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Long-Term Relationships: Rebuilding Love After Emotional Damage

A couple having coffee together on a couch.

What’s “falling in love” anyway?

It has two components:

  • Part one: How the other person makes you feel about yourself.
  • Part two: How you feel about the other person.

These two parts are inextricably bound up together, and, as a matter of fact, part two follows from part one. Here’s why:

The “falling in love” kind of love, not the familial love that you have, say, for your parents or children, is about receiving. The other kind of love—the tender feelings for children, or the compassionate love that you have when you’ve been married 50 years—is about giving.

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So what is it you’re receiving when you fall in love?

You get a clear, bright, and shiny message of validation of yourself as a person. Many people can try to give you this message but it doesn’t work with other people. The one person with whom it works proves to you, in the course of being together, that he or she really gets who you are. Only someone who has plunged your depths and finds you amazing, special, and wonderful can offer this level of validation.

There may be people you have dated who feel as though they love you, but in your opinion, they don’t know you. Therefore, it’s impossible for them to validate you. Knowing the other person, genuinely knowing, is the cornerstone of intimacy. So you have allowed one person into your inner world, in the course of being together, and each step of the way you felt understood. This person, in return, continues to be intrigued by that process of knowing you, and wants more.

What could be a better experience than that?

That is part one (how your partner makes you feel). You feel exhilarated because after carefully letting down your guard to someone, this person has appreciated having been given the tremendous gift of you. Part two (how you feel about your partner) flows from this. As you let him or her into your private self, your partner did the same. And what did you find inside your partner’s heart and soul? A self that is very similar to yours!

Although opposites do attract, the fundamental, deep-down attraction comes from a reflection of oneself. Not only is this person validating you, but his very being (because it’s so much like yours) validates you all the more. That’s part two (how you feel about your partner).

(Incidentally, if you don’t see this, you do have to plumb the depths to find it. It is not on the surface. The surface includes a host of differences, but deep down you’ll find the sameness.)

So what’s “falling out of love”? The answer is: betrayal. You have opened up your soul; you’ve been vulnerable, and what did you get for it? You got hurt and betrayed. The betrayal doesn’t have to be as raw as cheating, although it can be that. But even ignoring a spouse when he or she is talking is betrayal. When this continues, the commonalities aren’t so apparent. Your spouse might be hurt, too.

Now, just suppose the two of you want to maintain the marriage. Maybe you’ve been married a long time. You may have had children together. How in the world can you get back to opening yourself up to someone who has hurt you? How can you possibly fall in love with such a person again? You are torn because it would be good to keep the relationship but the feelings just aren’t there. What can you do?

My answer is: Feeling can come back, but the process is backwards from the way it was the first time.

The first time, you just opened yourself up and there it was. You can’t do that this time. Even if you really would like to, your survival instincts won’t let that happen, and you must honor those.

Here are some steps that you both can take:

1. Your partner must prove to you, in every conceivable way, that he or she has changed. He/she must acquire the skill of patience. That is, your partner is so anxious to wish away all the bad in the relationship—which is understandable—that he/she may make you feel like he/she is more concerned with what he/she is getting out of it than what you are being offered. If your partner has truly overcome his/her hurtful behavior, then it must go along with an attitude of patience for your healing—and giving of himself/herself. It has to be about you, not him/her, this time around.

2. You must be patient, too—with your spouse and with yourself. His/her awakening to the fact that you have been deeply wounded in the relationship, and that you need to heal, will dawn on him/her slowly. Your spouse will realize that change goes way beyond no longer being ugly with you. This may take time, and perhaps help from outside sources. And you can allow yourself time to heal from the hurts of the past, because that is a natural process that cannot be rushed.

3. This is a wonderful step. It is akin to noticing how your child is improving in math or picking up a language. There is the dawning awareness that your spouse is growing. Because your guard remains up (that was number one in this list), your powers of observation are keen, and you can see that something new is on the horizon. Expected behaviors don’t happen and new, lovely ones are in their place: consideration, gentleness, sensitivity, generosity of time and effort. From this, respect and trust begin to grow. Allow this step the time it needs to unfold. The more respectworthy observations you make, the stronger your trust will be in your spouse.

4. Respect and trust will allow you to open up, little by little. You won’t have to force it; it, too, will be a natural process. There will be new things in the “you” that has experienced all this pain: guardedness, healing, and newfound respect. These are the new things that you will be able to talk about. Your spouse opens the door to intimacy when you know that he/she has heard you. You become willing to be vulnerable and open more and more.

5. In turn, your spouse will be able to talk about his/her dawning awareness of his/her past selfishness and hurtfulness and any regrets felt over them. In these admissions, he/she too will be vulnerable, and this will open the door wider to falling in love again.

What’s the upside of this difficult process? It’s more than falling in love and even more than preserving a family. It’s something rich and mature that you can’t feel the first time around: It’s a rock-solid knowledge of who this other person really is, leading to a much deeper bond, greater respect, and stronger trust than you could ever have with a new person.

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© Copyright 2011 by Deb Hirschhorn, PhD, therapist in Woodmere, NY. All Rights Reserved.

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  • elena douglas October 13th, 2011 at 2:08 PM #1

    Falling out of love does not always have to mean that there has been a betrayal. It might simply mean that the couple has grown apart and cannot seem to make their way back together again. I actually think that this could be a good thing for some couples, so that they do not waste any time on something that is not right for either one of them.

  • Bradley October 15th, 2011 at 12:42 PM #2

    There are times when I think that this is a possibility and times when it is not. If this is something where the two of you have remained together and do in all honesty still love each other, then I definitely think that it is possible to fall in love with that same person all over again. But for many couples the hurt runs too deep, and there is nothing that is going to bring those feelings back for them, no matter how hard they try. And you have to be on the lookout too, because sometimes they will appear to have changed on the surface but when you start to dig a little deeper you might find that really they have only stayed the same.

  • KM October 15th, 2011 at 2:53 PM #3

    I have been in this situation before and its not easy. When someone you thought is the closest to you goes on to hurt you it becomes very tough to deal with the situation and I even felt like I couldn’t trust myself anymore :(

  • L.Donald October 16th, 2011 at 7:48 AM #4

    Falling in love with someone who hurt you-Not an easy thing by any means but is a lot smoother of a journey when the other person truly recognizes his or her hurtful actions and comes along to comfort or apologize.

    And a no-repeat is a given-repeated hurt is something that even the mot patient person would hate!

  • uy October 3rd, 2012 at 12:32 AM #5

    The process is very well described in detail :) the interesting thing is ‘falling in love again’ takes inputs from both persons and if the other person is not willing to be genuine and do their part to ‘make up’ for the ‘betrayal’ then it leaves one with suffering alternating with numbness which eventually overtakes (ie. not feeling anything not able to feel love and not able to feel suffering either). I think its about abuse – willful, intentional abuse (which you refer to as ‘betrayal’), and not ever making amends for it which is the essential cause of the suffering.

  • james November 27th, 2012 at 6:48 PM #6

    i have the similar problem now with my gf

  • amanda December 26th, 2012 at 10:39 AM #7

    I hate that the one I love hurt me so bad that its hard to love myself. He’s back in my life and I don’t know if I could let him back in my heart , or do I do what he did to me? He seams like he’s sorry but it could all be a act. And why I think that cause he wouldent even talk to me till he seen me with someone else. IDK What to do can someone help me with what I should do?

  • Brittany January 27th, 2013 at 9:46 PM #8

    I was hurt by my ex, I caught him sending sex pics to some random girl that he talked to years before claiming we were broke up. Im falling out of love with him and I don’t think I wanna be with him anymore. I like the thought of being with someone else because I dont wanna be with a liar and a cheat. Someone tell me what to do?? We have a daughter together.

