Running Away From a Relationship You Want

Dear Neil: Why would a man turn down everything he says he wants? The first time we met, he said he thought I was pretty, interesting, and sexy. We instantly hit it off, had a great time together and things started progressing very quickly. Our connection was magnificently intimate from the beginning. There was hope, promise and chemistry in the air—and then he freaked out and ran away. And I mean really ran away. He avoided contact with me, and didn’t return phone calls or emails. Wanted no contact with me what-so-ever. Then he came back, apologized—and completely disappeared a second time.

He said I was exactly what he was looking for, so why would he run away from what he wanted? I have no reason to suspect that there is someone else in his life.

Stunned in Westminster, Colorado

Dear Westminster: For reasons very understandable yet still puzzling, it sounds as if you got too close to him, and that he couldn’t handle the level of closeness and connection he said he wanted. He may have desired it—even craved it—but he apparently couldn’t handle actually receiving it.

Many people—perhaps most people—keep some emotional armor or shielding up around themselves. Its purpose is to protect us from getting hurt. There are a host of behaviors that we can employ that keep that shield up, thereby stopping us from being too vulnerable and emotionally exposed. They include: not putting a lot of effort into a relationship or making a large emotional investment; routinely being preoccupied with things (work, computer, children, friends, sports, partying) that interfere with the amount of time or presence we can offer to a relationship; keeping ourselves emotionally removed, aloof or reserved so we don’t allow a deeper connection; not making the relationship too high a priority; and using food, alcohol, drugs or some other substance to keep ourselves emotionally numb and therefore only semi-available.

It doesn’t stop there, either. We can keep ourselves shielded in a relationship by also being highly judgmental or critical; getting angry a lot; being unwilling to commit or to be faithful; having a defensive wall up so it becomes increasingly difficult to resolve differences; being intensely possessive or jealous; being extremely self-absorbed so that your partner’s wants, needs and feelings are largely ignored or minimized, and running away from people we consider extremely attractive and appealing, because it’s those people we most fear will reject us.

Often this armor emerges as a way to stop us from repeating our own history, especially if our previous relationships have been filled with disappointments or with feelings of failure. We’re afraid of being rejected, abandoned, betrayed, abused, controlled or of losing ourselves yet again, so we don’t permit ourselves a deep personal investment. Such half-hearted attempts at love keep us safe, but stop us from feeling close and connected. How close am I going to allow myself to be if I’m secretly trying to be less emotionally available because I fear you’re going to hurt, control or reject me? My behavior is about safety, not closeness.

In the end, love is about a willingness to risk our hearts, which many people are just not willing to do again. I think your relationship was too intimate for the man you described. For him, it appears things got too close for comfort.

On pages 228-9 of my #1 international bestselling book Love, Sex, and Staying Warm, I go more in depth on this subject, and provide additional recommendations to address this issue.

49 comments on “Running Away From a Relationship You Want

  1. I have been dating someone for 9 months, we got closer and closer then she started to run. I asked her if she would like to quit all communication she said I dont want to loose you. We had something really good until she started to run I dont know what to do next, wish we could move on but I dont know what if anything will change. Any advise?

    • I am a runner and I can tell you the only thing you can do is tell her how you feel and try to make her feel comfortable to open up to you about it, so you can work through it. She has to feel she has space though. That’s one of my triggers. I’ve had two bad marriages and now I run after I start getting close to someone and feel a connection. I start looking for things in them for a reason not to be together. Then was we split and I’ve been on my own for a few weeks I realize what I have done and keep repeating the same thing. Once you get to that urge to run it’s very hard to get rid of tose feelings. They are overwhelming. A woman’s perspective

      • I have experienced the runner a few times in my life and it has taken me 36 years to really start to understand why. I will share my story to see if it helps. I was married for 10 years, felt like my needs were never really a priority and needed an emotional connection with someone. Yes, I looked outside of my marriage for that and will take full responsibility. The woman that I met was exciting, shared common interests, was looking for the same thing, and was also in a bad relationship. We spent 1.5 years in a secret relationship and it was my fault for staying, I have some codependency issues from a very young age and in a sense was trying to help her see who she was/is. I have attracted the narcissist into my life and you might think, I am not a NARCISSIST! They have attributes that we (codependents) tend to look for, they have this ability to put themselves first and we crave that in a sense. Runners tend to find fault in others because it does not fit with their “false” self, this perfect illusion they have created of themselves because someone in their life could not provide that love and affection at a very early age. We will never be able to change someone else, regardless of how much “love” we show them. We can change ourselves and if we choose to stay in a bad relationship where our needs are not being met, look inside yourself and ask why you need that. Sometimes when you say that you’d do “anything” for love, you need to let that person go as they will never care about you as much as you do them. The hardest part is to go “NO CONTACT” with the narcissist, they will text you, send you an e-mail, call you, make sure to meet you in public ONLY when they need something, not because they miss you, it is ALL about them. We have this urge to help others, start helping yourself and look after your needs, because if we wait for someone else to do it, they never will.

      • It’s not your responsibility The person running away has to do some serious work, possibly through counselling if they want to heal. Walk away. You are not on this earth to fix others. They are the only ones who can ‘fix’ or heal themselves.

    • Let her know that u are there for her and try to understand why she wants to run. I personally am thinking alot about running away and my boyfriend is trying to understand why. It is really hard to explain why because in our minds, it is worse than it really is.

