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Thread: Boyfriend's pushing me away during a rough time.

  1. #1
    Bronze Member EricaNicole's Avatar
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    Boyfriend's pushing me away during a rough time.

    I've been dating a wonderful guy for over a year now. I'm fully convinced that he's the man I want to marry someday. For the most part we have a great relationship. We have our share of arguments, but nine times out of ten they are short, silly, and easily-resolved without grudges being held. One of my favorite things about our relationship is that we agree that it is not necessary to analyze every aspect of our occasional arguments in order to decide who was at fault for each particular aspect of it. He's a great boyfriend. Very attentive, very loving, very committed.

    Lately, however, something very heartbreaking has happened to his family. My boyfriend's brother has been in jail awaiting trial for the past three years. Recently he finally went to trial and was sentenced to life in prison (don't judge, please). I know without him even telling me that this is affecting my boyfriend to the extreme. Since he grew up without a father, his brother is his best friend and is sort of the only male figure in his life that he has to talk to. I'm upset about this as well. Though I've only met his brother in person three times, all through glass, I've gotten to know him through letters and I already think of him as my brother-in-law, despite my boyfriend and I not being married.

    One of the biggest differences between my boyfriend and I, though, is our ways of dealing with emotional problems. For me, talking to somebody I completely trust, getting some comforting feedback, and a little bit of time is usually enough to make me feel better. However, he is unable to do the same. Lately he has been pushing me away, and, unfortunately, he's been taking out his frustration on me, which is something he never does. For example, he and I live an hour drive apart, and with me desperately seeking a summer job, it's a known fact that it's difficult for us to see each other and we don't usually blame it on each other. Though I don't mind the drive at all, it's a rare occurrence that I can afford these crazy gas prices enough to get there, and he doesn't currently have a car. Lately, he's been cruelly blaming me for not coming to see him. When I confronted him, he even went as far as to say "You just need to take this for now. Don't you know I'm upset?" I know him well enough to know that he doesn't mean that, but it still hurts to hear.

    I believe he knows that the way he's treating me isn't fair, but he doesn't know what to do otherwise. He won't open up to me, which is heartbreaking. I do, however, understand that some people just can't do that, and I'm not holding it against him. He did offer me a "I'm sorry I've been mean," but it was through a text and, to be honest, felt insincere. When he spoke to me on the phone afterwards, he expected me to be completely over the way he's been treating me and began blaming me being upset on me. Now we're fighting everytime we talk, which has decreased to little to nothing.

    I care about this relationship and him so, so much, and I know he loves me so much as well. I'm not worried about this relationship ending, because I know we're strong enough to get through this. What I am worried about is the fact that my boyfriend is upset and there is nothing I can do about it, especially since he refuses to talk to me about it. I know the way he's treating me shouldn't be something I allow to continue, and I'm not, which is what's led us to hardly speaking. I've even wondered if me standing up for myself is what's pushing him away and if I'm actually making it worse when all I want to do is help. I'm worried about our future and about the fact that I apparently have no idea how to help him in bad times. I feel useless and helpless.

    Does anyone have any advice or words of encouragement? Has anyone else's partner been through a tragedy that affected the relationship? Anything anyone has to offer is appreciated.

    I also appreciate you taking the time to read all of this.
    Last edited by EricaNicole; 05-30-2012 at 04:54 PM.

  2. #2
    Platinum Member -Sanguine-'s Avatar
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    I went through a tragedy with my ex boyfriend. He was in a drinking and driving accident and someone died, and my ex was going to get his license taken away and worst case scenario - get charged with murder. Before all of this went down though, we were not good and I was thinking of breaking up with him (even though I really cared about him, he just wasn't treating me right). So when the accident happened I was completely torn. I loved him a lot but it was so emotionally draining on me. He wouldn't talk to me about it, was depressed and drank by himself every day. I tried so hard to help him but there was nothing I could do except give him space.

    I realize this is a lot different compared to your situation in terms of your relationship with your boyfriend - it's actually good. Still, I feel that the remedy is the same... space. I feel it isn't right that he take his frustrations out on you and I'm sure he isn't trying to but you are the closest person to him and he probably feels you will love him no matter what. Still, that is not a way to treat someone. So I would do this - I would try to have a heart to heart with him where you let him know nicely that it's not ok to take his frustrations out on you and hopefully he will apologize and stop it from happening. Also tell him that you will be here for him if he ever needs to talk (which he probably won't)... but that's about all you can do. Listen if he ever needs you and just be there for him. I know it's hard - I am just like you.. I need to talk about my problems and such and it makes me feel much better and I've had a bf who is not like that and it can be very trying at times because it's hard to understand that they don't cope the same way we do..

