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Boyfriend broke up with me due to work stress


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My boyfriend of 1 year became distant a few weeks ago. He is very overwhelmed with work right now (owns his own business). He asked for some space in order to sort things out. As we talked this through further, he broke up with me today stating that he can’t be in a relationship right now. I’m absolutely crushed. I really love him. I told him that I understand what he’s going through and that I can be there for him as he works through this, but his mind is very much made up to get through this alone. Our line of work is similar (I don’t work for him) and our paths will continue to cross, there’s no way around it — which is adding a layer of complexity to everything. It will be tough to go full NC.

 

Why is he doing this and why won’t he let me be there for him? Will he come back around after he’s had time to work through all the stress he’s enduring? This is all kind of sudden and my heart hurts so bad right now. I don’t know what to do and feel so much pain right now.

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18 minutes ago, -Crushed- said:

Why is he doing this and why won’t he let me be there for him? Will he come back around after he’s had time to work through all the stress he’s enduring? 

Sorry this is happening. How old is he? How are his finances? Does he live with his parents or have a place? 

He may feel like a "failure" and want to pull himself together without the stress of maintaining a relationship. All you can do is step back and give him space.

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Thanks for the reply, Wiseman2. Much appreciated. He is 51 and I’m 43. His finances are really good and his business is thriving. He is a little bit emotionally unavailable at times, but we’ve been able to work through this. I don’t understand why he won’t let me be there for him. There’s always going to be stressors in life, especially in his line of work. Why didn’t he believe in us enough to work through it together? You can’t just pull away from the relationship every time the going gets rough. Is he just not into me anymore? Is it possible there’s another woman?

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5 minutes ago, -Crushed- said:

He is 51 and I’m 43. His finances are really good and his business is thriving. You can’t just pull away from the relationship every time the going gets rough. Is he just not into me anymore? Is it possible there’s another woman?

Your insight is excellent. Couples pull and hang together during difficult times. Do you think he's losing interest? Have there  been differences in goals, values or arguing about anything? Has he withdrawn before?

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He has pulled away once before about 7 months in. I broke up with him and went NC for a month before him coming back to me proclaiming his love and stating that he’s never been a very good communicator. We really haven’t had any major arguments throughout our relationship aside from me wanting him to be a bit more emotional. He helped me work on a project that consumed 4 weekends just prior to him pulling away. At times, he was irritable during that project. Not sure if that was the beginning of him pulling away or us both just being exhausted from the time/work we were putting in. Is it possible that this was a precursor to him falling behind at work and now he has some resentment towards me for it? I didn’t think he was losing interest, but obviously he was.

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How can someone run their own business and not be a good communicator? That doesn't make sense. It's natural for a person not to want to be in a relationship or run hot and cold if they are struggling/not feeling good about themselves.

Use the distance and time apart to think through this carefully and decide whether you want a lifetime of issues and hardship or push/pull.

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Thanks for the response, Rose. He’s a great communicator in terms of the business world. What I meant by that is he’s not always a good communicator in our relationship. I definitely don’t want a lifetime of push/pull. Everything is just so raw right now. I’m kind of in shock and thought we’d find a way to work through this together, but he wants space. I will give him that, but it’s just so hard walking away from someone you love.

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8 minutes ago, -Crushed- said:

Thanks for the response, Rose. He’s a great communicator in terms of the business world. What I meant by that is he’s not always a good communicator in our relationship. I definitely don’t want a lifetime of push/pull. Everything is just so raw right now. I’m kind of in shock and thought we’d find a way to work through this together, but he wants space. I will give him that, but it’s just so hard walking away from someone you love.

I have a strong feeling he takes you forgranted and assumes that you'll always be there for him to go back to. To me this is emotional immaturity and dragging someone along when a person isn't ready for a relationship, assuming that they are or needing companionship without thinking of hurting anyone else in the process.

Any prior marriages? Is he married or divorced? 

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The question is do you want a life partner who pushes you away when he’s stressed? 
 

And if the answer is no, and reconciliation comes on the table later when he’s calmed down a bit, what is his plan to never push you away like that again? Don’t accept him back with him demonstrating that he has done some introspection on this and also wants it to never happen again. 
 

