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  • Need Relationship Advice...

    Alright, so... I have known my boyfriend for roughly eight years now; he and I met back in 2009 through a mutual friend. To clarify, our mutual friend was someone I had met online and played Xbox with online, and he was also on her Xbox Live friends list, so we originally met one day when he had joined our Xbox Live party in order to talk to her. (As such, that means that this is an online relationship.)

    From the moment I had met him, he had always been rather emotionally withdrawn; it took up to two years for him and I to get to a point where we were speaking to one another on a day-to-day basis through instant-chat programs. However, over the years, our relationship developed into a truly deep and meaningful friendship. He came to be my best friend, someone I've come to really rely on for emotional support; however, he finds it difficult to do the same with me. He rarely opens up to me, and even had difficulty showing me his face for the longest time -- it took him several years just to let me see a live-video of his face (which, just in case you're wondering, is him; the video was live, so he definitely is who he says he is. He's just been incredibly shy about what he looks like, as he has never viewed himself to be handsome...) and has trouble opening up to me about his personal life.

    Now, the thing about -- and let's call him 'John' to preserve his anonymity -- John is that he has an incredibly complicated personality; there are days when he is silly and goofy, understanding and sweet, flirty and romantic, and then there are days where he is cold and distant, cruel and spiteful, intentionally going out of his way to hurt my feelings by using what he knows will hurt me: telling me that he doesn't care about me at all. The thing is, these days where he's cruel and hurtful are really few and far between -- I think he's had these moments only four or five times in the past two years; for all the rest of it, he's really supportive and affectionate toward me, if still a little personally distant. John suffers with schizophrenia; as such, these emotional outbursts aren't an intentional attack on me. It's simply a symptom of his psychological illness. I can't really blame him, and I can't really hold it against him.

    For every one emotionally hurtful outburst he has, I have twenty; I have Progressive-Primary Multiple Sclerosis, which means I can have a mood-swing every single day. There have been times when I have said and done terribly hurtful things to him -- things which have set him off to tell me how little he cares about me, and that he could never love me. I understand that when I have my mood-swings, anything and everything I say to him means nothing; I'm just angry and agitated and saying things to hurt him that mean absolutely nothing, because the truth of the matter is that I love him with all of my heart. He's my best friend; I would do anything for him... and I find that the truly sad thing is that he has put up with my insanity and mood-swings for eight years and hasn't abandoned me once. In fact, we once took a two-year break, and that was because 'I' was the one that broke things off with him; and when I was ready to come back into his life, he welcomed me back immediately...

    I suppose what concerns me is whether or not him saying that he "doesn't care about me" is just an empty insult in order to hurt my feelings due to 'his' mood-swings from his schizophrenia, much like my mood-swings due to my MS... or if he really means what he's saying. He never really openly apologizes for hurting me, either. We go a few days without speaking to one another in order to cool our heads, and then go back as if nothing had ever happened. That isn't to say that he doesn't make it up to me in his own way; he does sweet things to me which are a 'sign' of his apology; he just never out-right says the words, "I'm sorry," any more than he's ever said the words, "I love you." He never 'says' anything about what he feels; he only ever shows it. The only thing he has ever out-right told me on the issue is, "I'm never going to say anything like that. I'm the kind of person that shows what I feel. Isn't it better to have someone show you that they love you and never tell you, then tell you that they love you and never show you?" And that makes sense, I guess, but...

    Our relationship can be incredibly rocky. I guess what I really want to ask is: He and I can be really emotionally off-set from our own neurological and psychological illnesses. There are times we really can hurt one another, and say things to each other that are pretty mean. Do you think he really cares about me, and if he does... do you think our relationship is really worth it, with everything he and I are going through? Because, honestly... sometimes I don't feel like I'm worth loving with all of the issues I have going on, and as such, I guess I'm thinking that it wouldn't really be all that surprising if he didn't really love me... like when he tells me that he doesn't love me and never could.

