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MStanton

Grieving partner becoming increasingly distant and withdrawn.

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I’m a first time contributor. Hopefully this post is in the right section of the forum.

Just over a year ago, my partner’s father died in an accident. I was with her family at the hospital when the doctor announced the life support had to be turned off and it remains the most heart-wrenching and numbing experience I’ve encountered to date.

My partner, an only child, idolised her father. He was her best friend, mentor and protector. I knew from the moment he died our relationship would never be the same again. I also knew that as she was and still is the love of my life, I would do everything I could to support her through what was going to be an incredibly difficult time.

For the first six months after his death, my partner was signed off work. During this period, she lost weight - made even more alarming by the fact she was underweight before all this happened – and found it difficult to leave her house, stating it was the only place where she felt ‘Dad was still with her’.

Our relationship inevitably, and understandably, suffered. We cancelled all planned holidays and stopped going out socially. Our physical relationship all but came to a halt but we still held hands and hugged while watching TV which offered mutual comfort.

She tried bereavement counselling on two occasions, but didn’t last more than two sessions with either therapist. I also visited a counsellor so I could try and better understand what she was going through and be a more supportive partner.

My partner returned to work a few months ago, which was a positive step. However, our relationship has deteriorated rapidly since March. When I asked if she still loved me, she stared at me blankly and didn't reply either way, later stating she is unable to express such sentiments because grief has robbed her of any emotion. In her own words, she is barely functioning, worn down by emotional distress and constant lack of sleep. Even saying or texting simple things like “I’m looking forward to seeing you” or “I miss you” are beyond her capability. She acknowledges that we don’t really have a proper relationship any more - at least not in the conventional sense – and constantly expresses surprise I am still with her. I have said on many occasions that I will walk away if that’s what she wants, have always put her needs and feelings first and have tried to do everything in my power to help. Her response has always been to turn the question around and says I should do what is best for me.

Over the last 4-6 weeks – the period around the 1st anniversary of her Dad’s death - things have become even more difficult. Far from time healing, things seem to be getting worse. She still cries every day and is functioning on autopilot most of the time. Additionally, she now appears uncomfortable with any form of physical contact, be it holding hands, hugging etc. Her mood has also changed. She is regularly angry, short tempered and confrontational over the smallest things. As someone who loves her, it is incredibly difficult to deal with.

I recently asked her if she wanted this relationship to survive in the long run. She said yes and that she still considers herself my partner, albeit one who cannot give anything emotionally. If I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel it might make things easier, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I feel selfish, guilty and uncaring writing these words, given the trauma my partner is experiencing, but it is reaching a point where my own well-being is starting to suffer. In short, I don’t know what to do for the best.

In these circumstances, it is hard to ask for advice because every couple’s situation is different and must be addressed on its own merits. However, I would really like to hear from anyone who has gone, or is going, through a similar situation. If nothing else, it might help me better understand what she is going through and help make decisions that are ultimately best for both of us.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes this is in the right section, and I'm so sorry for the circumstances that led you here.

I have read each and every post here and of all the hundreds of couples I think there was only one that made it through intact as a couple.  Your situation differs in that she has not broken up with you, but all the classic signs of her grief affecting your relationship are there.  Not everyone grieving responds in this way, but a certain number do.  And that is in part what this section is for.

I was engaged for a year when my fiance's mother took an ill turn and he started care giving 24/7...he broke up with me by FedEx at my office.  No discussion.  I was blindsided.  My house got very clean as I had to channel my energy somewhere.

You can be the perfect boyfriend to her, you can be understanding,offer her space, no expect or demand anything from her and it can still go south.  I've seen it happen time and again.  That's because it's not you, it's her.  That doesn't make her a bad person, if there's any consolation it's beyond her right now, she's consumed by grief, it obliterates anything else, leaving her void of anything to give anyone...especially a relationship which she likely sees as a demand she's not meeting, hence leaving her feeling worse.  This is one reason they break up, because they can't do a relationship with nothing in them to give and don't need the added pressure of feeling they're failing someone.

There are no answers, nothing you can do to control the outcome, it will play itself out.

I consider my own a success story in that we reconnected as friends after his mom passed, several months later.  It's been nine years ago since he broke up with me...I haven't dated since.  If you're young, it's not reasonable to expect to spend your life alone with unrequited love, but I'm old and just don't feel like going through it all again.  Too many times in my life.

