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How do I change my behaviour?

(98 Posts)
CryingRivers Sun 06-Jan-13 07:15:42

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 sad 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

TisILeclerc Sun 06-Jan-13 07:18:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WinkyWinkola Sun 06-Jan-13 07:21:49

It does sound a bit suffocating even on what you call the good days.

You do sound needy and that's not very attractive especially in the early stages of a relationship.

Do you go out with friends? Do you love your work? Do you have other interests?

Apart from anything else, it's vital not to be wholly and utterly dependent on one person.

I'm afraid I would absolutely run a mile if I were busy or stressed at work or jist enjoying some alone time and someone kept texting or bothering me because I'd not contacted them for a couple of hours. I'd be thinking they should get a life.

Hyperballad Sun 06-Jan-13 07:25:10

He might just not be the right guy for you. If this is just the way he deals with stress then it's unlikely you'd be able to change this. So if you really thought you have a future you would have to change how you deal with it.

I don't think this sounds too healthy though and I think you maybe need to really consider whether this guy is really for you.

CryingRivers Sun 06-Jan-13 07:27:16

Tis- how do you mean?

Winky- but on the good days it is often him initiating things. And if things are good then I could happily go a couple of days without hearing from him if I know he has lots on (well I would still like him to text and he generally does but it does not bother me in the same way) If things are left a little strained then I find it really hard if he ignores me for a couple of days.

Otherwise I am fine- I have a lovely job, plenty of other stuff to do, plenty of friends to spend time with

But yes this is why I want to try and change my behaviour because I am aware it is weird!

CryingRivers Sun 06-Jan-13 07:28:15

Sorry- I meant the cuddles and gazing at work were from him!

TisILeclerc Sun 06-Jan-13 07:32:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hyperballad Sun 06-Jan-13 07:37:35

I agree with you Tis, I think I'd feel like the OP in this situation (although I wouldn't act). I like upfront and honest so I know where I stand and Crying isn't getting this.

pictish Sun 06-Jan-13 07:41:06

What is gazing at work?

You do sound a bit cloying OP. I am a person that hates to be pressured or harangued to perform though, so I would feel stifled by you. Maybe someone else would enjoy the attention, I don't know.

CryingRivers Sun 06-Jan-13 07:54:32

So when all is well I will find him watching me at work and he will apologise and say he just can't help gazing at me because I am so beautiful (I do point out that is a bit vomity). On days when everything is fine we might have long chats or text conversations, often initiated by him. The next day I might text him in the morning, hear nothing for ages and then I will ask what is up. Which is the bit I need to stop doing! If it was a friend it would not bother me in the slightest. But because normally he will text back so quickly it throws me when he doesn't

See. Am a complete loser sad It makes me want to cry that I am so crap

mrsmindcontrol Sun 06-Jan-13 08:05:08

You sound like me in previous relationships. Looking back now I can see that I had shit self esteem & allowed my happiness to be entirely dependent on my partners behaviour towards me. However, I sense there appears to be an element of control / game playing on his part. It's not ok to ignore you for a few days at a time even if he is busy or stressed. That's not how healthy relationships work. I suspect it's this cycle of him being loving, withdrawing & trying to assert power, you being clingy, him being annoyed is a vicious circle which is only serving to destroy your self esteem even further.
It certainly doesn't sound like a healthy well balanced relationship & my advice would be to get out if you can't resolve it by talking. I found in the past that as soon as I was out of similarly toxic relationships, I became a much happier confident person.
Good luck.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 06-Jan-13 08:09:01

You're not crap. It sounds like you're in a relationship with someone who is blowing either excessively hot or excessively cold, deliberately leaving things 'a little strained' so that you are on pins waiting for their call. To me, someone who is constantly telling you they 'need space' is someone who is deliberately manipulating your emotions.... a psychological bully hmm. I wouldn't stand for it, personally.

In the meantime, make a life for yourself that doesn't involve him. Have your own friends, job, activities, hobbies.... have a full diary of absorbing and interesting stuff that any boyfriend has to fit around, rather than being so reliant that a day or two out of touch has you upset and obsessing. Rebalance your life so that a man is not the only thing occupying your time.

RandomMess Sun 06-Jan-13 08:12:34

I think you're probably with someone like your father - emotionally withdrawn.

