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My ex and I still love each other, but can’t be together

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  • #383520
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Candice88,

    you’re very welcome. I am glad you’re not crying that much. It’s only natural you miss S, now that he’s shown understanding for you, admitted his mistakes, and even told you he loves you. But it appears he doesn’t want to leave his girlfriend and be with you, and it could be because he is feeling that they’ve formed a bond that he isn’t willing to break. He might have feelings for you, but he seems to be committed to his girlfriend, and that’s what matters. I know you’re respecting his choice, although it’s also hard for you.

    If you start crying, know that it’s also your inner child crying for losing a “perfect parent”, so try to be aware of that dynamic too. You can soothe your inner child, if you feel you have the capacity to do that. If not, just be aware of her and her pain, and tell her it will be better and that you’re working on it.

    If you need support while dealing with M, you’re welcome to share about it. I’ll try to help if I can.

     

    #383577
    Candice88
    Participant

    Deare TeaK,

    I really do appreciate all of your help. Having someone to give me some insight (which I wasn’t expecting) has been very valuable.

    There is so much unpacking to do with M. I don’t even know where to begin.

    #383585
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Candice88,

    you’re very welcome, I am glad you find it helpful.

    About M, you said:

    I’m trying to do things for myself that are also preparing me for the mess with M that I am returning home to in a few days.

    What is the mess with M you’re expecting when you return home? Is it related to you moving out? What reaction are you expecting from him?

     

    #383617
    Candice88
    Participant

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Dear TeaK,</p>
    The mess with M has been our fairly broken relationship that has been on the decline for most of its timeline – which I suppose I should share to give you a better picture.

     

    We started dating shortly after I moved to Pennsylvania March 2019 (due to my break up with S). I lived with my dad to get back on my feet, and my relationship with M was of course wonderful. We saw each other every other day, doing fun things at home, going to shows occasionally, etc. When we first started dating I asked him all the huge questions (kids, goals, perfect day, expectations, family dynamic, life philosophies) to make sure that I didn’t repeat some of the mistakes I made with S. For example, S wasn’t sure if he wanted kids but I always wanted them. I didn’t want to be misaligned with my new partner in that way.

    We had a noticeable problem from the beginning, however. He was always late to everything. I would sit on his doorstep an hour past the time he told me he would be home from work, I would wait for an hour to 3 hours at my dad’s for him to pick me up, etc. It was very odd.

    If wasn’t until we were dating for 6 months or so that I found out about M’s addiction. And at the time he masked it as occasional use that he had control over. I don’t like to judge people, and I dabbled in substances recreationally when I was younger. I knew he came from a traumatic childhood, with a neglectful alcoholic mother and an absent heroine addict father. I respected who he grew into despite those beginnings. So I trusted him. But as time went on, things didn’t add up, and I started to view it as ana addiction. I could tell high M from sober M, and I would ask him to quit, letting him know I wasn’t okay with it.

     

    Christmas and then my birthday wrapped up our first year together. Both of those dates, very important to me, he dropped the ball. I had to make the gifts for his family (not sleeping Christmas Eve) because he “didn’t have the time”, and he didn’t show up to my dad’s for cake and presents. I cried a lot that night, so disappointed. He did plan a getaway at an inn spa for the next night, but there were hiccups – we are vegan, and he didn’t warn the cook, so we couldn’t eat. He also didn’t realize that the spa portion needed reservations, so we showed up the next morning to a closed door.

     

    Then COVID hit, a year into our relationship, and I moved in so he wouldn’t be alone during the uncertainty. That’s when the severity of his addiction became apparent.

    He would get to work late, get home late, be behind on bills so I would cover for him, forget date nights, usually not come to bed…things were just obviously falling apart around him but he thought he was in control and that my expectations were “too high”.

    I almost left in August, but he promised me he would quit and seek help.

     

    I was busy preparing for graduate school and trying to stay afloat through COVID, but all of this was too much for me. Our fights increased and got worse, and my mental health went into a sharp decline. The holiday season was a momentary distraction as I focused on my favourite time of the year, but shortly after my birthday arrived and was, quite frankly, miserable. Around that time I started graduate school AND a cat we had rescued gave birth. I considered moving out or breaking up then, but the vet recommended for the kittens stay in one place until we found them homes.

