QUESTION: My partner tried to break up with me, saying that he is just not attracted to me and he is sick of being at war. We hadn’t spoken for several days when he pulled away from me in his wounded "can’t look me in the eye" way. I asked if he would be willing to see our couples therapist one more time before we ended it. His swing away from me seems a bit extreme, but it has been ongoing for some time. I am either the love of his life (he says at times, “I am the luckiest man in the world to be with you”) or he does not want to be with me (“I am not attracted to you”, he says at other times).

Here’s my dilemma in all honesty. While he went away for the several days, I was a little lonely and frustrated and embarrassed about being in such a relationship, but I was, all in all, at peace. I had a very nice time with myself. I am not sure if I want to be in this relationship anymore. I am starting to want more than he seems to be able to offer, and I am starting to feel like I deserve it. Maybe he is giving me a gift by ending it. That said, I love him to my core and I don’t feel like our journey together is finished. I guess I need to hold both of those feelings at the same time and see what happens.

ANSWER: Keep the focus on you. This is a pattern that has been going on for a while, and of course it is painful. What do you want? Where are your fears of intimacy? Keep taking it back to you. Obviously our partners have their own will, but on an unconscious level they are reflecting back our own terror. This terror only becomes healed by us holding ourselves and not by the decisions of another person. The initial wounding of being abandoned will keep playing out over and over until we stop abandoning ourselves. We believe that by changing external events we can change the internal, but as you have been seeing, that does not hold true.

The expansion (“I am the luckiest man in the world to be with you”) and contraction (“I am not attracted to you”) are a dance that we all do. We open up, expand as much as we dare, and then the unconscious steps in and shuts us down because it is terrified of being hurt again. We all do this to some measure. Observe this in your own psyche; you are powerless to do anything about it in your partner.