What’s wrong with me? My boyfriend who I had been in a close relationship with for six months decided to end it recently without warning, and without any real explanation. It’s been more than a month now, but I’m still holding onto the hope that he will change his mind, or that there was some sort of misunderstanding that caused him to make this rash decision. I’m becoming obsessed with what I must have done wrong, and thinking of ways that I can make it up to him, but he won’t even give me a chance. Whenever I contact him to see how he is feeling, or to tell him how sorry I am he doesn’t answer. I just wish I knew what I did or didn’t do to make him stop wanting me. The same thing has happened to me in other relationships that I’ve been in. No matter how hard I try to please a man, I never seem to get it right, and I lose him.
I’m finding it so hard to adjust back to my old life without him. There seems to be nothing left to live for. Every day that I don’t hear from him makes me lonelier, sadder and more depressed. I really feel like I can’t live without him.
I want you to observe the uncomfortable emptiness you are feeling now, and notice how you reject it. Watch yourself grasp onto the memories you have of him; replaying scenes in your mind, imagining scenarios, scheming for ways to make him change his mind, holding onto any dwindling shadow of hope that the whole thing has been a mistake, a misunderstanding, something that you can fix… Notice how much energy you are spending on deluding yourself. Do you truly believe that focusing on him or anything that reminds you of him or your time spent together will recreate him somehow, or bring him back to you? Is this obsessing bringing you any kind of relief, or is it just making the adjustment to shifting your attention and energy onto other things more difficult and painful? Why are you so reluctant to let him go? Do you feel that if you stop clinging to him and let yourself fall, that there will be nothing left to sustain you? Why don’t you trust in your ability to sustain yourself, and walk confidently supported by the belief that you already have everything you need to be a whole person?
Who are you without somebody to love and to dedicate yourself to? Is there more to you than the attentive, committed, caring, supporting girlfriend or the lonely, heart-broken victim that you have taken on as your identity? Can you possibly exist without either of these two roles to play? You don’t need to get him back or to replace him with another one. What you need to get back is a life! Your life!
Please take a moment to think about where you left your talents, confidence, and motivation for your own goals and achievements. Until you can respect and value yourself enough to give yourself the commitment and attention you deserve, you will continue to find yourself in this trap of needing to be needed, and of seeking acknowledgement through other people, or as it appears to be in your case, by a particular man who you have chosen as your target.
As painful and compulsory as it may seem to continue to ride this cycle, you need to see it for what it really is and accept that you do have the choice to get off. You have become addicted to the emotional responses triggered by seeking and gaining approval through relationships with men. Human brains have the ability to form strong neural connections which, without conscious intervention, will trap clusters of thoughts, feeling and behaviours together in a kind of loop. Every repetition of a familiar behaviour with a particular external stimuli (in your case men), will trigger these neurons to spark together as a cluster. The electric current produced releases “feel-good” chemicals into your brain and reinforces the bind that connects the neurons. It’s a bit like doing a “save as” action into a temporary drive, which with frequent use becomes “re-saved” again and again into a kind of physically sculpted hard-drive of neurons. This is how addictions are formed.
The more you repeat the behavior (attaching yourself to men) the stronger the connections become and the more effort it takes to change your behavior. Put simply, you have become addicted to the chemical responses you receive from thinking and feeling and behaving in certain ways, and breaking this cycle is extremely difficult and unpleasant. It is a similar process to the withdrawal experienced by substance addicts, only that the chemicals are created from within your body, rather than being externally administered.
So my advice to you is to accept that you are an addict, and begin the process of un-wiring your addictive responses to men. As you do this you will need to create many new and diverse neural connections that will help you to flourish as a whole, healthy, unique individual. You will find that there are many others like you who are in a similar process, and I recommend that you seek support and guidance through people who are on the same path. This will take time, effort and dedication, but probably no more than you are currently investing in keeping your addictive cycle active.
Would you like some advice from The Spark?