She dumped me – what did I do wrong?

Dear Suzie, I am a 35 years old and just recently come out of a relationship. I have been suffering from severe depression since we broke up.Last year I got involved into a relationship with a girl where I work. I’d known her as a friend and colleague for a while. Las year out of nowhere she took an interest in me, as she had come out of a long term relationship. I was flattered by her interest but I knew I had to take things slowly with her because she had recently come out of a relationship. Eventually through time we became very close and intimate. Then after a while she started to play hot and cold with me. Until I noticed she was flirting with a colleague of ours, who at the time had a girlfriend. She would start to avoid me at all costs and I fouund approaching her difficult to ask what is going on. working there unbearable. Eventually I had to resign. As our colleague split up with his ex but denies that he is having a relationship with my ex, though all the signs are there. What have I done that was so wrong? She has re-awoken an old wound in me about having relationships in the work environment.

You ask me “What have I done that was so wrong?” and the answer is probably absolutely nothing. I can’t see you did anything – right or wrong – to affect the way this relationship was going. And that’s the big problem with relationships – of all sorts. Sometimes what happens has very little or nothing to do with what one, or either, of the people do.

People go into relationships for their own reasons and often drop out of them for reasons that have to do with where they are at that particular time, not what their partner feels, thinks or does. You say she had just come out of a relationship, and so might have been feeling vulnerable and wary. We often rush to fill the gap when a boy or girl fried is no longer there but once we’re close to someone again, fears and anxieties or simply memories of what is was like last time emerge. Perhaps the closer you were getting, they more she felt it necessary to pull away.

That’s not a reflection on you but a comment on how nervous she felt. Perhaps she flirted with other people in order to tell herself “It’s ok if he lets me down like the last one did because look at me – I can attract any man I want!”

Stop looking for proof as whether she was having an affair with someone else – it’s not the point. What is the point is that it would help for you to recognise that new relationships are always dicey, especially so soon after a break-up. You need time to get over that loss, and to put yourself back on an even footing.

It’s sad you felt it necessary to leave your last job – it might have robbed you unnecessarily of a good one, and of a support network in the friends you had built up there. For now, concentrate on making new friends and colleagues…but avoid getting involved with someone you work with. It’s always a dangerous proposition mixing work and love.

It sounds as if it might help to talk through with someone – a friend, a relative, a counsellor – how you feel after your last break-up, and how you’re going to restore your lost self confidence. They should support you to see it’s not about what you did wrong, but perhaps about your needing to feel right again. Good luck!

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