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Help needed to deal with partner running off without explaining why(213 Posts)
Hello Mumsnet members.
I could really do with some friends to listen and give advice if you can.
The short version:
I am a 32 year old gay man who came home yesterday to find my loving partner of seven years left while I was at work (fiancé of four years but unmarried). He cleared out all of his clothes and most of his other possessions. I received a text message the moment I pulled onto my drive stating “You won’t see me again, don’t blame yourself. Thanks for everything you’ve done for me. Please don’t have any contact with me.”
My situation is not unique – separation is a part of life that almost everyone will have to deal with – but I find myself struggling given the unexpected nature in which he left. I know I need to grieve the loss but not understanding why it happened is blocking me. I don’t know how to start.
The longer version:
He is a vulnerable person, in that he has various mental health conditions that play on each other. He has been suicidal in the past, including within the last month, primarily when he does not have one-to-one support available, but I don’t yet feel he is a risk to himself in this situation because of the relatively controlled manner of his leaving. (I mention this because it may help to explain some of his odd behaviours to those of you who have not experienced or supported someone with mental health conditions.)
I have no means of contacting him because I believe he has destroyed his sim card and I don’t know any of his local friends. I know he has gone to stay with one while he finds student housing (he is about to start at university in two weeks). He left me a skype text message telling me so before deleting me from his contacts. Prior to yesterday he lived with me in my house.
He has done this before – not to me but to two previous partners he lived with and left out of the blue with no contact. There is no need to go into the full details why, but I do want to highlight that at least a part of that reaction is due to his mental health conditions, not necessarily because he is a horrible person. He does not feel empathy in the “usual” way and cannot cope with daily stresses.
Because I knew about those past cases we agreed very early on in our relationship that if he felt himself in that same corner again he promised he would talk to me about it in the first instance so, if needs be, I could ensure he had access to the right support.
There have been no arguments (we didn’t argue, ever) and certainly never any violence or the like.
Obviously I did not sleep last night. The hindsight processing kicked in on overdrive and would not let me rest. I’ve identified various behaviours in recent weeks, and even going back months, that indicate he may have been planning this for a while rather than it being a kneejerk reaction. (That is why I don’t feel he is a risk to himself just yet.) These behaviours include:
-Securely wiping the hard drives in his PC and using his laptop exclusively.
-Making lots of phone calls when I am not around, and if I come home early he will end his calls immediately
-Opening a new bank account (we didn’t share anyway, but as he was unemployed I was paying his bills via his other account), and arranging for his PIP allowance to be paid into his new account. I believe his student loan will also go into that account. I have reasonable cause for believing he may have transferred money from his credit cards into that account as well, and plans to abandon them as he has done in the very distant past.
-Me receiving a phone call last week from his university to confirm his address in a nearby town, which he claimed was a mistake from UCAS (although he has received plenty of correspondence to this address throughout the application process).
-Sorting through his wardrobes and laundering all of his clothes at the weekend (which has never happened before)
-Shredding boxes of old papers like bank statements, etc., at the weekend.
-Acting very withdrawn, and often accusing me of being withdraw towards him when I am not consciously doing so.
Now I expect many of you will be thinking “affair” after that list. Probably even shouting it loudly. I can’t rule that out. Unlike investments past behaviour is a good indicator of a person’s future and he has cheated once before.
In a way I want that to be the reason because that brings closure. I’m not convinced though because his social awkwardness means he does not meet new people. He may just have been arranging to leave.
What I don’t understand is yesterday started as a normal day. We fell asleep cuddling the night before. I woke up first and went in and sat with him for a few minutes at the bedside before leaving for work to talk about what he would do that day and we parted saying “I love you” with a kiss. I chatted with him briefly via Skype messages over lunch which all seemed normal and then I arrive home to that text message and an emptied house.
I don’t regret our lives together – I have always known that the joy of love will be balanced by the pain of loss, whether through someone leaving through choice or passing on. It’s part and parcel of life and the universe where everything is equally opposed and without that pain it would not mean as much.
I am less than 24 hours in since the initial shock. I have no idea what stage I am at but I feel that I need to grieve because seven years of unconditional love and support grows to define you and I can’t just erase it. But I don’t know how to grieve because I don’t have any closure. I feel like he has gone missing and I am in limbo. My world is closing in around me. I am erratically shaking all over and breaking into tears because I don’t know what to do.
