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I Could Really Use Some Help on this One ...


Ms Darcy

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Hi,

 

First time poster here.

 

My bf and I have been dating for three months. We became official last month. When we started dating, he'd been out of his previous seven month relationship for only three weeks so we tried to take it slow.

 

He's a wonderful guy. Very emotionally available, attentive, considerate, and affectionate. He's a challenge too in that he's very emotional at times, a little harsh and critical, and insecure at times. He's 35, divorced with kids, and plenty of emotional baggage from being left by women a lot. I'm 27. I have my faults too. I tend to withdraw when confronted or when I'm afraid and crawl off to a corner to think. (I'm an INFJ personality if that means anything).

 

Lately, he'd been bringing up his most recent ex a lot. Lots of memories of her while we are together. I think it really got to me when he indicated that he wasn't over her. I suppose it hasn't been enough time, but I wondered how long I should wait. With his talk about her, I was beginning to feel like second best. I thought the best way to handle it would be to retreat a little and let him figure out what he wants. The thought broke my heart, but I reacted out of emotion (thought outwardly calmly).

 

Easier said than done. Below is an edited version of a conversation where I now realize I didn't take the right approach (aka to talk to him calmly and directly about what was going on with me). I had been afraid to talk because I didn't want to be labeled the jealous gf. I was afraid, however, of being stuck in a relationship with a man who would always love someone else. Here's the [edited] convo:

 

 

Me: Why are you unhappy?

Him: Because you are even more independent from me ~not interested in seeing me~ than you were before the silence. (I didn't return his calls for one day.)

Me: I am interested in you.

Me: When I want to work on 'us' I work on me so I have more to bring to the plate.

Him: Well, don't work on "us" too hard.

Me: I have no guarantee that you will ever move on from your ex and as we figure things out, I don't want to put any carts before any horses.

Me: That's how I interpret taking it slow

Him: The less you invest, the safer you'll be.

Him: You see long-term questions about me moving on from my ex as the big reason to take it slow? I see a lot of things more immediate than that.

Him: If we can't even find a mutually acceptable time to get together, I don't think you need to worry about me moving on from my ex

Him: I feel like we are back to the first week of dating

Him: If you turn down too many dates, you might not get asked for any more.

Him: I felt very taken for granted when you said you "always have" your boyfriend.

Me: Thank you for sharing that with me. That was hard and brave.

Me: I didn't realize you felt that way and I understand where that comes from.

Me: To me it means that I carry you with me all the time. I feel like you are with me when I'm just doing things just like you feel your angel is around.

Him: Well you might find yourself carrying me with you when I'm gone.

Me: OK I hear it. It's amazing how feeling taken for granted will make someone feel. It's understandable.

Me: I felt taken for granted when we discussed your feelings about your previous relationship.

Me: As if, wow, all this time together and all this talking, doesn't it matter as much to him as it does to me?

Me: At the same time, I understood that it wasn't that you were trying to hurt me. You were being honest with me and trying to tell me how you feel.

Me: And thus, I took the hurt and thought, well, what can I do to be productive and positive?

Me: And then I had this day today alone and it was very lovely. But it was lovely, especially, talking to you.

Him: Why is it that I am talking about a feeling I had an hour ago and you are talking about feelings you had two days ago...two days you have kept silence?

Me: Oh no, I thought I had expressed it that evening - that it wasn't easy for me to hear and that there might be an inclination to take a step back but that I did feel closer after the conversation.

Him: Well, it seems it was more than "might be an inclination to" step back

Him: Maybe that was intended as a warning, but I didn't see it that way.

Me: Ah, yes.

Him: The next day, you just stopped taking my calls and disappeared.

Him: So I gave you your 24 hours, as you have requested I do

Him: But I told you on messages how I felt about it

Him: Then you cancelled our date tonight

Him: And said you don't want me there tomorrow (We didn't have plans tomorrow.)

Him: And Sunday you were making plans with Joe (I wanted to spend time with both him and my friend at two different times that day.)

Me: I understand how you feel.

Him: So like I said, call me when you have time for me again

Me: In total, it doesn't sound so good.

Me: it sounds like cancelling tonight really hurt.

Me: I'm sorry for that.

Him: not just canceling. Telling me you didn't want me there. period.

Me: I hear you. That doesn't feel good.

Me: I don't think I would be happy planning on seeing you and having plans change.

