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Ask Dr. Norman Brown Your Own Question

Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1168
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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I was in a relationship with a guy years. I thought it

Customer Question

I was in a relationship with a guy for 5 years. I thought it was going well he called every night, talked about our future togetheretc. In the morning he was normal spoke of future. Then that evening he did come around. I called he didn't answer then eventually answered a few days later said he had had enough a brief 3 minute call. I never heard from him again. 4 weeks earlier he gave me his mums real pearl necklace as she died last year. We are both 50 years old. I just don't understand what I did wrong and after 5 years. It's Ben nearly 3 months and still so upset
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Paige replied 1 year ago.
Hello. I'm sorry he has done this to you, that is quite devastating after 5 years!! You shouldn't think to your self, "what did I do wrong" because you very well could have done absolutely nothing wrong. My guess on what happened, and again, this is only a guess based on my experience with men (or women) who abruptly end a relationship, I would say he had another relationship going on while he was with you. He eventually decided to end it with you and be with someone else. His behavior shows that this is the common reason for what you describe. The other thing would be if he had an accident of some sort and CANNOT communicate, but that does not sound like what is happening. So at this point, you need to decide what to do. You cannot change the last 3 months. He has made his decision. As bad as he made you feel about it, you need to try every day to get the strength to move on. I know its very difficult, but try not to wonder what You did wrong. This is HIS problem. HE is the one who wasn't adult enough to talk to you. HE is the one who was the bad person, HE is the one who treated you badly. This is not your fault. Even if there was an issue in your relationship which you were the cause of, the point that he never brought it up, discussed it, etc... is HIS problem. It is a very bad thing for someone to do, but that was his choice. You are not at fault here. He is. try to concentrate on that part of it, no matter how difficult it may be.If he calls you or tries to communicate with you in any way after this, you might consider resisting him and the temptation to go back to him, even if you want to. If he comes back to you, it most likely means that whatever relationship he left you for, didn't work out, so he is coming back to you as second choice. The best thing you can do for yourself is to turn him away. Time will heal. Try to be strong and take a day at a time.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am very disappointed with your response. I know it is most defiantly not another relationship 100 percent. As I mentioned his mother died recently and if anything it is this and he can't deal with it. His brother has asberges very badly and I think he may have. A degree of this. I can't notve on without understanding why he has treated me like this. It is not another relationship. Also we saw each other every single day. He lived with his mother and has never been married. He is a work aholic and works 7 days I know he is at work all this time. He has left before but always comes back and never for this long.
Expert:  Dr. Paige replied 1 year ago.
OK. I was not aware you already had your answer as to why he did this. I had read your question to be that you thought it was something you had done. I missed the part where you had said his brother had issues and that he was caring or him and unable to deal with his mothers death. I am a little confused. I was under the impression he didn't indicate his reasoning for dropping the relationship and thought he was ignoring you, not speaking to you for 3 months. If you know why he is temporarily taking a beak from the relationship, I am unaware why you would be upset by this. If he had inexplicably stopped the relationship without indicating to you in any way why or how, and just out of the blue stopped taking to you, then I would stand by my answer of that being completely wrong of him to do. It is a fact that 90% of all relationships which end with one of the partners stopping it without any explanation, there is an affair going on. That is absolute truth. I had thought this was what you had clearly described he had done. So if he said he isn't continuing the relationship while he is dealing with personal matters, I'm not 100% clear what the problem actually is. If he hadn't told you why he wasn't speaking to you, this would indicate a serious problem with his communication skills and I would still recommend that you find a way to move on from him. Being that this is not the case, you know why he has stopped talking to you, then it appears you have your answer already. If you are waiting for him to deal with his issues and feel he is just taking a personal hiatus, then the only reason you should be angry with him or want to move on, is if he never told you why and just stopped the relationship.Anyone, who after 5 years of being with someone, just out of nowhere ends everything, is not someone who knows how to be a mature individual. This is the type of situation where I would stand by my second part of my original answer and say he is not the kind of person who has the ability to be in a responsible relationship and my advice to the person who was left, would be to not accept being treated in this manner. I would have a difficult time taking this person back into my life, as he has no regard for anyone elses feelings except his own. When stating a question on this platform, it is important to make sure every detail is spread out in order to get an accurate answer. I was not aware you already knew what was going on and why he had done this, therefore was not looking for a reason or realm of possible ones.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Sorry but I think there is a misunderstanding. I do not know why he suddenly stopped communicating and seeing me at all. He has never said, it was sudden in the morning he was fine called me twice during the day and then I just never heard again. It is not another woman I know for sure. He has not said he wants a break to get over his mother I am just guessing it may be why a reason. His brother has ashberges and I am wondering if he may have traites I dont know. Everything is just a guess. I dont have a lot of self esteen and keep blaming myslef that I must have done someting but I dont know what. We were very close and he has no one now in his life except his brother with Ashberges. My mother , sister and friends say he must be mad as I did everythig I could for him and he has no one except me really in his life and no other stability. He still has my keys to my house and owes me money for car tax and our holiday, during which we had a great time together. I dont understand why he hasnt at least droped my keys through my door as this is the least he could do. I am scared to contact him for my keys for fear of response or he may think its an excuse. I dont like the idea of him having my keys but also to chnage the locks seems extreme.

