Why can't I let him go?

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Nomad
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Why can't I let him go?

Post by Nomad » Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:01 pm

I wonder if anyone out there can give me some advice...

I'm in my late 30s and have had plenty of relationship experience (more than I planned for!), consider myself fairly emotionally switched on and am aware of the things I need to work on in myself - including the mistakes I have made in the past. I've had various therapy, read books, meditate, and am generally the go-to friend when others have a problem.

You get the gist, however in this particular situation I just don't seem to be able to give myself advice.

I'm currently single, but the issue I'm going to mention has been around for a long time, even when in another serious relationship. To give some background: I was with the guy in question for over 3 years back between the age of 26 and 30. It was a carefree time, we both played sports on the weekends and had a lively group of friends. We enjoyed our social life, and each other. It wasn't until I reached 30 that I decided he wasn't emotionally invested in US and that I deserved more. (this feeling was sparked after I went away for a few months - he couldn't come as he had just started a new job, but didn't want to hold me back - and when I returned he said he didn't miss me, purely becasue he didn't have that emotion.. what?!).

At the time he hated his job, was uninspired and didn't seem to take any personal action towards his situation so I decided I should move on with my life. It was incredibly hard, unhelped by the fact that he gave no fight for us. I felt angry that he seemed to just be able to let it go and walk away. In my mind he was super special to me and hoped that I had been to him.

Going back to our beginning, I was attracted to him from when I very first met him (this has never happened with anyone else in my life), both physically (although no one else understands why) and also his fun personality and exhibitionist nature! I just felt inexplicably drawn to him, like a moth to a light. I'm guessing it is some sort of hormonal 'matching up' scenario, but it certainly hasn't happened any other time. I just remember thinking how right it was to look at his face, like he had been put there for me.

Perhaps becasue I felt that way, I just presumed he felt that way too. He hasn't had as many relationships as far as I know - so perhaps he just took what he could get and wasn't really that fussed - who knows!

Anyway - it has been SIX years since we broke up. I am almost embarrassed to admit it. I've barely seen him in this time, but occasionally our social lives cross and I see him. I'm useless. I can't think about anything else before the event, feel distracted the whole time, wondering what he is doing (like a teenager) and then feel annoyed afterwards as I could have made more of the social occasion with other people if only I had got over myself.

During these six years a lot has happened. He moved to london for a bit, I moved abroad for a bit, I stopped playing for the sports club due to injury, and generally we don't see each other. In the summer I bumped into him a few times, once in a random situation in the middle of no where in the countryside, both of us on a walk (weird). It was good to have the chance to see him (sober and not at a party or wedding or rugby game) and hear about his life. He is now lecturing and doing a PhD and doing things he loves. A little part of me wondered if we should consider dating again. Lots in common etc. But I knew that it needed to be him that made this suggestion, not me, and I also knew that he never would, not a man of initiative like that.

Recently we were at a party together. Lots to drink, my guard down, we had great time dancing like in the old days. Two misfits, fitting (or that's how it looks to me). But friends (of his!) told me I deserved better. This reminded me of the question I have always had: do I see something that is not there in this man? Do I hold him on an imaginary pedestal that just doesn't exist. I even remember him saying to me maybe twice during our relationship that I thought he was more than he is.

I think the reality is that my frustration is due to the fact that i expect more than he can give, and actually i probably scare him (not that i am scary, just pro active). I would love for him to be in my life again and thought of getting him to come to my dancing classes with me as I know he would be up for it. But this is just a mad idea - i need to accept that we are not compatible. I need someone more emotionally available and supportive and that just isn't in him no matter how much I want it to be. At one point I thought perhaps I need to just let go and not expect so much, just love him for who he is and enjoy that love. But perhaps I do need more, and need to respect that.

So my question to the masses is.... how do I let it go?? He plagues my mind and makes me so very sad all these years later. I try really hard not to think of him (and realise i now need to actively avoid seeing him). Perhaps there is no answer and I just have to carry it and learn to live with it like a cloud.

