Question: Dear Luise: I am 51 and met a man a few months ago. I tried to resist going out with him because he’s living with someone else. However, he told me that relationship had been ‘over’ for him for two years and that he’d wanted to leave for that time. He also said they never had sex because she was sexually abused in childhood and couldn’t cope with it – it just made her cry. But the sexual attraction between us was strong and in the end I gave in. He was really over the top to start with, even suggesting we live together after five weeks, and I found him overpowering: he’s an emotionally exhausting person. But when I began to respond emotionally after a couple of months, it scared him and he backed right off – trying to control my behaviour and make me think I was ‘needy’. I also noticed he lied a lot and built himself a fantasy life, so in a way, I think that I represented such a fantasy to start with – but when I started responding emotionally and making demands on him (because of course, I wanted him to leave his girlfriend), the whole thing became ‘real’ to him and scared him off. The thing is, though, that after we split it became really acrimonious and we both said horrible things to each other, which I don’t like doing: it makes me feel bad about myself. He also can’t seem to let go: he’s turned up at my place twice in the six weeks since we split, trying to be ‘friends’. But how can we be friends when we just trigger anger in each other now? I simply don’t want this conflict in my life – this feels more like a teenage than an adult relationship. I just want a more harmonious life at my age – but I think he likes trauma and drama. He strikes me now as really unstable. But unfortunately, I find I still think about him and go over the difficulties, and even some of the pleasures, of this brief relationship. Can you tell me how to get him out of my thoughts and get on with my life please? I deserve so much better than what he represented. Thank you. J.
Answer: Dear J.: Those who haven’t experienced being drawn to a person who represents trauma and drama can’t see what the attraction is. I can, because I have been there. It’s about our own fantasy world, not what the other person is dreaming up. We focus on what we are attracted to and just hope the rest will work out. It doesn’t because it can’t. No guy wants to get out of a relationship for two years and stays without a reason. You know that and so do I. He’s not only a liar; he’s also a cheat.
When we can’t get someone out of our thoughts, it’s usually because we like the thoughts. We like the attention we got before the novelty wore off and reality set in. We like the excitement and the adventure of romance. That’s probably why the guy was acting out behind his partner’s back. There’s a thrill to conquest and to newness. It’s heady stuff.
It is also extremely childish and superficial and since such alliances are built on clouds…they usually evaporate, if you are lucky. When they continue, it is often because both of you are insecure and unstable, not just one person. It’s going to take time and a lot of self love to rebuild your self respect. If you need help with that, don’t put off seeing a counselor to assist you in unraveling your inability to act in your own best interest. You’re right, you do deserve a great deal better. Blessings, Luise