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The Unexpected Breakup

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Read Parts 1-4: 

Intimacy and Sex: Context is Everything

How Guys Compartmentalize Women

She Doesn’t Exist

Loss of Freedom

Part 5: The Unexpected Breakup

This question seems to come up time and time again. Women write to us and say, “I don’t know what happened. We spent a great weekend together and everything was perfect. He rented a cabin, he made love to me and cuddled with me, he complimented me over and over, and then a few days later he told me he didn’t love me and broke up. I’m devastated. But even more confused. What happened? Is he just scared? Should I wait for him? Will he come back? How could someone change that quickly? Is that even possible?”

We’ve received a variation on that question many times a week for the last 8 years. It’s tough to explain but we’ll do our best.

First of all, understand that the breakup did not come out of the blue. He had been thinking about it for a long time, probably months. (Read below) He had been mulling things over, trying to understand what was wrong. Trying to understand why he felt the way he felt. It didn’t make sense but yet, he knew something was wrong but couldn’t pinpoint what that might be.

But then you ask: How could he act the way he acted this past weekend? How could he treat me like a queen, and worse, have sex with me and cuddle with me and be so wonderful and compliment me, tell me how amazing I am, how beautiful I am, and then be so cold a few days later? It just doesn’t make any sense. Is something wrong with him? Should I be worried?

We understand that it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Here’s a poor explanation, but yet pretty close to the truth. This past weekend was a test. A test to see how he felt. It was his attempt to jump all in, feel what that felt like, see what might happen if he just let himself go and love you. In order to do that, he had to act as if everything was perfect because that’s how he was hoping he’d feel.

Unfortunately he didn’t feel how he wanted to feel. And so to you, it feels like you were used, like you were deposited in a petri dish for testing. But honestly, he was doing his best to make it work in his own way. Yep, it kind of sucks. We understand that breakups are always very difficult, but when they happen with little or no explanation they can be even more difficult to swallow.

Here are three possible explanations for why he broke up with you.

One: He got caught up in the idea of love, rather than love itself. Maybe he was recovering from a breakup and on the rebound, maybe he’d been alone for some time, maybe he thought he was ready to find the person he wanted to marry. Enter you. You’re smart, beautiful, sweet and gosh you love him so much. He jumps headfirst into the relationship and he’s thrilled. But then…..he isn’t. After a few months, maybe even a bit longer, he feels a tugging at his gut, a voice that tells him something isn’t right. He suppresses it each time, yet, it keeps coming back. Finally, he realizes he has to break up with you and that maybe he loves the fact that you love him more than he actually loves you.

Two: He thinks you’re great, but his defense mechanism kicks in and he starts rebelling. The “guiding” voice that’s been with him since he became a man starts to whisper in his ear. “Dude, what are you doing? There are too many other possibilities out there. Do you really want to give them all up for her?” He starts to listen to his guiding voice, even though the voice has failed him repeatedly. He doesn’t see it yet because he isn’t ready to be in a relationship. Instead, he gives up the wonderful woman he has and falls back into his usual patterns.

Three: When a guy meets a woman who loves him he feels more confident. Doors that were perpetually closed, open up. He sees possibilities where he used to see dead ends. He wonders why he didn’t go after that job he always wanted, or why he didn’t tell that prick at the gym to shove it. However, this newfound confidence obscures his mind and he forgets the reason why he became so confident. It gets worse. Soon, he starts to notice that other women now find him attractive, women who historically have never found him attractive. He loves this newfound attention and it bolsters his confidence to unprecedented levels. Soon he begins to believe the hype, that he’s more than he really is, and he starts thinking what it might be like to be with some of these other women. He begins to question what he has. He asks himself: Can I do better? I deserve better. After all, look at me. I’m the man! I’m the guy who everyone wants. I can have anyone I want.

This is the kind of thinking that can lead a happy man to believe he’s not happy, that can lead a satisfied man to wonder what he’s missing, to cause a man to leave his life and search out a “better” one, only to realize that without his support system, he’s not the confident new man he believed himself to be, but the guy he’s always been. By then, it’s too late. He’s thrown it all away for nothing, and has little or no chance of reclaiming it.

Next Up: The mid-life crisis

Read more Relationship and Dating Advice: 

Will he Come Back?

My boyfriend is on dating sites; is he cheating? 

Are we friends with benefits or does he want something more?

 

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