Hi! You know, to give you the best answer, I think I should ask you a few questions first that will help define the problem and the situation.
This is a tough situation. Whatever makes him behave this way, it's clearly a deeply embedded part of who he is. Do you think this is narcissistic behavior?
Was there trauma or abuse in his childhood? What about alcohol or dysfunction in his family when growing up?
Is he getting any treatment right now? If so, what type? How is it going?
If not, when was the last treatment? What type of treatment was it? Was it helpful?
Any extra information that will help, feel free to share.
No, he has not had therapy of any kind. I have asked him if he anyone to talk to about he and I, he says no. I do not believe he is narcissistic, and yet never once has he apologized to me, as I believe he sees that as an admission of failure, not as a strength.
I know that his father was very hard to the point of abuse and he is proud to say he was a much better father than his own. He says to me tenderly at times, he loves me. Then, like a switch, he shuts off emotionally, and the end result is all things are my fault.
I love him, but this is crazy??
I do not want to be unfair to him, this is my best friend and sweetheart, BUT, he will not marry nor set me free....he continues to say "If I improve, then he will marry me" wow, help, that just seems so obvious that he has found through the kindness of his love for me to wait until I improve:) I apologize, forgive and I am found wanting over and over.
Thank you for the added information. It helps a lot. I believe I can now be of help with this issue.
First, let me say I was ready to send you two to couples therapy to help him learn to communicate better. But then you said, "the end result is all things are my fault." I know you wrote that you don't see him as being narcissistic. But this is always a red flag. That even if he's not narcissistic, it's not going to change very easily. And you're already so frustrated by this as a long term situation that I'm not confident to say you should keep investing your life into the relationship with him.
The reason, in case you do want to consider it, for couples therapy here is that, with men especially, the prospects of going to individual therapy is very threatening because it is not coming from him but from outside of himself, you. (Again, we're bumping up against narcissistic tendencies.) And so, going for couples therapy gets him to go and also helps to make sure he doesn't minimize things with the therapist, thus making the therapy not effective.
But I think I'm ready to side with that part of you that is ready to move on. That you don't have to stay and put up with this; that you can go on to seek the real Mr. Right. So my answer is going to focus on the goals, strategies, and plans you need to work on in this area.
Now for your life. Why do I say your life? Because you are not going to find Mr. Right by just looking for "a guy". You've got to treat finding Mr. Right as part of living YOUR life. You are clearly a woman with values. You are not looking simply for sexual gratification. You are looking for a human being who wants to share his life with you and who values who you are.
That's why we're going to focus on goals, strategies, and plans. I want you to take a sheet of paper or on the computer if you prefer and on that paper write your Healthy Relationship Goals. Examples: make 3 close friends in the next 3 months; or go on dates with interesting men at least 4 times in the next 3 months, etc. So you see they don't need to even be goals for just relationships with men, but can be social relationships. Because the more social you are, the more you build your ability to express yourself socially instead of just career wise, the more you will feel comfortable expressing yourself to Mr. Right on a date. You need to feel comfortable sharing your inner self with other people on lots of different levels: acquaintances, friends, confidantes, and dates.
Next, I need you to take another sheet or underneath the goals in the same sheet write Strategies for my Healthy Relationship Goals. For each of the Goals, I want you to write strategies. For example, if your goal is to go out 4 times in 3 months, strategies might be: I want to identify the type of interests men you'd be interested in would have. Then I want to ask yourself where would they go to fulfill those interests. For example, if an interesting man needs to be someone who is into fitness, then he would be a member of a fitness club. If he needs to like art, then he would be a member of the Art Museum and go to gallery openings. If he needs to be spiritually oriented, then he might need to be attending church or a meditation class.
Then, you need to write on a separate piece of paper or underneath each Goal and Strategy: Plans for how to succeed with your strategies. So to continue the example above, you might write: my plan is to go to the 6 most popular fitness studios and check them out to see what their membership looks like and what kind of activities are there. Or for art, I plan to join the Art Museum and to go to an art opening at a gallery at least twice per month and maybe 3 times. Or if you are interested in religion, checking out 3 congregations for active ones that have social events.
These are examples of strategies and plans. I'm trying to focus you on your life interests. What do you want to do to further your having a meaningful life? Remember, Mr. Right needs to fit into what's meaningful to you, so look for him in activities that bring out what's meaningful in your life.
Okay, I wish you the very best!
My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX
Hello again Dr. Mark,
Any guidance on moving on after a long term relationship? Starting to date again right away, doesn't seem appropriate for me, although I might benefit from not waiting too long.
Hi! It's nice to hear from you again.
First, from your question, I see that you've made the decision to move on and acted on it. I'm sure it was hard and no matter what, there's always a grieving part to the end of every relationship, even if it was difficult and there was some bad behavior associated with it. I can imagine how difficult and hurtful this situation must be for you. But, then, it was difficult and hurtful in the relationship even more.
There really is no definite timeline to this. It's not like after one month you're done grieving. It's really more a question of your timeline. You're grieving this relationship. And that is real grief. Something that was very real and precious to you will have died: love is real and precious.
But even as you grieve you are right: you need to switch focus from exclusively grieving (looking back at what was lost) to where you wish to head toward. And that will mean you will have to do what I brought up above: at the same time as you feel loss and think over and over about what happened between you two, you need to focus forward, at the future, and to look for Mr. Right. Part of your grief will be that you thought he was Mr. Right and now you see he was someone on the way toward finding Mr. Right. So let me paste in what I wrote for you above because I think it's a good way to think about it and it's even more important now, okay?
So all the best to you and keep turning yourself to face the future if you find yourself spending too much time facing backwards, your past!
Clearly, all of this is not for now. You still have to clarify what's going on with him. And we're still hopeful that he's disoriented and doesn't realize that he needs to include you in his grieving. But we don't know if this is really the case. So that is why I included the rest of the answer above.
My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, Dr. Mark