I ought to make one thing clear – if he wants to contact me I will listen to him, but I am not going to become a cyber-stalker and track him down if he does not want contact with me. I just cannot deal with that.
I have spoken with a close friend. I visited them last night for a few hours as I needed somewhere to go that wasn’t our home but I can’t become “that friend” who always arrives unannounced and becomes a burden. I do believe strongly that talking about pain, hurt and confusion with others can help to heal you. Looking after your mental health is so important. I’ve read threads on Mumsnet over the years and found lots of useful advice. I’ve read through some of the articles too. I never thought I’d be turning here with my own story!
If you have made it through the longer version, then thank you so much for sparing your time to hear me. If you can offer any advice that can help me start grieving I would be very grateful.
Oh lost I am so sorry .
Fwiw to me you sound pretty wise and in touch with your feelings (sorry for that cliche). It's very difficult to understand how some one in a loving relationship like yours can detach co coldly, but the fact he has done it before shows a pattern.
I wonder if he feels he needs to be in control of relationships, deciding how and when they end. Tbh he sounds selfish and you sound very forgiving.
I am a bit crap at relationships but didn't want to read and run. Do you have good rl support?
You remind me very much of what my friend said recently; growing up knowing he was gay in the 50s meant he had understood from a young age that he would likely never have a relationship and he set about making himself independent. He has since had a number of relationships with younger men who were all quite needy and who he could help because he enjoyed feeling needed and they enjoyed what he could offer them. The problem with this is that the relationships always end because they are not relationships of equals and are therefore unsustainable to begin with. It doesn't mean they weren't filled with mutual love but the pattern is part of his trauma in relation to growing up gay in the 50s. I have a similar pattern relating to trauma of a different type where I seem to gravitate to partners who need a lot of care and support. I think really the closure you need is that this behaviour is part of who he is, he has done it before and will likely do it again. What you can do is try and shape your side of things by looking at what drew you towards someone who needs so much care, and who was never going to be really capable of being a true partner to you, as a partner.
And unconditional love is never a good idea with respect to a romantic relationship IMO.
I've not learned to steer away from needy partners but I have learned not to try and make the relationship into more than it is, more than the needy person is capable of returning.
I am so sorry for the pain you're going through, lostdave. This, however, from Offred rings very true for me:
"What you can do is try and shape your side of things by looking at what drew you towards someone who needs so much care, and who was never going to be really capable of being a true partner to you, as a partner."
You seem to have put yourself in the carer role, and there's a dynamic to this that paves the way for relating that is not adult-adult.
The fact that you have chosen the username you have suggests an element of co-dependency (possibly a large one) in the way your relationships play out. What did your family of origin demonstrate to you about relationship? Have you considered therapy? My sense would be to investigate this further with yourself.
I've never thought of myself as a carer as such, but I suppose the label fits. The way I see it is that none of us are completely without problems of one sort or another and I assumed that in relationships that progress past the "OMG I love you; No I love you; I can't keep my hands off you" years the committed companionship stage sort of entailed looking out for one another. I based that on observations, and, yes really, Wikipedia.
It definitely wasn't a carer role at the start. The first few years were pretty normal whirlwind stuff, the support started later on when he struggled to deal with situations at his work and with depression and, having been through that myself I was able to offer support from experience. I guess since then I changed to provide a proactive support role, i.e. seeking to head off problems before they got too bad for him. Asking him if he is feeling down, making sure he didn’t skip meals, etc. His various clinical diagnosis didn't come until two years ago which opened up access to professional support and I took a bit of a sidewards step. I did this because I managed to get him to open up that he thought I felt I was his carer not his partner. I have always acted on the basis that while I can offer advice or to help him it was always ultimately his choice. Some "mistakes" we need to experience for ourselves.
This was my first relationship that lasted more than a few months. I can relate to Offred's friend. Even growing up gay in the 90s you get conditioned to accepting you won't experience normal relationships. My family were homophobic "lite" to the same extent that most people who don't encounter gay people are, so there was total suppression for me at home growing up. Both my parents (separated) and my siblings have been completely supportive of me since I came out in my early 20s. Previous relationships were very much based around “this is all I can get so be thankful”. I broke them off because ultimately I could not be a fraud to people who were genuinely falling for me. This one was different in that there was a proper spark from the start and total lifestyle/activity compatibility.
