Emotional dependence again - help!

He lied to me about making a clean break with his girlfriend - told me he had moved out, when he hadn’t (I was on the other side of the world, and found out the truth through a mutual friend by accident). I was never “with” him, exactly, but he had asked me to marry him (long story).

I was lucky to have met my current boyfriend almost immediately after things went south with the first guy. Dating someone who treated me right helped me get over things fairly quickly, although it took me a year to work through all my issues, I think.

Mark sounds like a classic Borderline Personality Disorder case. RUN.

Clarification - they “split” you positive and you’re the best, most exciting, most interesting and attractive person on earth. Eventually, due to perceived slights, the other shoe drops and they’ll split you negative and, well, it looks a lot like what you described. That is, if you’re lucky…more often they’ll completely destroy your life in the process.

I’m with the rest of the crew here; any guy who cannot possibly be understanding that dissolving a marriage takes time, and face-to-face meetings, could not possibly be keeping your best interests in mind. How do you pout and cut someone off from all communication when her big “sin” was communicating with her husband? That is over-the-top unreasonable and he does sound to me like a classic manipulator/controller. At the end of that road lies some form of abuse.

I’ve experienced the same thing, with a guy whom I thought was really attentive and affectionate and just wonderful. That guy turned out to be a controlling, manipulating abuser and once refused to speak to me for about three weeks because I would not buy the type of refrigerator he thought I should. He did not live with me, nor did he have any financial stake in my choice of appliances. Just thought I should do what he told me or I didn’t deserve his attention. News flash: The Silent Treatment™ is a control tactic. It is designed to get you thinking obsessively, 24/7, about what you’re missing so you go begging and pleading for his attention. Now that you know that’s what he wanted you to do, are you really in a big hurry to run back to him and beg for a conversation? Once I realized that was the game my controller/manipulator was up to, I responded with utter revulsion. When he tried it again, I would happily go about my daily business as if I’d never been dating the dude in the first place and guess what? I quickly realized how much happier and lighthearted I was without him. I DTMFA shortly thereafter with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. This guy Mark wants you to come begging and pleading. Do not give him the satisfaction, because then he will think he owns you and can dictate your every decision. How much more difficult would negotiating a divorce be if you had a third party sticking his nose in telling you how, when, and where you can see/talk to your ex to take care of the business of splitting up?

So now, try to take care of you, which it appears you are doing. Go ahead and split from your husband because, while it appears y’all are good friends, it doesn’t seem like you’re really right for each other as romantic partners. Get counseling to get you through the divorce, so you can make it as non-nasty as possible for the benefit of your kid/kids. Then, be single for a while, regardless of whom you might meet along the way.

That obsessive thing you’re talking about is manifestation of the fear that you do not know how to be happy all by yourself. You are putting the onus of responsibility for your own happiness on others. So when interactions with that person don’t go in a way that makes you happy, then you want to get in there and fix it. Sounds like a classic case of child of a dysfunctional family.

Learn to own your own emotions and rely on yourself for your happiness. That way, when the emotionally available, charming manipulators cross your path, you will not need to seek their acceptance and approval. Right now, you are craving that because you haven’t been getting it from your husband. So learn how to accept and approve of yourself. You will probably not want to be in a relationship while you do this. After you manage to accept and love yourself, a more healthy partner may (but maybe not) present himself. And you’ll get to set the terms, i.e., “I cannot be in a relationship where there is no physical affection. If you’re not touchy-feely, then we aren’t right for each other. Do not give me the back pat when you hug me or I will dip out and look for someone who delivers* warm* hugs.”

Forget Mark. Do the hard work to resolve and dissolve your relationship with your husband on the best possible terms. Focus on yourself for a while. Learn to be happy alone. Learn to love yourself first. Approve of you. Validate you. Accept you. If you can manage that, you won’t give a shit what some random dude at work thinks about you and you won’t be stuck with a husband who refuses to meet your needs. You’ll be able to find someone who is willing to because he wants to.

Thanks for the responses, I’m not having a good day at all today and this is helping more than you could know. Astro, I am susceptible to falling apart under stress, more so than the average person. When I made the decision to move out I underestimated that reaction, it’s been years since I was stressed out to this extent. If Mark had remained a constant in my life the way his previous behavior had led me to believe, I would have been in much better shape emotionally.

I need therapy to develop my inner strength. I don’t know if that’s something than can be done but I don’t want to continue to be this emotionally fragile. What will happen to me the next time I get stressed out to this extent? And the next? Life isn’t perfect and events that others seem to take more in stride send me into an emotional tailspin. I hate it.

