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Perhaps a male perspective would help...
When young men encounter stress they often react by going into themselves and reacting with, while not aggression, a very unfriendly manner. This is not a wonderful or even healthy way to handle issues, but it is very male and very typical. The distancing that occurs is designed to shut out all external influences and to allow time to make some choices. Until those choices are made the man usually acts as you describe here, with lots of push back and distancing.
The stage actually has a name. It is called moratorium and is a time when critical choices occur for a male
What can you do as his girlfriend?
Clearly he needs some time and distance to make these hard choices. This is especially hard for women to accept as when these types of issues occur in a woman's life she often will run to bond and talk with others, the exact opposite of what is occurring here.
It may go against your very nature, but accepting your boyfriend's need to take some time to choose his path is exactly what he needs. Really, although it may seem that your past and your "wrongs" are the issue with him that is just his way of creating space between you as he knows you are unlikely to want to talk about these things in light of what you both agreed upon earlier.
Best practice: Tell him that you know he is going through a rough time and that you will be there for him. Tell him that you know he is under a lot of pressure and that your relationship should not be a part of that pressure. Tell him you are going to give him some time to think about what he needs to do; but that you will be there are care for him. Then allow him the time to do so.
This stage is a difficult one to go through with a man, but it is common enough and allowing him the time he needs to make choices greatly improves the chances that he will come out of this even closer to you than before. But, as most men have no idea how to ask for this space (we are kind of primitive!)...the push back you are getting is his way of getting it. Ignore it as personal. See this as a period of maturing for him and as long as you tell him you will be there for him, you have done all that you need to.
These things usually work through, but he does need the time to process these choices and know...this is not about you. He will come around but not until he has the time to work this out. Steven
This is a little bit harder to answer on-line, but the best way to get through this is to accept the truth and to minimize the feelings. What is meant by this?
It is critical that you recognize that the truth and your feelings are not always going to sync. What is this truth? You have not, nor could you have, ruined his life. And sometime your feelings, which will give you powerful messages of "he hates me I am unworthy"...Please take the time to recognize that those are untrue, inaccurate and false. They are only feelings. Not accurate; not true.
These things are simply said, false messengers; delivering messages to you about your lack of worth and trying to get you to buy into his current mental state as being truth.
Right now your boyfriend is like a broken traffic light, showing both red and green at the same time. Like you would as a driver who saw this, you would ignore that light and approach the intersection using your best judgment as a guide. The same is true here. Look for those inaccuracies and feelings as false lights. See them as the inaccurate messages that they are. When he gets through this rough spot he will be more real, more genuine. Right now he is broken and should be minimized.
There is no way to get rid of emotions. But, you can see the truth of what is being said...and you can know that your past will naturally magnify these feelings. BUT, most key: know that these feelings are not accurate or true. Especially in the next weeks do not take as true or genuine anything much that he says. If necessary, accept his distancing as a good thing, for right now he is not a good thermometer for anything you feel.
I know this is hard to do. However, if you see his comments as a part of his issues and not a truth about yourself this will help you tremendously. Doubts and feelings are also normal and you will go back and forth. But as long as you are centered and dedicated to not hearing his "truth" at the moment you will do well. Steven
You may wish to also look at: Living with the Passive-Aggressive Man: Coping with Hidden Aggression - From the Bedroom to the Boardroom [Paperback] Scott Wetzler
It is inexpensive on amazon.com
Please remember to rate me for each new question...My best to you: Steven
I don't understand though why he hasn't taken the key back to his place. Tuesday night I let myself in to his place with the key he knows I have it and that I can come over anytime I want. Not that I would abuse the fact that I do have a key, but all he said after I left in a text was "Please don't come over like that again." Why wouldn't he just take it back if he didn't want me in his life anymore. That's the part I don't get I don't carry the key around with me anymore it's actually on a necklace he gave me hanging in my room so I wont carry it around. I do know that he is going through a lot at the moment but even though he doesn't talk to anyone else about his problems everyone else gets to continue seeing him when I don't, that's what hurts the most.
You are a significant person to him. That is why he is focused on you, the anger, the pain, the distancing. Others are not close to him as you are, and people who are not as significant to him will not allow this behavior to emerge.
Not taking back the key is a good sign. It shows he is still in the relationship in his mind. It may be distant and removed but actions always speak more to feelings than words.
It is very tempting to try to figure him out and analyze him. But, try to avoid this temptation. He is, I guarantee it, not sure why he is acting this way either. Steven
I would be more than happy to continue workingwith you on any new questions you have. All I ask is that you remember to ratemy answers for each new/different question you ask. Thanks!
I know you are anxious to get things back to normal. Again, if you let your feelings reign here you are more likely to make an error in judgment. Instead of trying to get him to acknowledge you, keep your distance for at least another week. If he is going to be willing to accept you and allow you back he needs this space. At this point we do not know exactly what period of distance he wants, but we do know he wants it. A week gives a good solid period of time for him to get his thoughts together.
You will not ruin anything by waiting. Indeed, the opposite is true. If you break through the boundaries that he has set now he may become even more distant.
But in any case, at the end of the week, attempt to contact him with a specific plan. Tell him that you want to meet him just to talk for a bit. Make it less than an hour, in a public but quiet place and keep to that hour as a very strict boundary. If he refuses to meet ask him what he would find acceptable. If he refuses to give you anything, allow him one week more and repeat the offer, this time in writing, (not email). If he still does not reply he may be dealing with much more than just setting distance, but we want to be positive here and to give the best chance to have him open back up to you.
Give him the week for now. Use this time as a way to be good to yourself and to care for your needs. You have been so in tune with him that I doubt you have taken care of you. That is essential as it gives you back the perspective and grace to deal with his admittedly hard headed behavior.
Take heart. We do not know what he will do but we do know that he needs space. This is difficult to do, waiting, but it is the best and most appropriate thing to do. Steven