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Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1207
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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I just wanted help figuring out what just happened with

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I just wanted help figuring out what just happened with a relationship because it’s knocked me down. I’m sorry if this is long, I am sure it’s boring to read.

I have been very badly hurt in the past. I was abandoned before my wedding by my fiancé who disappeared two years ago very unexpectedly so I have some issues with trusting people so I am still recovering.

Fast forward and I met someone and he asked me out a few months ago.

I get asked out quite a lot and usually say “no”, I am turned off by men hitting on me to a degree because of my trust issues, but this one was very light and easy and applied no pressure to me so we started talking by text.

After a while I agreed to meet him for a drink, it was fireworks..but nice and after that we started dating. I was a bit reluctant but we got on well, he phoned, he texted and he was completely consistent and absolutely interested in me and my life rather than just sex like most guys.

His consistency won me over.  Even when I could not see him for 2 - 3 weeks he still called every day and was showing truthworthiness.

So anyway, we had a few more dates, always short and only kissing and I honestly did not feel that emotionally connected. It was more like “nice dinners with nice man” and a friendship was growing.

He was very keen on a relationship with me and worked hard to grow it. He has planned dates up through into October (show tickets, all sort of nice stuff he figured I would like).

Then he started blowing a bit cold after we had the “exclusivity chat”. I noticed he was calling less and making less effort to see me and I asked him about it. He said he was sorry, that it was because he had been hurt himself in the past and found it hard as we got closer because he was a bit lost after being heartbroken himself and was scared.

I said I understood, but I ended it politely at that point (didn’t want to get involved with someone with issues that might cause me pain) but he told me he was a solid guy who really wanted to grow a real relationship and why not spend more time together.

I agreed as he seemed so earnest and safe.

I had not been with anyone for a year, and he had not for three years so neither of us date a lot. He has only had three relationships in his life and is divorced with two young children who he adores.

We then had out first “night” together last weekend, had sex six times, cuddled, stayed up all night talking and I finally felt truly intimate and close to him.

This was such a nice weekend.  He showed me his house, his photos, his life and invited me into it.  took me to his favourite places and made me feel very much like this was the start of something real.

We had a long talk and he described all his past pain (was quite bad and I felt for him). He showed a lot of attachment to the past, and it seemed like he could not forgive himself for his divorce and leaving his children for the woman before me, who he loved deeply but would not commit to as he felt like it was a betrayal of his children.

He felt like he had ruined his one and only chance at happiness and that he was a bad person that had let everyone down.

Although this was sad, we connected so much that I really did walk away feeling finally like I wanted a relationship and to be with this man.

He then dumped me.

Out of nowhere, immediately after this great night together. He sent me a text message to do it and I replied absolutely furious as he had convinced me over months to do this.

He replied to me with this: “I apologise for what I have done, after Friday I thought a lot about what you said about me, my past relationships and how I had behaved. I have tried to put that all behind me but it all came back, the hardest question was when you asked me if I still love her, for some stupid reason that was the hardest question. I need to sort myself out, how I behaved is poor and as you say childish. I finish working tomorrow and have no more work and feel scared for my future. I am going to take off alone for a few days alone. Just out camping and try and clear my head. I'm going to use the time to rebuild myself, my behaviour, habits and morals, as I've lost the plot, and lost myself along the way. I have done nothing but work as I want to buy a bigger house for my children. I know it's stupid, but my ex wife always gets there first and does all the things I want to do with them. It makes me feel shit! I am very very sorry for everything. I'm a shit person and need to get myself to a better place. I'm sorry for wasting your time and going to bed with you. I just can't handle it at the moment. I don't know if will ever be with someone again, just too battered and can't imagine getting close to a woman again, as was hurt so badly and an scared of that. I didn't mean to treat you badly, please understand and accept that."

And anyway, I was completely bowled over as he has spent months convincing me to try and relationship and he knew how hard it was for me to trust.

I don't know how to feel.

Is it possible what he is saying is genuine and he is honestly scared of this relationship?

Or is this just lies men tell to feel better after using you for sex?

I really would like an honest answer, no trying to be nice, as after what my fiancé did and now this I need to understand why people do such things and their motivations.

It's the confusion that kills me inside because I feel so rejected and lost and have no understanding how I got from A to B.

Please can you give any insight?

