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How do you balance emotions and practicalities?(18 Posts)
OK, so this is a bit of a weird one.
My boyfriend is 40, we met when he was 37. I'm five years younger. He suffers from anxiety and has acute attacks at times when he just panics. At these times he can say and do some really hurtful things, which often seem to be based on an unrealistic view of relationships.
I only found this out six months ago. (I know this sounds crazy, but he did a really good job of hiding it, promise!). It came as a huge shock - he told me that I wasn't the right person, that I didn't enhance his social status, that I wasn't at all his idea of a perfect wife. I could see that he was in a complete state (he was feeling suicidal). So I calmly said we should cancel the wedding we had planned for this summer, and suggested that he went to the doctor for meds, and to see a counsellor for help. He went along and sought some expert help, and improved a lot as a result of talking about this problem for the first time ever (his family are very buttoned up). He is visibly calmer now, and has apologised for what he's done.
However, I'm now the one who can't get over it. I was so shocked to find out that this was all happening and I feel like I've had the stuffing knocked out of me. It's not that I had to tell all my family and friends that the wedding was off (though that was pretty humiliating) - it's that I don't feel like he knows or understands the insecurity that he has created. And the fact that he hasn't done that makes me somehow feel more anxious and insecure than ever. I've lost my confidence, and let myself go... I'm no longer on top of things like I used to be.
Cancelling the wedding came at the end of a very long chain of really quite extreme 'bad stuff' that has happened to me over the last few years (outside of relationships!). I do know that all you can do in situations like that is to put one foot in front of the other, but I feel like I'm doing that in an increasingly wobbly fashion. In fact, I look like something out of the Ministry of Silly Walks, metaphorically speaking. I'm all out of confidence and positivity. I want to get back to being a happy, bubbly person, though I'm not sure how to start doing that.
It's not surprising that you're all out of confidence and positivity while he's going from strength to strength because he's the equivalent of an emotional vampire sucking the lifeblood from you.
If you want to get back to the happy, bubbly, person you were before you met him, you'll give him his marching orders and if he
goes into his well-practised act starts panicking and claims to be 'feeling suicidal', hand him a bottle of paracetamol, an 8' rope, and a length of hosepipe and tell him to take his pick and get on with it.
He's 40yo? I'll put money on his relationship history being littered with the metaphorical corpses of good women who
walked on eggshells around him laid down their lives for this tosser.
Don't let it happen to you, honey. You're worth far more than this emotionally abusive jerk.
I think the starting point is to understand that you've had a genuinely nasty shock finding out a new aspect to your boyfriend's character that you didn't think existed previously. You seem to be saying that you've tolerated the 'hurtful things' he has said when panicking in the past but that the last episode took things to a new and frightening level. Once you've experienced that, there will always be the fear that there will be a recurrence one day, or even an escalation. It is worrying that he thinks as long as he's OK, you're fine.... and doesn't seem to be concerned about your welfare.
If you're the type that soliders on, takes bad news on the chin, and you've been knocked so badly that your normal coping mechanisms aren't working I think you're quite entitled to take a step out, ask for time to think about the future and properly weigh up the pros and cons. You may decide a life with a man this volatile is a risk that's not worth taking after all.
Oh Izzyizin, your post made me laugh heartily. Thank you
I understand what you're saying, and where you're coming from. However, his anxiety is very genuine (his father is a colossal worrier - the kind of guy who just chunters incessantly about everything in a deeply annoying fashion. I think my partner absorbed it by osmosis as a kid and never really manned up until recently). Part of the reason he hasn't dealt with it is the gender stigma of being a nervous man (if a guy were on here in my shoes moaning about a girlfriend who was anxious, people would probably tell him to be more patient! When the roles are reverse, people can sometimes be less understanding... and yet the feeling is just as strong for both people perhaps?)
His relationship history, sadly, is full of women who cheated or were emotionally out-of-control (his ex-girlfriend is now a very good friend of mine. I love her to death, but my God, she is gilt-edged mental and not very able to think about the feelings of other people. Her last relationship, an affair with a married guy, ended because he didn't treat the 18th anniversary of her divorce with sufficient emotional gravitas, being fresh in the middle of his own! Being her friend is fun, being her partner would be hell).
I genuinely think that he finds being love in a normal, down-to-earth way challenging. But I find it difficult to manage the demands of caring for someone with anxiety with my own health and wellbeing.
Look at me and my language - 'manned up' - I'm adding to the stigma. Sorry!
OP I have had something kind of similar happen to me, although in my case it was an alcoholic ex (who would blurt things out when drunk). He would always say later he didn't mean it, blah blah blah, but it really ate away at our relationship and was horrible for my mental wellbeing. I became really insecure and it became so much more difficult to deal with anything else in my life.
