Dear Dr. Aesha,
I come to you with an open and confused mind, but a pure heart. Please help me because I have been hurting too long.
My case is different. My ex and I have been apart for about eight years (seven of those years, I haven’t reached out), though he was apparently looking for me. We were together for about 10 years on and off. I have not been able to have a decent relationship since then, because even though I have been very open to someone new, no one has ever made me feel the level of security that my ex has. We were each other’s first loves. I hurt him early on by cheating on him and rubbing it in his face.
He recently told me that I hurt him too bad and made him feel as though he needed multiple women around. I was a mess when I had him, but we fought hard for each other. He never changed his number in the event that I would call just like he said he never would, and when he did, he immediately had three family members reach out to me via social media. We have been back in contact for a year and while he will never text me a real message, he will always send me some type of love song. I finally saw him Sunday night and he hugged me as if he were never to let go. I apologized, and I did admit that I am absolutely still in love with him.
I asked him to sleep with me, and he said no. I persisted and we did it, but not the way we used to with all of the passion. Just a quick 10-20 minutes, but it felt awesome. He told me he’d call, but I have not seen or spoken to him since Monday morning when he left. Oh–he’s in a relationship with the mother of his children and they live together.
I am just so confused as to how he can say he still loves me but hasn’t reached out again. Now that I sit back and write this, it seems clear that again I moved too fast. I do have a backup man who I am not active with but, I feel that even though this person has also cared for me a long time and in a different way, he may not be a good fit. Even though I am not in a relationship with my ex yet, I have always wanted him back.
I am very clear on what I want, what I deserve and what I am willing to give and I have worked hard on being a better person and partner for whatever man I am with. Please help! We always said that we were made for each other and I feel that it shows.
I’m going to keep it real with you, ok? Everything I say will come from a place of love and respect so that you can trust it.
This is B.S.
You are NOT very clear on what you want, what you deserve, and what you’re willing to do, because you are not telling yourself the truth. Let me break it down for you.
1) You and your ex got caught up in a fantasy because you’re stuck in Phantom Ex Syndrome. Symptoms include focusing on all the great qualities of your ex, convincing yourself he was the best man you’ve ever had, and forgetting all the negative things that led to your break up. You are in love with a GHOST, because you aren’t looking at who this man is right now. You’re focused on the idea you created in your head about who he WAS back then, and you’re not paying attention to the realities you are facing now (like the fact that he has a live-in girlfriend who is also the mother of his children). This fantasy is blocking you from true intimacy with someone else.
I get the sense that he got caught up in this fantasy, too. He was in love with your ghost, and when reality hit him (Oh CRAP! What did I do, I have kids, and a girlfriend) he came back to his senses. This is why he hasn’t responded to your texts, or reached out like he said he would.
2) To break free from this syndrome, you must use T.A.C.T which stands for the Total And Complete Truth. Right now you aren’t telling yourself the truth, sis, so there’s a huge integrity breakdown.
Let me reflect back to you what you told me:
What you believe: “I have worked hard on being a better person and partner for whatever man I am with.”
What you’re doing: Trying to convince your ex to be with you again, while keeping a Plan B guy in the wings.
That’s not what a good partner does to others. You still have some work to do, sis.
What you did: Convinced your ex to sleep with you even though you knew he had a long-term girlfriend.
What you’re telling yourself: “I am just so confused as to how he can say he still loves me and has not reached out again.”
You can get out of this, but it’s gonna require that you take ownership over your part in all of the drama. Yes, he reached out to you for several years. Yes, he said he loves you. Yes, he agreed to sleep with you. Yes, he said he’d call and then he didn’t.
But from the looks of things, you wanted it, and as painful as the results are right now, if you own your desires instead of attempting to explain them away, you can take the next best step:
Cut off all communication with this man before you hurt yourself, hurt him, and his girlfriend and children.