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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology helping with relationships
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I have recently experienced the ending of an extremely intense 6 month relationship.

My now ex-girlfriend, 20, and I were involved for 6 months. The relationship was very intense, particularly in the last few months - we went on an amazing holiday, lived together for a few weeks and spent almost every night and many days together.

After around 3 months, she told me that she loved me. I felt a deep connection to her but was unsure that it was love. She would refer to me as her “soulmate", tell me that she wanted to spend her life with me (during particularly emotional times i.e. after sex), wishfully discussed our future lives and said, in all seriousness, that she would want to move to Australia with me after university. She even stated that she would be uncertain about an abortion if she were to become pregnant. She discussed our Christmas together later in the year and our children in ten years.

Now, I was concerned about her suitability for a long-term relationship, given that she cheated on her ex-bf – she explained that they didn’t see one another frequently enough due to university separation and that, after a year of only once monthly visits, she got bored and fell out of love with, and cheated on him.

What compounded my doubts was her saying that she hadn’t felt guilty about this ending because she didn't love him anymore, despite her knowledge that he loved her still. She also said that she often wondered whether he had been the love of her life, but later on in our relationship said that she had never had a connection with him such as we had.

She adored sex (and was highly promiscuous when younger), is a middle adult child of divorce – her father cheated on several partners including her mother – and has gone to university to study drama, with the aim of becoming an actress (not that this is indicative of anything necessarily but could be symptomatic of a need for attention in certain cases).

After 6 incredible months together, we both departed for university. We discussed ending things but agreed that we wanted to try a distance relationship as we couldn’t bear the thought. She did, however, say that she was “terrified of messing things up” and recreating past “self-sabotaging behaviours” but couldn’t imagine doing that to me. She said that she was afraid that I might meet someone, a medic (my course) with whom she could not compete, but trusted me “with her life”.

During our time apart, she initially spoke of her excitement over seeing me in the coming weeks, seeing me for Christmas and passionately expressed her love – “I don’t think you’ll ever understand how much I love you”, “you’re my world”, “I miss your mind, body and soul” – although I think she was made more emotional by alcohol on several of these occasions. I received several drunken phone calls during which she stated that she was desperate for things to work, that she wanted/felt she needed me to be there to reassure her, that she missed me a great deal and loved me intensely. However, when I called during the day, I received the same luke-warm reactions I would upon initial face-to-face encounter. Within days of this, by around 3 weeks of separation, she had stopped making any effort to contact me and I would not receive responses to messages/phone calls for 24 hours.

I visited her days later. She became slightly teary upon seeing me but then proceeded to more or less ignore me, to show next to no enthusiasm for my presence (almost annoyance), to text her new friends in front of me and to say that she didn't have the “emotional capacity” to make our relationship work alongside her time-demanding course. She was largely dispassionate the entire time we discussed this – showing almost no emotion as she suggested a break. After me asking whether something had happened, she admitted that she had been invited back to another guy's house and had slept in his bed, cuddling all night, but swore in an impassioned manner that nothing more intimate had happened. Whether I believe her, I have no idea.

It turned out that she had been flirtatiously texting this guy in front of me the entire time I was there – suggesting she would visit him during the Summer and telling him how awkward things had become with us. Even as we ended things she picked up the phone to text him. Furthermore, the only enthusiasm she showed was when he responded to a message.

She made me promise that we could revisit things at Christmas or at some stage in the near future, we had sex and then I mentioned some of my most treasured memories of our time together, resulting in a great many tears on her part. She couldn’t bring herself to say “goodbye” to me and closed with “I’ll see you soon”. It seemed so odd considering her cold and unconcerned attitude just hours earlier.

During our relationship, she would rarely show great enthusiasm and was extremely laid back, like myself. A typical evening might involve a luke-warm reception (no smile or hug unless instigated by me) and somewhat difficult conversation to which I would contribute the majority of the impetus. Gradually, the level of intimacy and affection would increase – a kiss, cuddling on the sofa, sex and then intimate conversation. If we parted in the morning, the next visit would proceed similarly. We never fought and she rarely showed any anger, hating confrontation. She would show annoyance and impatience but denied ever feeling jealousy.

