention.

Eveningstargazer :

With regards ***** ***** question about a future with her, this is completely up to you. You have made an excellent choice to take a step back from the relationship to heal and work on yourself. If you are able to see her in the new light I have stated above, it may be easier to re-enter the relationship with a better understanding of her needs as well as how to understand her actions. Nothing is ever completely ruined, and in this moment the ruining (if there is any) is not your fault. You deserve to be in a relationship with someone who can care as much as you care , hold you emotional baggage the way you hold theirs, dedicate themselves to you the way you dedicate yourself to them.

Eveningstargazer :

The first step is to take a deep breath and emotionally walk away from this past relationship. If this means not accepting her phone calls that is a personal choice. Focus on creating happiness within yourself. If, in the future, after you have taken this breath and the environment is more supportive of a relationship you still feel as though you want to make it work, then by all means have that conversation with her. But ensure you have a solid foundation within yourself before you do so

Expert:  Eveningstargazer replied 1 year ago.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Her father divorced her mother, was not overly present in her life and she seemed to resent him to some extent. He was also a cheater with depression and low self-esteem. She told me that she never felt comfortable discussing her disorder, anxieties and the divorce with him. So perhaps I was a more supportive, caring male influence than she was used to. In a way, this makes it all the more incomprehensible that she could treat me in the way that she did.

To sleep in bed with this guy, message him in vast preference to me and then message him in front of me with disparaging comments about me was surely cold? How can this be reconciled with the deep connection/love of my caring influence? Is she just a selfish individual?

She has only reached out a few times but is not currently seeing this guy, so I wonder where she is getting her vaidation. She was obviously quite jealous when I suggested that I was seeing someone else and wanted to go no-contact. When I ran into her recently, she was rather dismissive and tried to avoid me - have I ruined any chance of reconciliation with my actions?

What kind of an individual feels such infatuation but acts this way - saying that she genuinely feared she might cheat whilst away at a festival few days, saying that she always self-sabotages and messes up good things, saying that she was desperate to avoid becoming her cheating father but acting in this way nonetheless - it's almost as though she has no control. I understand low self-esteem (believe me!) but it doesn't remove volition!

Expert:  Eveningstargazer replied 1 year ago.
You are correct that there is a level of inappropriateness and lack of control in her behavior. Her negative and hurtful actions should not be excused, just simply understood from a slightly different angle. As future of your relationship, you will need to establish a pretty solid foundation in order to move forward with an understanding of what behaviors are acceptable or not in the relationship.
People who have extremely low self-esteem think that they are the worst, expect the worst of themselves, and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. They feel as though the do not deserve good things happening to them and so they sabotage. It is a violent loop they get caught in.
She will have to choose to break the loop, and you can be there to support her, but just as it appears she has no control right now, you have very little control over how she will proceed.
A good first step might be, if you do wish to rekindle this relationship, to reach out with one message of concern. This will alert her to the fact that you are still thinking and care about her. However, there is something to be said about taking time and establishing a good foundation. If you are willing to take the risk and have some time to grow and explore yourself, this will also give you a great foundation forward.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Where my understanding is failing is this: her apparent low self-esteem (which I believe was a significant issue) was interspersed with periods of seemingly elevated self-esteem - "numerous guys like me", "I'm looking good" etc.

I also struggle with her reaction to moving away - I also suffer from low self-esteem and have only ever received true validation from her, yet I would never have thought to cheat or find another source - perhaps this is due to moral standards or perhaps I cling onto the known whilst she embraces the new? The only way I could think to explain this was that she was just infatuated - that it all seemed real at the time but faded one she went away - whereas I was genuinely developing feelings of love .

Assuming that the above is the case, do you think it is possible that some people just take longer to develop deep feelings/are less capable of doing so?

Expert:  Eveningstargazer replied 1 year ago.
I understand how difficult it can be to see this perspective as it puts the person you care about in a more negative light. You are correct with regards ***** ***** final statement.
Some women take a great deal of time to develop deeper feelings and will often say things like you mentioned in order to "convince" themselves that they are not desperate and to "prove" that they are not dependent. This is most likely a coping mechanism she has developed over time to try to convince herself that she wont get hurt when you leave (with women who struggle like this they often assume their partner will leave them when they mess up and create back-up plans).
who struggle with this, the often have difficulty developing those deeper feelings because they are so fearful that if they do, they will be hurt beyond repair. The feeling is there, but they suppress it so much they are "able" to quickly move on. I say that in quotes because it is not truly moving on, but rather a false ability to separate from what hurt them.
To summarize: The feelings were most likely there, but her defense mechanisms made it "easy" to detach in an effort to avoid emotional trauma. If you decide to rekindle the relationship, it will be a long road, but potentially possible.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

So this is the reason actions - she was likely pre-empting due to the belief that the relationship would fail? She did repeatedly say that she was afraid I might meet someone... And also to establish a replacement I suppose?

