Want an intimate relationship
I care for a man who keeps leading me on...then when I wanna be close to him he backs away. I know he sleeps with a number of women but he has never made a move on me. His friend says that's because he cares about me; he's very gentle with me and caring but always backs off right when we're getting close. Do you think it's because he's scared of what he's feeling? I care very much about him and wouldn't hurt him. How do I get him to understand that?
How do I get him to understand I wanna be there for him and how much I care about him?
Grownups (forty-year olds, say,) usually attempt to communicate more directly than either of you have with each other. Even your communication with me (here) is confusing. Your words, "leading me on; want to be close; sleeps with; made a move; his friend says; cares about me; very gentle and caring; backs off; getting close; scared of what he's feeling; wouldn't hurt him; get him to understand," - all of these words hint at something, but don't really say directly what you are experiencing.
When I try to help people with their problems, I take into account every clue I'm given, and you've given me lots of information about yourself, just by the way you phrased your situation.
Now, it IS clear that you are struggling with your feelings and that you wrote to help clarify your problem and what a solution might be. That takes bravery and strength, so I know you have those two qualities. But, I can't help wondering what purpose might be served by being indirect and confused - in your letter to me as well as in your interactions with this man. My guess is that the confusion and obscurity of your words are (unconscious) attempts to protect yourself.
Maybe you (unconsciously) need to protect yourself from others - even me! - because you have been hurt in the past and fear being hurt again. (Your concern about hurting him may be a projection of your hurt.) If that's the case, I hope you'll begin to deal with those past injuries. Your world will reflect less confusion and conflict when you've resolved some of these conflicts within yourself.
You clearly are gentle and loving to others. Maybe it's time to concentrate your efforts on showing yourself attention, kindness and care by whatever means you have available. (Obviously, psychotherapy seems indicated.)
Margaret "Peg" Burr
This question was answered by Margaret "Peg" Burr. She is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC34374) with a private practice in Santa Clarita (near Los Angeles). She performs psychodynamic psychotherapy with individual adult clients as well as couples, teens, and families. She also runs groups for adults and adolescents. Her specialty area is Object Relations Systems Theory. This branch of psychodynamic psychotherapy uses a client's interpersonal relationships as windows into his or her intrapsychic structure.For more information visit: http://www.pegburr.com/