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Questions about emotional detachment and codependency.
July 25, 2005
9:20 pm
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itavarap
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I'm with a guy I've been with for about five months now. We were both involved in long term relationships that ended about a month before we met each other. The relationship has a lot of very strong things going for it - great intimate connection, we have fun together, share common interests, and are able to just "be" around each other or in each other's space without feeling like we need to "entertain" each other.

The problems come in, I think, when you take into consideration our previous relationships.

I was with a very abusive, depressed, addict person and stayed for several years trying to "reform" him in this horrible cycle of abuse and being his mother. I nearly went bankrupt and the relationship ended with a physical altercation.

His ex relationship was with a woman that he claims he knew from the beginning wasn't right for him. There were serious issues with the relationship, and yet he persisted with it for over five years. His friends have told me that he has serious committment issues; if he knows that the woman will wait around forever, he'll make them wait forever and won't even want to live with them until pressured into it at the last moment.

Some thoughts on how we are now:

He says that he loves me, but he's battling some depression on his own and says that he "feels incapable of love" to the extent that I, or anyone else for that matter, can feel it. When I ask about any kind of decisive statement about where we're going in this relationship together, he's unable to say.

I feel very strongly for this person, but his emotional detachment is really horrible for me to deal with.

A typical day or week for me seems to consist of anticipating HIS schedule, putitng my own schedule aside or managing to somehow work it around his life and what he has going on. I do this simply because if I just say, "Well, I'm busy," he'll say, "Okay" and then not call me for two days. He'd never try to rearrange HIS schedule around mine so that we could spend time together. So I end up always putting my stuff on hold, or neglecting my own responsibilities, so that I can spend time with him.

I'm not like him - If I want to spend time with him, or if he is depressed and needs me, I will put everything on hold so that I can resolve that issue, or spend time with him, because he's so important to me. But when I need him, or call him up and say, "Can you please just listen to me because something's bothering me," he will give me about five minutes and then he gets restless and invents some reason that he needs to go. He's alright with calling me up and telling me about all his issues or what bothers him, but when I need the same consideration from him, it's "threatening to his boundaries and space" and he runs off somewhere else, or doesn't call for a day or so.

He also needs his own time. He'll tell me after we've hung out a while (usually when he's spent a lot of time at my house) that he needs some time for himself and he'll go off and spend some time doing nothing at his own house for a while. He usually does this RIGHT when I need him for something - I'm having trouble with work and want to talk to someone about it, or my friend and I had an argument, etc. (Note, none of my "issues" are issues relating to anything that I expect him to SOLVE for me.. I really just want someone to listen while I talk myself through how to fix it on my own.) I really can't see why this threatens him so. Also, I can go down to HIS house and spend an entire week catching snatches of his attention while he works and runs errands, and he doesn't need "alone time" then. He just ignores me until I either deliberately ask for some alone time with him, or he decides he's ready for it.

He has said lately that he feels that I am codependent. We both agree that he's emotionally detached. I don't FEEL very codependent, really (I'm not trying to fix him, or any of that.. He's really got himself together, more so than he thinks.) But I have needs too, and feeling like an item of convenience is really bothering me.

His running away from even talking about any kind of future with me bothers me too. I'm too old to be perpetually shacking up with someone. I'd like to know, for instance, if he even sees a possibility of being with me in a permanent sort of relationship. If not, I'd like to know that now so that I don't waste the best years of my life on a man who's going to only feed me enough crumbs emotionally to keep me around while he never really has to give anything of substance.

What do I do?

July 25, 2005
9:25 pm
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Oh boy! Major red flags everywhere!!!! I suggest you take a look at this article about "commitment-phobic men"... I was with one for a year and what you are describing is frighteningly similar to what I went through... Take a look and be honest with yourself about what you see...

http://commitment-phobia.com/b.....cerpt.html

TC

July 25, 2005
9:37 pm
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itavarap
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Well, that doesn't really sound like him at all. He never came on really strong about how much he loved me, or how great I was, or bought me presents, or whatever. He's never tried to "convince" me of his life - In fact, it's quite the opposite. He has a hard time accepting or believing what it is that I find beautiful about him. Indeed, whenever I say something like, "Gosh, you're so beautiful just now, in that light from the window.." he will blush, look down, and point at me (as if to say, "no, you are.")