She seemed to be very loving and affectionate during the right moments i.e. watching a movie/in bed/after sex (particularly during the latter stages) but could also be disinterested and condescending. She could also be quite selfish - "forgetting her wallet", buying expensive items despite owing me money that I was in need of etc.

She said that before she met me she found it very difficult to open up to people emotionally, even to her previous boyfriend of 2 years, and had never discussed her previous issues surrounding eating disorders, her parents’ divorce and her issues with self-image (she was very conscious of her weight and looks and had previously suffered from an eating disorder).

She often said that she thought of herself as an individual, not needing to be part of a group and not wanting to depend on people and made a fierce show of being independent.

She frequently said that she wished we had met after university/that she wanted a future with me, due to her propensity to engage in "self-sabotaging behaviours" – cheating, promiscuity in younger days, drug taking and going out drinking - and was scared of ruining our relationship. She also frequently said that she was afraid that I was going to meet someone at university.

But at the same time, she said that, since being at university, she rarely thought of me. She immediately started “seeing” the guy she shared a bed with after we parted.

How is it that she could have moved on (new partner & seeming so happy)/given up on a relationship of such apparent intensity so quickly?
When I received midnight phone calls saying how she "so wanted it to work" and how she was "so afraid" I was going to meet someone, was this an indication that she was grieving for the relationship, subconsciously knowing it wouldn't work, hence her apparent quick recovery?
Or is she just finding it very easy to ignore the situation (hence the emotion shown when I was actually present) - she said she rarely thinks of home and doesn't miss it, wouldn't rather be anywhere else than her dream current university etc. – drama, leading to a career in acting.

I’m not sure whether she feels love to a limited extent, hence the quick recovery/loss of interest, or has an ability to just “go cold” on partners? Neither of these seems to explain how she stayed with, and stayed faithful to, her last bf (who she apparently had nothing near the same connection with and doubted her love for) for a year, despite only seeing one another once a month. I believe that we would still be together had it not been for her going to university (even if I had) so could it just be the lack of a familiar support network – new environment, new people, new challenges, new stresses etc. meaning a heightened desire for a new partner?

Does she just like the novel? Is this a grass is greener situation? Or was our relationship just a honeymoon situation? Did she ever actually love me – to a normal extent or to her own capacity for such a feeling?

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.

Hi! I'll be glad to help you with this issue.

I can imagine how confusing her behavior must be for you. I'm glad you went into detail about her actions and reactions in a number of different situations; that helps a lot. Interestingly, I was anticipating some of the sexual drama, the emotional drama, the extremes in her emotions, and how quickly she can shift loyalties. You know, I have worked for quite a while now with men (it's almost always men) who have gone through or are still trying to maintain a relationship with a woman who has this type of personality profile. And not just in my office, but even through Skype with men in the US, Canada, even Korea, etc. It's a type of personality profile that happens in most cultures, it seems. It is predominantly in females, and almost always there was a history of sexual abuse or molestation, physical abuse, or other sustained traumatic events in her youth.

I am not diagnosing a disorder; that is not possible in this forum. You've given enough information that I can answer your questions, which all come down to what makes her do what she does, in referencing that it is a personality issue, not a conscious, thought out type of behavior. The need for lots of sexuality and not stable sexuality, the emotional drama, the intense loyalty that can be withdrawn just like that, the extremes, etc. all point to this as the root.



You are clearly a more level headed person and so you are trying to make rational sense of her behavior. But you need to recognize that the source of her behaviors is not rational; it's the intense emotional overwhelm and instability she's almost always feeling and trying to get away from: thus the extreme statements about how you're the best and the only one who can... etc., whenever she feels a moment of relief inside, usually after sex.


