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I know I can't change this. I just need to understand how bad what I did was.

(62 Posts)
HelpMeToUnderstandThis Thu 02-Nov-17 07:35:27

I have very recently split up with my boyfriend.

I have AS, he has moderate functioning autism.

Over the past few weeks, he has driven me mad with behaviours that have obviously been anxiety driven. I knew he was upset, but not really why. I have been frustrated by not being able to 'get through to him' to help him feel better.

When he did tell me, it seemed to me to not be a huge issue. I tried to talk things through and explain to him. But it didn't make any difference. He said he understood, but then kept repeating it again.

So then he drove me mad with that. Constantly repeating the same reason and finally he ended things because of it. He had become fixated on it and wouldn't let it go no matter how many strategies I used to explain it. I was cross and also upset that we had split up over something that, to me, seemed ridiculous.

He is a lovely man. He has significant autistic traits but they make sense to me and I find them far easier to manage than many of the behaviours/aspects of relationships I read about on here. He is the kindest and most gentle and loyal man I've ever met.

Anyway, it turns out that reason was not the full picture, and was a bit of a 'red herring', which is why my explanations didn't work. And why he still felt that I didn't love him and that he wasn't important enough to me, even though I did and he was.

A few weeks ago, we got talking to a man. I had met him a few times previously, before I knew my ex boyfriend and we got on well. He is fairly new to the area, is quiet and doesn't have any friends locally. He suggested meeting up and he and I swapped phone numbers. My ex boyfriend was there at the time. In my head, this was just about making friends, going out for drinks, no problems. In my now ex boyfriend's head, you don't give another man in the pub your phone number when you are in a relationship. I haven't communicated with this man in the absence of my boyfriend at all.

Once this man knew I had a boyfriend, he suggested that the three of us went out. He hasn't, at any point, said anything inappropriate. I had no reason to believe that he was being dishonest when he said he is just interested in friends and would like to get to know both of us.

My ex boyfriend only told me that the phone number thing had upset him last night. He hasn't tried to tell me what I can/can't do at any point, but he has ended it because I did something that upset him and broke his trust and he can't get past it. He said he would never have exchanged numbers with another woman because he loves me. The only reason it was me this man exchanged numbers with is because my ex boyfriend finds communication difficult. He doesn't really text or speak to anyone other than me.

I feel terrible because I know now that this has hurt him. And he has done exactly what I do in relationships, and what I think you should do, if you don't feel that someone respects you or they break your trust, then you end it. There's no point in asking someone not to do whatever it is, or expecting them to change for you, or arguing. You just end it.

But I need to understand how bad what I did was.

Please be gentle because I do also have an asd, I just find it easier to articulate my thoughts than he does, which is why it took him so long to tell me what was really upsetting him.

I just feel terrible. I accept that it's over because I have broken his trust, but I need to understand whether what I did was just objectively wrong. I just feel so bad that I didn't make him feel loved and cherished when that is exactly how he made me feel.

HelpMeToUnderstandThis Thu 02-Nov-17 07:39:04

Speak on the phone. He obviously does speak to people in real life.

Smeaton Thu 02-Nov-17 07:43:59

I can see both points of view tbh.

You say your ex was there when you swapped numbers with this random man? Why didn't your ex give his number?
It may be that it was more than a number swap to your eX, he may have dwelled on it, every time he's not been with you he may have been wondering I'd you were messaging other man. Every time your phone went he might have been suspicious. It could have eaten away at him over days. Does that sound like something he'd do? Obsess and over think?

StorminaBcup Thu 02-Nov-17 07:44:54

This is really sad. It doesn’t sound like a breakdown trust just a breakdown in communication. Have you told him exactly what is written here? It’s seems very logical that you would have been given the phone number if your ex bf isn’t a great face-to-face speaker. I really hope you can resolve this flowers

FluffyWhiteTowels Thu 02-Nov-17 07:45:42

I think you thank him for finally being able to explain how he felt and you understand that took a lot for him to get there.

You reiterate that although he feels you have wronged him and done something terrrible you haven't and lots of people swap phone numbers because that is how people gain friends. Explain that it is in his mind alone that you were doing something dishonest. Remind him he made you feel cherished and loved and you miss him so much.

If he is rigid thinking he may not be able to get over it. But this would have happened sometime in the future over something so maybe best aired now.

I hope once he's thought some more he may be able to talk to you. I feel for you. It's so sad.

paniconthestreetsofdreams Thu 02-Nov-17 07:45:45

This is a terribly sad situation and I hope I don’t sound over invested when I say I’m sorry you guys broke up and I want you to get back together!