And presumably, if the feeling was there but she was suppressing it, the times when she said things such as "I feel as though I've met my soulmate", she did genuinely feel a great deal of emotion and affection , but suppressed it the majority of the time?

So if we assume that she detached as a defense mechanism, which seems highly plausible to me, what do you think that would mean in terms of her reflections on the relationship? Would she still hold it in esteem/still have feelings deep-down?

I'm still struggling with the suppression element - is this conscious or? As someone who feels their emotions very keenly, I can't imagine being able to repress to such an extent.

Expert:  Eveningstargazer replied 1 year ago.
You are correct in your above statements. Women in this state typically suppress these emotions unconsciously. Their subconscious is acutely aware of the emotional pain they have suffered, either by their own hand or someone else's, that it protects the conscious mind.
It does appear that she truly had the emotions, but was subconsciously suppressing it, and there is a likelihood that she may still experience these feelings deep down. However, it will take a lot of work on her part (and a lot of time on yours) in order to work towards coping with the mental health issues she is currently experiencing.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

There are just two last things I'd like to ask about:

1) Her relationship with her ex spanned almost two years, about half of which was spent at distance (he was at uni), albeit only about 40 mins whilst ours was 4 hours, and yet it lasted. She said it was nowhere near as meaningful or intense to her yet it lasted - he didn't even treat her that well. If her low self-esteem means that she needs a ready source of self-esteem boosting and validation, how is this the case? Do you think it's to do with her going to drama school i.e. new environment, visual industry, new people, loss of support network etc?

2) Before she ended up in bed with this new guy, she called me (a few days before) in tears. She said that she needed me to tell her that everything would be alright, and expressed a whole heap of concerns. I said that I would do anything to make it work but that we could end things if that would make her happier, to which she responded that it hurt her to hear me say that and that I didn't sound like I cared - do you think I worsened the situation by making it seem as though the relationship was likely to end?

Expert:  Eveningstargazer replied 1 year ago.
1) The lack of intensity would have made it easier to maintain a relationship because she would not have felt as fearful of the pain she would experience in the event of a break-up. I understand how this could sound backwards, but who suffer with these sorts of issues, it is fairly typical. Additionally, she may not have considered certain "grey areas" such as snuggling and such an issue in her previous relationship because of the lack of intensity.
2) I doubt it was your fault, but her fears and concerns certainly could have spiraled into a "all is lost" thought process. Do not blame yourself as she would have found any other statement and contorted it into the same result.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

She ended that relationship by cheating on the bf (with someone she couldn't have a relatioship with), saying that she had become bored by it and having fallen out of love. It seems as though this is her way of ending relationships - perhaps partly to convince herself that it is over/as a distraction?

The other aspect of the 2nd point is that I'd started to express some concerns over my depression and doubts over my university course, which may have made me seem weak and indecisive. I felt as though this may have destabilised things?

Expert:  Eveningstargazer replied 1 year ago.
Your primary point makes a lot of sense and it seems as though you are understanding my perspective on what is happening .
With regards ***** ***** second point, this may have "freaked" her in the sense of taking you of the pedestal a little . In a healthy relationship, this would have been a positive, a display of your trust in her and your desire to grow deeper. However, with her instability this may have caused feelings of doubt within herself as well.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Perhaps it was just with the infatuation wearing off, it freaked her - during the relationship we were very open emotionally and regularly discussed such things + that did seem to strengthen the relationship immensely - in fact it was after I discussed my depression in depth that she called me her soulmate first time.

Finally, would you mind summarising your thoughts on all of this - what happened re:infatuation and suppression. Could you also suggest how I might get back on her radar and get her thinking of me?

Expert:  Eveningstargazer replied 1 year ago.
It is most likely more that her insecurities built up rather than her infatuation wearing off (again, I feel the abundance of affection was rather a defense mechanism that was based in true caring rather than just a surface emotion)
In summary:
Her behaviors appear to be based in a desire to protect herself from emotional pain. This results in a supression of her true love and positive emotions and the manifestation of surface infatuation that then becomes detachment at the first sign of instability.
The first step towards getting back on her radar would be to focus on your own stability and respond very casually to her reach out attempts. She will take this as a queue that you are independent and able to support yourself, meaning you will be able to support her.
Once you are back on her radar, you will need to have an honest conversation with her about where you would like things to go and the role her detachment plays in your relationship.
Eveningstargazer, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 155
Experience: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
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