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Beware The Man That Won't Let Go

I hope you can help me I’m so confused!!

I dated this guy for 6 months I was catching feelings then he said he can’t go on like this anymore and can we just be friends? I was heartbroken but wasn’t ready to give up so we dropped into a friends with benefits situation.

This carried on for 2 months and bam he told me he was seeing someone else ....again I was heartbroken, I told him the friends with benefits needs to stop and he replied I’m not giving up on you and texts me everyday it’s like he won’t let me move on and says things like I can’t do this without you , I need you in my life blah blah blah ... making me feel trapped even though he’s in a relationship now and has been for a year. we’ve also slept together a few times while he’s been in this relationship which makes me feel shitty. My head is so messed up honestly.

I was heartbroken but wasn’t ready to give up so we dropped into a friends with benefits situation.

That’s exactly what he wanted. He essentially broke things off with you to re-boot the relationship. Only in this version he’s being transparent that he is in no way committed or exclusive to you. Unlike your previous 6-month relationship with him where he may have led you to believe he wanted more than he actually did.

What - exactly - is he unable to do without you that he needs to keep having no-strings sex with you? There is nothing - literally nothing - that can justify what he’s doing to both you and his girlfriend. He’s exploiting your feelings for him for personal gain. So in addition to being a chetaer he’s being a predatory creep.

You’re surrendering your agency here. He doesn’t get to decide if you can move on. Nor can he control your emotions. You have the power to manage both. The question here isn’t why he’s keeping you hanging on. We know the answer to that: he’s selfish and dishonest.

The question here is: why are you allowing yourself to be sucked in to this guys web of deceit? There’s no easy answer to that question as it often stems from - you guessed it! - previous trauma. I’m not going to judge you for being with a man with a girlfriend. You didn’t pledge fidelity. This guy knows he’s messing with your head. He doesn’t care. What does that tell you about how he really feels about you?

In my opinion, that feeling of powerlessness you have is a sign of a possible trauma bond you’ve formed with this man. He repeatedly devalues you when he sleeps with you but returns to his girlfriend. When you tell him you can no longer continue he pulls out his “I’m not giving up on you” bullshit thereby sucking you back in.

Just because he’s not verbally abusing you or overtly devaluing you doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Trauma can come in many forms. If it is causing you intense distress, makes you feel unsafe and affects your behavior going forward, it’s considered trauma. This man is intentionally screwing with you.

It might be very helpful for you to completely - as in 100% - cut him off. That way your brain chemicals can normalize. From the linked article:

Several important ingredients that contribute to someone's "addiction" to their abuser are oxytocin (bonding), endogenous opioids(pleasure, pain, withdrawal, dependence), corticotropin-releasing factor (withdrawal, stress), and dopamine (craving, seeking, wanting). With such strong neurochemistry in dysregulated states, it will be extremely difficult to manage emotions or make logical decisions.

I need to make something very clear here: if you continue down this path with him, you will do possibly irreparable damage to your emotional well-being and regulation as well as to your brain. This isn’t just some random dude being a dick. What he’s doing is abusive - to both you and his girlfriend. The only difference between the two of you is that you’ve seen who he really is.

I know people will urge you to tell her. If you do, please do it anonymously so you are not sucked back into this guy’s disordered vortex. Don’t befriend her. Don’t engage her. You can tell her and then walk away. Let her handle the rest.

You need a clean break from him. That includes ruminating about him in online forums. I can not stress enough how unhealthy that is. It will keep you stuck in a loop where you’re still devoting an extreme amount of thought to someone who is emotionally unhealthy for you.

If you have a therapist, please check in with them to work through this. If you don’t have one or are not in a financial position to afford therapy here are some more accessible alternatives.

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