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I think my relationship is falling apart

(77 Posts)
Preoccupied Mon 31-Mar-14 10:52:59

I suspect that my partner is going to leave me soon and it is tearing me apart. I am completely anxious and preoccupied about it and it is impacting everything at the moment. I am not sleeping, I am anxious and tearful and I know I am driving my partner mad by seeking reassurance that he still loves me but I can't seem to help it.

We have been together for three years and lived together for two years, and we are both quite strong characters, which at times means that we disagree about things. I like to talk things through, but he prefers to think things through on his own and reach his own decision. We have had some lovely times though and there is no doubt that we love each other deeply and have an incredibly strong attachment to each other. I know that our relationship can be complex, but we have always managed to get through any difficult patches in the past.

I have been getting very hormonal (menopause) and this has been causing me to get very emotional and anxious, and at times I have flared up about things in quite an unpleasant manner. I am usually a very calm and kind person and I am finding these mood swings very distressing. I have made an appointment to discuss HRT with my GP after much soul searching. But I am scared that it is too late to save my relationship as my partner has withdrawn from me emotionally and physically after an argument last week.

I am feeling quite desperate as the thought of being without him is unbearable. I know that I can't make him stay with me but my life will be so empty without him.

Lovingfreedom Mon 31-Mar-14 10:55:09

What makes you think he's going to leave you? Has he said that he would?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 31-Mar-14 10:57:05

Perhaps, rather than living in fear or blaming yourself, it would be an idea to take a break from each other? You say the thought of being without him is unbearable but being with him doesn't sound like a bed of roses either. Call it a trial separation & see what independence is actually like. It may spur the pair of you into being closer or it may allay your fears and you find that you are calmer without him.

Preoccupied Mon 31-Mar-14 11:05:52

Whenever we have a disagreement or a tough time he always says that he feels like running away. His stock phrase is that he is happy living on his own, and that maybe he is not suited to relationships. He is a bit of a flight type of person and is content with is own company. He did say last week that he felt like leaving, and since then he has been very withdrawn. He gets into a mind set where he is obsessed with things he has done in the past before he met me, and talks at length about the good time that he had when he was travelling, and the people he met along the way.

So for example he has been talking about doing a street view tour of his trip through America which he did when he was nineteen, and worked out that it would take him twelve hours to do it from start to finish. And he is talking about getting in touch with people from his past who he has lost touch with. I know from past experience that this is how he gets when he is thinking of leaving me. It makes me feel so insecure which is ridiculous really. I wish I could just shake this feeling off as I am completely preoccupied about it.

Preoccupied Mon 31-Mar-14 11:09:55

Cogito I know that if we were to separate we would not get back together again. He would move back to the area that he used to live in and take up his old rather solitary lifestyle. I do agree that our relationship is not always a bed of roses, but there are many good things about it and I would feel bereft without him. I actually felt suicidal on Friday after a sleepless night which is crazy, but at the time I didn't want to go on. I am past that now thankfully, but the strength of my feelings scared me.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 31-Mar-14 11:20:56

"Whenever we have a disagreement or a tough time he always says that he feels like running away. His stock phrase is that he is happy living on his own, and that maybe he is not suited to relationships"

No wonder you're feeling so anxious. He's taken the very thing that frightens you most - abandonment - and threatens you with it time and again. I think he is deliberately trying to make you feel insecure as a way to control you. In three years of threats, has he ever followed through? I won't be at all surprised if you say 'no'.

If you are suicidal or depressed then please seek medical advice urgently. I know menopause can result in mood-swings but so can being the victim of manipulation. Ironically, I think that you will only get peace of mind when you get this man out of your life and when you realise that nothing bad happens to you after all. Currently the fear that he is generating is holding you back from finding happiness

Preoccupied Mon 31-Mar-14 11:29:33

Cogito it is ironic that you picked up immediately on my fear of abandonment as it is a big issue for me. Since I have been with my partner I have sought psychotherapy for my fear of abandonment as he has pressed my button so many times on that. Every time we disagree about anything, however minor, he trots out that bloody phrase and I jump like a performing monkey! My psychotherapist said a very similar thing to you - that he has never followed through with his threats and probably has no intention of doing so. I no longer see the psychotherapist as it was expensive but it did help me get through some difficult times, and understand more about my fears.

