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Boyfriend had a huge go at me and it has damaged our relationship. Help?


simplethings

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For the past 9 months I have been caring for a terminally ill family member. I met my now boyfriend 2 months into the illness & when he expressed wanting to be in relationship with me (we had been casually dating) I told him it mean accepting things might be difficult for a while. Was he ready to be with someone undergoing those issues? He said yes and even said that being with him could be my 'haven' away from harder times. I had doubts but liked him so much I wanted to give it a go.

 

Generally my boyfriend has been wonderful over this period but we hit a stumbling block in November. My ill family member's condition was worsening around this time and I was all over the place emotionally - my boyfriend said I was 'taking a tone with him' over the phone and angrily tell me I was acting 'distant'. That tone was nothing more than sadness/my reaction to whatever was happening. I said I felt he was being very unsupportive and didn't feel I could continue if he was going to remain being this way with me. I asked for his love and support - he said he'd try. When my relative died a few weeks later my boyfriend was there during the funeral/immediately after. But very shortly after I would be taking that 'tone' with him on the phone again (obviously I sounded sad on the phone + he was taking it personally) and I felt like his support was diminishing.

 

After a couple of weeks of feeling he no longer had any interest in me sexually, I asked him about it and he blew up about a huge range of things that had happened over a period of months. He said he felt everything was about my 'needs', criticised times when I hadn't 'offered to do the dishes' after he'd cooked me a meal and or when I hadn't thanked him for tidying my flat. These were things I had overlooked at a time when I was consumed with the fact I was about to lose one of the people I will cherish for the rest of my life - and here he was having a go at me for things like dishes and my tone of voice. I explained I had done my best. Since then things haven't really picked up in the bedroom at all. We have had some nice times together over the festive period but I still feel a coolness from him. And now I feel like he only ever gave to receive. What can I do?

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Aside from the dishes thing etc he also started by saying 'well I know there are things you don't like about me...' and basically went on to list my faults. That might be true but I certainly would never bring them up like that and certainly not when I knew my partner was already in a place where they were struggling.

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You are absolutely correct in that he is the type who only gives expecting a return on his investment and when the return doesn't live up to his expectations or happen fast enough, he becomes bitter and angry. What can you do? What do you want to do? People show you who they are, especially during difficult times. He showed you very clearly who he is and what he is about. Do you like what you see and do you want to live with that? If not, then dump him. If yes, carry on. In your shoes, I'd tell him to take a hike, because what I'm seeing is just the tip of the iceberg, but I'm not you. You need to decide if this is the kind of person you can live with - a return on investment type that is.

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Hi, first of all I think you should relax. It would be a wonder if you are not stressed out to the maximum given your tale.

 

Secondly you should try to see things from a different perspective, try to look at how you communicated the last couple of months, just look at it try not to judge it even if you are getting angry or frustrated or sad. Could there be potential for misunderstanding? Could your own behavior be perceived as having a 'tone'? Could he have promised to support you with knowing, emotionally understanding, how much it will challenge him?

 

There are two more general thoughts I want to share with you.

 

I noticed that perception and intention often mismatch when people are in a emotionally excited state and even more so if they don't communicate face to face I.e. Phone or mail. It tremendously helps to be aware of this problem. As soon as I see unexpected behavior in the person I am talking to I try to get him to tell me what he made of my message. If there was a mismatch I can correct it as soon as possible.

 

I lost family members when I was a lot younger and all the sadness and emotional stress made me very very selfish because everyone had to just understand how sad is was. Can't you see how sad I am? Your dishes are of no interest to me! Can't you see I'm dealing with the very essence of our existence, with life or death issues? I didn't realize this until many years later and I am still silently ashamed how I did treat my girlfriend back then, never thankful, never understandings that my sadness hurt her too.

 

I sincerely hope you don't take this as an insult or now think you are the one to blame. I just want to recommend you to have a closer look at how he could have perceived all of this. You should try to talk in a calm and relaxed mood about the things that have happened but do not discuss the relationship itself. Doing so would only erode both of your trust into it further. If either one wants to end the relationship it does become apparent by itself, no need to cause further damage out of insecurity.

