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Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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I texted my ex that I have been thinking about him...he replied

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I texted my ex that I have been thinking about him...he replied Aww. How are you?
little back story he called me a few weeks before saying he was thinking of me and wanted to see how I was doing and that he hoped things were good. Soo i had texted him a little but no real convo like hey you and hey. So today I keep thinking why did he call and tell me he was thinking of me ...he broke up with me so he knows I care I told him. So the message confused me. So I am wondering if Aww is like oh your so pathetic you aren't over this yet or aww he's glad to hear from me? basically is it good bad or nothing ideally I would have liked to hear hey been thinking of you too so I don't know we did chat a little then he said he'd call me tomorrow so I just don't know what to make of it. Thanks KB
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.
It is normal for young and youngish lovers to keep getting back together whenever b oth of them feel something still for each other--which can be a VERY LONG TIME--unless one of them has found somebody new--because NEW LOVE IS MORE EXCITING THAN OLD LOVE. Even decades later, when deaths of new partners have made old partners lonely again, they'll think about getting back together. In the first year or two after a breakup, the partners MAY keep getting back together (and then separating again when the same unpleasant issues come up for one or both of them) UNTIL IT HURTS MORE TO BE TOGETHER THAN TO BE SEPARATE BUT FREE OF THE REMEMBERED HURTS CAUSED BY THE RELATIONSHIP.So go ahead and find out what he wants. But be MOST concerned with finding out if he's moved on to somebody else. Becauswe if he has somebody new in his field of interests, then he might be justmaking sure you're still waiting for him in case all else fails. Ansd it would also be very valuable if you could find out, or figure out, why he broke up with you. Because those reasons are not the same as yours, but they're more important to him than your reasons for wanting him back.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
ok but we are both in our 40's I am 41 and he is 47 not sure if that changes things. It was a 3 month relationship but we both felt it was special and moving serious at the time. I shut down emotionally one night and really pushed him away...not because I didn't want to be with him but because I was overwhelmed I just got divorced in August and didn't expect to jump into a relationship. I was trying too hard but I know that night is when he pulled away and was never the same towards me and worse we never talked about it. I was happy to hear from him and surprised I would like to try again because we both felt it was special at that time..not sure if you can get that back.
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.
That makes things clearer. When most people are newly divorced they're NOT ready to get into anything serious--so what you did was normal, and you just didn't have prior experience to know that your feelings were going to rise up to redirect you as suddenly as they did. How long were you married before your divorce? What's his marital history? Timing of separations, divorces and reconnections can make many new-budding romances suddenly dry up with no prior warning--because we can always have more than one emotional story unfolding inside of us, with at least one of them being totally unconscious and misunderstood because of another that's on the surface.In Mel Krantzler's book "Learning to Love Again" 4 stages of recovery from divorce and progressing towards remarriage (which he calls "Creative Marriage") are sketched out: At first there is complete resistance to connection with the opposite sex (K calls that "remembered pain" that lasts a few weeks to 1 year)--more so with women than with men. In the second stage one may experiment with dating (called "questing"), with men more likely to make sex the goal of their dates and women more cautious about involvement. But especially for women who've been in a long marriage, they're likely to focus on serious, marriage-oriented relationship as the only purpose worth pursuing. If your man-friend was longer out of his last relationship than you, he may have been superficially "quite comfortable" with aiming towards serious commitment. But you were not ready, even though you thought you were: Your episode of pushing him away might have occurred when something happened that triggered your "remembered pain" from your past, even though you didn't realize what that painful past actually was.Then your surprising rejection of him may have triggered painful rejection memories for him--which could have acted like a depth charge inside of him. In his mind you might have suddenly become someone who is very (emotionally) dangerous to him, because you might easily cut him off again without any warning. So I would advise that you definitely could reopen yourself to dating with him (with the concern that having an exclusive-dating agreement would be a very wise step in order to protect you both against being blind-sided by a rejection by the other).You ARE "youngish" with respect to dating, because of your marital history. But the steps needed to resume your dating are different than if you were in your twenties. You can reopen the door and invite him to reconnect by writing about the sudden internal emotional event that led you to push him away--you can all it something like a 'fear of getting in too deep too fast.' Because getting into deeper relating is bound to trigger emotional memories in you (and in him too) that you can't be prepared for until they come. And those may scare you, so you'll need to respect that fear. Then possibly withdraw and write about what you're feeling and remembering--before you can resume spontaneous feeling&relating with him (and he'll have the same reactions, and might be even less aware of them than you, since men typically have a lot less connection to and understanding of their emotions.)Let me know whatyou think about this explanation, and I'll go further with it if you want.
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.