You're out of the relationship and that makes it easier. Many of the men I work with that I mentioned above have been or were in a relationsip with someone like this for longer and it can be such a wild ride that after a while it is very disorienting and they want to try so hard to make her feel good and worry that it's them, that they are the problem: if they only said the right thing, did the right thing, had more patience, etc. So, it's good that you're moving on.

Okay, I wish you the very best!


My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me. If the answer has been helpful, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button so that I am credited for the answer. Bonuses are always appreciated! If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Dr Mark, thank you for your response.

It’s interesting to me that you make reference to emotional and sexual drama and extremes of emotion. Being in the midst of this situation, it is difficult for me identify occurrences during our relationship as dramatic – the whole situation always seemed very laid back, almost to the point of lack of interest on her part at times. We were both relaxed individuals seemingly.

You refer to abuse of some form resulting in this personality profile; could it also be caused by parental divorce and infidelity as I described?

I understand that it is not possible to categorically diagnose a personality disorder by this medium but you seem to be speaking of borderline personality disorder in your description. Is this correct?

I am surprised that my story conveys a sense of intense loyalty on her part as I never felt secure in the relationship in this regard. After a couple of months or so, during which time she felt that we were not seeing or contacting one another enough, she kissed another guy and didn’t contact me for 4 days. On another occasion, much later on in the relationship and after we had said some very emotionally charged things to one another, she confided in a friend that she was afraid she might “mess things up” or engage in a “self-sabotaging behaviour with another guy” whilst away at a festival – this didn’t happen and she later expressed her relief. How can someone be SO prone to such disloyalty at times?

Could you explain more about the internal emotional overwhelm and instability? We seemed to be very open with one another, particularly at intense times – discussing her eating disorder, parent’s divorce, last break-up etc. – things that she had never discussed with anyone else, yet she never mentioned feelings of emptiness etc. The only times this was discussed was through her suggesting that she was afraid of “messing things up” through “Self-sabotaging behaviours”.

Do you think that it is possible that this was simply a case of infatuation on her part and not indicative of a personality disorder? Could the extreme statements simply have been misunderstanding of her infatuation/immaturity and the end of the relationship indicative of selfishness, lack of moral fibre, emotional coldness and a young woman in a new environment, lacking her support network and surrounded by temptation?

Finally, what do you imagine the prognosis in this situation might be? Do you think she even misses me – considering her new relationship?

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.
Hi. I'm sorry I was away and thank you for your patience in waiting.

Yes, I was hinting at BPD. However, I don't know enough and certainly am not here pointing to any disorder, only to behavior that fits the personality profile. This is an important distinction because personality profiles and even moreso personality disorders are not like on off switches where you either have it or not. Rather, we are all on a continuum with these traits. In some people these traits are more prominent and affect their behaviors more and so we call it part of their profile. With others these traits are even more prominent and affect their behaviors in very significant ways and we then might diagnose a disorder.

With that said, I don't know how to reconcile for you the laid back quality with the drama quality: even right after your discussion of the laid back quality, the rest of your follow up question was dominated by her sense of internal emotional intensity and sexual "dramas", etc. That's what I'm looking at that is making me concerned for her.

She's young and so it is possible to assign the cause to infatuation, perhaps. However, the pattern is more unstable in sexual relationships than what we would usually call infatuation. Certainly if there were more years of this same type of behavior, it would be easier to rule out youthful infatuation, new environment, temptation from the outside, etc.

So, you're really in the situation where you have to decide if the allure is more irresistable than the difficult emotional swirling that goes along with having a relaitonship with her. It is possible to explain her behaviors in some "normal" way as you are trying and thus you have to decide if she is pulling you towards her enough and you want the pull. Whether she misses you or not, I cannot say because it would depend on the interpretation of her behaviors. If it is a personality profile issue, then she misses everyone she's had an emotional connection with and will go back and forth with them like a yo-yo until they've had enoug and don't respond. If it's normal, then it's hard to say; you'll have to find out from her. But notice that above my focus was on you and not her:

You need to decide if you want her and all the emotional upheavals, etc. that come with her. And that is how I urge you to move forward, based on your feelings and your needs.

