Dear Bro Council,
I was with this girl who just got out of a 5 year relationship and we were together about a month. I don't know why I have such strong feelings for this girl I don't really so relationships but I want to be in a relationship with her.
We broke up because she said she needed time to heal (5 years is a pretty long time) and that with school and her grandpa being sick she can't be in a relationship right now.. well we were talking the other day and she said she would be really happy if I waited for her and she still really likes me and when we hang out we hug a lot and are still all affectionate and stuff..
What the heck do I do? I'm more than willing to wait for her but do you know if this is some sort of test to see how much control she has over me or something. I'm so lost I don't know how I got such strong feelings for her so fast.. it hit me like a train, I'm lost!
Emily's Take: Some experts say that it takes one month for every year you've been in a relationship to heal and be ready to move on to another one. Other experts say that it can take as long as half the relationship length to completely heal.
While those statistics aren't going to make you feel any better about your current situation, you sound reasonable enough to understand that those numbers don't mean that she can't be in a relationship until she's completely healed. It just means that you need to be understanding because in another year, she's still going to have baggage from that relationship, even if you two have moved forward with a new relationship.
She probably thought that she was going to marry this guy and for whatever reason it didn't work out. The fact that she was wrapped up in this type of failed relationship is surely going to impact on her ability to easily date, fall in love and trust in a long-term relationship again. She's going to protect her heart. Remember that her trust issues aren't with you in general, but in relationships in general. She's been there, thought she found someone to love forever and was wrong. Knowing that you can be so sure of something one moment and so wrong the next, changes you and the way you look at relationships.
It is a tough thing to move past but I think that you are both playing it smart. After you both realized that the connection between you is stronger than you expected, you took a step back. Congratulations, you're no longer going to be the rebound.
She realized that she might want something more with you but isn't quite ready for that. She likes you enough to say that she doesn't want to sabotage the relationship you two were in by jumping in before she's ready. How long you'll have to wait, I don't know. I also don't think that you are expected to wait, but if your heart wants to be with her, waiting is what you'll likely do.
If you care about her the way it seems in your e-mail, then I think that you two should just stay close friends. You can be there to support her, talk to her about her day, let her lean on you as a friend. When she's ready, and not a moment before, you two can start going on dates. I think that this will evolve slowly and naturally. I think that as long as the two of you take it slow and you are very understanding to her and her protected heart then the two of you can be very happy moving forward. Just remember that it is often a very long process to rebuild trust, not in a person, but in relationships in general.
I've been in your shoes and I should tell you that 3 years into a relationship, I was still waiting for all of his emotional walls to come down. There were still issues where he didn't fully believe that I loved him and had no plans to leave. Those types of wounds stick around, even if the previous relationship ended on good terms.
At times it was difficult to not take that personally because I had never done anything to give him reasons to doubt me. I had to keep telling myself that once trust in something has been broken, it takes a long time to build it back up. It just sucks that you will have to pay the consequences for faults in another relationship. In my own experience, I'm happy that I stuck it out!
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