I don't have any gay friends - I am very introverted and find it hard to socialise. I am also very much a straight-acting gay person (i.e. I am not at all camp and the thought of visiting a gay bar does not appeal to me). That makes it hard to use social media tools to find similar people because most people using such tools are either after a good night out in a carpark, or are people who grew up in the 50s and need to be wanted. People like me tend to be shyer as they do not want others in their communities to find out they are gay. Even in 2015 Britain I can’t walk into town holding hands with a guy without snide comments and looks being made.
The few friends I do have are life-long friends and totally support me. Paulapompom asks about my real-life support - really I only have one close friend I can be totally open with about this. The others are good friends to me and will offer up help when they find out what has happened but I feel it would be awkward to confide in them.
I guess the closure I want is to know that all those years together were actually meaningful. The thought that he did not feel love or even that he may have used my kindness and money dishonestly is hurting me. I've always been totally open and honest with him so to find hints that he may have been acting dishonestly and not trusting me reflects on me as being gullible. That is one attribute I had never considered as I generally don’t go into anything without knowing all my exits first.
gatewalker I am interested in your final paragraph if you wouldn’t mind elaborating a bit? It is similar to Offreds comment. Do you mean a dependency on me needing him because he needed me? Again it is not something I’ve thought about so I am not sure where to start. I don’t think it was any different to other healthy relationships in that my reason for being with him was because I obtained joy from his company, and the little daily intimacies that follow in that scenario. I guess that is a dependency, but isn’t that always the case?
Offred comments that “unconditional love is never a good idea with respect to a romantic relationship.” I think I understand that. Unconditional anything is not generally a healthy thing in that there must always be limits and lines. When he cheated on me a few years ago I started to grieve because there was a concrete reason to do so. In the end my heart overruled my brain and I allowed him back in. Silly things, emotions.
My marriage was kind of like this. I was under the impression we were compatible and that I'd finally broken from the pattern of choosing needy types, a few years down the line the neediness came out and now I can see the signs, with hindsight, were always there. Although I left the marriage once lots of things became clear.
Relationships rarely start off straight into the carer pattern IMO but they do progress that way. For me it is definitely about a strong drive to feel I am loved and wanted as I had a difficult childhood and poor relationships with my parents who abused me.
I find it very difficult to overcome in my own relationships despite this as this seeking out of someone needy has somehow become part of my attraction to partners and I am not aware of it sufficiently to avoid making the same mistakes in partner choice over and over again!
It is a form of codependency for that reason - you need the partner to need you.
What I noticed is that you say you never fought. It sounds to me like he just couldn't handle any form of conflict, so instead of working on his relationship with you, he just suppressed any problems he might have had and then walked away.
So yes, IMHO, you did indeed love you but for some reason he is conflict adverse.
I'm so sorry; it is devastating now but will slowly in time get better.
Perhaps you can take a break somewhat to clear your head?
I was an abandoned spouse. He also had MH issues and just disappeared. Very similar in that we never argued and were very happy (to my knowledge) and I got a text message when I was at work.
There is few things harder. I am so sorry for you.
I think in time you will unravel how this happenned. It seems impossible now but there is a mechanism in people and a dynamic in relationships which sometimes we don't see when we are right inside it like that.
I wish I could give you some amazing insight or advice, but I can't. Its still something I wish I had not had to live through - but I did survive and I am still here.
You will be too.
Thank you for your comments.
britney I am so sorry to hear the similarities to your own breakup. I know where you've been because you know where I am now, and I am grateful for your words of encouragement from your experience. If I may ask, how long ago did it happen to you and did you find any activities, friends, etc. that were able to help you process it?
You are certainly right about the mechanism whereby we don't see our own noses in front of us. I fully believe that the most obvious things to other people can happen without you noticing in relationships because we habitually only look at the good parts. Love is blind to flaws. Lookup irony in my dictionary and it will see "see love". I am unsure how to counter that. I guess that is what good friends are for.