  • Well, generally speaking I think this is unhealthy. Regardless the reasons, legit or not, it's not healthy. Are there plans to make this a relationship that is in person? Are you both using counseling as a tool to manage the symptoms of your illnesses?

    MS is on the longer list of rule out diseases for me. I have a chronic illness as well. I understand mood swings and difficulty. Doesn't make it ok for me to treat others poorly, nor for others to treat me with less respect.
    I wouldn't tolerate that behavior from him, even if it is just every 6 months or so. That's too much.
    And I wouldn't allow myself any room to treat him disrespectfully either, because I may be feeling poorly. I have higher expectations for myself.

    If I were you, I would start stepping back and reevaluating the reasons I had this relationship in the first place.

    Comment


    • We've had plans to see each other, as well as move in together - after meeting one another face-to-face, of course. I'd never straight-up move in with someone I'd never met. But money has always been an issue with the two of us as we've never had the sort of income to fund a visit to see one another.

      And when I take a step-back -- we just recently had a fight a couple days ago, and I've taken a step back and stopped talking to him in order to sort through my feelings about all of this -- I get to thinking about whether or not I don't deserve him, or he doesn't deserve me. My illness can drive me mad, to the point where the silliest things can set me off. And whether I realize that it was a pointless reason to get angry later on or not, the fight already happened... and I think to myself that I'm worse; I'm the one who is toxic. Makes me wonder if I should even be in a romantic relationship at all... But then, he started it this time, and my mom is currently struggling with cancer - two years after my father died of cancer; which makes me wonder if he didn't start this fight so that he doesn't need to deal with the emotional roller-coaster of my personal life. Which, if that's the case, he really isn't worth being with...

      I really appreciate your feedback on this, and taking the time to give me advice on the subject. I think I do have a lot to think about and reconsider...

      Comment


      • You're both toxic. No point in deciding who's more so.

        I would agree that you may not need to be in a relationship right now. What do you bring to this relationship? What does he? Why are you with him? What needs are being met in this relationship for you? For him?

        I think you may be looking to him to meet emotional needs that you can meet for yourself. Same with him. That's not a good foundation in my opinion.

        If your relationship is this volatile long distance, I'd be apprehensive about any in person fights and how that might turn out.

        I didn't date for over a year after my diagnosis. Then I tried dating for awhile. I'm still very sick at times, tho I've fought and managed to get to a fairly normal day to day routine. But I recognize that I have little to offer a man. I have little to contribute to the type of partnership that I want. I'm selfish and I need to be in order to maintain my health. I have high expectations for myself, and standards for how I spend my time and who is going to spend that precious time with me. Is it really fair to bring a man into my life when I have so little to bring to a relationship? I don't think so.

        Relationship is work. I don't get to be rude and nasty just because I feel like utter crap some days, and don't want to be doing anything but laying on some heat due to pain or when I have some other issues.
        That's why I am single. My problem is not everyone else's to deal with.

        I think at times in relationships we choose to accept each other's limits and work together. That is the beauty of love and a healthy working relationship. Maybe someday that will be the case for me.

        Unless you both decide to commit to counseling and changing your outlook and approach to the relationship, your own lives, and your future, you'll continue on this unhealthy path and likely wind up miserable in it. Instead of having the beauty of living peacefully in love, despite the physical and mental and emotional limits you both have.

        Online, people typically put forth a good deal of effort to show their best, and if this is your relationship online, and it's troublesome, I think it has a lot of work to be invested for success in the future.

        I suggest taking a step back, meaning weeks apart, to really evaluate what it is that makes you want to maintain this contact.