      • I believe the key to running is interesting. I was 6 years old I was in a abusive home. My mom called the police and my dad had to move out. In my mind I closedown that day when I asked my dad if I could go too. He said no it was normal for me to see and be abused. So as I became a teenager I was always looking for this love and feeling of safety. I got pregnant at the age of 15 I wanted someone to love me so bad and then got married I thought it was a real love. I started cheating on him I was pushed in to the marriage because that was the right thing to do. I never knew love until a year ago I met this guy he gave me a hug and I never showed tears I thought I was a sign of weakness. I started to bawl like a baby I tried to turn them off but he started to cry with me. I really wasn’t aware of the walls I had up. I loved everyone the same way. My relationship were not me in control I watched other relationships and asked people what they thought. I had pushed my love of my life out and ran. By me not telling him that I was so confused I tried hiding it. He knew the real me at times and I think he knew I wasn’t being myself. I think he believed I was hiding something. Before I let him go all the way I told him this. He had already moved back with his ex girlfriend. I don’t trust or let people in that childhood secrets when I let people in my secrets then I love a little more. So the walls only come down when you want them to. To find out why your running try remembering when you didn’t run. I felt abandoned by my father and felt I wasn’t good enough for anyone

  2. I am a girl, 24 years been with a guy, 28 years for the last 6 months. It’s initial phase of our relationship and i am undergoing the same situation. I really like this guy and now this behavior of him makes me feel now that he doesn’t likes me anymore and the emotional connect we had initially is getting faded.

    Help me out of this, i want him for long term.

  3. I did this. I had a relationship with a lovely, intelligent women with whom I was amazingly compatible. As the relationship continued to get better and better, I developed more and more reasons why this would not, should not work. I would tell friends all the things I did not like about her. At the same time I am making these statements, I have an odd sense of dis engagement as another part of my subconscious (my heart) is saying. “Really are you kidding me”. ? I would not listen to that part of my subconscious. I would let a month go by staying distant and aloof and then call to invite her over for dinner. As always, strangely fascinated but unconsciously fearful.
    The relationship became intimate. That is when I knew I needed to get her to stop liking me, otherwise my life was going to change, and I could not handle that. Keep in mind, none of this is apparent to me. I am totally clue less. The day comes when she initiates the discussion about the future and I panic! I make some ridiculous statement about needing to leave to work on my taxes. What a fool ! And looking back, how embarrassing.
    (Leading up to this time I am numbing out with alcohol and busy with my hobbies.)
    Eight months go by I we have had no contact. I am having dinner with a friend and we are discussing relationships and suddenly, what I had done, and what my true feelings for this person are, comes down on me like a tidal wave ! I run home. Send the stupidest email I have ever written to try and explain my actions. And, as the intelligent woman that she is, she has moved on… and I am heart broken.
    Living with the regret, shame and loss has been all consuming. I did learn a lesson, but the cost was high.

    • Hey man, I am a similar character, I run away when things get serious.
      I managed to get a woman back and now I want to run away again. lol
      So don’t beat yourself up, if you got back with her you’d probably felt stuck and wanting to leave again, and also you’ll feel ashamed because of the way you are.
      Find away to change yourself, the underlying physiological pattern that’s causing you to run away… or to live a lifestyle without commitment if that’s an option for you.
      Anything else and you’ll find yourself repeating the same mistake again and again.

    • Hi. I’d like to know more about your story. I have recently experienced something similar. We were dating for over a year and suddenly he ran. Before that, things were great. We connected on every level. Our lives were aligned. And then, his insecurities surfaced. He made excuses about our relationship that contradicted his actions. It basically made no sense. He finally said he couldn’t see a future with me. We broke up, and I am left in the dark. Any insights?

      • I also did exactly the same.I was with my girlfriend for 2 1/2 years.I ran 20 times in that time.We had everything , love. A great understanding and it was exciting I loved her dearly and she did me.As soon as she wanted more of a commitment I would run after giving silly exscuses.I couldn’t handle the the intense intamcy we hadI promised her and her 2 kids the world but never delivered.I ended for the last time then she told she wouldn’t accept me back ever again and said I was a narcissist.I know I’m not because I know how to love and give support and empathy.Now I’m alone and kicking myself every day thinking what I could of had and will probably regret it the rest of my life as she was amazing.She told she would snap one day and she would never come back and I would loose this amazing thing we had .She was right

    • I did the same! Pain is terrible. Hope I learn. Have learned a lot from your blogs. Thanks. I’m not alone in these feelings.

  4. I have been in a on again off again relationship with this beautiful lady since Christmas Eve 2015. She and I are close when we are together and her kids absolutely adore me. Problem is she was in a abusive relationship in her past with her kid’s father. Now when she and I get to close she finds the very next thing I do wrong and uses it as an excuse to run away. We will end all communication for a couple weeks then we will be back together again. I love her and really want her to give me an honest shot but so far she’s been unable to do so. How can I help her get past her past and not run away? Thanks!

