Dear Charlotte,

I have been in a weird thing with this guy for months, and I don’t know how to define it. I can’t call it a relationship but there’s a strong connection and we have kissed and spent the night together a few times, but without having sex. 

We are both still attached to other people and I know it sounds unreasonable but I want more of a commitment from him and he’s very hot and cold in his messages which makes me insecure. 

As frustrating as it is for me I don’t want to walk away. But it’s also unbearable. Help!

Dear addict, 

I’m calling you an addict in the sense that we are all vulnerable to addictions to something, and in this instance, I suspect you have been drawn into an obsessive entanglement. It’s addictive to be in a constant state of being betwixt and between. 

Ambivalence from him may evoke strong fantasies in you of how you can win him over fully. Micro rejections from him may be brutal but he keeps you engaged by giving you enough to sustain your hopefulness. Like a gambler going back into the casino, there’s always a chance of victory, however improbable.

You can’t go on and you must go on. Your message gives me the sense of a repetition compulsion that you’re re-enacting, connecting with someone and wanting validation from a person who is only partially available. It can be maddening and exciting, the ups and downs of fixating over someone.

The fact that you’re both involved with other people doesn’t stop you from total preoccupation. I wonder if something about this dynamic is about escape and fantasy — the potential of a relationship. What are you avoiding in your life and in yourself? What are you really wanting from this connection? Address your unmet needs and go from there. 


Charlotte Fox Weber is a verified Welldoing psychotherapist and the author of What We Want: Understand Your Deepest Desires and Live a Fuller Life