  • Laura March 16th, 2013 at 9:21 AM #9

    Hello everyone, helped me out when i thought my life is lost don’t know where its going……… It all started when the father of my two kids left me and sworn never to have anything to do with me and all effort to get him back prove to be abortive and i decided to let things be the way they are cause i felt my life is lost don’t know where its going. But Priest Andrew came into the picture and things turned out to be how i have ever wanted it to be……….I will forever be grateful to him for the rest of my life, Am so happy!!!!!!!!!! Laura

  • need marriage counseling July 12th, 2013 at 12:01 AM #10

    I ABSOLUTELY think that it’s possible to fall in love with the same person again. I you loved them once, you can surely love them again.

  • Alicia July 19th, 2013 at 4:03 PM #11

    My boyfriend said he fell out of love im 6 months pregnant , the problem was that i treated him really bad and he was the best man in the worlddd he did everything and anything he could for me i was hia princess. When he realized how i treated him he changed he sais he lost respect for me he heard rumors aboute cheating on him and makes everything worst he said he dosent want me anymore or ever want to be with me .. All he said is ” maybe with time , or maybe after you have the baby” but i i dont know out relationshil was deel and we were very comfortable with eachother . I wonder if he can ever fall in love with me again.

  • steve December 15th, 2013 at 9:47 PM #12

    Falling in love is heavenly, falling out is like being in hell. I fell out of love with my baby. She is a wonderful woman. Truly blessed. But by my actions. Betraying my baby. I fell out of love. Our relationship is long distance. Trying to figure out how to bring back that love joy happiness back. I keep ruminating on what I’ve done. Confessed and was forgiven.trying to rebuild is hard. Some days feel normal. Some feel distant. Some are really painful. Feel so lost. My world is up side down.

  • DrDeb December 16th, 2013 at 8:46 AM #13

    Hey Steve, thanks for commenting on my article – and on your sincere remorse. It truly is possible to rebuild. Remember this: Loving is giving. Your actions in betraying were not giving, not even to yourself. To fall back in love, you have to start giving. Too much focus on how rotten you feel about your actions point your attention back to yourself – and that’s not where it belongs. Good luck!

  • Alicia January 12th, 2014 at 7:14 AM #14

    My boyfriend and I didn’t know each other. We had a one night stand and he got me pregnant on purpose!! He admitted it to me and when I said never contact me again he said call me in about a month when your knocked up!! Well I got pregnant and we got together to see if this would work. We have been together now for almost a year and he has treated me like sh** the whole time! Cheating, lying, hiding, ect!! I lost the baby in April of 2013. I got pregnant again in September and lost that on in November:(! We love each other like no other but I feel the love falling on my side. He says he loves me and acts crazy and stuff when I leave. He says he’s sorry but the next day all the lies and fucking up will happen again. How do we both stop the non sense??? I’m giving up on trying!?

  • Vicky Palmer January 13th, 2014 at 1:53 PM #15

    I have been married for 19 years. I have tried to be the strong person in our marriage, I finally had decided that his jealousy and distrust in me has come to an end. I wonder days why I feel this way. I have dealt with his jealousy all these years and it is old I have given him no reason for his actions. So therefore I feel this will never change. I have told him the problem which he feels he has done no wrong in saying things putting me down , just so much he has broke my heart so bad that I don’t know if I even want to still be married. I want that unconditional love, that I see people have and when I have dealt with this jealousy for so long, I have quit talking and keep to myself just to solve the problem with all my friends and family at times it fixed things for awhile but it always came back worse, and now I have a broken heart that I have no idea how to fix it. I want a divorce but I don’t want to hurt him or my kids so then I think maybe, just maybe I can get that unconditional love that I have always wanted. My heart says one thing and my mind says another?

  • DrDeb January 14th, 2014 at 11:27 AM #16

    Vicky, jealousy comes from a person feeling insecure inside himself. But that insecurity is in itself very hard to admit, especially for a man in our society. So your husband isn’t going to get past it without help. Telling him that you did nothing wrong isn’t enough to make changes: He needs to heal and he needs help to do it.

  • Tyler February 21st, 2014 at 1:58 PM #17

    Can you explain what you mean by outside sources? My ex has a crush on some guy who makes her feel better because I unknowingly cut her down. But she wants to love me again and says im the best person ever, and she loves spending time with me. Im special to her, but she seems too hurt. She says shes numb?

  • DrDeb February 22nd, 2014 at 6:06 PM #18

    Tyler, I mean therapy! Not an old flame. You will have to work hard on yourself to be a better person. Follow the steps above and little by little she may stop being numb. But a crush on someone else doesn’t help one bit.

  • Aiden March 16th, 2014 at 6:51 AM #19

    Me and my ex were dating for about 5years and 3 months. We broke up about 3 weeks ago. She said we needed space because we were arguing too much and we were. I nagged at her all the time, I have no clue why? She told me herself “why are you being like this? It’s pushing me away. You weren’t like this before!” I said I’m sorry. I tried controlling myself but it’s so difficult when it seems like she’s doing so well without me. People tell me it’s a front that she puts up. I believe it because I made this girl who she is. I was the only person who truly loved and cared for her. Her own family even neglected her. My family loves her and still don’t know we’re apart. We’ve kept contact here and there but we argue. I acted a bit insane but it’s because every time I try to talk about us, she bring a up old stuff. I tell her I wanna drop everything and start fresh. I can tell she cares because she brings up the past, she says she loves me but doesn’t wanna be with me. We went to dinner about a week ago and we haven’t had a night like that since we were barely dating. We both messed up but she’s the type of girl who knows she’s wrong but won’t admit it. That’s how I use to be but I eventually swallowed my pride and I’d just tell her how I feel. She accepted it at first but later would take advantage of it. That’s how it seemed. I’d get so mad because she’d play games with me and I’d lose my head. I can’t control it but that’s what I’m working on right now. I really want this girl back. She’s been my everything and I know I’ve been her everything. No ones loved her like I have, no one has cared, protected and provided for her like I have. She tells me herself. It makes me feel special. Anyway, by the way I acted I feel like I pushed her away. How can I prove to her that I’m changing because I really am. I don’t know what to do? Give it some time, work on myself, let her work on herself and then try to slowly contact her then? Help!

  • DrDeb March 17th, 2014 at 10:59 AM #20

    Aiden, this is really the kind of situation therapy is for: You don’t know why you argue, you want to control it but you can’t, you love her but the arguing continues, etc. Sometimes we need an outsider to nail what’s going on.

  • Aiden March 17th, 2014 at 2:43 PM #21

    I tried using that. An outside source, another person but she only got mad. It was her friend. My ex doesn’t express her feelings much. She keeps them bottled in. I get irritated by that. I had to go to her friend and her friend said that she went through the same thing that I am going through. Her and her bf have been together for 7 years now. She said my ex would be back if I gave her time but idk if I believe that. Someone told her I cheated on her and it is NOT true. I pretty much talked to her about it and she somehow seemed to believe me but then she threw out “idc if you cheated on me or not. Look how you’re acting. You’re being crazy” all I’ve done is try to talk to her. I haven’t been insane and yelling at her like crazy. Old what’s wrong. She also suffers from depression so I wonder if that’s what’s wrong? It’s difficult for me to give her space because she seems to be doing fine without me. People tell me she does care and misses me because she talks to them about me at times but I don’t feel like she does. She tells me she doesn’t her self yet her friends say she does? I’m confused. She’s rude and I feel like she doesn’t truly believe I didn’t cheat on her. I told her to just trust me because I’ve done so much for her. I wouldn’t jeopardize our relationship. She was the most amazing person to me. I loved her. I guess I just want her to miss me and for her to realize that she should to be pushing me away. All I want is for her to miss me and for her to swallow her pride and at least talk to me. Idk how to get her to do that? If I give her space I feel like she won’t be back. Yet she does have all the stuff I gave her and a bunch of my clothes. Her friends say if she really didn’t want anything to do with me, she would’ve gotten rid of them or gave them back. Its a messy situation.