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The thing is that I don't feel I was 'selfish' about it. If you're struggling to give to another person because you are emotionally struggling I don't see how that can make you selfish- for me it just meant I couldn't cope with giving all my energy out to my sick family member and then have loads to give over to my boyfriend. But I think I did pretty good.

 

I still went out on dates with him when I didn't always feel like it. I put thought into gifts for him before Christmas (my family member died shortly before). On nights when he came in from work I cooked a meal I thought he'd like. When he cooked that meal for me two weeks after more relative had died I was struggling but I didn't't really show it. On the day he came over to cook me a meal that took most of the day I 'Mm'd' and 'Ah'd at the various cooking aromas, nuzzled his neck and told him how wonderful it all looked as he went and when it was finally ready couldn't have been more appreciative! To then hear him say 'you didn't appreciate what I did for you' made me feel hopeless because I feel i couldn't have done much more.

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Understandably, it was very hard for you. Can you possibly acknowledge that it might have been hard for him at times? You sound very set on being right, but it's not so much about right or wrong, he's expressing his feelings, and you won't have it. Maybe at the time you couldn't have done differently, but now, can you offer some understanding? "I'm beginning to realize that while it was hard for me, it must have also been hard for you at times." You two didn't have a strong history to draw from during stressful times, so from the start there was probably an unavoidable imbalance. Please reread Derpy's post, it makes some important points.

 

Maya Angelou has a fitting quote "You can be in pain without being a pain." Our actions, or the impressions we make, don't always fit our intentions, and we feel a need to defend our innocence, but being defensive is not usually the most fruitful choice. He misinterpreted your tone, did not read your emotions correctly, did not read your mind. But I don't know what I think of you turning it around on him not being supportive enough. Nuzzling and "mmm'ing" is not the same as saying Thank You. Maybe he is needy, maybe not, but the thing is NOW you can offer your appreciation if you truly appreciate what he did for you. Resentment, either yours or his, is very damaging to a relationship and it is worth attending to it.

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Have you ever had to care for a very sick relative? It's easy to read a post on the internet and look at what a person should've done - but caring for a sick person that you love/watching the sad deterioration while trying to uphold a job and a relationship is not easy. So in that scenario hearing someone continually criticising your tone on the phone pales in comparison. You and your loved ones and getting through this terrible time is at the fore out of your mind.He criticised my tone the day after the funeral - would you say that was supportive? Anyway when I said I felt he wAsn't being supportive I just wanted him to realise I wasn't myself. He'd get upset with me for forgetting things he was telling me as though I wasn't interested in him - in reality I was forgetting things at work as we'll and it was all a symptom of how I sometimes struggled. He never really gave me a break or leeway in that sense.

 

And I did thank him. He has expressed liking a lot of physical affection so that's what that was about. Since all of this the vibe has not been 100% what it was. But I don't know whether it's worth talking any further about it or not? He took a couple of days off work to come and see me last week and I included lots of thank yous and doing dishes in the visit! I talked a bit about my relative and he said he liked listening. We generally just had a chilled out time and didn't talk about the awful bust up we'd had before. Perhaps it's worth keeping it that way?

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Journey is a very wise woman. Maybe you should re-read her posts when you aren't so defensive.

 

And yes...people who take the time to post have suffered tragic loss as well. And have had that loss affect their relationships. Your pain/grief is not singular.

 

They/we have also taken ownership of how our pain has affected those closest to us. And no one deserves to be our emotional punching bag.

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Journey is a very wise woman. Maybe you should re-read her posts when you aren't so defensive.

 

And yes...people who take the time to post have suffered tragic loss as well. And have had that loss affect their relationships. Your pain/grief is not singular.

 

They/we have also taken ownership of how our pain has affected those closest to us. And no one deserves to be our emotional punching bag.