He's a man of few words, and when he DOES say something, it means a lot. What I gather from him more than anything is that he's so afraid to say something definitive because then, if he changes his mind about the thing later, he can be held accountable for 'being wrong' or 'lying'.

The one thing that I did feel was pretty accurate about the commitment-phobe article is the part where the woman goes overboard with the SUPERWIFE kind of actions, in an effort to win the man over. I do do that kind of stuff. I don't mind cooking or cleaning for him (even though he does his own housework, and helps me out with mine by volunteering or saying Yes to being asked). I don't mind doing his laundry, or buying things he likes from the store. I try very hard to please him in all kinds of little ways - From sex without even thinking about my own needs (just because I know it will make him feel good, for example) to NOT doing things I want to do because he doesn't like them or want to do them.

All in all, he is a really great boyfriend. It's just this emotional detachment that I don't get. I'm trying to understand if there IS a depth of feeling there (but maybe an inability to express it in terms that I am accustomed to) or if he's just, well, not in love with me the same way I am with him.

But those mean sounding things in that article, he doesn't do those things. He never belittles or nitpicks me, nothing like that - ever.

July 25, 2005
10:09 pm
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on my way
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In 10 words or less, or ...list 5 things you want now, and list 5 things you think that he wants. compare the lists.

But overall? It basically sounds like a normal relationship to me 75% anyway, but it also sounds as if you two have not even discussed what the positive side to the relationship is. If you are older, and he is even older, he is set in his ways. He is not ready to change with or for anyone most likely...as in what you see is what you get.

I can't personally comment on his personality or yours, what seems to me to be the problem are the dynamics of the relationship. Something is off, but I don't really see that you should blame him or vice versa. Sounds as if you are finding out that this man does not meet your needs, does not meet your expectations, or you are trying to fit square pegs into round holes. I am a female too, not picking on you, I just identify more with you.

You can't expect him to marry you..and if you want that and you are as close as you say you are...have you talked about it at all?

Regarding your problems, some are what we have girlfriends for...I don't thin guys want to hear about our problems too much, maybe when married, but they tend to want to "fix" things, and it is sometiems a blow to their ego if they can't...some realize their limits and move on, some their EGO is deeply affected.

Also, I suggest to make sure you are not seeing this man as someone whocan give you what you do not have, or "create" a world for you that you do not have. Do not be totally dependent on him for your happiness, your security...be independent, have a life of your own...and most guys will say ok, if you are busy, they cannot spend every waking hour with you...and guys more than girls understand that we need space and SHOULD have a life apart form them...they do that so they know we should as well.

Also? depending on his career...some careers take up weekend time, mental time, it all depends...and age is a factor.

SO I do not mean to condemn anything you have said...just speaking from personal experience.

The best to you though,
omw

July 25, 2005
10:20 pm
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on my way
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ok, i re-read all of your post.

to me it also sounds as if he is slowly backing away. or, he is avoiding intimacy at all costs, and invents reasons he cannot be intimate. and he is mostlikely setting his own boundaries and will not cross them...and if he says he loves you...is this the kind of love that you want?

you cannot fix him, change him, make him love your more, listen to you more, nothing if he does not wnat too. so a good dose of reality is your perception , and how he seems to you...that will not change unless you compromise yourself...and are you willing to do that?
iva...stop doing his laundry...maybe if you were married, but not a good idea!! TOO WIFEY!! Takes the fun out of the romance of a 5 month relationship!! Maybe too, if you left him, he may miss what he had.

very confusinghuh? but trust me, you may drive yourself crazy trying to figure him out, or figure all of it out...and it is a waste of time.

