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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1168
Experience:  Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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My partner has decided to move out to work on herself. She

Customer Question

My partner has decided to move out to work on herself. She has had a very short affair with a work colleague. This was pre-empted by her saying that she was bored, dissatisfied with life etc. She does not like it when I question her about what is going on in her head. She becomes anxious if I question her. She doesn't like to feel needed and claims she feels trapped in our relationship but claims she still loves me. I have tried to get answers but have pushed her away by doing this. What is the best plan of action now? I am happy for her to move out but should I resist trying to contact her and just wait for her to contact me? ie should I let her do all the pursuing?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Ryan LCSW replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for your question. My name is ***** ***** I'd like to help you out.

I'm sorry to hear about what you're going through with your partner, and I'm sure it must be difficult to hear her say that she loves you, but also that she feels trapped and wants some time off. Even though she had a short affair, if the love is still there, there may still be reasons to be optimistic about all of this. If your partner has reached a point of frustration, sometimes the best thing to do is to take some time off, so that both of you can reevaluate the situation and determine whether or not it's possible to make this work better.

In the meantime, since it is your partner that has requested the time off, it would probably be best for you to resist trying to contact her. Sometimes trying to contact and talk to someone before they are ready could actually push them away, despite your good intentions. For now, it would probably be best to respect her wishes, give her some time off, and allow her to do some of the pursuing and see if she contacts you. If a lot more time than expected goes by, perhaps at that point you can check in with her to see where she stands. At this point though you may gain more by respecting her wishes and giving her space rather than pressuring her to talk when she doesn't yet have a clear head about all of this yet.

I definitely wish you the best and hope that I've been able to answer your question. If there's anything else I can do to help just let me know.

Ryan
Expert:  Dr. L replied 5 years ago.
Hello,
I would like to help you with your question.

I can only imagine what a difficult time this is for you. I'm sorry.

From what you wrote, it appears that your partner has come to the realization that she has some issues with commitment, life goals, and is uncertain about her own motivation and direction in life. These are things about her...not about you. That you are on the receiving end of her behavior is truly unfortunate.

The good news is that she realizes that she must take a good hard look at her life. No matter what happens between you, it appears that you see the value in this life exploration that she wants to do.

In cases like these, I encourage the couple to set some ground rules so that there is a clear path back to the relationship. For example, can their be telephone calls, emails, text messages? How often? Initiated by whom? Can you see each other? When? Where? Initiated by whom? This also includes rules about dating other people.

Without some basic rules...you are going to be left unsure of how to proceed and likely worry and wonder if there is any hope for you or hope for the relationship.

I also strongly encourage some agreed upon time line....a time line that be extended. There needs to be some end point. Is she needed 1 month, 2 months, what is she needing? What can you agree to?

I think you will also feel some level of relief if she were to give you some details of what she will be doing in this time of "needing space". Will she be seeing a therapist? Will she be in a support group? What things will she be engaged in to clear her head?

While this time of self work happens, it would be good for you to come up with your own plan of how you will use this time to better understand your own self and to perhaps gain some new relational skills. For, the stronger and more confident you become, that will positively reflect on the relationship. Obviously, this change in your relationship is hurtful and difficult. You will be grieving the loss of her in your daily life. These feelings would benefit from exploration and attention.

Please let me know if I can be of additional service to you.

Thank you.
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1168
Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thankyou for your response Dr Levang.
I accept that my partner needs to work on herself however I am now the one who has to decide if I really want this kind of person in my life. She has already had 7/8 relationships (she is only 25) and is always the one to walk away from a relationship...often telling the other person she needs to take a break and that she will come back, but never does. She claims she values her independence over anything else which is why she feels she needs to move out. She is also a compulsive liar and very selfish. I would like to set ground rules however she will not discuss these matters. I tried to discuss how we should proceed when she moved out but she did not wish to discuss things.
She also appears to play games with me - an example of this is that I have just received a text msg from her telling me she is staying at another work colleagues place tonight. She claimed to not know whether she had told me this or not. I clearly remember her telling me this last night so I therefore knew she would not be coming home this evening. She sent this msg at 1:30am. I am almost certain that part of the reason for sending this text was because she has not heard from me for the major part of the day - ie if I ignore her, she wants to contact me. It's that push/pull game and I think I am at the point now where not only am I no longer interested in playing the game, I am pretty sure I am no longer interested in the opponent either.
Expert:  Dr. L replied 5 years ago.
Hello,
Yes...I understand your tiredness! And...I think it is wonderful that you are looking at this situation from the standpoint of your own feelings, needs, and desires. In a way, we could say that the "tail has been wagging the dog" - do you understand this point?

If you cannot trust her, if she continues to put your relationship as the lowest priority...why would you want to exert effort to make it work?

One of the things we say, is that past behavior predicts future behavior. The number of relationships she has had and walked away from is not a good score card. I am sorry to be so blunt.

That you have tried to set rules and she refuses is very disheartening as well. Without rules you have only promises and it doesn't appear that she is good at keeping promises.

You have to do what is best for you. It sounds like you have arrived at that point that says that you are more important than empty promise, false hope, and a relationship that yo-yo's.

That she pursues you when you ignore her...yup the old push/pull. A very tiresome game!!!