Smilingforth (I smiled when I read your name, so thank you for that!), I don't know how I could take a break, if you mean going somewhere? Without company it would be more soul destroying that being at home for me. I took annual leave from work yesterday as I just couldn't face it so spent the day at home playing games to try and keep occupied. I am afraid to drive at the moment because of my mind wandering and I fear losing concentration. I am working again today which is keeping me occupied but it is from my home office and there are lapses where I am just sitting doing and thinking nothing positive. It has been quite uncomfortable today because the routine is so very different to normal. I've actually moved my desk so I cannot see where my partner used to sit and I've had to turn off the outside CCTV cameras because every person that walks past is like a new text message when you are first dating someone.
I saw my best friend last night but didn't really feel like talking much. He arranged for some other friends to be there too and we played a card game (Exploding Kittens from Kickstarter) and I tried to rest because I hadn't yet slept. I was not the best house guest! In the end I came home and am ashamed to say I got slightly drunk for the sole purpose of letting me sleep. Even if it was not the soundest of sleeping it did at least give me a few hours which must be a good thing. You need sleep to deal with stress. I wish I could voluntarily just book a week off work and sleep for the whole time. Do any over-the-counter sleeping tablets actually work? If I could only stop feeling so exhausted it must be able to help.
The joy has gone from my life. It has been completely deleted. Only I don't feel that I miss it. Odd.
I have a little problem I did not foresee. I've noticed that I haven't eaten since the other day.
It's weird because I normally get very hungry in the evening and around 9 ish if I forget to each breakfast. I understand that is a fairly common reaction due to the stress, and I'm sure many people out there would love to be able to take a break from eating without feeing hungry! I have drunk a little bit of water and my mouth is not dry/dehydrated but nowhere near what I would normally drink throughout a typical day. I've tried to force myself to eat a little. I went with my friend and bought a fruit salad bowl and managed two grapes last night. I bought some chocolate thinking it will be good for energy but can't face unwrapping it. When I got it home I noticed it was the same bag/brand my partner would buy me when we went out. Uh oh... the reminder stage has started. I walked to the fridge to drink some fruit juice just before writing this message, took it out, opened it, then just couldn't face drinking it and put it back. It is very alarming to me because I have never experienced that before. I can't describe the feeling - it is just an absence of the desire to eat, or any feeling from my body that I need to.
I know I won't die of starvation for quite some days yet, but it is concerning me nonetheless.
My friend is going to take me out to the cinema after work this evening, and take me to a really nice burger bar before to eat. I'm actually dreading the eating part because I am afraid I won't touch the food. I know he is doing his absolute best to look out for me and I really cannot express how much I love him for being there when I need him (now and in the past), but I am fearful that the demands I am placing on him are heading too far as he has a new baby and these days are meant to be his.
I'm still struggling with short bursts of crying normally at random times when I am doing something like opening an email or walking to the bathroom. I started reading online about coping with stress because I think that may help but found it a bit overwhelming. I will keep trying. I'm not having suicidal thoughts, but only because I'm actively blocking them (a technique I learnt when I was suffering from depression). I am in control enough to know that if I do regress into those thoughts I need to speak out. I think this is an area I might need to get outside help with though if the stress does not abate. Can you recommend anything or anyone to me? I really have no idea if there is anywhere I can call to discuss that sort of thing, or if there are any local groups I could visit.
I've created an account on a dating site with the purpose of finding some people to chat to. Just for general socialising chats to give me something to do with my unoccupied time that does not make me a drain on my friends. I have no absolutely interest in anything further right now and I've made that clear on my profile. Aside from still being irrationally in love with my partner and just not being physically capable of seeing someone I don't have feelings for, I will need to grieve for a long time before even considering if I can put myself through all this again. I need to heal first.
The weekend ahead scares me. Two days of emptiness. I have no idea what I will do with myself. I am thinking of laundering everything like bedding and cushions, etc, to remove his scent from the house where I can, and maybe boxing up all the things he left that we shared or obviously couldn't fit in the car I gave him. I found the watch I gave him as a gift when he got a job, and other little gifts to mark important occasions. All abandoned; likely without even a thought given to them either.
I've been trying to think about some of the things mentioned in your replies in my "alone with my thoughts" time. I'm wondering if the dependency thing might have been greater than I had thought.
