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Is it me or him - and what can I do?

(92 Posts)
StumpyStumped Sat 15-Oct-11 00:08:22

Okay, admitting upfront to a name change in case I bugger it up and get outed...


Problem: DP has gone to bed, leaving me near tears. (In fact, it took ten minutes before he returned to say if I was staying up for a bit I should sleep on the sofa). This evening he paused the film to ask if 'everything' was alright. For me, it is. I love him, I love where we are, and although we have bugger all money I think we'll get by somehow. He thinks he's hanging by a thread, that I'm constantly on the verge of throwing him out, that I don't care enough about him, and that I'll get sick of a penniless life together and leave him.

But we did all this last night. I thought I had reassured him, but tonight I have to face up to the fact that it's irrelevant what I say. We did all this a few months ago as well. Four months ago he accused me of having an affair (NEVER, btw, just NEVER). And before that, etc etc - the point being this is a regular accusation. And I say 'accusation' because that's what it feels like.

Because he always throws all this stuff at me out of the blue and then won't discuss it! I spend my half hour or so explaining how much I love him, and try to get him to say why he feels like this, but all I can get back is 'I don't know', and 'drop it, will you'.

History: in case it sheds any light I've missed. I left a very well paid job in London, and he has earned very little (maybe £2k) in the two years we've been together - he denies it but could this be the problem, that he doesn't feel like a provider? Also, in the first 10 months we were together he dithered about his ex-girlfriend and whether he really loved her after all (NOT easy, as you can imagine) - but he was very depressed and I looked after him, and he picked himself up again, though he still bears some scars from her behaviour. He says he's not been cheated on before, so it can't be that clouding his outlook.

The Point: the tears thing is because I'm beginning to feel it's irrelevant what I do, let alone say. I have supported him emotionally and physically and financially, and it's not enough to reassure him. So what can I try to get him to see me as I am, instead of fretting away on the inside of his own head? Or if this is something he needs to sort out, how do I start to break down that I-don't-know-drop-it defence?

Any help gratefully received since I don't know what to try...

FabbyChic Sat 15-Oct-11 00:14:21

HOney he sounds depressed, needing constant reassurance, being told that he isn't bad because he does not provide.

He needs to be doing things to earn money whatever it takes so that he feels a man again, the fact is he doesn't feel like a man at all.

squeakytoy Sat 15-Oct-11 00:15:18

How long have you been together?

It sounds a bit to me like he is attention seeking, although there could also be depression too...

He seems to get himself worked up, then demand some sort of reassurance from you.. so he winds you up, you play into his hands and give him the confidence boost that he wants.. then he toddles off...

Some men would do it as a way to keep their partner on their toes... and also off their backs about not pulling their weight..

buzzskeleton Sat 15-Oct-11 00:16:16

Um, he has issues. It's his responsibility to deal with them, you cannot fix him. Look at yourself in the mirror, do you see Bob the Builder there, Florence Nightingale?

He accuses you of things you haven't done, he kept you guessing about whether he still loved an ex when he was supposed to be with you, he makes you dance to the tune of his insecurities continually, he stonewalls, you reassure... Have you read much of the stuff on here about emotional abuse?

Quodlibet Sat 15-Oct-11 00:18:55

Oh dear. It sounds like he's got some large insecurities that there is little you can do much about, above and beyond what you're doing.

Some people have an internal 'thesis' that they subconsciously try to 'prove' by engineering situations which force other people into roles that would affirm their beliefs. It sounds a bit like this is what he is doing.

I'm presuming you're fine with him not there a valid reason why he doesn't/can't? From how you've written about it this doesn't seem to bother you particularly, but for many others this would be a large issue. From one perspective this could be an engineered position of helplessness.

Have you read Eric Berne's Games People Play? A bit dated, but he explains the way people construct roles and then make others play them very well.

solidgoldbrass Sat 15-Oct-11 00:20:05

Bin this self-obsessed, self-pitying, useless wanker. These performances of his are conscious and deliberate, the aim is firstly to get a good dose of ego-stroking from you about how wonderful he is despite the fact he's an utter loser the rest is to make sure that you are unsettled, unhappy and have no room in your head for anything but How Can I Make This Relationship Work - the answer being indulge the man in every way.