A couple of my friends think that my partner is very controlling but I always defend him and say that he is a lovely sweet guy. Interestingly one of the things he said to me last week was that he struggles with the fact that I am slightly older than him and a confident successful woman. He acknowledged that he likes to be in control and that maybe the balance in our relationship doesn't work for him. I have always tried to make things as equitable as possible between us though, and would never seek control as I always prefer consensus.

Lovingfreedom Mon 31-Mar-14 11:38:19

Call his bluff. I did with mine. He kept threatening to leave and I eventually said 'yes I think that's a good idea'. He moved out temporarily then immediately started grovelling to come back. Without him around I was able to take time to think things through.

Dirtybadger Mon 31-Mar-14 11:44:19

OP I don't think he means he doesn't like that you are in control. I don't think you are in control. I think he means that he doesn't like that you have any or some control. I won't say equal because he probably has more than you, reading between he lines. He means he'd like to be in a relationship with someone passive and easily manipulated, who would be easier to take advantage of. Nice guy!

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 31-Mar-14 11:46:02

"A couple of my friends think that my partner is very controlling but I always defend him and say that he is a lovely sweet guy. "

Please listen to your friends. There are far worse things than being independent but I don't think you'll work that out until you find the courage to try it.

Preoccupied Mon 31-Mar-14 11:47:30

Lovingfreedom I admire your style. Sadly I think that if I asked him to move out he would just drift back to his old solitary life and we would either grow apart or never get back together again. I was single for a long time before I met my partner, and I hadn't met anyone in that time that I connected with, and I guess that having felt that close connection I don't want to lose it. We are happy on many levels, I think it is just the control thing that is proving difficult to resolve.

We live in a house that I own, as he has always rented in the past, and I know that this makes him feel that he is not an equal partner. We were going to buy a house together, but it became too complicated to resolve as (a) I have two grown up children and want to leave my share of any property I buy to them when I die, and my partner was concerned that he would be made homeless if I died before him. We looked at ways of resolving this but couldn't find anything that really worked and (b) my partner has had to give up work as he was very unhappy in his previous job, and is currently trying to retrain in a new field, so he ahs no income at the moment. We are planning to move, but have agreed that the house will be in my name only and that he will not invest his small amount of capital in the house.

badbaldingballerina123 Mon 31-Mar-14 11:48:36

Cogs nailed it . I suspect what your describing is actually emotional abuse , and it sounds like it's been going on for quite some time. Both your therapist and your friends have raised concerns about him and I'm inclined to agree. You say he has withdrawn since you had a disagreement last week . I would say he is deliberately punishing you for daring to disagree. I bet if you told him to fuck off out he'd change his tune real quick.

This sort of nasty emotional abuse is common with the disordered . I think you would benefit from reading extensively about emotional abuse. The feelings of anxiety and suicide are common when dealing with someone who is trying to erode your sense of self.

Consider buying the book why does he do that by Lundy Bancroft.

Preoccupied Mon 31-Mar-14 11:53:49

Cogito I spent years being independent as I brought up my two children on my own, and worked full time when doing so. I also have a well-paid job and own my house, with just a tiny amount of mortgage left to pay off, and have a car. Once my children grew up I always kept busy by working hard and had a reasonably good social life, but I didn't feel that fulfilled to be honest. When I met my partner something clicked and I felt a deep connection to him. There are so many things that I love about living with him, and in his own way he is very caring. We have had different lifestyles, but we share many interests and values and most of the time we really enjoy being with each other.

Lovingfreedom Mon 31-Mar-14 11:55:21

So he lives in your house where you earn all the money, doesn't work because he was unhappy in his job and you think he's going to leave that cushy set up? Hmm....

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Mon 31-Mar-14 11:56:23

Lovely sweet guys don't use the threat of abandonment to keep their partner in line. It is not your fault if he feels threatened by you being a competent slightly older person.

Friends don't know all that goes on but if they have used the word "controlling" about a partner I wonder what gave them that impression? Don't fall into the trap of thinking the slog of maintaining a relationship falls on your shoulders alone.

As for that mindset of his you mentioned. We can all look back at our past and cherry pick the golden bits. It's the present day that counts. So good luck keeping the appointment with your GP.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 31-Mar-14 11:58:19

He has no income because he gave up a perfectly good job, lives in your house, your friends think he's controlling and he threatens to leave you whenever things get a bit tricky? Does the MN term 'cocklodger' mean anything to you?

