A Reader Writes…
I have been reading, “I love you but I’m not in love with you” and “Are you right for me?” I’m hoping for some ideas on my situation. I was dating someone exclusively and ended the relationship 4 months ago. I guess I am still in “limerance.” We had met at work and had known each other for a while before we started dating. He is 42, never married, no children. I am 33, never married, no children. We are both engineers. I want to mention he is very analytical and very high achieving. He has had quite a few relationships and it sounded as though he was always the rejecting one. He said all the women have told him he is “hard to get close to.”
The first three months were really wonderful. We got along well, had a great time, and the sex was really good. I felt we had a lot of common values and interests to make a good relationship. Three months in he was planning to take a trip home to visit his family. I almost never read things very wrong or read too much into things, I was feeling that when he returned from his trip that he might tell me he was falling in love with me. When he returned however, something had changed. He was distant and quieter. He used to call me in the morning, during lunch, after work and in the evenings. He played online games with me most evenings, texted all day, and we saw each other 2-3 times a week. Suddenly I only heard from him once a day, he barely played online games and he wanted to see me only once a week.
After 3 weeks of this and my asking a handful of times if something was wrong, he finally told me that he had “been in a funk.” That he hadn’t been able to develop feelings for anyone in 15 years. His last girlfriend of a year and half lived with him, but he could never tell her he loved her. He said he was thinking that we were on the same path and the last three months was “just lust.” He didn’t want to spend another year and half with someone that was going to end up the same way as last time. I was floored. I never saw that coming. I told him that I thought relationships take time and that it was too soon to declare such a thing. We dated for two more months as I was trying to stick it out, but I could no longer take the icy cold. During this time we ran into some friends of mine who later told me that he seemed “emotionally flat” and as though he had aspergers or depression. He had insomnia issues, was working like no one I have ever seen. He became critical of me a lot too. He was very very distant and I felt like I lost my best friend. When I broke things off, he insisted that he was “into me” and attracted to me, but wasn’t “feelings the feelings he should be feeling in a relationship.”
I had no understanding of what that meant and couldn’t understand what happened on his trip back home to cause such a shift. He asked to be friends and I insisted no. Fast forward 3 months later, I took a job offer many miles away. We had spoken casually on IM at work, but nothing more. The more I avoided, he started to chase. I chose not to tell him about my moving. After I moved, I received a phone call from him asking to drop by to drop off some things I left at his place. He told me that he was very depressed and had left my pyjamas on the floor for 3 months where I left them the last time I was at his house.
He finally revealed that when he went home to visit his parents, he learned that they got engaged 3 weeks after meeting each other. He decided that since he did not feel that way about me, that he was not going to “develop the feelings” and that’s why he decided it wasn’t working out. To me this sounded very black and white and…crazy. During the time I was about to move and up until now he has continually tried contacting me, never saying anything indicating he wants to work things out so I have assumed he wants my friendship. But that hoping “someday I can forgive him” and “what do I have to do.” “I haven’t gone out on one single date.” I do not understand why he keeps finding reasons to contact me after such an icy cold and it bothers me.
I have spoken to him once since in which he told me he didn’t want to ask for help with his depression. It is my understanding that he was depressed for an entire year before he met me and didn’t go out on one date. So it sounds as though this has been an ongoing thing.
I am still heartbroken and don’t understand. I really don’t believe that this was just lust. I felt as though we were falling for each other and could have had a great relationship. (except for these issues I wasn’t aware of then.) One of your books mentions depression causing issues with not being “in love.” Could that be causing this problem? Is this a commitment-phobic person? I’m sure he will continue to contact me, and I am not sure how to proceed. I would like to try to work on the relationship, but am afraid of being hurt again. I suggested he go to counselling more than once and I doubt that he has gone.
Two of my girlfriends recently married men that I never would have thought would work out and I’m starting to reconsider my own lack of putting forth more effort.
I’m glad you have read my book Are You Right For Me? where I explain about blowing hot and cold, it certainly sounds like your boyfriend is doing this. When your relationship starts to get serious, he gets cold feet and closes down – possibly because he’s worrying about whether he’s in love enough. And when you’ve gone and he feels safe, he starts to blow hot again.
The problem with logical men is that they sometimes feel they have to be overwhelmed by their feelings to actually trust themselves, and often love is a slow burn kind of thing. Unlike the movies you don’t just fall head over heels forevermore in two minutes, and if you’re anxious or depressed it’s very difficult for limerence to crystalize and to have enough confidence to enter into a relationship.
So what are you going to do? I’m pulled in two directions, one half of me says this can be sorted, and the other half says that you could easily waste three or four years on this man – and you could get yourself into a position where you might miss the opportunity to have children.
I think the next time he gets in contact; ask him to lay his cards on the table. Does he want to restart your relationship? If the answer is ‘yes’ you have to ask the question, what is going to be different this time round? Take some time to really discuss this. Do you feel satisfied by his answer? Or are you so relieved that you’ll accept any response like ‘we’ll just try harder.’ If he can come up with some satisfactory answers, you might like to give it a try for six months. If not, I think you should read my book Heal and Move On. Best of luck.