    The fights escalated, and he finally quit using (if I’m to believe him) in April 2021. His attitude and behaviour haven’t gotten much better. I’m still going to bed and waking up alone 6/7 nights a week, I make dinner for when he says he will be home and I eat alone, then go to bed alone, nothing ever gets done or ends up happening. I’ve learned how much of his childhood has formed strange relationship ideas – he doesn’t see how his actions and habits are not conducive to a healthy family, and tells me that I am expecting a “demigod” as a boyfriend.

    When using his computer a few weeks ago an email popup showed me that he was “liked” on okcupid.com. I asked him about it and he told me it’s an old account he needs to delete. I didn’t believe him (he lies often), and I made an account. Sure enough I found him, with an updated picture from our trip to my best friend’s wedding earlier this summer. When I showed it to him he said he just wanted someone to say something nice to him, since I don’t anymore. He got angry in a fight shortly after and punched holes in the wall – which triggered my childhood memories of my stepdad filling our house with holes.

    That’s when I decided to move out, and to sign us up for therapy. He doesn’t want me to move out, but I don’t know what else to do.

     

    My patience now after 2.5 years is nonexistent, so our interactions are usually not good. He told me I need to be more patient. His mother decided to get involved and now views me as the antagonist in my life and has told me to get out of his life. My family doesn’t know about his addiction, the attempted cheating, but what they do know makes them not support the relationship. My dad, who knows M, says he has potential but needs to change and is unacceptable as a partner.

     

    Then here I am visiting my mom and the situation with S happened. I am going back home to continue looking for an apartment, a better job to support living alone, sending the kittens to their new homes, and bracing myself for if we don’t work, despite how much I love him. I feel conflicted because I have 2.5 years left of graduate school, yet I greatly dislike where I live (last year I chose a school here because M and I are living here).

     

     

     

    #383624
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Candice88,

    your relationship with M is indeed deeply troubled and it seems to me you’re getting not even breadcrumbs from him. He gives you absolutely nothing, and then accuses you of being too demanding and not patient enough.

    he finally quit using (if I’m to believe him) in April 2021. His attitude and behaviour haven’t gotten much better. I’m still going to bed and waking up alone 6/7 nights a week, I make dinner for when he says he will be home and I eat alone, then go to bed alone,

    Do you even see him during the week? This regime of his gives him plenty of opportunity to still be using, without you knowing about it.

    I don’t see any real willingness to change on his part. Even his claim that he quit is highly questionable, and he also wanted to cheat on you, because “you’re not saying anything nice to him any more”. It shows he doesn’t see his behavior as a problem but sees you as a problem. You should tolerate his addiction and neglect for years on end, and still remain hopeful that some day he might decide to change?

    You’re doing a good thing you’re moving out. Even if he asks you to stay (because it’s convenient to have you in a mother/care-taker role), don’t stay by any means. The way things are now, he’s only using you, and not giving you absolutely anything but just causing you pain and more trauma. By moving out, you’re protecting yourself, your mental health and your well-being.

    bracing myself for if we don’t work, despite how much I love him

    Perhaps in part you love the memory of those few early months which were fun, and also the idea that he at least in theory shares the same values (regarding kids, family, life philosophy etc). But it’s only in theory – in practice he’s completely incapable for having a family because he would be a neglectful and unreliable father and partner.

     

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Tee.
    #383636
    Candice88
    Participant

    Dear TeaK,

    I see him more than I used to, but only slightly more. He started a more stable job a couple months ago, but he usually gets home late. He assured me it’s because he was working, or because he went to our garage first and was working on things there. Now he says his mindset is to grind at work so that we can have a better life, but even if that’s what he’s actually doing he’s really not participating in the relationship outside of going to work.

     

    He always says “it’s easy for you to say because you work from home. You don’t appreciate the work I put in.” when I ask him to help me with some of the domestic chores.

    Back in March, when his mother got involved, she signed him up for a few therapy sessions. I was asked to come to one of them. He was more honest to the therapist and I sat in surprised silence as he told her where he normally uses, how often, etc. She was very stern with him, saying that last time his homework was to sign up for a support group (which he didn’t do). He said he googled it, but that was it. It was painful to hear him say that because that is his usually excuse – ‘I looked at them, isn’t that good enough? I took out the sponge and soap and stacked the dishes in the sink for you, isn’t that doing the dishes enough? I put away half of my load of laundry from two weeks ago, isn’t that enough? I thought about helping you cook, isn’t that enough?”.