  • DrDeb March 18th, 2014 at 7:50 AM #22

    Hi Aiden,
    When I said this is what therapy is for – an objective outsider, I will add that a therapist is a competent objective outsider. (Of course, you need to check on the competency and that is a different article.) Your girlfriend’s friend is not the right person. Furthermore, you have not gotten to the root of her behavior – or your own. One thing you do mention is that her bottling things up irritates you. Can I say something here? Your irritation is going to make her bottle things more! Can you see that? That is reason #2 for a therapist to help you. Please check your local listings. The therapists on this blog are amazing and you can see who they are by what they write. Good luck.

  • Makemeselfless May 3rd, 2014 at 2:42 PM #23

    All I know about love ( from 10 years of marriage) is that the only way to love a person, is to love them even when they don’t deserve it. Love past the hurt, give her space. To be honest with you, it’s too hard to do alone. Only God can help you love someone how they need to be loved. That is the only way I can love my spouse, not because we have a bad relationship, but because a relationship is hard! It takes too much work for someone to bear alone and do it with their own willpower.

  • Makemeselfless May 3rd, 2014 at 2:46 PM #24

    Men respond well to unconditional respect. It’s a hard pill to swallow.

  • So_willing_to_change May 5th, 2014 at 9:22 PM #25

    I had a great opportunity with a woman who I connected with deeply. I found out recently that I’ve been suffering from generalized anxiety and I tended to blow up whenever we got into an argument. Sometimes I would just be short over minor issues. After 6 months she began to pull away and it freaked me out. I started to frantically look for ways to fix the situation and I think that I came across as too needy. She finally broke up with me after 9 months and now is very cold and distant. The hard part is that i see her every day (at work) and some days it feels like I’m slipping back into anxiety ridden grief. She’s started to talk to me a bit but is obviously not interested in talking about getting back together. I’ve been trying self help and I’m about to start counseling. She hasn’t said yes or no with regard to trying again at some point, in fact she has intentionally refused to answer the question saying that she doesn’t know. I’m seriously trying to get my life sorted out but I know that it’s not going to be a quick fix. My question is should I try to move on without her or do I continue to try and make things right?

  • DrDeb May 6th, 2014 at 9:11 AM #26

    I am very impressed with your self-awareness, namely, realizing that you would blow up for minor reasons and that your frantic attempts to hold the relationship together came across as needy. I also am glad you are going to start counseling. The counseling should be goal-oriented, meaning, you should be given specific tools to rebuild your sense of self-esteem and overcome the destructive messages that you have inside. This woman wants a “whole” person, I would guess. She doesn’t want someone who blows up or who is anxious or who isn’t comfortable with who they are. So it seems to me you should work on healing yourself first before complicating matters with relationships. Good therapy does not have to last years and decades. With the degree of insight you already have and the motivation that I believe you also have, your whole entire therapy process should be under a year, maybe even six months of effort. If she is really this fantastic person, I would say to tell her you know exactly why she has pulled away and you don’t blame her one bit. You are working on all of it. That’s it. Because by telling her this, you validate her feelings without putting any pressure on her to do anything at all. Since you see her at work, she will see the changes in you for herself over time. A no-pressure approach is the opposite of the needy approach and in and of itself is respect-worthy, therefore attractive. The key is to not work with a psychodynamic therapist which will take 30 years. Ask your therapist his or her orientation. Good luck!!

  • Sandy O May 13th, 2014 at 4:36 PM #27

    Hi DrDeb,
    I have a been in this relationship for 7 years before i got pregnant. getting pregnant was not what i wanted at the time because i was in university. i was so mad at my boyfriend and i cried all the time and we argue a lot. after having the baby the arguments continued because he spends most of his time away from home . after work instead of coming home he would stop by his mom or stop to help out friends with their issues while i am at home in need of his help.i would vex with him and argue why cant he come home to help me when i ask him and its hard all by myself to take care of the baby. it didn’t help. the arguments and quarrels between us got worse everyday. sometimes we don’t argue and we talk about the arguments and we both vow to do better and it goes right back to square one. he wants this relationship and wish i would stop cussing he said for everything. but his actions makes me mad. why cant he see that. now he got a promotion in another city and the company provides living accommodation there for him so he only comes home every two weeks. since january he started acting strange and then he said his foot his not in this relationship anymore. he said its not gonna work because his feelings have changed somewhat its not as strong as before. i begged him to let us work on it but when he comes home he cant even look at me he looks so guilty like he is having an affair. we still live under the same roof. he eats when i cook just the same and we have sex. the last three times he came home. i am trying doc. he is my first boyfriend and he wanted to marry me prior to this new job promotion. he asked me to and i said you have to adjust your ways and be more committed to us (me and the baby) and stop putting other people before us including your mother. he is always at her house evryday of the week sometimes when i talk about it he would do better and then go right back into the old ways. now he is miles away and the distance have made me realise how much i really love him. he is hurt over the fact that his sister and mother at times dont get along well and he said i dont respect him and as we start to argue i get so loud on top of my voice and he cant deal with stuff like that so he dont think it will work. but i think he want it to work because he is hanging around to see if things will change in my behaviour. and i want to control my voice and i am working on getting the ralionship withhis family to be better too. they have hurt me in the oast and i oulled away from two member of his family until i jus eventually jus cut off all of them. i love him please help me to show him that i can change and respect him and speak ona normal volume and recreate the relationship with his family. please doc. ilove him soo much. since we started having sex again i realise his behaviour towards me is a little better but when he leaves and go back to the other city to work he comes home with a strange behaviour and he dont want me to touch him and then the night before he goes back to the other city we have sex and he gave me a a body massage for mother’s day and that how the sex started. help. i need to recreate this. my son needs both his parents and i i love him too

  • DrDeb May 14th, 2014 at 12:12 PM #28

    Hi Sandy
    Three things: 1. work on calming yourself. There are deep breathing apps you can download for that.
    2. work on your self esteem. Read self-help books for it or seek affordable therapy. You will become more attractive when you like and love yourself and don’t appear needy.
    3. Please get your health checked now that you’re having sex again. I am concerned about his behavior when he’s away.
    Good luck

  • Sad Cat June 1st, 2014 at 3:07 AM #29

    Dr deb,

    My boyfriend and I have been together for 5 years, 2.5 years long distance. We started out on the same career path, but he stopped for a while and now that I’m finishing my training he hasn’t even started. I know he’s depressed about his career life and said he “can’t love anyone until he loves himself” and “can’t be in a relationship right now.” The pain he’s dealt me is like nothing I’ve ever had before. I want us to work out because I think what we had is special and what others dream about. He says he’s been feeling so down he hasn’t even thought about getting married anytime recently. He also doesn’t feel the same about me. I know he loves me and says he wants me in his life in the future. How much of this is his depression talking? And is it possible for us to fall in love again?

  • Thomas June 10th, 2014 at 6:03 AM #30

    My girlfriend and I have been together for what would be 5 years next month. She is my first real long term relationship but it’s mainly because I’m very specific on who I want to give myself too. I know I love her with every ounce of my being, but throughout the relationship, I managed to abuse her physically and mentally. I justified it for so long as it being her fault for making me that mad. I guess it was normal for me having grown up with my father constantly abusing my mother.

    June of 2013, I had taken the physical abuse pretty far and had hurt her fairly bad. My mind immediately snapped to a point where everything was plain to see and I decided to go to anger management. She moved out with her sister and from being traumatized, fell immediately out of love with me. I didn’t want to be like my father and since I finally realized what I was doing, I was able to significantly control my anger from then onward. Her feelings came back soon after and she moved back in with me, however there were a few situations, not outright physical abuse, but still hurtful things that had happened. This began to break her down into depression and now, about a year later, she tells me she no longer has any feeling for me. My continued sub conscience acts of control had pushed her further and further away, coupled with my own depression about where I was in life with my career. Right before she told me of her lack of feelings, I began taking an active approach in things like my career and relationship, after all, my life is in my control, but it was too little too late.

