Dear Dr Love,I don’t know what to do. I am going through what I guess you could call a break-up right now, and I need some advice on what I should do. Let me give you a little bit of background info on the relationship before I get to my question.I’m 25 and I had been seeing this guy who is 21 for over a year, but we never officially called ourselves ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’. He sometimes slept with other girls while I was seeing him, but because he was never my ‘boyfriend’ I didn’t have the right to be angry.After a while, I couldn’t deal with living like that and I told him that even though we weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend, in order for me to still see him, I needed him to only sleep with me. Things went great for a few months after that, and would have probably stayed the same, except for the fact that I got pregnant.Needless to say, we both freaked out, and then decided that we wanted to terminate the pregnancy. During that time, I didn’t sleep with him but we continued to see each other, and I would stay the night at his house. After the pregnancy, I decided that I couldn’t handle sleeping with him unless he was going to be there for me emotionally as well as physically.For a couple of weeks, I made it clear that I wasn’t going to sleep with him, and didn”t put myself into any situations where I might have a lapse in judgment. Finally, one night when I gave him a ride home from the bar, he asked me to come inside with him. We had started a conversation on the way home about how I felt about him, and he wanted to continue it.We ended up having a major conversation where I admitted that I was in love with him, and he told me that he was very scared of our relationship because for one, he didn’t know why I loved him, and two, he had ‘never felt the way he did for me about any other girl.’ He also told me that he was taught as a child that love gets in the way of your more important goals, and makes you weak.In addition, he told me that he was scared for me to really get to know him, because he felt that the more I knew about him, the less I would like him. Two weeks after this breakthrough conversation, he showed up at a bar with another girl, was all over her, and paid no attention to me. We got into a fight, where he told me that while she was just a friend, he wanted to be completely single. I also found out that night that he had slept with a different girl after we had the big conversation. At the end of the night, we got into a screaming match, and now, about a month later, we still haven’t spoken.To make matters worse, I found out that the week after the fight, he and this girl who was ‘just a friend’ were telling people that they were boyfriend and girlfriend. It just doesn’t make sense to me, because he was always so anti-girlfriend, and then he immediately jumps into a relationship. I don’t know if he’s still seeing her, because I have taken every possible measure to avoid seeing him or hearing anything about him.At the same time, I think about him constantly and miss him so much it hurts. All my friends tell me that he’s not good enough for me and that I should just move on. While I know that that ‘s the smartest thing to do, I just can’t let go or move on.I know that he cares a lot about me, and is just scared. I honestly believe that if he could just be ok with how he feels, that we could have a great relationship.Am I a complete idiot totally in denial? Would I be wasting my time trying to work things out?Signed,Damsel in Denial
The way you signed your letter says it all. This guy is unable to have a relationship with anyone and you know that deep down. He told you so himself when he said that he was raised to believe that love interferes with important goals and makes a person weak.These beliefs interfere with his ability to form a loving connection with another person. In other words, his block goes way beyond just being scared. What you need to do is understand why you want to hold on to a guy who sends you all the wrong messages.The answer to this question lies in your childhood where I am sure you had a parent that didn’t love you the way you wanted. Any time we find ourselves hooked on a lover who can’t deliver, we are actually recreating the relationship we had with the parent who was unavailable. The urge to repeat this early relationship is called the repetition compulsion and it is driven by the urge to heal a childhood wound.The unconscious mind recreates this early wound by choosing a lover (or spouse) who is emotionally limited in the same way the parent was. Once you choose a carbon copy of your parent, the stage is set for the recreation of your worst childhood nightmare. Next your unconscious tries to work for a happy ending to what went wrong way back when.Keep in mind that all abused and neglected kids think that the mistreatment they are suffering is their own fault. This is called the narcissism of childhood, which refers to the child’s belief that he/she is the center of the universe and that everything that happens is the child’s doing.If, for example, his/her parents divorce, it’s because the child wasn’t good; if the child is beaten, it’s because he/she was wrong. In addition to narcissism, every child has omnipotent fantasies that make the child believe that he/she has the power to fix or change the defective parent. This omnipotent fantasy often carries into adulthood and explains why many people try to fix their defective lovers and spouses. Behind the efforts to fix the other is the fantasy that you will be finally be loved when you solve the other person’s problems.Listen to what you said in the end of your letter. If only you could solve his fear, you are sure that he could love you and you’d be happy. Can you hear the little girl in you thinking that she has the power to fix someone else and then finally win the love she is starved for?The reason you don’t want to give up on him is because that would feel like you are abandoning all hope of ever healing the hurt little girl inside you. But you can heal the little girl inside you!To heal you need a therapeutic relationship, where you will recall the pain of your past and fill those voids within the therapeutic relationship. Individual therapy will help you experience the love and connection you lacked in your first one on one relationship with mom; then group therapy will help you feel connected to an entire family of brothers, sisters, as well as find connections with people in the group who will represent both the mom and dad you always needed to have.You will never find this healing with this boyfriend. He’s as unable to give to you as were the people who let you down way back when. To stick with him is to repeat the worst pain of your childhood with no hope of healing.