I’m so sorry you’re in this position now, people can love us and still totally abandon us. (And the trait of abandonment is a much bigger deal than the love, for that failure to stick together makes a poor foundation). 
 

You can use this pain as a catalyst for leveling up, what are the lessons? Has this shown you places you want to grow? Boundaries you didn’t know you had? What do you want to do and where do you want to go when you take the drivers seat in your own life?

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1a1a — Thanks for the thoughtful note, a lot of useful insight. I’ve already thought about if we ever get back together, I think I most definitely would have reservations — knowing this could all easily happen again down the road if things get rough for him. Couldn’t agree more about this not creating a solid foundation for the relationship. 
 

As this breakup is so fresh, I’m not sure what the lessons learned are yet. But I absolutely need to reflect on this and learn from it. There’s going to be a lot I need to think about and determine what the takeaways are from this experience. For starters, being with someone who is frequently emotionally unavailable needs to be something I recognize a lot earlier on. I think deep down I know I recognized it a lot earlier than I’m letting on, but chose to ignore it because I figured I could love him so much that he would change and open up more.
 

It’s so hard to envision my future right now because I’m in so much pain. But, I definitely want to determine how to put myself in the driver’s seat of my my own life. I went through a bad divorce about a year before I met my boyfriend. Perhaps that just wasn’t enough time and I was willing to settle for the first person I felt a strong connection with because it had been so long since I felt that way. 

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lostandhurt— I can’t express how much it means to me that you took the time to write such a thorough and introspective response to a complete stranger who is in a lot of pain and need. Being on this forum reading for most of the evening has been my saving grace. 
 

I think you’re right in stating that having all the answers really wouldn’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Couples are supposed to come together when times get tough. I mentioned this to him a couple times and he had no reaction to it. 
 

I honestly think I was okay before I met him. Got out of an abusive marriage and took a whole year to work on myself. I wasn’t  actively looking for a relationship, we happened to meet in a really organic way and it was so refreshing. We hit it off right away and it felt so good to be in a relationship again. We were both really busy with work but made extreme efforts to be with each other a couple times a week, which was perfect. Everything was so easy with him at the beginning, until it wasn’t. About 6 months in, he was still unwilling to define the relationship, which kind of bothered me, but I ignored it because I really liked what we had, it was low pressure and enjoyable. I broke up with him about 8 months in because he was still a little weird about defining the relationship. A month later, he came back and professed his love for me. Everything was so good for a month until he kinda reverted back to his old emotionally unavailable ways. So, to answer your question of was I okay before I met him — yes. And why can’t I be okay now? I don’t know. I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest and I’ve been crying all day. I miss him so much, which I’m realizing that maybe I shouldn’t. I want to be okay again. It just seems so far away. It seems like all the work I put in before I met him is completely wasted. I wish I didn’t have to be alone again and go through the pain of a breakup again, it feels so exhausting to even think about how I’m going accomplish this. I really loved being in a relationship again. My my marriage was so bad, maybe any semi-normal relationship was going to appeal to me. 
 

I feel so unlovable, broken and unwanted right now, but thank you for telling me this isn’t true. It’s so damn painful. I wish he could have been the man I thought he had the potential to be. I wanted to love him so badly, the feelings were never quite reciprocated in the way I wanted. He gave me just enough to where I felt we could get there in time. But, here we are. I appreciate you encouraging me to continue to post, it really does help writing this all out. 

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Crushed,

I found this place after catching my wife of 20 years cheating so I know how it can hurt.  You will be okay once the shock starts to wear off.

 What you are feeling is not the heartbreak of losing him, what you are feeling is the heartbreak of the imagined person/relationship you wanted being gone.  The red and orange flags were there all along but to use your own words

12 minutes ago, -Crushed- said:

About 6 months in, he was still unwilling to define the relationship, which kind of bothered me, but I ignored it because I really liked what we had

This cannot happen again.  Ignoring flags puts you on a path of unfulfilled dreams.  You see you wanted him to be the man you wanted but when he turned out not to be willing to commit you pushed it aside because something was better than nothing.  You are worth way more than that right?

  The relationship actually ended at the 8 month mark, anything after that was not real. I don't blame you for taking him back and trying again but he simply does not want to change so in the end he is not the man for you.

