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He can’t commit, I broke it off, then I emailed him, and now I feel bad.

I’m acting really unfair toward a guy, but for some reason I feel like I’m the fool in this situation. I don’t understand how this all works. He can’t commit, and we went back and forth about it for months, so I finally called it off completely. But then I missed him and broke down a couple days ago and emailed him. He answered right away…and I didn’t write back. I’m being an asshole by not writing back to him but I think I’m a fool for emailing him in the first place.

What should I do?

This makes me think of that scene in Emma where Gwyneth Paltrow is all, “I love John! I hate John!” except for she’s standing in a field with a parasol looking fresh as a daisy and you’re hunched over your laptop all pasty and sad, eating Pringles and wondering why no one loves you.

Every person is capable of being in a great, well-functioning relationship. I’m sure you are, and I’m sure this guy is, but for whatever reason, you’re not functioning well together. I dated someone, on and off and on and off and on and then off and then on again for a little bit and back off, for approximately 50 years, and within six months of finally putting ourselves out of our misery, we both met the person we ended up marrying. We were completely ready and able to be mature adults; just not within a fifteen-mile radius of each other.

You’re not being an asshole. This guy is sort of being an asshole, but he’s only responding to your cues. He’s telling you, “I DON’T WANT TO HAVE AN EXCLUSIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU,” and you’re hearing, “I totally want to have an exclusive relationship with you, I just need to be poked and prodded and convinced and seduced and pursued and led on and slapped in the face and then passionately kissed.” This is no Jane Austen novel. I assure you, it’s not going to end with a romantic letter written with a quill on parchment. It’s going to end with you not writing back, calling, texting, Twittering, Facebooking, telegramming, or Pony Expressing him anything. This isn’t being a jerk—it’s practicing self-preservation. Now go find someone else better. You can do it!

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