I have been a relationship with a man for the last 11 months everything has been real good and I mean real good. All of a sudden he tells me that we need to slow things down and not see each other as much.My family and his spent the holidays together, or birthdays. I think that he is scared of the closeness that we have now. He says that we need to be just friends, I don’t know if I can just be friends with him because I’m in love with him, want to be with him as a couple not as his friend.Do you think I should stay or leave him alone. I really love this man I have never felt this way before. I’m 40 his 45. Please help.
I think your assessment that this man is scared of closeness is dead on. You have two ways to handle this situation. I would say that both approaches would be appropriate. Depending upon what feels best for you as well as what you think would work best for him, you can choose either of the two approaches or a combination of both.Let’s start with the first approach. The first approach would consist of talking to him about his feelings. You could tell him that you sense that he’s become terrified of how attached he has become to you and that it feels like his wish to back off and become friends is his way of diluting his feelings for you. If he’s willing to admit and discuss the fact that he’s afraid, you’re in luck. I say you’ll be in luck because his feelings can be resolved through the’talking cure.’If he’s willing to talk, ask him to talk about where his fear originates. Fear of intimacy is usually due to a fear of loving and losing (through death or abandonment). This fear is usually the result of a previous trauma in which the person has already experienced the pain of loving and losing. Fear of intimacy can also be caused by a fear of being engulfed or swallowed up. This fear would be the result of having been controlled or smothered as a child.Once you know the origin of his fear, then you both can work together to resolve it by agreeing to discuss the fear whenever it arises. If he’s afraid of rejection or abandonment, talking about the feelings will help them to resolve over time. If he’s afraid of being swallowed up, then he should be invited to tell you when he’s afraid.You must agree to do your best to give him the space he needs, whenever he needs it. If he’s afraid of being controlled or taken over by you, again, all he needs to do is tell you when the fear arises, and you will make sure to adjust whatever it is that you’re doing or saying that makes him feel controlled or smothered.Point out to him that staying in the relationship but working together to discuss his fears and respond to his needs for space is far healthier than just running away or breaking up.If you sense that he isn’t going to respond well to talking or if you try to talk and find that he isn’t willing to own his feelings, then you’ll need to move to Plan B, which would entail a behavioral/strategic approach.In this case, you would simply give him the space he needs without going into the above discussion. When he discovers that you are responsive to his wishes and willing to give him room, there’s a good chance that his fear will be eased and he’ll return to you. Giving him space will work especially well if he was smothered as a child, because the space you allow him will provide him with what he needed as a child and never received.When you give him the space he needs, he will discover that he can be close to you without being eaten alive. This experience will make him feel safer to come closer to you again. Be aware that he will probably become frightened again and will feel the urge to pull away again.It may take several of these go arounds before he finally feels safe to stay close to you once and for all. If his need to pull back is due to a fear of loving and losing, then giving him space will ease his anxiety but will do little to solve the underlying problem. If fear of intimacy is due to the deeper fear of loving and losing, then talking would be the best medicine for him.It’s going to take a lot of time and patience to work through this problem. He’s lucky that you love him, since only a woman who loves him would be willing to do this,