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Emotional Distress.


goldenkey

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My boyfriend and I have known each other for years upon years. We currently live together and I know one day we are going to get married. But, I need advice on a few things.

 

He constantly is on the internet and on his phone texting. First, this girl that was in his elementary class before he moved found him on facebook about a month ago. Ever since they have been talking. I know nothing is going on but it still bothers me how much they talk. I also found it odd that she found him while looking through an old yearbook from elementary school. That all bothers me. He talks to her on the internet every day and texts her every day. I don't mind that they talk but when I ask him to spend time with just me as in watching a movie, he texts throughout the movie. And it's not just her that he texts. It's others as well. But he is getting annoyed with me asking who it is he is texting. But I'm just getting fed up with it. Last week, we were watching movies and he would not stop texting throughout the movie. I asked him to stop and he would get annoyed. At two o'clock in the morning, I was annoyed that he would be texting someone at such a time so I asked him who he was texting. He refused to tell me. He says I should just trust him. He called me nosy and so on.

 

I feel like I am getting nosier. I do trust him. It's the other people I don't trust. And I hate that he refuses to put the phone down and just spend quality time with me. All I ask for is SOME quality time.

 

Please, tell me what you think about the situation. Ask questions if you wish. Just please give me advice on what I should do to get him to open up to me and want to spend some alone time with me. And what to do to let him know that I'm not trying to be nosy and irritating.

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You can't force him to do anything. He is clearly making his choice..everyone else is a priority but you are not. As for trusting him and not trusting anyone else...I think your trust is misplaced. He is avoiding closeness with you by putting texting everyone else first. He is the one engaging in daily texts with this other woman...he is making the choice to do that rather than have his mind totally focused on you. His mind is more focused on her than it is on you. He is with you physically but not emotionally. You are playing second fiddle to everyone else in his life. The two choices you have are 1) accept it or 2) end the relationship...because clearly he is not interested in modifying his behaviour.

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I would find this very annoying. But then I'm always nosey when my partner gets a text or phone call, or is typing on his pc. I always asks him who loves him. Sometimes I even ask what there talking about, mostly because I'm bored.

 

But textes at 2am.. and texting through movies?

 

This is very childish, but ever thought of getting a friend.. or a male friend to be texting you constantly? even at 2am. Then telling him he's being nosey when he'll ask. He wouldn't like the fact you won't tell him.

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I understand how completely stubborn he is being. I don't really expect him to completely change but I do want him to do little things to make things better. Simple things like not texting while we are watching a movie together. And it's not just her he is talking to. But I don't always know who he is talking to.

 

And I have thought of texting my friends more and all the time but I don't like doing things that I don't like being done to me.

 

I don't want to lose him in any way. He can be the total sweetheart. He just chooses not to be at times when it could be so easy. I love him to death. So what can I do to let him know exactly how I feel without being irritating and nosy? What can I do to get him to understand and perhaps do something about it?

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The only thing you can do is tell him it hurts you when he is with you but spends the time texting others rather than talking to you. Tell him you like to spend quality time with him..that you understand he needs time to interact with others..but that when you are with him eating dinner or watching TV it hurts that your attention is focused on communicating with other people rather than with you. He will probably get defensive and make you feel guilty and wrong..that is because he doesn't want to change. People like that do not care...he is indeed putting emotional distance between the two of you and getting angry at you in order to shut you up so that he can continue doing what he wants. If you can't get through to him now, this is what your marriage will be like..even worse.

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Sounds to me like he is engaging in an emotional affair. Basically he is investing emotional energy in a relationship other than his primary one. Guys will excuse this behavior saying "we're just friends" or "it isn't physical", but it is a very real relationship and it can damage your relationship with him.

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I do trust him.

 

Why? He's acting like a jerk. I wouldn't trust someone who places such little weight on my emotional well being, on developing a relationship with me, or in creating mutually satisfactory boundaries around our relationship.

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This really helped me and I thought maybe it could you:

 

3 Signs of A Committed Relationship

1. They Care About How You Feel

Trust me. It's really difficult to find someone who is willing to put themselves before you in this modern world. You could say that these selfless people are really rare but still, they can still be found.