You CAN get that specialness back IF you're willing to develop an agreement for exclusive dating, AND for making some cummunication outreach when you've gotten a "cold-chill" because of something inside of yourself (the "deep water" of your complex & unexpressed inner relational life)--or he's felt something in himself (by email or text is a GOOD way, because it's not as awkward as face-to-face). This may seem very hard to do, because you've NOT yet taken the risk to communicate about something as delicate & hard to express in words as this. I've now been married for 30 years, to a fellow psychotherapist, and we both still have difficulty adding new "rules for difficult-to-say" adjustments in our relationship.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I wanted to do in person because I thought that would be better to see someones reaction to see I am sincere in what I am saying. But he has only communicated with me a very little with out me initiating it 1st. honestly one phone call. oh he is divorced about 4 years and dating only one year his ex cheated on him and he is raising his son. He has had a few relationships but they haven't lasted I believe he broke them all off. I was married 8 years with my ex husband 13 years. He has pushed me so far away. I feel like we have a chance but i don't know how to reach him. I don't know that he would even agree to come talk in person he just tells me how busy he is.
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.
I just lost everything I wrote. You notice that he's still doing self-protective withdrawals when HE gets blindsided by an emotional shutdown (like you did). So you need to take safer steps to make it safer for him AND YOURSELF. You're in the stage of needing to negotiate a resumption of your dating. That's why I'm suggesting you do it first in writing--because the commitment of driving over to meet each other is a later stage than where you are. You will BOTH continue to find your comfortable relating feelings INTERRUPTED by suddenly triggered reminiscences from your past. His pattern is already established, yours caught you by surprise. But you'll both need to arrange away to cope with these unexpected interruptions that can either serve to sabotage a developing relationship by undermining your trust, or help you to free yourselves from your past emotions by expressing them (to yourself, in writing, or to a counselor if you could hire yourself one--which you could do with me, her online, by reporting whenever you have a reaction to withdraw or push away from your dating partner), or it will take you much longer and more crashed relationships to get ready for a new intimacy--with the greater adjustment and emotion management skills you will need to make a new intimacy resilient.
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.
I have a more extensive description I wrote for my textbook "Love & Intimate Relationships: Journeys of the Heart" (Philadelphia, 2000) about the emotional challenges in post-divorce dating -- in my 15 page Appendix on Recovering from Love with Dignity, but it's not digitized. Divorce and learning to love again have major potential for personal growth, that could make your next relations much better, IF you do the learning needed. But your backing-off is totally normal (as is his), and you've got a chance now to learn one of the most valuable lessons in how to get thru the first crash of Idealized Romance, that happens right around when yours did. And your ideal romance WILL always have to come back down to earth, to some disappointment but not total disaster every time.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
ok I just sent him an email I hope i did it right. I told him how I was feeling that night and how I actually felt for him and that I would like to still move forward with the relationship if he wanted to but if he has moved on I understand either way I wanted him to know what was really going on with me that night and how I am feeling now. I have always thought things like this are what pushes guys away but I know that night is what killed us so I guess I have to put myself out and expose my feelings in the chance that we may try our relationship again and if not then I guess I can start to move on knowing I told him what was going on with me that night.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I think i may have made a mistake sending him an email about that night and how i still feel. Everything I see online says do not tell an ex how you feel it only pushes them away more. Part of me feels like we are mature adults and shouldn't play games but he probably doesn't give a you know what about me like that and is over it. I don't know why he called me that night or why he left me that nice voicemail saying that he was wondering how I was doing and that he was thinking of me and hopes everything is good. I didn't expect to hear from him I know he knew I cared about him so I feel he shouldn't have said he was thinking of me. now I just sent him an email explaining that night what was going on and saying I care about him and miss him in my life that I would like to try again with him but if he has moved on I understand regardless I wanted to explain what was going on with me that night.
by what I see online rule #1 don't tell them how you feel so I think I just made myself look stupid and noway this is going to give me what I want which is him to want to try again with me.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
just wanted to add it's been 24 hours and he hasn't responded so I guess that is my answer.
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.
It took me several tries to be able to reply to you, and I have a medical procedure tomorrow. I don't agree with socalled rulemakers online--perhaps because I'm a mature adult, and I taught a class on love relationships for 21 years and wrote a textbook, and have a PhD on that subject. You've given the guy something to think about. If he can't respect the risk you took, then he's too skittish to risk a relationship--which you've already suspected.I'm old-school enough to be very suspicious of relationships that aren't predominantly person-to-person instead of Internet-facilitated. But you had to give him a chance to recognize your courage of admitting you were off-balance. But DOn't forget what I also told you: Than you're probably NOT yet ready to get too deeply into love again yourself, which is WHY you reacted without realizing you were going to. And he could be quite STUCK in the stage of diving in full of passion and confidence, and then suddenly running away. People who aren't conscious of their feelings do that all the time.You didn't do a No-No. But you can consider how to adjust your dating strategy, so you're testing a dating partner for his reliability within the first 2-3 months. It's very hard to catch on to the latest "dating rules" when you're divorced. But negotiating as you go can help you make your own agreements with a prospective partner, instead of trying to play a "game" with hidden rules that you don't know, because they're influenced by unconscious needs and fears that vary from person to person.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you! I am going to look into your books so I can work on myself. He texted me a Happy Mothers Day! I hope you have a great day today! but nothing about the other I am sure he was just being nice. I felt very torn because even my one guy friend was like do not email him let him come to you but I felt I needed to talk about that night I do feel better getting it out but I can't say I will hear from him anytime soon. So what are your thoughts on the whole guys want what they can't have and i should not contact him unless he calls me and all doesn't feel good to me I feel like I am an adult I want to be honest but everything else tells me not to be... I don't know if he moved on part of me thinks he just immersed himself in his life which is why he keeps saying how busy he is. But he could have someone new. He's only been dating a year and divorced 4 he had a few relationships but I guess something is missing. My gut says no cause he isn't looking for just anyone to date he wants someone with an x factor is what he called it. Said I had it. I know that night is what broke us so I guess now I will just focus on me I am trying to date just to try to get over him but I am finding I am not liking anyone sure I am forcing it. Thank you so much for your help If I hear from him i will be sure to let you know.