Thank you for listening. Writing it down helps. People have such huge problems to deal with in life that I cannot even imagine. I do my best to deal with mine (sick father, 20 years of anxiety and depression struggles) but would so love to have an epiphany about this little haunting so I could move past him.

Thank you all

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Re: Why can't I let him go?

Post by Tarantula » Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:07 pm

It sounds to me like you settled and then couldn't accept the fact that you'd settled so fantasised the heck out of him beyond all recognition. He's simple, easy come easy go, a whole lotta meh, and you're dynamic and committed to personal growth, and wanted to badly for him to be something he just isn't.

He's not a bad guy, he's just so terribly average and you sound like a bit of a mover shaker. You sound quirky, probably 10% insane like the best of us... and I think you've become so attached to the IDEA of him, rather than the reality, and THAT'S why it's hard to let go - along with the fact that it was a long relationship, you've got societal pressure saying you're running out of time to find someone etc. If only, if only, if only he was this that 'n' t'other.

When you're in the discount section of IKEA looking for a sweet deal, and you come across a sofa that's PERFECT in every dimension EXCEPT for the colour, you don't sit around for six years going 'but if only it was red instead of blue...' you have to face the reality that it is the wrong colour, even if it was perfect in every OTHER way, and that it therefore isn't a match for your pad, and move on.

I wonder how much of your 'attraction' to him is based genuinely on who HE is, his own merits, and how much of it is you and your pre-existing things/how you perceived him. In my experience, it has become a huge warning sign when a guy tells me I'm too good for him, or I can do better, or he's not as good as I think, or similar. As the authority on themselves, if they're saying that, it's probably true! And whereas I used to find the white flag waving of basic insecurity endearing (because I needed it to feel secure myself), now I find it a turn off (I want an equal, not someone who uses their self-claimed inferiority as an excuse to be defeatist when we're having problems).

You can't let him go because you're resisting something about the reality of your situation. What are you refusing to face here? Is it that you settled? Is it that deep down you weren't that into him in the first place, but felt you should be? Is it that your current reality has gone a bit tits up so you're romanticising the past, when it wasn't actually all that at the time? Is it that your options are thin on the ground right now?

I don't think you're struggling because it's fate telling you that this guy was magically, inexplicably 'right' for you. I think you can't let go because you keep telling yourself that and don't want to abandon hopes of some magical reconciliation because you've spent so much time investing in it in your mind. You say he's not one to take the initiative, not one to fight for you - what is he, a corpse? Does the idea of being with a balanced, assertive man intimidate you deep down? Is your ex merely the comfortable pair of slippers you can't bear to chuck out even though they're worn and moth-eaten?

Hey I'm just throwing out food for thought here.

Practically speaking, No Contact is absolutely mandatory. How are you supposed to move on when you keep seeing him? Don't kid yourself that you really did just wanna go to that party or that outing - if he's there, don't go. Avoid him like the plague. Delete/block him on all social media. Total annihilation because it's been 6 years and it really is time to clean the slate to allow for something new to happen. If he thinks it's hostile, well, he'll get over it - already has by the sounds of it. And don't send him some Epic Last Message under the gise of being polite when really you're fishing for a reaction.

Get rid, and start looking inwards to figure out if anything I've said is ringing bells of truth. I used to settle for kind but shrimpy, dull guys who could take it or leave it because they were indifferent to pretty much everything. I told myself they were hot when my friends were bewildered by my choices and it all just so that I could feel comfortable because, yes, the thought of going out with someone who would hold me accountable for my bad parts was scary and I was as emotionally unavailable as the guys I would go out with.

Now I've overcorrected, but that's another story. ;)

You can't let him go, not because he's special, but because you've kinda cemented in that belief within yourself. That's my verdict!

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Re: Why can't I let him go?

Post by Bel Bel » Tue Nov 04, 2014 3:53 pm

If you try again it may help get him out of your system once and for all
Life is for living so live it to the fullest Cheap Pandora Charms UK

Nomad
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Re: Why can't I let him go?

Post by Nomad » Tue Nov 04, 2014 11:47 pm

Wow Tarantula, I really do appreciate your involved reply and for taking the time to give me advice. I also fully appreciate someone who is so articulate and direct. Thank you.

