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In a relationship with a man who is detached.

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  • #346996
    Tee
    Participant

    So, 8 years ago I came out of a relationship that I thought was perfect and really thought we were going to get married. I realized over time that he just wasn’t the one I wanted to share a life with. I focused on myself for the next 4 years and just living my life in solidarity. I enjoyed my life and regret nothing. Then on the 4th year I met a man when I wasn’t even looking. We starting dating and everything seemed to fit and I was content and happy. This year going on our 4th year together I realized something  and it felt so sad, painful, and lonely. I realized it’s something I somehow brushed it off by justifying and rationalizing. He is and was perfect when it came to the type of man I wanted in my life. But, this one aspect threw me off this “perfect” relationship. Whenever I talked about something I’m going through in my life regarding my parents and how they made me feel he just doesn’t know how to respond. He either just listens or just gives me one words responses. Sometimes I would talk about things that made me sad or frustrated. I grew up in a house where my parents continuously argued, were always at each other’s throat, or seemed never really happy with one another. I realized I have used my parents as a model of how many life is going to be possibly and I let it dictate how I responded to situations, feelings, and seeing things in a negative way instead of objectively. I realized it and finally told him how I felt. Also, told him that, that thought process was wrong, I won’t be thinking like that anymore and what I truly need from him when it comes to feeling/emotions department. I told him I want him to just give me at least one day out of the week to hang out and spend time and also that I want him to text me more throughout the day when possible or even just at the end of the day 2 hrs of undivided attention from him. I told him sometimes I felt like I was the only one feeling, doing the most in the relationship with trying to make time, and encouraging vacations with one another. He told me he realized as well that he wasn’t putting as much effort as he used to when we first starting seeing each other in the beginning. His response really hurt because I figured maybe it was a misunderstanding and I was overthinking it but it came to be true. I asked him what he wanted in this relationship and what he truly wants in a partner. I asked him if he really loved me but he wasn’t able to express it in words at the time instead just told me he sees me as a potential partner in life. He told me he just somehow knew he wanted to be with me when he met me that day. He told me he’ll try harder to make time for me and do better. So, far he hasn’t really taken the initiative to make some quality time for us. I confronted him again asked him if he was just unsure on how to even start and offered to help, instead the response was “I show my love for you in different ways that are not verbal and you don’t see it” and that he’s not into texts, phone calls, etc instead he’s more of a guy who does things in 3D world and we are currently in quarantine. Also that because of my work and school schedule it is hard to have that 1-2 hour a day communication. I tried to accept all he said but I’m still feeling sad and lonely still. I’m analyzing myself over and over like am I just being codependent here and being pushy for him to open up a little and show me some attention? Am, I just being unrealistic here? Should I continue to be patient and give this relation more time to develop? His occupation, he’s a self employed business owner/landscaper/remodeling/construction. I work in a bank and am studying as well for a degree.

    #347096
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tee:

    “am I just being codependent here and being pushy.. Am I just being unrealistic here?”- I think so, I think that the answer to these two questions is Yes.

    “Whenever I talked about something I’m going through in my life regarding my parents.. he just doesn’t know how to respond”- a qualified psychotherapist should be able to respond appropriately, but for most people, this is a very difficult topic to respond to. If you are in contact with your parents, and you complain to him about them, what is he to say? If he says: then don’t talk to them! Will you take his advice, or say: but I have to talk to them, they are my parents! So what can he possibly say that  will be helpful?

    “I grew up in a house where my parents continuously argued, were always at each other’s throat”- he can’t change what happened to you. He can’t go back in time and rescue the girl that you were from the war-zone kind of a home where you grew up.

    “I told him I want.. at the end of the day 2 hrs of undivided attention from him”- two hours of undivided attention at the end of a work day is way too long! People need to unwind at the end of the day, not to exert the incredible energy it takes to give another person two hours of undivided attention.

    “He told me he realizes as well that he wasn’t putting as much effort as he used to when we first starting seeing each other.. His response really hurt”- that’s almost always the case for couples. It is not an abnormality. The fact that he realized that and told you so, shows me that he is honest about what usually is the case for couples. (I am guessing that you were not pushy and demanding of him at the beginning of your relationship with him).

