Why Can’t My Ex Let Me Go?

Last night, I had a brief but interesting chat with a gentleman who approached me after hearing me introduced as a Love Doctor.

“I wonder if you can help me with my situation” he said, drawing me aside. “It’s about a woman I’ve been seeing on and off for the last four years”.

For 20-or-so- minutes he told me about the woman he loves. The story began with how much he loves her… she is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, etc… midway she was the most manipulative B-word he’d ever met… and by the end of the story, I’d have sworn I’d just been introduced to the profile of she-devil incarnate.

“If you really think that of her, why do you still want her?” I interjected almost knowing the response. I’ve heard this same script over and over.

“What I want to know is why she can’t just let me go? I am tired of not knowing where I stand. If she doesn’t love me, I’ll be okay with that and will move on.”

“May be she has told you in her own way, but you don’t want to let her go”.

“Told me what?”

“Told you how she really feels about you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Her actions and the way she treats you is inconsistent with someone who loves you. Love is supposed to make you feel good about yourself – and life in general. You obviously aren’t feeling too good”.

“You’re right about the not feeling too good part. It’s been like this for years. Every time I decide to move on, she contacts me, asks me to come over and stirs my feelings, then disappears. She just won’t let me go.”

“So why don’t you let her go instead?”

You should have seen the look of anxiety, worry and fear on his face. You’d think I just asked him to kill himself!

“Does he/she or doesn’t he/she love me” is a manipulative ploy that both men and women use to keep the other person confused, uncertain, insecure and second-guessing him or herself. It usually works because there are men and women – young and old — who confuse love and manipulative control – and sadly just as many who will use love as a manipulative tool.

Any time someone exerts pressure/force to get what he or she wants from you or intentionally says or does things to generate anxiety or insecurity or worry, you’re not being loved, you’re being manipulated.

It’s all about control and power – one of the worst forms of emotional abuse.

The most dangerous part of this guessing mind game is the unhealthy link between love and emotional abuse. The little “tokens of love” the other person throws your way once in a while may seem like expressions of love, but in reality are tools of manipulation and control.

It’s like a physically abused woman saying “But he apologizes and treats me really wonderful afterwards”. In her mind, she’s made an unhealthy link between love and abuse.

You are enabling and feeding the sickness and the other person is most likely controlling and emotionally abusing you in ways you are not even aware of. No wonder you feel like crap.

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22 Comments

  • Hi my name is Lamar I’ve read your blogs and its very encouraging to hear a lady speak on these issues. I’ve learned that you first have to love yourself to then know how to love another. I’m already happy now searching for someone to share my happiness with?. I’m not angry at my past relationships because they all were reflections on me, and have learn who I am as a professional entrepreneur, not to jump into relationships, but take it slow, and don’t be so quick to deliver your heart, find out her bottom line, and discern before I invest. Thank You Love Doctor

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    • I am not the “expert” on “searching for someone” (I work with people who thought they “found someone” but lost him/her), but I agree with almost everything you said.

      Just one thing to add… don’t be “too careful” that no one is good enough and don’t take it “too slow” that you send the wrong message to the right person.

      I hope you find her.

      PS: I won’t take it personally that you called me a “lady”. Just don’t call me “girl” or “madam”. I am oversensitive like that… 🙂

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  • I understand what you are saying here but situations are different. You can want to move on with your life but what if the other person will not let you. My ex and I have been broken up for 2 months now but he will let me go. He is still holding onto a few of my things and I have repeatedly asked him to give them back to me but he will not give them to me.

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    • I agree with you that situations are different, I don’t however think that if someone really wanted to “move on” they can’t because the other person “won’t let them”. Even two people who have kids together (having children binds you to that person forever), can still move on with their lives but share the kids.

      My questions for you are: How important are the “things” he has to you? Are they more important to you than what you would benefit from letting him have them and move on with your life?

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    • No. I’m asking you to answer those questions for yourself. It’s more important that the answers come from YOU. That way it’s YOUR decision, not some coach’s decision.

      Making your OWN decisions is empowering.

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  • my ex offered me money to start over .. is it so he can walk away feeling better or so he can leave his options open see me ‘realise my dreams’ and meet in a better situation to work from ?.. i havent taken it or made a decision

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    • Most people would be offended if their ex offered money to start over. Personally, I’d take it as an insult and punch the jerk in the face (and I am a pacifist).

      As a coach however, I can’t tell you whether or not to accept the offer. You are the only one who knows what you are ‘worth’….

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