    I’m going to seek out an abuse specialist to help me make sense of all the controlling actions I make, but I will never stop loving her. She made her share of mistakes like hiding conversations with exes and not wanting to be close in front of exes, but I know at this point that she has always had issues with anxiety and that nothing shady was going on. I also know that none of it justified my actions.

    My questions are these, can she fall back in love with me? After about 3 years of physical and mental abuse, can she love me again? Can the spark of my kiss be there again? Can she feel that beautiful sensation when I touch her skin?

    I know that I will never stop loving her and in my mind, love is absolute. It can be broken, it can be buried, but it never goes away. If I give up on her and “love” someone else, it will never be true and I can’t live in a lie like that, questioning myself at every turn. If I can fall out of love with this girl, then how can I ever trust it’s absolute meaning again.

    I truly am sorry for the way I treated her and I never want to hurt get like that again. I want to give get as much of the world as I can and give her a life worth living. How do I show her that I’ve changed for her? For myself as well, but for her?

    With kind regards,
    Thomas B

  • DrDeb June 10th, 2014 at 10:28 AM #31

    Hi Thomas,
    The way I work with people in therapy who have had abusive relationships (you can see my book on this – go to my website for more) is to help re-wire our brains so that the trauma that caused the anger in the first place is completely healed. That goes for both parties. When your ex- sees you as completely changed and she, too, is stronger and healed, then there are possibilities.

  • Marie June 11th, 2014 at 8:23 AM #32

    I am glad I came across this thread because I am having trouble fully trusting my boyfriend again. When we first started dating all was well until he started showing me this other side of him he didn’t show before I had started to open up to him. He would flirt with other women in front of me and constantly made sexual comments about other women both to me and in front of me. All friends and family who I discussed this with thought I should leave him but no one but him and I could understand that we had such a deep connection despite his actions. I told him how hurt I was and that he violated my building trust for him, shattered it actually. He was very remorseful of his actions and said he didn’t intentionally do them and felt horrible for hurting me. Ever since then there has continued to be significant improvement in him so I gave him another chance. We are very much in love now, 2 years later, and I do have trust in him but I feel it never fully built up because he shattered it during the most fragile stage. I still cry from time to time over the pain he has caused and I know he feels awful about it. How do I overcome it and trust fully?

  • DrDeb June 11th, 2014 at 12:39 PM #33

    Hi Marie,
    He has to understand himself better. Why did he do what he did? – was he trying to impress you? Was he afraid to show how committed he was to you? Is this a bad habit he picked up from going with the wrong friends? Before you have complete trust, he will be able to explain why he used to do it and why looking at other women means zero to him now. And he will want to share that with you of his own accord, not just when you ask.

  • Pauline June 14th, 2014 at 6:00 AM #34

    My boyfriend and I met 2 years ago, I fell for him first sight. It took him a little longer but a couple of months later we were together. He left for italy 1 month after getting together and we talked for 6 months. Everything was perfect, we had the same goals, the same visions on life, but we did have completely different interests. I would feel guilty every time I was talking about my interests because I knew he wasn’t as in to them as I was, and I was probably boring him. I would feel guilty when i let him wait outside while shopping so I stopped enjoying that as well. Not once has he made any complaints about waiting or me going on about my interests. It’s just the ‘knowing he doesn’t really like them as much’ that was making me feel guilty. He was my perfect first boyfriend and I needed to be the perfect girlfriend. That I had some huge disappointments to get through (school fails, dream fails, health fails) and 6 months ago I was kissing him and was distracted. It shocked me to the core and 6 months of thinking I don’t love him anymore, has made me not want to be with him anymore. Not because of him, his personality or anything. I just want to be free of the anxiety my head believes is caused by him. I keep thinking he’s the reason why I can’t see a future for us or for me in general. I have self pity, am depressed, am disappointed in myself for being such a horrible person for not loving this amazing man anymore. I want to fall back in love but it will never be innocent again. The anxiety has brought so much stuff up that ‘bother’ me (things that didn’t bother me or wouldn’t bother anyone but the anxiety and depression and adhd are making me irretated all the time) Any advice? How do I let go of fear and love again… Innocently? I’ve talked about this with him but he doesn’t understand why I’m doing this to myself. He’s not giving up, but I don’t know how long I’m going to last. I don’t want this relationship feeling like this. Feeling not in love, feeling pain, feeling sorry for myself and not seeing him for who he truly is. Depression and anxiety has deformed him to a stranger. I’m in my head constantly, HOW TO GET OUT? how to love innocently? again?

  • DrDeb June 14th, 2014 at 7:20 PM #35

    Hi Pauline,
    I am thinking there is more going on than you are aware of. Could it be that some message in the back of your mind says you are not entitled to happiness? Could it be that someone has planted the idea that life just can’t be good? I don’t know. I think it would be helpful to talk to a therapist who can ask you broad questions about your life, your family, your history.

  • stephanyL June 15th, 2014 at 9:11 AM #36

    I’ve been with my boyfriend for 1 year and 3 months. But when we got into a fight, out of nowhere I told him that I lied to him. The way I said it he thinks I’m prpud of what I did which is not true seriously. I don’t want to hurt him. He’s my everything. I don’t know what to do know to make him believe I was really sorry, that I hurt his feelings and give me another chance. It was wrong lying to him in the first place and I regret it. He won’t believe me. I need help ;( seriously. How can I make him forgive me for what I did and how can I make him,fall for me again :( HELP ASAP ;(

  • DrDeb June 15th, 2014 at 10:03 AM #37

    Stephany I think that what you are saying is in some way like what Pauline was saying and my answer will be the same: For some reason, you feel insecure and feel the need to lie. Apologizing won’t cut it because this insecurity and lying are something that is in you. You should talk to a therapist and work on where this came from and building up a sense of confidence about who you are so that you don’t ever need to lie again.

  • Brittany June 18th, 2014 at 9:57 AM #38

    Dr. Deb. I am trying my absolute best to save my relationship. I’ve been with my fiancé 2+ years now & I cheated on him emotionally. Although in my eyes that’s much worse than a sexual connection with someone. I had an ectopic pregnancy & I got caught up with the person I was involved with after that just because it was a refreshing experience for me. I was in a very dark place about the pregnancy, but I also know that was only an excuse after a while. Anyway, my fiancé has found messages in my phone between the 2 of us on 2 different occasions within a 6 month timeframe. I’ve constantly prayed for God to free me from that relationship because I knew it wasn’t healthy for me & I didn’t need to betray my spouse in that manner. About 2 weeks ago, everything came to the light & I was cut off from the guy I was cheating with. As relieved as I was, I hated how it ended. But I took the time to for once be honest with my fiancé & myself about everything. Now he doesn’t want to restore our relationship & I’m crushed because it feels like now that I’ve put forth the effort to not only change myself but to change the downward spiral of my relationship, it’s too late. I don’t want this to be the end of us. I’ve done my best to show him that I’m done with being dishonest & to dedicate my life to loving only him.

