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Relationship Shock - where do I go from here?

(84 Posts)
ampm Wed 24-Jun-09 12:49:00

Hope I'm not too "old" to ask questions on this site - really need advice from anybody who maybe understands, so here goes. Background: Young 52, widowed 8 years ago when only daughter 10. After 3 years creating new home on shoestring budget decided time to make new friends and explored Internet Dating. Talked to just 2 men, met one and knew immediately it was going to be good.

Daughter hated him with such depth/anger that we sought professional counselling and happy to say that after 3 tough years she accepted and has grown into a lovely young lady. I've been so happy and felt I had found my soulmate. The problem is ...... soulmate (we live 50 miles apart but divide week between 2 houses) has started to distance himself and be less caring/loving after Christmas. Said he needed space and wasn't sure of love anymore.

I'm devastated - talked of future dreams and thought we'd grow old together (he has older daughters and good relationship with ex wife). I'm not pushing for marriage and just can't understand how we have reached this point of separation so suddenly. Now feeling so lost and empty. Struggling to hold it together for daughter (now 17 and she's feeling guilty for the bad start)and it's hard to focus at work. Can't sleep, cry more than ever did when husband died and simply do not understand what's going on. How can a strong, warm, funny, romantic relationship change like that? He has no answers and says doesn't want to hurt me more by prolonging things if there is no future. We've only exchanged a couple of texts in last month and I am so very hurt, it's unbearable. Would appreciate any words of wisdom to help me get through this nightmare.

ggglimpopo Wed 24-Jun-09 12:51:52

Do you think he has met someone else?

ampm Wed 24-Jun-09 13:06:41

Don't want to sound complacent, but I'm pretty certain that's not the case (he's a complete workaholic i.e. 6am - 9pm not unusual) and we've also spent most of week together either at one house or the other. It feels a bit like he's trying to back away, put space between us and deny all that was so great the past 4 years, like I don't exist? A friend mentioned "commitment phoia" where relationship has reached a point of such deep love that only (perceived) way forward is a commitment and this is too scarey for them to handle for some reason. Have you ever come across this theory or am I just clutching at straws for an answer?

GypsyMoth Wed 24-Jun-09 13:08:04

Did he take his profile off the dating site!? Because many men keep it on in hope of meeting more partners.......

GypsyMoth Wed 24-Jun-09 13:11:15

As for your theory, you're scaring me now!!! I'm four years down the line in a long distance relationship, also 50 miles between us, but he visits here, we don't move around together......and no talk of marriage I'd living together either.

ampm Wed 24-Jun-09 13:14:53

Having said I wasn't being complacent, now have to admit the thought never occurred to me that after 4 years he might still be "looking", but we have no secrets in terms of paperwork and no Dating Website payments have leapt out at me from the bank statements that I get to file.

ampm Wed 24-Jun-09 13:18:54

ILoveTiffany - so sorry, don't mean to make you start doubting, just trying to make some sense of the mess. Still in shock and trying to think of anything which could have triggered this breakdown. Love him so much, can't think straight, just getting through another hour without crying in the office

Tanee58 Wed 24-Jun-09 13:21:10

ampm I am so sorry to hear this - some of what you've experienced is similar to me - similar age (we're not too old to post smile), same age daughters, same hostility from DD at start - and a new DP living several miles away (my troubles only started when he and I bought a house together).

What seems significant is that his behaviour changed, from what you say, quite suddenly. If he says he has no answers, he is probably being economical with the truth - he may have answers that he is afraid of voicing, because he thinks they may hurt you and make HIM feel bad about himself - not realising that having NO answers is sheer torture for you and just prolonging the agony.

Have you asked him straight out if he has met sometime else? You say you have only texted in the last month. Have you actually spoken on the phone or face to face? In my previous experience, whenever a boyfriend started the 'want space' speech, it meant he had met someone else or wanted to meet someone else. In other words, like the title of that excellent book, he was 'Just Not That Into Me' and the best thing I could do was leave him to it and move on, no matter how much I thought I loved him.

Or maybe he is scared of this new commitment to you? Do you think he feels under pressure to commit, now that DD has accepted him, even if you are not pressuring him? Have you met his daughters and are they happy with him having a new relationship? I have a friend whose Internet-met new partner has two toxic adult daughters who will never accept her. Causes no end of grief.

Also, have you tried telling him that if he can't offer you the relationship you once had, you want to end it now, no more contact, nadir. You might find he comes running when he thinks he is really losing you, and that you are not desperate to hold onto him. And if he doesn't - then it will hurt, really hurt, but at least you will know where you stand and be able to start moving on.

I have similar problems with my current DP - long story - and I am wondering if I will have to say goodbye to him, despite knowing that he has been the love of my life. But we are ONLY in our 50s and I am sure that there are other, NORMAL men out there for us.

