Dear Annie: My significant other and I were in a relationship for 15 years. One evening, I was feeling insecure and asked whether there was someone else. Very soon after that, my significant other completely cut off all contact with me.
We were in a commitment and planning to get married, but now there is absolutely no communication, which just drives me to want to contact him even more than I would have in the past.
I'm trying to stay anchored in optimism, hoping that this storm will pass, he will get back in touch and we will restore our relationship.
How does a person shut down and not have any communication? This has spurred me to start obsessing. Without the ability to know when we will speak again, I feel paralyzed. It's very irritating, and it makes me feel totally separate from this person.
Wouldn't it create a better outcome if there were a resounding "no" or if we talked it through? How long do I hold on? Maybe it's too late. Or maybe even if he were to come back, I should be wary and concerned that he could have ever completely shut down like this. Thanks in advance for your input. — Left Behind
Dear Left: People often live in a state of open-ended anguish when a loved one goes missing or dies in a way that makes a body irretrievable. Denial is a stage of grief, and without concrete evidence of a person's death, it can be very hard to move past it.
Similarly, without a definite breakup from your partner, you're stuck in a holding pattern. That's what makes his cowardly behavior so unbelievably cruel and selfish.
If he has made himself totally unreachable, then you need to decide once and for all that things are over between you. Truly over. Only then can you have closure, properly mourn the relationship and move on.
Whatever you do, don't blame yourself. One moment of your feeling insecure should not lead your significant other to cut off all ties after being in a relationship for 15 years. I would ask what prompted your suspicions in the first place. Trust your intuition.
Dear Annie: Can you tell me a polite way to respond to a "friend" who constantly says mean things? For example, she'll say, "What's that line on your face?" "What happened to your arm? You have spots on it." "Wow! You have a big nose." She always does it while in the company of others, which embarrasses me. Often she doesn't even address me but makes the comments to other people within my earshot. I'm not sure what I did to deserve this, as I've only tried to be nice to her. Does she do this because she is insecure? I don't want to hurt her feelings, but I've reached a point where I don't want to be in her company anymore. Hope you can help. — Frustrated Friend
Dear Frustrated: You were right to put "friend" in quotation marks. This woman is no friend; she is a frenemy. Forget being frustrated. You have my permission to be outraged.
Shaming a person in front of others is a form of bullying. You sound like a sweet person, and she has probably chosen you as the object of her animosity because of that. She mistakes your kindness for weakness.
So stand up for yourself the next time she insults you. I would suggest a harsh comeback, but if you're not comfortable with that, then say something upbeat but firm — for example, "Unless you're my doctor, I don't need you examining my skin." If there is some reason you can't or don't want to distance yourself from this bully, you need to at least keep her in check.
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