It took me far too long to ditch him, but I did and thank god. He was also around 40 at the time and I look back and think, why did I waste so much time trying to help and support someone who was freaking 40 years old? Maybe that's mean but I think if you get to 40 with such destructive habits, you're never really going to get rid of them completely.
I remember with my ex, even when he said nice things, I just could never really believe him. I suspect that's how you're feeling now. I think to stay in such a situation would be selling yourself short really. I'm now with a lovely DH who has never given me reason to doubt his feelings and I thank god all the time I ditched the guy who made me feel bad about myself so much.
On this occasion I wasn't joking, honey
Why are you with this man? In what way does he enhance your life?
Have you thought
about the hell your life would be how he would probably react if you were misguided enough to have dc with him and the type of role model he'd be for them?
Why, why, why do perfectly intelligent women lose all rationality over men?
Would you tolerate a friend pudding you around like this ? Would you swallow your misgivings just to remain in a relationship with them? Would you sign up for a life of tiptoeing around their feelings at the expense of your own ?
Then why do it for the sake of one man, who doesn't even sound like he is much of a catch ?
"if a guy were on here in my shoes moaning about a girlfriend who was anxious, people would probably tell him to be more patient! "
I don't think we would. Mental and other illnesses can be extremely difficult things to live with. We all try to be considerate in our relationships but, if someone has personal problems so serious that you end up being utterly miserable in an effort to make them happy, is that a good relationship or are you simply being used? When their personal issues mean they are abusive why should that be more acceptable or tolerable than if it comes from someone who is allegedly 'normal'?
I should say, I have had my own mental health issues in the past (depression to the point of suicide attempts, severe anxiety) and I don't think people with mental health problems should expect their partners and friends to be endlessly patient and forgiving and sacrifice their own wellbeing.
Just because it was his own mental health problems that contributed to him treating you this way, that does not mean you aren't allowed to be hurt and angry and ultimately perhaps to decide you no longer want to be with him and deal with all this.
I certainly messed up relationships and, well, that's how it works. If anything, constantly messing up relationships is what finally spurred me to try to fix things. If some nice guy had stayed with me despite everything I did, I would probably still be a basket case.
Speaking as someone who wished she had walked away from an emotional abuser....leave and don't look back. You've had a lucky escape cancelling the wedding!
Look for someone you can be normal around and that you don't constantly have to make allowances for. It's too exhausating and you can't keep it up forever. Do you want any future kids to have this as a template of normality to look to?
By the way.. re his histpry of girlfriends cheating...ask yourself why they didn't want to stay with him????
Or in fact, is it true???. I think it's easier to tell yourself that your girlfriend was a baddun' and left for another man than to admit to yourself that you were the nightmare that she left.
It's a mahoosive red flag when anyone says all their exes are bad uns, imo
Oh dear!! I've made him sound like he's a total nightmare! He's really not - he's very sweet and really caring most of the time. He just has these peaks of anxiety where he goes all haywire. I feel a bit guilty and embarrassed now.
Like I said in my message above, I'm really good friends with his ex-girlfriend. We get on great as mates, but I would hate to be her partner as she is categorically mental around members of the opposite sex.
he told me that I wasn't the right person, that I didn't enhance his social status, that I wasn't at all his idea of a perfect wife
So what are you his idea of? A convenient shag while he keeps his eye out for the 'perfect' wife who will enhance his social status?
In making it clear that, in his opinion, he is above you on the social scale and you are below him this goes way beyond what cutlery to use when dining on asparagus and lobster with Her Maj.
He's told you that you are not good enough for him and the question has to be why are you still entertaining this
delusional self-entitled tosser?
So you are taking the "practical" route then? Which, translated in this case, means to pretend he is really a sweet and caring guy even though is not.
Good luck with that
Ok, so you know for sure that one of his exes makes bad relationship decisions, and he's telling you that others are similar? Why do you think he's had such disasters? Is it just bad luck, do you think, or is there a reason why he's picked up with women like that? I'm sorry to say this, but it soundsd like he's historically chosen women who will put up with a lot of crap in a relationship that an 'emotionally healthy' woman won't.
Now, having had his epiphany, he might be ready to have a real relationship. On the other hand, when he was at his lowest, he wasn't telling you that he wasn't good enough for you, was he? No, he's told you that you weren't good enough for him. Does he really not understand the insecurity he's created, or is it actually a good thing from his point of view?
I'm all for giving people the benefit of the doubt, goodness knows, I've had a lot of work to do on myself and would hate to be judged by my past relationships, but I do think you should listen carefully to your doubts and unease here.
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