    • Speaking from a runner..someone who has been completely scarred and tried to numb myself to what I was feeling, this is the best advice I can give you. Every single time I felt the urge to run or pull back from someone every part of me was begging them to tell me “I’m not going anywhere”. As crazy as this sounds…for someone who gets this urge..we do know how difficult we can be to love and we need confirmation that you realize this and are willing to kind of love us through the pain. As a runner I’ve had ppl that I opened every part of my heart to crush me without acknowledgement and leave me. I think that everyone will do the same thing so when someone doesn’t leave and chooses instead to prove me wrong my common sense kicks in and I try harder too. Hope this of luck

      • hi runaway heart ,im in a relationship with a gorgeous guy that came from a very
        controlling marriage and as soon as things are going well he runs off and travels for work
        for weeks at a time.
        Hes cheated on me ,tried to leave me etc everything its breaking my heart but i dont know how much i
        can take now.when we are together we have the most beautiful time,i dunno what to do….
        when you run away do you have sex with other women or just relax and think about it?

        • For what its worth, I am a total runner and also a business traveler. I feel an immense desire to run from a perfect girl who has no idea I feel the way I do. I have never cheated on her in 5 years. For me it has zero to do with sex and hooking up with someone on the road.

          I just simply feel ice water in my veins and feel that somehow I ended up with someone I dont love after 5 years…everyone is different but I dont sabotage that way and I dont think its a given that a runner will.

  5. Hi everyone,

    I have been with such a lady for five years, she has run away and come back numerous times… She has had an affair also, sometimes she runs away and I hear nothing for a few days to a few weeks, she just did it again twice in the past three weeks. She has triggers which I wont go into, the point I want to make is that she could care less about the pain it causes me being shut out without explanation and never knowing if this is the end, it hurts me so much as I have gone through hell fighting her corner in many areas, I have helped her improve her lot in life substantially in a financial sense too, I love her and want the best for her but I cant take the pain of repeated rejections any longer, I must now put myself first and end it, its so sad but I must stop the madness.

    • I myself am going thru the exact type of relationship. I now attend CODA meetings.
      they are a big help. Love yourself my friend

      • I myself was in the exact same type of relationship. I know attend codependent relationship meetings. They are very informative and I now realize there are many thousands of people with the exact same issues as myself. Love yourself and find yourself that is my mission

    • Hi Tony I’m going through the exact same relationship I’ve been with this lady for 3 years in that time she’s ran away 4 times. Now I don’t know wether she had an affair or not she claims she hasn’t but how many woman you know that will come out and admit to it. This is my biggest issue with runners if your significant other is treating you good and is a good person but you find reasons to run that is only going to lead me to believe one thing and that is your running to something or somebody perhaps they think the grass is greener on the other side and then when they realize it’s not they come crawling back every time knowing that we’re going to be stupid and naive to the fact because we love that person then they hit us with this oh I’m a runner bullcrap but really running for what???? If you ask me it really boils down to them wanting there cake and eat it to because why do they always come back I mean if that’s the case why run away at all or if you run away from a good person why not just stay your ass gone!

    • I have a the same time of thing going on for the last 3 years
      Did you have to go look for her?
      Did she want to come back ?

  6. I have been with a man for 21 mths now who moved from north to west to live with me early last year. Its been nothing but a constant rollercoaster. He has issues with drink, lieing, keeping things from me and had a rocky long marriage with a bi – sexual woman whom he loved until he got divorced early this year. He recently admitted that whilst with me he’d been living the life of a single man up until a few mths ago and states its coz of the 5 yrs he spent alone before meeting me which made me feel insecure and concerned as to whether im just being used coz I hadn’t got a clue he was viewing our relationship that way. Every row we have when either of us are in the wrong he walks away from it, turns it round on me blames me for every worldly problem, behaves like a 3 year old having a tantrum and threatens to leave. He hasn’t actually left as yet but I’m always left wondering if today is gonna be the day he goes. I’ve put up with so much heartache yet have tried everything I can think of to try and help him but the emotional abuse is making me feel like no matter what I do I can never seem to help him. He’s like a jekyl and Hyde. He makes out he wants to marry me as we’ve been engaged over a year but his behaviour holds me back from wanting to take that huge step again as I was married twice before and was deceived twice. Am not sure what to think, feel or do as regards this relationship? dont wish to lose him as I do genuinely love him but don’t feel he is as committed as I am as it always seems to be about his wants and needs and not mine and can’t seem to get through to him no matter what I try and dont wish to keep feeling like i mean little to him or keep living with the fear of him upping and leaving. Have invested much into a relationship that although we have much in common I feel he ain’t as committed emotionally as me. Anyone else going through similar with any sound any advice to share plz?

  7. I have been in a very serious relationship for 2 years and 4 months with my now fiancé who has been a runner since the beginning. Every few months he would start getting weird and distant and then say ridiculous things like ‘Maybe it’s better we walk away’ then he would always come back after I would ignore him because I was so offended and hurt. He also has kids and his ex wife manipulates them to hate me so he is basically torn between two worlds. His kids never met me and want nothing to do with me and he just can’t distinguish the priorities and set things straight. So after the running like about 10 times by now last time he came back and proposed and we have been so happy and everything and got a new place together but I guess his being torn still continues so he recently fell into this distant mood again and this time it lasted like a month. Since I agreed to marry this man I told him it’s ok I am here for u we will figure it out together and he got even worse and more distant. It’s like living with a stranger. He becokes a completely different person and it’s almost scary. So we broke up again and he left but his stuff is still here at the apartment and he’s not coming to pick it up its been almost two weeks. He called a few times and texted how sorry he is and that I’m right and he has a problem and he’s going to get help because he can’t believe how he keeps hurting me and he is not in his right mind when he does it and then regrets it to death. I have decided to move on but he’s so good otherwise and we have the most amazing relationship I just can’t keep letting him do this I don’t deserve it and I wonder if therapy is even worth it. He’s always going to do this and then claim he didn’t mean it. Unless he feels he’s losing me every 4-6 months or so he has these episodes and I’m almost 35 years old and I love him very much he’s a good man but he clearly needs help it just feels like a hopeless situation. I think if he stood up to his kids about how serious this REALLY is and tried to join us all together maybe there’s hope. He’s a great father and so honest , loyal, generous and faithful. But this takes an obscene emotional toll on me and I feel like me taking him back just allows him to keep doing this-even tho he swears it’s not on purpose and he’s literally not himself. I’m at a loss of what to do. At first I am sure I need to move forward and take care of myself I know how to have a healthy relationship and I can’t trust him anymore since he continues to do this. But then I still have hope, but perhaps I need to just let go. I’m in a limbo and feel so lost.

