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Ask Eleanor
Ask Eleanor, Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1517
Experience:  Marriage & Family Therapist with 20 Years Experience
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My boyfriend of one year (26) and I (25) live together and

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My boyfriend of one year (26) and I (25) live together and have recently broke up. It's been about two weeks, but I need help figuring out if I should stay in this home with him and hopefully make amends or make a decision to move out and move on.
He’s so overwhelmed with other stress in his life that he feels he won't be able to give me the time and attention I need. He never mentioned me having to move out but when I brought up the idea of looking, he says I can stay as long as I need to. He knows my finances make it tough to find a place. We haven’t been intimate since, he doesn’t call or text me much anymore, we haven’t eaten dinner together, but we have normal conversations every night and still sleep in the same bed. Our interactions almost feel normal. He always makes sure to catch me up on his day and ask about mine. I’ve been respectful to give him his space and not talk about our relationship. I try to keep myself occupied after work. He still calls me baby and occasionally kiss me goodbye before leaving for work. He’s told his parents we are having issues but no one else knows we have split.
A little background on him: He's a family business owner and on reserves with the military. On top of working 6 days a week, 10-hour days, he helps out family and friends when needed. He doesn't get much rest, nor does he get any time off or vacation (a father-son issue). Before me, he’s never had a serious relationship or been intimate. Raised old fashioned by his grandmother.
When we started dating, I was quizzed on politics, finances, kids and religion. He wanted to know my goals. His goal was to be married within the next 5 years. He had just bought a house, got a dog. Like any new relationship, it went from seeing each other once a week to being around each other everyday. By 7 months, he asked me to move in. I got in the habit of playing house with him, cooking, cleaning, etc. He provided everything else for me. I was so used to having his utmost attention whether it be physically or by phone or text. I thought that was normal for him. So every time he left for military duties, about a week every other month-sometimes two weeks, I’d get upset. I didn’t realize that me getting upset prompt him to go to the gym less, not take online needed classes, or finish projects around the house. He was trying to spend more time with me, for me.
In the last couple of months, he was more busy and started trying to get things done he had been procrastinating. I had my own work issues so I kept arguing with him because I thought he was ignoring me or acting different. I wanted that same level of time and attention.
I’ve realized how selfish and needy I’ve been. I also realized me being upset over some time away is not worth it to lose a man who wants to take care of me and loves me. Plus, I had not reciprocated his efforts to please me. But apologies only go so far. I tried bringing up this topic recently and he said he’s in a weird spot right now. He’s trying really hard to stay afloat with all the stress and demands. As much as he loves me, he can’t give me an answer of wanting to work things out with me. He doesn’t know how long it will take, but he is thinking about us and taking into considerations our dynamics, goals, finances, and how we have been after the breakup. He says it doesn’t bother him that I’m around. And since we care for each other, if I want to show affection it is okay. It’s all my choice.
Do I stay and continue to prove I can respect boundaries and space or should I leave to let him straighten out his priorities and time management?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Ask Eleanor replied 1 year ago.

Ask Eleanor :

Hello, I am here for you and am happy to respond. Give me a moment to carefully read over and consider your question.

Customer:

Thank you.

Ask Eleanor :

My pleasure. I have been working with couples in therapy for 20 years and it does not sound to me like this relationship is over. Tell me what happened when you broke up.

Customer:

I have a habit of trying to leave so when we broke up, or rather he was asking for space, I packed my bags and went to my mom's for 3 nights. He called me every night for a few minutes before bed, very brief and to say goodnight. When I ran out of clothes, I waited for him to call and asked if I can come home (although I chose to leave). When I came home, we had our official break up talk. He cried and held me for an hour. Told me he doesn't want to lose me but I deserve to have my needs met and he doesn't feel he can fulfill them. I told him my needs and priorities were not right before and he couldn't understand my 180 degree mind frame but ended the conversation with he will continue to think about it

Ask Eleanor :

Thank you for the additional information. Do you want to stay?

Customer:

Stay with him or stay living with him? Yes to both

Ask Eleanor :

Then stay. It sounds like he is simply overwhelmed and could not give you enough attention and felt guilty about that. If you can find other interested to keep yourself busy while he is away for reserve duty, working long hours, then you will both be a lot happier. We cannot rely on one person, no matter how much we love them to fulfill all of our needs. And if we do, they feel too much pressure and it causes them to distance themselves from us. I think you realize this now. I think is you stay and the two of you continue to talk and he sees that you are pursuing other interests, things will work out. I think you care a great deal about one another from what you have shared with me. Any more questions?

Customer:

Am I supposed to respect the breakup and act like a friend? Or sleep in the spare room? Part of me gets sad with no hugs or any physical contact. I'm such an affectionate person.. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to revert back to dating days or am I supposed to continue to act normal and be who I am without being clingy or needy.

Expert:  Ask Eleanor replied 1 year ago.

Hi, I switched us to this Q&A mode as I could not see your response in chat. I apologize, but we are having site problems. I think you were typing a response, so I will await your reply.

 

I would just be yourself and continue to sleep in the same bed and be as affectionate that feels natural and comfortable to you. Staying in a relationship where you cannot be yourself is very emotionally unhealthy. Does that make sense?

 

Expert:  Ask Eleanor replied 1 year ago.

I would just be yourself and continue to sleep in the same bed and be as affectionate that feels natural and comfortable to you. Staying in a relationship where you cannot be yourself is very emotionally unhealthy. Does that make sense?

 

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes that makes sense. I'm just worried of overstepping boundaries since he hasn't said he wants to work things out with me. I personally feel like these last two weeks after breaking up is working on things but I don't want to get ahead of myself. And he has said no when I tried to be affectionate once and his reason was he didnt want to complicate the situation. It definitely feels like a rejection. Birthdays, holidays, important functions are coming up..I'm trying to learn to take this one day at a time. Yet that little girl in me says spare the heartache and move before he decides to kick me out.
Expert:  Ask Eleanor replied 1 year ago.
I understand your wanting to protect yourself from getting hurt. But fear based decisions are usually unwise, particularly those made by our insecure little girl. He does not sound like the type of person who would kick you out, but you know him best. Of course, it is your decision, but if you end things now, you may regret it in the future. If you can stay in your adult place and focus on some things other than your bf, I do not think you will be disappointed. You might even consider a few sessions with a therapist to help you further sort through your feelings before you make a decision. You may go to www.therapistlocator.net or www.psychologytoday.com to search for therapists where you live. I certainly hope things work out for the two of you, take care, Eleanor
Ask Eleanor, Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1517
Experience: Marriage & Family Therapist with 20 Years Experience
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