     

    While I have been away he says he’s been crying a lot, and realizing what a schmuck he’s been. That he’s going to change his life. But I have heard it before, and I’m so sad that our relationship probably won’t make it much longer after I move out. He is such a kind, empathetic, sensitive person…to everyone except whoever tells him he’s not acting properly. The potential of who he showed me when we dated (his ideal version of himself, sans drugs and destructive habits) could happen, but I really can’t be used any more to wait and see if he can make it happen.

     

    #383637
    Candice88
    Participant

    When I tell him how his actions will lead to me being alone during the first ultrasound, me being alone taking caring of the baby, the kid waiting for his dad to come to his game but his dad never shows up, etc., he gets extremely triggered. His dad did that to him growing up, and he told himself he would never be like that. So his angry response, if he is calm enough to talk, is to say “but you’re not even pregnant, if you were I would change” and go into his loop of denial of how he is.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Candice88.
    #383648
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Candice88,

    it occurred to me that M has a lot of resentment, stemming from his childhood (resentment for neither of his parents being there for him), and he is carrying this resentment into the relationship with you. It seems he resents you for working from home, and his resentment also shows in his unwillingness to help you with chores. He might be subconsciously thinking that his parents didn’t show up for him, then why would he show up for them (and you might remind him of his mother a little?). It seems to me he’d need to first deal with his anger at his parents, before he can have a semblance of a normal, healthy relationship.

    Even if he is really working more now (“he grinds at work so that you can have a better life”), he’s still doing it with anger and resentment. And he probably believes that no one cares about his feelings – because no one really did in his childhood. And that’s why, no matter how caring you are, he sees you as demanding and nagging – because he’s projecting stuff on you, stuff that isn’t really there.

    I don’t know if this sounds truthful to you and if it would make sense to talk with him about it. But what’s sure is that his promise to “change when you get pregnant” is an empty promise, and there’s no point in staying…

    #383651
    Candice88
    Participant

    Dear TeaK,

    Yes, I definitely feel resentment coming from him. That cycle started with me asking for him to help more, and then he would redirect blame and say “well you’re home all day”, and the pity party and arrogance would begin again. He has told me that I’m unattractive when I act like his mom (ask him to put away laundry that I wash and fold for him), and I tell him that I shouldn’t have to ask 5 times for a grown man to do anything.

    Whenever I talk to him about things I ask it nicely the first many times, but then I get angry after days of things not getting done. He says I should ask nicely (seems to ignore the first many times I ask) instead of getting mad. And only AFTER a fight does he then angrily do what I ask. It’s very draining and makes all other interactions strained.

    I’ve told him that exact thought. That I actually do care, unlike what he was shown in his childhood, and I’m not trying to nag. And I require that care and consideration in return in actions. His mother told him growing up that she hated him because he looked and acted like his dad. So he grew up idolizing his dad (bad news) and she hated him more. That same woman is saying I’m stressing her son out and to “fuck off”, so I can only imagine how many wrong lessons in love she taught him growing up.

    Oh absolutely. I told him that those words are empty without actions, and I’m not going to risk forming a family with him based off of what I’ve seen.

    #383652
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Candice88,

    it’s good that you’re aware of the dynamic (that he sees you as his nagging mother who doesn’t love him and doesn’t care about him. And whom he resents a lot because of that). Have you talked with him about the need to work on his anger, specially related to his mother? It’s fine to express anger in a safe, therapeutic setting – that’s how he could be free from projecting it on to you.

    Oh absolutely. I told him that those words are empty without actions, and I’m not going to risk forming a family with him based off of what I’ve seen.

    Good that you’re determined to protect yourself. I do hope you stay determined once you get home… How do you feel about moving out now?

    #383665
    Candice88
    Participant

    Dear TeaK,

    I have talked to him about this at length. He always says “my behaviour was in the past, I’m focusing on the future”. Any time I bring up these issues, as they happen, that’s his go-to phrase. I tell him that he does nothing but live in the past, and force me to, when he repeats past actions every day. And his go-to response to that is “but every day is a different day”, then tells me that I live in the past. It’s an overly optimistic denial and lack of accountability that has led to my anger.

     

    We are going to our first couples therapy session in a week, so we will see how it goes.

     

    I am determined to move out, as heartbreaking as it is.

    #383683
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Candice88,

    it seems you really tried everything, were patient with him, explained what bothers you and what might be his problem. And yet, he’s still finding excuses and avoiding to take responsibility for his actions, and always ends up accusing you. (this could be a little like your mother – she too would vehemently deny responsibility for her actions… just something to notice here)

    We are going to our first couples therapy session in a week, so we will see how it goes.