I think he is the wrong person for you as it is raising all your deepest insecurities to the surface.

mrsmindcontrol Sun 06-Jan-13 08:14:09

What RandomMess said. I have an emotionally detached father & exH. Spot on.

RandomMess Sun 06-Jan-13 08:17:42

I am suffering with my DH - he has his own issues, but he withdraws and it means I lose my emotional support etc, when I'm in a good place it doesn't affect me but if other stuff is going on in my life it cripples me.

If I had understood that before we had children we would not be together, we both need to change to make our marriage a "good enough" one.

Please cut your losses and explore why you are attracted to someone who withdraws their affection from you (deliberately or not is irrelevant) it is as cruel as someone deciding that one day you deserve to be hit and others not it just hurts you in a different way.

Anniegetyourgun Sun 06-Jan-13 08:24:02

Romances at work are always fraught anyway, especially if they break up! I wonder what everyone else at the workplace thinks of this on-off drama. Also can't help wondering if the withdrawal periods have anything to do with who's watching.

CryingRivers Sun 06-Jan-13 08:42:17

Thank you everyone so much. Lots of food for thought. I have been "non needy" in the past so I know I can do it.

I am still not sure how much is me and how much is him. Maybe it is the combination that is bad. I just don't know anymore. I do just feel a bit crap about myself when he is a bit detached hence why I look for lots of reassurance I think.

And spot on about my dad... Very little relationship and he worked away most of my childhood sad

WinkyWinkola Sun 06-Jan-13 08:47:11

Gosh, op. He sounds really suffocating. Gazing at you at work etc. He sets the tone of your relationship i.e. ott adoration at work and then leaves you floundering when he retreats on a whim.

Very hard work.

I would try to set the tone myself in a balanced way. So if he texts you all the time, don't respond all the time. If he's staring at you at work, just tell him at work you need to be professional. Roll your eyes a bit because it is daft. You be a bit busy - not to play games but to keep things within the realms of normal.

I know new relationships are all consuming and ott and brilliant but this is at work do already two spheres of your life are involved. That's two spheres in jeopardy so it's vital you manage this better.

Other staff may have noticed too and it could be grating on them.

I do feel for you but I suspect he's playing with you a bit on a whim.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 06-Jan-13 08:49:06

I make it a principle of life not to spend it with anyone that makes me feel even a 'a bit crap about myself'. Life's far too short. There are only two ways to deal with a situation like this and the first one... complete cessation of contact... doesn't sound possible with someone who you have to share a work environment. The other.... reducing a boyfriend to a bit player in a very busy and fulfilled life (as per earlier suggestion)... means you flip the power balance significantly in your direction and makes it easier to keep a sense of proportion. However, it takes a very conscious decision and commitment to do this for yourself.

Allergictoironing Sun 06-Jan-13 08:54:52

There could be a number of reasons why this is happening, none of them really that good for the future of this relationship I'm afraid.

It could be that he's simply very self centred - when HE wants lots of contact then fine, when he doesn't then hard luck. What's he like if you are a bit too busy to text much? Selfishness can rarely be un-learned, especially if a person really doesn't see why they have to change as life is fine for them as it is. At the moment he gets attention when he wants, and ignores you if he doesn't feel like it.

There's also the factor that someone being very needy can really piss a partner off. It very quickly goes from "aw how sweet they love me so much" to irritating the fuck out of you.

He could be playing with your head, blowing hot & cold to get the thrill out of being chased so much & enjoying the power he has over you. Your comment or if he is annoyed with me his way of dealing with it is to withdraw does suggest that he uses withdrawal of affection as a form of punishment - that really does not bode well for a healthy future in the relationship as it implies he is already being a bit emotionally abusive.

The see-saw of affection then coldness does suggest that the last is the most likely I'm afraid. Part of the EA "Script" is to keep the victim wrong footed so they don't know if they are coming or going. The sweet times feel particularly good because they are in such contrast with the bad, and the victim tends to accept more & more of the shit so they can "earn" the good.

Squeegle Sun 06-Jan-13 09:24:18

Crying, I do understand. I have realised that my patterns are just the same!

They have led me through relationships with various quite selfish men, my exP was an alcoholic, who I was always seeking to keep happy (obviously very unsuccessfully!)

