Sucking You In, Spitting You Out

Dear Dategirl, I met the man of my dreams three years ago. We started hanging out a lot and got to know each other very well before we started sleeping together. Even still, he sent out a lot of mixed messages—acting aloof if he sensed I was interested, chasing me down when I retreated. We had been dating for six months when I went out of town for a long weekend. We had an affectionate good-bye, but when I got back into town, he dumped me. I was devastated, but hid it because we still saw each other at the gym where I'm a trainer. I removed his phone/e-mail/name from my contacts, but decided that since we saw each other all the time, we may as well be civil. So we sat down and had a friendly conversation. However, after that, he was ruder than ever—talking to everyone around me, but pointedly ignoring me. Finally I got annoyed and said, "Can't you even manage a hello?" So he was friendly again for a while before the same pattern repeated itself. Why can't I get over him?!? I've had therapy, bored friends to tears, and written reams in various journals. Other men have asked me out, but they weren't even worth the coffee. Please kick my ass. —Angry at Myself Unless the "man of your dreams" is a toxic mindfucker, I don't think you've actually met him yet. Because the guy you're describing is more the stuff nightmares are made of. The fact is, you were dating a crazy person. I even feel bad labeling him crazy, because that implies that there's a chance he's just a benignly wacky guy with an unusual outlook on life, or a maybe a depressive who just needs a little therapy or some happy pills. On the contrary, yours sounds more like a full-on sociopath. At best, he's a narcissist. And believe me, that's not much better. These types are so hard to get over because their particular brand of crazy is equipped with tentacles that seep in through your ears and latch onto your brain. These guys will push you to your limits, and cause you to doubt your intellect and your sanity. They play games so complex that an amateur such as yourself is easily outmatched. How could these other normal guys you tried to date stand a chance when compared to someone who kept you completely off-kilter 24/7? It's like comparing a ferris wheel to a roller coaster . . . a Volkswagen to a DeLorean . . . Harry Potter to Patrick Bateman. That kind of insanity is addictive and, unfortunately, contagious. Right now, you are still in its/his clutches, and it's going to take a while to get over. If he's like most of his ilk, he'll be back and forth as many times as you'll let him—sucking you in, spitting you out. The trick is to put up a facade of dismissive disdain. Say hello if you must, but don't allow yourself to be pulled into conversation. Don't take his phone calls and block his e-mails. If he asks what's wrong, look at him like he's nuts (because he is) and say "Nothing." Refuse to engage. Anyone who's ever found themselves enmeshed in this particular vortex of wackness knows I speak the truth. You need to go cold turkey as best you can. Only time will cure this particular heartache, but I promise one day you'll wake up and find yourself attracted to someone who doesn't have an uncontrollable urge to make you cry.

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