I am sorry if I didnt make it clear.

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.
Apparently Dr. Paige has released your question, though I'm not sure. I'm guessing that what you want in response to your inquiry is some ideas on how to find out what's really going on with him (that's IF he's willing and able to respond). In my experience the commonest reason why people suddenly stop a relationship and won't communicate about their reasons ("had had enough" is pretty vague, and it DOES imply that some way you've been acting has contributed to his reaction, even if that might be ONLY that you naturally expect him to keep up daily communication as always) is SHAME. Because Shame makes people who are naturally withdrawal-prone anyway, to just want to sink down under the ground so nobody can SEE them thinking, feeling or doing what's going on with them. And the natural effect of their disappearing from your radar is to trigger a SHAME-response in you as well. for SHAME is triggered whenever a steady-stream of interest & enjoyment of another person is interrupted, blocked, and you still want it to continue, because that's part of LOVE. So you Withdraw too, and you wonder whether you should Blame Yourself for some part of the interruption, or assign all the Blame to him, as dr. Paige suggests, since his behavior is abnormal.You're right that people with Aspergers Syndrome (autism spectrum in general) are known for doing this, for sudden reversals in their emotions, and they're typically unable or unwilling to express how their emotional system arrived at their Withdrawal--and to write or talk about it would "expose themselves" to feeling the SHAME they're bound to feel if they're aware that what they've done is UNKIND. Bob dylan has features of Aspergers Syndrome, and he has famously gone on concert tours with band members who are forbidden to look at or speak to him; yet he can be very interested in his grandchildren, and he has even bemoaned in an interview that he has NO real friends--and probably everyone who's ever been "close" to him has a cruel rejection story to tell.It seems to me that it's no accident that your relationship of 5 years seems to depend on distant communication for its continuity. Is it possible that what he's "had enough" of is your (natural) need for daily contact, and possibly also physical and/or verbal & emotionally expressive intimacy? If these kinds of continuity and intimacy are central to your experience of your own self in intimate relationship, what parts of that do you want to sacrifice to make a continuation possible with your boyfriend?How can you find out ANYTHING about what's going on with him now? Are you already following implied "rules" about not interfering when he's in a state of WITHDRAWAL as he probably is now? What would happen if you went to his dwelling-place to see him in person? Are you afraid of being HURT more than you already are if you write him and ask point-blank: "Do you want me to wait patiently until you're ready to communicate ? Are you withdrawn from other people because you're grieving your mother's death? Do you want me to continue loving you as I have for 5 years? Or do you want me to make my love for you die, so I don't keep waiting for you?" What do you imagine would happen if you sent him those sentences?If he gave you no response at all, I would advise you to send the Same message again in 2 weeks, with this additional sentences: "Since you have not responded at all, I will assume you are too depressed to find any words to say. I suggest you go to a grief counselor, such as can be found through Hospice, because grief passes through your emotional being better if you can express it to someone, and a professional grief counselor can be safer for many people than any friend or relative. I will ask you for some words about what you want one more time in 1 month. If you respond in any way, I will cherish what you write, no matter what it is. If you don't respond, I will not wait any longer.If you now realize that his past behavior shows that you cannot get the central features of loving that you know you want.--and IF your love for him has often or mostly been rekindled by painful interruptions like this that are followed by rekindlings that are specially precious BECAUSE they've arisen from a deep despair at feeling "locked out" from his heart--then don't bother playing one more 6 week drama that could BACKFIRE if it DOES lead him to send you a tiny message just to keep you from leaving forever. Because IF he then responds to admit that he still wants you waiting for him, you've offered him an implicit agreement to hang onto his every word, if he'll just give you a shred of justification for hanging on.I've taken you through this dramatic simulation in order to demonstrate what you might be asking for if you follow your own (natural) inclination to get him to open up to you just a little--to find out if what you're imagining about his withdrawal is roughly accurate or not. I hope this helps. I don't expect you to stop knocking on the door to his mind just because a professional therapist tells you it's hopeless. Besides, I don't know you much better than I can know him; and perhaps distant communication with passionate suffering, longing and rekindling are well suited to the kind of life you are living and want to continue. I also have no idea what it's been like for you to recover from giving up on a love in the past; and that has to be part of what you weigh as your options.

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