  • Jessica June 18th, 2014 at 9:31 PM #39

    My husband and I have been together for two years and 6 months. When we got together everything was really good. Then a month later his grandfather died and he was really close with him. I was there for him through everything. Well in July 2012 I found naked pictures on his phone and went through his Facebook account and found messages to an ex asking if she wanted to have sex. He of course made lies saying they saved on his phone and that his friend Rick had sent the message. Well then in June or July 2013 I went on his yahoo account and there were emails on there off of craigslist personals between him and other woman in 2012. He was sexted other woman for 7 to 9 months. Then I found messages from him and his ex off Facebook, I could only see what she wrote and she said your happy with jess and I’m working things out with my baby daddy. He says he didn’t tell her he wanted to work things out but she told me he did. He told her he missed the good times. We also had dinner with his sisters and her(the same one he wrote) and I didn’t even know she was an ex. He’s also looked up naked chick’s on his play store. I want to forgive him and move past this but I don’t know how. He’s hurt me so bad and he won’t even talk to me or answer questions that I have. He gets defensive and aggravated at me. He says he’s changed and wants to be a better husband and father. But can a cheater really change? How can I move past this? I still say he has feelings for his ex and wants her. But I can’t get him to talk to me. How can I get him to open up? Do you think he could possible be cheating? He’s even came home with a hair on his privates and make multiple excuses. Then two days later he came home and showered since being together he’s never came home and showered. I really could use your help please.

  • Jessica June 18th, 2014 at 9:50 PM #40

    And around the time he was sexting, my grandfather was in the hospital and he died. I needed him but he was preoccupied with the other woman and his ex. How can I forgive someone who isn’t there and supporting you when your having a hard time grieving?

  • Daniel R June 19th, 2014 at 9:40 AM #41


    I would like to get some advice about my relationship with my partner of nearly 2 years.

    Since day 1 we have both been crazy about each other up until a few months ago where I’ve started to suffer from anxiety. I slowly over come it but it comes back now and then.

    My partner is my stone. She makes me feel strong and proud of myself and does nothing but give me compliments because I do have low self esteem.

    I consider her my life partner and we both cannot imagine a future together. We want to grow old together and have the same goals in life but lately I have been questioning my love which makes me quite upset.I know deep down inside that we are soul mates.

    Is this a faze I’m going through triggered by the anxiety?

    At the end of the day I will never give into the anxiety and let it win.

  • DrDeb June 19th, 2014 at 7:53 PM #42

    It sounds to me like your boyfriend has a fear of intimacy. I know that will sound just the opposite of what it seems so let me explain: People use sex as a way to AVOID a real relationship. Sex pretends you are close but it leaves out the everyday things–like staying with your girlfriend when her grandfather died. Real life is so much more than sex and if a person wants REAL intimacy, then they have to be vulnerable. They have to feel deep feelings AND compassion for another person. That is real intimacy. This will NOT go away, so your boyfriend needs short-term but very intense therapy directed to correcting this BEFORE you can forgive him.

  • DrDeb June 19th, 2014 at 7:56 PM #43

    You could be questioning your feelings because maybe deep down you don’t think you deserve something good in your life. On the other hand, maybe there is really something wrong with the relationship and you just can’t put your finger on it. I hate to sound redundant, but maybe you should speak to a therapist to find out. Marriage should not be taken lightly.

  • meeka June 20th, 2014 at 7:11 PM #44

    Hi I have recently seperated from my husband after 8 years and 3 beautiful kids together. He was a drug addict before we got together and he got clean when we found out I was pregnant with our first born. He then had an accident 2 years later which has left him in huge amounts of pain. So along with medications and spinal surgery he has resorted back to using pot. Not a little.. but alot. Influenced mainly by a friend of his. He doesnt see a problem with it and says it help the pain and his sleep. He still doesnt sleep when he has it and still hurts so I see it as being an excuse to get high. He at first hid it for me for month and friends of our all knew about it and no one told me. Then he said he would cut back to quit and that was almost 2 years ago. I have been more the patient I have given him help offered support and tried to get him to quit. But he has chose not to and has left. He has also been having mental health issues as recently wanted to kill himself and has little self worth. He has made his choice of drugs and drop kick friends over me and his kids. I am broken and dont know where to go from here

  • DrDeb June 21st, 2014 at 8:34 PM #45

    Hi Meeka,
    Drug use is often a way to hide or escape from old emotional pain. It is pain that will not go away because a person loves you, unfortunately. It needs therapy. I’m sorry to keep having to say that on this thread, but that is the way I feel. If there is any way you can get him to see a quality therapist, that would be good. You may be saving his life.

  • Ashleigh June 25th, 2014 at 1:02 PM #46

    Hi, i met someone last year and we instantly clicked. We became the best of friends, but also sexual partners. We agreed at the start that it was just going to be ‘casual’ and if either of us ‘caught feelings’ we would walk away. However, that wasnt the case. we tried to end things on numerous occasions but because we felt so deeply about each other, we continued. This carried on for around 6 months, until the silly arguments got too much for him and he walked away. We carried on to see each other after this however, bearing in mind during this whole period we never were established as a couple. Then after a bad argument, I told him we were over and we didn’t speak for a full week. A week later he came to me saying he cant stand not having me in his life and so we got back to what we were, however, I was soon to learn that during the week we were not speaking, he began sleeping with one of my friends, and this continued even though we were trying to make things work again. She knew the situation between us and I had my suspicions, but when i asked either of them, i was told to ‘stop being paranoid’. My suspicions were confirmed when one of her friends told me they had been sleeping together all along. I was distraught and when confronted, they both lied, until eventually i got the truth, which was that he had been sleeping with us both for around 3 weeks. It took him a few days to apologise to me, but when he did, he came to me genuinely upset, crying and telling me how stupid he had been, I should have been his girlfriend all along, it had taken losing me to realise he was in love with me, all I wanted to hear. So I took him back and we began working towards a proper committed relationship, however, it has been almost 3 months since I found out about them and things are so bad. I’m jealous, controlling, irrational and I accuse him all of the time of being unfaithful again, and it has pushed him away. I have now distanced myself from him (something that he said he didnt want) and have realised i need help. Could I have your opinion on the whole situation, thanks.

  • Ashleigh June 25th, 2014 at 1:04 PM #47

    we never got into a relationship before all of this because he has commitment issues, he has never had a girlfriend before.

  • DrDeb June 25th, 2014 at 2:17 PM #48

    Hi Asleigh
    To me, the word “commitment issues” combined with the idea of sleeping around casually implies that your boyfriend feels very vulnerable and fearful of losing the relationship. He therefore was distancing himself emotionally. But apparently, he had an awakening and now the tables are turned. Your fear of losing him has lead to your pushing him away. This isn’t as illogical as it sounds: keeping a distance creates an artificial feeling of safety. I think your reaction to being betrayed is perfectly normal. And furthermore, if you could take him back then he should be mature enough to take you back. Discuss with him how he would react if you apologize. And would he put that ring on your finger? You may find that if he finally commits, you will feel safer and you will not act that way. On the other hand — there are people who cheat once they’re married. What assurances will he give you that he is mature enough to stand by you and work things out when marriage becomes stressful?

  • Anonymous July 9th, 2014 at 9:27 AM #49

    Hi Dr Deb. My H and I are currently separated. I had an emotional affair with the man I fell in love with when I was in my 20′s, and I still have feelings for this man. I do also still have feelings for my husband. He is an extremely damaged person. And I mean extremely. He had an abusive disjointed childhood, witnessed domestic violence and was loved by only one parent. He was in a warzone. And later imprisoned and tortured for a year. He has seen terrible things. We had a very difficult relationship and it was always difficult. I think I married him because I felt sorry for him. We have two beautiful children. Since we have separated I have observed his relationship and interaction with the children improving. (He has never been fully emotionally present because of his PTSD). The problem is I feel like a trauma victim having lived with him. I know he still loves me. He is very loud and comes with a whole load of annoying habits and that’s even before you take into account his inability to emotionally connect. We are incompatible on many levels. And yet I honestly feel he is a remarkable man, and I have seen him change some of his behaviours. It has felt like I held the whole thing together. So being a single mum is also difficult. And after a brief period of space I contacted my emotional affair partner – who, incidentally, is willing to give up his life (he is partnered but it is more of an mental partnership/friendship than any romance which doesn’t give it any less meaning, but I know I was his great love of his life). So now I am in touch with the one but have interactions with my husband as he still sees the children frequently (they are quite young). I feel very confused. My religious background was teh reason I split up with my EAP in the beginning and he says he would be willing to work at shared values. But I don’t really know which way to go and either way is difficult. So I just feel… stuck! The level of emotional connection I have with my EAP is so huge and the level with my husband so minimal it is quite difficult to imagine climbing that mountain. And I sometimes wonder if I will ever be able to let go of my EAP even if I did try to climb the mountain. Does this make sense?

