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Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1144
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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My ex boyfriend and I were dating for almost 2 years and about

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My ex boyfriend and I were dating for almost 2 years and about a month ago, he broke up with me. He said that he needed to grow and figure out what he wants in life without me and that we aren't meant to be. We had a long distance relationship for the most part of our relationship. You see, our relationship started off as a fairy tale. We met at Disney and worked together. We both instantly clicked and we just knew that we were meant to be together, forever. As time passed by I started having some insecurities about myself and that definitely put a strain in our relationship. I've had a rough past that includes poor male role models, abusive relationships, and overall abuse. He was the first man that truly cared for me and so I felt I was never good enough for him. That said, I slowly pushed him away as my anxieties got worse and I eventually started having panic attacks and we constantly argued over little things. However, he always seemed supportive and never showed any signs of giving up on us. He was determined to stay with me because he loved me so much...or so I thought he did. Another thing he told me when he broke up with me was that he loved me as a friend and that things build up over time. If we once felt that we were meant for each other and we were very positive about that, do you think I should have any hopes that we will be together again? Something in my heart is telling me not to let go. Although, he apparently has quickly moved on and is already practically dating another girl.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Ryan LCSW replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for your question.

I can see why you would be hesitant to let go. If he went from telling you that he loves you one day, to breaking up with you, and now trying to date someone else, it seems like he doesn't really know what he wants himself and is sending a lot of mixed signals. Despite the fact that he has moved on quickly, if you have always had a great connection with each other, it is always possible that you will be together again eventually. Right now unfortunately if he seems to have his mind made up, there may not be much you can do to affect his decision in the short term. Because of that, you may have to prepare to move on yourself in the case that things don't work out.

It is tough to know how to react when you got the impression that he was so much in love with you. If that really was the case, then it is highly unlikely that he doesn't have any feelings at all. However if he has his mind made up, he may need to go through this before he is ready to give things another chance with you. In some ways you may need to let go just so that you don't put your life on hold. At the same time though, there's no reason that you can't hold out hope that things will eventually work out, and if you got the sense that there are still feelings there, you may still have that chance at some point. I definitely wish you the best with all of this, and if there's anything else I can do to help please let me know.

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 2 years ago.

I'd like to add to what Ryan has written. What your boyfriend has done shows me that he's unconscious about what he's saying and doing. That he's probably denied how much your arguing and putting yourself down was getting to him, and then he finally just broke, and flipped into a damage-control mode. That's not uncommon for men when they're young--or women too. Now he's hiding from his grief about giving up on his love for you by trying to transfer it to another girl as quickly as possible. And that probably won't work very well, unless she's a lot like you but lacks your low self-esteem and panic attacks.

But I also don't think you can "move on" yourself while continuing to hold out hope that he'll realize he's just fooling himself and want to try again with you. What you CAN do instead of "moving on" is to shift your attention and central focus of energy onto getting yourself into psychotherapy to work on your abusive past, so that you can become more ready and able to cope with a man that loves you and you love too. If you do that, then you'll be investing in the future that you want--and the life you will want in which your ghosts from the past don't have as much power to disturb you as they do now. Those effects will NOT just go away if you ignore them. So the BEST thing you can do for yourself AND for your boyfriend is to get yourself into regular counseling with a good therapist to gain in consciousness, personal strength and self-esteem. And don't use that as a bargaining chip to try to get him to come back. Just let him know that you're NOT "moving on" but moving into working on your personal past with professional help--so you will be ready for him or for somebody else if he's really through with you and needs to move on.

That's what people do when they're unconscious and don't want to feel the huge loss they've just given to themselves and their partner. And IF HE SHOULD COME BACK in just a few weeks, DON'T give up on therapy, because you'll lose your balance for sure if he comes back, and then you'll start believing again that he's the center of your life and the only person you need to be in paradise--and that won't work to stop your past from terrorizing you unless you stay in therapy too.

The therapist needs to become a new CENTER for your life, because you need him or her to help you build a better CENTER in yourself. So projecting that center back onto your boyfriend again won't do you enough good in the long run (like a few weeks when you have another episode), unless you have the therapist as an independent-of-you center who's working to engage you in building your own center. In the long run, you don't need THIS PARTICULAR guy as much as you need a good solid center for yourself, because then you can have both a good guy and a good center.

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