GypsyMoth Wed 24-Jun-09 13:27:35

Yes, as hard as it is, maybe the time has come to ask him outright.
Could he be I'll? Just a thought, it's hard work trying to second guess the male mind!

ampm Wed 24-Jun-09 13:33:01

Oh it's such a relief to know there's someone out there who's had a similar experience. Yes, have asked if there was anyone else (no) and for a while even wondered if he was getting back with ex wife (again no, although he would always be there to help if needed, which I was aware of and OK about). I've met daughters, ex wife, brother and his parents at various family events over the years and felt totally comfortable.

As to saying I want to end the relationship if he is unable to be like before, I simply can't face the thought of life without. I'm trying not to make contact to see if "withdrawing" makes him miss me and this is proving really hard, breaks my heart, never knew loving could lead to such pain.

Tanee58 Wed 24-Jun-09 13:40:16

The thing is, ampm, you must be feeling so out of control of your life due to his sudden change - and that feeds into your distress (I speak from experience). It may help your mind to regain some of that control by telling him you either want answers that you can deal with or discuss, or you don't want to hear from him again. You may be surprised by his reaction. Whatever you do, try not to plead - that will just give him more power and won't work if he's really gone off the boil. It's hard to face, but we cannot MAKE a man love us.

Or he may indeed be a committophobe, in which case he is always going to disappear when things get too comfy (my DP is one, I think, he dumped me 20 years ago and he seems to be trying to do it again and he has had more relationships than hot dinners, amzingly we have lasted 6 years this time round)...

Or yes, it's always possible that he's ill and afraid to tell you...

SolidGoldBrass Wed 24-Jun-09 13:45:00

There are various possible explanations for this but the key factor is that, sadly, you can't make someone love you/commit to you/remain in a relationship with you if that person has decided it's time to move on. Ask him what he wants to happen, listen to what he says, and decide what you want to do in response ie if he wants to keep seeing you but see other people would you prefer a clean break? It may well be best to tell him that a temporary separation is a good idea and, when it happens, get to work building a life without him. WHatever you do, don't be suckered into waiting around with your life on hold while he 'works out what he really wants'.

Tanee58 Wed 24-Jun-09 13:45:51

Glad to have made you feel less alone smile - and remember, it's love and pain that make us human - and valuable humans too. You gave your daughter all the love and support she needed to adjust to losing her dad and accepting a new man in your/her life - you have done a fantastic job!

Yes, 'withdrawing' is good - it will show him you are not desperate. But actually calling his bluff and TELLING him it's over may be even better. It will shock him. I do this every time my DP says he's had enough and wants to sell up - last weekend he asked me which estate agent I'd prefer, and I told him to go ahead and do it all himself, I leave it in his hands - and he hasn't said a word about it since.

It sounds pathetic I know, but control can be a big issue here. If we take the control back, they are left with nothing - and they may then find that they really need us.

Of course you love him - just as I love mine - and don't they just know it! But think of this as tough love - it might just work!

Tanee58 Wed 24-Jun-09 13:48:15

SolidGold always gives good advice - she's right - get on with your life and don't wait around for him. It will make you feel better, keep your mind occupied, and you never know, put you in the way of all kinds of new adventures smile.

ampm Wed 24-Jun-09 14:38:27

A big thank you to everyone who's taken the time to read/respond - I know I'm sounding pathetically weak (and my handful of really close friends find it hard to deal with me being so broken by this) but it's like everything I dreamed of in the future has been erased. Daughter may well be away at uni in next 12 months so will be "empty nesting" and I honestly thought that partner and I would enjoy growing old and wrinkly together. So many hopes and plans just wiped out - how could he do this? The sane side of me knows I will survive but, oh god, when I wake up at 4am tears streaming down face at the thought of another day, trying to put on brave face when inside I'm just empty and numb and so desperately wanting to be held once more, how can I stop going over and over the memories?

Tanee58 Wed 24-Jun-09 17:55:41

By building NEW memories - believe me, I could soon be in the same position as you - as it is, my DD has sworn she will not share the house with my DP any longer than she has to (his recent behaviour has alienated her after all our care to bring her round). So if he goes, she will stay on another year as a first year student before moving out as she should, and if he stays, she will be off asap. I too can't face the thought of him going and I too will be up at 4am weeping if he does, but WE CAN GET THROUGH smile. Big, big hug to you AMPM, I know how we old things build up our dreams of a happy ending just as much (if not more) than the young MNetters. The thought of a lonely old age when we still feel young, does not appeal. But hey, you met someone you could love twice, maybe third time lucky?

But before you give up on this man, just try telling him it's over - try walking away from him - in case that works. Put on the best performance of your life even if it breaks your heart - it just might work. And if it doesn't remember what SolidGold and I said - if he WANTS to be with you, he will be. If it's meant to be, it will be. If it's not, there may be someone much better out there, just keep yourself open to the possibilities (and I should try to take my own advice grin)

cheerfulvicky Wed 24-Jun-09 20:05:51

Ah, there is such good advice on this thread it warms my heart grin Listen to Solid and Tanee! Very wise words there. Chin up, love. x

daisybaby Wed 24-Jun-09 20:30:20

You say that he has said he doesn't want to prolong things if there is no future. Maybe he is looking for a more settled permanent relationship, living together? Marriage?

