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Partners of boarding school survivors(32 Posts)
My first post here.
I am really keen to reach out to other women who are partners of an ex boarder.
My partner is a great man and love him very much. But he finds our relationship a challenging 'institution' and his behaviour (which I don't believe are directly in his control right now) are very hard to live with at time. Those who are with an ex boarder will most probably resonate with the challenges around emotions, intimacy and childish behaviours.
I really want my relationship to work. In the past, I ended up so ill that I was self harming and suicidal. I underst5and that his former girlfriend also went the same way. I think there is a pattern in how he is in intimate relationships.
I am much better now and the relationship is much better. But he still struggles with intimacy, boundaries, resect and commitment.
We are seeing a therapist together who is an expect in this area, which is great. I would really just like another woman to talk to as well.
If anyone feels they share this issue please do let me know.
My husband went to boarding school. Was your husband bullied??
I dated someone who went to boarding school from the age of seven. He still sleeps with his teddy bears every night, drinks to ridiculous excess, refuses to turn the heating on in the winter because it's 'character building' to be cold, is capable of the most exquisite denial of his feelings, blank face, neutral expression, he's desperate to be nurtured, but refuses any attempts as making him weak, can't bear to be praised, he shouts at himself for any perceived failures, he sets himself impossible goals making himself constantly feel like a failure, so that's a vicious cycle... I tried for many years to make things work, but he always felt that I fell short and made that clear to me. We're just friends now.
Thank you for the replies.
Katy - he was abused emotionally, physically and sexually by fellow students and teachers at different times. He isn't actually my husband - he wants to get married but says he hasn't been able to get over things I have done to him in the past and he can't yet trust that the relationship will work long term. I have been to therapy and coaching for years and completely revitalised myself (which I needed, as my self esteem was poor). But no matter how much better I get, and how my letters I write and conversations we have giving my apologies, he can't get over it.
I don't think he can trust women, as women seem to have always let him down.
I am not perfect. But I know I am a good partner and a caring woman. I love him so much. I wish he'd see that.
Djnoun - that sounds so difficult. I really feel for him. And it won't have been easy on you. x
Oh OP. I feel for him, but I feel for you even more. Let him go.
NotTheFordType - thank you so much for your support. I am very strong and hope to get stronger still so that I can be better for both me and him. I love him very much and have no plans to leave him.
My ex was similarly fearful of women.
He was also tremendous at holding silent grudges that I would know nothing about.
He would say very hurtful things such as that he didn't miss me when I wasn't around (as in, even if he hadn't seen me for weeks), he was controlling, but in a way that he was unable to perceive because he felt it to be comparatively relaxed behaviour, and his inability to commit to any serious relationship, although to him it felt serious, all made for very hard work.
I worry about him never finding a partner.
My DH went to boarding school from 7 years old. He didn't enjoy it (especially at prep school), was bullied at some points for being non-white and non-British, and doesn't want it for our own DCs.
HOWEVER none of these extrenet behaviours sound the least bit familiar to me from him, or from my own male family members who boarded. I think it sounds like you'd be better off connecting with other partners whose partners were sexually abused.
You also need to also consider what is best for you. Just like you cannot be responsible for his mental health, it is not fair for him to be responsible for you being suicidal. You've obviously worked really hard on this, did you touch on your relationship with therapy? It's hard to see a positive outcome unless he's also willing to get help.
says he hasn't been able to get over things I have done to him in the past and he can't yet trust that the relationship will work long term
I am very strong and hope to get stronger still so that I can be better for both me and him. I love him very much and have no plans to leave him.
You're in an abusive relationship. Get out.
I boarded myself. My dp has boarding school syndrome. What you describe is not that. If anything, it's the opposite.
Seriously, you've pulled the wool over your own eyes, get real and get out.
oiiiiiii - thank you for taking the time to read the post and your reply.
I don't actually agree. The behaviour is very challenging to live with at times. That doesn't make it abuse though. He has problems. And I am not perfect either.
I still thank you though. Nobody needs to take the time to read and reply to someone else's post and I its always interesting to get a different perceptive.
Best wishes to you and your DP. x
I was a boarder. All boys school. Not from age 7, thank God, but did my time.
Your DP’s behaviour does sound more like it stems from the abuse he received than because he boarded per se.
