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Has this run it's course? Would I be mad to leave? (Non-affectionate DP)

(32 Posts)
natsnuts Sun 04-Nov-12 14:55:34

I’m at a bit of a cross roads and I don’t know how to approach a situation in my relationship. I’ll try not to witter on too much but to explain the background – I got with my DP about 4/5 years ago after breaking up with my DD’s Dad several months beforehand. I suppose at the time I was pretty fragile after ex cheating on me (he was a cheater and an arsehole, but I made it easy for him by suffering with PND and going off sex completely and getting fat and gross). New DP was the complete opposite to my ex – fiercely loyal, sensible, stoic, reliable, older, mature, measured etc. and I loved that about him. After lots of silly one-sided relationships where I went for the exciting, attractive, popular guys (I now think in search of proving I was worthy or something) he was a breath of fresh air.

He had a DD too and (although he took a long time to open up about his previous marriage and was always respectful about his ex) after time we bonded over how difficult and nutty ex was, and our joint difficulties with being separated parents to girls. We appeared to have the exact same values (I think this was/ is still true): loyalty, valuing our freedom, honesty, family orientated etc. plus we like to do a lot of the same things. We both had stressful, responsible jobs and he loved the fact that I was a career woman and someone whom he could “compete” with in that sense. Something he never had with his ex as she is a fairly lazy person with no drive or ambition.

In the last few months I have left my “career” job in order to spend more time with my DD and to study (he isn’t supporting me, I am using savings and income for some small self-employed jobs) – I worry that this has made him go off me, maybe he doesn’t think what I am doing is as worthy as making heaps of money? - this could be a red herring that my insecurity has conjured up but I have definitely noticed that he is far less interested in my day than usual and there are little comments about how dull my day must have been and how he would find it hell. I know he is a bit envious of me really as he doesn't really like the corporate lifestyle either, even though paradoxically it seems to be what drives him.

We also had (until about 6 months ago) a very active and satisfying sex life. We did it most days, and were always trying new things. We’d write each other erotic stories and role play etc. All in all, I smugly thought that our relationship was a model for all and everything was fantastic.

Fast forward. He’s had lots of issues with his DD throughout the year who is now a teenager and for one reason or another has chosen not to spend time with him anymore. He is devastated and although he is coming out of the worst of the depression (not dianosed but I am fairly certain that's what it was) over it all, it is still a black cloud over our home life and has changed things dramatically. Without her around (making us a four) it seems our relationship has really come under the microscope.

We hardly have sex at all now. I have realised painfully that if we aren’t having sex, we have no physical contact at all. Other than a peck good morning and goodnight and when either of us comes in or goes out. That’s it. I feel like I am starving and am getting very irritable. I thought at first it was the sex that I missed, but now I have realised that the sex is what was bonding us and that without it, he doesn’t seem to care if he never touches me at all. My skin is literally aching to be touched. A few months ago after about 10 days of zero contact I asked him if he loved me as I genuinely couldn’t work out how someone who loved me could not want to touch me. He said he did and (following a thread on here actually) I taught myself some things about “The Four Love Languages” it sounds a bit cheesy but makes a lot of sense. With the four languages being: Doing things, physical affection, buying things, and verbal affirmations. The fact is that he speaks in “doing things” but I hear in “physical affection and verbal confirmations”. Once I started “listening” I realised that he does love me and shows it in all the things he does for me. Little things really but thoughtful, considerate things that I know he wouldn’t do for anyone else.

He is such a lovely man, all those qualities that he had at the start are still there…. But is it enough ?? I have told him that I need affection. I explained it in terms of the hierarchy of needs which he understands, explaining that it is a basic need that I have to have fulfilled. So he does know. Yet he still doesn’t give it to me. If I want a hug, I can ask for it and he would never say no. But it feels so one sided.

I wonder if he is actually incapable of affection… He said it was a big problem in his marriage as his ex would pester him for affection all the time and accuse him of being cold. He told me that the reason he didn’t want to be affectionate was that he didn’t like her or love her. But now I wonder if that is true? Either, it is true – in which case it leaves me wondering if he has stopped liking me too confused or it’s not true, and he is just incapable of being demonstrative in that sense. He was clearly emotionally abused in the marriage which was 10 years long. Maybe he didn’t start out this way, but has ended this way?

I’m planning to talk to him about it tonight as it has genuinely got to the point where I think I need to be on my way if things don’t change… but every time I think of leaving, I feel like I must be insane to leave such a wonderful man and faithful partner/ companion over this. I don’t want to make him feel attacked or to feel bad about himself, I love him and seeing him hurt breaks my heart... But I need to say something – don’t I? Give him the chance to change before everything becomes bitter?