July 26, 2005
3:59 pm
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kathygy
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Its codependent to stay in a relationship that is not good for you. He doesn't sound like a great boyfriend to me. Where is he when you need him? Its also codependent to drop your life and arrange it around his when he never does that for you. Stop accommadating him. If you don't hear from him that's better than not valuing yourself. Your needs are just as important as his are but he doesn't sound like he cares all that much. He sounds very selfish wanting you to be there for him but not being there for you. He also sounds very unavailable to you for a committed relationship and intimacy. I would change my behavior and stop arranging your life around him. See if that makes any difference in him. If not move on to someone who can love you and be there for you.

love,
kathy

July 26, 2005
4:08 pm
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itavarap
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Well, the last two days have been rough. We had some kind of weird, unspoken argument where he said something that hurt my feelings and I reacted by packing up my stuff and leaving, instead of provoking a discussion about it right then. I was trying to be considerate since I knew he had to work.

He hasn't called or been in contact with me since. I assume that he's angry because I just packed up and left with no explanation.

Feeling like I'm dangling on a string, here, until he decides that HE is interested in reopening communication. It really sucks.

I've tried calling him and he won't answer my calls. I haven't left any messages. I did write a letter explaining that I'd left in order to AVOID a tearful conversation right before he had to go to work, but he hasn't answered.

Feeling pretty lame right now.

And, as if I didn't need any more drama, my dad just called me up yelling and told me he wants to commit suicide and that he doesn't want me to call him, ever again. He then hung up on me. I tried calling back, of course, and he won't answer any of their four lines. My mom won't either. I don't know what I could have possibly done to them; we haven't spoken in about two weeks.

I just want to curl up with my bottle of Crown Royal and tell everyone to go to hell.

July 26, 2005
8:28 pm
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Sophia_Lynn
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Itavarap sadly he doesn't sound like a "great boyfriend"...... emotional detachment ---- emotional availability and attachment is the the core of a relationship.

oh.... don't feel lame- sounds like you really have strong feelings of love and affection for this guy, however your instincts are SCREAMING that your relationship is not right. Maybe you should listen to your body... that discomfort that he is not able to give you want you need.

I'm not in a relationship, but back when i was I had similar prob. I would stick with men I should have just walked away from (they weren't horrible monsters or anything)--- they just were not right for me.

As for your dad, how sad. I wish you the best with that. Wow, you're really getting it from all angles right now aren't you.

Take care
Sophia

July 27, 2005
8:23 am
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itavarap
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Well, the situation seems to have worked out. The letter I wrote did the trick.

My guy called me back last night and told me that when he saw me packing up and leaving, he immediately assumed that the relationship was over and that I was leaving him. He's under a lot of work-stress right now, and said he was terrified to call me or answer my calls because he thought that I was angry and would give him the Let's Fight and Break Up Right Now speech. He has so much work to do and can't afford to collapse in emotional distress right now, so he just avoided me. He said that when he got my letter, and realized that I wasn't angry, just confused... He said that it was an overwhelming relief and he apologised for not calling sooner.

He came over and we had a nice face-to-face talk where he admitted being terrified. He says he can see himself making some of the same relationship-mistakes as he has in the past, and he's afraid that I simply won't put up with it for much longer and that I'll leave him. I asked him a few questions - Namely, was I like the other girls he'd dated before? (No.) Did I seem that emotionally volatile? (No.) Did I lack some patience or understanding that would prevent us from growing together and working things out? (No.) Did he still want to be with me, and did he WANT this to work out, even if it was hard? (Yes, yes, yes!)

So things seem okay again. He realizes that he has some control issues and some insecurities, along with emotional detachment. He seems to understand that I'm willing to work through those things as long as he gives me the benefit of the doubt and doesn't run away for 2 days every time we have some kind of minor misunderstanding. We've never even had an argument - It's always misunderstandings that get blown out of proportion and then end up turning critical until one or the other of us says, "This is stupid," and initiates conversation.

One thing he said last night that made me smile: "I always get mad or hurt or frustrated, and then go off by myself and think it over, and I think, 'Okay, this is it, it's over..' but then, when I call you and hear your voice, or when I see your face, all that just... goes away and I wonder, 'what was I THINKING..."

So maybe there's hope, after all.

July 27, 2005
10:34 am
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Oy Vey!

Good luck,

Luv Sophia

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