I also shuddered a little that he's already thinking ahead to your death and his main worry is that he'd be homeless! hmm

I know what it's like to feel lonely, to grab onto the nearest candidate and then desperately ignore the obvious faults because you're so anxious to make it work. But when it's got to the point that you are feeling suicidal, that's not 'happy on many levels'... it's unhealthy.

Preoccupied Mon 31-Mar-14 11:58:56

Badbalding there have been times when I wondered whether it was emotional abuse, in fact that is the term that one of my friends used. He does have some mental health issues - anxiety, regular depression and is definitely on the Aspergers' spectrum - and it can be very time consuming coping with all this. I am a natural 'caretaker' and I am always very sympathetic to his problems. I must admit that I am frustrated that he is not being a bit more sympathetic to my hormonal problems. He told me last week that if we had been together for 20 years he would be more accepting, but as we have only been together for 3 years he doesn't feel as though he should have to put up with my problems.

Actually, reading what I have just typed makes me quite cross, as I am so accommodating of his problems, but he hasn't been supportive to me.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 31-Mar-14 12:02:47

Please get cross and keep getting cross. The more you write, the more it's clear this guy is shamelessly manipulating you to his own ends. A 'deep connection' is easily faked. He actually said that he doesn't have to put up with your problems because it's only been 3 years???? shock If he's meant to be the one who is anxious, depressed and all the rest, how come it's you that's thinking of killing yourself?

Get rid. Better to walk alone than be badly accompanied.

Preoccupied Mon 31-Mar-14 12:03:50

Cogito he contributes to the household by doing all the housework, has transformed my back garden and is decorating the house so that it will be more saleable. I am familiar with the MN term cocklodger (I have name changed for this post) but I don't think he falls into that category because he does make a non-financial contribution. Having said that I do feel a bit manipulated and am going to try to stop being so anxious. It is difficult as I kept having panic attacks last week and it is difficult to hide those.

Lovingfreedom Mon 31-Mar-14 12:05:04

So he says he isn't going to be supportive of your hormonal symptoms because you've only been together 3 years but he's happy to give up his job and sponge off you in that time frame. Yes Cocklodger is an appropriate term.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Mon 31-Mar-14 12:06:09

He told me last week that if we had been together for 20 years he would be more accepting, but as we have only been together for 3 years he doesn't feel as though he should have to put up with my problems.

Oh dear.

AtrociousCircumstance Mon 31-Mar-14 12:06:52

He's not a sweet guy. His nice qualities are superficial - the real bedrock of your relationship is rotten: him controlling you with his constant threats of abandonment. These have led to you feeling suicidal. That is not ok. You need him to leave.

It sounds like all he contributes is keeping you from being single, which you don't want to return to.

But as a single woman you can rid yourself of this abusive pattern and reconnect with yourself. You might meet someone new in time. But even if you didn't it would be no reason to stay with someone who wants to control you and cut you down to size.

You need to be brave. I know it's not easy. But this bit - this terrible fear - is the worst part. Asking him to leave and adjusting to things after he's gone will be tough for a bit but it won't put you in that state of panic and terror which led to the suicidal feelings.

You may feel a deep connection with him because he connects with your deepest insecurities. That unconscious recognition may feel 'deep' but is actually very unhealthy and another reason to end this relationship.

Good luck flowers

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 31-Mar-14 12:07:53

He may make a non-financial contribution but that doesn't stop him making a financial contribution. What is he living on? Savings? Benefits?

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Mon 31-Mar-14 12:08:25

If this were happening to one of your grown up DCs I am guessing you would have severe misgivings.

Preoccupied Mon 31-Mar-14 12:10:35

His job was making him ill as he was getting so anxious about it. It was genuine and I was worried about his health so was fully supportive of him. He has booked a college course to study landscape gardening as he is a very skilled gardener and I am sure that he could earn a living that way. Last year he gave up a previous job to finish writing a novel but that did not work out and he went back to work. I do feel for him as his anxiety is crippling at times, but I just wish he would be more sympathetic to me.

He has admitted that he is not always strong on empathy, but he then just falls back on his stock phrase that maybe he is better not being in a relationship as he is not good at considering other people. Oh, and another stock phrase of his is that he is content with the way that he is, and doesn't intend to change. He then adds that if that means that he is not able to have relationships, then it is a price worth paying to be true to himself.

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