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Thread: Boyfriend becomes distant when he's stressed

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    Default Boyfriend becomes distant when he's stressed


    When my boyfriend is feeling really stressed or upset he becomes very distant. It's almost like I no longer exist. He barely talks to me at all and won't let me comfort him in any way. He apologizes beforehand when he knows he's going to become that way. But that doesn't make it any easier. I know it's the stress, not me but it's still hard. How do you deal with your boyfriend becoming distant?

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    WH Head Moderator Array WildChild's Avatar
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    Get a copy of John Grey's book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. He deals with this very clearly. It's called going in to his cave. Most men are internal processors, they have to withdraw and think things out, women who are verbal processors and tend talk through things have a hard time with this. Grey explains how to work with it and also how to get him to accept listening when you need to talk. This is just how men are, it's wired into them, in telling you that he needs this down time, he is doing what he should, when that happens you need to accppt that he isn't rejecting you and he will be 'back'. Call a couple girlfriends to meet for lunch, take some good walks, go work out, take care of a project, paint your nails or color your hair - do some things that don't need his participation and keep you feeling good.

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    Silver Contributor 100+ Posts Array crzyredhead21's Avatar
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    I wish I would hae read that book! My current ex was the same way. He would totally withdraw.. not talk to me at all for days on end. VERY frustrating!!I think a certain amount of time is okay.. but after a couple days it just becomes obsessive brooding. What do you think Wild?? Does the book cover how long is healthy? I'm honestly curious because this was an issue in my last relationship.

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    It is important to understand if you are the source of the stress. If not, then I agree with WildChild, he will get over it (I'm a guy). But if you are the source of the stress (reasonable or not), then you need to think.

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    WH Head Moderator Array WildChild's Avatar
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    Rcoreyus makes a good point.
    Comminucation is important for this but he may need some time to cool off and determine how important it is and how to talk about it. If you are the cause how can you correct the problem if he isn't talking? You have to be 'safe' to talk to. He has to know that he can tell you what is bothering him without you getting weepy, hysterical, defensive or accusatory. When my heart throb was backing off, I gave him some time and space and then asked, when can we talk? He was honest, told me that he essentially was skittish about our level of involvement and that my staying calm and rational helped him deal with his feelings. Knowing that I would listen and not try to make him wrong allowed us to discuss where we were in the relationship and what we both wanted. His honesty helped me recenter and not be quite so dependant on him and in turn he stayed available to me and actually became more responsive to my needs. The lines of communication have to be open in a way that works for both of you.

    Don't just wish you'd read the book, get a copy! You can pick it up used for a few dollars. Read it and then reread it. What hooked me was that me was that he is so on target about women, I figured that he must know what he's talking about with men too, since he is one. You need the skills to talk effectively with a man, when you are emotionally entangeld it isn't like having a business converstation. If he cares for you, he wants the relationship to work too, he wants to see you happy in it. We tend to do what we saw our parents do and they in turn worked from their parents model. Our expectations are different now, marriage is no longer a male dom/provider, female dependant deal. We expect much more from the relationship emotionally, sexually and have different family and community dynamics. We all need retraining. In terms of relationships most of us have space shuttle expectations but ox cart skills.

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    VIP Member Array Aithneu's Avatar
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    My dad is like that as well. At the end of the day you just need to give him space. He's not going to be able to change his depression spells for you and you need to stay supportive of him through these by doing nice little things for him. Trust me he notices, though he might not thank you. When he starts feeling crabby spend a little time for yourself- get a pedicure or something. This way you can remain happy and centered even when he isn't. Just remember that sad times will pass and better times will come- soon

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    I remember reading "Men are from mars, and women are from venus" a long time ago. About men going in their caves and women going to their wells. I know that he needs time to process things. I don't really have anyone else to talk to except people online. I try to do things for myself but there's not much I can do outside of the house. Guess, I'll just have to be even more patient. Men, can be so difficult sometimes!

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    WH Head Moderator Array WildChild's Avatar
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    Dark, give it another read, Grey provides some pretty specific things to do or say. Also get a hold of one or two of Mama Gena's books, she teaches women to find joy in themselves and their lives. You can't make this man responsible for your happiness, it is yours, your joy, your responsibility, you can't share what you don't have. Find your happiness and joy and then if you choose you can take him along for the ride.

    Why isn't there much you can do outside the house? Do you live in Antartica? Do you have limited mobility? Or have you limited yourself? Usually we are most limited by our own thinking - I've fallen into that trap too. Set your self free.

    I know a young woman who is confined to a wheelchair, has been since age 10, she cannot stand at all. That girl is all over town, has a job, parties a bit too much, goes to school, is working on starting her own business - chances are with her disease she won't live to see 30. She doesn't see limitations, she too busy living. She has plenty to do outside the house, you could too if you chose to!

    Depression is difficult but you have to choose to do something different. You've started by reaching out here, now start reaching out where you live. Find that book club, a gf to have tea with, a food bank to volunteer at, a park to walk in, a kite to fly. Do something, no matter how small, everyday, that is just to make your self feel good. Give yourself a pedicure, clean out the closet and get rid everything you don't love, take a walk and buy yourself a flower - or a whole bunch. Did you know that it has ben clinically proven that smelling fresh flowers lifts your mood? Joy posted something the other day that I've added to my affirmations (which adorn the walls of my home) " Make life happen for you, not to you!"
    You can do it lady!

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    December 2008 "Poster of the Month" Array miffed23's Avatar
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    You shouldnt have to spoonfeed him. I assume he is a grown man, tell him to grow up and get over himself. Unless, obviously, it is something serious that he is depressed about, and if so then i apologise for the above sentence.

    I spoonfed my father for years, it was pathetic, he used to get me down, i used to tiptoe around him and try to make him smile in anyway possible. I quickly found out that you cant keep that up without becoming depressed yourself.

    Youre supposed to be a 'team', he is obviously aware of how it affects you as he apologises beforehand, thats just madness to me, can he not control his emotions or at least channel them into something positive? Does he do this with other people that he is close to, or just you?

    With all that said, i guess we all do it - take it out on the people closest to us... but, im just concerned that this will start to really get you down if it continues.
    “As you regonise that you already own the wholeness you seek, and no one outside you can give you more than you already are, dysfunctional situations will evaporate like bad dreams exposed to the morning sun.”

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    My boyfriend and I talked and he told me he was upset because of the lack of space in this place. That he needs alone time after he comes home from classes but didn't know how to talk about it with me. We've vowed to communicate more effectively. Also I am trying to find things to do outside the house. Even if it's just going for daily walks.

    He apologized for acting like a jerk. He can control his emotions when he wants to, but he's not good at talking about them right away.He will talk about them eventually but not until they have reached a boiling point. I've told him that he needs to talk about things before he explodes. He is going to counseling which has helped somewhat. I told him that he just needs to tell me when he feels like he needs space. It's not easy to have space here since it's a one bedroom apartment.

    There's no excuse for his behavior because he could have just told me what was bothering him. But at least now I know that it was because he needed space and not against me personally.


    Thanks for all the wonderful advice. Not many men seem to know how to open up about their negative feelings. He's fine talking about positive emotions.

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