In the years since, Jim and I have talked, he said he feels things would have turned out different for us had this not happened...me, I'm not so sure.  I feel we do well as friends.  I want a life partner (if I ever meet anyone) who will go through thick and thin with me, a relationship in which we can lean on each other, not one where one withdraws or drops you when things are rough.  Rough places come to all of us in life, that is a guaranty, it's how we handle it that is defining.  I've had more losses than I can count, the hardest being my husband 14 years ago.  He never would have shut me out or dumped me, not in a million years!  Unless/until I can find a keeper like him, I'll go it alone.  I'm not searching but I remain open to possibilities in life, no one knows the future.

You asked for advice...the best I can tell you is prepare for what is likely to happen if you can, focus more on YOU as you are important too!  Spend time with your family and friends.  This will also relieve pressure off her.  You can't circumvent her breaking up with you at some point, but you can take care of yourself.  It may sound trite, but join a gym, give yourself an outlet for everything that is pent up inside of you.  This is not just hard on her, this is hard on YOU.  You are grieving...you're watching your relationship slip away bit by bit, unable to stop it, I know of no worse torture.  I may have been blindsided but honestly, I think it's like pulling a bandaid off, mine was ripped off in one fell sweep while yours is torturously being peeled off bit by bit.

 

 

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19 hours ago, kayc said:

Yes this is in the right section, and I'm so sorry for the circumstances that led you here.

I have read each and every post here and of all the hundreds of couples I think there was only one that made it through intact as a couple.  Your situation differs in that she has not broken up with you, but all the classic signs of her grief affecting your relationship are there.  Not everyone grieving responds in this way, but a certain number do.  And that is in part what this section is for.

I was engaged for a year when my fiance's mother took an ill turn and he started care giving 24/7...he broke up with me by FedEx at my office.  No discussion.  I was blindsided.  My house got very clean as I had to channel my energy somewhere.

You can be the perfect boyfriend to her, you can be understanding,offer her space, no expect or demand anything from her and it can still go south.  I've seen it happen time and again.  That's because it's not you, it's her.  That doesn't make her a bad person, if there's any consolation it's beyond her right now, she's consumed by grief, it obliterates anything else, leaving her void of anything to give anyone...especially a relationship which she likely sees as a demand she's not meeting, hence leaving her feeling worse.  This is one reason they break up, because they can't do a relationship with nothing in them to give and don't need the added pressure of feeling they're failing someone.

There are no answers, nothing you can do to control the outcome, it will play itself out.

I consider my own a success story in that we reconnected as friends after his mom passed, several months later.  It's been nine years ago since he broke up with me...I haven't dated since.  If you're young, it's not reasonable to expect to spend your life alone with unrequited love, but I'm old and just don't feel like going through it all again.  Too many times in my life.

In the years since, Jim and I have talked, he said he feels things would have turned out different for us had this not happened...me, I'm not so sure.  I feel we do well as friends.  I want a life partner (if I ever meet anyone) who will go through thick and thin with me, a relationship in which we can lean on each other, not one where one withdraws or drops you when things are rough.  Rough places come to all of us in life, that is a guaranty, it's how we handle it that is defining.  I've had more losses than I can count, the hardest being my husband 14 years ago.  He never would have shut me out or dumped me, not in a million years!  Unless/until I can find a keeper like him, I'll go it alone.  I'm not searching but I remain open to possibilities in life, no one knows the future.

You asked for advice...the best I can tell you is prepare for what is likely to happen if you can, focus more on YOU as you are important too!  Spend time with your family and friends.  This will also relieve pressure off her.  You can't circumvent her breaking up with you at some point, but you can take care of yourself.  It may sound trite, but join a gym, give yourself an outlet for everything that is pent up inside of you.  This is not just hard on her, this is hard on YOU.  You are grieving...you're watching your relationship slip away bit by bit, unable to stop it, I know of no worse torture.  I may have been blindsided but honestly, I think it's like pulling a bandaid off, mine was ripped off in one fell sweep while yours is torturously being peeled off bit by bit.

I second everything Kayc has said here. I don't think I can add anything.

My now ex Tim and I had been together about 2 years before his father suddenly died. Like Kayc said, my breakup was like pulling off a bandaid slowly at first, then he ripped it off later. He initially said he didn't want to break up, then ghosted me for 3 months. He said it had nothing to do with me, but he behaved like it did and misplaced his anger at me.

