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He's overthinking and retreating

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This topic contains 74 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  anita 6 months ago.

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  • #128889

    bricklady
    Participant

    I started dating a man in May of 2016 who was newly divorced with sole custody of two kids, the mother lives thousands of miles away. We dated slowly building a relationship and making sure that we both felt comfortable with each other before I met his children. I met his children in July and we took it slow so we could all build a relationship. If I stayed overnight he slept on the couch so the kids would know we were doing things properly. We have celebrated Birthdays, holidays, the ups and downs as any family would. The kids love me, in fact one of his children tells me that she wants to call me mommy and asks weekly when am I moving in. He has always shown me in actions as well as words that he loves me. I love all of them completely. We had planned on me moving in this summer. We never argue, we don’t fight, when there is a disagreement we immediately talk and work it out.

    In January after he had a doctor’s appointment and it seemed to scare him. He had gained weight (happy relationship weight) and his doctor adjusted some of his daily medication. He went into full panic mode and began overthinking every thing in his life. Are the kids ok? Is work too stressful, is my girlfriend okay? Can i have a girlfriend and be a dad? Can I balance everything in my life? We had a long talk and came up with solutions to lessen his stress and mine as well. We both felt that our relationship was never the problem but the way he was overthinking every aspect in his life was throwing him for a loop.

    A few weeks ago the anniversary of his ex wife’s leaving came and went and the children were understandably sad. She sent them a each a gift and they were upset the first week they received them missing her and have moved on since.

    In the past week he told me that he feels lost. That he doesn’t know who he is since he was in relationship for years, then briefly single and then back in a relationship. That he doesn’t know how to be in a relationship and work on himself too. That he doesn’t know who he is and that the only way he can find himself is to cut off all communication with me, no dating, no being friends. That he needs to focus on the children and make them a priority (which he always has done) and that he needs to worry about the kids and himself and not me. I asked instead of going to the extreme and cutting ties would he instead consider scaling back on how much we see each other and instead of every weekend go to two or even one a month and he won’t even consider it. He says that he will worry about me if we still see each other and that he will worry about me if we don’t. I am willing to go to couples counseling, slow things down, heck, I would give him a month or so to work on this.

    He is distancing himself from his friends as well. Agreeing to meet then cancelling the day of or a few hours before. He has never had behavior like this in the 9 months I have known him and his friends that have known him for years also have never seen him act like this. He has few friends and the list is growing shorter with him pushing people away.

    He has seen a counselor twice since mid January and his next meeting with her is next week. The anniversary of his divorce is in three weeks and I just wonder if he is cycling through a depression, grieving the loss of his marriage.

    His friends have talked to him numerous times on how difficult this will be to cut me off from the children with no explanation. How he is rude to me and to them in his actions. He is dead set on ending things.

    He is everything I have prayed for in a partner and has always treated me with dignity and respect until this. It is shocking behavior. He has told me daily for months that he loves me, how he can act like himself when he is with me. That is is thankful I am in his and his kids life. He has said this all the way up to a few days ago when he told me he feels lost. It’s shocking and sudden and immediate.

    Does anyone have any clue? I know he is hurting but to cut everyone out of your life, to end all means of support is hard on us.He reads and listens to what we say but it doesn’t sink in that he is pushing away the people that love him.

    I am in misery, and I am sorry if this rambles. My heart aches.

    #128915

    Don
    Member

    I am sorry to hear about your situation and feeling helpless to change things.

    You wrote ‘In the past week he told me that he feels lost. That he doesn’t know who he is since he was in relationship for years, then briefly single and then back in a relationship. That he doesn’t know how to be in a relationship and work on himself too.’

    He said that he needs to work on himself. If he has issues that need to be resolved, that needs to be a priority if you are going to have a future together.

    At this point you are doing everything you can. It is up to him to work with his counselor and begin communicating
    with you again.

    Hope things do get better for both of you.

    #128917

    anita
    Participant

    Dear bricklady:

    Maybe he ended the relationship with you because he worried too much about you. You wrote that he told you that: “he needs to worry about the kids and himself and not me… He says that he will worry about me if we still see each other and that he will worry about me if we don’t.”

    What did he mean by all this worrying?

    anita

    #128967

    bricklady
    Participant

    He is a constant worrier. He and his family claim he always has been. He wants to make sure the people in his life are happy and taken care of. Of the times he has told me that he was worried about me it was in the context of “Am I sure I can handle an instant family? Kids, and dogs and a life I had never had before?” I had thought and prayed about it for several months and decided yes, I can handle it. Not only can i Handle it, but that I love his family and I long to live there, to be part of it, every day for the rest of my life.

    When he told me recently that he will worry about me if we are together or not he didn’t give any specifics.

    I am a hot mess. I can’t sleep or eat and feel like a zombie.

    #128989

    anita
    Participant

    Dear bricklady:

    I am sorry you feel so badly and hope you feel better soon. I am thinking that maybe if you have a better understanding of what happened, you may feel better. And so, I re-read your original post and I read your last post.

