September 16, 2013 at 11:58 pm #42336
I want to share my story in the hope of receiving some advice and guidance for self-reflection. I don’t have my usual support network so I hope you can help me.
I have been in a long distance relationship (LDR) with my boyfriend for almost two years now. I work in international development and had already planned to leave the country (where I had been working for 5 years) when we met. We started our relationship in what I now know was an unhealthy way. We played games and discussed our relationship being non-committal and ultimately physical. I found this very difficult and self-destructive but continued nonetheless. I had developed feelings for him. When I left the country he asked if we could still see each other and maintain a relationship from a distance.
Our LDR began with us arranging to meet every two months and after a year we began to discuss how we could be together. The games stopped, he brought me on holiday with his family, he met my family, and we decided on a country closer to him where I could work and he could visit every 2 weeks. I was so happy and moved the following year. He has established a business here and speaks about having children together and my moving to where he is. I was so happy.
I have always struggled with trust issues. My mother was alcohol dependent and my father had an affair, the impact of which, has always remained with me. My trust issues became so much that I undertook year long therapy when I first moved away from him. This helped immensely and I think, ultimately, was to thank for how we managed to continue our LDR. I started to manage my feelings of insecurity and mistrust and felt happier than I had ever before.
Recently, I have started to feel insecure again, mistrusting him, or I have stopped managing these feelings which are ever present. I’m not sure. When we see each other every two weeks I have managed fine. However, this time, he announced he would not be able to visit for six weeks as he is very busy at work. I know he is busy. He has just started his own business and he spent the previous month out of country on holiday (I spent 2 weeks of this with him). He has made plans to visit and now it is only two weeks away, we have made plans to go on holidays together later next month and both are families are joining us for Christmas. However, in the last week we have only spoken once on the telephone, whereas normally we would speak no less than every two days. Although, my first reaction is to think he has met someone else and this is the reason he is suddenly “unavailable” , I have learned that this is often based on my trust issues and not the real facts of the situation. I decided to do what I had learned from my previous therapy and take responsibility for my feelings and communicate them in a healthy and non-accusatory way. I realised that what I needed was regular communication. Being in a LDR this is essential for me. This is what I need. I called him and we spoke about it and although he did get a little defensive, he said he would make more of an effort. However, now he calls when he is about to leave for a dinner or to socialise and we only have 5 minutes and our conversation is rushed and therefore never goes beyond the superficial level. We used to also have skype but this week he said he is having internet problems at home. It makes me feel sad and unloved.
My problem is that I am now convinced he has met someone else but I don’t know if I can trust my feeling. I am at a loss as to what I should/can do to help my turmoil and the situation.
How to know when you should trust your instinct?September 17, 2013 at 5:34 am #42340Buddhist WifeParticipant
Sorry to hear what is happening and that you are upset.
It seems to me that you are handling it all very sensibly. Do you think you can raise the issue again calmly. Perhaps you can ask him to call you when he gets back from dinner or whatever so he has more time?
I hope you find peace.September 17, 2013 at 6:18 am #42342
Thank You so much for replying Buddhist Wife and for your advice.
It feels good to share.
I have considered asking him to call as you suggest, but I am worried he might think I am needy/mistrusting and also I no longer trust my perception of what is a reasonable and unreasonable request in a relationship. I wonder whether I should look at ways to manage my negative thoughts and fears instead?September 17, 2013 at 6:23 am #42343Buddhist WifeParticipant
It’s hard isn’t it when you don’t trust your own perception.
I guess it’s all in the presentation. I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask your partner to spend more then a 5 rushed minutes on the phone. It seems to me, reasonable that you could expect more. Not every day of course and not during super busy periods, but at least once or twice a week.
You don’t have to make it about being doubtful or being suspicious, you can just make it about the fact you want more quality time with him. Do you think that would work?
I’m afraid I can’t help you with the negative thoughts, but hopefully someone else here can.September 19, 2013 at 1:56 am #42442InspiredParticipant
It seems to me that you are taking positive steps. You are seeking objective help, are aware of your feelings and how it impacts you, and have made an attempt to communicate with him about what you need to make this work. I agree whole heartedly with Buddhist Wife when she said that it is not unreasonable to spend more than 5 rushed minutes on the phone with you. That being said, it doesn’t mean that anything bad is going on. This is you story telling based on the lack of connection with him (and more importantly, with yourself) at this time. There are more important questions to be asked, and this should be the focus of your journey. Is this enough for you, and does this relationship align with your hopes and dreams? Does it uplift you, or bring you down?
After 2 years, it’s possible that he’s showing you exactly who he is and what resources are available to him right now. His priority is work, and while that is respectable in it’s own right, that type of person isn’t for everyone. I suggest that you take some time off for personal reflection. Communicate to him that this is what you need right now, and set the boundaries to allow this to happen. There is nothing more empowering than doing something like this for yourself from a calm and centered place. And providing yourself this nourishment will pay you back tenfold, not right away, but somewhere along your journey.
At a certain time, you have to trust that negative thoughts, while potentially unfounded in their details, can be a sign that it’s not the right time to be with that person, and more generally perhaps not with anyone at all. It’s a sign that there is work to be done with one’s self, as negativity is typically a disconnect between what we want and what we percieve to have.
InspiredSeptember 19, 2013 at 7:59 am #42447
Thanks for taking the time to read my story and respond with wise words.
I have been reflecting a lot over the last week and have come to realise a few things. I have many stresses and concerns in my life right now, outside of my relationship. These are the times when I need more support. I become frustrated when this is not available, when he is not available as I would like. Whilst, I understand he needs to make more time for communication in our relationship, I also realise that I need to strengthen my own ability to manage my stress in a way that is healthy for me. I need to support myself as much as seek external support. I cannot depend on others to relieve my stress and worries. If I am being honest, I think I tend to focus on the fact he is not calling as much as I would like and then let my trust issues take over, as opposed to really looking at the factors that are making me unhappy and insecure. This is unfair to both of us.
I will never stop asking for what I need in the relationship. But, I also ask myself for what I need.
Thanks once again for your thoughtfulness.
LDRSeptember 20, 2013 at 3:29 am #42493LizParticipant
LDR it sounds like your reflection over the past week has been really insightful. I think you have made a very important point to yourself, that you need to strengthen your own ability to manage your stress in a healthy way.
It is very easy to make the source of our dissatisfaction or insecurity the responsibility of someone else, and feel that ‘if only’ they could change the way they are doing things, then we would feel better. However we have no control over their actions, ultimately, and the best way to deal with our insecurities or dissatisfactions is to look inwardly at ourselves.
If you are feeling insecure or stressed, then you are less likely to be able to be objective about the relationship, and like you say, your trust issues are then allowed to take over.
It is entirely possible that if you feel less insecure about the relationship, and can simply focus on enjoying it, that he will find it easier to call you and make time for the relationship. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel able to talk about what you need from your relationship – having an open line of communication both ways on this is an essential part of a healthy relationship. But there is a difference between talking about what you need from your relationship (which is a two-way, adult conversation), and being needy (which tends to be a very one-way, childlike thing). I think you are making that distinction.
Keep working on your strengths and positivity about all things in life. That can only be a good thing for you, and all your relationships, not just this one.