I wish you the very best!


My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me. If the answer has been helpful, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button so that I am credited for the answer. Bonuses are always appreciated! If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I think I could have handled the emotional upheavals, had we stayed close to one another in terms of location - thus increasing the likelihood of her staying faithful and committted. As it is, I fear that I shall never be able to trust her; heartbreaking to consider really, given that I would have stayed with this girl for the forseeable future. In terms of the yo-yoing perhaps, she texted me shortly after your response and wonder what you might read into it?

Her: Hey, how are you doing? I saw that you defriended me on facebook and I suppose I was a bit perplexed and slightly hurt by it. I didn't realise it was a necessary step. Anyway, I hope you're doing well? X

Me: All going well, thanks. I don't use fb particularly anymore and thought it was fairer on new partners.

Her: Oh. Right Okay. Are you seeing someone?
Her: Sorry that sounded super blunt. I was just wondering. and now my heads gone into overdrive. Urgg. Sorry I'm probably the last person you want texting you out of the blue. I just feel a little lost I guess.

Me: I understand, but it'll pass.

Her: OK. You obviously don't want anything to do with me. Not sure what it is I've done to offend you. Thought we ended things amicably but obviously I was sorely mistaken. I'm sorry for whatever it is I've done, I hope whoever she is makes you as happy as you made me.

Me: We made each other happy, unbelievably so, you know that. It just seems best to avoid contact for now.

Her:Okay, if that's what you want. Hurting a bit I guess right now. Missing you a little. Goodnight.

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.
Well, I make of it what fits in with what you've described before. When I've done that, you've searched for alternative explanations, which there will always be. But I can only share with you my training and experience, which is to take a look at everything you've shared with me and look for common threads and common factors and then see if they provide a coherent view about who she is.

And that view is that this conversation between you two highlights almost exclusively her great fear of abandonment, which is indeed a very prominent part of the personality profile we've been discussing...

Abandonment is a huge fear that drives much behavior for people with that emotional instability that plagues her. So, I really related well to your opening statement, "I think I could have handled the emotional upheavals, had we stayed close to one another in terms of location - thus increasing the likelihood of her staying faithful and committted. As it is, I fear that I shall never be able to trust her; heartbreaking to consider really, given that I would have stayed with this girl for the forseeable future"

I don't know that even if you were close georgarphically that the instability would have abated, but now that you are apart, I can understand very much your feelings about this.

I wish you the very best!


My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me. If the answer has been helpful, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button so that I am credited for the answer. Bonuses are always appreciated! If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Dr Mark, thank you for your answers in relation to this question - I have found it immensely helpful to have an additional outside perspective - I have now consulted with 3 experts on justanswer and numerous relationship/PD forums, all with similar conclusions.

I just have a few final questions - as you say, being a medical student with a bent towards psychiatry, I am most eager to rationalise this issue to as great an extent as possible.

The aforementioned conversation occurred just days before we are to return home from college for the Christmas holidays. I believe that the chap she shared a night with, and may well have been seeing since, is going away to Europe for 5 months following the holidays. Given the profile you have determined, the logical conclusion is that this has fired her fear of abandonment, leading to her contacting me. I wonder whether you think that I should be insulted by this/take it as an act of desperation i.e. she had nowhere else to turn, or whether it is more of a subconscious issue which has just led her to suddenly appreciate the intensity of what we had, the feelings I elicited in her etc? - therefore, more of a compliment?

From her messages, she clearly has not recognised her actions in our break-up as being selfish or unfair in any sense - she seems, in fact, to barely have considered the issue. Is this common of the profile? And are individuals of this kind prone to manipulation/lying i.e. would she ever tell me if, in fact, she had slept with this other chap?

Finally, I wonder if you might be able to summarise your conclusions on this case so that I might have something to turn to in order to make a decision on the future of this connection.

