I don't understand what he's doing

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    Hi all,
    I need help. I apologize in advance for the length of this story, but it’s convoluted (as relationship stories usually are) and I feel the need to provide all details for the best advice.

    I lost the love of my life three weeks ago. For the sake of privacy, I’ll just call him L. He and I were college sweethearts and had first dated for two years. We were crazy about each other and were like two peas in a pod. Same thought processes, same sense of humor, etc…it was wonderful. At our young age, however, we were unable to maintain the relationship. Six months before I broke things off, L’s best friend was killed in a car accident and he started drinking heavily and dropped out of college. I went in the opposite direction and applied myself to school full force. Since we were on different wavelengths and seemed to have different priorities, I finally ended it. I still loved him, but knew the relationship wouldn’t work. We tried to stay friends, but I started dating someone else and so he cut me out of his life completely. We did not see or communicate with each other whatsoever for 6 years. Yep, 6 years.

    In the meantime, I had a couple relationships, and ended up getting married. The man that I married is a wonderful person, but we married for the wrong reasons. He was older, divorced, and had a son…we got along very well on an intellectual level and had great conversations. However, I was only filling a void for him, and he was only filling my drive to settle down and have kids. We were married for about three and a half years before we mutually decided to call it quits. This was January of 2012.

    During those 6 years that L and I didn’t talk, I never stopped thinking about him. I always considered him to be “the one that got away” – I had never known anyone else like him, I had never felt the way I did about him with anyone else. Why I neglected to get in touch with him, I don’t know. I think I felt that if I got back in touch, I would be violating his request for no contact so out of respect I never tried.

    Ironically, while my ex-husband and I were separating, L happened to find me on facebook and sent me a friend request. We began talking non-stop, and while it was clear that we had become different people in our years apart, it was almost as if we had never been out of contact. It was AMAZING to have him back in my life. We kept it platonic, though it was clear that the flame had been reignited. He was supportive during my separation an eventual divorce, and when I moved back home in June of 2012, we started spending time together. Eventually, after a few months, we started dating and had a really great relationship. We were able to communicate, and found that despite growing up separately, we still had so many similarities, just like we did before. Only this time around, we were mature enough for the relationship and were on the same page with what we desired in life.

    I should pause and interject something here. In January of 2012, when my ex-husband and I decided to divorce, I came to realize that I had been depressed for several years during this turmoltuous time. Most of my depression was due to the failing marriage, but also stemmed from me being geographically far away from my family – with whom I’m very close. When the ex-husband and I decided to separate and divorce, I sought counseling, which led to me being prescribed an antidepressant (prozac). This, along with continued therapy, helped me tremendously during this transition, and I continued to be on prozac and go to regular therapy throughout the year of 2012.

    Going back to the discussion of my new relationship with L….even though the decision to divorce my ex-husband was mutual and there was no love remaining, it had been a rough road prior and I had a lot of anger and resentment towards my ex-husband. Unfortunately, I had to maintain communication with the ex-husband to sort out details of debt, a house sale, and the divorce. This led to a lot of stress and frustration, and L expressed to me often that the discussion of this bothered him. I respected that as best I could, but often would end up taking out my anger on him some other way. However, as time went on, and things were setlling down on the divorce front, things between L and I seemed to get better.

    Then L and I decided to move in together after dating for 6 months. We decided this for several reasons; one, we both work a lot, and two, we had been living 45 minutes away from each other. It made sense to move in together since we had that old comfort level and it would allow us to spend more time together. Over the following months, we began making future plans and all of life’s pieces seemed to be falling together beautifully. L had always been my dream, and it was finally coming true. Life felt truly wonderful. I loved every part of him with all my heart, and he loved me in return.

    It pains me to say, though, that from there I made some very bad decisions with my life and with our relationship. The first mistake was thinking that I no longer needed therapy or prozac, so I ceased both. In my mind, life was perfect, and I didn’t need that anymore. WRONG. Over time, my insecurities crept back in….old habits from my marriage made their way into my communication with L….and soon enough, on a weekly basis I was either picking a fight or fights would ensue because I would react to something innocent in a very negative and defensive manner. I treated L exactly how I treated my ex-husband, and it pushed him away as well.