    He told you: “I show my love for you in different ways that are not verbal and you don’t see it”- is it true?

    anita

    #347146
    Tee
    Participant

    Anita,

    After writing all that and reading it myself I realized those are problems only I can fix and I’m aware of that. I just want to feel I guess warm inside and feel safe somehow around him. Maybe I’m looking for some magical phrase or sentence to make the pain go away. I did look into therapy and I decided to take on that journey this year but I guess life had other plans this year.

    I guess 2 hours is unrealistic I suppose. We don’t live together so I just really miss him more than he does. I told him that and he told me it would be better if we lived together. For various reasons at the moment I can’t. Maybe, I was just not seeing reality.

    In the beginning of the relationship my feelings were not as strong as they are now so no, I didn’t demand much from him. I told him that as well. He, just didn’t know how to respond to that either.

    It’s true. I guess I went through this relationship through one perspective and one way of loving someone.

    (sigh) guess I need to see a therapist and figure myself out more. Maybe I didn’t heal as much as I thought I did over the years.

    I just felt utterly lost as to what to do and how to react once I had this realization. I needed an outside perspective that wasn’t in my friends circle.

    I appreciate the response thank you!

    #347152
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tee:

    “I just want to feel I guess warm inside and feel safe.. Maybe I’m looking for some magical phrase or sentence to make the pain go away”-

    -this reads like my own experience of childhood and much of my adult life. Feeling unsafe and anxious as a child, very much in emotional pain,  desperately needing that magical something that only a parent can give, and not receiving it… Fast forward, as an adult, I looked for that magical something in a man, something he’ll say and do to make me feel safe, to take my pain away.

    It never worked, never ever. A man in a romantic relationship cannot do what a parent didn’t do.

    If you relate to this, let me know.

    anita

     

    #347154
    Valora
    Participant

    Hi Tee,

    I agree with what Anita has said. I also want to point out how I think sometimes, without thinking about it, we sort of expect people to respond how we would respond or how we would want them to respond, and when they don’t, that becomes an unmet expectation, which feels like a big let down. That’s probably why you feel so disappointed by his lack of reaction and not warm and safe. One way to fix this is to realize that he isn’t you. He’s also not female. Men and women respond to things differently in general. Men are fixers and less emotional/empathetic in general. This can makes them good listeners, though. He’s shown this by listening to your story about your family, but he likely didn’t offer advice or consolation because he may just not have known what to say or do.

    So in other words, get your expectations in check. He’s going to respond to things how he responds to things, and from the sounds of it, he responds to things in the way a majority of guys I know also do.

    Also, everyone shows love differently. Have you read about the 5 love languages? You two may have different types, and it may be good to read up on those so you can understand how he shows you he loves you. You are looking for him to show you he loves you in YOUR love language, not his, while he’s been showing you in his own language, not yours. It’s basically just a miscommunication. So learn to communicate in that way, and it will likely help a lot.

    Also, 2 hours of dedicated time is way too long. People are busy and Anita’s right about that taking a lot of energy. I’d have to turn that down if I were dating someone that asked that of me, too, because I have neither the time in the day nor the energy. I think you also shouldn’t assume that he doesn’t miss you in the way that you do. He could miss you just as much or more and just not show it. A lot of men aren’t very vocal about their feelings. They tend to internalize them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. So I bet he’s right… if he shows how he feels in the 3D world, it likely WOULD be better if you lived together, and it might be worth seeing your relationship through for it to get to that point, as long as he treats you well and you’re compatible overall.

    Anyway, seeing a therapist will likely help a lot. I’ve seen one regularly for the past couple years and have been able to heal a lot of pain from my past and it’s helped me through situations in the past couple years that I might not have handled well if I hadn’t had the help. Talking to someone really helps you gain a lot of perspective. I would recommend it to anyone. The key is to find a therapist that you connect with and really feel good about talking to, so don’t be afraid to switch if you don’t find the right one at first.