 

I don't mean to be defensive but I don't feel particularly understood either. My boyfriend was never my emotional punchbag - there were actually a couple of instances where I said 'this must be hard for you too - it's a lot to take on?' And opened up a space for him to talk about it. But he said ''oh no I'm fine' during these instances - then after everything had happened/after the death he angrily said 'It was hard for me too' as though I had never asked...

 

Grief/losing someone you love can be all-consuming. It'd be different if I had mistreated my boyfriend but that didn't happen. In the future I would never accept being an emotional punching bag nor would I behave that way toward anyone else. But if someone's tone is 'off' the in the future I'll be more likely to ask them if they are okay/how they are feeling than quietly seeth and take it personally.

 

How can you take ownership of pain? Pain is not something to apologise for. To be sad and mourn a great loss is awful and I empathise with anyone who has had to go through it. I wouldn't expect anyone to 'own up' to being sad as though it were shameful unless that person was unintentionally damaging other relationships as a result.

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Who said pain was shameful?

Owning our own pain means we feel it, express it appropriately. And realize that whatever support was offered by others is what is offered...and not to be judged.

 

It also means that we accept that we were empty...and no amount of support was going to change our inner landscape.

 

You are still defensive.

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Maybe he is frustrated and feels like his needs are not being met. He said its all about you and I don't think he was b**tching about the dishes-there was probably a hidden message there "I have done/do a lot for you but don't feel like its appreciated"

 

I know you are going through a tough time but hes still here. That says hes willing to stick it out through the good/bad and hes trying to stay strong for you

 

Maybe forget about what was said. Draw a line and focus on fixing it now. Go out together-plan a date night. Just have fun and try to reconnect. It takes two to make it work so if you don't want to lose him-realize that your grief has an impact on him too and hes also "doing the best he can" or you can drag this out and tear each other apart until you break up..

 

your choice

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I'll just add: you need to ask him if he still wants to be with you. I just re-read your OP and it sounds like he could be already on the way out. So ask him does he want to fix this or does he want out?

 

You got together at a stressful time. when my close relative died-we had been together 2 years so we were fairly solid and somehow managed to survive the storm thankfully but I doubt we would have got through it if wed only been together say 6months

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Your boyfriend feels unappreciated and unloved and that has severely damaged your attraction to you. If you feel that his concerns/feelings are invalid, perhaps you should rethink the relationship. Because, otherwise, mutual resentments will do their job and rot the relationship from the core until it dies.

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Boyfriend got involved in this situation knowing that at any given time your train was going to slide off of the track. The stress of having to take care of/lose a terminally ill relative is a very emotionally crippling experience. A person can go days, months, years in and out of painful spells, days and nights where you're ok and then it just hits you BOOM like a ton of bricks. In my opinion, a good partner has to be willing to adjust to those things and not play the blame game. It could happen to him. As long as you are dealing with your emotions as best as you can and have not taken it upon yourself to stop living that is all you can do. Things take time. If the loss was in November of last year and we are in January now, this is almost like it happened yesterday.

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I agree that it was hard for you for these last months, and even though he accepted your situation at first, he may now indeed feel like his needs are not met. He probably never meant to be angry with you, but had enough and just broke down so all the hell broke lose.

I also agree with others who say that you are a bit defensive now. I am sorry for your loss, hopefully it will get better with time. I took care of my sick friend for 9 months as well, and he did die too, in the end, funeral was in November too, 2 years ago, it is hard and it puts a lot of pressure on any relationship. I only got better when one year had passed. Just keep in mind that your BF tried his best to support you, for somebody in his situation. I think it was hard for him too to see that there is nothing he can do to make you feel better sometimes.

 

shelty24 said it right - have a serious talk with him, and ask him if he still wants to be together. No need to torture each other if you have such an issue now, instead of helping you to get over your loss, you will be even more stressed out because of your failing relationship with him. Better let go, if he has no interest and you feel unhappy.

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Have you ever had to care for a very sick relative? It's easy to read a post on the internet and look at what a person should've done - but caring for a sick person that you love/watching the sad deterioration while trying to uphold a job and a relationship is not easy.