    About two and a half months ago, L said that he couldn’t take any more and that while he loved me, the weight of the relationship was crushing him. He felt that he had put forth all of the effort to make it work and that I hadn’t done anything to work on it – which was entirely true. In fact, I went backwards because not only did I not try in the relationship, I stopped working on myself. I lost my focus with healing me, loving me, and my self-awareness, and ultimately it took its toll on my relationship. I recognized this and promised L that I would go back to counseling, we could go together, and fix everything together. He agreed that the relationship was worth saving, and so we decided to give it six more months before making a decision one way or another.

    As I promised, I started going back to therapy. He went with me once, and we re-affirmed our desire to be with each other and the reasons why we enjoyed being with one another. I started to get to the root of my insecurities and negative thought processes, and started to learn ways to recognize them and get rid of them. My relationship with L much improved – we were happier, communicating better, and seemed to be getting back on track. I checked in with him weekly to make sure he was feeling ok with everything, and he always told me “yes, things are great…I’m so happy with you, and we are going to be just fine.” We continued to talk about the future and how wonderful life was going to be together.

    However, as I’m sure some of you can relate, dealing with my insecurities and re-learning how to communicate was an uphill battle. In the two months following our near-falling out, L and I had two fights. After the second one, he again said that the weight of the relationship was crushing him, he was exhausted, and felt that we were incompatible because while I had made progress, we were still fighting. He said that he doesn’t understand how I can have so much anger towards people, and why I’m so spiteful with it. He said that we “had a good go of it, but it’s time to end it.” I, of course, begged him to give us more time, the six months we had agreed upon. I asked him to go to counseling with me, I pointed out that there was a lot we said we were going to do that we hadn’t yet tried…He just said he couldn’t do it anymore and it was unfair for me to ask any more of him. We talked, cried, and held each other for hours, but the next day….he was still done.

    I spent the first part of that weekend with my parents and went back on Sunday to move out. We spoke on Sunday and I asked him if he would be willing to give me a few months, and then reconvene once I’m back on track with myself. he said that he felt it was best that we don’t speak or see each other for at least a year, if ever. I asked him several times during our breakup and afterwards if he felt that we could have a relationship once I work on my issues, and he said he really couldn’t answer that question, but that if it hadn’t been for the emotional baggage, it probably would have worked. He said he loved me, but that I needed to trust him that this was the best decision for both of us. He said he didn’t want any contact with me anymore and that we both needed time to heal and move on.

    A couple of weeks went by and my mother communicated with him to get the remainder of my things that I couldn’t take during my first move out. We were still friends on facebook, but didn’t talk at all. I tried to keep my postings uplifting (in fact, most of what I was posting were tinybuddha blogs) and tried to keep them general, making anything private if I thought it would bother him or make it obvious to others what was happening. Then, one morning, he was gone. It was apparent that he had blocked me, because my mother and my brothers still had him as a friend, but I couldn’t see anything of his. I felt so silly, being an adult woman, reacting to this like a high schooler. But with his action, I felt that he was truly cutting me out of his life, and it cut me to the core.

    I truly feel that if I had been allowed more time, L and I would have been able to continue on and have a good relationship. As such, I’m having a very difficult time letting go and not holding out hope for our future. I realize that I have a lot of personal work to do, and I truly do want to make these self improvements for ME, not just L. Yet I can’t help but think “I’ll just fix me, I’ll get better, and then we can get back together.” Additionally, I’m having a very hard time not having any contact with him through all of this and am having trouble understanding why he has to be so rigid with his no contact rule, and why he was so vague at the end about whether would have a chance for a relationship in the future. While he said he loved me, he seemed so very cold and had put up a wall to where I couldn’t reason with him or try to make him see any other option but the path he had chosen.

    Outside of relationships, I think I’m a wonderful person. I have always been very, very loving to family and friends, and willing to give others 100% before meeting any of my own needs. I know I am a good, kind, whole-hearted individual. But in relationships, I don’t always show this side of myself. I suppose it’s because of deep seated insecurities, and they cause me to lash out at the ones closest to me.