    • Look for him, dont let him be in this fight alone. Its true he is tirn between two worlds but he loves u and u need to let him kniw hiw much u miss him. If u need someone to talk to my twitter account is Jill4430 and i will do my best to help.

    • Alexa Sad move on! It’s only going to continue. You deserve better! Let me tell you something if you are grown especially over the age 30 you don’t have time to be playing love games now when somebody really loves you they commit to you they don’t run from you so you let that fellow run along but don’t let him run back your way though I know it’s easier said than done you just have to be strong

  8. I have always been a runner who has started to consider dating a wealthy man I have known and done business with for at least 10 years. Since we have started to have feelings for each other I have discovered he is also a runner. I don’t even know what to think about this. I am a realtor and he is my investor client. He will say something like “I want you to know I am buying this property because of you” and “ask our builder how I told him how much I care about you” Then I reciprocate feelings he runs. Hahaha I know the feeling. I almost think I shouldn’t start with this because it’s a train wreck before it gets going. One or the other of us will always be running.

  9. The same recently happened to me with the person I was dating, she said that she fell in love with me and got to scared, I also fell in love with her and tried to work it out so that we could possibly make it work for us, seeing each other less etc but she said it wouldnt work because the feeling was already there. I couldnt understand, still don’t. it so confusing to hear someone say I love you and I miss you so much and thats why I am ending it, especially when my intentions with her was for the best, i trull care for her.

  10. Hello to all, my story is similar but also went a crazy direction, the man I feel in love with was my best friend, we have known each since middle school, we helped each other through marriages. We knew each of our flaws. We were BFFS mind you. Anyways this past ball season we started talking on intimate levels, One night he came to my house and we were just hanging out and watching one of our all time favorite movies. Talking about the old times and going down high school year. When a specific topic came up I had mentioned that I had written about that in my diary. The topic was about how I felt in high school about him, but I never explored it cause he has just ended a bad relationship. I let him read my journal entry and in the middle of reading what had been written he stopped grabbed my face and kissed me. from that night on we were even closer, we hung out, became intimate on a sexual level, the passion was very intense, something I never expected. We feel in love, once he said this to me and I to him. everything was good until he started saying things like, you know all my flaws and fears. I am so afraid that I will hurt you and you are perfect I don’t want to do that to you… he said he was afraid that he would take away the happy things the glow he sees in me everyday, we both are very comical people and we make each other laugh uncontrollable…. and sure enough he cheated on me, I forgave him and he truly has a fear of love I believe. a long time ago he was hurt very badly by a girlfriend and he tried to commit suicide. Again things were well, until one day he said he needed space, I started to give him that space, and I will admit I am impatient and he knows this. so I went to his house to talk to him. we cried talked for hours and made love, but when I left he said he needed space. He wanted to make sure I was happy, and he didn’t know if he could do that and he was afraid that he would constantly hurt me…. I gave space. than everything was ok again. until he told me he wanted to just be friend. I called him and talked to him about all we have talked about before. He said he loved me and never loved someone like this, he said we would talk, he said that when I talk to him I make him feel things he never felt before and it scares the shit out of him. that was a Thursday evening and he said we would get together on sunday and talk about things. that he would write all his thoughts down and that I do the same and we would talk about them. That next day I was served with CPO> papers. He told the courts that I had threatened his life for the last 3 weeks. etc. etc. of course the CPO got thrown out. I believe this CPO was away for him to avoid his feelings and the love we shared that he was scared about. but the thing that hurts even more so is that we were best friends. true best friends and I lost that as well. it has been 3 weeks and I have not heard from him nor I him, Do you think there will ever be a chance for us or atleast to get our friendship back?

    • This is what is happening to me now!!! Minus the CPO…We actually got married though and he took off and been gone for 6 months, once a divorce, and for me to leave his home. I haven’t found work yet. I’m devastated because I lost my best and only friend (since middle school also) and my husband. I would die for him…he just ran…he always ran from serious discussions though. What ever happen with you two?

  11. I am a runner. It drives me crazy. I have met three really amazing men since my marriage of 25 years ended.

    I hate this about myself. Just after a few
    dares and guys move to fast I get scared and don’t want to be hurt and feel it is not sincere.

    I have ended it too quickly and have tired to reconnect with a couple of the nice men in hopes to develop a relationship they said no – girls like you want bad boys. So untrue. Just needed time and understanding.

    Don’t give up give him is her space to accept the love so they can understand it is real without intention.