 

Yes, I have. I'm sorry you have gone through this, I know it is difficult, and I'm sorry if I sounded unsympathetic. I was answering the question you asked which I took to be the intent of your original post:

 

What can I do?

 

You didn't ask what you should have done then, but now, right? I have been in your shoes, and I know how difficult and disorienting it is, and my husband at the time also misunderstood my mood and tone and took it personally. I didn't have the internal forewarning to ask for anything in particular from him, and he has not gone through the same thing. The potential for misunderstanding and hurt on both sides is great. Sure, I felt I was in the right, and he certainly did, too. But as partners we need to be willing to hear the other person, to let THEM be heard without our arguing with them. Basically we are talking about feelings, and there is no right or wrong there. To our benefit, I think, we had been together for decades, so had a greater foundation for getting past this misunderstanding. In your case, your relationship has been built during this stressful time, so your boyfriend may not know what is the long-term you, and what is a reflection of the situation. This is new for both of you.

 

The important question is the one you asked, what can you do now? (Not what you could have done then.) What do you want to do? What are you doing? What thoughts are you stuck on? What do you want to have happen?

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Your boyfriend went into this relationship with his eyes wide open. You were honest with him at the start that you were going through a difficult time & it was going to get worse before it would get better. He accepted that and knew exactly how the land lay. From reading through your post I don't think he is coping or is able to deal with it.

 

He is entitled to have his say, however he's not entitled to deliver his opinion in an abusive manner. Bottling up problems, issues for weeks at a time and then blowing his top at you is damaging to the relationship. He needs to address issues as and when they arise in a calm and respectful manner.

 

You are going through a painful, difficult time right now and you need positive people around you. What you don't need is someone throwing guilt into the mix. I think the issue with the dishes was nit picky, it was something over nothing and under the circumstances he should have just let it go.

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I feel your post has encapsulated how I'm feeling. The few people who were closest to him have been emotionally crippled for the most part - I warned my boyfriend about what was going on in my life as I knew it could be hard on him. I was most upset with him because I felt the blame game was being played - ad it was just little things I was forgetting to do here and there - or sounding down/distant on the phone. All of it a product of the massive life overhaul I was encountering. I am not saying my boyfriend's needs were unimportant - but if I am in his position in the future I hope I could be a more understanding partner.

 

It actually just happened in December. I seem to be okay most days but then other days I wake up and just think 'X is dead' and it feels fresh again. Also seem to be encountering a bit of memory loss - I'm going to be an imperfect partner while I'm still recovering.

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What do I want to do? A few things. I want to recover - I want to have space to mourn the loss of my relative while still living life as much as I can.

 

But I also want to see if my boyfriend and I can get through this. Regardless of some of the opinions I've received I almost felt that his outburst was unforgivable - I mean in my gut, there was about 10 minutes where I felt I wasn't willing to continue having been treated this way.

 

What am I doing? Well I've started doing/saying little things to show I do appreciate him. I have also looked into booking a nice break together - he is keen and looking into time off work.

 

I think you're right, it wasn't easy for either of us especially in such a young relationship. I'd like the outburst not to damage us beyond repair but I don't know if it's possible. I know things won't ever be as they were.

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I felt very let down. When we first got together he joked about having 'needy' tendencies - and let's face it, a needy partner doesn't go well with the opposite partner needing to fulfill the needs of another person for a period. If he had told me issues as we went along at least I could've tried to deal with them as they arose. All I can think is that 1) he doesn't have as much relationship experience as I do (he told me he always used to run away when conflict arose) and 2) he isn't perfect either and didn't go about it the right way.

 

One thing that struck me was I was having dinner with my best friend and she said 'you are an amazing person. Do you know how strong you've been?' - and my boyfriend hasn't said that to me.

