He Disappeared After 3 Years; No Closure; Angry, Confused, Afraid

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    To describe what I am feeling – words do no justice.
    The story sounds crazy even to me, but here goes:

    I was with a man for almost 3 years. For about 2 1/2, I could say he was fairly codependent. I made up excuses, but I think that’s what he was. He basically had no friends – no real friends. Just work friends (he travels for work). I KNOW how he felt because I had felt that in the past with romantic partners. For that reason, I think I made it okay; I understood.

    Looking at my own behavior, and it took me a long while to realize the extent of it, I was controlling. Ego wants to make excuses for it because the bf allowed it. He wanted it. He once said something along the lines of “I like that you keep me in my place.” I didn’t take it to mean, “Treat me like shit.” Rather, I think he could be mouthy with men in the past. I’m not a man that guys do that with. Like I said, I’m sometimes controlling.

    But so was he. In subtle, passive aggressive ways. I don’t think either of us was aware of how controlling he was.
    At one point I insisted that he go to Al-Anon meetings because he was smothering me. I wanted him to have friends and a good life. I thought that our relationship should only be part of a good life. The icing on the cake – not the cake.

    So this is a man who I traveled with, opened much of heart to (as much as I could), shared with, moved to a new place with, adopted cats with, made future plans with.

    He met a friend at work earlier this year. They became close in a very fast way. He thought she was hysterically funny; I didn’t. But I was glad that he had a friend.
    A friend. One.
    So many things come to me now – why did I not open my eyes to it then?
    I feel ashamed and stupid and then back to ashamed.

    We moved into a bigger place in July (had been living in a one-bedroom with cats). I thought so many of our problems would be solved! I found myself, for the first time in years, actually missing him when he was at work.
    Yet there was the controlling part of me. I loved him. I took care of him. I wanted good for him. But I still judged his mannerisms sometimes (I cringe that I did that).

    He began to get distant a couple weeks after we moved into this place. It was also when he began to work every shift with his new friend (a couple ignorant people have suggested he was bisexual; I would be more surprised at that than if he could fly; the guy is 100% gay). He also texted her constantly. I felt jealous sometimes, and noted it. I didn’t say anything.

    I started to feel very insecure and he was pulling away. Believe me, I know that a needy man is not sexy. It was because of my own past neediness that I was able to be compassionate toward his past neediness re: that. I think many men would have left him during the first couple years.

    We had a huge fight in early October of this year. I felt no interest coming from him; rather, I felt some disdain. He had gone from ALL interest in me to seeming NO interest. He also started snapping and being mean sometimes (I’m not an angel, either. I make amends for my mistakes. So did he, mostly. But either I started feeling sensitive more often, or he was snapping more; I’m not quite sure.). I asked him, while he was on a trip, if he wanted to break up with me. It sure seemed like he did. Professing love but not being around are words and actions not matching. That stuff makes me nuts. I think he knew that and started to not care. And THAT really hurt.
    He told me that he had shown his friend my e-mails and text messages and she agreed that I was crazy. I was indignant. I was hurt. That was a bad fight. I cursed at him and insulted him; he did the same. We had never fought like that for the first 2 1/2 years. We had hardly fought at all.
    I profusely and sincerely apologized the next day. I had a spiritual awakening about much of my behavior and changed it.

    It took me a while and some talks with a friend of mine to realize that I wasn’t ready for him to have this friend.

    But I felt her influencing him. He was preoccupied with her. I watched them together. They had no boundaries. She took a phone call from her own boyfriend here once, and he paused the movie we were watching and sat quietly while she talked on the phone. It was bizarre to me that she didn’t excuse herself and go to another room.

    He had also always lied – little stupid lies – throughout the relationship. People would say, “Jeff, we all lie. You’re being too hard on him. He’s afraid. Have compassion.” So I did. The lies made me crazy, but I “forgave” because of compassion.
    Or was it because I was afraid of being alone?
    Yeah, that was partly it.
    And I loved him.
    I hoped he would change.
    I hoped, with my directness and honesty, he would learn by example, how to communicate.
    My mistake: I didn’t accept him with all his flaws. Nor did he learn the lesson I thought he should.