 Let me ask you this: If you knew of his commitment issues would you have gone out with him initially?  If not then if you could reject him and be okay then why not now?   This isn't a man being logical trying to fix your problem this is me showing you that there are other ways of looking at this breakup.

I think he did you a huge favor really. 

It is okay to cry, it is okay to be sad but mourn the truth, not the imagined.  He is not capable of what you want so why should it continue?  Sooner or later you would have gotten frustrated and dumped him anyways is my guess.

  Keep your family and friends close and don't be afraid of reaching out to just spend time in their company as it helps.

  Lost

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1 hour ago, -Crushed- said:

About 6 months in, he was still unwilling to define the relationship, which kind of bothered me, but I ignored it because I really liked what we had, it was low pressure and enjoyable. I broke up with him about 8 months in because he was still a little weird about defining the relationship.

Then unfortunately, I think you need to finally admit to yourself that this relationship was never going to become what you hoped. 

He doesn't want what you want out of this, and I believe work stress is an excuse in this case. I see a man who doesn't envisage the same future as you but doesn't have the stones to come out and tell you that. So he dances around it and pushes you out so he can take less accoutability for hurting you. 

But it's not going to end up as your relationship for life. I don't believe it ever was, sadly. Heed those red flags the next time you see them. 

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I agree with everyone.

You're recently out of an abusive marriage, and now you're learning that you can still trip back and go for emotionally unavailable men while brushing over red flag.

This relationship actually is a really good lesson for you. This man was in your life to show you what you shouldn't and don't want to pursue in a man. You have a list of red flags and you know you can keep your eyes open next time, just as much as your heart. I'd say don't go back to him. He's shown you that he's not worthy of your time nor love. Better go for men who will make you feel special, be emotionally available, and who will treat you right. Men who will be committed to you fully from day 1.

I hope you have your fav movies, ice cream, and friends around you. Just like you got over your divorce, you will get over this one. You've proven yourself that you're strong. And so will you be.

If he comes back again, show him the door.

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Thanks for your continued support on the this thread, lostandhurt. How long ago did you have to deal with your wife's cheating? Are you two still together? How are you doing now? You made a simple statement saying that I'll be okay once the shock wears off. Yesterday, I would not have believed that. Today, I have a slightly different perspective. I slept really well last night, which is weird since I'm kind of a crappy sleeper to begin with. Felt okay this morning, showered, made coffee and then completely lost it and laid in bed for 10 minutes sobbing. I'm doing better now and happy that I have some interesting work to keep me busy today. But, damn. I'm already ready tired of these ups and downs. 

Now that I'm deconstructing all the events of the relationship and taking some advice from you and other posters, I am starting to see how dysfunctional the relationship may have been from the start. At the beginning, I wasn't actively seeking a relationship. We just sort of met by chance while working on the same project and I was pleasantly surprised to meet someone without having to search for it. We had both been out of our previous long term relationships for about a year and it just seemed like such a good fit -- we were having fun and not making a big deal out of anything. I guess I'm the one who ended up developing feelings and he just never fully caught up. I definitely should have assessed the situation better at the 8 month mark. He just caught me off guard in telling me he loved me for the first time when he came back to me after 1 month of NC and my heart melted, because that is what I had wanted to hear for a few months prior and not felt that way in a long time. As you stated, things have regressed since that point. Looking back, one of the main reasons I initiated NC (in addition to him not fully committing) was his inability to comfort me during a stressful time at work. He also had no acknowledgment of Valentine's day. Those 3 things lead me to calling things off at the time. Looking back, I guess these were huge red flags. 

To answer your question, in hindsight, I probably wouldn't have pursued a relationship with him if had known at the time about his commitment issues. I guess it is okay to reject him today, now that I actually do know. I think the hardest part right now is recalling some of the times we were alone together and I would see glimmers of what I thought he had the potential to be. Once in a while he would really open up to me and it was so attractive. I wanted him to be like that all the time. The relationship was also very physical and some of the moments we shared alone in the bedroom were so deep and meaningful. He made me feel things I had never felt before. That will be a hard thing to let go of, because I may never find that component of a relationship ever again. 