StumpyStumped Sat 15-Oct-11 00:20:20

Oh, thank you for replying!

It could be - but then he does turn bits of work down now and again, which is frustrating. He set up a small business of his own at the beginning of the year, which makes about £20 a day at best, and he's vocally stressed about that. Thing is, it won't ever make more (based on his time) than that - which he knows - but seems to be stuck pushing away it instead of looking around elsewhere.

StumpyStumped Sat 15-Oct-11 00:22:05

Oops, just saw Fabby's post when I wrote that last one.

Um. Squeaky:

... hang on, he's coming down...

tallwivghoulies Sat 15-Oct-11 00:27:37

Stumpy love. you have One Life. Is this really how you want to spend it?

Okay maybe you believe in re-incarnation, but still...

You're one of those lovely people that falls for a 'diamond in the rough' - you recognise his potential and want to nurture him. Am I right?

You're a rescuer. Me too. I'm 52 and it's got me nowhere. Sorry to be harsh but they either get strong enough to ditch you or they stay and sap the life out of you and then ditch you!

Use those lovely nurturing skills at work, with dc and most importantly on yourself and you'll reap the rewards.

tallwivghoulies Sat 15-Oct-11 00:31:05

Oh, and what SGB said grin

QuintessentialShadyHallows Sat 15-Oct-11 00:34:21

I echo SGB.

She speaketh the truth.

pictish Sat 15-Oct-11 00:48:54

SGB is right.
You won't accept it for a long time to come yet, I'm guessing, but eventually you will.

He's playing with you emotionally, having you be his little ego boosting puppet.
He wants you to take the responsibility of fixing him...but he has no intention of being fixed. he has you where he wants you...striving to make him happy, while your best attempts are batted away as not good enough.

He's a prick. Sorry.

StumpyStumped Sat 15-Oct-11 01:19:27

Sorry to disappear. He's just had the most awful shouty/slamming doors episode.

He says he feels like I'm just using him for cleaning and fixing things and sex. I'm fine with him not earning much - never a squeak out of me about it, so that's definitely his worry, not mine.

He's mostly angry tonight about the fact he went to bed after the film and I didn't. That mumsnet has taken over my life because he's not clever enough or earns enough and I never want to talk to him (I only joined seven days ago). That I'm a mug for wanting bored housewife imaginary friends (he spends a huge amount of time on a different forum himself).

Sorry, drivelling now. So the thing I can't work out is: is it me for not being able to tackle the earning/esteem spillover, or is it him for not recognising that might be his problem, and not me?

StumpyStumped Sat 15-Oct-11 01:22:11

Actually, it might be me, since he just said a few times that I don't care what he feels and always ignore his feelings. It's just sometimes I feel that what he accuses me of isn't true, but he says it doesn't matter if the end result is that he feels bad anyway.

Confused. sad

squeakytoy Sat 15-Oct-11 01:25:48

It's not you. Honestly it's not.

StumpyStumped Sat 15-Oct-11 01:29:45

But I did stay up tonight after he'd gone, Squeaky - and I can see that going to bed on your own can't be great. But it's not that unusual is it? Not to get such an earful about?

nevertheless Sat 15-Oct-11 01:47:39

It is not you definitely. If you haven't got DCs then get out and get some distance. He is asking you to be mummy/enabler to his toddler moods. Yes he doesn't feel good enough man enough inside and he is taking his bad mood out on you. He is unconsciously pulling you down to a child level to match him. If you behave as an adult to his child then he feels worse as he feels even less empowered and resents you playing the adult. So it's a no-win situation. And natural response at times is to fall to his child level. Have a look at transactional analysis, I think. You both need to be on an adult level with each other, which means he has to get up there somehow by himself. Be an adult yourself, don't engage and perhaps he will realise that it doesn't help him or you by playing the child. He needs to sort himself out and he won't do that if you buy into his version of events.

PartyPooperz Sat 15-Oct-11 01:52:44

It's not you. It's him.