And even though I am aware of the patterns I have still managed to get involved with someone at work who sounds remarkably similar to your man. His natural inclination is to withdraw when the going gets tough.

I have found this extremely difficult to deal with, have been in agonies of waiting for him to text, call etc. his withdrawal has made me feel needier and more obsessed even though I have tried not to show it, it has been mental torture!

The final straw is that I think I have been dumped- not that he has told me, I just haven't heard from him for over three weeks! And considering we work in the same office, that is quite a feat.

Anyway, like you I have realised:
A). He is selfish, and only thinking about his feelings, hence not ideal for the long term And
B). I have hard wired behaviours that make me needy and obsessive when I encounter this behaviour. Probably prompted by my past.

Like you, and as others have suggested, I think the best way out of this is to build our self esteem. To work hard to think about ourselves and not about them, and to recognise we don't need to "win someone back", if they go distant- that's their problem not ours.

I am starting the new year with a real desire to change the way I think about these situations, to have more self respect, and to not let myself be treated in a way I would not treat others.

Good for you that you have identified your behaviour- but don't be too hard on yourself- I suspect you're not too clingy, but you do want this to work so much that you put up with behaviours you know are not right for you.

Good luck

CryingRivers Sun 06-Jan-13 10:55:11

It is very interesting hearing all this and I very much take on board what you are all saying. The thing is I don't think he is selfish- he is a really lovely person and so nice and kind. I guess he maybe just has learned behaviour in the same way I have. It would just seem such a waste to end things when I love him (and he says he loves me) so so much.

I just don't want to end up feeling awful (and I know I am being a horrible person which he doesn't deserve) and I hate my neediness. I just want to be able to change it and make it work. We keep both trying to change- we have sort of talked about it but neither of us seem able to sad Maybe I do need to just walk away.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 06-Jan-13 10:57:11

"The thing is I don't think he is selfish"

Until you accept that he is behaving selfishly you are rather doomed to keep dancing to his tune, waiting for his calls, getting upset when he needs 'space'. I think you need to walk away if only to re-establish your boundaries and have a good think about how you think you deserve to be treated.

CryingRivers Sun 06-Jan-13 11:01:28

I just think he hates confrontation so will withdraw rather than argue. Then I end up forcing it, we have a vague arguement, he says everything is fine but then is a bit off. I guess either of us could change it. And I honestly don't think he is selfish. But I genuinely am listening and thinking about that as a possibility

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 06-Jan-13 11:07:39

So he's passive aggressive rather than aggressive.... It really doesn't change things. All the time you are blaming yourself for his shortcomings and excusing him being 'a bit off' as just part of his personality, you are condemning yourself to playing second fiddle to whatever mood he happens to be in. All manipulative men are 'lovely, nice and kind' when they are not being arseholes. It's how they keep women on the hook... hoping for the 'lovely, nice and kind' man to reappear and the moody, selfish one to go away for a while. If you think it's your responsibility to keep him sweet and your fault when he is distant for being 'needy' and forcing a confrontation then you've put yourself in a no-win situation.

Are you really that desperate to be someone's girlfriend that you'd do that to yourself.?

AnyFucker Sun 06-Jan-13 11:10:52

I think your first task is to dump the creepy, gazing fucker.

MushroomSoup Sun 06-Jan-13 11:15:41

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!)

meditrina Sun 06-Jan-13 11:36:20

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.

TurnipCake Sun 06-Jan-13 11:43:43

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

TranceDaemon Sun 06-Jan-13 11:53:48

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.

garlicbollocks Sun 06-Jan-13 15:09:08

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.

garlicbollocks Sun 06-Jan-13 15:10:41

Oh, yes, seconding OP!

TisILeclerc Sun 06-Jan-13 16:11:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CryingRivers Sun 06-Jan-13 23:30:03

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? angry

AnyFucker Mon 07-Jan-13 00:12:59

He can. He simply chooses not to.

izzyizin Mon 07-Jan-13 00:23:11

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.

oopsadaisymaisy Mon 07-Jan-13 00:38:26

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.

