Let me give you some background on him & I... (I profusely apologize in advance for this being so long...)
We met online 3 1/2 yrs. ago. I had been divorced by that point for 1 1/2 yrs. and he had been dumped the yr. before by a girlfriend of 6 yrs. We instantly connected - very compatible, a lot in common, same values/goals, GREAT chemistry/attraction, both from the Midwest, etc...
I had a previous boyfriend prior to him that stole my identity & bankrupted me, so my self-esteem & trust was nill. It was pretty rough for us the first 2 yrs. because of my own issues. I graduallly got stronger, though, with the help of family, friends and just being the strong person I am. My self-esteem was back with a vengance (lol), but some damage had already been done due to my issues.
My insecurities would rare their ugly heads from time-to-time within the first 2 yrs. & cause him to question us. He would break it off for a week but always came back & we worked through it. This past Spring, my insecurities were gone & things had been going well for sometime (so I thought). However, out-of-the-blue he decided he needed "space" to possibly date a lady his friends were trying to set him up with. And I said "you know what, you got it. You won't hear a peep from me" - and he didn't. I went on with my life. :D
Then, 3 wks later, he suddenly text me to just chat & let me know he had been thinking about me. We talked, and decided to "start fresh" and things were going well again for several months... until about this August. I started sensing he was pulling away, rarely hearing from him or seeing him, so I didn't bother him or chase him, just continued with my life...
Then the wk. after Labor Day, I got this feeling he was seeing someone else, even though he was telling me he wasn't & that he wasn't interested in anyone else. We were seeing each other only once every 1 1/2 - 2 wks., but when we did it was still a good time - plenty of great conversation, fun & chemistry/attraction.
By the beginning of this October, I decided I needed to do a little investigating myself. So, I drove to his house on a Friday night, and sure enough he came home from the lake with another lady.
I confronted him calmly after she went into his house just by saying he didn't have to lie & I would never bother him again and I left. He called me 20 minutes later (after she left) wanting to explain. I told him there was nothing to explain, just wish he could have chosen a more mature & less hurtful way of doing this. I hung up without saying goodbye...
Had no thoughts of ever hearing from him again, gladly still going on with my life. :D But then he e-mailed me last week (2 wks. after I last spoke with him) saying "Hey Sus... The last time we spoke you had said one of the worst parts of us splitting up was you loosing a friend. It shouldn't have to be that way. There are plenty of people who remain friends after dating. You are a good person, I do care about how you are doing, how the new job is going and all. It would be nice to stay in touch & visit from time to time." Really confused me because I had already assumed he was moving on with his new lady.
I didn't respond to that email last week (Thursday) and by Sunday morning, he was texting me asking if I had a chance to read his email from Thursday. I took my time answering & told him yes, I had read it but had been really busy. He text back he understood and stated he hoped things were going well for me. The next day (just this past Monday) he e-mailed me saying" Sus... Being busy is good. If you have time, I'd like to hear about the new job. Sounds like a little different career path from your norm. I truly am sorry for hurting you. I don't know what I could ever do to make it up. Just hope we can someday be friends again."
I waited a day & e-mailed him back asking him why he wants to be my friend and he replied "Why wouldn't I, Sus. As I said previously, you are a good person and we had a friendship before."
I guess I'm wondering if he just wants to be friends, or is he making sure I will stick around to be an option, or is he hoping to start as friends and see where it goes from there, or was all of this due to guilt??
Guilt is a possibility, but it’s just a guess unless we know he is prone to that, that it is a significant part of his personality. There are many other possibilities. We do know that someone “dumped” him after six years. I wonder if he didn’t do the same thing there . . .
Other possibilities are at, first, the generic level. Men often want more than one woman, and some can’t handle the idea of being domesticated. This may include their need for multiple sexual partners. Some men are simply not monogamous (maybe even it’s the greater part of the human race, considering the multiple and serial behavior of men around the world). People advise breaking up with them and letting them evaluate what they’re losing. This might work if that’s ALL that’s going on. In such a case, a commitment might happen without taxing the relationship. It’s also a great diagnostic tool!
Beyond the generic, however, it’s hard to specify without knowing more about the specific man. Some men are terminally ambivalent. They have ongoing problems in attachment that keep them from getting “too close” to a woman. In turn, this is often from experiences with the important women in their lives, especially mothers, that were traumatic, abusive, or neglectful. These woman would have taught them that closeness is dangerous or at best unrewarding.
Another possibility is that he really does care for you, but there is something that just doesn’t work, and he either doesn’t know what it is, or feels embarrassed or guilty or silly in voicing it. I remember a situation where a man loved a woman, but couldn’t stand her smell. It was just incompatible pheromones, or some such.
Another is that you represent one part of what he needs, but not the other. This drives both men and women nuts, and is very common. It’s not about sex, necessarily, but about personality or behavioral aspects. It may leave the man still searching, while the woman sees nothing amiss. This is sometimes what’s going on when a man comes back after a breakup wanting to be “friends.”
In any case, i hope you value yourself, and don’t leave yourself available no matter what he does. Let him go and either he’ll (a) evaporate; (b) come back and tell you what level the problem is at, and what all the backing and forthing is about, and resolve it; or (3) tell you about it and lead you to the understanding that he’s got too many rocks in his head for you to clear.
In any case, I suspect that given your history, right now you need your self-esteem and ability to avoid getting used, more than you need him or his “friendship”!
Thank you so much, Dr. Pomerance. Everything you wrote makes complete sense and much of it is what I thought myself or have read. You are SO right with the my needing to no longer be used and I just don't need that sort of "friendship." It would only benefit him...
Do you know much about the "no contact" rule and what is your opinion on it?
The "no contact" rule makes sense in some situations. The problem is that the nuances of real relationships often make implementation difficult or impractical.
Men occasionally change for new women, but not very often in the long run, and usually only when the new woman is objectively a better fit. Otherwise, people's issues and personalities show through, over time.
Susan, if you'll come back in through the front door,
I'll discuss these issues more, with specific reference to your situation.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but I'm not quite sure what you mean by your "come back in through the front door" reference... lol lol ...because I would LOVE to have you discuss these issues more with specific reference to my own situation.
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