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God I am just so confused. Someone please help me.

(53 Posts)
madonnawhore Sat 23-Jul-11 00:44:57

Please help me. I just don't know what to do for the best. This will probably be long, sorry.

Bit of background: Been with boyfriend for 9 months. His ex left him and took his daughter with her although he has regular access and sees her a lot. We met very soon after his split, completely randomly. I was also recently out of an emotionally abusive relationship, but I don't have any kids. I have met his DD, but she thinks I'm a friend. I've never spent the night at his when she's been there.

Anyway, he's A Good Guy. Not malicious or unkind in any way. But he's thoughtless. And maybe a bit emotionally inept.

I kind of snapped at him the other night because I feel like he's been getting too comfortable (or stopped caring) and I feel a bit taken for granted.

The thing that set it all off was that he's going on holiday with his family for a week. What with the weekends he's got his DD and this holiday, last night was the only time I had with him for about the next 2.5 weeks. And I hadn't seen him for almost a week before that. So out of 3 weeks in total, we've had one night together. And he went to the gym.

I got really upset. Because, despite knowing he wasn't going to see me for two and a half weeks, there was no, 'but let's make plans to do something with DD the weekend I'm back', or anything like that. Just, 'see you in two weeks'.

So I basically said that if it wasn't for the fact that there was this whole complicated situation with the break-up with his ex and his DD, I would have taken the hint by now and would probably be thinking there's no point me hanging round as it's obvious he doesn't really want to involve me in his life.

I said that of course I understood it was difficult for him juggling so many relationships - his ex, his ex's parents, his DD, me, his mum, his dad, his step family (who he's going on holiday with) - but at the same time, I feel like I deserve to be a bit more of a priority.

I try SO hard to be easy going about things and I never give him a hard time about the big gaps we spend apart when he's with his DD, but I'm getting to the point now where, if it's going to be like this forever, I don't think I can go on. I need more from him.

When he's with his DD, quite often we'll go days without speaking. He says he's forgetful generally with phoning and stuff, which is true. But even if that means I shouldn't take it personally, it's still not good enough.

But then, when we're together, he's fantastic. Really kind, loving, attentive, etc. It's just the total lack of spontaneous contact when we're apart that makes me feel really insignificant.

I'm especially pissed off because when we spoke before he went on holiday he said he'd promise to call and be better with staying in touch while he's away. I told him to let me know when he arrived at the house. He's been there since this morning and I haven't heard anything. You'd think that after our chat he'd be sure to at least text me.

But then, he's with his DD and his family he hasn't seen in ages and maybe I'm being unreasonable expecting him to check in with me the second he gets there. This is my problem. For everything I get upset about, I can come up with a perfectly rational argument as to why I might be being unreasonable. BUT I JUST WANT SOME MORE OF HIS ATTENTION!

Anyway, after I'd said all this to him he then told me he thought I was amazing and he loved spending time with me and thought I was terrific and wanted to keep on spending time with me, etc. All the right things.

But he said he also feels like he has this huge hole where something's been ripped away from him and he finds it difficult to fully open up. And he was really sorry it was making me upset but he didn't know what to do about it or how to get that part of him back.

I can only guess at what the pain must be like when a parent is separated from their child. You guys will know better than I would. I know he misses his DD terribly when they're not together and he's obviously still devastated about the splitting up of his family. More than I realised probably, because he never talks about it.

Also, he's probably still in love with his ex. Maybe? He says he's not but he would say that wouldn't he?

So then I said, if he was just asking me to bear with him while he rode out the grief, I could do that.

But if he was saying he'd never be able to offer me any more than the way things are at the moment, then I need to think about what my next move is.

He said he was asking me to bear with him. He said 'I'm not saying that nothing's going to happen in the future' (meaning = this relationship could go somewhere), but that right now he just felt hollow. But: 'I think you're amazing, I want to keep spending time with you. In the mean time let's just have fun'.