Thank you

Yours is a tough question to answer, because it asks me (at least a man might be a better bet for getting an insight into male consciousness) to guesstimate what this man was feeling. And there is more than one possibility.The most immediate one is the 6-times over the weekend: that much sex and introducing you to many of his secret-heart-places was a dive into intimacy that was WAY too deep (and I'm astrologically a deep intimacy man with over 50 years experience and my 30 year marriage ongoing). I imagine that he would have blasted his way into layers of love/intimacy experience that would have evoked Both his exwife and the woman he left her for--with his huge moral guilt that he's never adequately addressed.I'm going to stick with this line of interpretation, because it's the most promising to my intuition: He may have been confused about WHY he was seeking intimacy with you--having "struck out twice." Perhaps there was something eating him up in his marriage, because he couldn't get to what his problem was: He shoulod have sought out a deep psychotherapy then. Instead he sought the affair: It "healed" his festering wound, but then he knew it was WRONG. Love was not the answer. So now he's tried again with you; and sure enough, love is not the answer--because it just brings up the confusion and guilt he fell into before. He needs to seek deep personal psychotherapy for what's not working inside of himself, NOT for which woman is the right plugin replacement to fit his needs.He was using you, but not for sex, definitely partly for love, but that was for what he really needed: to use you for psychotherapy--because he wanted to bare his soul & pain to you more than anything, and for it to be safe to "get naked" to his heart with you. All that sex made it safe enough to let out his secrets and to trust you. But he really needed you to heal his psyche, and you can't do that as his lover--nor are you trained for that as a therapist.So I suggest that you write him and tell him some of what I've written here. And tell him to go to a female therapist (older than him) and give her in the first session the same confession he has given to you. Tell him to make sure by prior interview that she (or he) has good training in "psychodynamic or psychoanalytic psychology" not just "cognitive/behavioral psychology" (even though that's the mainstream research-darling nowadays).
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In case it's not already clear from what I just wrote, HE DUMPED YOU because he got so many painful and Guilty memories welling up after the weekend that he assumed he was just doing the same thing to you that he had done to the woman he cheated on his wife with. But I'm saying he was seeking to heal his inner soul when he cheated, and he's a little closer to realizing that that's what he need this time. Both of you approached your relationship from the same basic wounded place; so you both needed a "healing relationship." I don't know what healing you need, but I am confident that it was healing himself that he needed, NOT healing from the wounds he had suffered in his marriage, or from his guilt over cheating and then discarding his prior lover. HE needs to realize that he needs to seek his healing in a Platonic love relationship like what is supposed to develop in a year+ psychotherapy relationship.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks Dr Brown. That was an amazing reply. I read it quite a lot of times.

So you feel he has pretty big issues and the dumping has nothing to do with me or not liking me and this is all inside of him.

I can understand that.

It sounds like he has a lot of work to do and I will talk to him about this. Yes, I suppose I was ooking for a healing relationship. One that would grow slowly and restore my faith so the timing was bad for me and hit me hard and made me feel very personally rejected.

I think he will agree to go to therapy if I show him this, but I will wait a few days as he has a funeral this week and aso lost his jon and it's his last day tomorrow. A very tough week for him emotionally on many levels.

I will try not to be angry and hurt and just accept he has issues. Do you think that is best?

Sara: I am very confident about the effect on him of plunging into a weekend like he did with you, after being scared off by the verbal commitment of "exclusivity"--that it would activate disturbing reminiscences & grief as well as his guilt feelings, and that could be too much for him to cope with. But I can't guess what his original issues that came up in relation with his wife could be. Losing his job now suggests that he might be self- destructing in part because he can't find his way out of his relationship losses (including you too) and guilt. He might need therapy right away if he's getting depressed. You would know if he seems unstable. People who are good enough to feel the guilt he feels don't do cruel things in love unless they are acting unconsciously.

If you present my explanation to him, as gently as you can, you can find out if it helps him make sense of his actions toward you. If he feels respected in spite of his transgressions towards you, he may want to open up more about his painful past--and this could help both him and you get more understanding of what happened, even if the resulting discussion develops DIFFERENTLY than what I've suggested. I think perhaps you can respect him for his moral suffering, And be somewhat hurt that you had to suffer too. That could be somewhat healing for you.