Hi, Carolyn: I was dating a woman for several months. She’s so great in person: kind, smart, great outlook on life, fun, etc. I had some personal trouble, and she lovingly gave me the space to deal with it as I needed.
In other words, we broke up. It wasn’t a typical breakup, though. It was with the understanding that we might get back together if I could be ready, but I didn’t want her waiting around for that if I couldn’t be ready. The way she’s treated me throughout our relationship and our breakup has been so supportive and made me feel safe and loved and everything else.
But since the breakup, I’ve noticed that on social media she seems like a different person. She humble-brags a ton, complains a lot about a specific co-worker, refers to other women as “basic britches,” etc. It’s hard for me to reconcile her social-media persona with the person I got to know and now miss.
I really like the in-person version. I would like to reach out to her to talk about getting back together, but I’m worried the online stuff might be a red flag. One of the great things about her was that she was always open to talking about anything. But this feels pretty judgmental on my part (it is), and I have no idea how I could start a conversation about it without sounding like, “I’d like to date you but only if you behave exactly as I think you should.”
Should I just let her go? Talk to her about it? How could I start that conversation?
Anonymous: You know her in person, and she was “supportive and made me feel safe and loved.” These are hard to fake. These say, try.
For this other persona to appear on social media, it has to be in her somewhere. That says, pass.
Choosing between these isn’t the hard part, though. The hard part is that the obvious answer is to talk to her about it in person — and yet it’s talking that she’s good at, so you might come away with a false assurance that she isn’t how she appears online.
Combine all of these points, and I’m leaning toward the idea of just talking to her about it anyway — because you’re ready to walk away, so why not see what a conversation yields? Bring extra skepticism to balance out her in-person charms.
If it helps, I’m not worried that you’re just saying, “I’d like to date you but only if you behave exactly as I think you should.” What you’re really saying is that you noticed something odd about her social-media presence — that it’s so different from the person you got to know face-to-face.
You can even share that you were hesitant to bring it up, because you don’t want to come across as judgmental or interested in hearing only what you want to hear. You genuinely want to understand. Why not show your whole hand and see what she does with it?