I love your ikea sofa analogy. I think one of my major issues in many parts of my life is I am not sure what colour of sofa it is that I really want (or need) so the decision bit is almost impossible. A serious case of lack of self worth. I try really hard to work on this but realise I need to work harder and am not looking to be anything but single at the moment becasue of wanting to get these things straight first (I really thought I did have them straight the last time, but turns out I was wrong again).

Again, the slippers. I' a big fan of analogies. Yes, comfort is definitely a factor here. He is easy and comfortable and I know where I am (plus you are probably right about going for guys with insecurities like me - I've been out with a lot of 'problems' and just don't see it to start with). "Does the idea of being with a balanced, assertive man intimidate you deep down?" - in all honesty, i cant imagine ever meeting one. I don't think i ever have, accept a few married to my friends. The only people I seem to meet are by definition not assertive or balanced which is why they are available. I am one of these it seems. I'm being slightly perverse here, but these things do run through my mind. And perhaps becasue of this sometimes it feels like I have two options 1. to be alone and learn to love it (to be fair im pretty good at it), or 2. choose someone straight forward who I already adore as I'm deluded to think I will ever find better.

Again, provocative comments, but more of that in my head than I realise perhaps.

Luckily I have almost zero contact with him so breaking that off is not hard at all. No phone number, facebook or anything like that. I've seen him twice in a year. And once was this party last weekend (yes perhaps i was aware he was going, but i have always gone to it... seems like i might have to stop whether i want to or not).

I didn't leave him becasue I fell out of love with him, I left him because I decided I needed more and I need to respect that decision however hard it is. And however upset I feel thinking about it.

Bel Bel, thank you too for your very contrasting idea. In fact that is what my house mate said too. As tempting as it is, I would be a broken wreck if I went there again and it didn't work out. The idea of him with anyone else makes me feel physically sick, but that is why I need to never see him and somehow let go of these old perceptions.

Tarantula, it's hard to believe right now, that the strong feelings i have are perceptions, but I know I need to find a way. Thank you again.

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Re: Why can't I let him go?

Post by Nomad » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:07 pm

4 years ago you guys gave me advice on this topic. Wow, 4 years. Fast. Petrifying. They have not been a good 4 years, but they have been full of learning.

Even if it's just for me, and you never read this, I wanted to follow up with a recent 'incident'!

I am now 40 and trying to piece together a life after loosing my father, going no contact with a poisonous mother, suffering some of the worst of my depressive illness. But I am also nearly 4 years into therapy and have been going some serious learning and shifting.

4 years ago I took on board your advice Tarantula, I made sure I was never in the same place as this old love again. It was confirmation that it was time to let go of old perceptions. It was easy to do as my life moved away from those people that were in any way connected to him - my old life. I had to move away from them for preservation, it is a world of children and marriage, neither of which have happened for me and I find that really tough. In addition the more time went on, the less links there were to places he might be. I certainly didn't attend anything at the club. I even heard he had moved away, so that was even safer.

Last month I attended a huge fundraiser ball in memory of a friend we had all lost 10 years ago. I had been very unwell so wasn't sure if i would attend until the last minute. But a good group of my old girlfriends could make it so figured it would be a good experience and I could always leave. Most had kids, some divorced - all different and yet the same all those years later. It was fun to sit at a table like the old days. Everyone was on a bit of a mission re drinking as they didn't get out much from their lives.

We had drinks before and settled onto our table (formal event) - all catching up and getting on to the wine too quickly im sure. As I looked around the room I started to realise just how many faces of the past were there. Somehow through the fog of being unwell and the last minute turn up, it hadn't dawned on me that so many old faces would be there. Initially I was thrilled as it has been so long. Then I had a flicker of thought, oh, I've let my guard down, what if xxx is here. But then, I reasoned with myself. He doesnt live here any more.

By the time dinner was over, there was too much chatter and drinking for me to think clearly - sure enough, when everyone started mingling before the band, there was my long-ago ex. Now over 10 years since we had parted ways. And just like the old days, all our married friends were highly amused, always the nudging, winking looks - almost as if they wonder that we were ever together or something. One even said to me 'what a shame xxx still hasn't got it together' - meaning theyd had loved for us to work out, but know I'm worth more.

