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Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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Back Story: Short term- distance gf broke up after visiting

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Back Story:
Short term-long distance gf broke up after visiting for the weekend. Long story short, I acted needy and possessive, which is uncharacteristic. We didn't talk at all for one day... She contacted me on Facebook just to say, it's over, don't wait. I ended my last message with, "Call me sometime and let me know how you are" ... she said is that what you really want, and I said, "no, I don't want this to end, but I respect you enough not to push" ... Later she texted me to send her a song I had written (I'm a musician)... I didn't answer right away, and she sent a text saying "or not, I shouldn't text you probably." I sent, "It's okay, I'll send it when I get home." Ultimately sent it, she said thank you. I said sure, goodnight. I want her back of course, I made a mistake in my character, we are both ready for a bigger step and I kind of messed up. Do you think she'll contact me again? If so, now I feel somewhat insecure, how do I keep my responses positive and not needy if she contacts me again. Was our exchange a good one? I don't want to freak out, but we haven't known each other long and I feel she thought she got a good sense of who I am, when really, I just mishandled some major stress... She has past issues with neediness, and red flags went up. She openly said she is testing me and judging and the she thinks it's fair since we wanted to have a life together and we are so far away from each other... What can I expect from her. She initiated contact so, I assume she is testing me... how do I stay on top and save my relationship? Please help, a relationship with her is worth saving. We were both in love just 5 days ago, but I quickly became the opposite of what she wanted...

I think that in this case you may be over thinking what do to. You know that she has a problem with men being possessive in the past. I think a good thing to do would just be to explain your point of view. You can say that she caught you when you were under pressure, and that you realize that you were being needy and possessive, but that is not a characteristic of you. You can simple say that you would like for her to give you another chance. Even offer to take it slow. Meaning be friends first so that you can prove yourself to her.

I think the exchanges that you had with her was fine. But I do not think that it really lets her know how you were feeling and what is going on in your head. It just kind of leaves her guessing.....You did say that you did not want it to end, but I think that it would make a difference if you admitted to her that you knew what you did wrong. That way she will feel more comfortable going back into a relationship with you.

You can wait until she contacts you if you want. When she does, make sure you express some of this to her. I think this would allow her to open up and possibly give you another chance. If she does not contact you again, then give her a fews days and say this any way. It cannot hurt. Plus she initiated contact first so I think that it is evident that she wants to talk to you, she may just want to see if you will explain. You just have to put out there that you were wrong, and maybe she would be willing to give you another chance.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

We already had the explanation talk... I did explain to her everything, and we had a back and forth... which ended in my "Call me sometime..." thing... We were talking love and living together, and it's still the get to know each other phase and She just saw a bad side. She wants me to be real, and not simply do or act like I think she wants. I want to make her happy, because i love her... but I want her to know that it's not usual the way I was for the weekend. ... Anyway, I told her, drinking, and stress built up over the weeks leading to her visiting, and I just didn't handle myself well... I felt out of my element. So, we've had the talks, and what I sent you is the most recent thing (last night) so my questions still stand.

Well maybe the best thing that you can do is just give her time. If you want her back, do not pressure her to get back with you, but still just be real like she ask. Even though she broke it off with you, you can still show interest in her without being possessive.

You can try texting her first, telling her that you hope she has a good day. You can send text to ask her how she is. Just do little things to show her that you are still thinking about her and that you are still interested. Do not do this everyday, but once every other day. From her responded you will be able to tell her she is feeling about you again.

If you already asked her to be back with you, and she has not accepted your offer. I would stay away from telling her that you want to be in a relationship or telling her that you miss her, she may take that as you being possessive. Instead, try to "court" her if that makes sense. Try to treat her like you did when you were trying to get to know her and date her.

I do think that she is still interested if it was just five days ago. Your job now is to ease her concerns over her thinking that you are possessive. Show her the person that you really are and how you can be as a boyfriend. You can do this, without actually being in a relationship with her. I think once she sees that you love her and that you are not possessive then she will be willing to try again. You just have to earn her trust again.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
Yes, I am giving her the space... literally this only a few days old... If she does contact me... I'm afraid she is testing me... should I not have sent her the song? does that show neediness? Is it okay to answer her texts and messages? I'm nervous to contact her if she doesn't contact me... The whole thing has made me feel strange and needy (ironically) I want to do the best I can in not making her upset about it, and missing me to the point where she rethinks what happened and my character. What are the characteristics and the actions I should be taking on... Normally I'm very confident in myself, but just lately I can't get back to that spot for fear of losing her. I don't want to try too hard. I need more insight into what she may be thinking today, based on our past couple of days interactions... I think all the info you may need is in the messages above... Do you have any questions to help you give me a more intuitive response?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I originally "courted" her in person...

Now, I have to do it online and over the phone (text)... That is not normal for me....

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
Please review my original question and the ones that followed...

