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.

He's romantic, kind and v keen - so am I mad or mean to want my own space too?

(50 Posts)
BugEyedBeans Sun 27-Dec-15 15:37:39

I split from STBXH 3 months ago, after months of horrible tension and years of anger, put-downs and negativity.

In the past three months, I moved down the road to a cosy cottage with just enough space for teen DS and DD; was awarded a first in my masters degree; found a new job in an interesting field, which covers the bills; and am managing practical arrangements with STBXH reasonably amicably. It feels like a massive achievement, my confidence is high, and life is good.

I also started a tentative relationship with someone I have known as a friend for a couple of years. He is kind and sensitive, slim and strong, loves music, cooking and nature, a good listener and lover, calm and steady (and unattached). Quite amazingly, he really wants to be with me...
but quite often it feels too much, like being pushed along too fast to take on his agenda - his vision of a future together. I am loving having space for me and the kids and letting all the pressure of the last few years decompress gently. I don't know what future I want, all efforts for the past year have been focused at separating from STBXH and getting here, to this point where I am right now. He always stresses he wants to go at my pace, explore things gradually although he is ready to move on from his current situation now. But if I withdraw emotionally, as I need to sometimes, it distresses him quite a lot. I don't want to lose this relationship because he is so lovely. [Also I have scars from a previous illness/ operations which compromise my physical attractiveness and mean I would not want to 'date' as such, so it could be very difficult to meet anyone else.]

I think I am doing the thing I used to in my previous relationship: to assume what the other person is feeling and thinking; and then to put (what I assume is) their feelings above mine.

In the scale of things it is a tiny problem, even a nice problem to have. But is it OK to ask to take some time (a year?) before talking of the future? how can i assert my feelings without hurting him or - well- losing him?.

ElfOnTheBoozeShelf Sun 27-Dec-15 15:42:51

No, you're not mad or mean. You're recovering from things changing drastically in your life. It is healthy and sensible to have your own space following that - more importantly, it is what you want. You have every right to say that you want to just go at your pace, with no mention of a 'future', until you're ready.

If he really cares about you, and has been the friend you say he was for years before this, he will understand that and support you in it.

It's okay to say to him that it is making you feel uncomfortable.

SolidGoldBrass Sun 27-Dec-15 15:47:05

Be very careful. Predatory men have a radar for women not long out of an abusive relationship, and just because this one doesn't abuse you in the same way as your XP did, doesn't mean he's actually a good man or a decent partner.
It's a very common abuser trait to overwhelm a woman with 'romance' and declarations of love and commitment and constant pestering for attention, sex, returned declarations and all the woman's available time.
Tell this man, nicely, to back off and give you space. And if he doesn't do so, cut him off hard and fast, because if he keeps on trying to push his way into your life he doesn't 'love' you, he's simply trying to take possession of you.

It's generally a very bad idea to date/have sex in anything other than a very, very casual way for at least a year after getting rid of a toxic man, because you need time and space to recover and rebuilid your own healthy boundaries.

BugEyedBeans Sun 27-Dec-15 16:09:27

Two contrasting approaches but the same advice!
it is hard to see him as predatory but your line about wanting all my available time rings true.
I spent so long with STBXH, emotionally closed off so as not to be hurt and put down... I kind of want my boundaries to be opened up now... is that bad?

ThreeRuddyTubs Sun 27-Dec-15 16:13:19

I feel suffocated just reading your post. 3 months is no time at all and I would be very wary of this man trying to worm his way in so thoroughly in such a short space of time

SevenSeconds Sun 27-Dec-15 16:18:24

Even less than 3 months - OP says she split with her ex 3 months ago.

You are right to take this slowly OP. I would be very wary of anyone wanting to talk about the future within a few weeks of getting together - and even more so in your position (only just out of an abusive marriage).

Well done on making such great progress in the last 3 months.

whatiswrongwithyou Sun 27-Dec-15 16:20:04

You've only just split from your angry, negative ex 3 months ago and already you're involved with another man and need advice on how to deal with this relationship... and with kids involved too! Do you really need someone to point this out to you?

Sallyingforth Sun 27-Dec-15 16:24:40

How do your teenage DC think about your new relationship? They may also need some recovery time from the abusive parent.

AnyFucker Sun 27-Dec-15 16:31:39

if DH and I split up I would want to spend a large amount of time on my own, simply figuring out what direction to take my life

getting "guided" like this, no matter how "gently" would be an absolute no-no

unless you are desperate for any relationship, which it doesn't sound like you are

BugEyedBeans Sun 27-Dec-15 16:34:57

The kids have met him but only in a very casual way - coming round for coffee as a friend (daytime only!). I would not dream of introducing him to DC as a bf for at least 6 months.
But what that means is, we meet up most evenings when DC are at their dad's, say twice a week. So I have little time for other friends or activities unless it is something organised well in advance.
But if you read the dating thread, people expect to see a bf more than twice a week - don't they?
I think I can talk to him and explain I am not comfortable to consider a future together, yet, for some time. He will listen. It is me as much as anything - I need to be more clear and assertive.

antimatter Sun 27-Dec-15 16:38:29

Just ask yourself if he us such catch why is he on his own and wants to move so quickly?