It also doesn’t sound like a healthy relationship for you and I think PP’s advice to get clear is correct. You will never be able to fix his issues - you’re not in any way qualified to do that - and trying to make this “work” is going to lead to heartache for you both.
He needs some serious counselling; he definitely doesn’t need a relationship in his current state.
This is very interesting. My ex went to boarding school from a young age. He was hugely passive aggressive and what a previous poster wrote about not having the heating on - very true! He didn’t look after himself at all despite having a potentially serious medical condition.
he was abused emotionally, physically and sexually
Your DP is a survivor of abuse, not boarding school!!
My DH went to boarding school, loved it and is perfectly socially competent. However, I'm sure he wouldn't be if he'd been abused, regardless of where that abuse had happened.
So... My dh went to the big Catholic boarding school in Yorkshire, if you know where I mean. Went in at 8, came out at 18, met me at uni three months later and that was 20 years ago. I echo what people have said about op's partner's current behaviour being more about what he suffered at school than the fact he boarded. It definitely messes with your mind even if, like my dh, you actually had a "good" experience. Mine has terrible night terrors still, and while he says nothing illegal happened to him there was clearly a seam of nastiness that wasn't addressed at the time.
Op does your partner know there is currently an inquiry running into abuse at schools? There is a lot of helpful information here www.truthproject.org.uk/I-will-be-heard and www.iicsa.org.uk/investigations/sexual-abuse-in-residential-schools
Surely this is more about abuse than boarding school?
Depends what you did to him OP...
This behaviour is so imprinted and much more powerful than you.
When you look back 10 years from now he will be exactly the same person.
It saddens me that you seem to feel the need to be the one to change, OP.
This might be of help, OP.
Joy Schaverien - "Boarding School Syndrome"
OP, you cannot be responsible for the happiness of another adult. No prior trauma is an excuse for abusive behaviour. You should never ‘set yourself on fire to keep another person warm’.
This whole saviour narrative you have going here, the ‘I can be strong enough for both of us’ in light of his deep seated trauma is immensely harmful to you both. I would suggest that you read about co-dependency in relationships. I think you may be confusing codependency with love.
I hope your DP is able to get some good individual psychotherapy if he feels able to try to heal from the trauma and abuse he has suffered.
Blimey, I thought you were my SIL for a bit there neighneigh.
My DB definitely has boarding school syndrome so good luck SIL!
I'm the one who went to a boarding school (a convent school for girls) but as a day student. I was bullied and suffered SA at the hands of a priest and physical and SA at the hands of my headmistress (a nun). I suffered SA at home as well, along with my DSis.
I can relate to your DP's behaviours, especially the difficulties with intimacy. My DH is very patient, but I know I need to properly process what happened to me, otherwise there's no chance of me ever changing. My DH understands, but my difficulties with intimacy impact negatively upon my relationship with my DDs as well, and that isn't right.
You can't change things for your DP, OP, it's up to him to get the help he needs. My DH really does do his best, but he can't go through the therapy for me. I've just started therapy on the NHS now. There is help out there; your DP has to take that step to go to his GP to ask for it.
Thank you all for your thoughts an comments. It means a lot.
I agree that there are no doubt issues from the abuse as well. It is a very complex and sensitive situation.
We both have support and therapy, which is very helpful.
The school was not in the UK and I doubt there would ever be any enquiry into what happened.
I have perhaps presented myself as a victim here, which is not the case. I have perhaps also painted him as a bit of a monster. He is a great man and we have a great relationship. There are some issues that I believe he battles and as a loving and committed partner I support him.
I wanted to do something proactive this year and reach out to others who may be in a similar challenging situation, as I think for me I need some additional support to offload at times. I think this is the case for everyone in relationships where we all need to turn to friends at time to offload and de-stress. In my case, I wanted to connect with someone who may be able to understand how things can be.
Thank you all again.
With regards to what I have done and my mistakes of the past - without going into all the details, I have said things and done which stuck with him. In particular, we had a bad patch where I ended the relationship for a period of time a few year ago. I was very hurt and upset at that time. I told him that I wanted to contact his family to tell them what has been going on. He has found that 'threat' hard to forgive and move forward from. As previous partners have done similar.
I am very regretful of course and doing all I can to make amends and rebuild trust.
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