What does 'have fun' mean? That's like the worst sentence ever. The problem is that I'm in love with him and I want to know whether we have a future. And he can't tell me. Is that a reason to break up? I'm not sure I can just 'have fun' when I need to know that stuff. But it's only been 9 months. Is that my own insecurities making me too intense?

So that's where we are. Him still devastated and getting over the break up of his family, and me feeling like I'm compromising my needs and taking a gamble on him that it will be worth it in the end.

Should I bear with him? How long should I do it for? How will I know when he's over it? Will he ever be? What if it takes ages and then it doesn't work and I'm alone and childless!? Was I out of order for giving him a hard time when he's really only trying his best in what must be an awful situation for him?

Or should I end it? Does the fact that he's not called me today, despite me telling him how I feel, mean that he's just not prepared or able to make the effort I need? Or am I being needy and mental?

Should I end things and give him a chance to sort his emotional shit out and come back to me if/when he's ready? Is that really drastic? I want to be there for him but not at the detriment of my own happiness.

Also, my defences are up because of my own shitty past relationship, so as soon as I feel I'm being treated any less than I deserve, I get a massive 'leave' sign flashing in my head, when maybe there's a less drastic way to approach it.

Well done if you've made it this far.

ninah Sat 23-Jul-11 00:48:55

i think you're intense atm and should give him time/space if you care about him

madonnawhore Sat 23-Jul-11 00:52:39

Thank you! If it's me being intense then I can totally deal with that. I am very happy to hear that it's me making the issue. I can work on being less needy, that's fine.

I am just super wary of being treated like shit again because my ex did such a number on me. So I interpret his distance as a negative comment on me, or even an attack on me. But it's not is it? It's just him trying to heal.

moonferret Sat 23-Jul-11 00:58:48

It depends how "much" of him you seems that at the minute you're a partner of convenience to him. "Have fun" means he's not too serious, apart from when he feels like "fun"...

ninah Sat 23-Jul-11 00:59:02

no I get where you are coming from, I went out with a man fairly newly out of a long marriage and i am a very needy person, I found it hard to give him space and sort out our separate issues
if he is as good as he sounds when you are together it sounds v positive
it wouldn't hurt to build an individual life for yourself alongside the relationship
what's wrong with fun mw? why is that the worst thing he could say? you know, no one can give you guarantees wrt to the future even after 20+ years
I'd embrace the fun. at 9 months it should be all about enriching your life, not agonising about what may/may not happen! trust yourself and believe that you are worth it

ninah Sat 23-Jul-11 01:01:24

no I disagree after a long relationship I can understand not wanting to make an instant commitment
what I would say to mw is don't be a facilitator at your own expense ie he cries on your shoulder etc and you therefore lose the partnership aspect
I'd keep off all the discussions about ex's

madonnawhore Sat 23-Jul-11 01:02:03

Here's what I'm thinking:

My own insecurities = I need it to be all about me.

His situation = obviously it can never be all about me.

Either I:

Go find someone who can make me the centre of their universe and worship and adore me.

Grow up and accept that sometimes relationships are messy and that this man who I love and care about is telling me he wants to be with me, but needs time and space to heal from a horrid experience.

That's it in a nutshell isn't it? Am I missing anything?

eslteacher Sat 23-Jul-11 01:03:03

It's a tough one, OP...

I totally sympathise with your position of wanting more confirmation that your boyfriend cares about you in a way that makes him think about you more than just when you are physically together. But from what you've posted, I get the impression that your BF split up with his ex, the mother of his child, only in the last 12 months? To be honest, it sounds like he's not ready to commit at the moment, maybe quite rightly. But you, on the other hand, ARE ready to commit, and want more from him than he is able to give you at this time.

So my conclusion is that you're in a bit of an impossible situation...his focus is still on his child, his ex and his ex-FIL which is really hugely commendable as it shows IMO that he's a good guy and is trying to maintain good relationships with them all in the name of maintaining a good relationship with his daughter and making the whole situation as non-conflict as possible.

