Chantelle K. Dockter, MA LPC
Associate of CCCOW,
Question: I am a 34 year old woman that has been seriously dating a man who had actively pursued me and we had established a close, intimate relationship over the last year. For the last 5 months or so, he has been distant, cold, and withdrawn. I get the feeling he is done with me but doesn’t have it in him to officially end it with me. The more he distances himself, the more I try to grab hold of him and pull him closer. This just results in more distance. I feel like I am constantly throwing myself at him and still getting nowhere. I am sad, frustrated, and I don’t like who I have become through all this. What should I do?
Answer: Oh, the deep pangs of heartache. We have all been there, or will be there, at some point in our lives. Sometimes we are the one causing it, and other times we are on the receiving end.
Let me first validate your distraught feelings. I myself have experienced two great heartaches over the years. Not just disappointments or some sad feelings, but true, intense heartaches. Heartaches where you can’t eat, sleep, or think clearly. Where you lose all motivation for the things in your life. Where the emotional pain is so powerful and all-consuming that you can physically feel it. Heartache where you wonder if the pain will ever become less or if you will even make it through it. Matters of the heart are not easy and are not to be taken lightly.
If you have not done so already, you need to talk openly and honestly with your guy. You need to directly address his withdrawing behavior and let him know how that feels and what it does to you. Ask if there is anything that has happened or needs to be addressed between the two of you that you are not aware of.
If there isn’t anything, and he continues to behave in this way and not comfort and validate you and return to how he was before, then you need to ask yourself why you would continue to stay in this relationship. The hard truth is that we cannot change someone else. I see women in my office everyday that believe that somehow they will be the one to change their boyfriend and it never works. When you find yourself being the only one investing or “working” at your relationship, you need to take a step back and take inventory. If you have made it clear what you need from him and he cannot or will not give it to you, then he is being cruel to keep you around. If you are correct and he is “done” with you but not willing to actually end it, then do yourself a favor and be the one to call it quits rather than to slowly let it bleed out.
Do not give someone else the power over you to control and manipulate your feelings, emotions, or to dictate your sense of self. When you can look at yourself and recognize that you no longer like who you are based on morphing for a relationship, that is a huge red flag, one that indicates that something needs to change. You should not have to lose yourself in order to be in a relationship with someone else. We are all worth love and commitment and should seek to be with someone who brings out the best in us and is as invested as we are.
So have yourself a few good cries (a very good emotional and physical release), commiserate with your girlfriends (who love you no matter what), and then find your inner strength and let him go. Because if he is just not that into you, find someone that is…he is out there.
Chantelle K. Dockter, MA LPC
Associate of CCCOW, cccow.org