  12. Same story here sadly. We met 4 years ago and fell in love fast and hard. Our time together was magical, the deepest love imaginable. And then he started pulling back and withdrawing emotionally. He insisted everything was fine even though i knew it wasn’t.
    We kept reconnecting via text and he would admit to his feelings still, but then run after we became close.
    He admitted to using porn to numb and it seemed as if it consumed him. I drew the line and cut him off finally and now 8 months later he came back more open than ever. And then the excuses again;too busy, too stressed etc and he has again checked out. These runners have no idea the amount of pain they cause. But the truth is we need to set voundaries and love ourselves enough to say i deserve so much better.

  13. I was in a committed relationship of 3, almost 4 years and just a few days ago the woman I love, the veritable center of my universe, told me she want to break up. I can’t understand why. She keeps saying I’m a wonderful person, and it’s not my fault, and it wasn’t something I did or didn’t do but she just has this feeling of wanting to run and she doesn’t think that she should be in a relationship where she feels that way. We’ll talk about the issue, she’ll list little things like text more often or not getting enough love, and when I offer to fix it to try harder because she is everything to me, she gets mad and says there is nothing I could do and after a small spat reverts to the “wanting or feeling of wanting to run” issue. I don’t know how to handle this. I can’t see a live without her, but she keeps saying she can’t see herself committed to me and that continuing our relationship would be unfair to me. She just wants to be roommates until our lease is up, but she has erected “barriers” between us. I realize I’m being selfish, but I can’t just let our relationship end without showing her I can love her the way she wants to be, especially since I feel like I took her for granted and that’s why we’re at this impasse. I care about her so much, and I just want to make her feel loved the way she wants to be loved. Any advice would be deeply appreciated and probably relationship saving. Thanks in advance.

    • She has trust issues and you have to be there as a best friend and listen with your heart and feel her pain She will run if you push for a relationship let her be herself

  14. I’m a runner. I choose people I know are unavailable either they are in another relationship or live away from me. I also multiple date, with two, sometimes three people at a time. Recently one of my people had a moment at home of potential discovery. I was fascinated by my reaction because I actually have feelings for this person. At first when told what was happening I felt the usual it’s over feeling but then they gave me hope by saying it might not work out between them. This hope emotion also triggered my defence mechanism to run because quite frankly the thought of anyone in my life/house/bed full time just makes me shudder. I just cannot lose myself to another person. I feel like I disappear into becoming their partner. Just writing this makes me writhe. I have no trust in another persons ability to look after my emotional needs. I feel I’m emotionally stunted but I know I can’t change.
    So moving forward slightly I was informed that everything was ok at home and that they had decided to make a go of it. I felt a huge sense of relief, I’ve relaxed now, I’m not anxiously waiting for the door bell to ring and a suitcase appearing in the hallway. I can go back to being my self and not have to pretend to be something I’m not.
    The hardest thing for me was no comms with texting because this particular liaison was an emotional match up for both of us. But I know that will start again because we need each other.

    • Why don’t you go get help. I was deeply hurt by someone like you. I find it to be really self centered behavior. I was abused as a kid too and have done a lot of work on myself. I get tired of people saying, I can’t change. Yes, you can. You don’t want to. Dating 2-3 people, I wonder if they know it? Go get help and stop making excuses.

  15. I am so glad I found this website. I am a runner in every sense of the word! The day I decided to break up with my SO I signed up for another marathon LOL.

    I have been with this man for almost 5 years, immediately after I was widowed. He is kind, loving, wonderful, paternal, hard working and the physically intimacy has been great. Those are amazing qualities, and only part of his personality. It makes me feel bad about wanting to run.

    The things that make me want to flee are the following:

    He went through a nasty, long and drawn out divorce and cannot stop talking about it. I supported him emotionally and even some financially when he was trying to finalize it.

    He is resistant to therapy. I have gone non-stop since my husband’s death. I am not aware of him going since we have been involved. In times when I’ve started to run he is quick to suggest that I go to therapy, i.e., he is oblivious to his own problems, and he is in the habit of playing the victim. I know for a fact that his ex-wife had issues, and I have been privy to some crazy e-mails and court transcripts. However, there are things he has stated that she used to complain about concerning his behavior; and I can’t say I don’t disagree with her.

    He has assumed too much with having a say and or being involved in my children’s lives (ages 15-25). He has one child
    who is in college and lives with him. A very sweet and immature young man who has zero responsibilities. I am afraid he takes advantage of his dad, and have pointed this out to him. My kids do not like his son, and that right there is a deal breaker.

    I am strong financially and he has made future plans that include my (and my children’s) resources. I had an extra vehicle for a while that he consistently borrowed so his son would not be inconvenienced with lack of transportation issues (his son drives his dad’s car, which was repeatedly in the shop). He actually assumed that I would be okay with him having the car for months on end. I sold it so that is no longer an issue.

    When I expressed feelings of wanting to end things a few months ago he again made me feel guilty, played the victim, and said I had shattered his dreams and stolen all of his hope. I felt horrible and went back apologizing for basically pushing away someone who just wants to be part of my family…

    A few days ago he was pouting and not taking my families holiday plans into consideration. I did not invite him to any family events (my children did not want him there). I went to a late Christmas Eve service with him, and it was dreadful. This was the time I could carve out for him and not upset my kids, and it was not good enough. He was moody and distant. When it was time to go to communion he made a small scene and refused. I was so shocked. It seemed he was more comfortable throwing a temper tantrum than trying to be present in the moment and move towards some level of healing. All I could think of was getting the hell out of there and ending it. And I did. When it was time to go I silently marched out of there at midnight and walked three miles home. He made himself the victim, texting me, “YOU LEFT ME ON CHRISTMAS EVE!!! THIS IS THE WORST CHRISTMAS OF MY ENTIRE LIFE!!!” I suggested via text he go to therapy, and that we not talk until then. My bet is that he won’t.