But also, just like the old days I was drawn to him as inexplicably as the past. Had i had time to have a word with my sober self I would have either not gone at all, or certainly laid the rules to ignore him. But i had been out drinking with the girls and we had all regressed to behaviour from our 20s (I have been so slipper-wearing and recluse lately, I genuinely thought i would never have a big night again, turns out i was wrong). I chatted to him on and off for the rest of the eve. But something deep down waved a warning. I still spent time with the girls.

After the event, we all went to a club. This is where I regressed. Ive not lost memory from drinking for many many many years. But somehow (and we've talked about it since) we all regressed! And i have patches of memory loss. By now i am pretty sure i was flirting with my ex and enjoying it. It has been a long time since having any contact with guys due to being ill. So it was good for my confidence. I also met someone new and had fun flirting with them! All harmless fun. However I dodged a major bullet, as the reason within me was well watered down. I ended up kissing, briefly, my ex - and then fleeing the room. I got out of there quick smart. Thank god i didnt have his number or wasnt able to find him again (and i did look for a moment) as it could have been a disaster in the mindset i was in. Instead i got myself home.

The whole thing threw me off course a bit. But what is really interesting is how i feel about that now in comparison with 4 years ago. Yes, undenyingly i am still attracted to him. But i know its because he is unhealthy and i was raised to think unhealthy is attractive. I was annoyed at myself for being attracted to someone unhealthy as ive been doing so much work to get round this and build my self esteem. But what i could see is something i dont want to be involved with. I remembered other things from the past that i had shut out (pretty sure he cheated on me when we were together), and I have no desire to be with the wrong person. So as much as it woke me up from the inside (as its a long time since feeling attracted to anyone), it also came with plenty of knowledge from deep down that he is not where I want to be. Sure i wish beyond wish he was different. But like the sofa, he just isn't. End of story.

Alarming that this happened so many years later. All of these things are part of the puzzle i need though.

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Re: Why can't I let him go?

Post by reckoner » Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:33 pm

Hi Nomad,

I'm sorry to be so late replying to this (nearly a month - yikes); I've been meaning to since you posted this but it's been one thing and then another. The opportunity has finally arisen!

Firstly, I'm sorry to hear you've been having a tough time of it and hope you're on an upwards trajectory.
Nomad wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:07 pm
Alarming that this happened so many years later. All of these things are part of the puzzle i need though.
This is the main point I wanted to address. I completely understand how this incident has thrown you; you hit the 40s (as I also have) and wonder how much progress you've really made if you're still preoccupied to whatever extent with things you might have expected to have 'got over' by now.

But I don't think it's about not having feelings that you have identified as unproductive. I wonder if those feelings are actually beyond our control; they are the result of our past - the events that have made us, whether we like it or not - so I think it's just natural for things or people from the past to still affect us, even as the rest of our life has changed, perhaps beyond all recognition, and even as the years pile up. Perhaps it is, in fact, unreasonable to expect to not have feelings that seem like a regression.

I think the actual mark of progress is not to no longer have certain feelings, but to learn to manage them. I don't think from your post that there can be any doubt that you are making big progress in that regard; you've noticed the change yourself. So, while your attraction to this person might feel like something holding you back, or trapping you in its apparent ceaselessness, your relative position to it has changed greatly, and for the better. If this incident had not happened, this progress may have been less apparent.

So I, personally, don't see it as cause for alarm at all. It shows you how far you've come.

All the best - and wishing you good health.

Nomad
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Re: Why can't I let him go?

Post by Nomad » Mon Jan 07, 2019 6:45 pm

Reckoner - thank you. Articulate and wise as ever. The weirdest thing though... I see you wrote that today. I haven't logged in since my post and for some reason logged in today! Odd coincidence.
Anyway, just wanted to say thanks.

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Re: Why can't I let him go?

Post by reckoner » Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:15 pm

Ooh, that's weird isn't it? I love coincidences, that's a good one! Thanks for the thanks :D

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