Him: Well, I need to learn independence. So let me know when I'm allowed over to finish your work, and then I'll leave you your keys and parking pass.

Me: I think I was considering tonight my 'last' night of being alone before my new roommate moves in.

Me: What is it that you are indicating?

Him: That I am leaving the ball in your court.

Him: I need sleep. So do you. Go take your bath and get some rest.

 

A. I'm not sure if he broke up with me there. Is that so?

B. If not, should I let him cool off a few days and then sit down and talk?

 

I guess this boils down to what I want. What I want is the assurance that we really could have a future. Up to this point, we'd done a good job hammering out differences through conversation. But this is the first time he's ever said something like this. Any advice would be appreciated and feel free to PM me please!

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Thank you DN.

 

I do want to be with him. I do care. I'm not an "I love you" or call all the time or see each other all the time type, but I care very deeply. I ask him all the time if he feels cared for and welcomed with me. I give lots of hugs and kisses and tell him he means a lot to me. I especially mention how proud I am of his improvements, personal and professional. I also think it's hard on him when I say the word 'independent' because he thinks it means I don't need him.

 

Should I try to call him tomorrow and talk?

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When I read that transcript I felt he was hurt at you not wanting spend time with him but your responses were "I hear you" and "I understand" which is passive and not saying that you do want to be with him. It's not turning him away exactly but it also isn't welcoming him either.

 

There is a difference between independent meaning "I am fine on my own" and independent meaning "I am fine on my own but most of the time I prefer being with you".

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There is fault on both sides here and I don't get the feeling that he is acknowledging how hurtful it is to you that he still has feelings for his ex. It sounds to me like he runs from one relationship to the next...3 weeks after one relationship ends he is with you. Well of course he didn't get over his last relationship...he just transferred over feelings. I have to wonder if you could have been any Jane Doe and the you backing off has more to do with his neediness and needing someone around rather than who you are as a person. On the other hand I think you were wrong to back off with no explanation..but you do have a right to be hurt that you are investing time with him and his heart is not with you. There seems to be miscommunication in that exchange where the minutae are being picked over while the much bigger issue is being glossed over. The big issue is that until he is over his ex the two of you can't have a real honest to goodness relationship because he is just forcing himself to be with someone in order to mask his pain from the other relationship.

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Thank you CAD, this is such a great post. You have really captured both sides here.

 

In fact, it was only a few days ago that he communicated that he's really starting to have hope about us. He also said that he was starting to fall in love with me. Lastly, he is realizing that if I was not in life, it would be a real loss.

 

What you say is hard but necessary to hear. No one likes to feel like the rebound. I certainly don't know what the future holds. I am at the point where I do believe he needs to acknowledge my feelings and figure out what he wants. Does he want to go back to her and try again? Does he need to be alone for a while? Does he want to be with me?

 

He, in general, has a really hard time letting go of exes. He still speaks weekly to his alcoholic ex-gf and speaks with hate about his ex-wife. At the same time, I do know he's also the type to really reveal the disturbing stuff about himself when he feels the most close to you. And I'm sympathetic to that. So, I'm torn. I don't want to abandon him, as he has abandonment issues. But this is not going to be a healthy relationship if he doesn't come to me with a truly open heart not rewinding the tapes of the past.

 

In our moments, when we live in the present and just enjoy each other, I truly feel like we can have something special.

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It is possible that he is not over his ex - but he may also be wary of being hurt again and those feelings can really only go away when he trusts that you are not going to do that. Pulling away from him is giving him the idea that you will and so it really should be a counter-intuitive thing to do.

 

The problem is that people on here can't advise him - only you. Apportioning blame may make you feel better but can't move anything forward.

 

Someone has to start the process and if you want this man I suggest it be you because unless he does it on his own or is also seeking advice on a forum - it isn't going to happen because he clearly isn't a man who will chase after a woman who is backing away.

 

It may be that this has been too much too soon - but you can't alter a fact in the past. All you can do is try to move things in the direction you want to go - or give up. Try to be positive and beware concentrating too much on the negative.

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Excellent post DN. Thank you so much for caring.

 

Boy, it has been a night of thinking and thinking!