How am I going to let go of all this if I have to periodically see him at work? I'm a subcontractor on one of his projects right now and we will be working on another one together that will likely last through the summer. There's not going to be a ton of contact, but enough where I can see this being a problem. I think all of this would be so much easier if I didn't have to talk to him and see him.

I connected with my sister last night about all of this and she was so supportive. I couldn't believe how much better she made me feel. You are right, connecting with loved ones is a huge band aide right now.       

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Hi MissCanuck -- Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post, I appreciate it. Also, thanks for spelling things out in plain English. I believe you're right in your assumptions. Now that I'm taking some time to reflect back on the relationship, I am sadly starting to realize that the relationship was never going to be what I wanted it to be. Wish I could've realized this so much sooner. He absolutely doesn't want what I want, and likely never did. Tough pill to swallow. On Sunday, he told me that he can't give me what I want right now and yesterday he told me that he can't be in a relationship right now. I guess that's about all I need to know.  

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3 minutes ago, -Crushed- said:

He absolutely doesn't want what I want, and likely never did. Tough pill to swallow.

It is, but it's normal that you still had some hope. You're human. 

4 minutes ago, -Crushed- said:

On Sunday, he told me that he can't give me what I want right now and yesterday he told me that he can't be in a relationship right now. I guess that's about all I need to know.  

I agree. It will take time to accept it. But his behaviour certainly supports his assertion that he can't give you what you want. It wouldn't make sense to hold on to this any longer, especially since it's not the first time you have broken up. But it needs to be the last time, for your own well-being. 

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@MissCanuck -- Even though I'm seeing everything more clearly by the day, it is still so hard to accept all of this. It's hard to accept that I need to go back to the drawing board after so much time and effort invested in getting myself healed after my divorce. Trying to figure out if I wasn't as ready to start dating as I thought, or if my man picking abilities are out of whack. You're right, there's absolutely no reason for me to hold onto this any longer. It seems unlikely that he'll come back to me, and in the unlikely event that he does, this probably isn't a relationship worth investing any more time in. Just can't help beating myself up wondering what I did wrong and why he didn't love me enough to weather the storm. There had to have some things on my end that he just didn't like and he's sparing me the details, or else I wouldn't be in this situation. Would be nice to know so I could work on some personal things in order to be a better partner in the future.   

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Crushed,

Good that you slept well. Emotional stress can wear you out more than a 20 mile hike so that is probably why you slept so well.

 To answer your questions. No we are not together and I couldn't be happier. She actually did me a huge favor (I will never tell her that) getting me to see who she really is, not the person I thought or wished she would be.  I gave her 3 chances and she threw them all away for her bf. I caught her about 14 years ago and the divorce was final about 12 years ago I guess.

 Learning acceptance was the key for me and will be for you as well.  Once you accept that he is a guy that does not want a commitment, a loving and caring relationship, is incapable of deep connections, not romantic and most importantly is not In Love with you like you were with him you will feel better that it is over.

  When these things happen we often look at ourselves for what we did wrong or why we weren't enough for them.  I found that we do this because it gives us the feeling of control over a situation we have little control over.  If we are the problem then WE can fix the problem and our heart will no longer be broken.  The thing is even though we may not be perfect and have  our own faults we are not the reason the relationship ended, they were.

 He is not relationship material for you or anyone as far as I can tell and you should feel lucky you only wasted a year on him.

 It is totally okay to break down and cry, in fact it is very healthy.  Get it out then pick yourself up, splash some water on your face and get back to living the rest of your day.

 How will you face him at work?  That is up to you and how you see him and yourself.  Is he the villain? The guy things would have never worked out with? The guy you want back but cannot have???

Are you the victim? Are you a woman that can accept he is not the guy for you? Are you strong and confident even though you are injured at the moment? Are you a professional?

 The worst part of facing him is not knowing what will happen. Most fear is driven by the unknown because our minds turn the situation into a series of what ifs and huge fright of something terrible happening when 99% of the time it turns out to be nothing. Don't allow fear to control your life and surely do not allow his presence ruin your day.  I am sure he is more afraid of facing you than you are of seeing him. 

 You are not less of a person because of this, you are not weak or unsure you are just injured right now and have a pretty good emotional limp. It takes time to walk it off...

 The fact that you found this forum means you want answers and help in healing.  As I said earlier answers rarely make you feel better but learning skills to heal are extremely valuable.