I usually plan every move before I make it. In this case I can see that I had such an overwhelming need for love, acknowledgement, attention, and physical affection that I was willing to give up everything else to have it. I still would, even though it’s clear that the relationship with Mark would be at best volatile and at worst extremely toxic and damaging. It feels exactly like an addiction.

Wow Dogzilla, great post. It’s as if you peeked into my brain. My childhood was dysfunctional but I never really confronted that fact or looked at the situation for the reality that it is. I’m the youngest of five kids and dad was very controlling, manipulative, angry… and charming when he wanted to be. He could turn it on and off like a switch. Mom was much more passive and felt as if she didn’t have much choice in the matter. She became aware that dad had affairs. My brother told me that when he was 22, and the last one living at home, she was extremely upset one day and told him he would need to get his act together and move out soon because dad had another woman and she was probably going to leave herself. She never did.

I really wish I had known that before moving in with my parents. Mom seemed OK with the situation at first, but became extremely angry and hostile by the end of the first week. I was seeing Mark and it must have brought back old memories for her. She glared at me, made comments that I don’t have the morals and values I was raised to have, and was in general pissed off. It added another layer of guilt to what I already felt.

Each of us kids are damaged in different ways, with the older three having taken the brunt of a lot of it. The brother closest in age to me also has significant issues, dad was especially hard on the boys. I guess I was just lucky being a girl and the youngest. Dad got busy with his business and wasn’t around as much as I got older, lucky me.

Even when us kids were grown and gone, mom wouldn’t divorce him. Her fear was that he would find somebody else right away while she would be left alone in an apartment somewhere. She also has always felt that she deserved her fair share of the money and had no intention of walking away from the lifestyle. Dad had his own business and did well with it. Now they are in their late 70’s and she pretty much hates him and is very passive aggressive about it.

For some reason dad has a special place in his heart for me and treats me differently than the others. Mom still says to me “Your father loves you the most out of everybody, including me”. How the hell am I supposed to take that?

My mom and sister are extremely close and often exclude me from their activities. It has given me the sense that if my own mom and sis don’t want to spend time with me I must not be worth much. The interesting part of that is that my own mom experienced that same dynamic with her mom and my aunt, only mom was the one that felt left out. Good example - mom and sis know that I’m struggling. They planned for and went on a mini vacation together and left me behind to care for dad. When dad asked if the four of us were going together, mom said very emphatically “No! This trip is for (sis) and I”. It’s always been that way.

I see what I did here. I had every intention of leaning on Mark to help me through this transition. When he bailed so unexpectedly it took away the last thing I felt that I could depend on. I look to external sources to validate myself. I don’t have any internal strength.

Now I’m once again back in the house with my husband and he is helping me, making me eat, keeping an eye on me so I don’t completely lose it. I feel like shit. I can’t do this on my own and it is messing with my head to be here, while simultaneously very comforting. I need to be off on my own with a roommate or something to get my head on straight. No job = no money. I don’t know any SWF’s to crash with, friends are married and have families of their own.

One day at a time, one day at a time.

Check your PM’s.

It sounds like you’re making some good first steps. Definitely keep on with therapy!

I’m going to have to disagree with DTMFAing your husband, though.

Yes, I understand that he obviously has his own issues, and hasn’t been willing to give you what you need in the past. But you said in your first post that he has realized that he’s losing you and wants to work on your relationship.

Shouldn’t you be willing to give him a chance to do that? Yeah, yeah, yeah, he shoulda done it a long time ago. People are stupid and do stupid things. Sometimes they need a second chance.

I’m not saying to go back to putting up with his crap, but if he’s willing to go to counseling and tackle his own problems in order to meet you halfway in fixing your marriage - isn’t it worth giving that a try?

OTOH, you absolutely do need to learn to rely on yourself and take care of yourself. But there’s no reason you can’t both work on your issues at the same time.

Your husband is willing to help you work on your problems. There’s nothing wrong with accepting help when you need it.

It’s commonly recommended to not make major, life-changing decisions when in the throes of grief and/or major emotional trauma, unless you absolutely have to. I think this counts. Do you really feel qualified, in your current state, to decide that you’re ready to give up your kid and your whole life, and start over?

I’m sure that in some ways running away and starting over sounds like the easiest most terrific thing ever. But y’know, wherever you go - there you are.

At the very least, if you’re going to leave your husband and family, you need to stay OUT of any relationships until you’ve got your own self together.

You got it!

