How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Steven Olsen Your Own Question
Steven Olsen
Steven Olsen, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1765
Experience:  More than twenty years of expertise in counseling, psychological diagnosis and education
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
Steven Olsen is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I'm having issues with my current boyfriend we have been

This answer was rated:

I'm having issues with my current boyfriend we have been together for 5 years almost and we had one split up that lasted 3 months. When we got back together we promised each other that we would forgive one another for not only the split but the reasons for the split and I forgave him for everything. Well the last few months he has been extremely stressed out and not talking to anyone about it because of issues with money and the apartment he lives in with his roommates. He lost his car and his license and has come close to losing his apartment. He kicked out the roommate that was causing a huge part of the problem and things started to get better but now it's coming up to the end of his lease and he is shutting me out. I've been trying to find a house for us and he seemed happy about it and then he completely shut down. When I tried talking to him about it last night, he brought up the past and how I never moved in with him before. How his whole family doesn't like me because I never moved in with him. I helped him get the apartment and I was there everyday I keep trying to explain to him that I just wasnt ready for that step like I thought I was at the time I was only 19 and I have been trying to make that step with him for the last year and then we split up. I understand he's stressed so am I and it's not because of him at all. I just don't know what to do he says he hasn't forgiven me but we were fine up until all this started happening to him and he got really stressed out. He only remembers all the bad parts of the relationship and how I messed up and when I tell him about the good it's like he doesn't remember. I really don't want to lose him I lost him once and I don't want to lose him again but I don't know how to get through to him to make him see that he is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. He told me not long ago that he wants to be with me and even last night he told me he loves me. How do I help him see that things aren't as bad as he is making them out to be and that he is shutting people who care about him out and that's me and his cousin?

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

Steven Olsen and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I know I shouldnt take it personally but he made me feel like I did when I was depressed for years because of family issues. I havent gone completely back but he brought up how I use to be and he helped me through it. I know its a defense mechanism but hpw do I cope with this when it feels like the man I love doesnt want anything to do with me and made me feel like I destroyed his life. He came back for a reason and hr said he made a mistake by leaving me in the first place. I ill ove him a lot and dont want to lose him.

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

Please remember to rate me for each new question...My best to you: Steven

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

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 working
with you on any new questions you have. All I ask is that you remember to rate
my answers for each new/different question you ask. Thanks!

Steven Olsen and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
How long should I wait to contact him. Should I wait for him to contact me or should I try opening up communication again. We havent had any contact since tuesday and I miss him like crazy. He made it clear he didnt want me anymore but I dont truely think he meant that. I just dont want to ruin any chance of us having the loving relationship we had.

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

Related Mental Health Questions