However, your focus, understandably is all on him...its hard to emotionally accept that someone else's child is the priority for them and not you as the Significant Other. You might rationally accept it, but emotionally accepting it is another thing. I think maybe if your boyfriend was further down the process of being a single father maybe he would be paying more attention to you, but at the moment he's still in the very early stages of trying his utmost to make single-fatherhood work for him, PLUS has he really had time to get over the end of his relationship with the mother of his child? It seems to me that he hasn't.

I don't usually advise leaving a relationship hastily, but here I'd honestly say that it seems like you're at incompatible points in your lives right now, and you maybe need to take some time apart and let him find his groove being a single dad before trying to launch a serious relationship together. I don't think it's drastic, I just think it's sensible in your situation.

ninah Sat 23-Jul-11 01:03:34

yeah worship yourself! and take your time with partnership

ninah Sat 23-Jul-11 01:05:44

I don't think op is ready to commit either until she is over her own past relationships and the negatives they've left her with
having fun would be Ok for both of them, I think

madonnawhore Sat 23-Jul-11 01:06:51

We never discuss the ex. Ever. He definitely doesn't use me as a shoulder to cry on.

Also, we do have a lot of fun together. Not 'fun' as in, 'I'll booty call you at midnight if my mates blow me out' kind of fun. The time we spend together is brilliant and does feel like a partnership.

That's partly what freaks me out. I'll spend 3/4 days at his flat and I feel like we're really close and couple-y (he gives me his spare keys and sometimes I get home from work before him, etc), and then he'll have his DD for 5 days in a row and I barely hear from him.

My self esteem is a bit fragile and I find that sudden cutting off quite hard to deal with.

ninah Sat 23-Jul-11 01:09:39

i really do get the sense here that it's your self esteem, not him
as a bitter old single mother this is quite rare for me, so please give him the benefit of the doubt and try to believe in him!

madonnawhore Sat 23-Jul-11 01:10:00

Wow riverboat, you've got it in one.

I can't bear the thought of ending it with him though. I love him.

ninah Sat 23-Jul-11 01:11:55

o no I bet you're even more confused now!
I suppose it boils down to how patient you can be and what the quality of your relationship is when you're together

madonnawhore Sat 23-Jul-11 01:13:39

Ninah I think it's 85% my self esteem and 15% him being a bit emotionally detached.

Sometimes when I'm feeling really strong, I feel like I can totally cope with this situation. My life is great - I have a good job, earn lots of money, have my own place, loads of friends. Sometimes I feel like I can deal with just getting on with my own life and the time I spend with him is a lovely bonus.

But when I'm feeling a bit wobbly - PMT, knackered, he's going away for a week so I know I'll really miss him - I feel like there's no hope and he'll never love me the way I want to be loved, etc.

I swing between the two constantly. So you're probably right. A lot of this stuff is about me and what's going on in my head.

ninah Sat 23-Jul-11 01:16:17

I suppose what it comes down to is how much patience you have
Personally I have v little and would rather be alone than hanging around
but if you think he's worth a bit of persistence, you are only 9 months in
what i would do is give yourself a deadline, and stick to it
if you still feel the same by x date then cut him off?

eslteacher Sat 23-Jul-11 01:16:57

madonnawhore, I totally understand how incomprehensible it feels to contemplate ending a relationship with a man you love when nothing is forcibly compelling you to do so.

How much have you hoenstly discussed your relative positions and emotions at this point? Obviously you have to some extent based on your OP, but have you said to him with no beating about the bush that you can't continue like this and that you need more commitment from him if you are going to stay in the relationship? Does he know it's make or break point for you? If you've made this clear already but nothing has changed, I truly think you have to find the strength to take some time apart, because you are going to be miserable otherwise. He can't give you what you need right now and staying with him and loving him but not getting the kind of consistent love from him that you need will just be more painful for you.

ninah Sat 23-Jul-11 01:17:04

repeating myself, sorry

madonnawhore Sat 23-Jul-11 01:17:21

Thank you for indulging me. It really helps just to get this stuff down and out of my head.

