:( I feel you, LW. Although I've never had a real drinking problem, I think I can understand your frame of mind and previous experiences. Do not beat yourself up for doing this, cause that will just keep you stuck - but realize that you cannot help yourself this way, you're only hurting yourself. And you deserve to be in a better place. Sometimes we don't realize we're hiding from our truth and our hurt until something goes seriously awry, or we develop bad habits, or our gut instinct sends us red flags. We think we're trying really hard, and fighting against the difficulties of life, and this one thing is so simple and easy and helps us escape the sadness for a while, and who cares if it's destructive anyways because we aren't worth health and happiness. But listen to your inner voice that tells you shit is wack. Get a therapist, wade through the hurt, listen to Polly. Life is hard and bad shit happens to many of us, but you can come out the other side with some hard work. Don't take shortcuts, that will only prolong things and compound your problems. Don't hide from them either, cause that won't make them go away. I'm speaking from experience here, and I'm rooting for you!
OH. MY. GOD. I JUST went through this almost exact-same scenario, and I hope my story can help.
BACKGROUND: A guy I'd grown up with started pursuing me pretty intensely, and we started the early-stages of dating, long distance. But after going on about 4 or so dates, he basically dropped off the face of the planet and started only contacting me once or twice a month (when he was out of town or traveling.) Then he'd pop back into town, and ask me out on dates, act all sweet, and then....repeat. Looking back now, I wince that I made so many excuses (he was busy! It was too early on for me to expect much! he has a crazy schedule and unusual career!) for him and put up with this behavior. Like you, emergency flares were going off in my gut but I think I didn't want to admit this was another guy who was possibly just not that into me. I internalize every time a guy loses interest or treats me like crap, so facing rejection is something I was just avoiding and delaying.
Overall, we were casually dating for about 4 months, and I had put myself through about 2-3 months of emotional torture - wondering why he wasn't getting in touch more often, blaming myself for not being lovable enough that he'd call me more often, trying to tell myself to stop being needy - before I just couldn't take it anymore. Actually, Polly's semi-recent post on telling tepid guys to FUCK OFF came right around the time when I had just had it up to here. At this point, he was still being sweet/pursuing me in certain ways/giving me JUST enough attention, so that it hadn't dissolved into full-on booty call status yet (although I was definitely aware I was basically just his quasi-girlfriend in x city), so I wasn't yet fully angry, mad or upset. And so I said to him, calmly, with no bitterness, point blank, one night while sitting on my blue couch: "I like you a lot, I want a relationship with you and in general, and I want to know what's happening.. If you don't want those same things, I've got to move on".
Was that needy, crazy, desperate? Some of my friends balked when I told them this story. But you know what's ACTUALLY crazy, needy and desperate? Allowing a guy to treat you like an option, while a part of you dies inside and you start to hate yourself for not having the balls to walk away. Blowing up at him and crying about how he "doesn't love you enough" after you've strung the situation on too long and have reached an emotional breaking point. Like Polly says, saying what you want and relaying it in a calm, open manner shows that: you're mature and smart enough to know what you want, you think you deserve to get what you want, you're not ashamed of what you want, and basically that you know your self-worth and it's HIGH.
My guy was actually appreciative that I was so direct, and honest in his response: he told me he couldn't give me what I needed because he lives 3,000 miles from me and his career forces him to travel so often that we'd barely see each other (Valid. Although it doesn't really explain his inability to text, he doesn't live in Yemen.) So I ended it. And it gave me a lot of closure, knowing I had been 100% honest, knew where we stood, and that I could now close that chapter, look forward, and move on. I'm the type of person who can't lie to myself about wanting something or feeling things for someone - admitting it out loud and communicating about it took away the anxiety and shame, and set me free.
He was upset, and the next time he came into town he got all emotional and told me I was so amazing/too good for him. He was probably just trying to get into my pants again, but I do believe that - as an added bonus of sorts - he thought I was a classy person of value for having an honest discussion with him, not settling for something I didn't want, and not getting passive-aggressive and dramatic about his mixed-signals. It communicated: I like you a lot and want something with you - but I like me more, and I'm going to make sure I'm getting what I want first and foremost. Ironically, I went from feeling rejected for 3 months to actually rejecting him.
Sorry, rambling here...but as a person who didn't *technically* get what she wanted out of this situation, I just want to say that there are still payoffs and that Polly's right. Maybe, in the end, I'm not with this guy - but I see now that he couldn't give me what I want anyways. I have a major tendency, which I'm just realizing now, to want to "win" a guy or make him fall for me when I'm not even sure how I feel about him. But guys like this, in the end, can't deliver us what we want - if we want real, deep, honest, open love. So, yes, you might not get the guy from this, but what you gain is a sense of control, a sense of empowerment, a sense that no matter what you will be able to have your own back. You're not going to choose some random, whatever dude over your own piece of mind and happiness. Honestly, I have been through countless shitty dating experiences and made countless mistakes - I've been jerked around and dumped - but after this, I felt mature, confident, calm, secure and just earned a whole lot of respect for myself. And that was a gift, a life changing outcome, that I didn't expect from this sort of awkward, painful, confusing situation.
GOOD LUCK! If I can do it, you can.
I totally identify with the writer in so many ways - the shyness, the loneliness, and the internet relationship that's a draining dead-end. It gets better with age and experience, honestly. You start to learn more about yourself, see people in different ways, and grow comfortable in your own skin. Things carry less weight and seem less horrifying. That doesn't mean it doesn't suck while you're figuring it out, though. For me, getting really good at my job and taking a creative class has helped - even when my love life has been either non-existent or straight up shitty. I agree with Polly - it can be hard to be us sensitive, obsessive types, but I think we have gifts and we just need to channel ourselves properly. Once you do that you'll feel less crazy and trapped.
As for that guy: I was in a similar situation, except the dude invited me on vacation with him and I went, like a dumbass. We had been room mates before and friends for 5 years so we had a closer relationship than the LW and her guy, but we mainly stayed in contact online because we lived on opposite coasts. ANYWAYS, we slept together on vacation after he confessed long-harbored love for me, and then he kind of dropped off the face of the planet and started dating someone else - without telling me, of course. I basically chased him down to tell him I forgave him for being a massive asshole/ignoring me, and then he went about the motions of our "friendship" (and put in super minimal effort) so that he wouldn't have to feel gross and guilty about the situation. Eventually I realized that being his "Friend" was depleting me and depressing me, and I cut him out. IT WAS LIBERATING. I cried over him and our friendship for over 6 months, but it got better. And in the end, the most rewarding part, was knowing that I was strong enough to walk away and do right by me. You'll respect yourself a lot more and feel more in control, empowered and happy if you do it. It will truly be the first step in changing yourself around. TRUST IN THAT even when you want to cave and miss him.