    In typing this post and thinking about the pros/cons list my therapist had me make I think I’m done. He has so many wonderful qualities; and he has some negative ones that are coming through loud and clear. I’m not his therapist, his car rental place, or his real estate investor. I’ve been very generous with my time and resources, and I’m not asking for anything back from him. My biggest fear is being alone. Ironically I was with him on Christmas Eve and felt very alone.

    It is funny that most people see him as this wonderful guy, always wanting to help other people. I now believe he wants more control over my time and money than I am willing to give him. He tells me, “everything I have is yours”. I’m not sure what he means by that. He has minimal resources, if something better comes along for him to do he does it, and if I run through a list of things I did during the day (yard work, etc) he’ll say, “you know I would do that for you”. That’s BS. He always shows up too late to help.

    Maybe it’s not a bad thing to run from this relationship. I just need to make sure he knows that it is clearly over and I’m not coming back. I’m better off on my own. I’ll need help from my therapist to navigate this.

  16. I got out of a 2.5 year relationship in February this year. And I had been over him for a long time and so relieved that he was out of my life. We are still on good terms, but I would never want him back. As soon as I had broken up, my friend told me I should go on tinder so we could share guy profiles with each other. So I did. I went on about 6 dates, none of which I was even remotely interested in. Then there was this one guy who started talking to me and wouldn’t give up. I talked back a tiny bit, but was being cautious since his name was Justin, and I had already had bad experience with 3 Justin’s in the past. But then I realized I really liked talking to him. So within a week we had a date setup and we were chatting all day every day. On the day of the date he had to cancel, since his ex wife made him take the son that night. Funny thing was, all day that day i had Been super anxious and wasn’t having a great day (I have anxiety and depression issues), so I was kinda glad we canceled. So we reschedule for for a couple days later, and again on that day I had a feeling he would cancel and I had Been nervous all day. Sure enough, right before I had to leave for our date, he canceled because he had gone hiking with friends and then they got a little drunk. So I thought wtf why is he drinking when we have a date? Does he not want to meet me? So the next morning I contacted him and he apologized 3 times and I said I’ll get over it and that I try not to judge, because things come up. He later on told me he would never hear form me again, but that Monday night I saw something on FB that he needed to know about and I sent it to him. He instantly replied and we were chatting again all night. So there we were, going back to chatting all day every day and he makes the next date that Friday. It happens. He picks me up at the door. Is the sweetest, most amazing guy I’ve met, super fun and assertive and kisses me. We have a great night out, he drops me off at 2am and we make out in the car and I send him home. I had a dog hiking date with friends scheduled for the next morning and had asked him if he would like to join. He said he would love to. So we met up and went hiking with my friends and it was great. So we were texting for about 2 weeks before our first date, I already became attached to him then, and when we met up I was just in awe. We spent every weekend together for the next month. He works full time and goes to class full time, so he was busy anyways. I knew from the beginning that he had a lot of walls up. He has had a lot of crap happen to him in the past. He got married in his mid twenties, was in the Navy for 12 years, his wife cheated on him, he never really was sure if his son was his own and then he burnt all bridges and quit his Navy career to save his marriage, and then they got divorced only 2 years ago. I had a hard time when we didn’t see each other, because my anxiety kicks in, from a fear of being left. But when we were together I never had a doubt that he liked me as much as I liked him. I felt the connection between us. I also was fighting falling for him, because I always take a lot of time off dating in between relationships. And I told him that he was an exception and I didn’t even want to date until I met him. There’s 0 rebound on my end, but I felt he always kind of worried about that a bit (and he voiced that this week). Well I totally was falling for him and I was having a hard time with it. But I stuck around, because I don’t run from love. I knew he may have still been taking to other women on tinder, but I was ok with it, because I wanted to take this slowly. Give him and me all the time and things we may need. Well, last week, we hadn’t seen each other in 1.5 weeks since he was visiting his dad in Florida (we are in Colorado) so he had a busy weekend with his dad and we didn’t write as much. So he gets back and he starts telling me that he cannot wait to see me, sends me little bitmoji heart messages and I-cant-wait-to-see-yous over and over again. Wednesday last week we had a night together planned. Well his ex wife once again just made him take the son and we said we would see each other the next night. I had a horrible anxiety day that Wednesday. And work and roomie issues. He was trying to cheer me up and I said it wasn’t helping and I’d text him later. Got my work stuff figured out and felt a bit better and ask him why his ex didn’t want the kid suddenly. He said, well just come on over, my son is here but whatever. Just to let you know, he is very picky and strict about who meets his son. His son is 10 and gets easily attached to women. So I asked him if he was sure he would wanted me to come over, since meeting his son (and mom) was a huge step forward. He said to come over. I went over there, met his son and mom. He was trying to make me feel better all night. He was loving and wonderful and perfect as usual. He thanked me for being so good about meeting his son and I asked what that meant. Well the last woman he was dating freaked out when she met the son, even tho she knew he had one. And then he was telling me how only very few people are worthy of meeting his son. So I grinned at him and I asked ‘so you’re saying I’m worthy of meeting your son’ and he said yes, absolutely. We went to bed after playing with my dog in bed and cuddled all night. Gave each other kisses Everytime we woke up. In the morning he again, was all loving and cute. And then I find out while he was on the phone with his boss, that he already had plans for the weekend. I was obviously assuming that we would see each other that weekend so I brought it up. He said ‘im sorry hon, I wasn’t trying to avoid you, but I’m spending the weekend with my mom for mother’s day’. No big deal, that’s really sweet that he wants to spend time with her. But he hasn’t brought up any time spending with me. So I laughed and I said you suck at communicating and he said he knows. So when I was leaving, still hugging and kissing and being lovey dovey, I asked if he could work on his communication. For a split second I saw his face change. And I thought, shit, what just happened. I asked what the face was for and he said there’s not face. So I left and he was still being sweet and said ‘goodbye beautiful’. So I get home and  we text a bit more till mid day. I said I still had a great time the night before even if I couldn’t show it as much. He said, don’t worry hon, I understand you’re a complicated woman. That hurt me too. Damn. But I was trying to brush it off and joked about it. Then I didn’t hear from him all day, me thinking, ah yes, he is back and busy and being in his man cave. I’ll give him space. At night he sends me pix of the project he had been working on, but that’s it. The next morning he send me the usual ‘good morning beautiful’ message. I message back, good morning handsome, what are you doing tonight? and I don’t hear from him for hours. Which is unusual, because even if he gets busy in the afternoons, mornings he usually texts me. So I get more worried ( I had already been upset and anxious about the communication part since the day before, so there’s my negative energy again) and I call him. He doesn’t answer, I text ‘are you ok’ he responds that he had had a crazy morning with calls and cleaning his garage out. And usually I give him the space, except that Friday I kept pushing. You know, with us taking a step forward and me being introduced to his son and all, I figured we could be more open about communication. Wrong. I sent him a text asking to communicate and if we are going to see each other that weekend, and I’d like to know since I’d like to plan out my weekend, as well. Well he calls me back, is super cold on the phone (he has not once been cold towards some) and says we should see other people. He had been thinking about that for a while and he wasn’t feeling a connection with me and that he ‘must can’t do THIS right now’s, never answering my question what he meant by ‘this’. He couldn’t answer my questions about why and why I got to meet his son and such. So I had a horrible weekend. Yes, I’ve been through heartbreaks before and I kept working on keeping busy and doing things I like to do, still heartache hurts as you know. I haven’t had any anxiety or depression since the breakup, but just the heartache and sadness. Well monday I called him and asked him to meet me so I can get some answers. He didn’t want to meet. He felt uncomfortable with that, because it wouldn’t change anything. But we talked on the phone for a while. He said he introduced me to his son because he wanted to see how he felt about it. Now listen, that’s him being selfish and not considering my or his son’s feelings, which his son’s feelings usually come first. He said he had been thinking about us since the weekend at his Dad’s and he just doesn’t see a long term future for us and doesn’t feel the connection for that. He cares about me, but not for a long term relationship. And I said well I would have been in it for the long run, and he said he knew. 