        Comment


        • I've been married or in a relationship with the same person for almost 20 years, so I'm out of touch with the way things work in the dating world. I know that relationships can start online. Of course people already in relationships can stay in touch online. But can you really have a genuine, years-long relationship with someone you've never been with in person?
          "Those sowing seed with tears
          Will reap with a joyful shout." - Psalm 126

          Comment


          • atskitty2: I completely understand where you're coming from; after all, when it comes to being so ill, it's incredibly selfish to expect others to simply take your crap from you just because "you don't feel good." And I really, honestly do try very hard to better myself from it, to take a step back and realize what I'm doing when I'm doing it. It's hard; it's incredibly hard to overcome my feelings in that moment, because my condition is rapid and violently progressive (my neurologist says that my scans look like some of his other 80 year old patients who have had the disease their whole lives, and I'm twenty-five; and it's actually spread into the actual brain-matter in nine places of my brain), so it's a real challenge to force common sense to override the feelings I'm experiencing when I'm in that moment. Though I think, to some small extent, I have gotten somewhat better in reminding myself that what I'm feeling is a product of the disease, not a product of genuine excuse; such as, there will be a time when I have the right to be "angry" or "upset," but the illness pushes me to an extreme and I end up taking it too far. But then, in the middle, I'll tell myself that it's just my illness and I'll try to calm myself down and explain to someone that I don't mean what I'm saying.

            And that's something which really concerns me about "John" is that he will simply accept my madness, in spite of the issues he has in his life; and how is that fair? It isn't... any more than it's fair for him to turn his emotions against me when he goes into flare-up. But then part of me understands that it's hard to overcome something from the inside; as I'm sure you understand yourself, which is why you've been more focused on your health than entering into a personal relationship with anyone. The thing is, I met "John" before I was diagnosed with PPMS, and my neurologist told me not to be surprised if he chooses to leave me as a result; that few people can handle the nasty symptoms which comes with MS. But in spite of my diagnosis, he stuck with me... He just said, "It isn't like you've really changed; you're still as crazy as you were before, but now we know why."

            I guess to be completely honest, it's hard for me to step away from someone who -- even though he has those moments where he hurts me (and he can hurt me pretty badly; no one can break someone's heart quite like someone who has it in the palm of their hand, right?) -- he's supported me in ways that most of my other friends didn't. There are days when I appreciate him and love him for his loyalty and compassion; but then he has moments like these... He has residual schizophrenia; which is basically just cross-roads, or a cooling-off of something worse... which has concerned him in the past. He's brought up to me his fear that if we were to live together, what if he should go off of the deep-end one day and seriously hurt me? He isn't a physically violent person, but he's afraid that he might not be able to help it -- and that's the really sad thing; when it comes to an illness such as schizophrenia, they simply can't help or control violent outbursts...

            And I think he wants to end things because he feels as though his schizophrenia is getting worse. Just last week, he was so sweet and affectionate with me; but this week, he's telling me he doesn't care about me and that he doesn't want me to ever come visit him. He caved and mentioned that he feels his schizophrenia is getting worse, and I've noticed his symptoms lasting longer than usual... eccentric behavior, emotional blunting, illogical thinking, socially withdrawn; he'd usually have these feelings last a day or two, but it's gone on for about a week now... but it's so hard to let go of someone I've had in my life, even if it were only online, for eight years. I know I need to reconsider this relationship; we're both so unstable, and how could we be happy like this? But then, I find it so difficult... is that wrong of me? It probably just comes down to pure selfishness, me not wanting to let go of him.

            What we've brought to this relationship together was always support and understanding... for the most part; we have are flares, but for the most part, we understand that the other is sick and we are there for them through it. He supported me emotionally while my father was dying of cancer, when I was diagnosed with MS, while I struggle with seizures and daily pain. I know it's hard to really, truly be there for someone solely online, but he's never really made me feel like I'm alone in this. I guess the bottom-line is that we're each other's best friend; we talk to each other, even though it's hard for him to open up to me on a deep, emotional level. He's nowhere near as open as I am. But I agree with you completely; our illnesses really get in the way of truly being happy with one another. We hurt each other too often; I know I've hurt him, though he's refused to admit it... He just hides away in his shell and pretends he feels nothing, which is self-destructive in itself; but sadly, that's his schizophrenia. Personally, I'm more than willing to see someone and talk with a professional, sort through my feelings with a psychiatrist and work on bettering myself, but him? He isn't even treating his schizophrenia... he isn't seeing a doctor about it, and I'm concerned one day, he'll end up like his uncle: homeless on the streets, his illness consuming him to the brink of madness... It runs in his family, sadly.