Once again, I thank you for your assistance and insights. Now I find myself simply wishing that she was capable of recognising her issues and undergoing psychological reformation to become the girl I had hoped, but never really believed, she was.

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.
Hi. These are good questions and they have one key that needs to be kept in the forefront:

Her behavior, according to this personality profile, is not based on or based from the particular actions and reactions of the people in her orbit. Her behavior is based on herself and her own internal emotion processes.

This is a key but it's very disappointing and so most guys don't buy into it: they want to have influence and be influential in her life and be the cause of things. But in this personality profile, they (you) are always parts of the internal process. So if she feels one way, she'll "fit" the situation to that and act accordingly. If another way, she'll fit the situation to that and act based on that. That's why there's such a yo-yo effect.

As I said, this is a humbling experience: it's not about you; it's always about her.

So, that's the summary. And that's the situation based on this profile. And I wish you the very best on your journey!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me. If the answer has been helpful, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button so that I am credited for the answer. Bonuses are always appreciated! If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

So presumably this chap going away, whilst not the true cause of her emotion, has sparked the fear of abandonment, leading to her subconsciously needing to feel attended to and wanted? Hence, contacting the person (me) who most recently, and perhaps most intensely, provided that feeling of validation and attentiveness?

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.
Hi. I am very happy to continue our discussions, but I would appreciate if you would first give a positive rating to acknowledge my time. Thanks very much,

Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5313
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology helping with relationships
Dr. Mark and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Sorry about that, I had been meaning to leave feedback for some time!

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.
Thank you, it's appreciated very much.

Well, no: the other chap didn't even "spark" the fear of abandonment. In this profile, the person is always interpreting events within the drama; thus abandonment scenarios are seized at more than sparked...

Yes, it's really that emotionally charged to have that profile!

She is more than likely very emoitonally overwhelmed a lot of times and always involved in her feelings in ways that are like stirring rough waters: there's always something ready to bubble over.

I wish you the very best,
Dr. Mark
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

So he went away and she jumped upon the opportunity to feel abandoned? Or chose him and me knowing that we would both have to "abandon" her in time? Somewhat unintentionally exacerbated the feelings?

Then contacting me due to the resulting feeling of emptiness and need for validation? Presumably not consciously thinking "I need to use my ex for attention" but rather, "I feel lost, I miss the temporary emotional fulfillment provided by my last partner"?

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.
I want to make sure you don't fall into that trap I talked about above wherein you think of her as being a rational person thinking this happened, therefore I will react this way.

The profile we're discussing is very split between rational and emotional. Emotions rule the person's behavior very often, overriding her rational side. That would be a more accurate statement of this personality profile.

all the best,
dr. Mark
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

So when she cheated, it was a case of being ruled by her emotions i.e. overwhelmed in new environment, new people, fear of abandonment etc. and didn't even consider implications due to lack of rational thought? Is this why she doesn't recognise she did anything wrong?

Why is it that she contacted me?

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.
Again, you are trying to make it more rational: she was overwhelmed because of what happened: new environment, etc.

In this profile, overwhelm is an internal process, not needing external stimuli. Stimuli is only the medium for the expression.

Why you? In this profile, because you're available.

all the best,
dr. Mark
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I'm still struggling - I understand that she contacted me because I am available (and, I guess she supposes, likely to respond), but there are other men closer to her location who are also available, there is her ex bf who was always trying to reestablish things.

So when she went away, she felt a certain way on a particular day i.e. empty, lost, down, and fitted that to the situation i.e. I am away from my bf/I am losing interest in my bf, and subsequently went off with another guy. Then she feels the same way a few months later fits it to the fact that he is going away. So contacts me to take away these feelings?

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.
I wish I could answer such a question for you. But she is an individual human being and, while we can say that you've described a particular personality profile, it doesn't allow us to say why an individual human being does a specif thing at a specific time.

It's one of the rules of human life: you can predict in a general sense what someone will do, but not specifically....

All the best,
Dr. Mark

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