Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: My Lover Left Me as He Began to Bond with Me

September 14, 2020

Dear Stavroula,

My name is Agape and I decided to write to you because I am desperate. I am at odds with my husband, because he treats me badly and devalues me. Six months ago I met someone and I fell madly in love, and so did he, as he told me. But because of the Coronavirus he lost his job and was forced to move to his hometown in the provinces. Then everything changed all at once. And while in the beginning he asked to live together, I did not make the decision to do so; when I told him that I was ready he became another person. He did not want us to stay together and when I insisted, he said that what we had was an ‘excitement’ that has passed for him. I felt like the ground was cut out from under me. I told him I did not want to see him again, but it hurt a lot. When we were together he was magical, he was perfect – I could not get enough of his hugs and love. How is it possible that he does not miss all this? I miss him a lot and I want to be with him. But I hesitate, because from the beginning he was afraid of commitment, and when he started bonding with me, he left, as he had done in his previous relationships. What should I do? I really need your advice?


Dear Agape,

Research shows that men are more afraid of emotional commitment than women, and this may be due to the way they are socialized. Boys often grow up hiding the sensitive side of themselves, learning from an early age to be competitive, tough, and avoid emotions. But when this behavior is dysfunctional, then it is usually due to other causes.

Fear of commitment can occur when a child has grown up experiencing emotional deprivation, either because he had a parent who abused him in some way, or because he or she grew up with indifferent parents who did not care about their needs. One can even fall into the trap of the fear of commitment if as an adult one has experienced a traumatic relationship, if he has been betrayed or abandoned by a partner in whom he had invested emotionally and has not been able to deal with it.

Those who are afraid of commitment tend to either avoid love affairs or get involved in them only for a short time. The usual behaviors of people in this category include:

• Creating relationships from which they break up abruptly and often in a way that confuses their partner, presenting excuses that seem clear to themselves but irrational to the other.

• Building relationships with unavailable partners. In other words, they choose partners who may be engaged in other relationships or who may be emotionally unavailable, cold, or distant.

From what you write, I have the feeling that your partner belongs in this category. First of all, when he first connected with you, you were in a relationship, which means that you were not 100% available. And when you offered to stay with him, he ended the relationship abruptly and in a way that left you with a lot of questions.

And as you write to me, he has done it other times in his life.

Unfortunately, to overcome commitment phobia and move into a healthy relationship a person often needs help from a specialist. But this requires that the person who is afraid of commitment should have enough self-awareness to understand the problem and to take responsibility for his behavior.

You are asking for my advice on whether you should approach him again or not. You will find the answer yourself, after thinking about what you really want from a relationship and what this person can give you.

You are at odds with a spouse who has treated you badly. What was it that drew you to that particular man? Did you have any negative experiences of his behavior? If not, what did you miss? On what grounds did you enter into a relationship with him and marry him?

And in the relationship that concerns you now, what was it that made you invest emotionally? Was it the person he actually is, or did you project onto him your need to love and be loved? And since you knew he was afraid of commitments, what was it that pushed you to be with him?

What I would suggest, therefore, is to look at yourself and your feelings, and once you understand what went wrong in your previous relationships and what your role was in them, move on to a more mature life.


Dear Stavroula,   I am married with three children.

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