My friends are split too - some say I need to just chill out, others say I should cut my losses and let him sort himself out.

I guess there are good arguments either way. But when we're together, it's great. I feel like as long as the time we're together is good, then it's worth it.

ninah Sat 23-Jul-11 01:18:40

give him til christmas then (but only in your head)
see what happens!

madonnawhore Sat 23-Jul-11 01:21:30

But I also know there's nothing more miserable than being in a relationship with someone you love and they don't love you (enough).

As sick as it makes me feel to type this sentence, I think if he can't manage to make more of an effort then obviously I'll have no choice but to make that call.

I really hope I don't have to make that decision though.

Fuck. I'm so sad. I thought maybe if I loved him enough I could make it all ok, but grief just takes as long as it takes.

pseudonomic Sat 23-Jul-11 01:27:28

I think you are sad because you are realising he's not what you want. It's not about him, this is about you. You have come out of a crappy relationship and grasped hold of him as this 'good' man and the reality bites hard.

Anyone can be good with someone else for a few hours, common politeness and sexual chemistry will see to that, but until you fix your head about what has happened to you in the past, you are not in a fit state to have a new love in your life.

And he's in the same boat. If he hasn't got over his ex he's no good for you either.

Why don't you spend a bit of time on your own working on liking you a bit better first? smile

madonnawhore Sat 23-Jul-11 01:39:09

pseudonomic there's definitely some truth in that. I am sad at having to recognise that I don't like this situation and I need it to change soon otherwise I will have to leave or make myself miserable pretending I'm ok with it when I'm not.

I KNOW the sensible answer is we should both deal with our past bullshit and come to a new relationship with a clean slate. But we both feel a great deal for each other and I really can't contemplate ending things right now without seeing whether there can be any improvement.

I was having counselling until fairly recently and I found it helped me enormously with getting my own emotional house in order. Unfortunately it was getting really expensive and I had to stop for a while. I'm sure I stopped too soon though because I've really noticed my self esteem has slipped back towards the negative again. I should try to go back and see her.

To answer riverboat's question, no I haven't set it out in no uncertain terms. The conversation we had the other night was just me saying I found his emotional distance really difficult to deal with and was he trying to give me a hint that he's not bothered about the relationship? To which he said 'no' he just still felt like he'd had his heart ripped out and asked me to bear with him.

piellabakewell Sat 23-Jul-11 06:59:36

It would feel similar if you were having an affair with someone...when you're together, it's great, but when you're not you're very aware that you are way down the list for him. My partner has a DD and I miss him like mad when he's with her, but we still speak and text and sometimes I go too (she's over 200 miles away). However, I recognise a lot of what you say about needing to feel loved (and in a nutshell, right now you don't) and if you need something you're not getting then maybe this isn't the right man for you. It may not just be a case of right man, wrong time, but wrong man, wrong time. I was married to someone who was emotionally unavailable to me and it's soul destroying, I definitely wouldn't recommend it.

Guildenstern Sat 23-Jul-11 07:27:18

I don't have any wisdom to offer.

However, one part of your problem could potentially be simply a difference in the amount of attention you require from each other.

You seem to expect quite a lot of communication from him. I know couples who are constantly ringing/texting/making plans and this works providing it suits both of them.

Me & DH are more the other way. We have spent a long time living apart (even whilst married). Going days without speaking was not an issue for us. If one of us was off on holiday for two weeks, this would not be a major thing and we wouldn't text or ring each other during that time. (We have been together for 15 years, married for 8, btw.)

Do you think maybe you like lots of communication but he is quite happy with less? Because if so you can't judge him by your own standards.

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