I bet he is possesive and demanding and other women run away from him.

Also what do you mean that you are "withdrawing emotionally"?

I have bf of over 2 years. We live separately. We talk some days and meet most weekends.
I have 2 teenager kids and know that for all of us the best is to see them off to uni after A levels and whether I move in with my BF depends on that.

BugEyedBeans Sun 27-Dec-15 16:39:19

AF - I am not desperate for a relationship... but I am quite amazed that there is this lovely person who does want to be with me - I feel lucky and grateful (being honest there!)
And also there is the question of whether there would ever be anyone else, given my age (50's)...

RiceCrispieTreats Sun 27-Dec-15 16:40:12

3 months is not time at all. You personally need more time than that to learn what you want to do on your own two feet, and any couple needs more time than that before talking about a future together.

So your instincts are perfectly right that this is not what you need right now.

Also, you are a beautiful and wonderful woman with or without scars, and if this man wants to sleep with you, others will too. So don't let fears about unattractiveness make you relent to something that makes you feel uneasy, out of fear that this is your only shot at love. It's not.

AnyFucker Sun 27-Dec-15 16:40:42

Grateful ?

For God's sake, listen to that

Grateful for a man showing you attention. That is a very slippery slope...

DrGoogleWillSeeYouNow Sun 27-Dec-15 16:43:25

I think you need to spend some time not being in a relationship so that you can 'recalibrate' as to what is normal.

Splitting from your ex just 3 months ago, starting a new relationship, and posting about it in here already is not good. Can't you see that?

BugEyedBeans Sun 27-Dec-15 16:44:27

Antimatter - He has had long-term relationships and split from previous gf about a year ago - there's been a bit of a mid-life crisis too. Nothing too serious.

'withdrawing emotionally' is when it all feels a bit too much and I need time alone or to put things on a more emotionally neutral level.

Your arrangement with your bf sounds ideal!

Marchate Sun 27-Dec-15 16:49:28

I agree with AF. Steer clear. He flatters you today, but next year? He sounds too desperate & possessive.

I would keep it as a casual 'friendship' if anything at all. Give yourself time

gleam Sun 27-Dec-15 17:00:09

So how much time do you get to be by yourself, doing what you want to do - even if that's sitting with a cup of tea, staring out of a window?

SolidGoldBrass Sun 27-Dec-15 17:00:25

He sounds clingy and desperate. Some men can't stand to be single, because their egos can't cope without a woman's adoration (and domestic servicing). Honestly, keep him at arm's length and spend your new freedom discovering the wonderful wide world outside of couplehood.

antimatter Sun 27-Dec-15 17:06:29

'withdrawing emotionally' is when it all feels a bit too much and I need time alone or to put things on a more emotionally neutral level

this is exactly what others are saying
you need time on your own to re-discover who you really are

after split with my ex nearly 6 years ago I realised I forgot what real me wants and who I am

when you are part of a couple, esp in scenarios when it is you always had to adjust your behaviour to please the other party you are forcing yourself to change, it's not natural

you wanting to be on your own is that expected and needed time to just think and do what pleases you
don't give up on it, talk to him and say that you need that time
if he wants to be with you - he will understand

ElfOnTheBoozeShelf Sun 27-Dec-15 17:06:31

The fact you feel grateful for him showing you attention says that you're not in a place to be in a relationship, whether it's a good one or not.

Take some time for yourself.

PamDooveOrangeJoof Sun 27-Dec-15 17:13:21

Seeing someone twice a week in a fledgling relationship sounds spot on to me! But if you are being railroaded into spending more time than you feel comfortable, that isn't good.

And as AF says, starting a relationship with someone because you are 'grateful', is never a good idea!

you sounds lovely and not mad at all just to want to rediscover yourself without having to consider someone else, after all you've been through.

How long have you been seeing this guy? Tbh, he sounds very needy and it would make me run for the hills!

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Sun 27-Dec-15 17:21:35

Tell this man, nicely, to back off and give you space. And if he doesn't do so, cut him off hard and fast, because if he keeps on trying to push his way into your life he doesn't 'love' you, he's simply trying to take possession of you

This is fantastic advice.

He may be a nice guy or he may not but you absolutely must assert your boundaries right at the start and you're not wrong for having boundaries.

AnyFucker Sun 27-Dec-15 17:22:47

If he's a good guy, he will get it

If he doesn't get it, BIN

Ragwort Sun 27-Dec-15 17:24:04

If you only split from your Ex 3 months ago I would consider it is far, far too early to even think about starting a new relationship - surely you want some time to gather your thoughts and just enjoy your 'freedom'.

And if this man is really so wonderful, why is he single?

He sounds incredibly needy, he knows you are in a vulnerable position and is probably flattering you like crazy so that he can take advantage of the situation.

Be very, very careful.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now