I am currently using all my willpower to stay away from a man I have really, really loved for four years. However, it has been four years of an off-and-on relationship. I must have spent hundreds of mornings trying to think of ways to face the day without him during that time.
Now, I think I've become addicted to the pattern. Last weekend was one of the most soul-destroying weekends. It has been off again for nine weeks, and I stopped all contact two weeks ago, I just can't go through any more. My finger is itching to dial his number and just hear his voice. But in all the times it has been off, this man has never been the one to get back to me without a chance meeting, or encouragement in the form of a text or call. We even were supposed to be engaged at one stage, except, despite receiving man congratulations from so many people, he didn't tell his sons!
No wonder it is so easy for him to walk when there is some real relationship work to be done, or real commitment expected. He just thinks, I'll come running back. But I need to break this now. I cannot go on like this any longer. It's such a waste of my life.
Your tips are very good advice as I'm struggling along, but have you any heavy-duty advice to get me through the really lonely sad times?
-Addicted to Love
Your instincts are right. Do not call this man. The way you regain control over your life, your emotions, and your happiness is by not calling him.
The fact that he refused to tell his sons about an engagement he was being congratulated about is bizarre. There's no excuse for that, despite what he might have told you (although you don't mention this), that he had to consider his sons' tender feelings, etc. The man should have considered your feelings before expressing a desire to marry you, and then subjecting you to a mess.
But you know this already.
I was in a similar situation once, utterly besotted with an emotionally unavailable, yet string-'em-along-as-long-as-possible type who I just couldn't get out of my head. Like you, I was addicted. It went on for three years before I made a decision to stop being a yo-yo and move on.
It wasn't easy, but I did it. During the lonely times, I went out to movies by myself (purely for escape). I took a trip to San Francisco by myself, as well, and stayed in a B&B, where I met new people with fresh and interesting perspectives on things. I took a trip to England with a friend from work. It's amazing how travel clears the mind, so if you can manage it, please book a trip alone or with a fun friend.
At home, most of my friends were coupled-up, and therefore not available for diversionary activities, so I made more friends. Instead of rushing for the subway after work, I started accepting invitations to go out for dinner and drinks with colleagues. I looked up some old class- and workmates who I'd lost touch with and started going out with them. I even went on a camping trip with a group of new friends (believe me, I'm an indoorsy type. Sleeping in a tent was a mile out of my comfort zone, but I ended up having a great time, and I find myself reminiscing about it often.)
In short, I did new things, which filled in the holes left by not seeing, calling, or being with a man I craved. Some things were worthwhile, and some of them weren't, but each in its small way helped me get on with my life.
Your memories of Mr. Indifferent may be exciting in a life that seems colorless without him. If you're like I was, you're sitting around doing your nails, and then an image of the two of you together flashes into your mind, and you play it over and over, and before you know it, you're dying to pick up the phone and have him in your arms again. That's normal.
What you do then is not easy at first, but it will become easier: Put the image out of your head. Yes, I know it's a pleasant image, and you' d enjoy wallowing in it while you're waiting for your nails to dry. But get up, shake your hands, jump up and down (seriously). Shake the image. Pick up the phone and call your mother, a friend, your brother, the electric company--anybody but him. Or take the dog for a walk. Go to the library. Go to a movie nobody wants to see but you. Buy yourself something delicious and healthful to eat. Treat yourself as you would a beloved child.
The key to getting over your addiction to a man is to get the man out of your head!
But consider this first: In addition to being reluctant to telling his sons about your engagement, this guy has other faults. What are they? Write them down on a card and paste it to your bathroom mirror. Write them on another card and stick it in your purse. Every time his sweet face comes floating into your brain, whip out that card (I don't care if you are on the bus) and read it. Remind yourself constantly why he must remain banished from your life.
He does not make you happy.
If this isn't enough, picture yourself married to him. It's 10 years from now, and he continues to be indifferent about your relationship. Sometimes he comes home, sometimes he doesn't. You continue to take a backseat to his sons. You must initiate all conversation and physical contact. The faults you wrote on the cards have only gotten worse over the years, and now you're legally bound to him. Sometimes it's painful and frustrating; other times you're bored out of your mind. You go to bed at night wondering what the hell you were thinking when you married him.
Some other things you can do now: Read You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. This book was instrumental in helping me get over my addiction a man who did not love me. You can also check out Hay House Radio for helpful shows you can listen to (free of charge) from your computer to keep you on track. I just checked the archive and found a show with Mona Lisa Schulz with the following description:
"February 14, 2007: A Different Kind of Love Song: Rehabilitating Your Capacity for Relationships So You Can Attract Love at MidLife
Have you thrown in the towel when it comes to relationships? Do you think you're better off alone since your love-life has been an exercise in futility? At mid-life, there is a way to rehabilitate your thought patterns for relationships so you can attract true and lasting love. Dr. Mona Lisa helps you identify and conquer a bad track record in love and relationships."
I don't know if this particular show will appeal to you (I'm not sure you're at mid-life, for instance, but there are probably some good tips in there, anyway), but some others shows may. Check out Summer McStravick's Flowdreaming, while you're at it, too.
By now, you know I'm a proponent of EFT, which I definitely would have tried in my effort to get over Mr. Emotionally Unavailable had I known about it at the time. Go to the website and download the free manual.
Then search the site for articles on 'heartbreak' or 'broken heart.' If you have a few minutes (seven, I think), watch the introductory video, too. It's entertaining. (I used EFT to rid myself of anxiety attacks and insomnia following the death of my mother, so I endorse it from personal experience.)
I understand that you're in a tough spot, but but with action and discipline you can get out of it. You can feel good without What's-His-Name! And, too bad for him when you do.
I met and fell in love with my husband about six months after I decided to end my addiction to Mr. Emotionally Unavailable.
Very best wishes,
P.S. If you haven't seen it already, I recommend you rent The Holiday, a fun distraction of a movie in which Kate Winslet's character makes an important discovery about her addiction to a certain man.