            I guess I always thought that if I could just go see him, I could motivate him to take care of himself; to be able to convince him how important it is to see someone and get treatment for his illness, but my worst fears are coming true and I'm seeing that his symptoms are getting worse and worse... and I don't know what to do; if I should leave him and focus on my own health, or if I should stay and fight for him to try and better himself...



            Stillness: I know that meeting someone online and having deep, committed feelings for them when you've never met in-person is a silly notion; even he felt that way. Heck, before I met John, I was one of those teenagers which got on my friend for having a boyfriend in New York... and that ended as badly as I had expected it to at the time, which means that it may be little more than wishful thinking for me to believe my relationship with John could work out any better.

            John and I have known one another for the past eight years now, and for most of those eight years, we've spoken to each other every day. We started out just gaming friends, talking to each other while playing games together online; which went to us being pen-pals through email; which went to us talking together through Skype; which went to us talking to each other through phone. He supported me and offered me compassion and understanding through the worst times in my life; even when my other friends abandoned me. People I'd considered to be my best friends, whom I had known for years (whom I had known in real life; friends I'd had since I was in school!), dropped me and never spoke to me again the moment I got sick... but not him. And heck, maybe it's pure selfishness, wanting him and needing him for emotional support; and he does the same, in his own way. I remember when someone in his family also died of cancer, and it broke him down... and we talked all night, comforting each other. So even though we'd never seen each other, we spoke to each other and got to know each other on a deep and meaningful level over the years.

            ...I am SO sorry for how long this post is. I get long-winded when I want to make sure my point is understood.

            Comment


            • Obviously your relationship with John is complex. Neither of you are at fault, but you're caught in ups and downs. I can't say whether you should stay with John or leave, but you have to do what is right: even if it isn't going to be easy. You're both volitile people but maybe you're both suited to each other because of it. You do seem like similar people. However, having such a highly stressed relationship is going to be hard and upsetting at times. Maybe you are both dramatic people and are used to being so. Basically, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Listen to what your heart is telling you.

              Comment


              • SweetAmore I believe you can have something, but cameras and speakers can't reproduce the eyes, ears, nose, and skin. There's nothing like being with a person. You can't hide things - good or bad. You can connect more...or find out that you don't have a real connection easier.

                I'm not saying you don't have something real. I'm just saying it's telling that you're complaining about a lack of connection when you've never made an effort to actually be in each other's presence. It seems like eating nothing but candy, then complaining about poor nutrition.
                "Those sowing seed with tears
                Will reap with a joyful shout." - Psalm 126

                Comment


                • I think this is emotional dependence on one another, basically. At this point, there's nothing that seems healthy in anything you've mentioned here.

                  I hate sounding so harsh. I do think that there's always hope and potential. I think you both have a lot of work to do to build a stable and healthy relationship.

                  Comment


                  • Let me just say to everyone: Thank you all so very much for the help and advice you all have offered me. Even if it's a hard-truth, or something which is difficult to hear, I really appreciate everyone's advice. It's helped me a great deal in sorting through what I've been feeling, and has helped me look at the matter objectively rather than subjectively. It's helped me a great deal to hear the opinions of others looking in from the outside; from those who aren't emotionally involved, and can tell me the truth without feeling obligated to sugar-coat it. I just wanted to say how much I really, truly appreciate all of the help everyone has offered me. It's helped me look at things from a new angle.

                    I think I've come to a decision now. I see no reason that he and I can't still be friends, but I think that our relationship is simply too volatile to continue the way it has been. Maybe, one day, sometime later on down the road, there can come a time where he and I can try again; and if not, then so be it. But I think that our health -- physical, mental, and psychological -- has to come first.

                    Again, thank you, everyone, for helping me with this. I really appreciate the advice and time everyone took to give me on this matter. It means a great deal to me.

                    Comment

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