I am having an affair with a man who i have known since my teens but he keeps going hot and cold with me. I love him very much and he knows this but he never does anything about it.Should I stay with him cause it is killing me being like this and I’m not sure what to do as I don’t want to lose him.
You entitled your letter to me ‘Ex Marital Affair’ and I assume that you meant Extra Marital Affair meaning that you are involved with a married man who goes hot and cold. You also said that while he knows that you love him he never does anything about it meaning–I presume–that he doesn’t leave his wife to be with you.You have asked me what you should do because you are immobilized by your own conflict. On the one hand you are suffering in this relationship, but on the other hand you are not ready to walk away since you don’t want to lose him. It’s not my place to tell you what to do. It’s my role to help you understand yourself better so that you are freer to make the right decision for yourself.The first thing you need to understand is why you have allowed yourself to become attached to a man who isn’t available and who can’t give you the love you crave. If I had to guess I would say that you have unconsciously recreated a relationship that you experienced during your childhood years. I suspect that you craved the love of a parent who was unavailable or who blew hot and cold.If you’ve been reading my column for a while, you are familiar with the term repetition compulsion, which refers to the unconscious craving to recreate painful childhood traumas with the hope of healing them. Sigmund Freud was the first to recognize the way people use the process of repetition to try to work through trauma.A mother brought in her little boy for a consultation with Freud. The mother left the office and the boy, who was upset, went to the window and waved goodbye to his mother. Throughout the session, the boy kept returning to the window and waving at his mother who was long gone. Freud then realized that the boy was revisiting the trauma of his mother’s leaving in an effort to master his feelings.You are caught in your own repetition compulsion. The first step of the compulsion is to choose a partner who will help you to recreate the most painful aspects of your childhood. In your case, you have chosen a man who can’t give to you. The problem with repetition compulsions is that they don’t ever provide healing, precisely because the people that we choose are so much like the parents that let us down that they can’t give to us what we need any more than our parents could.So, instead of achieving what a happy ending to your childhood trauma, you just end up being retraumatized over and over again. The only way to heal your early wounds is to choose someone who is capable of giving you the love you have craved since you were young.I understand that you don’t want to give this man up. To do so would feel like giving up any hope of healing the little girl inside yourself. What you need to do is actively work on healing that girl.The best way to accomplish this is to establish a therapeutic relationship that provides you with the kind of emotional nourishment you are starved for. Individual therapy and/or group therapy is the ticket for you. As you form ties to people who can and do give to you, you will become too healthy to tolerate this sorry substitute for a relationship that you are now caught in.