When your partner is committed to the relationship, he or she will put your feelings as one of the considerations most of the time, if not always. They will never want to make you feel uncomfortable or feel uneasy unless they really have little choice.

Take for example, inviting you to their company's 'dinner and dance' even though they know you feel uncomfortable meeting new people. Hey, it's a way of showing you that they are really committed to this relationship when they start introducing you to their colleagues or superiors.

2. They Will Do Whatever It Takes To Make You Feel Loved

Again, these rare breed of people do not mind going the extra mile just to make your heart melt. If you're a female, they will not mind walking into florists and buying you a rose or two, or even invite you to a candle-lit dinner.

It could even be a simple gesture of buying you small gifts every week, or treating you to a simple dinner every weekend.

I do know of some boyfriends or husbands who even shop lingeries for their wives. It may sound uncomfortable to the Asian countries but that is an act of showing how important the female is towards them. And the truth is that it does take a high level of courage to even walk into a female lingerie shop in the first place!

If you know that your partner has stepped out of their comfort zone (like visiting the lingerie shop) just to make you feel important or loved, you'll know that they are serious and committed in this relationship. Of course, this does not apply to those who has done that for their ex's!

3. They Are Honest With You

It could be them being honest with you in terms of their feelings or even what they are thinking. Honesty is the best policy. It builds trust and credibility between couples. In fact, according to a survey done on couples, honesty is one of the top characteristics people want in their partner, besides kindness, respect, compatibility, and humor.

If they are having a tough day at work, they will let you know. If they are upset because of something you said, they would tell you in a nice way because they want to improve the relationship that the both of you share, instead of breaking it even further.

Now, what they say might not be what you want to hear so they might make you feel hurt or think that they are being unreasonable. But what they say is definitely something that you need to hear if you want to develop the relationship based on a common understanding.

Summary

So there you have it, the 3 Signs Of a Committed Relationship are...

1. They Care About How You Feel - And they will never want you to feel uncomfortable 2. They Will Do Whatever It Takes To Make You Feel Loved - And they do not mind going the extra mile just for you 3. They Are Honest With You - Because they want to develop this relationship even further.

 

Emotional Safety

Emotional safety has to do with three things. First is the belief that your partner accepts you and trusts you and that you accept and trust your partner (I am OK and my partner is OK). The more accepted and valued by your partner you feel, the more you are in the safe zone emotionally because your sense of self is intact. However, if you feel that your partner believes something negative about you, your sense of self may suffer and you will feel emotionally unsafe. The same goes for your partner. If you think something negative about him or her, their self-esteem will likely suffer as well and they will feel emotionally unsafe with you.

 

The second thing you need is good self-esteem (I am OK). If you feel that you are lovable and adequate, your self-esteem will generally be pretty high and you will feel entitled to receiving love and care in your relationship. If you don't feel good about yourself you will be wondering how your partner could possibly care about you. Both you and the relationship will feel insecure, which will lead to you feeling emotionally unsafe a majority of the time, which contributes to a lot of arguments and/or a lack of intimacy.

 

The third thing you need for emotional safety is a secure relationship. That means that there are no threats to how loved and cared about you feel by your partner. This includes anything that could affect your relationship security such as feeling that your partner is not making enough of an effort to nurture the relationship, or more obviously the threat of an affair, or one person threatening to leave the relationship.

 

Most things couples fight about have emotional safety as the underlying concern. But they don't know that is what it's about. So they get stuck on topics such as the bills, the housework, the kids and so on. If my husband seems to be putting a lot more effort into work and hobbies than into our relationship, and I experience our relationship as insecure, I will do different things depending on how I generally feel about him, myself, and the relationship. Here are a few examples of how I can respond to feeling emotionally unsafe in this scenario...

 

1) If I feel that I am worthy of his time and attention (I am OK) and feel pretty sure that he cares (the relationship is secure), then I will let him know I'm concerned about our connection and would like more time together. So even if I feel the relationship is insecure right now, I'm still feeling generally OK about myself (I am lovable and adequate) and OK about him too (I trust him, and I can give him the benefit of the doubt). Now I am able to talk to him about the lack of effort I sense in a way that he can likely hear me and respond well.

