Since my divorce 12 years ago I’ve successfully raised my two lovely daughters and received numerous promotions in my career. I’m very satisfied with my position and potential at work. However, since my daughters are grown, I’m feeling a lot more lonely. I’ve had an on again, off again relationship with a wonderful guy and would like to see it grow. However, it seems that if I get closer he backs off. This causes me to let go, which prompts him to come back. This is frustrating to say the least. What is he afraid of? And if he’s not interested, why does he pursue me if I back off?
Backing Off and Bummed
Dear Backing Off,
Many people don’t realize the power of the “on again, off again” relationship. When something is good for a while and then goes away, but then (eureka!) comes back, you’re always on edge, feeling like anything could happen at any time. It’s the reason that gambling is so powerful – any minute, the next pull on that “one-armed” bandit could make you rich! So, you keep blowing your money on more tokens, going back for more. So – here’s the deal. Who knows what your guy is afraid of? Who knows what his issue is? He could be pining for an ex, he could be gay, in love with someone else, using you for sex, terrified of how much he cares and afraid you’ll hurt him – the list is endless. So, it doesn’t matter what’s up with him. What matters is what’s up with you! You aren’t getting your needs met. You can’t depend on his feelings to remain constant. You can’t relax into this relationship, knowing it’s solid. As soon as it’s clear you’re not going to get what you want from a man, quit trying to figure him out and go find a new man! Remember what Donald Trump says when someone does you wrong – “Never give someone a second chance.” If he’s the one responsible for all the “off” times, then once your relationship has been “off” more than once and he’s still run away, let him go and don’t take him back no matter how much he may seem to want you once you’ve let go (which is just the old “I don’t want her but I don’t want anyone else to have her,” routine… ). It’s not worth gambling your heart and peace of mind over and over when the world is full of good men to love.
I’ve known this man for over 20 years. We were in a committed relationship 18 years ago. We did not communicate with each other after the relationship ended. Over the years I’ve been unable to forget him – I dream about him constantly. A few months ago we reconnected and now we’re friends. I feel that this man is the one for me but we just cannot get it together. He shuts down often and pulls within himself and I have a very difficult time dealing with this. He will stop communicating with me, cutting off all form of communications for weeks at a time. It’s an emotional roller coaster for me and I find his actions very selfish. I’m getting tired of this behavior. I struggle with what to do because I truly love him. He’s a wonderful man in other ways. Please help me.
Reunited and it Feels so Bad
What an interesting story! So I wish I knew more of the details, like why you guys broke up all those years ago. I suspect he either wasn’t ready for a full relationship or wasn’t treating you well enough – since clearly those are the problems now. You have a big connection with this man, and have fallen into what relationship expert Christian Carter has coined “The Danger of a Connection” which is when you trust how you feel about a man and the intensity of your love for a man more than what a man is showing you. He’s showing you – over and over, that he’s not good at relationships. He can’t honor your needs as much as his own, and he’s very caught up in his own feelings. Of course you’re going crazy – anyone would with his “weeks” of stonewalling. So, my dear, I don’t think he’s your guy. Those dreams all these years may not have been about him literally, but more about what he represents to you and your need to work out issues around that stuff. I’d contact a good therapist to get a handle on why he has such a powerful, subconscious and conscious hold on you. There are gifts to learn here, but this is more than you can do by yourself.