Can you show him this post? I think it’s a genuine misunderstanding. I would show him the post!

onemorecupofcoffeefortheroad Thu 02-Nov-17 07:51:54

I don't think you did anything wrong - from what you're saying you told your bf that you'd exchanged numbers with this man. There was no deception, no lies or even the hint of anything untoward. All was above board and done with honest intentions.
How sad that he would end a perfectly good relationship with a loyal loving partner over something so trivial.
My partner has a busy professional life and is forever exchanging numbers with people of both sexes male and female with a view to meeting up them on a more 'friends based' footing or to show them around the city or to just hook up for a coffee or lunch in a social way. It's perfectly normal - unless I'm missing something.

CamperVamp Thu 02-Nov-17 08:00:27

You didn't do anything wrong or bad.

It sounds as if your boyfriend has very black and white rules and guidelines, and that 'giving your number to another person when you are in a relationship' is something he sees as a thing which is just not done.

But of course it is done. It depends on circumstances. If you and the friend had been flirting and you wrote your number on his arm and said 'ooh call me some time' that would have been wrong.

What you did is a normal social transaction - especially, as you say, you were taking numbers as a plan for ALL of you to meet up and your boyfriend is not one to take numbers, text and phone.

I don't know what to suggest because it is hard to guess the ways in which your boyfriend absorbs information and perceive discussion.

Would it help to write down a factual list of 'wrong' ways to share a phone number and 'harmless' ways to share a phone number? Is there a trusted non-autistic spectrum friend who could re-assure him that what you did is not 'bad' but normal?

It seems sad for both of you that such a simple difference of perception has caused the breakdown of a relationship.

Good luck OP.

HelpMeToUnderstandThis Thu 02-Nov-17 08:03:14

one I didn't need to tell him. The three of us were talking in the pub. He was there at the time.

He doesn't see it as trivial though.

In his head, you just don't give your number to a man when you have a boyfriend. He has had no problems at all with me seeing male friends since we've been together.

It was totally innocent. I have no interest in this man and no reason to think he has any interest in anything other than friendship.

panic I've emailed him and tried to explain all of it. Thanks.

Fluffy sat in tears at your post. You're spot on in everything you say. I have done that in my emails this morning. I hope he can process it all. I just know that it would make no difference to me at this stage though. If I were him sad

storm I does make sense. He really struggles. His syntax is 'odd' and he doesn't always communicate what he thinks he is communicating. Which made things interesting smile Nothing would get arranged or organised if it were left to him!

Smeaton I think that's exactly what was happening. It really upsets me that I caused him to feel like that. He wasn't a random man, we've spoken a few times. It's a small pub, the kind where people get to know each other. Not a big chain type place.

I just feel so bad that I've caused a lovely person to feel like this.

Going to work now. Hopefully that'll take my mind of it!

HelpMeToUnderstandThis Thu 02-Nov-17 08:06:50

Camper Yes that is it. A normal social transaction.

I've emailed him and asked him if he can meet with me to talk it through.

I think the idea of a list of wrong and harmless ways to share a phone number is really good. Thanks.

I think I'm just so upset by it that I can't think about it properly.

senua Thu 02-Nov-17 08:10:52

I think I'm just so upset by it that I can't think about it properly.

Take the autism out of the question. Ask yourself: Is it OK that your boyfriend controls who you make friends with? Is it OK that your boyfriend is jealous and suspicious?

HelpMeToUnderstandThis Thu 02-Nov-17 08:11:01

Nothing would get arranged or organised if it were left to him!

That sounds awful.

I meant things socially that weren't at the forefront of his mind. Important stuff and things with me were always sorted and organised.

Wheresthebeach Thu 02-Nov-17 08:12:51

You didn't do anything wrong. If this is what happens when he is there, and can see that its innocent, imagine his reaction if you interacted with a man in a way he thinks is inappropriate when he isn't around.

I'm sorry but I think you should stay broken up as this will only come up again. His reaction will be worse under the heading of 'but you know how much it upsets me' and his list of acceptable/unacceptable behaviour with other men might start to get larger and larger.

Cricrichan Thu 02-Nov-17 08:18:53

You didn't do anything wrong. You used to know this man, your bf was there, you were totally open about it. He either trusts you or he doesn't and that's his issue, not yours. You did nothing wrong.

ReanimatedSGB Thu 02-Nov-17 08:20:19

You have had a lucky escape. This man is jealous, controlling and unreasonable and his ASD is not a free pass for him to bully you like this. Walk away and don't look back.

(before anyone else starts, people who are neurodivergent or have MH issues are not all unreasonable bullies, but arseholes can have issues/illnesses too...)

FunderAnna Thu 02-Nov-17 08:20:51

I have a parent who used to display the sort of rigidity of thinking that your former partner displays. (He is no longer aliive.) He simply could not accept that there were other ways of looking at things. When he differed with other people, then they were wrong and he was right.

He had relatively few friendships because of this trait and his relationships with colleagues were always difficult. The friendships always came to an end, and his working life was enormously difficult.

He made my mother very unhappy at times.