  Stay busy, stay close to family and friends and never be embarrassed or ashamed of the breakup. Let the people that truly love you know you are hurting as they want to be there for you as you would for them.

  My story started a long time ago and it hurt but I am so much better, smarter and healthy because of it.  Acceptance is key Crushed.  Read my signature below over and over again until it sticks in your head. I have it printed out and framed and it sits on my dresser so I see it everyday.

 You will be a little more okay each day, just keep breathing in and out.

 Lost

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Good afternoon DarkCh0c0 -- I guess you're right. If there is a silver lining, it's that I've learned what to look for moving forward with a new partner. I get your point about not settling from day 1 in the future. I felt so lucky to meet him without even looking once I was healed from the divorce. We met in such a unique and organic way, that's hard to come by. I felt on top of the world about a year ago and now I'm heading into the summer absolutely crushed. My voicemail was 90% full this morning for whatever reason and I had to go in directly and listen to each voicemail and manually delete them. I had to listen to voicemails he left me back in September - December. He sounded so happy and excited to be with me, complimenting me, telling me how much he missed me. Damn, was that hard to endure. What changed on his end? What is it about me that made him stop acting like that? I realize I'll never know the answers to these questions, but I really wish I did.   

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52 minutes ago, -Crushed- said:

here had to have some things on my end that he just didn't like and he's sparing me the details, or else I wouldn't be in this situation. Would be nice to know so I could work on some personal things in order to be a better partner in the future

This probably wouldn't be helpful, simply because everyone's preferences are so different. 

So what didn't work for him might be absolute gold to someone else. I wouldn't consider this particular man to be the standard by which you should measure your own strengths or weaknesses. 

 

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On 6/13/2022 at 5:02 PM, -Crushed- said:

He has pulled away once before about 7 months in. I broke up with him and went NC for a month before him coming back to me proclaiming his love and stating that he’s never been a very good communicator. We really haven’t had any major arguments throughout our relationship aside from me wanting him to be a bit more emotional.

- This would be a red flag.  Him pulling away at that point.. something wasn;t right for him.

With him doing this again now.. I feel he realized he just can't do it 😕 .  He may be stressed with work, yes.  But can also use this as his escape. - then so be it!  Don't beg or chase for a man's attention.  Respect yourself more.

 

6 hours ago, -Crushed- said:

What changed on his end? What is it about me that made him stop acting like that? I realize I'll never know the answers to these questions, but I really wish I did.   

How well do you know him? Do you know his past at all? 

8 hours ago, -Crushed- said:

We had both been out of our previous long term relationships for about a year and it just seemed like such a good fit -- we were having fun and not making a big deal out of anything. I guess I'm the one who ended up developing feelings and he just never fully caught up

Ahh, there it is... you may be right.  He was not 'able' to be there for you emotionally, plus the communication issue's.

And yeah, it sucks!  Being one to have those 'feelings' - as often it is the women first.. *sigh* 😕 .

As for YOU and your recovery, yes, it does hurt - when a relationship ends... it will, for a while. Just give yourself time... Journaling helps 'get it out' another way, as you are doing now.

Someone you were so deeply into, pulls away. Is a real disappointment.

I suggest for a good while now, you just focus on YOU for a while.. Work on getting yourself back to good and maybe get out there more, with friends/family. And make sure you are completely recovered from this experience and of your last BU as well.  Never rush into a relationship if you are not over the last one ( which could be what he did) , sorry for your pains 😞 .

One day at a time... and in time you'll come to feel less and less for any of this.. We live & we learn.  TC

 

 

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23 hours ago, -Crushed- said:

How am I going to let go of all this if I have to periodically see him at work? I'm a subcontractor on one of his projects right now and we will be working on another one together that will likely last through the summer. There's not going to be a ton of contact, but enough where I can see this being a problem. I think all of this would be so much easier if I didn't have to talk to him and see him.  

Be professional and focus on the task at work, exchange one or two pleasantries and move on to something else. If he lingers or wants to speak with you on personal items, mention that you have to get back to work. 

You’re imagining this might be an issue and it isn’t. Don’t make it one. Deal with him like you would with anyone else that you work with. With time it’ll be easier. 

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