    OK. It may work since he sort of admitted recently that he was a “schmuck”. Until he admits his own responsibility (and his own unresolved issues from the past), there is no hope of him changing. Good that you’re aware of all that, and this time you’re determined not to tolerate his empty promises any more…

    I am determined to move out, as heartbreaking as it is.

    You’re doing the right thing. 100%. I know it’s hard because it’s also a new situation for you to navigate, but it will be rewarding to finally stand up for yourself. It’s hard but necessary…

    If you need support in the following days or have doubts about anything, please don’t hesitate to post… wishing you luck with the move and everything!

     

    #384620
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Candice88,

    how are you? Any progress with the moving out and couple’s therapy?

    #385293
    Candice88
    Participant

    Dear TeaK,

    Thank you for reaching out.
    I am doing okay, on paper. I started a new job, am able to sign a lease for my own apartment, and will be moving out in a month when my new place is ready.

    The first couple’s therapy session went well – M had a lot to reflect on afterwards. After that we had almost 2 weeks of pretty constructive moments as well – we only fought a few times (as opposed to every day) and each fight was de-escalated and a peaceful conclusion was made every time (as opposed to him going out to smoke in his car, never revisiting a topic to apologise or move forward, and us sleeping separately).
    But then, the day before our second therapy session, he told me he accidentally double-booked something and now had a separate commitment during our therapy time. I was upset – we had both been there with our planners to set the date and time, and I had reminded him multiple times in the last week that we had therapy. I understand that his second commitment was more time-limited and I actually would have gladly rescheduled therapy for him to make that second commitment, but he didn’t communicate it with me until it was too late and I was charged the $100 for not being able to make that session (a fee of course he can’t afford to pay himself).

    I told him after that I don’t want to communicate with him in any way until he comes to me to properly apologise (I always go to him to fix things, even if I didn’t do anything wrong). We didn’t speak for two days, and finally he approached me to say “I’m sorry……but I still don’t get what I did wrong and I think it’s dumb that I have to say sorry.” Which of course started another fight. The last week (between our missed second session and our makeup second session that is actually happening in one hour) has been pretty tumultuous and bad. We managed to be comfortable enough to be intimate a couple days ago, but right after he asked if he could borrow money, said he was going to come to bed, and then I woke up alone to find that he had been out/making music until dawn.

    So I still feel abused, manipulated, taken advantage of, and grossly unappreciated. My personal therapist is checking in with me to make sure I am not blaming myself for any of his behaviour, but due to so many past negative experiences sometimes  I still do catch myself believing that I deserve this kind of treatment.

    #385313
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Candice88,

    I am happy to hear from you!

    I am doing okay, on paper. I started a new job, am able to sign a lease for my own apartment, and will be moving out in a month when my new place is ready.

    These are all good news.  You’re taking care of yourself and not depending on him to change in order to be happy. You’re creating preconditions to be happy on your own, if things with him don’t work out.

    I can imagine how disturbing it was that he told you only in the last moment about his other commitment, even though you’ve reminded him several times about your therapy appointment. And it’s an ever bigger disappointment, I guess, to see that he doesn’t even understand what he did wrong, believing he has nothing to apologize for. That’s quite worrying, to be honest, and not a good sign. It could be that he’s going to therapy just to “appease” you, but that he isn’t really interested in changing.

    So I still feel abused, manipulated, taken advantage of, and grossly unappreciated.

    It’s understandable – he might be actually manipulating you: going to therapy just to reduce tensions, so you wouldn’t leave, but nothing more than that. From his reactions, he doesn’t seem like he really sees a problem with his attitude, or the need to change. So again, you’re doing the right thing to be moving out.

    due to so many past negative experiences sometimes I still do catch myself believing that I deserve this kind of treatment.

    When you do catch yourself thinking that, make sure that you’re aware that it’s just one part of you (the child part) believing that, whereas the adult part knows it’s not your fault at all. So be aware of your adult self and get anchored in it if possible.

    And if you feel anchored enough, perhaps you can tell your inner child – the girl who was always blamed for her mother’s abuse – that it’s not her fault, that she did nothing to deserve the abuse. And also, that she doesn’t need to abandon her self-respect and healthy boundaries, so that the abuser would feel fine. You don’t have to abandon yourself to get a morsel of his “love” (or your mother’s “love”).

    It’s good you’re working with a therapist and have her support. You’re doing the best for yourself, so just keep at it, one step at a time.

     

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