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My grieving boyfriend asks me for „time and space“


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My boyfriend of 2.5 years lost his mother unexpectedly 3 months ago. Ever since then we haven’t spend much time together. I understand that he is grieving and that he is going through the darkest time of his life. 

A little background: Last year was bad for us, both individually and as a couple. He lost all his contracts and basically his company and everything he worked for over the last 10 years. We fought about stupid stuff like doing the dishes and I admit I didn’t realise how bad he was really feeling about everything, even though he sometimes tried to talk to me telling me he was so unhappy and lost in life. When I asked him if he was unhappy with us, he always said no not with us but with everything else. 

He had a gut feeling that something bad was going to happen, but he didn’t know why he felt that way. He mentioned that a lot over the last year. In December his mom got sick, and it turned out to be final stage cancer... His, our whole world stopped. We tried everything we could and even got her transferred to specialists in the hopes of more time. She passed six weeks later. 

Understandably our relationship or our future plans are the last thing on his mind. I completely understand that and I don’t want to pressure him into any decisions or just to go on with life. But the problem is, he doesn’t care about anything anymore. He regrets everything he did in life. That he left his home town 12 years ago to start his business in our city (5 hours away). That he didn’t see his mom / parents that often last year because of COVID. He also kind of blames me for this because I was always extremely worried about him/us maybe exposing his parents. I also didn’t see my parents (who live in our city) for at least the first half of 2020. 

And now lately he tells me how unhappy he also was with our relationship over the last year. So he doubts his whole life. He was always a workaholic. Now he doesn’t care about anything anymore. He lost his last contract 5 weeks ago, because he decided to stay in his home town and not come back to our city to work. He has no job, has debts and now his dad pays the rent of his office space and his insurances. Something he would normally never accept, and now he just says „I don’t care.“ He now is back in our city, but doesn’t want to „come home“. He tells me he sleeps in his office.

He basically moved out of our shared apartment and our shared life after it happened and now tells me he doesn’t want to come back. He is not asking for a break up, but for „time and space apart“ so he can figure everything out. I love him with all my heart, and even though I can’t help but feel abandoned, I know I need to give him the time he asks for. It is just so hard and I’m so anxious. He also gives me mixed feelings. Asking for time and space, but still texting me a lot asking what I’m doing etc. 

I would really appreciate any advice how to deal with this situation in a healthy way. At the moment I feel there is nothing I can do but to focus on my life. Which feels so wrong, because it used to be our life. Of course we are and were both individuals but we had a very close, saying I love you everyday, couldn’t be a day without each other and when apart being constantly on the phone-relationship. I know that could be too much for others, for us it worked. And I would give anything for us to be that team again we used to be. It also breaks my heart knowing I can’t support him or just be there for him while he is grieving the biggest loss of his life...

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Hello @satc83,

I'm very sorry to hear of the death of your bfs mother as well as how it has affected your relationship. This must be an incredibly difficult time for you both. It's very unfortunate that he seems to be going through this alone. It's also sad that he has blamed you for not being able to see his mother during covid, I can understand how it feels to be on the receiving end of something like that. Try not to take what he says personally, even if it does seems that way.

11 hours ago, satc83 said:

I know I need to give him the time he asks for. It is just so hard and I’m so anxious. He also gives me mixed feelings. Asking for time and space, but still texting me a lot asking what I’m doing etc

This is quite common on this forum. For some they can't do a relationship and grieving at the same time, and we have to be on the receiving end of these mixed messages / hot and cold behavior. Sadly all you can do at this point is to give him what asked for. However, being on the receiving end is emotionally draining and something I couldn't handle after a certain point- it felt like my body was shutting down. You have to consider your health through all this. I had to make the decision to go No Contact on New Years. But if you feel that you want to be there for him, I understand, I did the same for a month; however, we were broken up, which is different from your situation.

11 hours ago, satc83 said:

Of course we are and were both individuals but we had a very close, saying I love you everyday, couldn’t be a day without each other and when apart being constantly on the phone-relationship. I know that could be too much for others, for us it worked. And I would give anything for us to be that team again we used to be. It also breaks my heart knowing I can’t support him or just be there for him while he is grieving the biggest loss of his life...

You sum up exactly how I felt as well. I would have done anything to be there for her and the relationship. Unfortunately it seems he has chosen to go through this alone, and I understand how devastating and difficult to understand that can be.

I cant offer much advice outside of my own experience; but kayc I'm sure will come soon with some resources and maybe something more useful to you.

No matter what happens going forward, you will be okay, and I'm hoping for the best for the both of you. Take care. 

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Time and space apart is essentially a breakup without confrontation.  He's handling you the same way as he is everything else, opting out, not dealing with it.  I want you to get this:  IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S HIM.  IT'S NOT PERSONAL.  That said, it FEELS EXTREMELY PERSONAL!!! ...because it affects you.  But it's nothing you've said, done, have control over.  When I went through it, I analyzed everything, should I have said this?  That?  What should I have done?  The truth is, it wasn't about me, it was about HIM and what HE was going through and HIS way of handling things (or not)!  My (now ex) fiance has Asperger's and I'm sure that played heavily in his way of dealing with things (focuses on one thing at a time, anxiety, doesn't do confrontation/conflict).  But most of the people in this section are not Aspies and this is obviously a classic grief response...not how everyone responds in grief (I have lost a husband, parents, grands, niece, nephew, 24 dogs/cats, many friends, sister) yet I have not pulled away from people in my grief.  But there's enough here to show it IS a way some people respond, so their coping mechanism differs from mine. ;)

I sincerely  hope he gets the wake up call he needs to start dealing with life again so he doesn't end up on the streets and hungry.  With his dad carrying him right now he'll be content to float along like he is indefinitely.  How hard this must be for his dad to lose his wife and see his son in shambles!

I am so so sorry you are going through this.  I know the pain, it's VERY hard to go through!  This is my story...it's a PROCESS of sinking in and beginning to heal...
 

 

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