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Doc@DrIrene.com

She Broke My Heart

Interactive Board:  Your ALT-Text here She Broke My Heart...

January 20, 2005

Dear Dr. Irene, I have been looking at your board for many years now. I am suffering from a broken heart because I really believe that I was involved with a narcissistic woman. After having read your letter, maybe; maybe not. It is so unfair too. I waited a very long time to love a woman like I loved her and she had two wonderful children that I adored and loved like they were my own. I wanted more than anything to marry her and be the most loving parent I could be to her two children. I was given so little time to do so though.

When I met her she was separated from her husband and going through a divorce. I was never the type of person that saw myself getting involved in this type of relationship in my life. I wanted a committed "traditional" relationship. But I was drawn to this woman like I had never been drawn to anyone before. I came into the relationship with a confidence and hope that I hadn't felt before, and it showed. I didn't want to "dive" right in, but I told her that I wanted to get married, and wanted a family. She told me that she didn't want any more children and couldn't have any, and that she had taken the surgical route to make it so. I felt that I could wait forever for someone to come along I felt this way about, and that I could make her children a part of my life like my "own".

Very quickly in the relationship - even before the divorce was finalized - she said she loved me, and she wanted to get married. I felt at the time that she was very insecure and I felt that "marriage" was a way for her to not have to deal with the realities of her divorce. At the same time in my life I had lost my father, and I was simultaneously taking care of my mothers needs, my new loves needs, trying to gradually transition her children into a new life with me.

Within 6 months the divorce she initiated was finalized. Her husband of 11 years didn't "meet all her needs" and was more like a father that a husband, and their marriage was "all about the kids." The same week that she told her children that their father and mother were never going to get back together, she handed me the keys to her apartment. She expected me to walk in and out of the apartment whenever I wanted. I felt that even though her children had been in a separation environment for a year, that news was very welcome, and if I became part of their lives too fast, I was running the risk of looking too much like I was trying to take the place of their father. Good for you for your sensitivity to the children's feelings. I felt if I didn't do things right for the kids that the whole relationship wouldn't work. Yes. She also wanted me to sleep over. I couldn't understand why I had to think of why it was so wrong of her to ask that of me. I felt as a mother of two children she should have seen the importance of setting a good example for her children. Looks like, her own dependency needs were overwhelming to her.

My thought was, until I married her, we wouldn't be sleeping under one roof with her and her children. I could tell this made her feel like I didn't want her to be part of her life, but it was the exact opposite. In fact nothing I did ever did seemed to be enough. We were together all the time, and it was extremely obvious that her children loved me and I loved them. As time went on, instead of seeing that I was never going to leave, that I loved our lives together, and I was very proud of what we had, she obsessed more and more about babies and marriage. It was as if marriage was this "thing" that she had to have. Our relationship was obviously going in that direction: we were together every weekend, with and without the kids. It was only 8 months after her divorce when her ex-husband got engaged. About 2 months previously we had the most wonderful Christmas together, really meaningful, her children seemed to be getting used to me in their lives, and we went away for a trip to Disney World together. Her children were 8 and 12 at the time. Well, after her ex got engaged, she sat across from me and asked, "What are your intentions? You have to be more consistent in my children's lives, your mother is more independent now." At that moment I felt that all the things that we had gone through together to get to that point were absolutely never acknowledged, weren't even seen. She was questioning my integrity, my commitment, my love for her children, my need to be there for my mother. Emotional reasoning on your part. Just because you felt  that way doesn't make it true! Keep reading...

At this time in my life I was feeling the stress from over a year of putting myself into everyone, for everyone. I asked absolutely nothing for myself. I felt like I had just received an ultimatum. Did you tell her you felt this way? Did you ask her how she felt? Did you mistrust her so that you thought her wanting the "marriage thing" would lead her to lie to you? And there was no need for it. I was going the right direction. Not two weeks later she told me, "It doesn't have to be a big diamond ring." She wanted to get engaged... All this time I was waiting for her to understand that she had deflated me. Huh? I don't understand why you felt so deflated. I mean, I do, but had you talked to her about what was on your mind, the two of you may not have had such a misunderstanding. I didn't tell her how I felt Not telling her how you feel is a problem. A big one. She can't read your mind! Nor can you read hers, even though sometimes you think you can. because I felt like I shouldn't have to ask for her to see what my life was like. Why not? If she doesn't see what you see, tell her! Otherwise you're implying that if she can't guess what's on your mind, she doesn't really love you! That's not true!  It wasn't the first time she had questioned my commitment and love for her, but it was the first time she had questioned my love for her children. Not from what you are saying here. All she said was that she wanted you to make a formal commitment to marry her, as in get engaged. It hurt. I'm sure it did, but keep in mind you are reacting to your own interpretation of her actions in your head, not what she said! More than I can describe. and why couldn't I just tell her? Yeah, why couldn't you?  Because I felt the uneasy feeling that she didn't care about my "excuses;" she wanted to get married NOW. OK, but your whole conversation occurred in your head. You made many assumptions, which isn't so bad in itself, but you never checked them out with her!

I broke up with her and she said, "I love our relationship just the way it is." She wanted you back... But I couldn't believe her. I think you are very good at getting in your own way. She told me not to tell anyone about our relationship after that because she was a "very private" person, even though all through our relationship she told a girlfriend every detail about us - and made me look like I was the bad guy. How did she do that?