TisILeclerc Mon 07-Jan-13 06:59:23

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.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 07-Jan-13 08:57:40

"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>

runforestrun Mon 07-Jan-13 10:53:59

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

TotallyBS Mon 07-Jan-13 11:27:41

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

MarilynValentine Mon 07-Jan-13 11:53:20

OP I think that you are seeing someone who is being controlling - this isn't about your mood changes (suddenly becoming 'high maintenance' hmm), 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.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 07-Jan-13 11:59:04

"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. hmm

TotallyBS Mon 07-Jan-13 12:58:46

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 smile

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 07-Jan-13 13:04:09

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.... hmm

MarilynValentine Mon 07-Jan-13 13:05:45

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.

TotallyBS Mon 07-Jan-13 13:16:07

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.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 07-Jan-13 13:20:07

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.

struwelpeter Mon 07-Jan-13 13:42:30

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.

garlicbollocks Mon 07-Jan-13 14:31:25

BS - If you're an aficionado of that dreadful, damaging Mars/Venus book, you'll recall that "men like their caves" AND "women are like waves". Now, the woman in the couple you caricatured there is a "wave", yes? She has pronounced emotional peaks & troughs. Her man, therefore, should nurture her during the troughs not bugger off and leave her to cry alone.

Or did you only read the parts you can use to excuse male cruelty?

garlicbollocks Mon 07-Jan-13 14:37:18

OP - You're falling for the nastiest trick in the book: treat 'em mean to keep 'em keen!

It's worked for a while. Now it's time to choose affection & respect over meanness. Treat him exactly the same as you treat everybody else, and go surround yourself with nice, well-balanced, caring people. Let him play sillybuggers elsewhere!

TotallyBS Mon 07-Jan-13 14:47:05

Cogito: As they like to say in my beloved court room dramas, you are arguing facts not in evidence.

My comments are based on things the OP has said about herself and her BF who, apart from this withdrawal business, seem ok. Yet you seem to be projecting with comments about maybe deliberately picking a fight.

garlicbollocks Mon 07-Jan-13 15:03:20

BS - I'll talk about myself here. I'd like you to reconsider your allocation of 'blame', but let's see.

~ I suffer from insecurity. As I discovered in therapy, I have an exaggerated fear of rejection. It's a vulnerability.
~ When I'm in a relationship, I will sometimes be afraid my partner doesn't find me good enough and might leave me.
~ If I share my fears with this partner and he responds by leaving, naturally I'm going to have a bit of a meltdown: my worst fear is being realised.
~ If he cares about my emotional well-being and reassures me with his steady presence and positive regard, naturally I'm going to feel more secure and grateful.

Can you please explain why you think I should suffer agonies, instead of preferring a partner who can support me with my fairly normal vulnerability?

TotallyBS Mon 07-Jan-13 15:54:32

Garlic: My comments were tailored to the 'facts' laid out by the OP. It was not meant to be a general comment on all women including yourself.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 07-Jan-13 16:02:19

"Cogito: As they like to say in my beloved court room dramas, you are arguing facts not in evidence"

And you're Rumpole of the Bailey, I suppose? <shrugs>

garlicbollocks Mon 07-Jan-13 16:56:30

Well, since my ishoo is almost identical to the OP's and I raised it as a case in point, you make a rubbish Rumpole. I sure as hell didn't mention "all women", that's your inference.

Crying, I apologise for letting myself be drawn by a stupid post. As you were smile

Dump the git. Consider yourself well rid.

ItsRainingOutside Mon 07-Jan-13 17:34:22

I don't think he's being needy, nor do I think he's passive aggressive. You're just not that at ease in your relationship yet but it will come in time if you allow yourself to be yourself and regain some confidence in who you are as an individual rather than half of a partnership. I've been exactly where you are and speak from experience. Nearly lost my DP through my own unfounded insecurities and cried a lot of tears before I hit realisation that he loved me for who I am. Relax, you sound like you have the basis for a really great relationship.

TotallyBS Tue 08-Jan-13 07:14:36

OP: I usually avoid AIBU because it seems to be full of damaged women projecting and wheeling out "dump the bastard" as the one fits all solution.

So my closing comment is this. Your BF is still in the relationship so he must feel something for you. You say he withdraws after he has a bad day or after you have annoyed him. Step back and look at what it was that annoyed him. Any chance of a compromise there? Guys will withdraw for a number of reasons. Some are just moody. Others do so as a means of dealing with female/your insecurities. It is unfair to dump on him if it is the latter.