I want to ask about some background information before venturing a line of advice. Do either of you have divorced parents? Adult children of divorce normally rush into love relationships, hold part of their trust back, rush out again at the first "serious" sign of trouble, and hang around for post-mortem passionate and/or guarded reunions; in fact, serial divorce-and-remarriage (ie breakup&rebirth) can become a way of life, as they test the relationship to see if the partner will keep his/her arms&heart wide open in spite of the "child-of-divorce" (or already divorced adult, or "I've-been-burned" romantic veteran) having intensifying fears that cause them to run away as soon as the going looks rocky.

Because the divorce-veteran is afraid of duplicating patterns that lead (inevitably?) to divorce, he or she runs away at the first sign of the pattern, and thus recreates the pattern of jumping in and running out to linger on the edges again. Your no-no for the girl was "neediness" which will usually show up in some way in the "pursuer" or person who wants the relationship more than the "distancer" or person who's more scared of a committed relationship--perhaps because their parents' committed marriage ended in a long-slow-dying divorce). So a divorce child will often pursue vigorously, esp if she's a veteran of her noncustodial father's biweekly or monthly "visitation weekends" -- because many of those fathers&daughters had very romantic weekends when he was trying to make sure that she loved him by showering her with gifts, affection, and big-date-like weekend-adventures.

If YOU'RE an adult child of divorce yourself, you'd hate the trap you're in now, because you DON'T want to be the powerless one in this relationship, since that's the spot you were in with your parents' divorcing dramas, and there was way too little that you could do about it--except learn how to take care of yourself and pretend that their tragedies didn't bother you.

So I'm curious to find out which of you is an adult child of divorce, if either of you is. Even if neither of you are, she's an "I've been burned" veteran. Another background question: What does her love relationship history look like? and yours? Chronological listing in these categories: 1. Months uninvolved; 2. casual dating or minor relationships that fizzled, or "friends with benefits" months; 3. serious/committed of 9 months or more; 4. living-together&near-marriages; 5. marriages; and months since last #3, 4 or 5. [in the normal love relationship chronologies #3 can often immediately precede or fairly closely follow #4or5.] But I look at both partners' relationship histories to estimate who is more ready and less ready for committing their whole heart to a new love, whether they're aware of their emotional readiness or not. Then I coach lovers based on the readiness I estimate and then ask about, and I advise grief work for those who're plugging in new partners to avoid learning from and finishing with their past loves. Or as-needed coaching for those who run from relationships because of their fear, perhaps of turning out like their parents' or their own first marriages.

Divorce children usually get good at instigating divorces, so that's why I asked if your gf is one.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

She is a child of divorce. And has been divorced herself once. She has 3 children, with two men... We met while she was dating a young man, and we got to know each other and fell in love... We are long distance because she is in school for the remainder of the semester and actually still lives in the sam house as her ex... which is uncomfortable for her, but makes sense monetarily. And I understand that. She was married for 3 years... she's actually still married, but it costs a lot of money for divorce.

I am not a child of divorce. I have normally had long and decent relationships... years... but recently I've been dating a younger girl and realized I didn't want a younger girl, more someone my age... I'm ready for bigger commitments. I've lived with my girlfriends before.

I do love this woman, and want to figure this out.

You are very helpful

I guess, in order for me to pursue her and make this work, what steps do I need to take. Is it even possible?

She's not ready for commitment until she gets free of her ex-husband. You stand a good chance of getting hurt many times with her. I guess you're both pushing 40?

I'm not being holier than thou, and I had 6 loves of over 1 year, 4 of 3 yrs or over, before getting married at 42 (and turning 70 in 1 month). Three years is about as long as the biological passion is strong enough to push the problems under the rug, which leads then to the 3-4 yr problem crisis when sexual rewards aren't as strong and problems can become ingrained as increasingly intimacy-destroying cycles. But the "now we're reunited, now I've gotta be free of you" pattern from daughters of divorce can keep you chasing them, because you're not likely to get a significant period of security. Though her having children might slow her down somewhat--depending on how much fathering she'd want from you vs her ex-husband & other ex-kid-father. But you might not be too keen on fathering because you have your musicianship as a creative lifestyle. Do you want to settle yourself down to fit what she needs (or might think she needs) in a husband&father role?

I'm bringing in these questions about what you're ready for, because I suspect she won't be ready at least until semester end. And you also might not be WHAT she's looking for. I'd guess she's used to being very desirable. But is she great at rushing in and turning your heart/head upside down? What does she look for in a man? Do you know anything about either of her ex-fathering-partners?

She was dating youngerguy (sex, and she's in control, which is what divorced women want, to be in control so they can dismiss the guy when he tries to get too much equal power and commitment). You was dating a younger girl (nice to be admired? you've got control?) These are all questions, even the ones on her without questionmarks.