    About 3 or 4 weeks ago, I wrote him an e-mail saying that I felt like I couldn’t trust him anymore. I did this because I wanted change – again, from his end, changing his actions to satisfy me – and reassurances of love.

    He responded that afternoon, “I picked up a trip. We’ll work it out when I get back.”
    I was furious and sad and afraid, but gave him his space.

    But he didn’t return from the trip.
    I e-mailed him 4 days later. He replied, “I’m not sending the trip. I’ll tell you when I’m coming home when I want to come home.”
    I literally laughed out loud at this. It was so juvenile. And thoughtless. I was in shock as well.

    Last Tuesday he came home while I was at work and moved all of his things out. No note. No explanation. He took the cats we adopted together. I begged him via e-mail to return my cat.
    “No. The keys are at the front desk.”

    This has been one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced.
    I do see where he became more distant in the past months.
    But I never ever expected something like this. We always said we would enter counseling before breaking up.
    His behavior reminds me of someone who used cocaine or has a manic episode. But he can’t use drugs because of his job and there was no sign of mental illness.

    I am filled with hate sometimes. Such a rare and dark hatred toward him and the friend (I know him and know he would not have concocted something like this on his own…but the choices were his).
    I watch Jack Kornfield videos and go to 12-step meetings and read spiritual words and talk to friend and write because the only way to get through this – for ME – is to forgive.
    But each day I come home to this apartment, worry about money, and wonder why he left. He gave no explanation. It is a terrible feeling.
    So any feedback or thoughts are appreciated.
    Thank you for reading this long post.


    I am going to generalize in my answer so please forgive me if it isn’t overly specific to your situation.

    Chaos is a necessary component in our lives. It is there for us to learn from if we open our minds to it. I accept it and understand that it must exist however I wouldn’t mind if all chaos were kept ‘small’ to reduce the suffering imbued on us. With that said, do your best to learn from what you’ve experienced. Anything gained from chaos will only help you on your path to its counterpart: order. Analyze the actions you took, recognize the ones you believed were ‘destructive’ so that you may avoid repeating them in the future. With that said, come to the understanding that this event happened to help you become better.

    This is all the poor advice I have to offer. Good luck.

    This is May

    I’m sorry about your cat. I hope it’s safe.

    As for the forgiveness part, I stumbled upon this when I was going through something similar:

    Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it will be worth it if only to help yourself move forward and put all this in the past.

    I wish you peace and happiness.


    Thank you.


    Thank you for your response. It has been a bit since you wrote it, but I did reflect upon it.

    Chaos has been an unwanted companion lately. I understand that I must accept chaos in order to learn. There are quite a few things it seems that I need to learn and my mind is pulled in many directions. For right now, I desire peace and forgiveness.

    I have been working through various stages of loss. I kept blaming myself for a long time, a long time (I look at the date of your response and it is not so long ago in clock time, but it seems this has consumed much of my life – I’m talking about working on forgiving and compassion) but for the past few days I am pissed off.

    It’s not just a breakup, Al. I’ve gone through those, and they are certainly painful. This is wrapping my head around behavior that has shocked me to the core. Actions on another person’s part that were executed to hurt me – taking the cats, stealing art that I had bought in Thailand; some people have suggested taking him to court…Why? To get a painting back that will now forever be attached to him? Do I want to win? No. I don’t. I simply want to move on. I want peace and forgiveness.

    I just answered a question that I had. Thank you for reading.


    Hi Jeff – I am very sorry for your pain and confusion. The loss of a relationship is always devastating but especially when it ends so wholly and abruptly. You mention in your second post that you simply want to move on and feel peace and forgiveness. The Tiny Buddha website offers many helpful tools to achieve this goal but also it will take time for the pain and feeling of betrayal to subside.

