Are You Fragile? (DE Wave)

A reader emails that she is searching for the reason why a man she had been dating fell apart and ended their relationship in reaction to a comment she made about herself.

Interestingly, just the day before, he told her that he felt closer to her than anyone else. In spite of her profuse apology, he announced that he was fragile and that she had devastated him. He refused to talk things out and was done. She asks how he could tell her he cherishes her, and then be suddenly gone after she says something that upsets him.

Well, Reader, my advice is to take this man at his word. He said he’s “fragile” and he meant it. I’ve never particularly liked the concept of fragile because it implies an inability to deal with difficult emotions. The term gives emotions more significance than they merit, i.e., “What you said devastated me. It’s the exact same as if a boulder fell on top of me.” Really?

Just because he feels something isn’t an automatic indication of what’s actually going on. It’s possible he might have misunderstood you. But unless you deliberately treated him badly for your entire relationship, it seems like you deserved the benefit of the doubt.

How well do you know this man? How long did you date him? Regardless, it appears you didn’t know him as well as you thought you did. I doubt you would have invested the time you put into him if you had known he could so easily leave you. Of course, I use the phrase “so easily” without knowing what you actually said. It is conceivable that a person could say something so devastating as to be an immediate deal breaker. For example, let’s say two people know each other well enough to know the other’s most vulnerable points. In a conflict, one person takes advantage of that and uses it against the other — merely for the sake of hurting the other.

That would be a terrible breach of trust where an apology would probably not suffice and could lead to the conclusion of, “That’s it.” That seems unlikely, however, given that things had always gone reasonably well between you two. Usually, when this sort of devastation does happen, it’s in the context of an ongoing, escalating and bitter conflict. It’s almost as if the person saying the hurtful thing is deliberately trying to “end this misery once and for all.” Only you can know if that was your intention.

People can be complex. They’re not always contradictory, and some do possess high integrity. However, an individual’s psyche can be like the layers of an onion where there’s always more to discover. That’s not automatically a bad thing, but sometimes it manifests in a painful way. Within the first year of a relationship this can be a high risk. It takes time to get to know the intricate workings of one’s personality, quirks, emotional and behavioral responses.

I suspect your ex-boyfriend is probably thinking the same about you at this moment. But if you value him as much as your note suggests, then the loss is his for so quickly aborting the relationship and not acting in his self-interest by trying to work it out in a rational manner. And in the process he lost you when it might not have been necessary.

Again, I don’t have all the facts, but I suspect that, with a little time, you might hear from him again. It will quite likely be too late to turn back, but not too late to gain some insight as to exactly what went wrong, if he can actually communicate it intelligently without all the emotional histrionics.


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