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The Traumatic Effects of A Break-Up

38 years old guy in my hometown found me on tinder as I was temporarily visiting home. I was ready for a hookup but instead he befriended me and spend 2h daily with me, holding hands , going for walks , buying me stuff, going on trips. I thought it’s a foundation of a relationship and then he told me he just wants to be friends and that he always wanted that but I missunderstood. He might have ADHD and I helped him spark his idea of restarting writing his book.

I’m attached and now he is pulling away. Please help.

Let’s first get one thing straight: you misunderstood NOTHING. He behaved in a way that communicated he was interested in more than a casual hook-up. Everyone knows that when you match with someone from out of town, it’s likely just going to be a hook-up. At the very least, it’s going to be casual.

This guy wanted The Girlfriend Experience. The Girlfriend Experience is when a straight man dates a woman and does all the things someone serious about a relationship with you would do: they tend to your needs, they go places with you, they buy you things. There’s emotional and physical intimacy and closeness. What there isn’t is any semblance of obligation or commitment.

You are romanticizing this whirlwind romance because he romanticized it. Do not for one second feel silly for getting invested in this guy. He knew his behavior would send a certain message. He didn’t care because his needs were being met. When he got in too deep, he pulled back. This is another case of someone diving in to a situationship knowing they don’t want anything serious but acting as though they do until it’s inconvenient for them.

The first step you can take to get over this clown is to recognize that, when he told you you misunderstood his intentions, he was gaslighting you. He was trying to convince you that your perception of reality was distorted when it wasn’t. Good people don’t gaslight someone they like or care about. Selfish people do.

Something else to do is keep your dopamine levels high. Right now, you’re going through a withdrawal of sorts. While you were involved with him, you were benefiting from frequent surges of dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin. Those are the brain chemicals/hormones involved when we bond with someone and begin the attachment process. When we experience a break-up, our brain chemistry is altered. You’re going to want to reach out to him. You’re literally going to crave connecting with him in some way. By naturally producing these chemicals, it will be a little easier to go no-contact with him.

If you find yourself ruminating or notice your sleeping and eating patterns have been disrupted, it might be a good idea to talk to a therapist. That sounds extreme but break-ups - especially when you’re blindsided - can trigger your fight or flight response which is a precursor to trauma.

To start the detaching process, you need to see him for who he is: a guy who intentionally mislead you for his own personal gain.

Feel better and please reach out if you need to talk.

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