Because of how I’m feeling (I think), little things he does are starting to really wind me up. It’s things that he has always done that I have always been a bit hmm over but that I’ve just shrugged off and put down to him being the special/ slightly “alternative” person whom I love. What I am starting to see him as is a cold person, yet I don’t really believe that of him. It's so unfair on him really.

In addition to all of this, we agreed that we would get engaged at some point this year (we decided between us last year that we wanted to get married but he wanted to do that whole “proper” surprise proposal). I’m pissed off to be honest that we are now in November and it still hasn’t happened. It could be because of all the problems with his DD, it could be because, like me, he isn’t sure if we are right for each other after all. But I feel that the looming proposal is the elephant in the room and to be honest, if it happened tomorrow, I couldn’t hand on heart say that I would be keen to say yes sad.

We just seem to be plodding through the days, being polite to each other, making each other cups of tea, planning what we want to watch on TV, reading our books in bed, then a little peck on the lips and off to sleep. It all just feels so monotonous and empty. I have no idea if he feels this way too.

Goodness what a long load of old tosh. Really hoping that someone can offer some advice to me on how to handle “the chat” tonight. And what I should do long term…

ImperialBlether Sun 04-Nov-12 15:58:00

Just read this thread after responding to your other thread, OP.

He sounds a real cold fish, to be honest. He never really understood why you gave up your job, did he? It's interesting that you still support yourself, yet I bet his life is better in many ways since you stopped work.

He was clearly impressed with your job and salary but seems to be confusing that with 'you' so that now you're not doing the same job he's not as impressed with you.

His lack of affection is a real red flag. Yes, he has clearly had a stressful year and I'm sure you have, too, as you have lived through it with him. He sounds very cold - you should never, ever have to ask for a hug.

Please don't make any decisions about making this permanent. You could end up very unhappy. I think maybe his lack of interest is because of your financial situation now - had you ever talked about pooling assets/bank accounts if you married?

natsnuts Sun 04-Nov-12 16:59:57

(Whispers) what other thread..? Has my name change been spotted blush

Thanks, I'm just getting my head around what you've said. I think I know you're right on one hand. Then... I think he dies really love me but has ishoos...

natsnuts Sun 04-Nov-12 17:16:02

Oh, yes, the finances. No, I've never suggested that we share finances. I've always made it clear that I'm independent in that sense.

ImperialBlether Sun 04-Nov-12 17:36:41

No, sorry, you made a comment on another thread that you had this thread.

natsnuts Sun 04-Nov-12 17:51:07

Ah... Phew grin

I just spoke to my friend who suggested he get some help. He also has some OCD things which are made worse when he's stressed. Maybe that's it [hopes]

natsnuts Sun 04-Nov-12 17:53:17

Maybe he got with me because I was an antidote to his wife... And now I'm less so (as I'm pursuing the mummy life like she did) he is less attracted.. confused

Moominloomin Sun 04-Nov-12 18:24:10

I think you should listen to your friend. wink.

If he is not willing to have therapy then I think there are serious problems. If he is, then give him the time to get through that, and then at least he will be in a better place if you decide to leave him.

comethasmybrokentelly Sun 04-Nov-12 18:54:23

How does he respond if you are affectionate to him? If you snuggle up on the sofa or drape your legs over his - how does he respond?
I think the issue with his daughter is a real biggie.
Imagine how you would feel if YOUR daughter did not want to know you.

natsnuts Sun 04-Nov-12 19:17:51

He always lets me. He can be a bit stiff but he does let me. Although, during the conversation we had a couple of months ago he said that when I asked for affection "appeared needy" to him. So although he is now accepting when I snuggle with him I feel like its a result of him neatly losing me and learning how to act in order not to... If that makes sense.

I don't underestimate the thing with his dd. I know it must be awful. But as he said himself - it is easy to attribute everything to that

natsnuts Sun 04-Nov-12 20:35:46

God I physically can't talk to him about it. I'm scared he's going to tell me something bad, or tell me he thinks we should break up. Maybe we should but I want decide iykwim confusedsadblush

TricksyBee Sun 04-Nov-12 20:58:47

Is it possible that he may be jealous of you taking time off to spend with your daughter when his does not want to see him?

"I don't underestimate the thing with his dd. I know it must be awful. But as he said himself - it is easy to attribute everything to that"

Withdrawing affection can be a way to protect himself, its very possible he is placing the blame for the estrangement solely on himself and is imagining his failures as a person. Therefore he is not attributing the situation with his DD as the problem but rather his failings as a person IYSWIM?? He withdraws from you both to try and prevent you from seeing these imagined failings and to protect his feelings when you do?