    You presented this relationship as perfect: “We never argue, we don’t fight, when there is a disagreement we immediately talk and work it out”, and “We both felt that our relationship was never the problem”-

    You then came up with what you believe to be the evidence or indications what the problem is: he is unwell, in a mental loop, withdrawing from others, becoming depressed- he is unwell. Not the relationship, and it is nothing you did wrong in the relationship.

    But the relationship was not perfect. These are the indications that the relationship was not perfect (if you would like, do answer the questions)?:

    1. “(We) have celebrated Birthdays, holidays, the ups and downs as any family would”- what “downs”?

    2. “when there is a disagreement we immediately talk and work it out”- what were the disagreements? Did the same disagreements come up again and again?

    3. “He had gained weight (happy relationship weight) and his doctor adjusted some of his daily medication. He went into full panic mode”- it couldn’t have been a “HAPPY relationship weight” that he gained- he wouldn’t have gone to a panic mode if it was that. What scared him so and what is the nature of the illness and medication he is on?

    4. “We had a long talk and came up with solutions to lessen his stress and mine as well”- you were stressed in the relationship, while it was ongoing. What stressed you? How did your stress show?

    5. “he has told me that he was worried about me it was in the context of ‘Am I sure I can handle an instant family? …I had thought and prayed about it for several months and decided yes, I can handle it.”- you weren’t sure you could handle the difficulties of having an instant family, for several months you weren’t sure, this is why you prayed about it. During the time you weren’t sure, how were your doubts expressed, in the relationship?

    anita

    #129013

    bricklady
    Participant

    Thank you. You have great questions!

    1. Mainly the kids, if they failed tests at school, fights with each other or their friends and for the most part, them missing their absentee mother. She has infrequent communication with them which upsets them greatly.

    2. Disagreements were usually about little things, figuring out whether we were going to do chores one day and errands the next, what to have for dinner, if the kids should have friends over or study for upcoming tests. Never about money or our jobs.

    3. He is on high blood pressure medicine. I said ‘Happy weight” because we tend to go out to eat and had been cutting back on that the past few months. His doctor didn’t explain that the increase of medicene was due to weight gain.

    4. Some of my stresses were driving two hours to his place every week as it was easier for me to go to him and him to get the kids, come get me, and go back to his house. Cooping kids up in a car for four hours after being in school all day isn’t fair. Sometimes when I got to their house on Friday, they would have eaten dinner without me and I had to fend for myself. I would be tired after driving, and grumpy or hangry but after eating and getting out the car for about 20 minutes I de-stressed.

    5. It was a lot to think about. Did I want to take on the responsibility of kids that weren’t mine? I felt it was important in the months before meeting his kids & once I did, that I took the time to think about the future with him and the children. As I got to know them I fell in love with them. I love them as if I gave birth to them. I love them and him completely. When I think about the future, it is growing old by his side, going on adventures. Watching the kids grow up. We talked several time about the future. On how we can take things slowly, getting the family dynamic rooted.

    #129033

    anita
    Participant

    Dear bricklady:

    You read like a reasonable person. I am still trying to understand this situation. For that purpose, next question, if you are willing:

    In your original post you wrote: ” I know he is hurting but to cut everyone out of your life, to end all means of support is hard on US. He reads and listens to what WE say but it doesn’t sink in that he is pushing away THE PEOPLE that love him.”

    Who is the “us” and “the people”? Are you referring to you and his few friends; The friends who have “never seen him act like this” and who “talked to him numerous times on how difficult this will be to cut me off from the children with no explanation. How he is rude to (you and them)”-

    If so, reads to me that you have a significant amount of interactions with his friends, interactions without him. You and his friends discuss him a lot? Does he know about those interactions and how does he feel about it?

    anita

    #129045

    bricklady
    Participant

    I am referring to him and his friends. He and I met through a handful of mutual friends last year. I have been friends with them for about 7 years and he over 10, and us never meeting each other. They are his best friends and my very close friends. We have always checked in every few weeks to see how things and and plan a lunch or dinner meet up. They see him additionally throughout the week because they live in the same city as him and have dinner at least once a week with everyone. He knows that I talk to them about everything under the sun including him as I know he does to them about me. It is always in a respectful manner. Whether it was getting input on a Christmas gift idea, to planning a surprise mid week lunch trip or to let them know that the kids have been down and we had been struggling with that, and how he has retreated and is acting now.

    His friends has been trying repeatedly to meet with him in person to see how his is. To find out how he is going to tell the kids that he has broken up with me. To find out why he feels that he needs to break things off so that he can work on himself, and why is he pushing them away as well. He keeps avoiding them and saying that he needs to be by himself to work on this.

    #129053

    anita
    Participant

    Dear bricklady:

    Lets see: you met your now ex boyfriend in May 2016 and were taking it slow. But only two months later you were already staying overnight at his place, with his children and a few months later, the intent was that you move in. The whole relationship moved along very quickly, in my view, unlike the intent and plan to take “it slow so we could all build a relationship.” This is one ingredient here that I noticed- a fast pace.

