A Difficult Relationship and Breakup
Visitor's Question from a 31-40 year old Female
I met a very charming, generous, interesting, intelligent man in a dance class where we saw each other once a week, sometimes two if we went to dances. We clicked completely and it felt like and he said we were a perfect match for each other. He finally asked me out after 4 months. I slept with him the first night and two hours later he became physically ill. He told me he had just wanted to be friends with me but lost control and that he had been having an affair with a married woman (who also happened to be one of his students, in her 30's). I broke it off with him and 3 wks. later, he sent me roses and told me he had broken it off with her to be with me, but also said that he had had "good-bye" sex with her but didn't know why he had done it, it just happened.
I forgave him and we had a 9 mos. relationship. 3 months into it, while on vacation, he pulled away from me after I had given him a massage saying he didn't feel I cared about him. The next day, he blamed his behavior on a strange reaction to dramamine he had taken the night before. The next month, he pouted and became angry 3 times when I told him I couldn't go out with him because I had plans with friends and he said maybe we aren't meant to be with each other and should just be friends. He apologized afterwards each time. (After asking, he said he was still seeing the woman he had been having an affair with because she was in one of his classes, that he took her out for lunch or coffee but that they were just friends.)
The next month, he again pulled away from me saying he felt disconnected from me. At dance lessons, he got frustrated with some steps, jerked me hard to the right and left, said he was sorry and had never done something like that before, got angry when I told him I felt it was scary, like a form of abuse especially coming from someone I trust. He threw his coat down saying, "You're always talking about trust," and walked out into the next room. I grabbed my coat and left without telling him. After 4 days, I called him and apologized for leaving without telling him and we got back together. 2 wks. later he said he wanted to break up with me, didn't feel we had a future together, that after the fight, he didn't feel the same way about me anymore, something had snapped inside of him and he felt I had abandoned him just like both his ex-wifes had done to him. Two days later, he was back saying he wanted to try again.
During the next two months, I had major surgery, went to court for two days with my ex over child custody issues, and my mother died the day before a major family holiday. Throughout these difficulties, he was there supporting me and helping out with my children. Three wks. after my mother's death he told me he wanted to take a break, needed space, was confused about whether he loved me anymore, didn't know what he wanted in life, needed to get his life back in order, said he needed me to be happy and that he should be happy with himself, otherwise it was just called co-dependency, said he hadn't helped me out the last two months out of love, but because that was the decent thing to do, etc. He began therapy at my urging, and even though we were "taking a break" from our relationship, over the next two months we still dated off and on.
The last time I was with him and slept with him, he told me he knew he still loved me but didn't know if he could be with me anymore other than just a friend because he felt I was too emotional, fixated on problems too much like the child custody court case, and that I was always sad and he couldn't cheer me up, tell me anything negative for fear it would burden me more, and he couldn't take it anymore and had to get out. 3 days later, I found out he was back with the woman he had been having an affair with, and that she had just gotten a divorce. I asked him if he had been with her while with me, and he said "no" and I said "even after the last time we slept together?" and he said, "No, but that was never supposed to happen." He told me he was back with her because she was emotionally supportive, not demanding, she took good care of him and he was afraid to be alone and always needed to be in a relationship with a woman. (I also found out from his ex-girlfriend before me that he had come over to her house and hit on her).
I am so confused. What happened? Why did he behave the way he did throughout our relationship? Does he have some problems that doomed our relationship from the start? Will his relationship with her also fail? Did he begin having an affair again with her while he was still with me? Was I just someone he spent time with until her divorce became final and he never really loved me, just was infatuated with me because he always had feelings for her? How much was real, how much lies and manipulation? Did I drive him away with all the bad things happening to me and being so emotional and worried? What did I do that contributed to what happened? I'm having such a difficult time dealing with feelings of being rejected, and this loss. I really was and still am very deeply in love with him.
Many of the questions you ask like "was he cheating on me" are obviously questions I cannot answer. I doubt he was 100% just using you while he waited for her - he seemed in many ways genuinely interested in you and genuinely hurt by things he thought you were doing to him. If he was just using you he wouldn't have cared at all what you were doing exactly, as long as you were around. The fact that he kept getting so stressed about the things you were doing really shows that it mattered a lot to him.
One of the very important lessons in life is that each of us is completely in control of how we choose to react to events. So yes, you probably had stress in your life because of your court situation and mother and so on. But he, as a caring person in his life, should have rolled with those things and been there. That's the whole point of a relationship - it's through thick AND thin, through up AND down. A relationship that can only survive under sunny skies is not much of a relationship.
So regardless of if you did or did not have difficult times at some points, his extreme reactions were completely uncalled for. He seems to have kept "losing control" of himself, with you, with others, with whoever was around. And he never seemed to actually be able to CONTROL himself, he just let things happen and then said "Oh well, I'm sorry". That is pretty much a recipe for disaster.
The fact that he now "Needs to be" with a woman and needs to be "taken care of" really says the therapy hasn't helped. It is critically important for a relationship to be between two people who are both HAPPY and then who come together to build a joint world. If he is going around for someone to "make him happy" because he can't stand to be alone, he is just going to be miserable. And you can't agonize about what he is or is not. You need to watch out for your OWN happiness and focus on that first.
It really sounds like with everthing on your plate that a good therapist to help you sort it out wouldn't be a bad thing. Not for years and years, just for a few weeks to settle out everything that has gone on and get your feet under you. I bet once some time passes and you sort out your life, you'll be much, much happier, and find someone you are really happy with.
-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at RomanceClass.com