At the end of the day you probably should dump the guy but not for the reason advocated by the Sisterhood of Dump the Bastard.

TotallyBS Tue 08-Jan-13 07:17:18

... (Pressed post too soon) He obviously isn't happy in the relationship but is hanging in there for whatever reason. Just let the poor guy go.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 08-Jan-13 07:23:10

"Just let the poor guy go."

Isn't that the same as ... 'dump the bastard'.... grin?

Allergictoironing Tue 08-Jan-13 09:35:51

BS you seem to have a rather rose tinted view of why some people stay in relationships. Note I've said "people" not men, what follows is not me getting at men in particular.

Firstly some people do stay in relationships not because they care for the other person, but because they get a kick from the power they have over the other person. They feel empowered by their ability to fuck with the other person's head, they enjoy being able to make the other person cry & beg, they love the power to make the other person do almost anything just to make them happy or at least not angry. They just like pushing people around & powertripping.

This doesn't just happen in romantic relationships either, we've all heard about bullying bosses at work or sadistic teachers at school. If it's in the workplace you do have the option of either (depending on the situation) trying to go over the bully's head or of leaving the job. At school at least the parents have the option of removing the child - if the poor child is believed. And in a marriage the bullied person has the option to Leave The Bastard.

Secondly there are some people who are plain selfish and don't really care about the other person all that much. I am going to suggest male perpetrators here as they are in the majority, mainly because of old cultural hangovers that the man is the "Master" of a household. these are men who are entitled enough to think that they should always come first in everything, that their minor concerns are more important than other people's major issues. The kind who expect the woman should do all the "womens work" like cooking, cleaning, washing etc because that's beneath them, even if both work gull time & there are DCs to look after.

Now I'm not particularly suggesting that the OPs partner falls into either of these categories, and there's always a matter of degree, but to simply state that the compromise should always be on the part of the unhappy person, or that someone is still in a relationship so "must care for someone" is a very simplistic view of life.

Allergictoironing Tue 08-Jan-13 09:37:19

Oops typo - "if they both work full time"

TotallyBS Tue 08-Jan-13 10:03:48

Assuming that you aren't being sarcastic, my 'rose tinted' view is based on the fact my relationships history is quite boring. No abusive types. No control freaks etc etc. So when I read the OP I don't think of Relationship Number x and project.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 08-Jan-13 10:05:45

Understandable therefore, if you've only got a very limited experience of relationships, why you'd miss some of the more obvious warning signs in the OP's description.

TisILeclerc Tue 08-Jan-13 10:11:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Allergictoironing Tue 08-Jan-13 10:18:23

No, no sarcasm intended on my part. Many people also don't think to draw analogies from one part of life to another, e.g. the dynamics of a workplace can be very similar to those in a family yet behaviours that are completely unacceptable at work somehow seem to be OK in a family etc.

It's an unfortunate fact that I would estimate the majority of women who post here (and some of the few men who start a thread) are normally at the end of their tether by the time they get the courage up to wash their dirty linen in public. They may not know WHY they falt so awful about what appears to be a comparatively minor incident, but actually it's a last straw type culmination of years and years of drip fed Bad Things.

It's also a sad fact that often the last person to realise someone is being abused is that person themselves. So you even get posters here who seem to think that it's OK for THEM to be slapped around in by their partner but only get on here when it's their DCs who are in danger - yet I'm sure that their partners didn't beat them up on their first date.

I almost envy you BS, that you've had such a decent life that you haven't seen a loved one being in an abusive relationship or had one yourself, because it's heartbreaking when it happens. I've been lucky in that I've managed to "dodge the bullet" in my own life, but I've seen it happen to too many people I love - and I reckon I've escaped by being wary from learning from what's happened to them.

TotallyBS Tue 08-Jan-13 10:40:13

I didn't say I have no experience of 'problem' relationships.

My MIL has been divorced three times. Husband number one (DP's dad) was physically abusive. Number two was a gambling addict. Number three was educated and never let her forget that she wasn't. Then there are my friends and their relationships......