    #347156
    Tee
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    I sure do relate to this, spot on! My parents (more my mom, not so much my dad) was loving towards me but not towards each other. Seeing that growing up I guess confused me and made me second guess everyone and their feelings for me. It’s so funny my dad and my current partner have very similar personalities. Maybe, I subconsciously looked for that to try and fix it, the “un-required love?” Every time I remind myself that these people aren’t your parents and they are completely different people I somehow revert back to my old self. It’s like a constant struggle to be positive and look at life more objectively. I hope one day I can truly leave this emotional self torment behind and be happy.

    -Tee

    #347160
    Tee
    Participant

    Hi, Valora

    Maybe I did forget we are two different genders and that women are more emotionally receptive than men.

    I think I’ll read that book soon. Not like time is running away any time soon.

    I honestly though it was normal for couples to interact for more than an hour a day. I based that on my friends and their partners.

    I honestly can’t wait to see a therapist and get these emotions in check. I want to have a stable relationship.

    thank you,

    Tee

    #347162
    Valora
    Participant

    Hi Tee,

    I think it’s really, really important to sort of “run your own race” when it comes to relationships and not pay any attention to what other couples are doing or what their relationships are like, because everyone has different situations. It might be easier for those couples to get together. Perhaps some of them live together. Maybe some have lighter schedules or schedules that match up well enough that they can hang out more often. There are just so many variables that no two couples will have the same relationship.

    If you can sort of get to the point where you’re more understanding of who your boyfriend is and how he responds to things and manages feelings and shows love, and if that understanding can make you feel better overall, then it doesn’t even matter what’s “normal” with other relationships, because understanding can make happiness normal in your own relationship, even if it appears different from others.

    I think it’s also important that you continue to share with him how you feel or tell him the things you would like him to do, but just don’t have any expectations about how he will or should respond when you tell him those things. It’s also okay to decide that this situation isn’t for you and you’d rather find someone who can interact with you more, but just understand that you may end up in the same situation with someone less compatible because a lot of guys aren’t big texters or phone talkers, and I really think this might just be sort of a bump you two have to get over until you’re able to live together and interact in person every day.

    #347164
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tee:

    I will be glad to learn more about you and share with you what I think may help you from what I learned in my experience with an excellent psychotherapist that I’ve seen for over two years, 2011-13, and from that time onward. It will take time, but if you are willing, I am.

    If you want to share with me more about the relationship between your parents, please do. Share not how you interpret that relationship now, but what you saw/ heard/ felt about their relationship back then, when you were a child.

    Also, did your mother, who was loving to you, noticed that you were distressed witnessing her relationship with your father; did she try to change that relationship so that you get that safe feeling that every child needs?

    (if you reply, I will read and reply to you in about 12 hours from now).

    anita

     

    #347176
    Tee
    Participant

    Hi, Valora

    “If you can sort of get to the point where you’re more understanding of who your boyfriend is and how he responds to things and manages feelings and shows love, and if that understanding can make you feel better overall, then it doesn’t even matter what’s “normal” with other relationships, because understanding can make happiness normal in your own relationship, even if it appears different from others.”

     

    You’re absolutely right. I think I was trying to normalize my relationship according to everyone around me.  I didn’t realize that my normal is mine alone and it doesn’t have to be the same as everyone else’s. I felt like something was odd when we weren’t like everyone else. But, I guess we all have different circumstances. We are pretty compatible since I’m like fire and and he’s like water so we both somehow balance each other out. I’ll have to really be on the lookout for signs on how he shows love and what his true personality is like. Maybe, I missed a part of him. I’ll try to be more patient and see how he reacts/does to what I want. It’s just I got impatient because we had certain conversations for a whole year and nothing really changed. We are going on our 4th year…

    I just spoke to him and he felt my vibe of disconnect but he still remained as he was before and didn’t get angry at me. He seems to understand emotions more than I thought he did. Maybe, he’s like at a level where he doesn’t necessarily act on it like I do. He’s pretty calm and logical when it comes to me it seems like. Goodness, I feel like a hot mess compared to him. I feel embarrassed now.

    -Tee

    #347178
    Tee
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    If you want to share with me more about the relationship between your parents, please do. Share not how you interpret that relationship now, but what you saw/ heard/ felt about their relationship back then, when you were a child.