Everyone wants to make someone they love happy. It is why we do it, and biologically a healthy altruistic companionship is in your own survival interests. I don't know where the line between healthy and dependant sits because this was my first experience of longer-term love. Does the need to make someone happy make you dependant on providing that? It's addictive. It's subconscious. I guess it does. If people can be dependent on cigarettes then they can be dependent on love.
I don't think I have a need to be a carer. It is not something that seems to coincide with anything in my life prior to meeting my partner and adapting to it, and it can be exhausting at times. I look out for people I care about, but so does everyone who is healthy so that isn't really any different. I've obviously got some more thinking to do there.
So thanks again for your comments and thoughts. It has helped me to set out some thoughts as well.
I'm really sorry for this next sentence, but I just need to get it off my chest and there is no one else I can shout it to:
WHY THE F**K DID HE NOT JUST TELL ME IF HE WAS UNHAPPY?
We've faced some tough times in the past and got through them by being open about them. I've even told him directly after his (first?) affair that there is no topic off bounds with me. If he wants to leave for any reason then all he needed to do was talk to me and if parting was the best choice then so be it. It would happen on good terms, and leave good memories.
As it has happened I'm left with only my side of events, and that is a dangerous thing when you are reflecting on your own memories.
Anyway... back to work. I've got to keep myself busy until my friend comes over in a couple of hours. Thanks for reading x.
Hi lost, I'm so sorry that you are going through this. It sounds so traumatic & soul destroying, I really don't know what I would do in your situation, apart from what you are doing. I know what it's like to lie awake at night with every single question going round & round in your head: why why why. Why did he do it? Why was I not enough? Why did he not talk to me? How could he? It is shit.
People have been very kind in supporting me through my latest relationship break up & everyone always says 'it wasn't meNt to be' & 'time is a great healer', both of which are true BUT it's so difficult to believe this when you are feeling like you are. It is RIGHT tho!
Wishing you well, please remember to eat (anything!) and remember it's not your fault. Hugs ((())) xxx
My cod take on this is
He couldn't tell you because even to admit one tiny bit would mean the entire edifice including himself would break. And he didn't have the strength, energy or will power or desire to face conflict or improve things or even face discussion or break the cycle that he had created before. Even/ especially putting himself in your shoes would break him. And it got too claustrophobic.
So he convinced himself it would be better for you as well as him just to do the clean break.
It is egotistical but not deliberately selfish.
Or he is a shit.
But from what you've said about his mh issues it sounds more like the former.
Get out of the house at the weekend. Try doing something - you won't feel like it's working but it will be a million times better than sat at home
Well I went to the cinema with my friend. Saw The Man From UNCLE but was a bit confused as I hadn't seen the TV series and my mind was drifiting a bit but it was nice to get out.
I ate an entire hamburger and drank about half a milkshake too! I struggled a bit to get it down because my brain was telling me I do not need to eat but I managed it. Not sure what tomorrow will bring.
Before I left I boxed up some of the gifts and toys we had built up in the bedroom. I will deal with them properly another day, but for now it is helping to reinforce that he has gone. There was one bear that he got me for my first birthday together after he moved in. I know it's silly but I burst into tears when he gave it to me all those years ago as it was so sweet, and I had to hold them back today too. I couldn't face boxing it away so I've left that bear on the shelf. It was from a happier times before the deceit.
From talking with my friend tonight I am going to think back carefully over our time together and try and find the last happy memory before any of the lies started. That will then become the end date of the relationship for me. What followed afterwards, although with many happy times, belongs to someone else.
I don't know if that technique will help, but it sounded good so I'll give it a try!
Thanks again for your comments and the hugs.
Capewrath, your comment makes sense to me. It is certainly easier to find acceptance of that, even if I have been finding more and more red markers from recent weeks and months. This has apparently been in the planning for a while.
I'm so exhausted. I tried half an hour in bed but it didn't work so I've had a little bit to drink again and am waiting to get drowsy. I know it is the worst way to do it but I never drink normally so it doesn't take much and the thought of sweet, sweet sleep is the only thing that brings me comfort right now whatever the cost.
Sleep and food will be hard for s while. Don't bash yourself over the head of you can't do for a period of time.
