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Turn of events... now I'm letting go

Coping Learning to deal with one's emotions and loss.

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Old 22nd August 2009, 9:19 AM   #1
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Turn of events... now I'm letting go

Some may know my story but my ex and I broke up (the major issue was his fear of commitment), went strict no contact on my part and ultimately, we tried reconciliation when I thought the time was right for both of us. The entire time we were broken up he tried to contact me repeatedly. I loved him and probably still do, and I can honestly say that I think somewhere he really loves me.

At first, everything was a little awkward, but fine. My ex, to his credit, tried very hard and I will always, always cherish some of the very sweet moments we've had. I really thought it would work and had just started being hopeful when it hit me yesterday (in a client meeting, no less) that not a single thing has changed.

Therefore, I am letting go. My feelings are dying and being replaced by anger. As much as he tried, it wasn't enough and I was angry. I didn't argue and I hope I didn't take it out on him. But, I felt - and still feel - so damned cheated that he wrecked what we had because he "felt smothered." To me, it was an incredible act of selfishness and I can't get beyond it.

A little background: no one in our situation was looking for marriage and everyone was financially self-suficient. We were just two normal people having a relationship and he WRECKED it because he has such a fear of commitment that he can't get beyond it. We were doing fine and then he started complaining about everything - being obligated to do something we me on a Friday night, missing his "buddies" (which I never kept him from but he says that he didn't ask because I would have gotten angry), etc. His reactions were becoming irrational and while I could realize that it was his perception that was wrong, he wouldn't listen to me when I tried to fix things. Instead, he pushed me away more and we broke up.

We get back together and he's trying, so I should be fine, right? That's what nearly every poster on this site wants. But, he's not working on this fear thing. A friend asked him to work on a state legislative project on Monday and he turned it down - for no good reason except that he doesn't want to be obligated to travel to the capital! So, whatever he is doing - although I know it's what he thinks is his "best effort" - it's not enough! It's that same old cycle - he wants all of the benefits and not to be held accountable to doing the work!

I just can't take it anymore. It's only a matter of time until it happens with me. On Wednesday, he called an cancelled me because he had gone for his "long run" and was too tired to go back out. That's how all of this started in the first place. Today, we were supposed to go to a wedding, but he "doesn't feel like it" so we're not going (his friends, not mine... he can be as rude as he wants).

Am I overreacting? Should I keep trying? I am just so frustrated with him I can't stand it.
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Old 22nd August 2009, 9:52 AM   #2
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You are definitely *not* overreacting to your situation. If anything, your inclination to let go and move on, is the best reaction to your situation.

I, too, had been in your situation with my last boyfriend, whom I like to refer to as Voldermort, or, "he who should not be named." My ex like yours, refused to work on his fear of committment for the sake of our relationship. And that to me was a slap in the face. I mean, he declared I was "the one," and made so many promises about being together, that my head spun. But then when push came to shove, and be held accountable for his actions, my ex refused to take responsibility, and broke up with me telling me "if you get a better offer from another guy, take it."

Both our exes are cut from the same cloth, it would seem. He wants the benefits of a long term relationship with you, but doesn't want to make the effort to get that result. Like your ex, my ex wanted to be in a long term relationship after his divorce from his wife of 10 years, but he didn't want to make the effort to make a real emotional connection with me, or respect my needs and wants as much as I respected his. Over the past year being on-and-off again, I learned the hard way that being with my ex was not a two-way street by any means; because he didn't even try to make it work after we broke up and got back together all those times this past spring and summer. The final time we got back together for one day when he said he'd give it a try, and like a fool, I believed him, only to wake up the next morning shocked to have him change his mind and dump me yet again, telling me, "I feel smothered" because he was too immature (or disinterested, let's be honest) to make an effort to be in the relationship.

My advice to you: move on with your life and find another man who will make the effort to be in a relatinonship with you, without you having to prod him.

His cancelling plans to see you at the last minute is a surefire red flag that "he's just not that into you" anymore. He sounds self absorbed and myopic to me, to cancel plans with you because of a "long run." What "bs" is that?! That's like my ex telling me he can't be in a relationship with me b/c of his ex-wife, when I told him we needed to talk about our sleeping together and what that meant for where we were headed. He used his ex-wife (who clearly was not in the picture while we dated) as an excuse to avoid the responsibility of acknowledging that he used me. THEN he went back on (as I did out of frustration myself), where we me a year ago, and I know this because he looked at my profile. He's just a cad.

Your ex doesn't deserve your love and attention if he's not going to participate in the relationship with you. His "fear of committment" is just code for being immature, lazy and unwilling to take responsibility for his actions. And who wants to date a man who will run away from committment and responsibility? Imagine if you two were married and had children together, and something happened to your children that required him to take charge. Would he? Probably not. You'd probably be stuck with the majority of solving whatever problem it was by yourself, while he used work as an excuse as an avoidance tactic. So consider yourself lucky you dodged a real bullet, but moving on, and letting go of your ex, who just doesn't get it and probably never will.

