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I'm not sure what to do...


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Hi everyone,


First, I really appreciate all the advice that I get from you guys. It's been hard going back to the dating world after leaving my first love that I was with half of my life and letting go of all the trauma of the emotional and physical abuse he put me through. I just really need guidance so I can learn how to develop a healthy relationship again. I'm sorry for the long post.


I've bee seeing someone on and off for the past 7 months (let's call him Mark). He and I were each other's rebound relationships. We were, by far, the worst things for each other at that time - I was going through a nervous breakdown and he was going through an identity crisis. So, you can only imagine how dramatic the relationship was plus we had a lot of external stresses - his crazy ex girlfriend who made our daily lives a living hell and my ex-husband who just likes to screw with my life.


Somehow through all of this, Mark and I've become emotionally attached but he and I are so emotionally stunted that we can't express it properly (it's something we're both trying hard to work on). We are both tired of the drama and we walk away from each other at times, and then we come back. Now, we're in a what he calls a "friends in a relationship" situation. We're not boyfriend/girlfriend - but we're more than friends with benefits.


He says he doesn't have feelings for me, he pushes me away sometimes, and says he cares about me to an extent (and I can't blame him - I was a terror for a long time) but he'll make me dinner and wait on me hand and foot, he'll give me full body massages and massage my hands and feet without me asking, he'll bring me flowers, he'll hold me when I cry and pet me, he buys me my favorite snacks, and shows me how he remembers details about our past - what we ate, what we drank, what I wore, where I stood (better than I do), he tells me all the time how he likes talking to me and sometimes distances sex just so we can talk or just hold each other. When we have sex, he calls it making love and its always so tender and always about me - he holds my hand and kisses my forehead during and wants to hold me close after. He goes with me to some of my therapy sessions and finds videos about dealing with abuse and trauma.


We broke up again recently, he had slightly pushed me and it wasn't aggressive but it scared me because of my past with abuse and instead of telling him - I just distanced myself from him and told him I wasn't comfortable with him anymore and essentially ended things with him. He was angry with me that entire time because he had no idea what happened and didn't want to ask. I didn't tell him the reason why until 5 days later and he cried when I told him because it wasn't his intent. We spoke about it again a couple of days ago and he was finally honest with me about how he's felt over the past few months. He told me he was afraid of being intimate with me again because hes afraid of hurting me (like with the push or saying something stupid that he didn't mean) and he always feels like he's walking in a minefield. We spent that night together,. When we were fully undressed but before we became intimate, he asked me: "are you going to be distant with me again after we're done?" After I answered, he said: "everytime you end things with me or tell me you don't want me, I have a smile on my face but it really hurts to hear it from you. I never want to upset you."


After we were done, he held me and told me he was going to tie me to him so I wouldn't distance myself. I told him that I loved him for the first time, he smiled and said: "You're so hard to understand - you tell me that you hate me with so much intensity and then you can say you love me." That entire night he held me so close and everytime, I would try to move a little away, he'd bring me back and hold me even closer.


We made love again that morning and had breakfast and talked and laughed. And I told him that it was easier for me to say that I hate him than to say "I love you but you hurt me" or to yell at him rather than cry - that I was just so tired of feeling weak because of my past relationship so I overcompensate. He told me that he understands but he's afraid that one day - he's going to say that he's done with this relationship and he really won't come back that time because he's tired and drained.


When I saw him at work later that day, I've never seen him so happy. Even though we both didn't sleep, he was just so giddy and upbeat even though there was a lot of drama going on with his ex for the both of us (I mean Armageddon type drama). He and I are both really sensitive people but he never verbalizes his emotions (that's why it was surprising to have him open up the way he did). He hasn't told me he loved me, he's actually said that he doesn't (granted, that's usually when we're fighting) and he's also told me that he feels pressured to be in a relationship. I understand that, he and I act like we're married, we fight and argue like we're married, we know each other's secrets, we finish each other's sentences - it's just weird. I'm afraid that I may be reading too much into this and he doesn't have feelings for me or maybe that I've hurt him so frequently that he's afraid to. I really just need advice on what steps to take going forward.


Also, please be nice - I'm really trying.

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I really don't have the experience to chime in much about this. I will say I am glad there is communication between you two. Regardless of where this leads it is necessary for any relationship for solid communication to exist between the two partners. It's the best way to avoid confusion and build trust with one another.


Part of that is being willing to stop and listen to the other person and then make your response.


He was physical to you, though "it wasn't aggressive" and though it took time you told him the truth. That helps. I can relate a bit to him in terms of feeling like I have to be careful of the words I use. But as long intentions are better undertood, both partners can work on reducing these occurances and embrace thoughtful discussion of the relationship.

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