 

I hear what you are saying about being positive. I want to start off the day with being positive about him:

 

He does all these little clumsy things to show me that he cares. He has 800 home improvement projects around my house that he is nowhere near finishing because he wants to make my home more comfortable for me. He offers me rides to and from work a lot. He is very smart and we can talk for hours on all sorts of topics. He can be very resolute about his beliefs, which is very comforting because we agree on many core values. He's an introvert, but he does a great job being social when we go out. He is always looking to improve our relationship and suggested reading "The Five Love Languages" together. He loves to cuddle. He loves my sense of humor and playfulness, since he can be so serious all the time; it really opens up his geekily boyish side. And he misses and loves his kids so much. He's really a great dad.

 

And I think the fact he's been hurt and abandoned a lot (he father abused his mom then his parents divorced then he was abused by an acquaintance) has understandably led him to believe that 'hope' is a four letter word. I realize that I'm the one who needs to make the change here ... who needs to get this process going in a positive direction.

 

I do want this man.

 

I am thinking that I will call him tonight (after his kids leave) and ask him if he can meet up with me. I would like to be as positive and light in tone, yet honest, as I can be. I need to tell him that:

 

-I understand how he felt hurt and abandoned after me backing away a little.

-I am sorry and explain that I do care very much.

-I want a long term relationship with him where we see each other and talk on the phone often.

-I know he has been hurt in the past, but that I am hopeful we can work together.

-I would like to explain why I backed off a little.

-It was not to reject him but to protect myself from rejection.

-Hearing all the comments in the past few days made me realize there are feelings for the ex.

-I felt like the third person in the room where you were not present with me but rather lost in memories of her thus opportunities for connection were lost.

-I would like to work together towards a solution where we can both trust each other not to run ie figuring out number of nights together and doing more activities while together.

-I would also like to work together on giving each other space (so he can work through his past and I can get alone time )

-Ultimately, I need a man who comes to me with an open heart, avoiding comparisons, who knows me and wants me anyways!

 

Just preliminary thoughts. What a gift this site is and you all are!!!

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Ok - here is how to possibly turn a negative into a positive:

 

You know he has feelings for his ex. That could be a negative if you think it means he wants her more than you.

 

Are you sure that he does? Or are you projecting?

 

What you do know is that he is capable of loving, that his feelings of love are not transitory, that they don't fade away easily but also that he can walk away - he can deal with them.

 

Is it possible to love someone after loving someone else? Yes, of course it is.

 

Does it mean that he compares you to her? Perhaps- but probably not. And even if he does, it could be that you stand the comparison more favourably - because you haven't hurt him as she has. Not as much anyway and if you have it is repairable.

 

Was it too soon? Perhaps. But if he was attracted to you despite being hurt - that says a lot. Not all second relationships are rebounds - don't fall for that fallacy. Many second relationships succeed and there is no reason why this one should not.

 

So yes, call him and say those things. But not too intensely - keep it lighthearted as well or it becomes a drama rather than a romance.

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I agree with DN that you should not have backed away. You should have explained to him how you are feeling. The time to back away is only when a person has given it their best shot and has communicated their feelings clearly but with compassion and kindness and the desire to work things through. You didn't really give it your best shot in that regard...you just backed away leaving him to wonder what's going on, thus feeding into all of his insecurities. On the other hand, I would caution you to be very careful...rebound relationships happen because the rebounder is very good at faking it to their new partner. In other words, they do all the right things, speak the right words of love, do all the attentive things that is required in a relationship....but the key thing that is missing is the deep down feelings for the new person...because those feelings are still tied with the ex. I see so many posts on this forum where reboundees are blindsided because the rebounder was so so good at showing the loving actions and speaking the loving words..but what was really going on inside the heart was a whole other matter. That is why I never bought into the refrain that people often say on this forum, something about "love is actions"...because love can't simply be summed up as actions. Love is not only actions, it is feelings as well. Actions without feelings is not love any more than feelings without actions is healthy love. You need both of those combined to have a healthy love. This guy may be showing you actions but his feelings are still elsewhere. He needs to first let go of the past before you have any kind of healthy relationship...otherwise he is just acting the part rather than living the part.

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I may have a differing opinion here, but if you are not any of the above

 

-married

-have kids together

-living together

 

Than if there is a day where you don't talk to eachother - a 24 hour period - sometimes that is just life happening. I think that he took it differently because you declared you were stepping away - but if a gal can't have a night alone at her apartment once in awhile, etc, then isn't that a little clingy on his part?

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Thanks DN.

