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Not sure how to make this work..

(23 Posts)
ovenisdrivingmecrazy Fri 13-Feb-15 13:57:59

Background: I've been with my partner for a little over 5 years. We've been living together for just over a year. We're both 26 (or he is in a couple of weeks) and we've been together since uni. We both work fairly demanding jobs but his company has been going through a lot over the last six months and there have been lots of redundancies. Back in November we had a sort of fight (maybe an intense discussion is a better phrase) which started about how we haven't been having a lot of sex recently. I instigated this, we'd been on holiday for 2 weeks, we'd had sex once and it felt like he hadn't touched me since which is very very different from how things had been. This escalated in to a discussion about our relationship and how I felt he needed to leave his work at work and that the stress of it was impacting on our lives together. He agreed. We made up. We moved on (or so I thought).

Last weekend I bought it up again. I'd been feeling overlooked for a while, he'd been distant, not really making an effort, chatting a lot on whatsapp to his work friends but not to me of an evening, and it felt like everything was stagnating around me and I was alone with nobody to talk to. I explained I didn't want to break up, I really want to make our relationship work but I wanted to feel like I was his first priority again and that maybe he'd come to consider me as just part of the furniture.

His response was 'I love you. But'. And then nothing.
I got pretty upset. Let all my feelings out. Lot of crying. He gave me a hug. I cried myself to sleep. I let it hang over us all weekend and then asked him to explain the 'But'. Apparently he loves me but isn't sure he's ready to give me what I want. A lot of our friends are getting engaged at the moment so I think this is what's prompted this. I definitely haven't been fishing for any marriage proposals as I'm not sure I'm ready either?! But I really thought that we were building a life together.

We hashed it out and we agreed that we didn't want to break up and that we were going to try and make it work. Which is what we've been doing this week.


I am flipping between withdrawing from him and throwing myself at him. Every nice thing he does, and bless him he's been lovely this week (it was my birthday on Tuesday), I'm questioning. 'Does he mean it? Is he just trying and doesn't really want to be here? Does he really love me?' My instinctive reaction when confronted with a situation like this is just to get the hell out. I cant work out if I've not done that that because I love him and I want to make it work or if it's just that I'm scared of ending it. I am completely torn over this. I keep randomly bursting in to tears and I'm exhausted because I have been lying awake at 3am questioning my whole life non stop this week.

If you've got to the end of this missive you deserve a medal. I think I'm just typing to get my thoughts out, I don't want to talk to my girlfriends about this as I just don't want to explain it and don't know what to say (I've been chatting to my best friend who lives the other side of the world at the moment because somehow it's easier on by text/IM then to actually say it out loud).

I think I do want to make it work and I'm really just asking if anyone else has been through a blip like this and come out on the other side still together? If so HOW do we work through this? Any practical suggestions welcome!!!

brightreddress Fri 13-Feb-15 14:08:59

Hi - I think the problem is nothing is happening in your relationship. You're ready to make plans, maybe buy a house together, have kids? Or maybe simply you're ready to have a big adventure together - but to do something, rather than nothing. He's kind of doing what a lot of men do which is using your relationship as a stable base from which to build his career in his 20s.

'A relationship is like a shark... it has to constantly move forward or it dies. I think what we've got on our hands is a dead shark' ~ Woody Allen

brightreddress Fri 13-Feb-15 14:10:12

OOps I saw you actually had some questions at the end. I had a relationship like this in my 20s and no we didn't get through it. I dumped him and found someone interested in actually having a full relationship rather than just finding a new base of stability to pursue what really excited them from.

ovenisdrivingmecrazy Fri 13-Feb-15 14:20:07

that's a great quote brightreddress

I think part of how I'm feeling is that I'm very aware this happens to a lot of couples in their 20s and up until about 6 months ago I naively though 'oh that will never be us' - yet here we are...

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 13-Feb-15 14:23:04

I think you're at that point where, as my best friend puts it, it's time to piss or get off the pot. Are you a couple who want to spend the next 50 years together, or not? Is it going the distance or are you just placeholders? Mid twenties isn't exactly old but it's old enough to know what you want. It's also young enough to start fresh if it turns out you want something different.

So my suggestion would be to have the tough conversation, be honest about what you want, and have the courage to move on if he doesn't match your commitment.

lotsofcheese Fri 13-Feb-15 14:27:48

I think men change a lot, especially in their mid-late 20's. Perhaps what he wanted at 21, when you met, isn't the same now. Maybe he's just drifting along in the relationship.

It does sound like you need some relationship goals eg travelling together, or just something in general to move it forward. Sometimes you just need a conclusion. Maybe he was your university boyfriend & you have outgrown it, either individually or collectively?
Sorry that not helpful, more questions than answers!

BeCool Fri 13-Feb-15 14:38:53

chatting a lot on whatsapp to his work friends but not to me of an evening
Do you think he could be falling for/emotionally involved with someone else?