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.
I keep having trouble getting the right screen for replying to you. You will not regret adopting a more mature way of dealing with relationship mess-ups; because you will get better at it through practice. And the guys who are lucky enough to get interested in you will get to learn FROM you that they can become more willing to admit to their own frailties because YOU're doing it. You've created a safety for him if&when he's ready to come back. He doesn't have much time, and maybe he does have a new infatuation too. But your emotional push-away happened at the 1-3 month "crash of idealization" (first deflation of excitement) time, and that happens in almost every love relationship--so it'll happen to him again. And he wouldn't be texting you what he's saying if he wasn't trying to make sure you'll keep him in mind. And another thing: New dating couples can't be aware of the dark sides of their partnership OR the places where they don't fit very well at all until many months longer than the time you had: around 6 months for some irreconcilable differences and 4-10 years for much of the darker stuff. Quality of attraction can be unusually good, and STAY that way, even when all the less lovely parts come to pass.(In fact, astrological chart comparisons can predict much of these positive and negative factors; but most astrologers won't cast such charts (except for arranging marriages) until couples are pretty committed to each other--to avoid setting up self-fulfilling prophecies. And couples can make AWFULly uncomfortable charts work to foster their personality development (via "Intimate Friction" that forces one to develop one's personality in adverse conditions.)One question: Is either HE or You an adult child of divorce? (I studied those people very thoroughly in my second doctoral research dissertation, tho much of what I found also applies to post divorce dating such as you're now experiencing.)
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.
PS Only my Love & Intimate Relationships text is already published, and it is a lot better than a normal advanced college text on that subject. But it doesn't focus much on post-divorce midlife singles and couples, since its main audience was traditional college students (the appendix is very good though). There are also very good books about divorce ("Rebuilding" by Fisher, besides Mel Kranzler's books.)
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
ok Thank you! I will look into both text and the book. Neither of us come from a divorced family. He was adopted but as a baby. he is a single child I have a younger brother.also my issues I have since my divorce haven't been common. My ex cheated while I was going to a fertility dr so I found out i was pregnant 4 days after I caught him cheating. He also left us in a house that is in foreclosure and I was a stay at home mom. Still looking for work. The baby just turned 1. I didn't intend to end up in a relationship that fast I just thought I was getting out maybe causally date. So it was a lot to say the least ..I know this also affected the relationship. He went and bought me food just because or gave me money even though I refused it. He then hid it in my house. no one has ever done things like that for me. He worked hard to get me to like him and it all changed that night. anyway I let him know how I feel I will not contact him again so if I don't hear from him I have to move on and learn to let it go. Thank you so much for your help.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Oh and also I do not understand why he texted me Mothers day most likely just being nice but after that email I would think he would just do no contact, I also still do not get why he called that night leaving that message saying he was thinking of me and wondering how i was ..talked about his trip said to call or text him talk soon. I had not contacted him in 2 weeks at that point I was trying to let go and move on I felt he wanted nothing to do with me so I forced myself to stop. he left that message and that got me texting him again now hear I am trying to move on again I just don't get it..I would think he would want to discourage me as much as possible. I don't know.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My youngest has been in the hospital since Wednesday I texted my ex told him she was having surgery last night and he was pretty ice cold didn't ask me how I was or anything not she will be ok or not one word of support. just what was going on what she had...responded yikes that must be scary I answered he then didn't say anything until this morning. he asked how she is doing..but its a cold feel to it like guessing he didn't like my email don't know why her still texted me for Mothers day. pretty sure he things I am some clingy needy girl now and I think he wants me to leave him alone so I will...I didn't respond to his text this morning he doesn't care strangers sound more empathetic than he did in the text. so I am on a probably no contact for 30 days shouldn't be a problem pretty sure I won't hear from him again he can sigh a sigh of relief that I finally get it.

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