    So overall I would just give him space and time to come to terms with this. The more you ask him to talk about it with you, the more you might push him away. But just make sure he knows you ARE there for him in case he decides to open up. I think once this is all settled down and he is back to himself, he will thank you for being patient with him.

    That's just my take on it - good luck.

  3. #3
    Silver Member Fraggle's Avatar
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    Yeah, I've been through a multitude of family issues... my ex just didn't know how to deal with them, she just shut down and didn't say a thing and then played things down to such an extent that I felt very sad and unwanted.

    i couldn't comprehend things and I started to change my behaviour to try and avoid this awkwardness

    I know how you feel and it is very frustrating... I understand that people deal with things differently but she barely acknowledged anything.

    Instead she cried at silly tv programmes and released her emotions there... she's always done it and i should have seen the red flags a long time ago.... hindsight is a wonderful thing

    I wish you luck, just bear in mind they may not change, if not consider if it is something you want and can deal with

  4. #4
    Bronze Member jimmyh's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EricaNicole
    I believe he knows that the way he's treating me isn't fair, but he doesn't know what to do otherwise. He won't open up to me, which is heartbreaking. I do, however, understand that some people just can't do that, and I'm not holding it against him. He did offer me a "I'm sorry I've been mean," but it was through a text and, to be honest, felt insincere. When he spoke to me on the phone afterwards, he expected me to be completely over the way he's been treating me and began blaming me being upset on me. Now we're fighting everytime we talk, which has decreased to little to nothing.
    It's a problem he isn't opening to you. Do not push him to do that.

    Also, he's going through a terrible time. You are, too. But, don't take crap from him. You are doing your best.

    He is resenting you for something. He says he doesn't see you enough, but when you try to help he's pushing you away. I don't know why is that, but I feel he's resenting you for not knowing how to help and still pushing for it. The thing is, I doubt he knows himself. He hasn't gotten much "people smarts", from what you tell us. My opinion is that he wants and needs your help, but he's frustrated with the inability to communicate with you. He probably doesn't even "feel right" opening up. This is very typical for young men. So, my suggestion. Stay around him, but give him the space. Don't let your guilt play tricks on you. Don't push for confessions.

    I am not the guy with experience in dealing with people like your boyfriend. But, write a bit more about him (history with the brother, what he says about him, what the brother did that landed him in prison). Maybe someone here will figure out what can be done. I promise, at least I won't judge you or the two brothers.

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  6. #5
    Member Suri's Avatar
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    It's really tough figuring out how to deal with situations in which something horrible occurs. It messes with people's heads and really puts the strength of a relationship to test. You see how well someone can operate under extreme pressure. Almost everyone makes mistakes and choices they regret during these times. Luckily you seem really understanding of this, which is fantastic.

    The problem is that his actions are starting to hurt you. I haven't had anything like this occur in a relationship, thankfully, but my family underwent something recently that has been eating my mother from the inside out every day, so I know how dealing with this kind of person can be. It's especially difficult when it's someone you care about, yet they're driving you away.

    You need to let your boyfriend know that you're there for him, but you're not going to take $hit from him. A few ways of doing this are:

    1. If he argues, don't argue back. Just walk away. Don't even deal with it. Don't backpedal and start apologizing and saying you're sorry and you understand the situation he's going through and you should be better girlfriend. Don't take his crap. Just leave.

    2. Do not apologize unless you genuinely think you did something wrong. And do not let your boyfriend reduce your dignity with his temper. You know what you deserve. Regardless of the situation someone is in it does not excuse them being a d!ck to you.

    3. If he screws up, don't rub it in his face. Chances are he knows he screwed up. Sometimes it takes guys time to swallow their pride and apologize about it. But let him do it. If you start hitting a dog, it growls and bites. If you just look at it, make no move, and stay calm then it stays calm as well.

    4. Never get angry. Be aware of how he's making you feel at all times. If you know you're getting to a point where you could lose control, then walk away. When he's losing control do the same thing. Don't give him the chance to displace his anger on to you.

