Mindful and spacious but struggling to keep it up

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    Michael McAmmond

    Long story short:

    Brief synopsis, my ex and I were together for 3 years, lived together for 2 years, I broke up with her last year because of the difficulties between her and oldest daughter and also because my daughter was having some serious mental health issues which constantly contended with our ability to have a fulfilling relationship. We went 7 months being officially separated, she had 1 one night stand but said that she was still to heart broken over me to even see the other person again, and throughout the separation we continued to have intimate relations. It was hard to wrap my head around not being able to have a “typical” relationship but finally decided that due to the amount that my ex and I love each other that I was willing to forgo the “typical” relationship things, like planning trips together, planning our lives together, etc. until my daughter gets through her mental health issues, which has been a slow but steady process.


    So here is the dilemma – my ex and I are deeply love each other, we communicate openly and honestly (I hope, sometimes my ego monkey mind gets the better of me and I feel that there are other things that my ex isn’t including in our dialog), my ex still wants to be part of my life and she is truly supportive and understanding of the situation with my daughter, but due to the drama involved with the mental health aspects, my ex feels that she needs to keep her space for her own sanity, we both still want to be intimate together (we call it being monogamously not together), but my ex has made it very clear that she cannot and does not want to have a “relationship” with me. She wants to continue being “monogamously not together” but cannot commit to anything more than being “in the moment,” when we do things together she is loving and amazingly supportive, as I am with her. She has told me that it is simply to hard to feel like we are in a relationship when she is not getting what she truly wants from our relationship, which is a connected, loving, respectful relationship where we are planning and building a future together (we were engaged before the breakup). But in the same breath she does not want to lose me or the intimacy that we have and when I have said that I want more of a commitment, she says that she simply cannot commit right now. She tells me that she doesn’t want a relationship with anybody at this time, which also makes this that much more difficult, because she means it and truly does not want to be intimately involved with anyone else besides me…

    In essence our relationship would need to look like a semi long-distance relationship, while in the same town, my daughters mental health concerns can keep me very busy and there have been several crisis moments when I have had to spend a tremendous amount of time “dealing” with the situation at hand. My ex has admiration for my kind and caring attentiveness with regards to my daughter, but again, the “drama” is simply to much for my ex to handle.

    So here is the question, do I keep carrying on with the relationship or lack there of, holding space for someone who loves me and cares about me but cannot “commit” and is constantly on the fence with regards to how intimate she can be with me before her feelings of attachment arise and then she has to “pull back” from the intimacy to reground herself or do I simply let her go and move on. In order for me to do the latter I have told my ex that I will of course need some physical and emotional space as my love for her is far to strong to simply move directly into being “friends,” at which point she tells me that she doesn’t want that and doesn’t want to lose the connection we do have, including the intimacy.

    Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.



    Hi Michael,

    While there are definitely times to take breaks in relationships, how do you feel about this? Do you honestly feel alright with not having the type of relationship you need, where you are fully with each other? To hold space for someone who wants to do everything but be absolutely committed to you? If it hurts your heart and she will not move forward in the way that you wish, your feelings are incongruent and incompatible. I suggest you let her know how you feel and that you can perhaps have a greater relationship with each other once you ‘shed’ the feelings of you being engaged/married and building your lives as you once thought you were. Grieve that relationship. Go No Contact and let her know that once that ends, you can perhaps try to be friends. But as long as you want something she does not, you can not be friends in the healthiest way possible. Everyone involved deserves to be healthy.

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