Last edited by writergal; 22nd August 2009 at 10:03 AM..
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Old 22nd August 2009, 8:07 PM   #3
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Wow, georgiagirl. That's my story. Deeply in love, but commitment issues (his). Nobody here wanted to get married, etc either, but the kind of dependability that commitment asks could not be given by my partner either. He was able to get to a certain point for two years or so, and then the **** started. I realize now he had just hit his limit of where he could go to. We broke up, got back together (a few times) tried to be friends, all with mostly painful results.

I just posted on here Wed night that I was done and going no contact. On Fri he texted me and told me he had to put his dog to sleep, his dog that i adored and missed too. So against my better judgment, I broke no contact, went with him, and it was heartbreaking. I can still see that poor dog on the flor, gone. I couldn't not do it. He was wrecked. We hung out, ate and it was all so normal, so good. It's easy to forget - it's just not working.

We talked and he told me that a big part of him wants to settle down with me, but another part of him is just not ready/can't/won't. We talked more, it was good, but so, so so painful. I truly beleive that he wishes he could be who I need him to be. He looked so pained and frustrated with himself.

We decided we need to not be in contact for awhile, a longer while than a few weeks or months. To get some space between us, move forward independent of each other. We agreed it was the hardest and most painful thing to do -walk away from somebody you love. We said goodbye, and then he left.

I am in utter disbelief that he will not be in my life anymore. This is sooo painful....I feel like life will never be the same. My heart physically aches. Why does life have to be so difficult?
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Old 22nd August 2009, 8:27 PM   #4
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georgiagirl, I think this is a positive step. Anger is good, and being angry at someone who throws something away is totally valid. You are not over reacting. He will have these issues with any other girlfriends and some people just cant change. You are so right when you say that it was an act of selfishness. Trying to rationalise the irrational will drive you loopy, unless you realise that it is an act of selfiushness. You have your power back which is perfect for you, and for that reason, I am happy for you. You can now move on, with or without him.

Since my ex left me, I feel like she is trying to confuse things and now I am not sure which one of us had commitment issues. I dont THINK I did, but now I am not so sure. I mean, we used to talk about marriage but I never proposed to her. I was planning to. We would go to jewelry shops and look at rings alot. The last time we did this was a month before she left me, and she was the one who insisted that we look.

She was SOO into me, us and marriage, and so was I. I didn't know that I had a time limit in which to propose to her. She ALWAYS talked about marriage, she was so romantic, and so was I. Or I THOUGHT I was. I think there was just a slight difference about how we showed our love. Although I am quite a soppy man and consider myself to be dead romantic. But she was clingy, and I wasn't. Or was I?

I'm confused, can you tell?

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Old 22nd August 2009, 8:28 PM   #5
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G_G, what I noticed from various relationships ( of people) and from the few of my own is that some men will always expect us to baby them. Being women doesn't make us their mothers so we're not responsible for their childish behaviours and immaturity.

The first thing you should remember is that the failure of the relationship is not your fault but his. You gave your 50% percent while your ex slacked off on his part. There are men whereas he will not.

Anger is a form of expressing your emotions in irrational actions. Once that is done, you must remember not to hold any more unnecessary contempt towards him. Staying angry at him will only prompt you to give attention to a worthless man. Hence, be angry, but afterwards treat yourself to a bubble bath. Then once you're done, you cn start making the first steps of treating yourself to better things in life.
"It's time to stop acting like a victim and start finding some".

- Bobsacramento
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Old 23rd August 2009, 2:00 PM   #6
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Good advice, everyone. Especially about letting go of the anger and about seeing the limits of relationshipos with commitment phobes. Taucher, your man's perspective makes all of the difference. What the heck is up with you guys???

So, the man has this uncanny radar. Yesterday, after Wednesday and after not wanting to go to the wedding, he invites me over for dinner, we go out and have a great time. He starts saying all of the right things again and I get - partially - sucked in. Today, he makes plans for this week - including this weekend. Anyone dating a commitment phobe will tell you that this is a true humdinger - they NEVER make plans a week in advance. It's just not in their constitution.

I'm frustrated, I'm disillusioned and I'm a little bit angry. I don't know. He can stick around for another week, but I'm not wasting a whole lot more of my time on this... .
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Old 23rd August 2009, 2:35 PM   #7
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Hi, great book on CP He's Scared, She's Scared by Steven Carter. Really helped me understand my ex jilting me after 18 years together. Each CP has a different trigger point (my ex marriage), yours Georgia Girl sounds like a very serious CP to me.
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Old 23rd August 2009, 3:22 PM   #8
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Georgia Girl I could have written your post. I have been NC now for 28 days. The cycle is just to painful I also know he wants so badly to love me the way I love him.... but feel he is getting trapped, smothered, he runs when it gets to mundane to where the relationship should be maturing. A romantic fantasy world for him.... It really is sad for him and me..... I had to be strong as I feel very disrepected and rejected way to many times.

The book Lisa recommended is quite enlightening.. In 7 years we have never been apart more than 4 months..... I hope for us both we can stop the cycle and move on.
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Old 23rd August 2009, 3:30 PM   #9
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Thanks to both of you! I just ordered the book, along with the book, "Men Who Can't Commit." I feel like I need to read them to better understand my guy. To be honest, I know he's trying. I also know that whatever urge that hits him is so overwhelming that he can't control it. It's just that I feel - even though I see that this is not true - that he doesn't want to control his fear.