Sketchily Thu 02-Nov-17 08:23:39

Although I too think it’s really sad that you’ve split up as you sound well suited in many ways. I suppose what would concern me if you did get back together is that it could happen again, but over something different. It seems like you are having to live your life as a couple with him setting unbreakable rules but without communicating what those rules are in advance. Most people would think that giving out a phone number in the circumstances you describe is just natural social interaction. How are you supposed to know what is acceptable to him going forward? And is it fair on you to have to monitor your own behaviour going forward in case it upsets him? Would you really want to limit your life in that way?

ILostItInTheEarlyNineties Thu 02-Nov-17 08:26:39

You did nothing wrong. You gave a friend your phone number. That's not breaking trust. His reaction to that demonstrates that he didn't trust you in the first place.

I agree with senua to an extent, he is acting in a jealous controlling way and his reasoning for his actions aren't rational.
If you do reconcile, then you need to stop excusing his jealous manipulative behaviour and establish some clear rules and boundaries.
That would include you being able to communicate with male friends, and making new friends.

You can't continue in a relationship where you're treading on eggshells, thinking he might end things whenever he feels jealous or insecure.

Venusflytwat Thu 02-Nov-17 08:33:11

What you did wasn’t wrong. It is his rigidity of thinking that is the problem here.

The question is whether he is willing or able to address that.

If he isn’t then I think you should either walk away or be very aware that if you pursue him, this is likely to come up again and again.

How old is he? If you are young could you sit with his parents to discuss it? I know that sounds weird but I assume they will have been his main “social decoders” thus far.

AnonEvent Thu 02-Nov-17 08:44:32

For me, the appropriateness of male/female relationships (or relationships with whichever sex you are interested in) is based on intention.

It’s difficult to decode sometimes, because the right/wrong isn’t defined by the visible action, but by the invisible intent.

If your intention was good (kindness to a stranger, to make a friend, etc.) and I believe it was, then you’ve done nothing wrong.

The fact your boyfriend doubted your intention is what needs to be addressed, and based on your post: ” And why he still felt that I didn't love him and that he wasn't important enough to me, even though I did and he was. “

I’d suggest it’s that he feels unworthy of you and your relationship. Which equally isn’t your fault.

Rather than reassuring him emotionally, can you think of past examples of behaviour that would reassure him? “You can tell I love you because when I could have done X, I did Y instead”.

whiskyowl Thu 02-Nov-17 08:49:36

Oh, you poor thing.

It sounds to me as though your ex is unable to cope with the nuances of this situation. To him, exchanging phone numbers = intent to cheat. While I can see that autism might play a role in that rigid equation, I think what you have here is a trust issue that is similar to that of any other couple. He doesn't believe you that you were just intending to make a friend, and despite your reassurances he's just not listening.

I am going to say the same thing to you as I would to any other woman: this is a red flag. If he can't trust you, in spite of your being incredibly open, above-board, and honest with him, then that's a big issue, as it's really quite controlling. You need to be able to make friends - male and female - without constantly looking over your shoulder for his mistrust.

Shoxfordian Thu 02-Nov-17 08:53:30

He doesn't sound that lovely to me.

It's not reasonable to have (imaginary) rules in your head about relationships and not communicate them to your partner then break up because you've broken the rule. Who knows how many other rules he has that you don't know about and could break in future if you get back together?!

I don't really know why he wouldn't have given this man his number as well if you were making friends and having a nice chat together.

I don't think you did anything wrong but I do think this is not a healthy relationship

AnnieAnoniMouse Thu 02-Nov-17 08:59:06

You can't 'take autism out of it', it's THE crux of the matter.

HelpMe. You honestly didn't do anything wrong or anything that 'should' make him feel you broke his trust. It's just his processing that's making it seem that way to him. It's such a shame & I hope you can sort it out, it would be very sad to break up over this. I really hope you can make him see that his 'rules' re exchanging phone numbers is right, but that the part where you determine WHO it's wrong to swap numbers with needs a bit of tweaking. You might be able to make him understand that you can't put all men in one category - what if he had been a plumber & you needed a plumber? Wat if he had a car for sale & you wanted to look at it. This man wanted BOTH of you to be friends. I hope you can make him understand that you were exchanging numbers with someone who wanted to be friends who just happened to be make & that you weren't swapping numbers in a dating way. Good luck my lovely.

DeadGood Thu 02-Nov-17 08:59:51

Sad situation.

Unfortunately, it's him who will suffer the most through this rigid thinking. He doesn't speak to anyone but you, but is willing to let you go over something so trivial?

Astonishing self sabotage there.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do, you sound lovely flowers

AnnieAnoniMouse Thu 02-Nov-17 09:05:45

*previous post make should be MALE of course.

Sadly, I think a lot of people just don't understand how some people with autism think/need rules/see black & white...sometimes they need help to understand that a 'social rule' they have fixed in their mind needs a bit of tweaking.

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