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Dear Demetria:

Help me out, D. I was dating a woman long distance, and things started to head into relationship territory pretty fast (three months). I felt pressured and basically stopped hitting her up as much and being less responsive to slow things down. She reacted terribly and cut me off for being inconsistent. I was relieved at the time and let her leave, but now I regret it. She ignored me last time I tried to reach out. How can I fix this? —Anonymous

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Honestly? I don’t know if you can fix this—or, if you can, that you should. You thought things were moving too fast, and you’re entirely entitled to however you felt about that. But the correct and respectful thing to do was to have a conversation about how you felt about the pace of the situation, not be passive aggressive and distance yourself from her. You seem to care now, but you’ve been disrespectful of her feelings, and your past actions demonstrate that you’re a consistently poor communicator. I can’t say that I blame her for ignoring you, given these circumstances.

I also wonder, what has changed now, and why you are suddenly interested in her again after being consistently uninterested? Are you reaching out to her because you are lonely? Bored? Or is this your ego in the sense that you’re only interested now because you reached out and she didn’t bother to respond? Do you want her back, or do you just want the satisfaction of knowing that she may want you?

I’ll be honest; if this query came from her about a guy she was dating who demonstrated that he wasn’t interested in the same way you have, I would tell her to keep it moving and don’t look back. I would advise her to know her worth and not waste her pretty on a man who has shown her how easily he can disregard her feelings and not care enough about her to respectfully say, “Hey, I like you, but this is moving too fast for me,” or even, “Hey, this isn’t working for me.”

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If you had said that to her, she might have been disappointed by your perspective, but at least she would have seen that you cared enough about how she felt to communicate like an adult. Because you had treated her feelings with respect, there would have been a better opportunity for you to circle back if you were ever willing to rekindle something with her in the future.

If you’re genuinely interested and you’re ready to be in a relationship, give her a call and apologize profusely for how you treated her. Explain how you felt and acknowledge that you realize now that you didn’t handle things the best way. You can email her if she’s not answering your calls. Whatever you do, do not text.

Hopefully she’ll respond and forgive you. Maybe she’ll even be open to giving you another shot. However, if she doesn’t respond to your second attempt, leave her be and take this as a lesson learned on how to treat people. There’s nothing wrong with walking away from a situation you’re not interested in, but it’s best not to burn the bridge behind you when you leave.

Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at askdemetria@theroot.com.

Previously in Ask Demetria: “I’m Considering Liposuction, but My Boyfriend Hates the Idea”