Quitelikely Fri 13-Feb-15 14:41:41

I think he has thought this relationship might not be the one for life. He has been upfront about it and is now trying to rekindle it.

It's a waiting game........

Handywoman Fri 13-Feb-15 14:51:21

I think you are not The One for him, he is either not ready to admit that yet (either to himself or you) or he is waiting for another woman to catch his eye.

The fact that you are up all night and worrying means you are probably flogging a dead horse - your brain knows it but your heart isn't ready to face it.


ovenisdrivingmecrazy Fri 13-Feb-15 14:57:40

BeCool it crossed my mind... I trust him not to physically cheat but I'm not sure about the emotional side of things.

Quitelikely would you play the waiting game in that case? I don't know if I can and still come out with respect for him or myself?

I'm torn because we agreed we were going to try and I think sitting down and having The Conversation after only five days is unrealistic. I've had a crazy busy week at work and he really has been making the effort. But then again - I don't know if I can carry on for even another week feeling like this. I'm thinking about going home to my parents for a couple of days to get some perspective. But is that just running away? And then my mum will ask what's up and I'll just end up wailing at her...

We had sex last night, I suggested it in passing earlier in the evening but he instigated it when we went to bed. Afterwards I felt I had to ask if he really meant it?! That's not a way for anyone to live is it?

Annabelflies12 Fri 13-Feb-15 15:05:21

Hi OP. Your post could have been written by me (with a few details changed)!

We are the same age as you, and my DP focuses a lot on work and I have come to feel like I am just 'there,' and not appreciated. We have talked about it to death and always end by saying we want to stay togehter. I know deep down that my problem with the relationship is that it does not feel like it is moving forward when I feel like it should be, and that I am ready. Like you, I don't want a proposal right this minute, but knowing it's on the horizon would be nice. It is tormenting to not know what you are doing and I too have gone from throwing myself into things (hoping they will pick up), and withdrawing from him completely.

I have no real advice for you, but what I have been advised by people IRL, is to give an ultimatum. I don't want to do this as I feel it is not the best way to condcut a relationship, and ultimatums will differ depending on personal sitatuions. Mine is simply that I want a form of committment (dont want to out myself here and say what it is but it's not an engagement).

It is a horrible situation to be in and I really, really feel for you. My other advice, which seemed to work incredibly well, was for the last month I have been MEGA busy at work and started a new gym class...this led to me being unavaliable a lot of the time for my DP. This wasnt somehing intential that I created, but I can honestly say that it worked a treat in terms of him giving me attention and feeling loved. It made me realise that the more I focus on my life, the more clear it will be as to wheher my DP wants to seriously be part of it. Unfortunately, I have a mind that wanders, and unless I am very busy, I will analyse the relationsip...which happened as soon as my workload dropped a bit. In this sense, I would sasy a 'safe' way to see if he is serious about you and to nudge him into taking you seriously again, would be to fully focus on your own life, make it busy, full and make plans without your DP that allow you to progress as a person (even something small as opening a savings account for new home furnishings etc). To me, this is preferable to giving an ultimatum, as it takes the pressure off your DP while not giving up on the relationship, but also enables you to take back some control and make him have a taste of what ti would be like to be without you thee full time. Hope that makes sense - in a bit of a rush so it's a bit rambly!

ImperialBlether Fri 13-Feb-15 15:06:05

I think this was a starter relationship. You've had a great time but now it's come to an end.

The thing that's really important to remember is that just because a relationship doesn't last, it doesn't mean it's not a valuable, worthwhile relationship.

It can just be that the person who's right for you at university isn't the right person for you when you're in your twenties. You might have had an amazing time with him at university and shortly afterwards, so celebrate that.

The fact you are crying while he is sleeping is a very important sign that something is very seriously wrong. The "but..." indicates that for him, something isn't right with the relationship.

Don't see it as a failure. See him as a wonderful person with whom you had a great time and now you are ready to launch yourself on the world and will find someone who is the perfect person for the next stage in your life.

divetastic Fri 13-Feb-15 15:16:35

How do you feel about the relationship? Do you see your future with him? Or do you also have doubts? I ask because you didn't seem convinced either about marriage, and its not clear if that is a " I'm not sure I want to get married", a "I'm not sure I want to marry him...." or a "I'd like to marry him but I'm putting a brave face on it because he's not so keen".

At 26 and after 5 years together, if you're genuinely also not sure, then perhaps this relationship has reached a natural conclusion.

ovenisdrivingmecrazy Fri 13-Feb-15 15:20:02

Annabelflies12 thank you for sharing! I think we're in very similar places and I don't mean this in a rude way but it's reassuring to know I'm not the only one!!

I'm a planner. I love a good list and when I was really stressed in the middle of this week I made a plan of what I would do if this does all go tits up. Some of it was practical stuff - place to live etc. But there were some things on the list like starting a new hobby, spending more time with my friends, applying for new jobs, that made me sit up and think about why I wasn't doing them already. We are in a tight unit of friends from university who are mostly coupled up and it can feel very intense. We're both homebodies as well and spend too many nights in with Netflix. I think I need to spread my wings a bit independently of him.