    These are tough things to do. Especially when you love someone and you know they have it in them to be a great person. Don't bother him about coming to you to open up though. If he wants to he will, but if you're insisting then it's an annoyance. Be there for him when he wants help, but as soon as he starts inflicting damage on to you, DO NOT let it happen.

    Also remember, what people say about you usually says more about themselves than it does about you. Don't take anything he says personally. Don't put any blame on yourself for his unhappiness. You can't change others. Only yourself. With time he will get better and hopefully he will awaken to how he has been treating you unfairly. But if that time doesn't come, don't stick around waiting for it. You can't love others for their potential or who they used to be, only for who they are.

    Don't take his $hit, stick to the tips on debating, believe he can get better, and don't blame yourself and you should see improvement.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Suri; 05-30-2012 at 05:37 PM.

  7. #6
    Bronze Member EricaNicole's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for the replies I've already gotten.


    @jimmyh
    Originally Posted by jimmyh
    It's a problem he isn't opening to you. Do not push him to do that.
    In theory, that statement seems contradictory. I know I shouldn't push him. I've realized by now that it doesn't help. I also realize it's a problem, though. That's where my inner conflict arises. How to genuinely help without being pushy?

    His brother was convincted of second degree murder. I know his brother is a good person, but sometimes good people do bad things, assuming he did it. I don't know the entire story, and, to be honest, I don't care. He's my brother-in-law. That's what I care about. What I do know is that, whatever he did, he did not act alone, but he is unfortunately taking the heat for what everyone involved supposedly did.

    My boyfriend talks about his brother like he's his hero. I don't mean that he thinks of him as a great example or anything, because obviously he's not, but he's probably the person he has most in common with. For example, my boyfriend is a guitarist and loves to talk about music. Though I love music myself and enjoy talking with him about his interests, I simply don't have the knowledge about some aspects of guitar to give him the conversation he likes. His brother can do that for him, as he's a musician as well.

    Since, like I said before, my boyfriend grew up without a father, his older brother is sort of the only male role model he had, even though, also like I said before, his actions shouldn't be emulated. In the years prior to my boyfriend and I meeting, he wasn't the best guy in the world either. A combination of wanting to "be good enough for me" and the desire to be a better person in hopes of it somehow helping his brother's situation motivated him to clean up his attitude. He changed a lot for me, all changes for the better. During his first conversation with me after the trial, he told me he "felt empty".


    @Fraggle

    When things are good, they are wonderful. My relationship has so, so much more good in it than bad. I can deal with this, especially since it's such a rare occurrence, as this is the first time in over a year together that things have gotten to this stage.


    @Sanguine
    Originally Posted by -Sanguine-
    I feel it isn't right that he take his frustrations out on you and I'm sure he isn't trying to but you are the closest person to him and he probably feels you will love him no matter what.
    I think you're exactly right about this. Our whole relationship is based on unconditional love, so of course I won't stop loving him for a temporary thing. It doesn't mean it's right, but I can understand why he'd pick me to lash out at. He's not afraid of losing me. I'm not at the point yet where I'm forced to make it an option, but if this continued for months I might have to.

    Space is definitely what I'm trying to give him. To be honest, I'm a little mad about our last few conversations and some of the hurtful things he's said, but I'm trying to let them go for the sake of not being bitter when and if he does come to me. I know he'll talk to me soon. Maybe he still won't open up, but he's not the type to completely ignore me. I believe he does know I'm there for him, but I do need to assure him, though it's likely to somehow annoy him. I'll have to bite my tongue to avoid another argument with him. If nothing else, I believe I'm at fault for getting angry at his remarks and remaining angry instead of being able to remind myself that he doesn't mean them. But you're right. Space is good.


    @Suri

    These are wonderful tips, which I definitely will be trying to implement. You're right about them being tough things to do, though. I do try to walk away from the situation before I say something I'll regret. However, many times that involves ignoring his texts or insisting on getting off the phone, and his resistant reaction (being sad I'm ignoring his texts, saying I don't care because I want to end the call) makes me feel like I'm hurting him more than helping. I'm trying really hard not to blame myself. Like I said earlier, I KNOW we'll get through this. I just want to get through it with both of us being caused the least amount of pain possible and with him knowing in the end that I would do anything to help him.
    Last edited by EricaNicole; 05-30-2012 at 05:53 PM.

