“I met someone recently and we really clicked. It was all very intense. He told me he wasn’t looking for a relationship but all the signals he gave out were positive. Now we have drifted apart but he messages me and gives me mixed signals. We’ve both been hurt in the past and I think he’s scared. Should I treat him just as a friend?“
I’ll bet he’s not the only one who’s scared.
You say you’ve drifted apart. “Drifted” is the operative word here. You drifted together and now you’ve drifted apart. When it comes to intimate relationships, both of you are just drifting along, without focus or direction.
You say you’ve both been hurt in the past. This means you both invested a lot of time and emotion in relationships that failed. You both really wanted to build solid, long-lasting unions. But they didn’t turn out the way you expected and you were both badly hurt. Now you cannot invest too much in another relationship because you are so scared of being disappointed again.
Of course, it was intense in the beginning. You’re both hungry for intimacy. Add the right chemistry and you have an extremely volatile mix. It only takes a spark to ignite a voracious fire. But your fear doused it as soon as your immediate needs were satisfied. Intimacy terrifies you both. Your fear makes you both pull back.
Now you find yourself being torn in two directions. You feel like you’re out of control. On one hand, you have a strong yearning to couple. On the other, you are terrified of being hurt. He’s the same. He’s sending you mixed signals, and you’ll be doing the same to him. And while you feel pulled in two directions, this pattern will continue. You will drift in and out of relationships, all the time feeling out of control.
It’s time to stop drifting. That means you either have to give up the need to couple, or overcome your fears. You don’t want to be alone, and you cannot let your fears dictate your life. It’s time to confront your fears and overcome them. You might seek counselling to help you do this.
Address your fears by allowing them to surface fully. Notice the feelings of hurt and disappointment lodged in your body. Breathe through them and let them go. Then spend some time reflecting on that old relationship. Remember how you became involved and what expectations you had. How realistic were those expectations knowing what you now know?
Keep this new person as a friend. At the moment, a friendship without physical intimacy will be the least threatening. As you work through your fears you will find you can take more risks. Let go of any expectations. You might end up together or you might not. Take it a day at a time. You’ll be able to be more open and affectionate, and so will he, when you build a relationship at a steady, gentle pace.
Struggling with forming relationships? North Brisbane Psychologists can help. Book an appointment today!