Chasing an Impossible Dream
Q: There must be something wrong with me that I can't leave a man who can't give me what I want. I love this guy for ten years now. He lives with his sister, and his waking to sleeping schedule revolves around her needs, fixing, painting, repairing her home, driving her to holiday spots. He does all this in front of me expecting that I will be happy and fulfilled. I have waited so many years for this pattern to change. And now, after a year apart, it still hasn't. I don't think it ever will.
I can't stop wanting him, yet here I am alone at my age, while he never visits or makes plans for us. Instead he just chats with me online.
I feel like he is driving me crazy and now find myself unable to let go and know I should. My therapist is bewildered that I am unable to leave. I feel a deep love for him, and want him to wake up and take responsibility for our relationship, and now he has said I became too abusive and we should end our relationship. That's breaking my heart after waiting all these years. — Suzee, 66
Dr. Susan: It's normal to want things and people we can't have. What goes beyond "normal" is when we keep hoping people will change when they've made it plainer than plain that they aren't EVER going to change. You've given this relationship a decade of your life, but you still have good years ahead of you if you stop wishing for the impossible.
My suggestion is that you stop chatting with this guy online. You've been apart for a year; now make that separation a reality by having NO contact with him. Don't do this in hopes that he will change. Do it because you are throwing your life away on him. Go away somewhere for a while, if you can, or get busy with something else (anything!) for the time being. You're gotten stuck in an obsessive compulsive situation, and you're the one who HAS to change. He will NOT. He's comfortable with his sister, and he doesn't need you half as much as you want him. It's up to you to stop allowing him to make you crazy. Keep seeing your therapist for now.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.