  • DrDeb July 9th, 2014 at 1:42 PM #50

    Yes, it makes sense but there is no way I could help you w/o actually seeing you and talking this thing through. I wish it were easier than that.

  • Melly July 12th, 2014 at 1:45 PM #51

    Hi Dr. Deb,
    I am so pleased I found your blog! I do not love my husband. We have been living together for five years, and married for two and a half. I have a child from a previous relationship. He has 4 children from his first marriage.
    Four months after we were married, I realised that he is a ‘secret’ drinker. I still can’t believe how stupid I was to not recognise it. Before we got married, there were issues with the kids (ie that due to his work hours I was on my own from 7am until 7pm, and that I couldn’t discipline his kids with time out or anything so my daughter is the only child in the house who is discplined and faces consequences for bad choices… which in turn impacts on her emotionally) but for all that, I felt that I could trust him implicitly. For me, that was the fundamental basis of our relationship. And then when I realised about the drinking, and started watching for the drinking and realising it was happening EVERY day, and we had conversations about how I don’t care if he drinks, but please please don’t hide it from me because I can’t bear the deception, but it continued anyway… well, after two years of this, the final straw for me came 8 weeks ago when he drove drunk. With my ten year old daughter in the car. My grandmother was killed in a car accident. I hate that people drink and drive. My husband knows this. Yet, he went ahead and did that. I moved to my mother’s the next day. My daughter and I moved back into the home a week ago, and I can see that my husband really is trying to make changes, but for me it seems too little, too late. When I look at him, I just see a liar who was so arrogant that the safety of my daughter was jeopardised.
    I don’t just ‘not love him’, sometimes I feel like I actively dislike him. I realise that this is not going to be helpful for him in overcoming his issues with alcohol. I get so frustrated when he cries and says he needs to feel love from me because I understand that he means it, but I kind of feel like… ‘well, you had that already and it didn’t bloody do you any good’.
    He has started to see a psychologist, and I have also met with the psychologist. There is a referral in place for alcohol dependency counselling, and we will do some relationship counselling also… but I guess my question is, is there any point? How will I know and how can I tell if I will love him again? At the moment, I don’t want to stay in the marriage because of him, I only want to stay in the marriage because of the impact on the wider family and also I really love my stepchildren – we have day-to-day care of them, I spend more time with them than their biological parents do, and I don’t want to lose them from my life. But… none of these reasons are actually to do with my husband.
    Even a rough idea of a timeframe would be helpful to me in deciding on whether I stick it out or bow out now.
    Thanks for your time.

  • Megan July 12th, 2014 at 11:12 PM #52

    I hurt my boyfriend really bad today. I lied to him, in his face, and he couldn’t believe I could do that to him. Neither could I. We are in a long-distance relationship, but we were a very happy couple. No arguments, just love and support. Until recently, I asked my guy friend to accompany me in choosing a computer since I don’t know anything about technology. He’s been one of my best friends since college and my boyfriend knew that. I always tell my boyfriend when I’m going out with this friend of mine and he has been always fine with it. But that day when we bought my computer, I decided not to tell my boyfriend precisely because I don’t want him to think that I’m going out too much with my friend. I’m in a foreign city and he’s the only person I know that lives nearby. Anyway, my boyfriend found out but I lied and it was very obvious. He almost broke up with me but decided to forgive me. But it remains obvious how hurt he was and told me that it’s going to be hard rebuilding the relationship and the trust, especially that we’re continents apart. I love him very much and the thought of the possibility of losing him is killing me. I almost never have any sleep. I cry even in my sleep, have nightmares. How do I fix this? I’m scared that even if we do fix this, we’ll never be the same happy couple again. :(

  • Carmen July 13th, 2014 at 1:47 PM #53

    I have been with my boyfriend for a little over 6 months. I have known him for 3 years now and he has my first everything. First boyfriend, literally everything. 3 years ago when we first began to get to know each other, he hurt me really bad. He ended up hooking up with another girl twice. We weren’t together officially but the purpose was to get closer to having a real relationship. I felt so betrayed because I respected our terms and remained loyal to him but he couldn’t do the same. I left him and he kept contacting me but I wanted nothing to do with someone who only looked at me as a way to get sex and be so insensitive to disrespect me and cheat on me. 5 months later he texted me and I decided to talk to him again and slowly we began to rebuild what we had and finally are in a relationship now. At first it felt like a dream until he hurt me once more. I surprised him at his house and I found him in the living room talking to another girl. What hurt was that he completely ignored me. He gave a dry hi not even a kiss or hug. He didn’t even introduce me to the girl as his girlfriend. He went to drop her off and when he came back he came back to greet me just like he always does and that threw me off. I was convinced he was cheating on me because he even had a picture of himself and the same girl as his wallpaper. He claims until this day that she is just a friend who was there to visit his mother because she took care of her as child. I fell back into the same hole as 3 years ago. it is so hard to get back from that hurt. Ever since we had that fall out he’s like a changed man. He’s doing things for me that he’s never done. He’ll take me out on dates, cook me dinner, and most importantly, putting up with me no matter how much I seem to push him away. For me its these small things that warm my heart. He claims he’s a changed man and that he will do anything to prove to me that he really loves me. He has even told me he wishes to marry me. Even though he is doing everything in his power to show me his love I feel like I the hurt and pain has made me numb. I know I have feelings for him because just the taught of losing him makes me sick and after everything he’s done I still choose him over any other guy. I just can’t trust him fully I always feel he’ll do something to me again. He gets frustrated that I don’t trust him but he’s willing to do anything to get me to understand. He feels like I don’t show him that I love him and it makes me sad because I do but I know deep down its the hurt that’s caused me to become so guarded and cold towards him. How do I fix this? How can I put the hurt aside and go back to loving him like I use to?

  • DrDeb July 13th, 2014 at 8:04 PM #54

    Hi Melly
    It looks to me like you are taking good steps — your husb has a therapist and is getting alcohol counseling. I would add two pieces: AlAnon for you and to not have moved back so fast. You have to watch yourself very carefully not to inadvertently enable your husband. Isn’t there somewhere that HE can go now? Also, I applaud you for wanting to give a stable home to his children. You may be saving (emotionally) 4 lives. Here’s the thing: You actually don’t know who your husband IS and neither does he. If he continues with the AA or whatever special dependency counseling he has and a high quality therapist, he could make very good progress PROVIDED the rules are clear and no one (including the therapist) enables him. Why not give it 6 months and see? Can you stick it out that long?

  • DrDeb July 13th, 2014 at 8:09 PM #55

    Hi Megan,
    You have to look inside yourself honestly to figure out what made you insecure enough to lie. Something in your past? Your parents? etc.? Why not reach out to women that you meet and make new friends? If your boyfriend sees you as self-reliant and stable then it could restore his trust. Perhaps you need to work a bit on your own sense of self-esteem and self-confidence.