    Now, he was the one who always said in the beginning ‘if you’re still talking to me by then we will be doing this and that’. And he kept bringing up future plans and going to visit my family in Germany together (he just said that last week Wednesday) and he was always so loving and caring. He was the first guy in my 33 years of living, where I felt I wanted to get married and have a baby (I have never ever wanted a child of my own). I’m so heartbroken because he has convinced himself that he doesn’t feel a connection. And that hurts the most. I understand we both weren’t ready for what we had, I as much as he. But I’m also convinced​ he is the right man for me, it’s just not the right time. I know how to make myself happy. I go to therapy for my anxiety, I have a lot of fun, my career is finally taking off. I have great friends and a nice house. I have pretty much everything I ever wanted. Except the man of my dreams. Justin checked every single one of my check points on my ‘must have man list’. And yes, I want him back. So right now I’m still in the grieving process. I keep myself super busy with all my sports and adventures, but man I miss him so much. I just really want him back. Not now. We aren’t ready. But i believe we are meant to be and I hope he realizes that and doesn’t keep his walls up and his fear of commitment. 

     Sorry for the long email, but I figured you’d understand. My best friend says she is convinced he felt the connection between us and he ran, because introducing me to his son made it all more real and it was too much for him. What do you think? I would love your input! Also, I got my Greencard through the law of attraction, so I know it’s hard work, but it works. Do you think there’s a chance he will realize we are meant to be and I can get him back? Do you think there was or wasn’t a connection? I’m so sad. I have never felt so vulnerable with anyone. 

    • You are a very well-articulated woman who seems to know what she wants and doesn’t want which is very important in life,
      but I must say now, you scared Justin away and that is the only reason it didn’t work out. You behaved wildly inappropriately, asked for things you didn’t deserve yet nor should have felt okay asking from him and set unfair and intense expectations for the relationship.
      I personally would have been too uncomfortable to visit you again, especially after the things you said the day after meeting his family.
      Him wanting to see how he felt about you meeting his son was not at all selfish. It was a normal part of having a relationship. It did not effect his son negatively in any way whatsoever, only you because you took it for WAY more than it was.
      maybe asking your therapist to assist you with your emotional intelligence and interpersonal communication would be a good idea to help you understand these type of situations more fully. You are confused about everyone’s perception in this situation frankly.
      Im sorry for your heartbreak and I hope you heal quickly and take some of these words to heart in order to grow from this entire ordeal.