    You wrote: “We both felt that our relationship was never the problem but the way he was overthinking every aspect in his life was throwing him for a loop….I am willing to go to couples counseling.”

    But if the relationship was never the problem, as you wrote, what would be the use of couple counseling? According to your sharing, the problem is his, not yours and not the relationship. So individual therapy would be what is needed?

    And then, if there is something wrong with his thinking, his reasoning, then automatically there is a problem in the relationship, which is now over, at this point anyway.

    What you presented here, on this thread, is a situation where you did everything right and he did the wrong, due to his medical/ mental in-wellness. This may very well be true. Thing is, if it is all him, there truly is NOTHING at all that you can do. If it was partly something ineffective that you did, then there would have been something- if given the chance- that you could still do.

    If he owns the problem, 100%, then your thinking that it is related to the time-line (fresh divorce and, I say, fast pace relationship with you) is a big factor. His medical problems, elevated blood pressure and weight gain- big factor as well. Understandably, being AFRAID as he is, he is retracting, in self protection. No wonder he withdraws from your mutual friends as well- they support you.

    What is wrong with your mutual friends supporting you to him? Only one thing: neither they nor you understand the magnitude of his fear, I am thinking. He is simply too afraid.

    anita

    #129059

    bricklady
    Participant

    In our minds we took things slow, probably because we live two hours apart and when we first met we weren’t able to see each other as much as couples that live in the same city. Some weekends he had the kids, some weekends they were with their older sister, had weekend campouts at school or whatever and we had time together. We spent a lot of time talking and learning about each other before he introduced me to the kids. He initially wanted me to move in during Christmas of 2016 but I postponed it wanting more time and he had no problem with that. It seemed quick to me and when we discussed he came to that understanding as well. In January he said he didn’t think that he would be ready for me to move in over the summer and I was happy to agree to postpone it. We have all our lives to take that next step. Why rush it until we both felt ready.

    Couples counseling, probably me stretching and looking for anything that could make this work. Maybe we could figure out together with someone what makes him worry in a relationship, what is a trigger for him to cause anxiety.

    He has anxiety. I have had it as well for years and it has definitely popped its head and is in control of me right now. I am seeing my therapist and working with her on getting a handle on it. He has no idea how to deal with it and he “forgets” to ask his therapist about it.

    It very well could be that it is too soon and he is afraid. It is one thing to say your marriage was dead for years but only be divorced for a few months then begin dating. Eventually you have to deal with the death of the marriage and being scared to go into another relationship is understandable. But to tell me you don’t want to have an contact with me, even to be friends on social media is just hard for me to wrap my head around.

    I… I put a lot into this relationship. Going there weekly, getting up at 6am to drive two hours to go work for 8. Kids, homework, dinners, learning 3 new people and their routine, them learning about me and mine. Getting to know each others extended family and friends. And now, this.

    We are meeting on Saturday, ” I wanted to talk to you about what I’ve been thinking and everything, in person and figure out where to go from here.” is what he said. Part of me wonders if I should have hope at this point. I need to get my head and heart stable. I don’t mind working but he needs to be transparent with me and open.

    #129065

    anita
    Participant

    Dear bricklady:

    It reads to me like there is hope and I agree with you that “he needs to be transparent with (you) and open.”

    Anxiety is very difficult to deal with, and yours has increased, as a result of his, and his abrupt ending of the relationship. Be cautious, you have to take care of your own well being.

    I suppose he ended everything at the time because when anxious, people tend to employ all-or-nothing thinking, and he went for Nothing. So this may be his tendency when anxious: all – or – nothing. Prepare for the likelihood of such tendency.

    Couple therapy could be helpful for the two of you to deal with anxiety, your own and each other’s.
    If he saw you as a solution to his anxiety, he would seek your company. If he sees you as the cause of his anxiety, he will avoid you. In couple therapy, a competent therapist can teach him how to be effectively transparent and open with you about his anxiety, and it will teach you how to respond to him and take care of yourself at the same time.

    Hope you post again, anytime, in preparation for your meeting with him Saturday and/ or after.

    anita

    #129067

    bricklady
    Participant

    Thank you so much for all your kind words. I want to have hope. I am scared that he is done and plans to be out of my life forever. to have made plans for the stuff in the future just 10 days ago and now here we are is crazy.

    I’ll keep you posted.

    #129071

    anita
    Participant

    Dear bricklady:

    I think it is a good idea that when you see him you do NOT offer him solutions, like you did before. Simply because it didn’t work for you or for him. I suggest you listen way more than you talk. When talking, if I was you, I would simply repeat (in your own words) what he just said, so to make sure you understand what he said, and so that he will feel that you heard him. Following that, I will suggest nothing, no solutions. Suggested solutions will scare him.

    anita

    #129119

    bricklady
    Participant

    I am trying really hard to be strong. I miss them and this is so damn hard.

    #129131

    anita
    Participant

    Dear bricklady:

    I understand. I hope Saturday goes well for you. Until then, take care of yourself, ex., take a hot bath, listen to calming music, earlier in the day, take a brisk walk outside. And post again, anytime.

    anita

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