    I’m not sure quite how helpful this suggestion will be to you but there are aspects of your post that cause me to wonder whether your ex-partner might suffer from anti-social personality disorder (a sociopath), specifically his persistent lies, the intensity of the early-stages of a relationship followed by a complete and sudden loss of interest, theft, the callous decision to take your cat, parasitical/dependent lifestyle, the disconnect between his actions/reality and his words (called “gaslighting”), manipulative and controlling demeanor, the seeming absence of any meaningful, long-term relationships/friendships in his life etc. Only a licensed psychiatrist would be able to tell you conclusively but having gone through a very similar “break-up” with somebody I considered my best friend for many years, I found doing research on the topic of sociopathy helped me understand and contextualize her actions. Obviously, I never met your ex so only you would be able to say whether the shoe fits. Besides, in the end, the peace and happiness you seek can only be found by focusing on yourself. My experience with my former best friend was such a mind-bend but I did come out the other end and as will you. I wish you a happy and peaceful new year.



    Jeff, my heart hurts for you. You are a kind loving person and your boyfriend totally took advance of you, you gave, forgave and still had open arms for him. He is a real jerk and cruel to do this to you. This is ALL on him, not you. It is not normal behaviour to do what he’s done.

    Just know in time you’ll see you’re better off without him. As you detach after grieving this loss, you’ll see all the red flags that you chose to ignore. (We ALL do that when in love, justify the loved ones behaviour.)

    Take care of you, be around those who love and care about you and let them help you through this painful time in your life.

    I hope he returns the cat, it’s not right what he’s done…



    I have read your post more than a few times. It was so thoughtful – I could tell that you truly read it and this was appreciated. I did not write back immediately because I wanted to reflect upon it.

    When it happened, the ex leaving, an old friend of mine said something about him being a narcissist or sociopath. She suggested research and started listing the symptoms. I stopped her and told her that I did not care what he might be because it would not take away the pain or change what had happened or the present. I also know that I could take a couple symptoms and diagnose anybody, including myself, with any number of illnesses – the internet is a splendid resource for this. Sometimes knowing can be elucidating, and other times it can cause me to digress from feeling. Earlier this week, my acupuncturist, an easygoing fellow, told me that my ex was “fucked up” and “sociopathic.” He said that what the ex did was far from healthy or even normal behavior (we know that normal isn’t always healthy); he said that it was “pathological.”
    I do think that the ex was not liking to have to contribute more, financially.

    I did the best that I could with this man to avoid mistakes and unworkable patterns from past relationships. I worked hard (there were also fun times). Like I said, I have often been controlling to the point that men who loved me would bail because they simply couldn’t take the intensity. Having done much work on myself, I understand why many of those men did what they did. I did what I did because I was generally afraid.

    I’m reading what I just typed and thinking about that. When I feel afraid, I get even harder on myself. When I’m feeling down, my tendency is to become even rougher on myself. I don’t LIKE the feelings so I DO something to make them stop. I’m seeing this in myself even now, even after all these years. I’m going through a difficult time and being so rough on myself. I wish I could forgive myself.

    I want to clarify two things I originally wrote because absolutes can be deceiving. Yes, he had lied. It wasn’t ALL the time, though. He was often transparent, too. I would see the body language change or he become evasive when asked questions. In response, I would become more demanding or questioning. It was a terrible pattern in our relationship and something I don’t like about myself – the seeming inability to let things go (I’m not talking about me bringing up things for no reason that would make anyone uncomfortable so they might feel scared and then lie; I’m talking petty things where there was no reason to lie in the first place). This is when friends etc. told me to be forgiving because I had no right to be so demanding or badgering or interrogating. I saw their point there and would apologize for my part most of the time.
    Now that he’s gone, I think there were a lot more lies than he admitted to.

    Secondly, I had written about him seeming to have no interest last fall. It did feel that way, but I don’t know if that is truly the case. It is the case of perception. Maybe I was feeling terribly insecure about other things. Yet, I do not think so. So often in life I have not trusted myself when, later on, I realized that I should have. It is tricky because there are times that I think something is wrong and there is not. Human? Or result of growing up with trauma? I’m not sure, truly. I am angry because now I feel like he stole more than the cat and material things – he stole my ability to trust.
    Is that something I give away?

    When I first read your post a week ago I was feeling very happy. Quite content with work and my life. These past few days: miserable. Very angry and focused on him and the betrayal. It WAS a betrayal. I cannot count how many times he told me how much he loved me and that we would be together forever; I’m an adult and know these are words that he probably meant at the time, but I feel furious about it now. Disproportionately angry about words said in the past. I feel ashamed – pride hurts.
    These words and others like it frequently, sometimes continually, swirl about my mind. I ruminate about reasons he might have left. What was on his mind? Did he want to really hurt me or did he simply not care at all? I keep asking that often useless question: Why?

