Saturday 22 October 2016

Dear Mary: My boyfriend stopped contacting me out of the blue, what should I do?

Mary O'Connor

Published 17/10/2016 | 02:30

Young woman sitting on sofa with smartphone
Young woman sitting on sofa with smartphone

Q. I'm 42 and  separated over four years. I went back on the dating scene last Christmas.

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I've met a few men on dating sites, but nothing came of them. Just recently, I met a man and we seemed to get on well which led to him asking  for a second date. He asked me to be his girlfriend and said he couldn't stop thinking about me and was missing me when we weren't together.

After the second date, a third was arranged but never happened. He just stopped contact and wouldn't answer my calls or messages. I sent him a long message asking for a reason as to why he was ignoring me all of a sudden and that I felt like he was just stringing me along. He only replied by sending back the thumbs-up symbol.  Why do I keep getting treated like this? One minute they are all over me, literally, then just ignore me without giving me a reason.  I am feeling very down because it just keeps happening. Please give me some advice.

Mary replies: The treatment you experienced from this man is not fair. It doesn't matter what was going on in his life, he should have had more respect for you than dismissing you with a symbol in a text. You will probably never know his reasons for doing what he did, but it is more than likely to do with him, and his history, than anything that you did wrong. It is particularly difficult for you as it has happened before.

You have had time to get used to the pain of separation - which I think a lot of people underestimate. Whatever the reasons for the break-up, it is always difficult when it happens - even if you were the instigator. Perhaps it would be a good idea to give the dating sites a break for a little while and concentrate on other areas in your life.

Think about what makes you happy, is there some interest that you would like to pursue and haven't had the time up until now; are there places you want to visit?

I have had very good reports of the various Meetup groups that are in existence all over the country - anything from walking, dancing, gospel choir, nutrition, to music lovers are all there. You would then meet like-minded people, and everybody comes as a single person to the group whatever their status ( Looking them up would, I feel, be a great starting point for you and something quite different from the dating sites.

Q. I was very close to my Aunt who died a year and a half ago. She played a huge part in my life and helped raise me. She and my mother were inseparable. She had been sick for some time, was elderly and  in a hospice when she died. I was there for her passing and although I was sad to see her go I was glad that her pain was gone and that she had passed after living a full life.

Recently I have felt quite low, not all the time but  now and again. It is an awful feeling that I cannot shake. I don't believe that I am depressed as I go to work every day and I don't feel low all the time - it's just a couple of down days and I'm ok again. However, when I get these lows I often wonder what is the point of anything. It's so odd but witnessing a death has made it so real to me, I now know it is inevitable. I think a lot about how I am going to die and that those around me are all going to pass away too. I am aware that everyone knows this but I think of my aunt frequently and her passing.

She seemed afraid of death when it came and she was reluctant to go. When she was gone I felt that everyone got on with things like she had never existed almost, nothing seems real anymore. I find myself questioning everything about life. I wonder why I am here at all. I believe that we come into and leave this world alone. I have this overwhelming feeling that I am alone, even though I have a wonderful family.

In the months after her death I felt grateful to be alive and thought I would never take my life for granted again, and that life is for living, but lately I feel so different. I feel like we are born to die and spend our days getting one step closer to death. Sometimes I get so angry with myself for being so preoccupied with this. I know watching her die has made me face my own mortality and of course that is natural but it's just when I get low I am starting to wonder what is the point of this life. I am not suicidal, just a bit lost.

Mary replies: Losing a loved one almost always has a profound effect on us such as you are experiencing. It also means that we have to face up to the inevitability of our own death, which is not something that we think about all the time because if we did we would go crazy. People deal with grief in different ways - some bury themselves in their work, others are so overcome that they find it impossible to do any of the normal everyday things while other people seem to grieve for quite a short period, and then get on with their lives. There is nothing wrong with any of these responses, they are simply different.

I think the best thing for you to do when you feel sad and down is to tell yourself that these feelings are quite natural and that they will pass. It is perfectly acceptable to feel like that - it is simply one of the stages of grief. Your aunt was really a second mother to you and you will not forget her ever. As George Eliot put it so eloquently, "Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them".

I have found The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche to be extremely beneficial. He writes about death being a natural part of life and the Buddhist approach to it all is quite stimulating. Another more conventional book is On Death and Dying by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who pioneered the now very well-known concept of the five stages of grief. You might find it helpful to dip in and out of either of these books to try to understand what is going on for you right now. But try to bear in mind that all your thoughts are quite normal and very much a part of the loss that you have experienced.



You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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