Long Distance Lovelorn

Dear Dr. Love,

I am hoping that you can help me. I have been in a relationship with a guy for several months, and things up to this point have been going very well. Since the start, we see each other frequently, talk every day, etc. We have had our arguments, but nothing really serious. The problem is that a few weeks ago, he got transferred for his job to a city not too far away (reasonable driving distance) for a great promotion, and he claims that this is not a permanent move.

I wasn't thrilled about this because my previous realtionship had been long-distance except for the weekends, and it wound up being a horrible experience in the end (cheating and lying on his part). I really care about this guy, and I want to give it time, but ever since he has moved, he really seems to be distancing himself from me more and more. His calls have been becoming less frequent, our dates have been shorter than normal, but, when we do talk, he still seems to care (saying that he misses me, wishes I could be there, hates to go bac k, etc. etc.).

I am a true believer in actions speaking louder than words, however, and his actions seem to tell me that he doesn't really care about me except to go out occasionally on the weekends. I am not desperate for him - I am an attractive, young professional that does not have troubleattracting men, but I would like to see if this relationship has a future. Any advice??

Long Distance Lovelorn

Answer: 

I hear how worried you are that you might lose this man. In a sense, this guy abandoned you by taking the promotion. He never discussed it with you, he simply took the transfer. That move said a lot about his level of commitment to the relationship. When a person wants to maintain a relationship, he or she discusses all decisions that will have an impact on that relationship. He made a one-sided decision and you are left to like it or lump it.

Now, to back-track a second. This happened to you once before. A man took off on you, then lied and cheated. And, in your heart, I think you are feeling that this is happening again. Whenever a repeated pattern occurs in our love lives, it is good to take time to examine why such a pattern might be occurring.

I have said before that whenever a repeated pattern occurs, we can suspect that some unfinished piece of childhood business is being recreated. I have spoken again and again about the repetition compulsion (see the Advice Archives) and how the unconscious mind is drawn to recreate the emotional scenes of childhood so that it can work for a happy ending.

In your case, I have to wonder if you were left or abandoned when you were young. I say this because there seems to be a pattern here of relationships in which men you adore take off and leave you hanging.

So, see if you can find a parallel with your history. If you find one, then, we can assume that your mind is hoping that, this time, the abandoner will stick around and love you--the happy ending.

Here's the tragedy of the repetition compulsion. We rarely achieve our happy endings--at least not through such repetitions. Why? We choose lovers who are similar to the parents that let us down when we were young. Hence, our lovers are limited in the same ways that our parents were and unable of giving us the emotional goodies we need. And, in the end, we simply get hurt again.

Point being, the leopard isn't going to change its spots. And, as long as we date abandoners, we will be abandoned.

I know you may be thinking, but I didn't know my boyfriend was an abandoner.

I want you to know that when the unconscious mind is on a healing mission, it actually does recognize the flaws in our lovers. And, we are drawn to such flawed individuals like moths to a flame.

I am not saying this to blame you. Instead, I want you to become aware that we are all drawn to lovers who are similar to the parent(s) that let us down. In fact, this similarity ignites us with hope. Maybe this time, I will get my dad's or mom's love. So, we overlook the warning signs and plunge in, hoping to heal the old wound.

At this point, I am not very encouraged about your current relationship. He is making you feel like you're on the back burner. You can ask this guy if you should feel concerned that he is pulling away emotionally. See what he has to say. See if he changes his behavior. If he isn't willing to demonstrate his caring and commitment to you, I think your decision will be made for you.

I know it will be painful if you have to give him up. And, there will be loss and hurt feelings to heal. But, you do not deserve to be treated as you are being treated now. If you decide to give him up, I want you to keep your eye on the horizon. Be aware of the urge that is driving you to repeat your old abandonment wound.

When you are attracted to the next man, watch for signs that he is also an abandoner. If you see those signs, run for the hills. You will never heal the old wound with another abandoner. You need a lover that has 100% love to give you, and nothing less.

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