Relationship Connection: Why do I stay with someone who doesn’t appear to want a relationship with me?

Question

After an on-and-off relationship living apart for over a decade, my partner and I lived together for a few years, but have been split up again recently. Throughout it all, we have communicated online, on the phone, even when the other was involved in other relationships, and I consider him to be my best friend. We do see each other about once a week. He said he loves me but is not “in love” with me. He has had many women friends in his life. He never shared his passwords or checked emails when I was with him but I found out about three of them, sexual in nature, when I hacked into his computer during the first year we were living together. He was apologetic but was unwilling to share his passwords or have accountability after that betrayal. Although he said that it was over with them, it was hard to believe him with no proof. Pornography is and has been a big part of his life and I got involved with it through him and want to stop. I want intimacy and love … and I want it with him. I’m trying to move on, but I am having a very hard time. We’re both way past midlife, so you would think that this would be a no brainer, but I can’t seem to let go.

Answer

I wish I could sit down with you so we could talk face-to-face about your dilemma. Here’s how I imagine it would go if we had a chance to visit: I would look you directly in your tired and worried eyes and tell you that if you really want intimacy and love, you’re not going to find it with this guy.

First, you’re not married to him, you don’t have children together, and he’s not even acting like you’re a priority to him. You have had enough years with him to see if he really wants to have a real relationship with you. From what you’re sharing with me, it sounds like he wants pieces of you, but not all of you. It sounds like he prefers pseudo-relationships that give him some of the benefits without any real commitment or sacrifice on his part.

I wish I could give you more hope than that, but you’re asking a very sincere question that deserves a sincere answer. And, you want real connection, but the only way to get that is to find someone who also wants real connection.

I can’t tell you how you should begin the process of separating yourself from this guy. That will take more time than I can give you in this column. I can tell you, though, that it will be a painful loss for you, as you’ve really given him so much of yourself over the years.

He’s created a world that doesn’t allow you to have expectations. And, you staying with him all of these years consequence-free, despite multiple lies and betrayals, only perpetuates the dysfunction.

Even if you end the romantic attachment to him, he may still want to be friends. Please understand that he’s not been a friend to you. A true friend would never be so cruel.

You aren’t a victim, however. You don’t have to keep having your dignity as a human continually insulted by someone who has no interest in connecting with you in a real way. Free yourself up to form an intimate relationship with someone who will cherish you, fight for you, and sacrifice for you.

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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9 Comments

  • Baggage Check August 28, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Another woman dating a guy with a history of other women and porn while he’s with her. You only need to add the element of domestic violence to make this another frequently heard story in St George. Women, if you really want a clean start, rid yourself of these toxic wastes and get out of St George if you want to find someone decent instead of another loser. Leave your baggage behind, too. Nobody wants to hear about the garbage you dated.

  • Project August 28, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Guys have useless, broken, worn out cars as their projects to fix. Women have useless, broken, worn out men as their projects to fix. Both are just a waste of time, energy and money. Why invest in a broken project that’s more trouble and time than it’s worth? Too many women think they’re the one who is going to change him. Go find another another hobby or project than those useless, broken men.

    • Joanna August 28, 2013 at 9:13 am

      HA! What an awesome analogy. That is so true. I was in the exact same situation on and off for about 8 years. When I was in it, I didn’t realize how miserable I was, and when people told me how miserable I LOOKED, I was defensive. When I finally made a clean break, I saw it all so clearly (hindsight!). Even the mild loneliness I felt afterward from not being in a relationship was better than the daily insecurity of the “relationship” I was in. I wish I’d not given him that large chunk of my life, but it would be even worse to come away not learning something from it so I’ve just promised to treat myself better in the future.

      • Project August 28, 2013 at 4:28 pm

        I pity the guy who’s next in line with a woman finally trying to get over her broken project. Crap, all he’ll hear is how that broken project was a terrible jerk. The next guy will hear her repeat that topic around her family, around her friends, during holidays, and unless he’s majoring in psychiatry and she’s his thesis project, he’ll get away from her for his own sanity. Some women who’ve been with their broken project long are projects themselves, especially if their church told them it’s their womanly duty to stick with the worthless broken project man and serve him.

        • Joanna August 29, 2013 at 8:28 am

          Exactly, good point! I hope the person who wrote the letter sees your comment, it might be really good food for thought.

          Listen to “Project” here, ladies – don’t carry the baggage!

  • My Evil Twin August 28, 2013 at 9:26 am

    You are just another of the many drama queens that abound in our society today. Why don’t you grow up and start living life, rather than setting yourself up to be a victim? I’ll tell you why, because you don’t want to change. You love being the center of attention, and playing the role of victim.
    So why are you wasting your time writing this letter? To gain more attention, of course. I’ve got no sympathy for you at all.

    • Snowfield August 28, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      Sounds to me like Evil Twin is fessing up to being one of those guys.

  • Craig August 28, 2013 at 10:46 am

    You stay in your semi-relationship because you love your misery.
    You enjoy being and playing the part of a victim. It’s so comfortable you don’t want to move on.

  • Molly August 29, 2013 at 9:39 am

    I did the same for 2 years. Men like that, we think we can “fix” them and they’ll appreciate us for staying and even return the amount of love, money, etc that we give them. Sadly they wont. Men like like know that if they can find a woman to support them and try to fix them that they have an awesome meal ticket and that’s all we are to them.

    The best thing you can do is take a deep breath and cut to toxic element from your life and then just let it go. That will be even harder, letting go than breaking the connection but if you want to move on with your life you have to let go of the pain and the lost years and move forward into the future.

    Good luck.

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