Yes you do need to sit down and talk with him, however hard it may be. Would breaking up be easier?

Good luck to the both of you and I really hope you get through this.

natsnuts Sun 04-Nov-12 22:00:29

Thanks Tricksy. Possibly, yes. In fact it is quite probably. But that's a pretty deep thing that he would need to find out through therapy which he won't have sadly sad

I will talk to him. i'm just trying to work out how to say it without it being an attack. And also whether I can handle it if he says "actually, no, I don't want to be with you anymore."

I mostly feel like I want to give him a chance to work through it if this is a depression thing, or issues around his DD etc. I know relationships have ups and downs and if we do get married it will be "for better, for worse" I don't just want to bail on him. But there again, when i think about the things I am putting up with in black and white: No affection, being told I'm needy if i want a hug, the ipad headphones in constantly, no sex, no interest in my day, the general lack of adoration for me that i would like, the weird year long drawn out marriage proposal thing... I get really angry because I'm worth more than that.

ImperialBlether Sun 04-Nov-12 23:15:39

What all this would be boil down to for me is, "No interest in my day and no affection." Without those two things, what the hell is a relationship worth?

natsnuts Mon 05-Nov-12 05:53:56

I don't know imperial... It's just that we've come so far and had so many good times sad

I've been awake all night, crying in and off. I'm fairly certain that he woke up at one point and heard me, lay there for a bit then went back to sleep. I don't cry often, but if ever I do he will never hold me or comfort me. I was remembering the first time I cried in front if him he was very good (which I took for granted as what I thought everyone did) the second time he just walked off and left me too it. I found it so odd at the time but now I'm used to it which I have just realised is very wrong.

I wish I could know how things would be now if it weren't for all this business with his DD... Although, when I really think about it I think he had issues anyway sadly.

I just can't get passed the marriage thing and why, a year in from him agreeing, we're still but engaged. Am I being a hopeless romantic to expect to have been swept off my feet!?

I'm thinking practicalities of how to move out etc so I think I'm almost at my conclusion sad

It will mean ill have to go back to my old job though as i'll be 100% responsible for the rent which breaks my heart to be honest as I finally felt like I was doing something good for DD.

I've got plans tonight but will talk to him tomorrow. I need to tell him i dont want him to propose. im sure he'll be relieved. Maybe we should try relate as one final thing.

needsomeperspective Mon 05-Nov-12 07:12:55

People tell you who they are. You need to listen.

He has told you his wife said one of the reasons for te marriage breakdown was his coldness and lack of affection for her.

He is now demonstrating the same behavior.

It is just who he is. He will not change. He didn't manage to change even after going through a divorce where this behavior was a contributory factor. If he didn't alter this behavior for his wife do you really seeing him doing it for you when you had only been together a year?

You either need to be ok with it or find someone who can give you the physical affection and intimacy you appear to need.

If you remain in this relationship I think you will be very unhappy and unfulfilled and you will make each ther miserable.

natsnuts Mon 05-Nov-12 07:57:31

Yes I tend to agree. There were so many other factors in his marriage that it was very believable that he was cold towards her because of her behaviour, rather than Because thats who he was. That's why I thought things were different with us. Then I went and confused sex for affection.
What. An. Idiot.

He just came to find me to say goodbye and I found me crying. He asked if there was anything he could do and when I shrugged he gave me a hug. Completely out of character and now I'm more confused than ever!

k4mi Mon 05-Nov-12 09:10:51

Hi Natnuts,

I am sorry you in this situation. I can empathise a little. I am with a similar man it sounds. We are engaged (already have a DD) but it took AGES for him to get around to it and i was very upset about this as we like you had discussed it a lot. Finally he did it BUT our relationship is still far from 'perfect' but I love him.

Unlike you I am lucky that my DP does try to talk about his lack of emotion/affection. He is this way (I think) because his parents are/were and although he doesn't want to be when he is depressed (on and off) he finds it hard to be affectionate/sexual. I am finding it increasingly difficult as feel I am often attempting to 'cheer him up' so that he will become the affectionate loving person he can be.

I understand your pain but what I would say is if you think he once had the capacity to be affectionate and interested in your day they i believe he still does. From what you say recent events will be a black shadow over him which personally I think will be contributing to the sex thing. Perhaps he is internalising his pain/emotion and is somewhat paralysed by it. It is more common than you think.

If he wont try counselling that is a real shame but I would try and find some books he can read (would he??) so that he can a least understand his own behaviour and what it might do to you.

