Do you have questions about creating intimacy or developing mindful relationships?
Confusing questions? Awkward ones? Deep, dark scary ones?
I want them. Email your questions to: [email protected].
All relephant questions will be answered with loving kindness. (Yes. Every one.) Authors remain anonymous.
No judgments, just soulful answers.
Q. I met a man online. We had a deeply passionate relationship for seven months. I was 41, he was 44. There were problems—different styles of communicating—but we would always find our way back to each other.
He is a recovering alcoholic sober for three years, I have addiction running in my family—all openly discussed at the start.
At the start, he stipulated he was looking for a long-term relationship, which I was as well. I struggled with his lack of intimacy (i.e. his fear of opening up getting close to me). I spoke openly about it, what I thought we needed to work on. I didn’t see it progress into a deep intimate connection, but felt it was growing.
I sensed something was off after a few months, ended up checking his phone when he left it at home one night.
I found messages to different women/escorts online. I left his home immediately and said it wasn’t the life I wanted. A few days later I felt compelled to write him a letter telling him the truth: That I loved him, and about the personal challenges I was having during our time together (family dysfunctional relationships and building a new career, which he knew about and supported me through). We never openly said that we loved each other, but I felt he loved me based on his actions/care/support. He replied to my letter and said he was mortified with what I found, felt terrible for me, that I knew him more than himself, his bad behaviour was nothing to do with me—his full responsibility and is committed to change it.
One night a few weeks ago he asked to call to talk, as he was confused. He said he wanted to be together; I said I was open to him but I would need time for him to build trust with me.
He then disappeared again for a couple of weeks and I contacted him to text him happy birthday a week later. I asked him why he disappeared and he told me he thought that the last phone conversation how we spoke that it was a goodbye one. He never told me this at any point.
We are currently in contact via text. I don’t know how to proceed with this. I feel deep down he isn’t honouring me. I still love him. I have concerns about other women in his life but I have no way of knowing unless he opens up to me. I know I want a deeply connected relationship with a man, one where we honour each other.
Should I just close the door forever and make way someone new or be open in case he makes the change? I need to move on with my life at some point.
After the break-up, it triggered an emotional breakdown which was a breakthrough. I got to see everything in my life that’s disappointed me—men/male connections and lack of support—and where I wasn’t turning up in my own life. I have finished counselling and am now working healthily on my recovery and am building my life from the ground up. I am not sure if this relationship has to go once and for all?
A. I’ll make this one easy for you: Yes. The relationship with this man is over.
But I want to backtrack a moment to say something you really need to hear: Congratulations on getting yourself the help you needed. Sometimes it takes a breakdown to tear apart the non-functional parts of our beings and give us new materials to build a stronger self. You’ve done that, and I’m sure are continuing the good work to take care of yourself. This is no easy feat, so I want you to take a moment (or several) to truly acknowledge your choice to move forward in your life.
Back to your male friend. Somewhere in your heart, you already knew the relationship was done. You probably knew it the moment you realized he wasn’t opening up to you fully. You knew it when you had the intuition to check his phone. And you knew it for sure when you found his messages to other women.
He was not bringing to the relationship the devotion you need and deserve. His addiction to alcohol may be controlled, but his addictive personality is not. As I’ve mentioned previously in this column, when confronted with a deeply emotional issue , I like to look at the facts:
- Your man was not emotionally available but was really nice about it.
- He turned to escorts (i.e., the illusion of intimate attention without commitment) in lieu of the bottle.
- He continued to “disappear” after you confronted him (lovingly as it was).
- When you spoke to remedy the relationship, he misunderstood the call as a finale, not a reopening.
It’s clear where his vision is. The man, while very likely a good guy, has a lot of work to do on himself before he is ready for a real woman.
Despite all this, I hope you will continue your path onward toward a fulfilling life for yourself. You can always send loving attention to him through meditation.
There is a powerful Buddhist meditation called Tonglen that you might like to try.
In Tonglen, we breathe in the suffering of others (or a single human being in this case), then exhale healing space and energy in which the other(s) may take refuge and find the opportunity to heal. Essentially, we allow ourselves to compassionately connect to the pain others suffer, and neutralize it with our loving attention, returning love to those in pain. Below you’ll find a wonderful video of the Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön explaining and leading the meditation. Feel free to use Tonglen as a practice for your man or anyone else who is suffering—and, let’s face it, that’s pretty much all of us.
Pema Chödrön: Tonglen Meditation
Author: Rachel Astarte
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Photo: Flickr / Dave Kirkham