I agree that the but... indicates that for him there is something wrong with the relationship. I just don't think I'm ready to accept that this isn't something we can work on.

Annabelflies12 Fri 13-Feb-15 15:27:49

I'm not sure I would say the 'but' means it is defo over. I think sometimes people need space to appreciate what they have - and that's why I think going out and starting a new hobby for example, is a great way to provide that space. It is win-win really, because you will be doing something independently of him, and make yourself for intriuging to him in the process (not that you should have to do that as a sort of mind game...but I think it is natural that people are more interested in others when they do something unrelated to their everyday life etc, if that makes sense).

Similarly, you will break the rut of always sitting in front of the tv and always just 'being there' for him. If he knows you're not around every Wednesday and Monday evening, for instance, then come Friday, the time you spend will be more important to you both.

Would you feel better if you got a holiday booked together? Just something that was for both of you, and in the meantime you could get on with your own life a bit more independently? One thing that helps me is to remember that there's actually a lot of things i want to do befoe i FULLY settle down, ie travel, change jobs, be free to have spare cash to do random hobbies. When I thought of it like that, I realised that actually, if my DP wasnt bothered, then I still had a lot of my life I want to live, and I may as well get on with it in the meatime. If he still hasnt changed his attitude in a few months time, I will know what I need to do, but until then, I'm going to focus on sorting my life out how I want on a daily basis.

ovenisdrivingmecrazy Fri 13-Feb-15 15:28:42

divetastic honestly I don't know. If you'd asked me 6 months ago I would have said 'I want to marry him but I'm so conditioned by society not to announce this fact and freak out The Men that I'm pretending I'm not that fussed'. Now I don't know if I'm trying to convince myself I'm not sure about marrying him to make myself feel better about the fact he's suddenly not so keen or if my feelings really have changed.

Annabelflies12 Fri 13-Feb-15 15:34:59

Also, re the sex thing...i think that's natural in any relationship when you move in, and it takes effort to keep it going. Sometimes you just go through a phase of it being on and off. I also found with my DP that the les sinterested i was in his life and th eles interested i was in the relationship, the more keen he was to 'mark his terriroty' with me, in every sense. As I say, it wasnt a game at all, it just happened, but it showe dme how important it is to not let a relationship be the be all and end all of your every waking hour - something which easily happens when you spend everyday tgether and other time with mutual friends. If I am being blunt, I think he has got complacent and I think you'd be doing him and you a favour if you took the step to organise things without his involvement. could you book a hair appointment one evening, and then a meal with a non-mutual friend another eve? Try and get to the stage where a night in watching netflix has to compete with your enjoyment of other things...when you get into a routinue of a couple of nights apart a week, then you will start to enjoy it. i wouldnt make a big deal out of this, though, I would just genuinely start to think about your own life and see the relationship as a lovely 'add on' to what you already have in life.

For wha it's worth, I wouldnt try and have a big chat with him, or do anything drmaamtic like go to your mum's. I'd just accept that he isn't ready to give you what you might be reay for right now, and take it at face value that he just isnb't ready...but he will be. At least if you do have to end it in a few months, you'll know you gave it a proper go without adding drama.

Annabelflies12 Fri 13-Feb-15 15:36:47

sorry for typos!!!

ovenisdrivingmecrazy Fri 13-Feb-15 16:04:07

Thanks for all the help everyone - you've given me a lot more to think about.

At the moment my gut feeling is that I'm not ready to let this go and that I do want to make it work with him. I know I can't do that without his commitment as well but I need to start putting some effort back in to my own life and I think that will help 'us'. Additionally if we don't work it out I'll have lots of other things going on that are mine.

Recently I've been so bogged down in a demanding job that I'm not particularly happy with and makes me feel quite unfulfilled that I haven't been making the effort with everything else so ultimately that has to change whether we stay together or not.

battenberg123 Fri 13-Feb-15 16:10:25

Do you ever go away without him? I've also been with my OH since uni age but have been on holiday without him and regular weekends away separately aswell as together.

ovenisdrivingmecrazy Fri 13-Feb-15 16:21:38

battenberg123 I have been away without him previously but a only a couple of times since we've been living together. I've actually got two trips this year planned without him. He doesn't really go away with his friends that much. He's not really in to lad's weekends but perhaps I should encourage it a bit more?!

battenberg123 Fri 13-Feb-15 16:26:03

Not if he's not into that sort of thing I wouldn't encourage it, my OH has never been away without me but I have often and it helps to "miss" each other for a while I think.

The other thing is you got together so young and are both growing and changing as people, it's hard to change at the same rate. This has always been a problem in my relationship too. I don't really have any answers for you though I'm afraid!

jessica361 Mon 14-Dec-15 07:17:41

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