In my lifetime I have experienced two massive losses within 12 months, and because I was quite young and had emotional issues, I behaved irrationally and treated my boyfriend at the time terribly, so I understand how she may be feeling and the things she has told you are quite similar as many who are grieving feel or behave, so its not uncommon.

I am 27 now and I haven't dated in over 3 years, but I am not opposed to it, just haven't found anyone worth investing the time in. I too consider my story a successful one, Tim and I did not reconnect and I prefer that. As I came to discover that we would've broken up anyways because I moved to another State for work less than 6 months after I made the choice to walk away from him, and I know he would not have moved with me.

I will reiterate what Kayc has said: It's not you, it's them. You could be their "unicorn," but still not make it through their grief with an intact relationship. Tim told me he loved me, that he enjoyed being with me and that he saw a future with me, literally until the day he ghosted me the second time.

 As Kayc has said, focus on yourself for now. Not only will it be good for you, but it will relieve some pressure off of her too. IF she does break up with you, you'll be better prepared to continue focusing on yourself as you work through your own grief, but even if she doesn't break it off, you're still grieving parts of your relationship that were lost to her grief, and you need an outlet for that too.

It is hard on everyone, not just the griever.

20 hours ago, kayc said:

Rough places come to all of us in life, that is a guaranty, it's how we handle it that is defining.  

You asked for advice...the best I can tell you is prepare for what is likely to happen if you can, focus more on YOU as you are important too!  Spend time with your family and friends.  This will also relieve pressure off her.  You can't circumvent her breaking up with you at some point, but you can take care of yourself.  It may sound trite, but join a gym, give yourself an outlet for everything that is pent up inside of you.  This is not just hard on her, this is hard on YOU.  You are grieving...you're watching your relationship slip away bit by bit, unable to stop it, I know of no worse torture.  I may have been blindsided but honestly, I think it's like pulling a bandaid off, mine was ripped off in one fell sweep while yours is torturously being peeled off bit by bit.

 

 

I second this, especially. How people handle rough situations in life tells you a lot about who they are. Part of me understood why Tim behaved and treated me the way he did, because I once behaved in a similar way too. He didn't know himself, was uncomfortable with his feelings, hadn't confronted his childhood trauma/problems and was emotionally stunted/unavailable. However, it didn't make it okay.

You will get through this no matter the outcome.

--Rae :)

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It's nothing personal, but it sure as hell FEELS personal!  But it's good to remind yourself it's not personal.  No matter who she was with when this happened, she'd be treating them the same way.

4 hours ago, Rae1991 said:

However, it didn't make it okay.

I second that!  How you're being treated is unacceptable...of course only you can decide what to do about it and when you're ready.  You count too.  I don't hold it against Jim for what he did to me but I reject the way he did it.  I reckon he was too cowardly to talk to me in person (he was Asperger's) and maybe guilt drove the space.  All I know is, he's not responsible for not being able to do a relationship at the same time as his grieving, but he is responsible for how he handled it.  And I don't want a partner like that.  I can accept in a friend what I cannot accept in a partner, my expectations are different. But I've forgiven him, long ago.  Still, I am glad (now) things turned out the way they did, I think it's for the best.

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Thought I should say something about this too.

My dad passed away 2 months ago. I was finding it difficult to attend social events for a month after. I was feeling anxious to meet friends. I did not feel like being romantic towards my partner too. I couldnt be intimate. But in my head I knew i'll be okay again, soon. But I needed my time. To think of my dad. To think of our memories together. To grief.

Initially my partner was quite understanding. But after 2 months, he said it was it was too sad. I started thinking of his parents who live in Ireland and abruptly ended the relationship over something very small. I lost both my men within 2 months. Wished he waited a bit more. Wished he understood. Cause now I am broken. I have lost my strength and confidence. 

I would say give her time and be supportive, Hopefully she is back to herself soon. Having said that, it sounds like you have been very supportive. Kudos to you for that. The time taken to grief is different to every person. But you also deserve happiness and I hope I get your joy soon. Take some time to focus on yourself too. Im sure she will appreciate the space. And I hope you both grow together, happier and better. 

Relationships are difficult, but it makes me hopeful knowing that there are men like you who try to fix things and help your partner. 

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