 

Great points. I don't know if he wants her exactly. I think that it's more so that he misses her, around now it would have been their one year anniversary, and he regrets being so emotional and moody that she dumped him. He's fairly marriage minded and they had both agreed that one year was long enough to decide whether or not to get married. Although he says that things wouldn't have worked out because they had a lot of communication conflict (despite saying that when they got along, they along fabulously), he may be thinking about a marriage with her.

 

More importantly, I should stop thinking about that because that doesn't help me stay positive. I like the idea of this as a second relationship. And I think that he is developing feelings, as he said a few days ago, it has just taken a bit longer because of processing the previous relationship.

 

I do agree I was definitely projecting some fear. It was hard to hear that she, though not at all attractive objectively, was very attractive to him and that she had a smile that lit up the room. OK, I need to get myself off this path ... it makes me feel like his heart is there and not here with me.

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I hear your point. He would be perfectly happy to talk 4-5 times a day on the phone if he could and see each other 4 nights a week.

 

So, yes, he does like more time together than I would want at this point in a relationship.

 

I just get the sense that he doesn't give himself enough of a chance to miss me, to process the past relationship, to grow, and to develop true feelings for me as a unique individual.

 

I missed him incredibly yesterday and I thought about him a lot. But it's like that is a state he can't stand (not talking for 24 hours.)

 

He's gotten better, but you still make a fair point.

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I just get the sense that he doesn't give himself enough of a chance to miss me, to process the past relationship, to grow, and to develop true feelings for me as a unique individual.

 

I think it is generally a mistake to project onto someone else feelings, practices and emotions that you feel yourself. He is who he is and act, reacts and feels as his own emotions, rationality and impulses guide him. The fact those may not be the same as yours doesn't mean they may be divisive - they may be complementary.
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I hear your point. He would be perfectly happy to talk 4-5 times a day on the phone if he could and see each other 4 nights a week.

 

So, yes, he does like more time together than I would want at this point in a relationship.

 

I just get the sense that he doesn't give himself enough of a chance to miss me, to process the past relationship, to grow, and to develop true feelings for me as a unique individual.

 

I missed him incredibly yesterday and I thought about him a lot. But it's like that is a state he can't stand (not talking for 24 hours.)

 

He's gotten better, but you still make a fair point.

 

If you are seeing someone I don't think there is anything wrong with talking every day. It doesn't have to be long conversations every day but it is nice to touch base with the person. When you are comfortable with someone then you are comfortable not having to chatter for hours, but just a phone call to say hi is nice. Perhaps there needs to be a happy medium between his expectations and yours.

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I think it is generally a mistake to project onto someone else feelings, practices and emotions that you feel yourself. He is who he is and act, reacts and feels as his own emotions, rationality and impulses guide him. The fact those may not be the same as yours doesn't mean they may be divisive - they may be complementary.

 

True. You are right. :splat: I should say that a little space is good for me. I get energy being alone and it makes me more excited to see him if we get a little time to ourselves.

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True. You are right. :splat: I should say that a little space is good for me. I get energy being alone and it makes me more excited to see him if we get a little time to ourselves.
And that's fine and legitimate. So you can ask for that for yourself - but don't say it will be beneficial for him as well because it isn't your place to tell him what is good for him. There is no reason why you can't ask for compromise in a relationship - but make sure you appreciate the fact that you are asking him to give you something and don't devalue his agreement by pretending it is for him as well.
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If you are seeing someone I don't think there is anything wrong with talking every day. It doesn't have to be long conversations every day but it is nice to touch base with the person. When you are comfortable with someone then you are comfortable not having to chatter for hours, but just a phone call to say hi is nice. Perhaps there needs to be a happy medium between his expectations and yours.

 

It's so interesting because I think I appear aloof and overly independent (as in I don't need you) in this relationship. It's such a turn-around from my two previous relationships where I was called overly emotional and clingy. I worked so hard to be more independent (as in ok with being alone) that I might have gone a little bit far.

 

I know I make it sound like I don't need him and that's not good. I'm realizing that I am having a hard time really opening up because I am afraid of getting hurt. I do open up a little, then he does, then he says something that makes me fear being rejected, then I close up again. I would love to get to the point in the relationship where we talk often and see other lots and we have a loving relationship. I'm hoping we can work together to figure out how to facilitate that.

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Yes and I will keep you guys posted. Staying positive and planning on trying to talk tonight. I am going to ask him to come over so we can sit down face to face.

 

I'm sure he's been thinking as I have. I just hope he doesn't consider us broken up! (Are we?)

 

I will try to consider us at the point of needing to make a significant change.

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