  • Nicole July 16th, 2014 at 11:54 PM #56

    I hear you on that. I feel the same way. Like u did. I feel really bad. How I treat my boy friend. It really hurt me so bad too. He did every thing for me and my kids. And i did this to him. I feel really bad. And now I now I want to hurry up and fix my prombles out with him. Before I lose him. And i really don’t want to lose him at all. And i really do miss him so much with all my heart and soul. And i really do miss him so much always forever. And i really do love him with all my heart and soul. And he is the most important thing in my life. And i really do love him so much. And i used to treat him like a king. And i really do miss it so much. The way I used to treat him like a king. It was my value. And i really did alot of damage to him. It was never his fault at all. It was me all the time. And i said thank you so much for everything. And i really did appreciate everything he did for me and my 3 Beautiful kids. Thank u so much.

  • Shawn July 17th, 2014 at 5:24 AM #57

    My wife was self employed for 7 years and had serious ups and downs with her income. We used to argue about her getting a job back outside the home. She was a blogger who wrote about food and parenting. Her paychecks were never steady or reliable to pay our bills on time. We got to a point where I had to start fronting her money from our rent that I paid to help buy her some time until her pay came in. She began borrowing money from me almost weekly for work expenses. One morning while waiting for the school bus to come and pick up my daughter, she came outside swearing at me that we clearly missed the bus and told me to start acting like an adult. It was very humiliating and to see the look if horror on my daughters face was hard. She has always spoken down to me in front of our kids and my family members. I asked for a sit down with her to discuss our problems. A few days prior to our meeting I emailed her a few things that were on my mind that I wanted her to think about and asked her to do the same. She did not. The meeting was not good. I asked her to please talk nicer to me when she is upset and asked her if she would start trying to play a part in my family’s lives. She does not really speak to any of them and stays behind when I take the kids to go visit them. She agrees to speak nicer but wants nothing to do with my family and will not make any further efforts. When she apoke all she said was that she feels like I don’t even like her anymore. I told her that was not true and I will make changes to that immediately. I told her I will never give up on our marriage and would never consider a divorce. She got mad and asked me why I would do that and don’t we both deserve to be happy if things can’t be fixed. That hurt me deeply to hear that divorce was even a possibility in her mind. From that day forward I changed everything in the way that I support her financially and emotionally. I took on all kinds of extra responsibility so that she could do more with her career. We began making love 3-4 times a week. Then a job opportunity came up that was 7 hours north of our home. She wanted to interview for it and asked me to take off 3 days from work so she could drive up to do so. I agreed. When she came back she began talking about me staying behind to see through the short sale on our home and eventually joining her up north. I did not like the sound of that. She wanted to leave me and our two dogs behind. I lost my job and began looking for work where her new job was. Miraculously I found a job near hers and wanted to get an apartment together. She said she could not find a place that would take animals and that we would have to live separately for a year for now. Every alarm in my heart was going off now. I knew there was a problem and she was evading me about it. When we moved out to the new area she shut me out completely. She could barely bring herself to hug me and a kiss was not even possible. She doesn’t return any I love yous or I miss yous. She said she works and is too busy. After a week if this I pressed her into telling me what was wrong and she finally said that she isn’t happy. She hasn’t given me any details as to why. I am living in a vacuum and don’t know what to do. I gave her the choice between counseling or divorce. She chose counseling and says that she wants to try and work things out. The few times I have seen her I don’t get any feeling that she misses me at all. If she can’t tell me that she loves me I am worried that counseling may not help. I don’t think you can talk someone into loving you or reason with someone to have feelings for you. She won’t start counseling for another 3 weeks because she is too busy at her new job. This situation has hurt me deeply. She swore to me that she wasn’t leaving me before we moved. I could have stopped this from happening because it is illegal to take kids more than 70 miles from their parent. I knew if I invoked that and cost her the dream job she always wanted that I was heading for a divorce for sure. So I took a leap of faith and allowed this to happen. I have been an emotional mess and fell into a depression over this. I don’t know why she didn’t jump at the opportunity for divorce when I put it on the table. That is the only thing I have to hang into as a sign of hope and that isn’t much. If we do divorce I will try to get custody of our children and that will start a war with no end. I don’t want this to happen. I am devestated that she lied to me. Can counseling help this situation or am I destined for a divorce?

  • Thomas July 17th, 2014 at 10:00 AM #58

    My fiancé who I love very much and have been together for almost 10 years and have 2 children. We both love each other very much but she has told me that she has been holding back her feelings to spare me and now she feels that she has neglected to take care if her own feelings. She tells me that she wants to stay with me but now she is in doubt on her feelings on the long term. Basically, she says she does not know right now. She also says that it does not mean she won’t stay with me but just now she is confused on how to feel. She is afraid just like me to leave each other and start over cause of AIDS and the thought of getting to know a person and hoping that they are not gonna cheat or be violent. Please help me on what to do

  • DrDeb July 18th, 2014 at 9:33 AM #59

    Hi Thomas
    If your fiance is confused, there has to be a reason. Perhaps she isn’t really confused but is afraid to admit to herself the real reason. I suggest she get counseling to help her figure this out. You don’t want to start a marriage that was wrong from the beginning. In the meantime, I also suggest you get counseling to get help on what it might be in your own personality that has presented an obstacle for your fiance. In fact, please seek a person with a degree in Marriage & Family Therapy. This is because that is the only profession that deems it fine for the same therapist to see both members of a couple alone. In this way, she or he will get a much better picture of what could be the problem.

  • DrDeb July 18th, 2014 at 2:21 PM #60

    Hi Shawn,
    Here is what I am hearing from your msg: There is a part of you that lacks empathy, is disconnected. Maybe I am wrong because it is just a letter. But I am puzzled how you can talk about “borrowing from my money” when you are married and it is both your money. Psychologically, it seems there was a disconnect right there. I am not saying her reaction was nice. It was not. Generally in cases like this BOTH people have something to learn about life. But I am focusing on you because you are the one that asked. Next, you say that if you do divorce, you will try to get custody. This also bothers me. Unless she is an unfit mother — on drugs or something– the children need both of their parents. Why wouldn’t you want shared custody? See, these things make me think that perhaps you can be controlling. Now, on top of it, you have fallen into depression. This tells me that you actually lack some of the coping skills you need. [And BTW, controlling people often do lack them; that is why they resort to pressuring others.] Anyway, please see an MFT together.

  • Phil July 19th, 2014 at 6:58 AM #61

    Hello Dr. Deb,
    My girlfriend and I recently broke up after a 3 month relationship in which there was at least one other break up. Earlier this week she said she didn’t love me anymore and that she doesn’t want to be with me ever again. I realized eventually that through out the course of the relationship I was being emotionally abusive towards her in my actions and reactions. I came to the conclusion that I was projecting my feelings towards myself on to her and that I was really hurting both of us. After futile attempts to try to get her back I’m now in place where I’m trying to increase my awareness of how I feel and my emotional intelligence. I just recently started counseling earlier this week to help achieve this.

    What concerns me right now is the fact that it had been three weeks since I spoke to her and her anger and rage only seems to be growing and she said that she’s okay with it even though she knows that it may be unhealthy to be holding on to it. I’m not sure how to feel about that, she was already dealing with her own emotional conflicts and seeing a therapist (though she is currently away for the summer) before we got together. I know that we each individually have to work on ourselves and make progress but the way she is dealing with things right now I wonder if there is a future for us. I’m not sure what to do at this point.

  • Maria July 19th, 2014 at 6:22 PM #62

    I have been in a relationship with my husband for almost 8 years and almost 6 years of being married. 3 years ago my feelings changed, and everyday since than I’ve tried to get them back. We have 2 kids together (2 and 5 years old). We never did anything before getting married ( we were forced to get married because we got knocked up) we were not ready to get married. I had everyone telling us it was the right thing to do and basically forcing us to. I know he loves me and we fight a lot. My feelings aren’t there at all. I dont feel anything when we kiss or have sex. It’s almost like I’m forcing myself to for him.. And it sucks cause I know he deserves better, But I dont want to loose my family cause my kids love us together and I know how a divorce can ruin everything… I just dont know what to do. We go to a therapist , but it breaks my heart that he wants to keep trying and I do too but I’m not feeling anything. I know he wants me to love him and show him it, but I dont feel it at all…

  • DrDeb July 20th, 2014 at 1:59 PM #63

    Hi Phil,
    First of all, why don’t you discuss this with your therapist? Second, her therapist who is away for the summer should either have put in place a way to contact her such as email, phone, or Skype, or have a substitute. There are a lot of emotions here that need to be examined, understood, regulated, and possibly changed.

