Dear Thelma: He swept me off my feet, then gave me the cold shoulder

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Dear Thelma,

I am 30 years old. I met Mr X, who is about the same age, on a dating app eight months ago and since then we have been on a long-distance relationship.

Mr X, to me, was the perfect guy. He seemed kind and genuine. For instance, he would occasionally fly over to see me. He called me daily to check how I was doing, helped me out with the house chores whenever he was down, did look after me when I fell ill once. He literally swept me off my feet with his sweet gestures which seemed genuine too.

I did see a future with this man, though we never discussed it much as Mr X and I were on the same page on how were going to take things slow. We argued once as he felt I should have texted him more consistently. I'm a doctor and at times work gets pretty overwhelming. I did explain this to him before and he seemed understanding.

Besides, Mr X was also having a rough time at work, according to him, more so over the recent months. But he hardly shares much whenever we talk.

Recently, we had an argument over something I would consider petty. I expressed that I was upset over the fact that he should have called instead of text one weekend. We had a small argument.

Immediately after that, Mr X started giving me the cold shoulder. He sounded rude and appeared indifferent to my emotions. This never happened before.

When confronted, he said he needed a time-out and he wished to figure out certain things for himself.

It has been a week and Mr X hasn’t gotten back to me. He keeps saying he needs time and space, when I check on him. I’m confused as to why this is happening as I thought we really clicked and respected each other. I suspected depression though that's a reasonable doubt.

I did give him some days off with no texts or calls. Despite that, his response has been cold. He even said he doesn't need my help and can solve himself whatever that is.Should I move on?

I wish to give him the benefit of the doubt, considering how well he treated me in the past. What should I do?


Miss Hope

I'm sorry you're having a difficult time with the relationship. It's been mostly online but he has visited, and it's been eight months, which suggests more than a casual fling.

However, you had a quarrel. He told you clearly that he wants a break because he is considering his needs.

I'm not surprised. When a relationship is brand new, a small quarrel usually doesn't mean much. But when people are deciding between a fling and something more serious, a quarrel can trigger an evaluation.

Possibly he's thinking not so much about your actual fight but of your whole relationship and whether you two are a good match.

Frankly, a week isn't a very long time, especially if he has a lot of work pressure. Yet you say he keeps saying he needs time which suggests that you have contacted him repeatedly.

I appreciate your anxiety may make you impatient, pushing for a response is thoughtless and disrespectful. When a partner asks for time, give it.

As for your emotions, while it's perfectly normal to talk to a partner about them, it's not a sensible option when you've just had a quarrel. Talk to a friend instead. Or hire a therapist! It's what we're for.

So, apologise for being inconsiderate, and then give him time so he can figure out what he wants to do.

In the meantime, you take time too. Aside from talking through your emotions, there's a big issue to deal with. You hoped for marriage but you didn't discuss it. Supposing he decides he does want to continue the relationship, what do you want from it?

You appear to have different communication styles. Also, you don't live anywhere near each other. To take this relationship to the next level will mean a lot of change. So think this through.

If you still want a marriage, when would you want to do this? And what would your relationship look like? Would you move? Would he? Or do you intend to live far apart for some years?

What would it mean for your career? You say he flies to see you, but I'm not certain if you're talking local flights or overseas. If he isn't a national, then a marriage would be a very big step indeed.

In short, I think this minor quarrel may turn out to be quite useful for a reset. You both need to figure out where you want to go from here. So think it over and then talk.

However, before I go, may I just add one possibility? At the mention of an eight-month relationship, a dark part of me threw up a suggestion.

There are men who ship pregnant wives to their relatives, and who use the temporary geographical bachelorhood to play Lothario.

I mention it because there are some rather nasty types about, especially in online relationships because it's so easy to hide your true nature in cyberspace.

Sorry, I'm probably way off the mark here. If you have seen his social media and he has been open about you with friends, then please ignore this part of the reply.

I hope this is a straightforward re-evaluation of the relationship and that you two work out a next step that makes you both very happy.

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