All I am saying is that none of us knows what really goes on between the OP and her BF apart from the fact he withdraws when she "annoys him".

Maybe it's when she doesn't raise the toilet seat, in which case he is obviously a plonker. Maybe it's when she gives him major grief for wanting Guy Time or wanting to watch football on a Saturday afternoon or ... or .....

We don't know all the facts but yet some are keen to see "signs" based on their own past relationships.

TisILeclerc Tue 08-Jan-13 10:43:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 08-Jan-13 10:45:29

"Maybe it's when she doesn't raise the toilet seat"

You seem determined to trivialise and condescend. Not sure that's helpful.

TotallyBS Tue 08-Jan-13 10:54:11

???@ Cogito. Some women post that their partner would get physically/mentally abusive if they did something trivial. I was making the point that if it was something trivial that was setting him off then he IS a plonker. How is that condescending?

TotallyBS Tue 08-Jan-13 11:01:50

@Tis: the only "sign" we have is that he withdraws.

My dad 'withdraws' when my mum complains about the past 50 years of marriage e.g. forgotten anniversaries and birthdays, negative comments made by his mum when they were engaged etc etc. In itself it isn't a "sign" of an abusive male.

Allergictoironing Tue 08-Jan-13 11:07:50

BS I gather you haven't been on MN for very long. There have been plenty of threads where, once the wise ladies have drilled down a bit, it ends up that the OP has been over-reacting to something trivial or are themselves being unreasonable (more often on AIBU than in Relationships). In those cases the OPs tend to be told in very firm tones that they are being unreasonable, to suck it up, work out some compromise, be more tolerant, get a grip etc.

There's also cases where maybe it IS something comparatively trivial, or where the thread starter is "at fault" but in a way that isn't really feasible to change, and it's a deal breaker for one partner. Or that a couple really just aren't compatible. In these cases what the hell is the point of staying together if at least one person is always going to be unhappy. So yes though the reasons may seem trivial to someone outside the relationship they can still be dealbreakers.

TisILeclerc Tue 08-Jan-13 11:11:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TotallyBS Tue 08-Jan-13 11:29:44

Allerg: you've obviously missed the post where I said that the OP should let the guy go smile

Take my mom. She never forgets. To this day she still gives my dad grief over stuff that happened half a century ago like how his mum didn't like her (the woman has been dead for 30 years)

Now several decades later my dad suffers from mild depression. At the age of 80+ he can't face divorce but the constant emotional tirades over things that happened decades ago eats away at him. As for my mum, she can't let ago of things that happened half a century ago. So he withdraws. She then gives him more grief for sulking. They should have got divorced decades ago.

So, I am the last one to counsel the OP to keep the relationship going. Instead I was trying to make the point earlier that the BF was not necessarily being a plonker. He was just being a "guy"

TisILeclerc Tue 08-Jan-13 11:34:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Allergictoironing Tue 08-Jan-13 11:50:48

BS we are swinging here between generalisation & the specifics of this case. You have used examples from your own life to justify the behaviours of the guy in this case, I have been talking about general behaviours.

In this case it isn't whether the OP lets HIM go, more the other way round. He is keeping her dangling and playing on her neediness to get what he wants.

Oh and he's just being a guy? That is a very dangerous statement to make as it gives men an excuse to behave in some awfully bad ways. He stays out drinking after work? He's just being a typical guy. He won't do his share of the messy or unpleasant parts of childcare? Oh that's a "guy" thing. He eyes up every young woman in the street, or makes smutty remarks about women on TV? Ah that's just what "men" do. He expects his partner to do all the housework, cooking, cleaning, ironing etc even though she also works? Well that's hat men expect, poor dears that's what their mothers did so it must be OK.

TotallyBS Tue 08-Jan-13 11:51:56

What is the 'it' that you have?

I am assuming that you think that I am projecting as well.

I don't think I am. I'm just prepared to give the guy the benefit of the doubt.

TisILeclerc Tue 08-Jan-13 11:56:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TotallyBS Tue 08-Jan-13 11:59:04

Allergic: I am not trying to justify the BFs behavior. I've said time and again that we don't have the full facts despite some people seeing 'signs' of an abusive male.

And why do you insist on taking my just being a guy comment and expanding it to cover scenarios not being discussed?