  8. #7
    Member Suri's Avatar
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    "However, many times that involves ignoring his texts or insisting on getting off the phone, and his resistant reaction (being sad I'm ignoring his texts, saying I don't care because I want to end the call) makes me feel like I'm hurting him more than helping."

    A way to make this easier to deal with is before you even get into an argument warn him that if he starts fighting with you or being insulting that you're not going to continue talking to him. Sometimes if he's pointing the finger at you he may not really even be angry at you, but just wanting to vent. Don't be too quick to get defensive. Arguments also often start that way. Just listen and wait for him to finish.

    It's going to be incredibly difficult for him since he looked up to his brother as his hero and now that vision is shattered before his eyes. He's going to have to find his own way of dealing with this. Someone he looked up to was convicted of murder. That's a huge deal. Just remember, that doesn't excuse how he treats you. Too many abusive relationships start and go on this way. Something bad happens to the man and because of it the women excuses everything he does. Don't fall into that trap.

  9. #8
    Bronze Member EricaNicole's Avatar
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    @Suri

    For the record, I believe with every fiber of my being that he would never lay a finger on me. Despite everything, I know he loves me just as much as I love him. We've been through enough wonderful times for me to be sure of that. I'm not worried about him becoming abusive, but I do see where you're coming from. I also realize that emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. The way in which he's been speaking to me is no where near emotional abuse level yet, and I can assure you I will not let it get that way. Though I'm trying to put my hurt aside, I'm not the type to let myself be treated as a doormat. In the past, he's always been the type to consider our arguments and then come back and genuinely apologize, which is one of the things I love most about him. He has plenty of pride, but it's never been enough to prevent him from apologizing. However, I don't think he's ever been through something so damaging.

    His brother plans to appeal, and I think that's giving my boyfriend some hope. I'm not just saying this because I'm biased, but there were a lot of things that were unfair about the trial, such as the fact that the DA had him sit in jail since summer of 09 while they attempted to scrape up evidence, and then as soon as his brother got a new lawyer, they hurried the trial along, not giving the new lawyer nearly enough time to prepare. Regardless, I know it would brighten my boyfriend's spirits if he got a lesser charge.

    However, the problem this is causing with the relationship goes way beyond this particular situation. I'm worried about future tragedies that we will undoubtly experience if we are able to keep our relationship strong in the long run as we've always talked about. I feel like it's crucial that I learn what to do and not do for him in times like these so that when something tragic happens in the future we won't have to go through this again.

    Also, I appreciate you acknowledging in your previous post that I'm obviously understanding about the whole thing. The last thing in the world I want is to come off as selfish.

  10. #9
    Bronze Member jimmyh's Avatar
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    EricaNicole, I fully agree with Suri's advice.

    What I understand about your boyfriend. His brother was everything for him before you came along. Both brother and father. Now everything came crushing down on him once he found out what happened.

    Why is he so cold/angry to you? We may not judge his brother, but he is. He's hurt that his brother did that and takes it on you. See why is Suri right? You should not stay to take the blame for him. He needs time and space to come to terms with that. To replace the old idealized image of his brother with what is there. In this time it is dangerous for you if he opens up to you about the brother. Because you could say something nice and he could take it the wrong way. And he won't be able to forgive you for that a long time. So, patience, time, space. Your discreet presence. And pay attention to what he tells you. Because he might not tell you all, but he says things that warn you about what is wrong. You could post some on the forum, see if other people can read him.

    You say you don't know much about his brother. That's something you will have to change in time (I don't think now is the best time). He resents you for that. I can see it going in his mind. "Why can't she leave me alone? What does she know?"

  11. #10
    Bronze Member jimmyh's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EricaNicole
    @Suri
    For the record, I believe with every fiber of my being that he would never lay a finger on me.
    What suri is telling you is how to prevent a good man from going bad. Please pay attention to her. Self-defense is not selfish. Selfish is to give in and let him have his tantrum (however entitled to it he is). An abusive relationship will hurt you both. Be tactful, and think carefully. You are fighting for your future and his. His brother is the bright light in his past and he can't let go of that easily. Don't worry about future tragedies. If he can go through this, he'll go through a lot more. Also, try get his friends (the good ones) to help.

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