Big hug for you. It is very difficult and painful to hear/read feedback like that and be able to disregard that which does not fit and seriously examine that which does fit. That’s a large part of the battle of learning the internal strength thing.

The reason you felt like I’d peeked into your brain is because I’ve been there, done that. Not the marriage thing, but the pattern of relationship behavior.

And let me also say I’m only advocating splitting up with your husband because that’s what it sounds like you want. So, please forgive me, I’m going to quote The goddamn Notebook (that insipid chick flick) and ask you: What do you want? Keep asking yourself that in the mirror over and over until Ryan Gosling pulls you into his arms for a passionate firey kiss… No just kidding about Ryan Gosling. :wink: But I would encourage you to really sift through your thoughts vs. your emotions and try to drill down to what it is that you really want. You may need counseling to help you with that process. Once you’ve identified, concretely, exactly what you want, you can make a list of steps you can take to meet that goal. When you’ve taken those steps and gotten what you want, you’re pretty far down the path to inner strength.

Make your goals realistic and reasonable. Take tiny little baby steps to get to each one. Every step you take is another step toward feeling independently strong.

Hugs, honey. You’ll be okay.

IIRC, your family went through hell a while back. Have you gotten counseling (individual, couples, family) since then? I hate to think of your daughter effectively getting the last word.

I have never been through anything like this in my life, but I am really resonating with the emotional vulnerability you feel and have always felt. You are me like, five years ago. Emotions often come on very strong and overwhelm us and we invest them with more meaning than they have.

There is the old romantic canard of ‘‘following your heart,’’ but some of us need to do a lot less of that and a lot more of thinking rationally. I’m not saying you should stop having emotions - you can’t do that. Whatever you feel, let yourself feel it. Feel it completely, shamelessly, without reservation. Never judge yourself for your feelings.

BUT the great challenge is learning to recognize these powerful emotions for what they are - a collection of uncomfortable physical sensations and thought patterns that come and go as they please. They can’t force you to act upon them. That is where the choice comes in. That is where you can look at your life and what you want it to be and take active steps to get there regardless of how you’re feeling.

I know this is not easy. I struggle with it every day of my life. But I have learned some basic ways to deal with the inevitable ups and downs that come with being me. For one, I declare a moratorium on making important decisions when I am feeling overwhelmed emotionally. I have learned to recognize these mental states as whims, not having any bearing on reality - completely subjective, thoughts and sensations that will eventually be replaced with different ones. Basically, I’ve learned not to trust my feelings. And that is totally okay for those of us who struggle with emotion regulation.

I have found great insight in Zen Buddhism, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. DBT is not just for borderline personality disorder - it has shown to be effective for depression and even substance abuse. It is particularly good for those of us who ride an emotional roller coaster. I would be happy to talk more about that if you are interested.

As regards your husband, I think the fact that he is still there for you through all this craziness is evidence that he is committed to you and that he truly loves you. However, what you describe above - him helping you eat, shower, function, whatever - that is co-dependence. My husband and I went through the exact same thing. Right now you do not have a relationship with an equal partner, you have a relationship with a parent substitute. If you want things to improve between you, you need to be able to meet on equal footing. YOU are responsible for your actions, YOU are responsible for eating, YOU are responsible for not losing it completely.

I know that’s hard to hear because the emotions are so powerful. And it’s going to require him to not engage you at times you feel you most need it - it sounds cruel, but it’s not. You MUST learn to stand on your own two feet if you want to get better. And I know from the bottom of my heart that you can do it. I know you don’t think you can, but you can. And if you’re really not sure how to begin, your therapist can help you do that.

If the two of you can work on that, work on becoming equals instead of codependent (and I’m sure taking care of you fulfills some desperate need he feels too), then you may have a real foundation to start a strong relationship. Again, I have been through this. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years. It takes both people committing to the goal. We still struggle with it at times.

But since I have learned to take care of myself, our relationship has gotten so much better. Feel free to PM me if you want to talk some more.

Since the start of your marriage, both you and your husband have changed. But who changed more? What I’m getting at is, has he always been emotionally unavailable and you went into the marriage thinking you could change him? Or was he emotionally available in the past and has become more hands-off over time? Because it looks to me as if you are establishing a pattern of going for emotionally unavailable guys. Therapy is the only solution, and you are *so *not ready for a relationship right now. Your posts reek of desperation, and until you work on that you are only going to attract guys looking for desperate women. Predators, in other words. Mark did you a *massive *favor by making a clean break of things. There is no closure in real life.