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Look you are hurting right now-grieving. You either pull each other closer and deal with it together or push him out the door and do it alone. Blaming him for not knowing what to say or what to do is not helping this situation. Some people don't have the words you need to hear, sometimes men find if difficult to articulate their feelings-sometimes they find it hard to deal with complex emotions in the way you want him to. Especially if he has not dealt with this type of grief before.

 

It doesn't mean he doesn't care. He would not be with you if he didn't.

 

When I lost a close relative-a lot of it is a blur. All I know is I was v depressed-there were more bad days then good for a long time and hes still here. That is all that really matters. He stayed strong for me and for us when I was a mess. I don't care if he didn't have the right words at times or if he didn't fully understand. I know he loves me coz hes still lying beside me in bed right now. We survived that bump in the road and that is what its all about.

 

Make sure you are not taking your pain or anger out on him. He is doing the best he can. It really isn't easy for him. He isn't a mind reader. You can say to him "babe I am feeling sad today-can we get a DVD and just cuddle" but don't expect him to figure it out on his own or "I need to talk, I am having a bad day"

 

he may not know what to say but he can just hold your hand or cuddle you-there is nothing wrong with that.

 

But please stop with the blaming. I am assuming your friend is a woman? Women say those things a lot "your so strong" men don't.

 

I get he said some things you didn't want to hear and he said them the wrong way which made you defensive. You felt like you were being attacked by him. That is a communication issue and a sign that you both need to learn to communicate better.

 

Example: don't say "you are never hear for me" instead say "I really need some support right now. It avoids an argument and reinforces loving behavior that you want from him

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I just passed the one year anniversary of my mums death. Was feeling really down...called bf to see if we could get together Thurs night. By the end of the day...I just wanted to be alone. When he called, I told him that. He changed the subject... what was I having for dinner?

 

Told him probably order a pizza...he said "have it delivered to my(his) house and come over.

We ate the pizza...he spent the rest of the night making jokes about what was on TV...and held me all night. He never once mentioned my mother.

 

He dealt with it his way...by just being there. And it was perfect.

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I haven't read replies, only the first post.

 

I think this is a result of two people - no matter how well intentioned and lovely - beginning a relationship in the midst of a genuine crisis point in one of those people's lives.

 

People in that state, the state you were in when you got together, are not emotionally available for that. It's a totally different story when it is within an established relationship with some solid foundational times and events behind it. It's not even comparable IMO.

 

I think neither of you is wrong nor right; you both made a decision to go ahead anyways knowing the risks involved in starting at this place. You could have - either of you, both of you - chosen to wait . However, you didn't.

 

So I don't really think it would be fair for either one to start pointing fingers, though it is clear that is what is happening. As emotions and frustrations have been pushed down on his end, and you are in grief. Legitimate grief mode.

 

Maybe you two just need some space at this time while you mourn, and he accepts that you can't give him what he needs either at this time.

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Wise advice^^^^^. We did it the last month of my mother's illness, and continued for another 5 months. I simply was too drained to be in a relationship that had its own issues (seasonal depression)..However...the foundation was strong enough and we have rebuilt.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi everyone. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for all your varied feedback/advice.

 

It's been about two weeks since I last posted here and things have been better. We never discussed the topic again and I felt like we were gradually reconnecting. Thankfully my fear about not having space to grieve wasn't realised - I have had the space I need and sometimes do have very up and down weeks. There are times when I feel a bit like I'm 'faking' it - I don't always have the energy to make him dinner etc but sometimes push through and do it anyway. And seeing him happy is always a nice reward!

 

There are times when he says things that still make me think "he still just doesn't get it" - instead of exhausting myself trying to explain that my feelings are still raw I just get up and make coffee/go for a shower or something until my annoyed feelings blow over. I know he's not being not understanding out of malice but sometimes he just doesn't get it. I've noticed my dad act a similar way with my mum post-bereavement and found myself trying to explain the emotions to him/why it's so tough as well.

 

Anyway there has been a lot more love and respect floating between us lately - and while I don't think things are like they were before they won't be again. We'll just have to go down a different route/embark on a new kind of relationship I think. Time will tell how that will unfold I suppose.

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