Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
How do I change my behaviour?(98 Posts)
Sorry this may be long...
I have been in an on off sort of relationship for well over a year now and am aware that my behaviour (as well as other factors so not just me) is contributing to the off bits!
When things are good we text/speak every day, have lots of nice talks about future, lots of affection, lots of cuddles and gazing at work etc. However if one of us has a bad day or if he is annoyed with me his way of dealing with it is to withdraw. He will no longer text so much because he is "busy" (although he has time to text when he is busy but wants to IYSWIM) and will be detached for a couple of days and not avoid me but not be particularly affectionate etc. I think this is just him and his way of dealing with things. Unfortunately this makes me really upset and I in turn get all needy and clingy, apologise repeatedly for whatever I have done and try and engage him more which irritates him and we end up in a cycle of me wanting reassurance that everything is ok and him wanting some space. I then feel like a horrible person because I feel like I am pressurising him to talk to me and it makes me feel really low. Usually a few days later things are ok again but it always feel a bit delicate
I keep trying to tell myself I just need to give him some space, that this is him and he just needs his man cave time but my head won't let me and I feel so unsettled and like one time soon he is just going to walk away and never speak to me again and I would not blame him
Reading this back I sound like a nightmare It is just so hard to deal with the swings between adoration and detachment when I just want some kind of constant. I just keep thinking that if I can not contact him for a few days he will call again but I always fail and text. It is just not natural to me to not want to speak to someone I love
Should I just accept this is never going to change? Or is there some way I can make myself not contact? Sometimes I wonder if he is just not that in to me but then when things are nice he is so nice and so loving and affectionate and committed to the future that I struggle to think that is the issue
I know that sometimes I am like this in relationships but I am also aware that when things are good (in this and previous) I am much less clingy and much easier to be around and my normal sort of self so I know I can do it I just don't know how to change my thinking
I think your first task is to dump the creepy, gazing fucker.
My DH is like this. We have been together 10 years. He is a loving husband and father, he thinks the world of me. However when he is stressed his default position is to go quiet. He is still civil and polite but he won't talk to me, touch me, kiss me. The first time he did this, I was distraught - clingy, begging to know what was going on, apologising for whatever I'd done etc. It didn't make any difference.
Now, after a long time together, I know it's not personal. I let him get on with it and I refuse to get caught up in the drama of it all by feeding it. He withdraws for a week or two, and then he comes back and it's all fine. I love the bones of him and I know that sometimes he will be quiet and distant. It doesn't happen often - every couple of years now but it can last bloody ages!!! (Christmas Eve and counting!)
Withdrawal as a means of dealing with the normal ups and downs of a relationship is a pretty shitty thing to do. You cannot change his behaviour for him, so I do recommend you change yours. With the aim of no longer facilitating o putting up with it.
Try, "Oh, are you going to sulk again? Ring me when you want my company then" and leave - go out with friends and feel good about yourself, or do something you like, and remind yourself that he's meant to enhance your life, not drag you down.
So he manages your expectations by withdrawing and you're left on tenterhooks waiting for him to get in touch, so he's in the driving seat of this relationship and you get labelled 'needy' for having erm, basic needs, and you think it's your problem.
I'd have a read of the Baggage Reclaim website and think about whether you need this gazer (shudder) in your life
It sounds to me like he quite likes you being needy and insecure. Ditto what several others has said, he's playing games with you. He doesn't sound lovely and kind to me, he sounds like a moody arsehole!
Don't play the game. Next time he withdraws, do anything apart from contact him. Don't let him have that power over you. This is a big red flag, don't ignore it! My ex did this to me at the beginning... I wish I had realised what it meant. I also thought he was a lovely, kind man. He wasn't. But it did keep me there for almost a decade hoping that the 'nice' him would come back.
I agree with Cogito ... and AF.
This definitely happened to me, for the same reasons - something I didn't work out until later, in therapy. In a nutshell, though, relationships shouldn't be like fairground rides. I suspect that those of us who grew up yearning for a father's steady attention are badly-suited to this kind of rollercoaster behaviour in partners. We can't change them and we need something more dependable for our own emotional security.
Oh, yes, seconding www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/ OP!
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Hmmm I think some of you may well have points... Now I have been ignored for a couple of days I feel like if he does ever speak to me again (he may well not...) I could tell him to take a running jump. I just need to keep that feeling. But I know if he does talk to me I would normally be so happy I would sort of forget about his behaviour. Which kind of perpetuates it. Why can't he just be always nice?
He can. He simply chooses not to.
