Dear Dr. George:
I am kind of lost and have no idea what to do, so I really need advice. I was in a relationship with my ex for five years, during which time we got engaged and moved in together. He broke up with me three times, all of which I took him back when he regretted breaking up.
The last time, I gave him a piece of my mind and it wasn't really a smooth ending but I was so angry that I didn't care. And so my life went on and a couple months after that he texted me and so we conversed casually---no big deal. I did everything in my power to show him that I was fine and doing great and didn't care in the slightest bit that were weren't together anymore. I had pretty much gotten over it so it didn't bother me.
We started hanging out over the past couple of months and occasionally sleeping together and I was fine with it UNTIL he mentioned that he wants to be together again and that he misses me and doesn't want to meet anyone else. I was pretty resistant to this, but said I can't predict what the future will bring.
I just kept thinking about it more and more and started wanting to be together again too, but he never mentioned those feelings again (I brought it up but it didn't get far) and I am just so lost in this confusion.
I don't understand what he wants from me because he seems to constantly be changing his mind. How I can continue to be "friends" with him because it's starting to really hurt, but at the same time I don't know if it would hurt worse to just not talk to him or see him anymore. I am just so lost and don't even know what to do, please help.
-- Mixed Up in Manhattan
Dear Mixed Up:
I like the smell of gasoline. I'll occasionally linger longer than necessary at the gas station when filling the car to get a whiff of those harmful chemicals. I know it's not healthy but it's intoxicating.
This guy is your gasoline. His pheromones must be high octane diesel because no matter what he does (or in this case what he doesn't do) you seem compelled to keep him in your life.
Let's look at the facts. You state that:
"I was in a relationship with my ex for five years," and that "he broke up with me three times, all of which I took him back when he regretted breaking up."
This, according to my fifth grade math, indicates he broke up with you approximately every year and one half. Would you buy a car that broke down every couple of years? I'm guessing no.
I applaud you for taking this car back to the dealer for a full refund:
"The last time, I gave him a piece of my mind and it wasn't really a smooth ending but I was so angry that I didn't care."
You owned your genuine anger at this man and said "Enough." Bravo!
But then, what happened? Someone drove your car around the neighborhood and you decided to take a second look? Or you didn't like walking to work? This is where you should begin in work with your therapist, life coach or best friend. I encourage you to look at your feelings after the break-up. Did you feel lonely, guilty or lose confidence in your decision? Your acceptance of his text message began the whole process again, leading to your current mixed-up feelings.
The second area to spend some time in analyzing is how you give him control of the relationship, and thus your feelings. You wrote,"I don't understand what he wants from me because he seems to constantly be changing his mind."
The question I have is.... what do you want? What are you willing to put up with and what are you not willing to accept? After figuring this out, write it down and put in on a sticky note on your mirror. Remind yourself of this everyday so that when this guy, or another guy doesn't accept your own internal wants and needs, you can take him back to the dealer for a newer heart-friendly model.
P.S. I encourage readers to offer their own second opinions. Scroll to bottom of the page to give Mixed Up your comments.
It's tough out there in the real world. So many questions without good answers. My goal is to provide insight into life's more difficult dilemmas, offering sound clinical judgment mixed with a straight-from-the-hip attitude. Email me for free advice on any subject.
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