Waiting for an ex
Jun 2, 2013
I recently lost (to someone else) a loving, generous man who sincerely wants to make the world a better place. He even started a successful non-profit to promote diversity. We were both too busy with college and multiple jobs. We lived 2 hours apart and I was in my first 6 months of sobriety when we met. I failed to connect with him on a meaningful level when we talked. He was always so crazy about me I just thought he and I would work it out after I have my BFA and he got the TWO Masters he was working on. I just thought we had an unspoken agreement that it was going to be distant between us while we worked our butts off to achieve our goals.
I also was working out my sexual attraction issues. I had always been turned on by men who were bad to me. He was good to me, and he sacrificed the kind of hot sex life he could have had so he could just hold me while I worked through this stuff. I see why he needed to leave, and I see my part in it. But it happened so quickly. One week he was sending me reinforcing messages about how much I mean to him, how I was the guy who came along and made him see why it didn't work out with anyone else. A few weeks later he is in a fast, exclusive relationship with a 22 year old heavy drinker (he is 31, I am 42). Now all I can do is accept what he is doing is important for him and I have decided to remain a close friend (at his request) and to support him however I can. It's the only way I now have to show him how much I love him. Now he says he hates his life, he drinks too much, sleeps til 1, and has dropped 2 of his courses and set his education goals back a year.
What have I pushed him into? This is hurting me to see his life now but I can't imagine what to say or do. I truly believe, now that I am a year and a half sober, that I could be his life mate when he is ready, but I see that he is not. I want to stay at his side through this because I hope we can reunite later. We are both hiv positive, by the way, and his new "bf" is negative. Am I hurting his growth by staying close to him at this point? He asked to remain friends and I'm trying, but it hurts me to see him with another man and it hurts to see him hating his life. Of course I will take steps to heal and let go, and eventually I will open myself up to intimacy with another, but I want him back. Am I hurting him even more now by trying to remain his friend? Any advice about what would be best for each of us?
Response from Dr. Fawcett
Thanks for writing. It is good to read that you are maintaining your sobriety and growth even through these difficult circumstances. Your work toward improving intimacy skills including the ability to both give and receive authentic feelings is really important.
It is a red flag for me when a relationship moves too quickly (such as moving into a fast-paced, intense relationship after just a few weeks). To me that is addictive behavior, which you would do well to steer clear of. I think it's admirable to try and remain friends, but you need to be aware of your unhealthy urge to rescue. What do you need? Trying to stay involved and being drawn into the murky chaos of someone else's relationship and active addictions won't do you any good.
I would recommend working with a peer group, a therapist, or both, to really establish some clear boundaries and to dig a little deeper into your own motivation. Despite the emotional pain, I think this could be a real growth opportunity on your way to living a sober life that includes intimate, authentic relationships.
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