Take your time answering. You sound desperate: Does she have other guys in the on-deck circle (baseball metaphor)?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I do feel desperate a bit. I am 31, and she is 28. My desperation is only because of my feelings for her. It was in plans for her to be divorced over the semester... We both agreed that commitment meant freeing ourselves from our past as much as possible. I want to leave the music business and I would like to settle down, with her if possible, and with her kids and maybe have one or two of our own... I am family oriented... I come from a large family. I don't know much about her ex partners... the first was a high school thing... The husband, she says, was abusive and beat her, and she left once, but came back for the kids... And one day, he just left her. Yes, my reason for being with a younger person was purely a control thing, but only because I didn't feel love for her... We just enjoyed each others company... the younger guy for her was only 4 years younger, but significant enough for her to feel too young, immature... She still lives in the house with her ex boyfriend, I guess he is always on deck! Plus she has many guy friends, but insists they are just friends, and I believe that...

So... What is salvageable. Will she swing back around? If so, what should I do? I appreciate your experience, and realize you have a much wider scope. Bot***** *****ne, I want her back, and I realize there is a chance for heartbreak again, but I will also have the opportunity to address some of these issues. What is in her mind over our situation? Is she confused? Upset? Missing me?

That does sound desperate... This is still fresh, and still hurts quite a bit. I have not contacted her at all today... and won't. I need some guidelines... but knowing that, I also respect your insight. Please give me a bit more.... and if you have any further questions, please ask.

So the boyfriend was this younger guy? and not abusive? That's not dangerous, except as an unconscious way of holding off on pursuing another marriage so fast. You're both in the age 30 transition, so it really makes sense for you to be relinquishing your young adult music career-as-experimental-adulthood. She's just getting into her age 30 transition, so having to wait is pretty likely. I asked about her exes because she might have different expectations for how her man should look and be that you don't fit. Is she used to being pursued?

How many months were you courting before this first weekend together freaked her out? What is she studying in college? How old are her kids? How much do you know them? You're lucky she's already had the younger guy, because you're not the first post-marriage bf, so some of her healing needs have been met. But her reaction to your signs of possessiveness shows a pretty raw wound. You could send her little love letters at slightly irregular intervals, like 4 days, then 6 days, then 3 days, based on things that happen, and in them share your artistic sensibilities to things and people you experience, and close with some loving thoughts or reminiscences about your time with her. Depending on how she responds, you could ask her to something you think would be meaningful to her and you both (art is meaningful) after some letters. Absense makes the heart grow fonder IF you're thinking about the person who is absent, and if she gets letters that come as a surprise, she'll start thinking about you more often, and probably look forward to more of them (which is why you keep the intervals slightly irregular, to intensify her attention through anticipation). This is emotional manipulation, but it is also emotional expression, and you DO think about her often and fondly. So you're just sticking you neck out to risk it that she'll like to think about your thoughts and your artist/musician's perception of aspects of life that she might like too. You can add that you're not expecting her to respond unless she wants to..... but the fact is, every artist is inspired by love, and you are too. And you are merely asking her to be your muse for a while, so you can "muse" about things that inspire and move you, and you imagine might inspire or entertain her too.

Sorry but I have to get my sleep tonight, so I won't be working on your responses until tomorrow.' I wrote that last paragraph above right after signing off down here. So that's my own version of "OK I don't know what to advise to help you, so I'm giving up for tonight." And it's not a bad idea at all, if you have the courage (coeur=heart, age=stuff you have in your heart, or heart-strength) to let her be your muse and let your heart show. Love is a solo-sport in each person's mind, and you can have yours even if she's not ready enough to share hers--but you can also ask her to tell you to cease if she doesn't want to hear from you and your sensitive response to reality--but I wouldn't offer her that option until after the second love letter. How many people get any more chances to write love letters anymore? But do tell her at the outset to pretend she's getting your letter in the mail, so she doesn't have to respond in any short period of time or with any particular type of response.

Perhaps you write poetry. I wrote 10 or 20 poems in the first 6 months I was courting my wife in 1984, before we moved together at year's end. She was an English major, I have a PhD in German Literature& European Humanities, and I knew I wanted her, that she was the best woman for me that I'd ever seen since my first great love crashed when I was 29, and I was 41 when I met her. My first poem was called "Readiness is All" or "Taking a Chance on Love." and it used the analogy of the baby bird on its first trial flight from the nest way high up in a tree. Poetry's great when you have a really willing audience of one special beloved. But love letters will do fine--just don't go making a goddess out of her until she's willing to spend more nights in the nest at your place. Write about how beautiful the world is when love is in the air.

Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1206
Experience: Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
Dr. Norman Brown and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
I hope I get a chance to send you a followup question: Like 30 days from now: How're the love letters going? How's your heart? Did you know that Dante Alighieri wrote the Divine Comedy from 1300 until 1326 without ever speaking to Beatrice, who he'd fallen in love with but had died of drowning--and Dante married another woman who was NOT his muse? You can give birth to beautiful words (and of course music too) without having to have your muse spend the night with you in the flesh. If you write to her you might also dream about her, and then you can turn those dreams into gifts that you present to her too.