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 08-Jan-13 12:21:00

'just being a guy' is as ridiculous and dangerous a statement as 'boys will be boys'.

Women everywhere end up in bad relationships because they give a man the benefit of the doubt for being a 'typical man' and tolerate behaviour that they wouldn't accept otherwise. By excusing bad behaviour on the grounds of 'it's just what men do' it's absolving them of responsibility. There's another thread here at the moment where someone has stated 'men don't do feelings'....equally daft

In a good relationship of equal individuals there should be no blowing hot and cold, making anyone feel insecure or inadequate. No deliberate winding anyone up, sulking, jealousy or 'I'm not sure if I want to be with you' crap. If it's not a good relationship and it's making you unhappy, end it. Don't put it down to 'it's just the way he/she is' and waste your time.

Allergictoironing Tue 08-Jan-13 12:37:57

(sigh) Because these are ALL things that are being excused by the phrase "just being a guy". As I said I am talking about generalisms here not the specifics of this case, and you using that term IS a generalism. It suggests that his behaviour is all down to it being the way that guys behave IN GENERAL, and therefore by definition it's acceptable because it's "what guys do". Well all the situations I gave above are excused by the same thing - like it's hard wired into men to behave in certain ways and women should just put up with and accept it.

We all accept there are differences in how men & women tend to react in certain situations, however it always seems to be that the woman is expected to make allowances for the guy and rarely the other way round.

So, where do you draw the line in using the fact that men have dangly bits & women don't as an excuse?

TotallyBS Tue 08-Jan-13 12:58:39

Generalisation Alert!

A lot of women are emotionally insecure. A lot of guys, when faced with these insecurities, withdraw emotionally.

Isn't it a bit hypocritical to basically argue that this is the way women are and that the BF should make allowances for the OP's insecurities BUT then go on how one shouldn't have to make allowances for the BF moods?

TotallyBS Tue 08-Jan-13 13:17:24

I like the bit about how women are always the ones that make allowances for the guys and not vice versa. grin

Guy friend at work moved away from his family so that his wife could be closer to her sister and mother. He wasn't too happy about that but it wasn't a fight he was keen on having.

My BIL rarely sees his mates now that he is married. The wife (no kids) hated her job. He is well paid so they weren't going to miss her Sainsburys pay check so they agreed she would stay at home. Because she now have no outside interests or friends she now expects him to come home immediately after work and for his weekends to exclusively revolve around her. The guy has kept his golf but that has been relegated to 6am tee off on the Sunday (obviously only during summer time).

Call me a traitor to the sisterhood if you want but I see more evidence of emotional abuse coming from women with my MIL being the exception. All 3 ex's were either physically or mentally abusive.

TisILeclerc Tue 08-Jan-13 13:22:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 08-Jan-13 13:23:57

Women can be as bad as men.... hold the front page... hmm

Still doesn't mean that the OP still has to suffer Mr Hot & Cold's head-fuckery.

OtherwiseIwud Tue 08-Jan-13 13:31:30

You should try reading Harriet Lerners books. Dance with Anger especially good. She talks about the Emotional pursuer.
It helped me a lot a few years ago.
Feel for you. It sucks xxxx

TotallyBS Tue 08-Jan-13 14:09:46

Cogito: why do you rush to label it as "head-fuckery"?

Going back to my dad, my mom wonwill think nothing about tear his character to bits in front of his children

TotallyBS Tue 08-Jan-13 14:13:08

... oops. posted to soon.

A few hours later she expects things to be all hugs and kisses as if the rant had never happened. Of course he is no longer in a receptive mood. Is he playing head-fuckery?

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 08-Jan-13 14:16:14

Because we're not talking about your dysfunctional parents who clearly have very serious marital problems. We're talking about two people who are dating 'on and off' One regularly going for the silent treatment leaving the other anxious & thinking they've done something wrong. It's head-fuckery...

TotallyBS Tue 08-Jan-13 14:26:19

I'm offering a perspective on the silent treatment that you mentioned. You are saying that it's head-fuckery based on the "signs" that you see. I'm saying that it's possibly the guy's way of dealing with an emotional woman.