 

2) If I feel (unconsciously) that I am somehow not worthy of his time and attention (I am not OK) OR that he really may not care about me all that much (the relationship is insecure), I will be feeling really emotionally unsafe. I won't feel entitled to ask for the connection to be repaired (I am unlovable, I am not entitled to love and care), and I won't likely be able to give him the benefit of the doubt either (He is not someone I can accept or trust). When I approach him it will probably sound blaming and critical. And he's not going to be able to figure out that I really don't want to fight, I just want him to be more engaged with me. He won't hear my implicit message, "I'm lonely! Let's spend more quality time together!" and he won't know that I am sad and feeling unsafe about the disconnection. He's going to hear, "You are a bad husband! You are failing me!" and what will usually happen is that his self-esteem will take a hit, he will feel a sense of shame, and now he must defend himself from feeling bad, at the expense of repairing the relationship. We will likely jump right into a negative cycle of me pursuing for closeness in a way that feels like an attack on him and him distancing to protect himself.

However, this is not foolproof. It's not necessarily as simple as how I approach him or how nicely I tell him I don't feel important to him. Whether my husband can really respond in a way that puts the relationship back on solid ground depends a lot of how he feels about himself, me, and the relationship. If he feels he is still OK even though I seem unhappy, and he doesn't start thinking he's a bad husband, then he might tune in and ask how he can make it better. But, another very likely response is that my being unhappy in general triggers his shame and he suddenly feels he isn't OK. Instead of him being able to stay with his shame and still be able to hear me, he may withdraw from the conversation because he's feeling unsafe or he may counterattack and let me know just how much I too am not measuring up in the relationship! So we may still jump into the negative cycle if my husband is sensitive to anything that may trigger his shame. This could be because he had extremely critical parents or perhaps when he was a child and he needed something, his parents shamed him for it or he has just been exposed to many repeated experiences in which he felt bad or defective. Now when another person has needs, he gets angry and thinks they are weak. He obviously won't be able to respond well if that's been his experience with relationship needs. Either way, I can say as sweet as pie that I am not feeling cared about and he may still get defensive or cut off connection all together. Either way intimacy in the relationship will suffer.

 

3) If many instances like the one above keep happening without repair, I may feel like the situation is hopeless and stop reaching out at all. I will try to distract myself from the unsafety in the relationship by throwing myself into hobbies of my own, or focusing on my friends, or by responding to that flirty guy at work because he's giving me the attention I'm craving.

 

We aren't critical because we are bad people. We do it because it feels safer to blame than to let ourselves be vulnerable and talk about our emotional needs (and also because talking like this was probably never modeled for us). And we don't get defensive because we are bad people. But we hear our partner's criticisms as an attack on our person and we will do whatever we can to not feel the sense of inadequacy and shame our partner triggers in us. And it's not only words we need to worry about. We send messages about how we feel about our loved ones through our tone of voice, body language, rolling our eyes etc.

 

Hopefully I will never get to scenario number 3, because I will realize that I am a good person, my husband is a good person, and that we have a pretty good relationship that is worth saving. So I will find a good couples counselor and work on getting out of this negative pattern. This will likely consist of both of us addressing any self-esteem issues we may be bringing into the relationship, and identifying any triggers or sensitivities that we have. Often these sensitivities come from childhood so if we can explore what we are carrying from the past then we can help our partner really understand and empathize with us. Without understanding some of our partner's behaviors and responses, it's extremely easy for him to see me as a nag and it's very easy for me to think he just doesn't care.

 

It's our job to identify and manage our own triggers, but it's our partners job to help us with that job. But we can't help each other if we don't know what we are really fighting about. It's also our job to work on our self-esteem, but our partner can also help us with that job. Even if we come into the relationship with a shaky sense of self, our relationship has the opportunity to become a safe and healing place where we feel loved and cared about and completely whole, perhaps for the first time. Unfortunately, many couples get into a negative cycle which can last for years, which damages the relationship and fills it with resentment. This sort of relationship is an unsafe place for the majority of the time.

 

If this is happening to you in your relationship, and you can't get out of the negative cycle on your own, a good couples counselor can help you make your relationship a safe and secure place.

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