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I love my boyfriend, but our relationship is suffering

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  • #128327
    Winchester1990
    Participant

    Hey I’m new to Tiny Buddha and absolutely love the blog posts 🙂
    I’ve been with my boyfriend for just over a year now and it all started out really well, very romantic and magical. He’s a truly lovely guy – very kind, caring and would do absolutely anything for me. However, recently a lot of issues have come to light about his family (his mum was abusive to his dad and left when he was a teenager) and he has opened up to me about having quite bad anxiety. He hid it from me for a long time and only told me just how bad it was very recently at which time he had a full blown panic attack.
    I love him to pieces and really want to do everything I can to help him but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to be around him when he is in a doom and gloom mindset. He switches between being really happy, full of energy and the cheeky man I fell in love with to moping around, not wanting to do anything and being quite draining to be around (I have my own mental health issues I deal with).
    He’s started making me feel guilty by saying things like “as soon as you go my anxiety comes back, I forget about it when I’m with you, you make me feel better” when I’m just about to head home for a bit of me time, this makes me feel really bad for leaving and like I should stay with him for longer so he feels OK. I don’t believe he does this intentionally but it makes me feel very pressurized like it will be my fault for doing my own thing and then his anxiety gets bad.
    He’s very negative at the moment and doesn’t want to do anything I suggest, always finding negative reasons why we can’t go on a day out or go to the movies or something. I’ve mentioned multiple times about him getting help which he won’t say yes or no to, I’ve offered to go with him and support him every step of the way too.
    I just really feel like it’s affecting our relationship, we can’t seem to watch a movie or do anything without something triggering him and I feel on edge about what I suggest we do cos I don’t want to suggest something that will make him anxious.
    He’s such a lovely guy and I care so much for him, but I just feel like things aren’t how they used to be which upsets me and I don’t know how to help him or how we can move forward and work on these things in our relationship

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for reading

    #128333
    omni1
    Participant

    it makes total sense. You feel inlove with an attractive guy that morphs unto unattractive guy. What is unattractive to women? Neediness, dependency, lack of drive, motivation and confidence.

    You need to have a talk. You feel bad because his behavior is manipulating you and hes playing “poor little me” and selfishly not thinking that it effects you.

    His depression is not your fault first of all, but open up that channel of communication i think is the first step.

    #128339
    anita
    Participant

    Dear winchester1990

    Now that you are aware of his significant anxiety, things can’t be like they were before you were aware of it. But things can be way better than they are now.

    You have your “own mental health issues (you) deal with” and he has his own. This is an opportunity for the two of you to help each other with your individual mental well being.This would be a Win-Win relationship.

    If it is only you acting as the source of help and him- the recipient of your help, that would be a Lose (for you) and Win (for him) relationship, for a while. This Lose-Win will continue to drain you until the relationship becomes miserable for the two of you, so in the long run, unless the two of you help each other, it would be a Lose-Lose.

    If you deny your needs, become invisible in the relationship so not to upset him, that will cause anger to build up in you. Make your needs and wants visible, audible: tell him how it makes you feel when he tells you he feels badly when you are not with him. Let him know. Communicate openly and honestly, with mutual empathy and respect, both being assertive.

    Hope you respond to my input here and hope to further communicate with you.

    anita

    #128687
    Winchester1990
    Participant

    Hi Omni1, Thank you so much for answering and giving your insight, I think you’re right communication is key and I don’t think we communicate enough at all about how I feel he affects me and vice versa. I will work on this, thank you 🙂

    #128689
    Winchester1990
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Thank you so much for replying, the whole Win-Win, and Lose-Win relationship dynamics really make sense to me, I just find it really hard to tell him how it makes me feel when he does make me feel bad or pressurize me as I’m worried about making him feel any worse than he already does. I feel like I’m already building up feelings of anger and resentment towards him, I suddenly find myself thinking things like we’re in a relationship and I feel like his babysitter, it upsets me when I think these things because I know he’s struggling and I want to be there for him.
    Do you have any advice about how I could communicate these things with him without making him feel worse? He’s already told me his anxiety makes him feel weak, silly and like a kid, and I would like to talk to him in a way that helps him and offers positivity rather than bring him down further.

    Thank you so much again for your reply!

    #128697
    anita
    Participant

    Dear winchester1990:

    The solution you’ve been applying: the Lose (for you, you are building anger and resentment, lack of contentment in the relationship)- Win (for him, his feelings don’t get hurt, he get all your time and attention with no limits on his own behavior) is not sustainable. It cannot work long term. Soon enough you will express that anger you are building. Somehow you will express it and he will feel hurt. Then it will be a Lose-Lose relationship that best be terminated.

    You really don’t have a choice, if you want to benefit him (!) other than making it a Win for you. It is either Win-Win or Lose-Lose.

    First, realize: you can’t heal him. He has to do the work. He may very well need competent psychotherapy and you are not qualified, neither are you in the objective position required, to give him that kind of help.

    The present and future of this relationship is not all up to you. It is 50%- 50%. If he was a young child and you were his mother, then you would have that 100% responsibility. Well, you are not his mother.

    How to communicate with him without him feeling hurt? My simple answer is: you can’t. He will feel hurt. The more complex answer is: always be respectful to him. Do not be aggressive toward him. Do all you can so he has safety in the relationship with you. Nothing is possible without that. At the same time, be assertive, respectfully assertive. Make yourself, your needs, your wants visible to him. Tell him the relationship needs to be Win-Win. Tell him when you need a break from him and why, but respectfully, without aggression.

    “how I could communicate these things with him without making him feel worse?”- respectfully AND assertively; non-aggressively and honestly. You can practice here, by coming up with your part of a planned conversation with him, and I will give you my input on it.

    anita

    #128347
    John
    Participant

    In my last relationship, which ended badly I WAS your boyfriend. It is very sobering to read your story because it is like reading my exes perspective which I still struggle to understand

    <cite> @Winchester1990 said:</cite>
    I’ve mentioned multiple times about him getting help which he won’t say yes or no to, I’ve offered to go with him and support him every step of the way too.

    Let me say THANK YOU for this, even though I’m not your boyfriend. This is what I wish my ex did for me and I still wonder what might have happened if she had. Maybe I would have gone along with it. Maybe I would have still resisted. I will never know. All I know is that instead of helping me realise my problem she failed to communicate and even lied and made excuses when I was puzzled as to why she was becoming more and more distant.

    When the relationship ended all of a sudden I was forced to get help, or give in to my suicidal despair. I started taking SSRIs, going to counselling and learning mindfulness meditation and one or some combination of those things (I can’t be sure, maybe it was all three) has made a HUGE difference.

    Every time I break through to a new level of seeing the good in life (and dissipating my cloud of despair) I can’t help but think that my ex would be so proud of me, then I realise again that she is no longer in my life and based on how poorly she handled my issues she does not deserve the new and improved version of me that I am becoming.

    It sounds to me like you deserve the best version of your boyfriend, the problem is how to help him become it. You do not deserve to be dragged down if he refuses to see what he is doing to you and change.

    I think is he really cares about you and is made fully aware of how he is affecting you he will want to change. At least, that is how I think I would have responded, but I can’t be sure.

    I won’t pretend to know what you should do because that is beyond my experience, but my conjecture based on my experience is if you don’t do something soon then you will find you no longer love him like you used to and it wont be worth it for you.

    Making him see your point of view wont be easy, and it may hurt him a lot in the short term, but you can`t help the way you feel and that is better than hurting him even more later. Considering how destitute I was when my ex left me, I feel like I would have done anything to please her if only she let me know what danger we were in before it was too late.

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