    I know I have a lot of work to do. I want to learn how to truly love myself. I want to learn how to better give and show love. I want to see life in a positive light, live in the moment, and love everything that is happening around me. The problem is, the person that I love more than anyone, is unwilling to stay by my side while I make these positive changes. I do not begrudge him; I understand what it’s like to be out of patience, out of energy, and to feel as though it’s not worth it. I do not blame him for what he is doing, but I’m I’m very hurt by all of this and I feel that it is the wrong decision for us.

    I’m really struggling with the uncertainty this brings, and all of the regret I feel for not handling myself and the relationship better. I am most pained by the hurt I caused L over the past year by not putting forth the same effort that he did. I have been doing a lot of reading (mostly on which has helped some, but there are so many questions that remain unanswered. I can’t stop dwelling on the “shoulda/woulda/coulda” and I can’t stop wondering if there is hope for L and I in the future. During the past three weeks, I’ve been dealing as best I know how – surrounding myself with family and friends, helping with their needs, being more active (mostly running and hiking with my dog), putting more effort in to work….I’ve also started meditating, and trying to focus on myself – what I love, what I would like to change…..but in between all of this, I can’t stop thinking about L…I feel lost, confused, heartbroken, full of regret, and generally anxious because I want another chance for a life with him. All I want to do is talk to L, but I’m respecting his need for time and space so I’m not allowing myself to.

    I feel like I could write about this for hours….but that’s basically my story. I don’t know how to process all of these feelings or what to think about this situation anymore. None of it makes sense. Though I know what I need to do to heal and to move forward, I am having much difficulty understanding and accepting what’s happened. I know that I drove L away by my behavior, but it was temporary and I feel that if someone truly loves another, they’ll work with that other person to get through the rough times. I feel like L gave up. On one hand I understand his need for space and time, but on the other hand I do not understand him shutting me out of his life completely, ceasing all contact, and having no hope for our future.

    Thoughts? Advice? Thank you in advance for your time, concern, and willingness to help. I hope some day I have enough insight to help some other people on here.


    Hi Tatertot,

    Wow, that is quite a story. I’m so sorry to hear about the pain you’re going through.

    My first thought is that, as painful as it is for you now, he was right to cut you off completely. You simply can’t heal from something like this if you keep being reminded of the other person, because it’s hard enough not to think about them as it is. What you need to do right now is focus on yourself, and by cutting you off he is helping you to do that. I know it’s hard, but you have to maintain your resolve not to contact him. It will get easier as time goes on. But for now, you are unable to see things clearly because of your feelings. It’s only once those feelings have dispersed that you’ll be able to see the situation as it truly is… But it takes time for that to happen.

    I totally understand what you mean about feeling like you’re a good person outside relationships, but having your ugly side come out whenever you’re in a relationship. The same thing seems to happen to me, and I think it happens to a lot of people. It’s ironic, isn’t it? Why is it that our ugly side only comes out around the very people we’re supposed to love the most? I guess it’s because we don’t feel secure in our ability to love and care for ourselves, so we get desperate to hold onto the love and care of someone else.

    I don’t know what else to tell you except that things will get better with time. You’re doing the right things by being active and spending time with friends and family. Keep doing those things even if you don’t feel like it and even if it seems like it’s not helping. If nothing else, being active and spending time with friends will help you resist the temptation to contact him.

    And one more thing: I encourage you to open yourself up to the possibility that L is not the only guy out there for you. There are more eligible single guys out there than you could ever meet in your lifetime, many of whom could be a good match for you. Maybe some of them would even be better for you than L was. How can you know until you give them a chance? Personally I don’t believe in the idea that there’s just one soulmate out there for each of us, and I think this kind of thinking is unhealthy. Maybe you and L will get back together, or maybe you won’t. But you have to realize that neither of these outcomes will doom you to loneliness or unhappiness.

    Ask yourself what you could have been meant to learn from this relationship with L. Realize that even if it wasn’t meant to last, it had a purpose: It taught you something. Take the lesson to heart and move on. You will be fine.

    In the meantime, please try to have compassion for yourself. You were only doing the best you could with what you knew and understood at the time. You may have made mistakes, but that doesn’t make you a bad person.

    I wish you all the best.

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