Anyway, you are way too much of a wreck to be in a relationship right now. You need to spend a good amount of time being single. Several months, if not a year or more. And ask yourself, Why can’t I be single? Do I secretly dislike or despise something about myself? Again, therapy will shed light on your own issues.

I really think you should break things off with your husband, because he is who he is (emotionally unavailable) and you are who you are (desperately in need of an emotionally-available partner). Nowhere do the twain meet. No amount of therapy is likely to change him into a cuddlemonster (and besides, you said you only have friendly feelings for him anymore anyway!). With enough therapy, you ought to be able to work through your own issues, and that’s the most important thing. I really think if you try to stick your marriage out for now, this is all going to happen again. Except next time, it will be worse.

TL;DR version: Get single. Stay single. Get therapy to find out why you can’t allow yourself to be single. Get therapy to find out why you gravitate toward guys who don’t want you as much as you want them. Then maybe, *maaaybe *you will be ready to date again in a year or two.

Therapy is definitely a priority, I want to address all of this head on and come out of the situation stronger and with a clearer idea of what I need to do next. You’re right, I am still in desperation mode right now. It’s an extremely uncomfortable place to be. I’ve been in tough spots in the past but this is definitely among the most challenging so far. I still miss Mark very much and struggle every day not to contact him. Logic usually comes easily to me but in this case my emotions have taken over.

The loss of my job didn’t help, it would be nice to have something else to focus on.

Great responses so far. I just want to give hugs, and agree that the Mark guy sure appears to be one of those guys who wants the chase but not the reponsibility of cleaning the kill. (Also, if it helps you get over him, he honestly sounds like a lying, manipulative piece of shit. I’ve known a few of those, and don’t believe for a second he would have been ANY good for you. It doesn’t help now, but maybe it will eventually. ) I definitely applaud your therapy; just about everyone could use some help in one way or another; it’s usually very hard to admit to it and get it.

One suggestion: you sound a bit like me in one particular way. I am going to guess that you have a very difficult time asking for exactly what you want in a relationship. I’m terrible at that, though my response has always been to just leave rather than put up with whatever annoys me. I figure 'It’s my problem, if I can’t change to fit the situation then I guess I’ll just go". I’m an independant sucker, but part of why I’m usually happier single is because I have no idea how to compromise without resentment, or how to ASK for what I really want. The couple times I’ve tried have failed miserably, so I’m really, really gunshy about that. That’s cost me at least one really good relationship. Probably got me OUT of several I never should have started in the first place, but live and learn, right? I’m trying, really hard, with MrTao, but it still is an effort. And that’s not always a bad thing. I’m just a little more aware now of action vs reaction, though it took me many long-term relationships to figure it out.

So…don’t feel trapped with your husband just because he’s being ‘nice’ to you, but…bring it up in therapy. I’d suggest working on yourself for a few months, and then at least consider the possibility of couples counselling. Again, if you do this, do this knowing it doesn’t mean you’re ‘giving in’ or anything else that will cause you to feel panicky and look for another way out. You don’t need another Mark, you really, really don’t. And you may not need your husband, either. But right now, it sounds like you need to find a way to be grateful for the help without feeling guilty. Bring that up in therapy, too. And <hugs>.

How is your son handling all of this?

Mark sounds very immature.
You sound very co-dependent.
Your husband sounds very supportive, but not someone you’re attracted to anymore.

When you and your husband first met, was there emotion and infatuation that you felf then? Those kind of feelings fizzle over time. Sounds like you got lucky and Mark showed his true colors early, and saved you further heartache down the road.

Practice being single. Love yourself and be happy with yourself.

After my first wife left me, I was content just to be a single dad. I dated, but really had no interest in getting married again. Three years later, I met my best friend.

I just hope you find your way. I can feel your pain through the screen. :frowning:

Interesting. I have been with the same girl now for 17 years. We have had a wild relationship, both of us having affairs and relationships then splitting up only to get back together. I tend to treat her like your husband treats you because I have trust issues with her. We have plenty of sex and get along great, better all the time actually but their is an affection element missing. I have a feeling your husband could be affectionate if he were more trusting. One thing men seldom tell women is that they want to be your confidont. If you could bring yourself to bear your soul to your husband at the risk of loosing your security blanket you might findyourself liking him better and him trusting you more. You also might loose him entirely or nothing changes, hard one to call. A man knows when you share from the heart and he appreciates it, you are paying him a great compliment when you do that. The highest of compliments actually . I would start there, a complete confession with no expectations from him.

I didn’t read past this. If a man wants to see you he’ll find the time to do so. It’s apparent to me that “Mark” has some emotional issues and has no idea what he wants.