Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

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

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...

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....

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....

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

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?

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.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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]

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 14:13:08

... 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?

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

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

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.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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?

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?

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.

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?

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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.

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

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 11:11:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now