As I stayed silent, hoping and praying that she would figure it out and tell me what I had done for her during this time in her life - I never wanted thanks, or a parade - just acknowledgement that she was going way too fast and wanting to get married for the wrong reasons, and to see how wrong it was to "force" me to marry her. Nothing wrong with having different timing. You just need to communicate your feelings so you can work things out.

I wanted to be the one to get down on my knee one day (and I wasn't thinking more than a year down the road) and feel like I made the biggest decision of my life, free from any coercion. Of course you do! Nobody needs to be coerced into marriage!  And why wouldn't she want that too? I can't imagine why she wouldn't want you to marry her of your own free will! If I did it her way she would have felt for the rest of her life, like she made me. Not necessarily. What if you told her you needed more time, though you did love her and were headed in that direction? How can you be so sure she wouldn't understand? When I was breaking up with her I told her it was because of the children. Why lie? You are working so hard on being noble and not hurting feelings, all you do is create misunderstanding! She said that if it was because of her she wouldn't believe it. She loved me so much. So I told her that. I wasn't lying to pull the wool over her eyes. I wanted her to figure out why. Because I was afraid if I told her why, she would do anything to convince me she understood the reason and do it again to me anyway. In which case, you would need to stand your ground with her. Openly.

It had to come from within her. That was your "test" for her. In other words I didn't think I should have to explain to her if you hit someone on the side of the face with a baseball bat that it hurt, why should I have to explain to her that if I was caring deeply about her life and making every effort to be a part of her life, why should I have to explain that consistently needing affirmation of my love and commitment, that is "proof" of love, hurt me very much.  

Hold on a minute. I'm certainly not suggesting that you be coerced into marriage. But I am suggesting strongly that you drop this business about her figuring out what your thinking! How can you possibly consider marriage when you're not even talking about what's on your mind? There is little intimacy and little trust in this position. If you are not talking to her because you are concerned she will try to convince you otherwise, you must not trust your internal signals very much, and / or not trust your ability to stand up to her! There is absolutely nothing wrong with telling her that although you love her very much, you need to consider marriage in your own time, on your terms, and that you certainly are headed in that direction, but are not ready to propose just yet.

It was like our relationship never happened. I came back and broke up the second time.

It wasn't long after that when she was in "love" again and getting married. Well, what did you expect? You broke off with her because she couldn't read your mind, and she sounds like a dependent type that "needs" to be married. I feel like I got her through all the hard times in her life. I was used up and drained and someone else got all the glory. I had to deal with two diamond rings in her life....she was so happy to rub them both in my face. and tell me that I abandoned her children...that hurt the most...i missed them very much. But you told her you were leaving her because of the children! I still do. everything about her, except the need to control our relationship, What about your need to control the relationship - by insisting you knew what was really on her mind, and by insisting that if she really loved you, she would be able to divine what was on yours? was as perfect as you could have, she was smart and beautiful, and there were so many good qualities that I could see, but she wouldn't let go of the reins. not even once. Neither would you! I felt our relationship was a gift and a miracle, especially how the kids took to me, but she didn't see any of it. Now you contradict yourself. I wish I could convey in words the love I had, intermingled with the fear of totally losing all of myself...constantly having to feed this black hole, never receiving anything back...yet it seemed like she knew just the things to say to make me think that she really loved me... all we needed was time...time I was never given. Time you never asked for.

Dear HeartBroken, You are clearly a lovely, honorable, thoughtful, and considerate guy. But you are making some serious though common errors in thinking that get in your way Big Time. And you don't see it! The good news is that most of this stuff is fixable.  These are the errors I see in your thinking:

bulletMind Reading: You think you can read other people's minds and determine their "true" motives.
bulletEmotional Reasoning: You reach conclusions based on your feelings, never checking your conclusions against reality.
bulletYou think your partner doesn't truly love you unless she can read your mind.

You engage in mind-reading, then, you get upset with her because she doesn't!  You reason that if she does not know how you feel/think, she must not love you. Wrong! She's just not a psychic! You need to overcome your trust issues and communicate your feelings - as well as check out your assumptions with your partner. When you go by your feelings and reach conclusions you believe without checking those conclusions out, not only are you likely to reach faulty conclusions, but you don't understand your partner!

Cognitive behavioral therapy is tailor made for you. I suggest you seek out a therapist to work with you. Sure you can use the books and go it alone, but you're likely to have difficulty seeing the stuff you can't see. Meanwhile, here are two excellent books for you. Please get both:

bullet A Guide to Rational Living by Albert Ellis and Melvin Powers.
bullet Thoughts & Feelings: Taking control of your moods and your Life.  A Workbook of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques for Relaxation, Worry Control, Panic, Depression, Phobias, Anger, Healing Your Past. By McKay, Davis & Fanning.
bulletThis Australian University site also acts like a workbook. This is not anything to rush through: http://moodgym.anu.edu.au/

I know this is not the answer you expected, but it is the answer you need. While I usually come by in a week to answer the questions you have posted, I think it may be best in your case to wait until you've had a chance to look at some of the reading material. Please let me know  if that's what you want me to do, or if you want me to reply to you next week. Meanwhile, I wish you the very best. Dr. Irene

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