You do need to sleep. Nytol Once-a-Night (Boots 'Over the counter') does work but it's recommended you don't take it with alcohol.
Be kind to yourself. Could you eat something light? Crisps? Nuts? Crackers?
What do you think would make you heal? - even if it's in the very short-term? I used baths with lavender oil and candles. I stopped listening to music for a while - it just made the pain worse. Do you like walks? Reading? Keep writing - anything that helps you work through this pain. Can you work towards a definition of closure being dependent on answers from him? Can it come from within yourself?
Hi Chancer I think I'm a couple of weeks ahead of you, although I am back in touch with exDP. It took me a couple of weeks of trying to make sense of the abandonment, of it constantly going around my head and me (and everyone else) saying "but it doesn't make any sense". Two weeks it took before I decided that I had to set myself a rule, "Don't try to figure it out". It was impossible and I was going to drive myself mad. I have to conserve my energy for other things like remembering to eat and not losing my job.
Thanks, I will try and pop down to Boots later. Don't worry I won't mix it with alcohol - I'm not a drinker at all apart form the last two nights and have no plans to start!
When I first woke up, around 7am, I felt a little hungry so had a glass of water as it was too early to eat. I haven't eaten since but I want to go with my friends to a pub this afternoon to get out of the house so I will try and eat something small again then. I don't feel as exhausted first thing today (although I still look like it) so I definitely think the little food last night helped.
My friend bought me a dinosaur sticker book on the way home and I've put the first few stickers in today to keep my busy.
Chancer, what do I think would make me heal? I wish I knew, because I would bottle it up and give it away to everybody! I think what I want is clarity. I know the relationship will not return (and given what I've seen I wouldn't want it to for either of us), but I'm struggling with making sense of what has happened and with setting aside my feelings for him. I would have liked an opportunity to sit and talk with him before he left, or since, or even an email if that was easier, just so we could both ask questions and give answers to sort the truth from the lies. I can't just erase seven years of my life - I want to be able to take forward all the good parts and be able to forget the bad. That would be closure.
I understand that the best thing would be if he'd sat you down and explained but in my experience, that doesn't often happen - at least not immediately. A boyfriend of mine disappeared on me - at least, I knew where he was but he closed down all communication. How did I protect myself? After the shock, I became angry - deleted him from my life. Photos, facebook, twitter - everything. Several months later, I received a text saying 'sorry'. We did start talking a little and he did explain why. For a time, I wondered about the prospect of sleeping with him again - to heal me -which sounds odd but I thought if it could end on a caring, happier note, then I d feel better of revisioning our relationship into one of friendship. It took another friend of mine to say 'look, if you want to be held, I will hold you; if you want to sob and hurt, I will help you through that - but don't give him the opportunity of hurting you all over again, however unintentionally. And so that's what happened. I still chat to my ex now and again but he's less important to me these days. You sound like you have caring friends. You're very emotionally literate, it seems to me. I don't know what would heal you and I guess that's for you to figure out. Much of what I read said it was like the 7 stages of grief. Have a look at this:
(Sorry I should have addressed my earlier post to Dave, not Chancer!).
Hope you have managed to eat and get some sleep tonight
That's ok, I worked it out!
I visisted my friend this afteroon and we went to pick up some bits from the local supermarket. I had to leave after five minutes because I couldn't handle being in there and drove to a corner of the carpark and spent ten minutes sobbing in the car. I don't know what came over me, and ever since I have been on the verge of breaking out again. I think it was the familiarity with the routine and place? Any tips for dealing with that because obviously I will still need to shop for groceries.
Thanks Wando. I had a little bit of soup at my friend's house. I didn't go out anywhere in the end, staying there instead and some friends came over and we played Monopoly. I got a little bit drunk again, but in a social setting so I'm not ashamed of that. It was good - I laughed at least twice although obviously the thoughts are still there. I just got home and remade my bed with clean sheets and covers and will be heading to bed shortly.
We always used to watch Family Guy on BBC3 in the evenings while we fell asleep. I've not been able to the last two nights, even when still awake. I'm going to try tonight.
The worse thing is the coldness of not having someone to lay with. I was surprised at just how difficult it is to settle without my previous routine. Hence why I'm going to try the TV to settle me tonight.
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