I have been seeing a guy friend for over a year. His divorce hit hard; he doesn’t trust easily. The same thing happened to me so I understand. At first, it was no strings attached. Now, I am ready for a long-term relationship. He’s not. I know he has issues to work through before he can give his heart to me. Still, the sexual chemistry is off the hook. We also have tiffs and say we’ll never talk to each other again but always find our way back. It’s like an addiction. In a recent falling out he said he didn’t need me, doesn’t want anyone to care about him and wanted to be alone forever. So I said I would disappear from his life forever. Then he suggested a break. Later he called as if nothing happened. Does he care about me more than he wants to admit? Should I walk away and not look back? Since I pulled back, he’s been calling. If I show feelings, he pulls away. Please help.
Run to Borders and buy the brilliant book, The Commitment Cure: What to Do When You Fall for an Ambivalent Man, by Rhonda Findling. That’s what you’ve done, you know. You are attached, addicted, attracted (I can’t call it love) to an ambivalent man. Findling, a psychotherapist, writes, “Non-Ambivalent Men who want stable relationships will either be into the relationship or not. If they believe the sex is good they come back for more. They don’t risk losing you by temporarily abandoning you. But Ambivalent Men are different. … It is primarily because of the Ambivalent Man’s unconscious ability to create a dynamic of distancing and returning to you.
“When it gets to the point that you might completely lose interest he makes a return only to disappoint you again. He knows intuitively the longer and more traumatizing his disappearance or disinterest the more his value goes up … he knows how to excite the wounded desperate little girl in you that hungers for love and connection. … When it’s played out there’s always the threat of rejection and loss hovering over the sexual connection you have together.”
Are you getting chills of recognition yet? It’s unlikely that your ambivalent man will magically change into the committed partner that you yearn for and deserve. If he really cared about you, he would have dragged himself to therapy months ago to get over his divorce and resultant trust issues. I suggest that you trust yourself enough to let go of Mr. Ambivalence and find someone ready to live in the present with you, rather than with the ghosts of his past divorce.
I don’t know if the mess I helped to create can be fixed. After eight years, there is no trust or love in our marriage. We both betrayed each other but I hold on to the idea that I have to be with the women I’ve had my children by. It’s not working for me anymore. Help!
You’ve taken responsibility for co-creating the problem, so I’m certain you can heal it. All it demands is a Herculean commitment to learning how to open your heart, mind and soul to another. Think of yourself as a student in the School of Relationships as a Spiritual Path. Your homework is to do everything you can to express love to your wife while also surrendering efforts to control her. Stop trying to get her to meet your needs or satisfy your wants. In the process you will educate yourself about the selflessness required in marriage. You should also attend counseling, individually and as a couple. It will birth the honesty necessary to rebuild trust in your marriage.