You must also remember it's not you. My DP says this all the time to me (i am bored of hearing it!!) but I try and remember it because it makes it easier and ultimately I know he hates being the way he is but doesn't know how to change it.

natsnuts Mon 05-Nov-12 09:46:07

Thanks K4mi. It's good to know that things can get better and be managed. The hug this morning has given me hope. He does love me and he does have such a good heart. I do think he is paralysed by his emotions in regard to his DD... and also other things that have happened in his life that werent worked on at the time.
It would be so sad for us to lose what we have really, without trying. But I don't want to end up living my life trying to "save" him and feel hard done by because everything is an effort (getting a propsal. setting a date. getting a cuddle etc etc) I don't think he is deliberately stringing me along... most of the time anyway. But I DO belive I am worth more.

I think counselling is the only way and I guess if he loves me he'll do it rather than walk away....

needsomeperspective Mon 05-Nov-12 10:04:12

You're not even married yet and you need counselling. You've only been together 4 years and you hardly ever had sex and there is no affection despite you discussing it and explaining how you feel.

But after one hug you now think the relationship has legs. You are clutching at straws here. I know you love him and I'm sure he loves you too but why do you feel you need to settle for these crumbs of affection? Do you really think a cuddle a week under sufference or because you've been crying all night will be enough to satisfy you for the rest of your life?

AllThreeWays Mon 05-Nov-12 10:27:48

Hi Natsnuts
I have only just read your thread, and what stands out to me is your DP's idea that wanting affection is needy.
As the rest of your relationship appears good and this is the big issue for your can you approach it with him like this?
" People need food three times a day, people need sleep every day, if someone relied on another to provide food, would it be needy if they asked for food when they were hungry? Should they have to ask?
I need affection you are the only one who can provide it. I would like to fix this in our relationship. How can we ensure each of us gets what we need without it becoming a battle?"

natsnuts Mon 05-Nov-12 14:19:05

No, I guess I don't inneed when you put it like that it hardly seems enough does it. I usually get much more excited about "scraps" that I get, but whilst this morning gave me some hope, today I was much more realistic and after 10 days of nothing it didn't really cover my needs. He text to ask how I am feeling too so something has obviously clicked. I wish we were both in tonight as I'm desperate to talk. I hope I can at least get some sleep so that I can feel fresh and not so teary tomorrow

natsnuts Mon 05-Nov-12 14:20:20

Allthreeways - yes, that is a good way to put it. I have talked about it in terms of food and water before but then I kind of left him to make if it what he would like to rather than ask "so how are we going to do this?"

startlife Mon 05-Nov-12 14:41:55

What is his other relationships like? Does he have close friends, how are his family relationships?

I think the change in your working dynamic has caused a shift for him - I could be highly cynical but could he perhaps think that he doesn't have to try any more because you are slightly more vulnerable?

I think he is showing you who he really is. It must be awful to lose contact with your child BUT he could choose to talk about it. He knows that this is having an impact on you but yet again chooses not to talk about it.

I think he has noticed a shift in you so the hug is a token - just enough to keep you hooked.

What's the issue with his dd?

natsnuts Wed 07-Nov-12 12:44:29

So I spoke to him last night. He insists this isn't the same as with his ex wife and that it is to do with the sitatuion with his DD. He said she has broken his heart and that he feels no one can understand how he feels and he is envious of my relationship with my DD (that's why the negativity around me leaving my job).

It seems that he knows in his head that he loves me but that he doesn't feel it. I really don't know what to do. As I said to him on one hand I would be a bitch to bail on him if this is depression brought on by his DD rejecting him. I should be supporting him, right? But then on the other hand I feel like a mug because he can't give me any assurances that he even wants to try to make things better. He said he understands what my needs are and he agrees that I deserve those things but says he can't give them to me and there's no point saying he'll try because he can't.

I asked him how he'd feel if I said I wanted to break up and he just shrugged and said he didn't know. Which was like being stabbed in the chest.

He's looking in to counselling. He doesn't think it will work but I told him a bit about CBT which appealed to him more being quite goal-orientated and shorter.

If he decided to go I will at least feel like we have given the relationship the best chance possible but if he doesn't then I think I will have to call it a day sadly. I told him I want to support him but that he has to make steps to make things better and I can't just sit around waiting for him to decide if he wants to be with me or not. I can appreciate what a difficult situation it is. He said he can't cpompare it to anything else because unlike when someone dies, with losing his DD there was nothing final. He can't close on it because she could come back any day. He just can't move on and doesn't see a solution. He said he thought about just uping and leaving as there was "Nothing to stick around for" if his dd didn't want him. That hurt too. He also said that he felt bad for feeling as low as he os because of all the good things in his life. He listed "Nice house, good job, good food, a car to get about in" but not me and my DD sad

I feel really tired and numb, like I'm in a dream. I know that sounds dramatic but I just can't believe this is happening to us.

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