  17. I’m glad I came across this thread….

    I was engaged to a woman with whom I had a wonderful and virtually trouble free relationship. There were a couple of odd breakups precipitated by her and never fully explained (not even partially in fact) that I chalked up to her being set in her ways (we were in our mid 40’s at the time). Other than that, we never so much as argued and were on the same plane with just about everything…..almost too good to be true!

    On her own prompting, she moved into my area along with her son and ultimately, we got engaged. A few months after the engagement, she moved in and she prompted other associated activities (buying a ring, introducing our parents, consolidating finances, etc.). There were zero signs of trouble and both my daughter and I (who REALLY looked up to her and was already calling her ‘step mom) were very excited for the future.

    I went out of town for business only 3 weeks after she moved in. The next day, while in a meeting I received a text :

    “Our relationship is over…..I have moved out…..DON’T try to contact me”

    After two very happy years, it was the last I ever heard from her. She had blocked me in every imaginable way to contact her possible: phone, text, email social media (not only did she block me on FB, but she also successfully convinced people who I had met through her to also block me!!!). I made a handful of attempts to circumvent her blocks over the following months that were met with calls from the cops and letters from lawyer friends threatening a PPO (I never so much as raised my voice to her….EVER!). The sense that I had was almost as if she projected an environment of extreme violence or threat to her life.She never bothered to even agree to pick up various valuable belongings of hers. I was floored to say the least!!

    That was coming upon three years ago and I have not heard a word from her though I have the sense that not only is she keeping tabs on me but also still upset over her own decision. I’m very sure that she is unmarried and I know that she is not dating anyone (but that’s about all that I know).

    I am left with only guesses regarding what compelled her to do this. Do any folks that identify as ‘runners’ have any perspective on this that they can offer? I suspect that something ‘drove’ her to do this almost against her will; that it was incredibly painful for her but that she HAD to do it for some reason. That she is still haunted by the relationship (I know that I still very much think about her).

    Thanks for your thoughts in advance…..

  18. My boyfriend of 5 years, who said I was his soulmate and best friend, broke up with me when I asked if we could move in together. We spend 28/30 days a month together, I do all the cooking, cleaning and help in child care at his house and spend quality time with his children alone. We own a vacation trailer together and several other items. We love each other deeply. When breaking up with me, he said he was happy and content in our relationship and loved me and values me. I assured him of my love and willingness to talk about his fears. Why would he run from the commitment of moving in together when we essentially already do? I am confused.

  19. Wow, “good” to know this is so common I thought it just happened to me. Girl pursued me relentlessly for many months, I was not in a position for a relationship and didn’t want to “take advantage” either so we sort of texed and stayed ‘friends’. Fast forward we started hanging out and though I said I was not ready for a relationship (biz, family) we clearly started to be in one and she was, admittedly, relentless about making sure it happened and referenced a future together as often as she could work it into our conversations. Finally when it was clear we were in one and needed to actually say so we did with an official ‘first date’ as an official couple with all the words/commitments you could imagine, her, as usual, pushing the bounds (now that we were ‘together’ all the talk centered on future stuff, meeting family, where we’d move, etc). Next DAY she met me to tell me I was a ‘great guy’ but was not into having a committed relationship with me. I did not handle it super well (no name calling however) as I felt at the very least she should take responsibility for running once she got it vs making it seem as if I was pushing for something she was not prepared to give, and honestly felt like months-long effort to have me give all the parts of myself I was reticent to only to get all of them verbally and otherwise and dash them on the ground.

    Walked away, finally, weeks later sent sort of goodbye email, I just acknowledged what was good between us and how I felt about her w/o any recriminations. Not sure if I even did it for her as much as so I could say goodbye and hold on to the good things that happened w/o holding on to the dysfunctional stuff and so she’d know that, despite everything, I had cared for her and she’d meant a lot to my life and I would never forget her or what she brought to my life. It seemed a better response than a nuclear reprisal (which was IMHO much deserved but would not have served me or her well in the end).

  20. I was seeing a guy for three month we were exclusive and things were going extremely well. On our last date we had sex went out for an amazing lunch, and then we cuddled on the couch and watched tv all afternoon. Before I left he told me to text him to make sure I got home safely and that he would send me his work schedule to plan our next date. And it’s been a week and I’ve heard nothing… and the worst part of it is when we started seeing each other I asked him if he didn’t want to see me anymore just to tell me and not to ghost. He promised he wouldn’t… and now here we are. Is it possible he got scared and ran and will maybe come back around?

  21. In my lengthy experience as one who runs away, I feel compelled, may be obligated to offer a new perspective to this disturbing problem. In my opinion, running away from a relationship is solely due to his/her baggage. As obvious as that may be to some, I am certain that the baggage is far heavier than the runner will ever admit, even to themselves. There are many wounds we all carry, but not everyone runs. We all want to be loved and love someone back forever, if possible. So isn’t it logical to realize that the runner may actually be running to something left undone? The stove left on? The dog not fed? or I believe often, there may be a husband/wife waiting for them. So this brings the real problem into view, HOW TO LET GO! The runner is probably in a bad relationship or trying to end one. The runner is unable to let go, for reasons deeply imbedded and as varied as anyone’s life can be. Is there any hope for the runner if the runner refuses to let go of the last? I am sure that if the runner admits that this is the problem, only then will he/she stop running.

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