Like I said, last night, he sucked me again. He talked about as openly as he ever does about his fear of commitment and mentioned again that he doesn't know why he does it. For once, I didn't say the, "Listen, fix it or I'm not hanging around," that I usually say. I just don't think that's helpful anymore. I let him talk and tried to listen. I still don't understand it. Unfortunately, I feel like he is truly the love of my life - and I've been around the block enough to know - so I don't want to let go. Especially if he's trying. I am just so scared that this cycle won't stop.
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Old 23rd August 2009, 3:46 PM   #10
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It may be a pattern they want to change but do not know how.... Would he be open to IC or couples counseling?
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Old 23rd August 2009, 3:53 PM   #11
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He won't do couples counseling - he knows I go to a counselor and when the counselor wanted to speak to him, he declined. He is truly afraid he'll be told it's all his fault again and his self-confidence can't take the hit. He would probably go to individual counseling if pushed, but it's not something he would ever do on his own. My counselor actually told me that while couples' counseling may have some benefit for us, unless he completed individual counseling first, it wouldn't have much benefit. We live in a small town and my guy is afraid that someone will find out he's going to counseling - you just don't do that as a man in the deep South. So, I think it's a no go.

I'll read the books and tread water for a couple of weeks. Then, I'll probably need to move on.
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Old 24th August 2009, 7:41 AM   #12
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sounds like my situation too... i've been haunting this place since i broke up with my CP a few weeks ago (yeah, he made me break up with him - coward!)

i'm still hoping he'll come back (while trying not to expect it...) and for me before i agreed to try again i would need to have a conversation along these lines (altho not as blunt as this, of course, and probably not all in one go):

1. read this description:

2. do you agree you have CP...? (if no, then there's no point trying again)

3. what are you gonna do about it...?

i know my guy will see a therapist if necessary - he went twice while we were dating, to resolve some of his issues he was having over being in a relationship, and it did help... but if he wasn't able /willing to see one, the subsequent steven carter book ("Getting to Commitment") is possibly more useful than the older one (i've not read He's Scared, She's Scared, but i'm pretty sure he says in the GtC intro that he'd just described the problem in that book, and GtC is more the 'how to')

also, i've borrowed a 'dealing with a phobia' workbook from my brother... it's reasonable but not great which is why i'm not gonna go look up the title, but something like that (generic phobia) could maybe be helpful (privacy of own home, and all that)

the 'fear of rejection' as underlying the CP is definitely quite key in my case - i confronted a specific "pushing me away as part of his fear response" behaviour a month before we broke up, and said it was a deal-breaker for me... i now look back and realise that he gave up at that point - his various "pushing away" behaviours throughout the relationship were triggered by his need to distance himself in case of rejection, but once the possibility of me doing the rejection became likely, he had to end things first, because he just couldn't live with the increased fear...

so if he comes back, i now know that i cannot use the "unless this changes i'm walking" approach unless i want to end things... however true it is, it can't be presented that way, because it hits the main fear trigger for a CP...

i think i'd go with the "definition of insanity is doing same thing expecting different outcome, so what are we doing differently"...!??!? i don't know though, i just know what i'm pretty sure won't work, still thinking about my other options...
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Old 24th August 2009, 7:45 AM   #13
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oh ok, i've gone & got the title: the anxiety and phobia workbook, edmund j bourne... there's about 5-10% that i think is rubbish /wrong, but if you're able to dismiss that, the rest is good (if you can get over him talking about more serious whole-life-impacting phobias, and accept that while CP is not as all encompassing its roots are basically the same)
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Old 24th August 2009, 7:55 PM   #14
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Georgia Girl -- My heart goes out to you. I know how painful this can be. Like you, my CP sabatoged the relationship and admitted it on his surprise visit, and although I know he knows he's got an issue, I don't know if he's aware of what it is like your guy is. I'm back to NC after that and hoping that he'll be able to resolve his issue which is something he really needs to do to have a healthy relationship with me or anyone for that matter.

I know all about the CP NEVER making plans a week in advance and it sounds like his behavior around work and cancellations triggered you to think that his issue remains and rightfully so. It's gut wrenching because you know what you have together, and you know that they really want to be able to allow the relationship to blossom and get closer, yet they freak and create distance due to this problem. It is frustrating and painful. (And for those reading and thinking it's a case of "he's just not that into you," it's not that; the problem is he IS into you but he freaks when the relationship gets too close and distances or sabotages; in the case of CP, he only freaks when he IS into you)

I was looking for something scholarly about this condition and came across studies on adult attachment orientations. CP behavior fits into an general avoidant attachment orientation. I'm thinking that a counselor with knowledge in the field of adult attachment theory and treatment may be most helpful. I think I'd have a very serious discussion with him and urge him to get some counseling to work through this issue.

Hang in there!!
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Old 29th August 2009, 6:32 PM   #15
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Georgia girl - how are things going? just thought i'd find out how it was all going for you....

I hope well!

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