Dear Dr. Romance:

 I dated a woman for about a year who was divorced with a small child.  For most of our time together, I believed that I had found the best person ever. She was very honest, open minded, considerate, respectful, loving, and kind. Our relationship was excellent. She said she loved everything about me. I can not stress how intimate and loving our relationship was.

However, on occasion she would become very irritated and people would label her as just mean or rude. We did not live together but when she got into her mood swings, I would back off and give her a few days of "rest" because she claimed that she needed "her space". I never pressured her for anything just wanted to be with her and make her happy, so I complied. 

Recently, she disappeared and refused to answer my calls. When I finally reach her she cancels all of our plans and tells me that she "needs her space".  After four more days, left me a voice mail encouraging us to break up. I went to her house and talked it all out, and thought we had cleared the air and attributed everything to "miscommunication". But the next day, she calls me and says she can't be in a relationship because she needs her space and that I wouldn't understand why, but that I was the best boyfriend she ever had but I don't deserve her.

After a week, I couldn't take it anymore and went to her house to seek proper closure. I was confused and extremely hurt. she said  "You deserve an honest answers" and told me she has had problems in relationships since she was a teen, and she destroyed her marriage. The problem she has is a phobia and feels oppressed. Her mind races, she panics, becomes exhausted and get migraines --that is when she needs her "space". She says it's like a phobia, and once it hits a climax, she can't love the person anymore. She has always been the one who has"sabotaged" her relationships. At the same time she is very worried and scared that she will live alone for the rest of her life.

The closure or better yet, the truth made me feel worse. Part of me tells me that I need to get as far away as possible from her as I can. But another side of me feels very bad for her and would like to help her. However, I don't know if this condition can be treated or is even common. I am also worried that she could to flip this switch back on draw me back in and destroy me again.

Also, I can't trust the love which she gave me was real; or caused by some mental illness she has. According to her, "once the switch is off, it is off and it never comes back on". Meaning she can't love me any more. Her mentally ill mother told me my ex's father would withdraw like that, but I don't know if I can trust her report.  

Please tell me what to do.

Dear Reader:

You are right to be worried.  I understand that you care and would like to help but it sounds like your ex has a bigger problem than just commitment phobia.  The symptoms you describe could indicate a serious condition, perhaps bipolar disorder or schizoid disorder.  Of course, I can't make a real diagnosis of someone I've never seen; I'm just indicating  how serious this might be.  

I think you should be very careful.  Whatever problem your ex has is severe enough that it will be a long time before she can really be successful in a relationship.  I recommend you let her go, and be just her friend if you can.   "Letting Go Takes Love"When Letting Go is Necessary and "You Be the Judge" will help you think more clearly about this,    You might also find more understanding of your ex's behavior in It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction

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For low-cost counseling, email me at tina@tinatessina.com

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.