    I kind of repressed a lot of memories to be honest and it is a bit hazy. I don’t think my mother ever realized how her relationship was affecting me. I didn’t know it was affecting me or how I really felt about. I knew I was sad and wanted to help but didn’t know how. I remember trying to tell her to stay strong and maybe fight back if she could. I knew one thing for sure that how she was being treated was wrong. I remember her always telling me it’s just problems between adults and to ignore what’s happening. I did as I was told and stayed in my own world. I did not have any playmates growing up. I did not get to have friends til I was in high school. My parents had this paranoia that I was going to get kidnapped every two seconds since we lived in a bad neighborhood. I studied hard and did not question much since I didn’t want to give them another reason to argue.

    I remember my dad always being controlling over her whereabouts, who she spoke to, and who her friends her. He was always suspicious that she was seeing other men. Both my parents had to work at the time and my father would not like the fact that she was working. If she was late just 10-15 minutes coming home from work he would be very angry and call her to see where she was.

    When I was 15 my mother got into a terrible accident and she could not work (even til this day she can’t work because her knee is severely injured) and he did not look after her. The responsibility at the time fell on me. I took care most of the legal matters and doctor’s visits. We do not have family nearby nor friends that could help out.

    Now, that I think about it we only went to one family vacation and never again. We weren’t very fortunate and lived in a cramped one bedroom apartment til I graduated. I moved away shortly after and now I live with them (reliving the moments of childhood) because I can’t afford to live on my own for the time being (1 more year til I have my own place).

    Oh, by the way I’m of South Asian decent and they are pretty traditional and hence why I can’t live with my boyfriend. My mother knows about my long term boyfriend but my father doesn’t. He’s extremely traditional. I could live in secret but I want to respect my parent’s values/traditions.

    Also, I live in the East Coast 🙂 hello~

    Thank you!

    -Tee

    #347184
    Valora
    Participant

    Hi Tee!

    It’s great that you have found someone who balances you out! I’ve had that kind of fire/water balance before, too (I’m also like fire), and it was the best relationship I’ve ever had. Those kinds of relationships are hard to come by! I think if you read up on the 5 love languages, it might help you to spot some of the things he does that shows he cares. There are lots of blogs and things written about them, and it’s really interesting!

    He seems like someone who is patient, and I think it’s great that you can voice your concerns to him without him taking it the wrong way. I don’t think you sound like a hot mess compared to him though, maybe just more emotional or high-strung (not bad things, I am emotional and high-strung, too. haha), but it sounds like that’s exactly why he’s good for you. His calm nature helps to balance out your high-strung one, right?

    I do hope you’re able to feel better and are able to connect even better with each other with some new understanding 🙂

    #347242
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tee:

    When as children we feel unsafe, uncomfortable, miserable, lonely, unattended to, for a long time, this emotional experience does not change as we become adults. Instead, we keep re-living the same emotional experience of childhood.

    This is your current emotional experience: “This year going on our 4th year together.. it felt so sad, painful, and lonely.. sad or frustrated… I’m still feeling sad and lonely.. I just want to feel I guess warm  inside and feel safe.. make the pain go away”.

    (The words  to which I added the boldface feature, are your current and childhood emotional experience).

    More about your childhood emotional experience (you wrote this about your childhood): “I knew I was sad and wanted to help“- you needed help. A child wants to help a parent so to make the parent strong enough … to help the child.

    “I remember trying to tell her (your mother) to stay strong and maybe fight back if she could”- you needed your mother to be strong and to fight back, because you felt weak and unsafe. You needed someone to fight the enemy (your father), so to make a safe home for you.

    “Both my parents had to work at the time.. If she was late just 10-15 minutes coming home from work he would be very angry”- you were alone when they both worked. When your father was home with you, waiting for your mother, you were afraid of his anger, hoping there will not be a fight when you mother was back home.

    You needed a safe, quiet home where one or both parents give you their time and attention, in a calm, loving way, to make you “warm inside and feel safe”, but there was none of that for you.

    This unmet need for positive, calm attention is the reason why your need for your boyfriend’s attention is intense: “I told him to just give me at least one day out of the week to hangout and spend time… to text me more throughout the day.. 2 hrs of undivided attention“.

