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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5763
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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How to handle a relationship with someone that has issues.

Resolved Question:

Making myself sick over someone. I'm a 51 year old widow. My boyfriend of 14 months at the age 46 has never been marriged and has commitment issues due to a very bad relationship in the past. He said he loved me 2 months into the relationship and I have not heard or felt that since. He says he wants to feel more for me and is having a hard time dealing with past issues. After several times of being intimate, he says, he is very religous and wants to wait until he feels secure and does not want to hurt me. So, now I feel more of a friend than a girl friend. When I try to pull back, he seem very hurt. He wants time so he can fix himself, but I don't know exactly what that means. It's making me a nervous rack. I miss the closeness we had in the begin. How do I deal with this?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


It sounds like he may have commitment issues. But he is giving you very confusing signals. On one hand, he is telling you he loves you and he is intimate with you, then on the other hand he is saying he needs time and he withdrawals. This makes it hard for you to know what to expect and how to act.


You tried withdrawaling in response to how he is acting, but then he acts hurt. That is confusing. So what are you supposed to do?


One thing that stands out about your boyfriend's behavior is the control he has over what happens. He is taking away any say so you have in how the relationship works. When you are with him, he wants time to fix himself. When you pull away, he gets upset. There is no room for you to get your needs met. The relationship ends up being all about him.


When he says he is fixing himself, what actions has he taken? Have you seen him make an effort to go to therapy, try self help or talk to anyone about how he feels? Commitment issues are not easy to fix so it does take work. It would be almost impossible just to do on your own. Most people cannot fix their own issues without some kind of input from someone else, friends, family or a therapist.


If he is not working on this issue, then finding out why is important. You want to see if he is serious about resolving the commitment issues or just using this as an excuse to control the relationship.


You may want to ask him if he will seek therapy with you. That will tell you if he is willing to work on this problem for the benefit of your relationship. There is low cost therapy available through your church (if you attend) or the local community mental health center. You can also try the United Way for resources in your area.


Decide what you want out of the relationship and stand your ground. If you feel that both of you need space while he works on his commitment problem, then take it. Ignore the hurt he expresses. He cannot have it both ways and you have a right to have input in the relationship. If he starts to escalate in his behavior when you stand your ground, consider that he may be trying to manipulate you. Emotional abuse in a relationship often starts this way. Here is a resources to help you:


He may not have all the signs, but even if this is just about manipulation, that is enough to be concerned. In that case, you may want to leave the relationship or at least separate until he can resolve his issues.


I hope this helps,




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