I keep writing this post and then scrapping it and starting over. This is because I keep completely changing my mind about what I think.
The last thing with Whippersnapper was that I told him I still loved him. He said he felt the same but still couldn’t be with anyone because of his body image problems.
Then, at 3am, he sent me a stream of consciousness about one of his old schoolteachers recently saying he was ‘just a blob at school who did nothing.’ For him, this confirmed he is worthless and can’t be with me.
I sent him a mixture of reassurance, love, and Psychology. I was pretty proud of the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy I managed to rustle up, given it was 3am and I’d just woken up. I gave him a completely different theory for how he feels about his body.
Since then, over the last few weeks, I’ve ricocheted between:
- being so angry I want to punch his fucking face
- feeling a glimmer of hope
- feeling full of love but knowing it won’t work
I have wanted to punch his fucking face at times because I feel like he’s taking me for granted.
The day after the 3am CBT, he eventually texted saying “thanks for the support Dater Analysis. I shall reply tomorrow. x”
I said “that will be lovely. But there’s no rush if it takes longer than that.”
I said that because I knew I had given him a completely different theory for how he feels about his body. I thought he might find my explanation convincing (because it’s correct), but it contradicts what he’s believed for years.
In Psychology, we call it ‘cognitive dissonance’ when you believe two conflicting things at once. It feels really uncomfortable so your brain tries to get rid of one belief by discrediting it.
I thought if he replied too quickly, his cognitive dissonance would make him dismiss the tentative new theory from me, and keep the well-established, incorrect old one – that he feels bad about his body because it looks bad. I wanted to give him time, for the new theory to grow some roots in his brain soil.
However, a week and a half later, I felt like he was taking the piss. I know I said ‘take as long as you like’, but come on.
I know it’s really hard, coming to terms with needing help, but I think you can be appreciative at the same time.
If I’d been really upset at 3am, and a friend stayed up, trying to comfort me by text, I hope I’d be a bit more demonstrative than sending one lukewarm sentence and then ignoring them.
Really, of all the things he’s done, this is not bad; he had no way of knowing that by “take as long as you like”, I meant “but less than 10 days please.”
It just made me mad because it felt like the last straw after everything else – months of headfucks, saying he loves me, saying he wants to die, ignoring me, refusing to see me, not to mention the abusive texts.
The moment I started to think hang on, this guy has just been a dick all this time! he got back in touch and hooked me back in.
That cycle has played out a few times now – he’s been in touch and been enthusiastic and cute, then gone off the grid for ages.
A few times I’ve said this is it! and deleted his number from my phone, so I won’t be able to contact him or mope over his WhatsApp picture. Then, as soon as I delete him, he immediately gets back in touch.
My friend said “it’s like he’s telepathic and can sense when he’s losing his connection to you!”
This is what gives me a tiny glimmer of hope:
A week or so after the 3am CBT session, when I had given up hope, he finally texted me. He said my messages had been ‘brilliant and helpful.’ Then, after a few more complimentary messages, he earnestly said “do you think I have body dysmorphic disorder?”
I laughed when I read that, because I assumed it had been obvious for months; I thought well, 6 months ago I bought you a copy of the book ‘Overcoming Body Dysmorphic Disorder’, but I guess there are hundreds of ways you could interpret that.
I replied “I think you probably know what I think, but what’s more important is what you think.”
He said “Yes, I think I do too. It’s a relief to put a name to it.”
Then he was asking what happens next, and I told him a bit about how to get help.
I couldn’t help feeling a tiny bit of hope, because
- we recently said we love each other
- he said he couldn’t be with me because of his body image
- now he was asking how to get help for his body image
The other thing that feels positive is that our interactions are changing. Since we broke up, for a long time, we were only in touch during his late night drunk texts, and all we talked about was our relationship or his mental health.
Now, even though there long gaps which stress me out, he’s started messaging me during the day (wow!) and talking about more normal things – sometimes small talk, sometimes deep and meaningful.
Although he’s a ridiculous boy, I love him so much. My head is saying to me Get a fucking grip, you dick! but my heart says he is the one. It would be so amazing if it could work.
It feels like he can’t quite let go either. I think part of the reason I can’t get over him is that there’s no sensible for us not to be together. He thinks it’s because of his BDD, but I think being with me would be so good for his BDD.
Knowing it can’t work
I would love it to work out, but realistically, I know it’s unlikely.
And on the off-chance that he did suddenly say “Sorry I’ve been an absolute prick for the last few months, I’m on the waiting list for therapy and I’m ready to be your boyfriend” would that actually be right for me?
These are the things I’ve been wondering
- would I be able to forgive him for all the heartache he has caused me, since January?
- Since we broke up, he’s done things that are selfish, immature, cowardly and even abusive. I’ve kind of attributed every good thing to his personality, and every bad thing to his BDD. But what if he is just a selfish, immature, cowardly or abusive person?
If it doesn’t work out, a likely scenario is that I actually meet an adult who has got their shit together and fall in love with them before WS is ready for me. That would be pretty good.
I hated the thought of WS forgetting me and being insignificant to him, but really, I don’t think that’s going to happen.
When we were dating, he said our dates were some of the best nights out he’s ever had, and that he tells me things he’s never been able to tell anyone else. He volunteered the information that he “always thinks of me when he has ‘play time'” (and that kid masturbates A LOT). Six months after we last saw each other, he’s still texting saying he loves me and telling me his deepest and most upsetting thoughts.
Since we met, I’ve been a lot of things to him – a lover, a close friend and a therapist. Whatever happens, without wanting to blow my own trumpet, I think I will be hard to follow.
Currently, I think it’s definitely better being in contact, compared to the months when we didn’t speak. I was missing so much back then, and because I had no new material to dwell on, I was just going back over and over the happy memories and idealising him. At least now we’re in touch and he keeps getting on my tits, it reminds me he isn’t perfect.
The gaps are stressing me out less now, because I feel like each time he takes a step back, when he reconnects he gets closer than before.
At first I thought why does he go off the grid? and felt offended, but now I’m thinking of it like a phased return to work. If someone has been off sick for ages, they might return to work gradually, rather than going back full time straight away. It wouldn’t mean they didn’t like their job or thought they shouldn’t be at work, it just takes time to adjust. If he was to try and be with me, he would be going against everything his brain has told him to do, to keep him safe, for years. It can’t change overnight.
So, I’m still dating and expecting it probably won’t work out with WS, but we’re keeping in touch and I’m very curious to see what happens next.