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Lovers First, Friends Later

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I met my girlfriend two months ago in October. We fell in love at first sight as it was a blind date. We kissed on the first date and we were heavily infatuated from then on. We tried very hard to not sleep together but it just happened. She stayed over a lot at my house and we did a lot together. I fell deeper in love with her and so too did she with me. She told me that I am the most caring and kindest man she had ever met.

She had a nervous breakdown in February this year when her ex cheated on her. She is a high school teacher and heavily stressed. She is studying to become a psychologist this year and for the next 6 years, her beloved dog died in November and she moved out of her current place into a new house. During the Christmas holidays she became very stressed and our relationship suffered hugely.

I can see the stress that she is under and she just needed time and her space to settle in her new house and get over the previous year’s stresses. This was very unsettling for me and in turn upsetting for her as she hated seeing me upset. We then decided to downgrade to friends as her therapist suggested. I was happy with this. She didn’t want to lose me but thought that it was best. We still see each other every day. I wait for her to ask to see me as I don’t want to smother her, but give her space. We help each other out with stuff too. We sometimes still hug and kiss lightly and also hold hands on occasion.

We talk about our relationship often and are very open about everything. We decided that we had no foundation of friendship because we rushed in and want to downscale to build up that foundation first. It is hard for me, but I love her too much and so does she love me.

I just want to know if we are doing the right thing. Please advise me on anything I may have missed. Thank you.

I absolutely do think you are doing the right thing. The stresses your girlfriend has experienced put her at the top of the stress scale. It’s a wonder to me that she didn’t get physically ill. By taking your relationship down a notch, you are giving her recovery time and you are giving your relationship a chance. It’s the loving and supportive thing to do.

It sounds to me like she has a good therapist. Maybe you could join her for a session or two to talk about next steps.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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