    Maybe I am probably doing better than I give myself credit for. I go to work. I talk to people and do not make every conversation about me or my breakup. Hygiene is good. Diet is fine. Could definitely use more physical exercise and meditation, but I often feel so tired and angry. Frankly, I get tired of doing all the work to not feel depressed. It exhausts to work just to feel okay about myself and forgive.

    I am just tired of being angry and sad. I’m tired of speculating. But it is like a storm and just when I think it is about to stop, the rain keeps coming.

    So I will read a bit about anti-social personality disorder. Maybe it will help.

    Thank you for reading.


    You are sweet. I agree that he was cruel.

    I cannot place all blame on him. I am not perfect. If anything, I need to find some way to forgive him and myself for the past so I can have some peace.

    Thank you for your support.


    Hi Jeff – I am really sorry you are going through a rough time again. I can only implore you to be gentle, kind, and patient with yourself. You did not deserve to be lied to and stolen from and left in such a horrid, calloused manner. The assumption that everyone lies is a tricky one and false in its implication. (Nearly) everyone has lied about something at some point in their life but that does not excuse habitual lying. In fact, I would say that all the people in my life to whom I am close lie extremely rarely and, when they do, it is always for very specific reasons unique to a very specific situation. You say you became more demanding and questioning as you’d catch him in his deception. You were entirely justified in doing so! I believe you understood intuitively and were reacting to what you hadn’t yet admitted to yourself intellectually namely that something was wrong. Perhaps you hoped he would change but he didn’t. I believe firmly that your relationship was doomed from the start. There was never going to be a happy ending. It is impossible to build a relationship on the shifting sands of deception and dishonesty. Perhaps you expedited the end through your insistence and inquisitiveness but what a good thing you did! Otherwise, you’d have wasted precious more months on a relationship that was never going to work. I will bet you he’s done the exact same thing to a whole host of other people. It’s a pattern that he repeats every couple of years, which is why he doesn’t have anybody from his past in his life (I’d say the second-biggest red flag after his habitual lying).

    Jeff you will recover and trust and love again. You’re a good person who deserves a kind, caring, HONEST partner. You are not the same person you were three years ago. You’re smarter now and you will not make the same mistake of overlooking or ignoring the many red flags that existed in your relationship with your ex. If you want, check out and I truly wish you all the best. Let me know if you have any epiphanies!




    I just cried again from the guts of my testicles.
    Right now I don’t care what he was as far as labels…but I don’t think he was a sociopath. Not smart enough. People saw that he lacked depth, I’m finding out.
    This was okay with me. He was a fine companion and complement, so I thought. (I can’t and don’t remember at all my dissatisfaction in the relationship – it is eclipsed by feelings of abandonment, shame and inadequacy.)
    An old college friend who I’d not spoken to in almost two years told me that they saw he posted “Happy to present my new man!” on Facebook last week. He’s in a relationship again. Huh. Okay.

    I’ve been isolated in the apartment the past couple days because of the snowstorms. This has probably exacerbated the low mood.

    Feel like the sadness is never going to end. It is a constant heavy cloak, relentless. Doing my best to stay open to the feelings, but I have to function in life, too. I cannot be having breakdowns in work like I just did for the past 30 minutes. My eyes are slits.

    Something about this feeling is so and too familiar. The shame – have felt it more times in my life than I want to or could count. Something about this – I have this awful feeling that something is innately wrong with me. It hasn’t reared its head like this in a long long time. The relationship and working obsessively dimmed its volume.

    Today, on his website, Jack Kornfield wrote “Even loss and betrayal can bring us awakening.” I realize that I don’t want to be awakened if it means this pain. I would have preferred that he didn’t leave and I had dull, low-grade dissatisfaction with life. That may sound uncool, but it is the truth.
    Don’t have that choice now.

    I have felt pain in my life, but didn’t realize it could be this deep. Knowledge I’d rather not have gained.

    So: I’m depressed but tell myself to stay open to it because that’s what I’m SUPPOSED to do.

    – J

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