Maybe not, I guess you will have asked him that?

toomanystuffedbears Thu 25-Jun-09 00:37:13

Also, what SolidGoldBrass said.

I had a horrid thought though, guess I should mention it.

Maybe he found your dd attractive? shock
Hope not, but it might explain a sudden change. And if so, apart from angry shock angry, nice of him to disapear rather than...[shudder emoticon].

ampm Thu 25-Jun-09 10:18:04

To Tanee and SolidGold in particular - wise words again and I think you really do understand. I'm still not brave enough to tell him it's over (even though I can see your logic) but WILL NOT get in touch.

My next problem is his parents, with whom I have quite a nice relationship (they live 150 miles away) i.e. we've been chatting once a month or so, send each other interesting magazine articles etc. Since this all came to a head back in April, I've not been in touch apart from a chatty Easter card - just don't know what to say or, to be honest, do not want to say anything which might make it worse between partner and me if their son hasn't said told them situation! Does this make any sense? I simply don't want to put a lovely elderly couple in a difficult position if they were unaware of our problems (although I guess they must have an inkling now after a couple of months) AND of course I've been hoping it would all work out. Similar situation with partner's daughters and his brother - how can I just "disappear". Am I crazy to want to put my side, without being spiteful or go into great detail, just say that it's been good to know them and (especially with daughters) wish them well in careers, future wedding etc. I guess it's a closure issue but then I have the dilemma of what if it's not over - see I just keep "hoping" .....

Tanee58 Thu 25-Jun-09 10:52:02

Morning Ampm - ditto. I have most of DP's siblings and their children as friends on Facebook. I haven't contacted them, but I keep getting friend invitations from them! His mother was over the moon when we got together, keeps hinting about wedding hats as he's her favourite and eldest child of a large family, and has reached 54 without ever marrying and only living with someone once before, for a disastrous 3 months! They're a mad disfunctional family, but I like them! (Father was toxic and is I think at the heart of DP's problems, but he's dead now). It's always hard when you break up - you not only lose your partner but their family and friends. I went through that when DD's father and I divorced and I dread it happening again.

I think it's probably best to keep schtum for now with your 'outlaws'. Maybe just send them a notecard now and then saying hallo and giving some neutral news, so you maintain contact, but don't say anything about matters between you and their son - and writing rather than calling means they don't get the opportunity to ask about things you and he are doing together, so you won't be put on the spot. And good, don't contact him - see if he contacts you. A bit of distance never hurt anyone.

Hi Cheerful Vicky, and how are you? smile

GypsyMoth Thu 25-Jun-09 10:55:30

I think even if this was now somehow resolved and the relationship returned to 'normal', you'd never feel truly relaxed with him again. He's hurt you. You can't get back to how it was. So why keep hoping? I think it's over really. Loose ends need tying up though. He seems to have little regard to everyones feelings, maybe you should be the bigger person here and do what needs doing.

I feel bad for you. But you can move on and be happy.

ampm Thu 25-Jun-09 11:24:08

ILTiffany - right, tell it like it is then - over! Not what I wanted to hear but deep down I fear you're right. So ...... why do I keep hoping?

Because of everything we've been through to help daughter accept relationship, because we've shared so much over last 4 years, because our dreams and aspirations are the same, because it felt so right, because I never felt that way in previous 27 years of a "good" marriage, because my family like him and could all see how happy I've been and because he made me laugh a lot!

I could go on with a load more positives - the only negative I can honestly think of is that sometimes it felt he was uncomfortable revealing too much vulnerability (fiercely independent when he was ill - hospitalised via A&E - recently).

I simply cannot understand how it could all fall apart so suddenly and a person is able to apparently "fall out of love", walk away and forget a huge chunk of their life!

Winetimeisfinetime Thu 25-Jun-09 11:54:05

ampm sorry to hear about your unresolved relationship issues. It must be so hard to go from the positive future you thought you had to this, with no real explanation as to why.

I think you are right to give him space and not contact him. He may realise what he is losing and come back to you and I think that pursuing him for answers will only further alienate him at the minute.

I wonder if his recent change of heart has anything to do with his illness that he didn't want to reveal too much about - could he have had some bad news health wise that has meant he feels you have no future ?

ampm Thu 25-Jun-09 12:25:10

Sorry to rule out another "theory" WineTime but the illness was DVT related which, apart from taking a precautionary drug for foreseeable future, does not affect longterm health. If only there was some tangible reason I could find for the complete about-turn, although the more I talk to people it does seem he may have commitment phobia issues, which would go some way to explaining getting out when the relationship was at a peak of happiness.

I'm trying so hard to be strong and get on with things but feel so "distanced" from the real world and silly things like seeing a same model/colour car drive past have the effect of a kick in the stomach. Failed to hold back tears in supermarket this morning as piped music turned into special song - it's like the world is going on and I can't cope. I know there are so many other women feeling like this and it's heartbreaking.

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