Some people aren't nice and they can't 'do' nice for prolonged periods. These people are to be avoided at all cost.
Or it could be he's simply not into you, in which case it's time to avert your gaze from him and focus it elsewhere.
I spent many years with a man like this and its left me with residual damage. Please ditch him and free yourself for a nice man.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Withdrawal of affection in this subtle way is horrible.
And he's got you examining yourself the whole time and coming to the conclusion that you're crap. Why not conclude that actually it is him who is crap, toying with you in this way?
Another one here who would not stand for it.
You'll end up apologising for you personality and your very existence.
He's playing on your insecurities, and it's working beautifully!
He's ignored you for two days? It is cruel and it is intentional. I would be furious to be treated like this.
We teach people how to treat us.
"Why can't he just be always nice?"
Because 'nice' doesn't keep you on the hook the way 'distant' seems to be doing. Change your response, don't fall for it, and he'll probably be scrabbling for your attention. His sort always do. But the minute you give him that attention he'll revert to type.
Depends on how much of your time you want to waste really. <shrugs>
Communication is vital for a relationship to thrive and work, he isn't sticking to his part in that by blowing hot and cold.
I was with someone who did the same, and its very confusing. I lived with him and would get silences for a couple of days, if your self esteem is feeling a bit low you will take this personally and feel the need to no whats wrong etc.
I don't think you'll change him to be honest
Why is the guy getting a hard time from some MNetters?
I have a guy friend who is similar to the OP's DP. In his case his wife is given to sudden mood swings where she shouts at him or blames him for everything under the sun. She comes out of it usually within an hour and expects him to be 'normal' again. He on the other hand withdraws for a day or two.
She is emotionally high maintenance. From your own words you appear to be the same although from a needy viewpoint as opposed to an anger management viewpoint.
Withdrawing is how some guys deal with this type of situation.
I am not passing judgment on the OP. I am merely making the point that withdrawing is how some guys deal with emotionally high maintenance women as opposed to him being mentally abusive or passive aggressive. IMO he doesn't deserve the customary "dump the bastard" advice that gets regularly wheeled out in this forum
OP I think that you are seeing someone who is being controlling - this isn't about your mood changes (suddenly becoming 'high maintenance' ), it's about his. He's full-on and loving when HE feels like it, then withdraws and blames you for your sudden insecurity. A very normal insecurity! He is creating a situation where your confidence is being eroded but you are blaming yourself for your 'neediness'.
You're not being 'needy' you're responding to his unpredictable behaviour. With understandable confusion.
The next time he stops contacting you, leave it. Don't contact him. It will be hard because you're a bit addicted to him, feel the need for him to 'make it all ok' (classic in a controlling relationship).
He may have many lovely sparkly qualities but he's making you feel like shit. It's not worth it.
"I am not passing judgment on the OP."
Yes you are... you're saying it's OK for men to withdraw when faced with an 'emotionally high maintenance woman' defined as 'sudden mood swings'. So you are making a judgement that the OP is one of those women.
Cogito: You've obviously skipped past the post from the OP where she described her past relationships.
And I particularly like how people are rushing to judge the poor bloke and still have the temerity to accuse others of being judgmental
I've skipped past nothing. The OP is describing herself as 'clingy' in the face of hot/cold on/off behaviour quite unfairly. I expect she's had the same treatment in the past and judged herself just as unfairly then as well.
'Poor bloke' my arse....
BS: but she didn't say she 'shouts at him and blames him for everything under the sun', with no provocation. She explained that his sudden withdrawal of affection/attention make her feel insecure. It's different.
Marilyn: the shouting was from my 'experience' with a friend's wife. I wasn't suggesting that was the OP's 'problem'.
The OP does not appear to he saying that the guy withdraws for no apparent reason Something must be setting him off. Without knowing what that is I won't rushing to join the Dump The Bastard Brigade.
Why must something be setting him off? Some people need no excuse. I even know someone who, if he fancied a weekend away with his mates, would pick a fight over something trivial Friday night and make up Monday morning.... rather than ask the girlfriend if she was OK about it.
If the OP turns out to be some kind of screaming harridan (which I doubt) then surely the mature thing to do would be end the relationship rather than keep on with this childish silent treatment.
As someone did say upthread, it is ok to say I need a bit of space. But you have to say it rather than just do it at a moment when things are emotionally fraught or have been left hanging.
Two adults in a healthy relationship need to be able to communicate this stuff to stop either one person feeling insecure or the other feeling put upon, when one of them plays push-me, pull-me it is unhealthy or worse about games of power and control.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.