  • DrDeb July 20th, 2014 at 2:02 PM #64

    Hi Maria,
    This is serious! If your therapist is not able to move from couples therapy to individual with you to help you with how you have cut off your feelings, that is a problem. A good Marriage & Family Therapist can work with both the couple or any individual in that family. It is NOT all about behavior. Feelings count! No one can live a life without them. You need to find out what it is you are hiding from yourself and then what to do about it. It does not necessarily mean you don’t love your husband. it could be a hundred things. Maybe some childhood experience got triggered. You need to investigate.

  • Rosa July 21st, 2014 at 7:26 AM #65

    My husband and I have been together for a little over a year and just recently got married. He came into my life unexpectedly. I had already been through a couple of long and unsuccessful relationships which both failed because ultimately neither of those men treated me with respect and both of them ended up being abusive in the end of each relationship…and even through all of that I never cheated or disrespected them when I was in the relationship with them. I just turned myself off, my feelings I guess. And I just let out what was necessary. After the last relationship ended I stayed like that… Not opening myself up to anyone.. Like I was living in protective mode and I planned to stay like that and not to open myself up to a chance to be hurt again. I was honestly in a bad place in my life.. Depressed and convinced that I would never be happy again. But then I met my husband.
    This relationship I have with my husband now is a completely different world for me. He came into my life when I least expected it and he brought back a part of me that I lost during all the bad times. He made me feel happy again. We have always completely open and honest with each other about everything and trust each other 100 percent which has given us the opportunity to explore things in our relationship and Recently we have been exploring some fantasies. After some talking and planning we decided to bring someone in to our sexual relationship. The plan was for it to be a purely physical thing with no emotion. Just for the fantasy and pleasure for us to share. We planned to try several different things, but the first time we did this we brought another man in. We had talked and agreed on what we were ok with… All the what ifs and everything. We were prepared… I thought. The plan for the first time was for me to be with this man and to video it. When the time came to do all this we ended up having some problems…for one, the camera did not record like planned so that part of my husbands fantasy to watch that was ruined…and on top of that the man that I was with had a little much to drink before all this started so it took a lot longer than we had planned… And I realized how long it was taking but I didn’t take the initiative to do something to stop it…I wanted to.. I tried to find a way to, but Instead I let him continue in order to not make him feel bad for the alcohol induced performance problems… And in doing that I disrespected my husbands feelings. In that moment without realizing it I hurt my husband in a way it don’t know if I can ever repair. My husband ended up getting upset and coming to interrupt to put an end to it. So now we have a big problem. My husband feels disrespected and made a fool of because I didn’t take control of the situation. And in turn he has lost all trust and respect for me. The kind of trust and respect we had is something that neither of us had ever had with anyone before and is devastating to lose. We both still love each other more than anything in the world, but that can’t survive without trust and respect. At this point I need advice on how to begin to gain his trust and respect again. I can’t blame anyone for this but myself. I don’t want to hear “you should have never done that in the first place”. That is no help. At this point what is done is done. I need help to try to fix it. Any suggestions or ideas or advice is greatly appreciated. I would appreciate no negative remarks or opinions. It’s hard enough as it is. Thank you.

  • Kim July 22nd, 2014 at 11:47 PM #66

    My husband and I married very young, he was immature and after the birth of my son I was still over weight and exhausted and didn’t take care of myself. He told me that he was not attracted to me, that he had pictured two younger girls wondering what they looked like naked. I lost a lot of weight another guys told me how good I looked…he never said one word! Several years later he was talking to my son and said that he saw a girl he had gone to school with and had he known she would end up looking like that. Now after 28 years of marriage he works with someone that he finds attractive. I have become very resentful and have a love hate relationship with him. He is being patient with me as I battle these emotions that he has created. Will I ever get over this pain of always feeling inadequate to other women in his eyes!?!?!?

  • DrDeb July 23rd, 2014 at 9:33 AM #67

    Hi Kim
    If you go to my other blog, on my website, drdeb.com, there are some articles that deal with sex, porn, and so forth. I realize that that is not your problem. However, your problem is related in the following way: Men who focus on the body have a lot of trouble focusing on the mind and spirit. They are educated in our society to turn off their deeper feelings until they are disconnected from them. The only way they can connect is through the body because the emotions have been cut off (and the mind, too). What I advise is a really, really competent therapist who will work with the two of you together to help him turn on his feelings (which means helping him overcome his early learning to turn them off). It is a painful process but rewarding at the end.

  • J July 25th, 2014 at 8:22 AM #68

    I need help…

    I made the biggest mistake of my life by cheating on my spouse. We have been together 6 years. I cut off the other person before my wife learned about the situation because I had learned that I already had everything at home I could want. I knew that I loved my wife. but the other person continued to try to contact me. Her father found out what I had done and told me He would not tell her but I needed too so I agreed that I would. But he told her before I had the chance too. So I admitted and I told my wife what had happened. She is devastated and doesn’t want anything to do with me. She says as of right now we are not together but she doesn’t know what the future holds for us. I will do absolutely anything to earn her back. She needs space she said and I am willing to give her that. But at the same time it is hard to give her that. I don’t want to lose contact with her and a kind of out of sight out of mind situation. How long do I wait to contact her or reach out to her. What can I do to earn a chance to fix what I have ruined. I am so lost without her. I take full responsibility for my actions and am deeply sorry and I will truly do anything to have a second chance with her.

  • DrDeb July 26th, 2014 at 7:40 PM #69

    Hi J
    Being sorry isn’t enough. What you did eroded trust. How can YOU be sure (let alone your wife) that you will NEVER in a hundred years do this again? What you need to do is work with a therapist who can help you (a) quickly figure out why you did this and (b) give you the tools to withstand the challenges of life going forward. Please see an MFT (Marriage & Family Therapist) who does more than just talk. Maybe a Gestalt therapist, CBT. But not a psychodynamic type as that therapy is a long-term deal. When your wife sees you as having a different attitude because of the work you’ve done, then there is a possibility she will be willing to take a chance again.

  • Cristina July 26th, 2014 at 7:55 PM #70

    I have been with my husband for over 12 years, 9 have been married. About a year and a half ago I confessed that I lied in the beginning of our relationship about the number of sexual partners I had in my past. It devastated him until he confessed he had been unfaithful earlier in the year. It was difficult at the time but we decided to stay together and try everything we could to fix our relationship. We haven’t been in love for a long time now and haven’t uttered”I life you” in all this time. We tried counseling but weren’t able to get past our distrust and our past. About 4 months ago we decided to try a separation but couldn’t stay away. We want to be with each other and fall back in love but we don’t know how. We have no children but know we want to fix our marriage. I don’t know what to do.

  • DrDeb July 27th, 2014 at 11:16 AM #71

    Hi Cristina
    My question to you, about your previous therapy: Did it focus on why there was a problem on your husband’s part with your previous sexual partners? If the problem was religious, there is such a thing as repentance and forgiveness. If the problem was your lying, then the question is: why did you feel a need to lie? Were you afraid of him? If that was part of it–and this requires soul-searching w your therapist’s help–then it is no wonder that you can’t get the love back. A husband should not be a person we are afraid of. If it was fear, then your husband has the work to do to be a different kind of presence for you. If it was not fear but your own low self esteem, then THAT is what you need to work on in therapy. You see, depending on the reasons underlying the behavior, the process of healing is different.

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