Anyway this whole discussion is pointless. The OP has long deserted this thread thus leaving us to fill in the blanks as we each see fit. [reaches for HIDE button]

TisILeclerc Tue 08-Jan-13 14:29:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

garlicbollocks Tue 08-Jan-13 14:29:18

TBS, you seem desperate to deny that emotional bullying can exist. It does and we're looking at a clear case of it here.

If, say, OP had a terror of spiders - a proper phobia - and her boyfriend regularly placed a big, hairy-legged arachnid in her bedroom, would you say that was reasonable? I'd say he was a cruel bully, leveraging her phobia to make her beg him to help. What he's doing here is an exact equivalent: she's got a fear of being ignored; he ignores her; she begs. Score one for him, every time.

Allergictoironing Tue 08-Jan-13 14:30:34

^A lot of women are emotionally insecure. A lot of guys, when faced with these insecurities, withdraw emotionally.

Isn't it a bit hypocritical to basically argue that this is the way women are and that the BF should make allowances for the OP's insecurities BUT then go on how one shouldn't have to make allowances for the BF moods?^

Once you get down to specific cases, you have to look at cause and effect. Are the guy's moods because of her emotional insecurity, or is her neediness being caused by his moodiness and withdrawal? Going back to the OP she says whenever either of them has a bad day, whenever he's annoyed with her. So in this particular case it appears that her insecurity is being caused by his withdrawal not the reverse. He's also erratic with his treatment of her, e.g. sometimes being busy is given as an excuse for withdrawal, but sometimes he doesn't withdraw even when very busy.

Regarding your parents I wouldn't say your father is committing headfuckery, however your mother quite possibly is (whether intended or not). Or it could just be that they are very different people and this has always happened, one is quick to anger then gets over it, the other is a slow burner - emotionally incompatible in the first place. Are you of the view your father should be the one who always makes allowances for your mother, do you believe that she should always make allowances for him?

cryingRivers Tue 08-Jan-13 20:31:22

This is really interesting to read... I think it is really important that I clarify that I know it is not all him- I recognise that I can be needy at times and sometimes I want to kick myself for it. Whether he reacts in the right way is maybe another issue and after lots of thinking I think it is genuinely both of us and our interactions need to be worked on.

Again he came back, apologised and was really nice and lovely to be around. In the interest of a) working out what to do and b) with the recognition that I overreacted to something I accepted this apology and his assertion that things will be ok if we both sort our heads out. He was very clear that he was aware of what he does when we had a chat and tries to stop doing it but did also say he sometimes struggles with not having space and knows it is a problem. A fairly productive chat I thought

I have decided to give it a few weeks, make sure I am making the biggest effort I can to be un-needy grin (that does not mean asking for his support etc just not being a pain) and then see how that pans out. If he still just disappears for no reason then I am out of here. If he responds well and it feels easier then great.

Thanks for all your advice and I shall let you know how it goes. Very reassuring in some ways to know I am not the only one although still a little in limbo about whether we can both make some adjustments without compromising ourselves smile

cryingRivers Tue 08-Jan-13 20:32:22

oops: (that does not mean asking for his support etc just not being a pain) was meant to be that does not mean NOT asking....

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 08-Jan-13 21:49:31

Never compromise. Always be yourself. The right person will love you for who you are and not who they can mould you into being. Same goes the other way incidentally. If you don't want a boyfriend that is always bolting off in search of 'space', don't pick one that does and then expect him to change....

Allergictoironing Wed 09-Jan-13 08:15:56

There are a few compromises (bear with me Cogito) that maybe could be made on both sides of this, but only ones that don't make either of you work against your true nature - as long as in both cases that true nature is in no way controlling or abusive, and these compromises are small, fair and reasonable.

In your case crying, it could mean not being so needy at times when it's agreed that he needs a bit of space. But in return his needing space times cannot be on a whim when he feels like it, but must have set times or conditions on when he can have this time.

An example that might fir with both needs would be he tells you in advance that he's got some massive piece of work on and he really needs a bit of time away from everything while he finishes it. Crying then knows that he is going to be uber busy for the next 3 days so not to expect to be in his mind constantly, so doesn't get pushy because he's not texted her for 6 hours. Of course if he starts to take the piss & does this every few days, or fails to warn Crying that he's in that place & just withdraws without saying anything, then all bets are off...

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