I went out with someone for 10 years (14 - 25 yrs old) who had depression and self-esteem issues (still does) and was a bit of a tortured soul. But the thing was that he was actually a very sensitive and empathic person and he also agonised about the way in which his depression affected me (which was also draining in itself albeit well-intentioned).

I think you suggest to him that you are concerned that he feels like this all the time and you care very much about his feelings but while you can be supportive he needs professional help and being accused of infidelity/being uncaring etc is v hurtful because it is absolutely untrue and he obviously does not care about YOUR feelings to continue to do so. If he does care then he will seek help.

TBH he sounds like a needy wannabe victim/wastrel ( I suspect SGB is spot on) - like I said my ex had terrible self-esteem issues (we are still good friends) and used to suffer from a lot of social anxiety and not want to come out with me or get to know my friends better (lots of arguments) and when he came to a party of mine a few years after we parted he said how sorry he was that he'd not got to know all my friends better and how nice they were and what regret he felt for that.

I learnt a very valuable lesson from that relationship: I am not here to save anyone from themselves. That doesn't mean I am not supportive both practically and emotionally in a relationship but it does mean I have limits and expect a relationship to be balanced and reciprocal (everyone has their periods of depression/insecurity) but when one partner is reliant on another as the sole source of all their happiness/emotional well-being then I want to be clear I don't think that's healthy. From my perspective, it is also a matter of self-preservation. Once it dawned on me that I, personally and alone, could not give someone else a sense of self-esteem I felt a great sense of relief. It took me 10 years. Please don't waste that much time.

StumpyStumped Sat 15-Oct-11 01:57:20

Cheers, Never. No DCs. That makes sense - he has just repeated there is no point discussing things because I am cleverer than he is and so win arguments on words alone!

We're not competing, fgs, but I do end up feeling that he gets wound up, offloads onto me, feels temporarily better and so does nothing to fix the original worry. But while he firmly sticks to the claim that it is me making him feel bad because I don't care enough about his feelings, what can I do? Discuss it with him as an adult and so confirm him in that belief, or not engage, and so confirm him in that belief...

So how does he get to feel empowered?

StumpyStumped Sat 15-Oct-11 02:05:08

Sorry, Party, slow typer!

I need to think about what you've typed. I never thought I was emotionally stupid, but I just cannot work out what to do. He can be lovely and caring, but is obviously unhappy about something that manifests itself as blaming me, and I don't know what to do about it.

He says it is just me that's wrong, but then yesterday he said he was happy and devoted to me, so if he won't honestly ask himself what is underneath it all I don't know how I can help him sort it out!

I'm a fairly quiet person so maybe I don't talk enough to him, if he's unhappy I'm talking to other people on the internet.

izzywhizzysfritenite Sat 15-Oct-11 02:28:47

He's a social inadequate and he manipulates you to make up for his real and perceived inadequacies.

What are you doing with this loser?

StumpyStumped Sat 15-Oct-11 02:34:23

Awwww, harsh, Izzy. He's made a number of bad decisions in his life, dislikes himself for it, and tries very hard to make his new things work. He's very stressed about his work, which would make anyone a bit touchy.

I can be lazy, quiet, and tend to let things slide, so it is entirely possible that I'm not paying him enough attention.

uh oh, he's getting up again...

tallwivghoulies Sat 15-Oct-11 02:38:28

Oh ffs I'm sorry, but "He says it is just me that's wrong" shock

Stumpy I want to whisk you away, sit you infront of a bottle of wine/chocolate and drum it into you that you've done everything you can and there's only so much a human being can do!

StumpyStumped Sat 15-Oct-11 02:44:21

False alarm.

It does upset me to be accused of things I haven't done, or have done but not with the intent he claims (i.e. going to bed late just to avoid him). But then I tell him that he's wrong when he says these things, so he probably sees me as stonewalling/avoiding/dismissing him. Who's dismissing who! Argh!

And breathe...

StumpyStumped Sat 15-Oct-11 02:45:43

sorry TWG! forgot the hoooge thanks for the wine/chocolate. in fact, a quick trip to the plum vodka might be in order...

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