    As a child, you “studied hard and did not question much since I didn’t want to give them another reason to argue”- you did your best to minimize their arguments so that either one, or both, will finally give you the positive attention that you desperately needed.

    Regarding your boyfriend, you wrote: “I felt like I was the only one feeling, doing the most in the relationship with trying to make time.. He told me he realized as well that he wasn’t putting as much effort.. His response really hurt because I figured maybe it was a misunderstanding.. but it came to be true”- this parallels your childhood experience: you, as a child, made all the effort (examples: study hard, give them no trouble, take care of your injured mother) so to get your parents to  pay attention to you, to give you their time in positive ways, but they didn’t make the effort back.

    You missed them/ needed them so much, but they didn’t miss you or need you back much; it is this lack of reciprocity that still hurts in the context of your boyfriend: “I felt like I was the only one feeling, doing.. trying to make time… I just miss him more than he does”.

    You wrote: “I hope one day I can truly leave  this emotional self torment behind and be  happy”- this emotional self torment is your childhood emotional experience. To leave it behind, you have to bring it closer to your awareness and process it, meaning, to connect this “emotional self torment” to your childhood circumstances, and free your current life circumstances (particularly when you no longer live at home) from that emotional experience of childhood.

    “I kind of repressed a lot of memories to be honest and it is a bit hazy”- you will need to express these repressed memories, this is what I mean by bringing your childhood emotional experience to your awareness: from repression to awareness. It will not be important to remember details and events, these may be lost. What is important is to remember how you felt then, to  connect your current feelings to your childhood, and free your adulthood from the same-old-same-old childhood emotional experience.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 9 months, 3 weeks ago by anita.
    #347248
    Tee
    Participant

    Hi, Valora!

    I’m definitely high strung compared to him. I feel a lot better talking here. I actually visited this site when I had a problem and it helped a lot, I figured why not join this community so here I am. Maybe one day I’ll be able to help someone here too.

    -Tee

    #347742
    Tee
    Participant

    Hi, Anita

    This unmet need for positive, calm attention is the reason why your need for your boyfriend’s attention is intense: “I told him to just give me at least one day out of the week to hangout and spend time… to text me more throughout the day.. 2 hrs of undivided attention“.

    You missed them/ needed them so much, but they didn’t miss you or need you back much; it is this lack of reciprocity that still hurts in the context of your boyfriend: “I felt like I was the only one feeling, doing.. trying to make time… I just miss him more than he does”.

    Wow, I never looked at it that way. Maybe when I thought I was being strong I was just desperately calling for help. Now, that I think about it I did miss them a lot when I was alone and wanted to go on vacations or do family things like everyone else. I remember when I was able to have friends and I went over to my friend’s house and saw her family dynamic it gave me an utter shock. They were so close knitted, supportive, and loving no matter what. It made me feel sad and jealous almost. I couldn’t understand why I wanted so badly to be a part of them. Looking back it makes sense, I just longed for that family dynamic. Now, it makes sense why I was always over her place, it was to somehow feel that family atmosphere. I considered them my second family at that point and they sort of adopted me too in some way. They didn’t mind me and I felt so happy. I feel like they kind of saved me in a way. Maybe, they saw through me and stayed by me. I’m still in contact with them and they consider me part of their family.

    I just cried writing this. A lot things are coming to light now. I guess I really needed to talk about it. Maybe this quarantine is making me think and look at myself.

    For the longest time I felt like everything was okay with me and my parents. I just repressed and ignored them honestly now that I look at it. I somehow became very good at repressing certain feelings and emotions it seems like.

    I guess in this relationship I’ve been trying to get everything I didn’t have growing up.

    As, much as I love my parents I really need to remove myself from their lives for the time being until I can truly recuperate and acknowledge my repressed memories and emotions. My parents are immigrants so they require a lot of attention and involvement.

    Makes me appreciate my boyfriend more now because he’s been able to stay sane with me despite my emotional roller coaster and unreasonableness.

    Thank you Anita & Valora! I appreciate this more than you think. I didn’t think I would get so much. Talking is good.

    -Tee

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