France to the US - long distance problems
BLACKBERRYMOJITO - Feb 6 2023 at 00:56
I'm having real struggles with my relationship. I've been with my partner for a year now, and we've been long-distance the whole time. He lives in France and I in the United States. He's visited here twice, for a total of about a month and a half, and I've visited him twice, for a total of a month, with plans to visit him again for a month this April. Since the beginning, he's had markedly stronger feelings than I. When we met, I was not looking for a relationship, and he told me, "that's okay, I'll wait." For a while, I debated with myself, but I realized I really liked him and decided to give it a try. He started to say, "I love you" within about a month, and I said it back, but quickly told him I'd rather we wait until we know each other better. Two months in, he visited me, we had the most amazing week ever, and we made it official and said we loved each other.
When we're together, everything is near perfect. He treats me better than anyone ever has, he deals with my anxiety with extreme patience, and he gets along so well with my family. We enjoy the same foods, shows, and most of the same activities, and I feel so incredibly comfortable around him. We can both be 100% ourselves. However, when we're apart (which has been the majority of our relationship), his only purpose in life is to find a way to be with me. We have a 7-hour time difference, and he has no independence from me. He has anxiety that keeps him up at night and occasional bouts of depression, but progress with his therapist is very slow, and he doesn't think the French system will make it easy to get on medications. I've become so independent in the past few years, and honestly, I can see my life without him being just fine. He, on the other hand, has declared that he will not date if we ever break up, because he's done trying and getting hurt. He also said he wouldn't be able to talk to me at all anymore because seeing me with someone else would destroy him.
I've done research on helping depressed partners, I've been repeatedly ensuring him that I'm here, and he doesn't have to worry about what he can offer me from so far away; I'd rather him focus his energy on feeling better. I've told him that before we make the next big step to move in together, I want to be sure that he'd be okay without me. Because right now, I really don't think he would be. I can't tell if I feel stuck. My family thinks I'm going to marry him; we have plans to move in together when I choose a grad school; and I've ensured him that our relationship is not suffering because of his depression. I do SO enjoy being with him, truly. When we're together, he's my best friend, but it scares me that he's such a different, sad person without me. I feel so afraid to hurt him. I've gone sober this month because, in the past, I've flirted with others when I've gotten too drunk. I told my partner, and he forgave me. I just feel like I'm in such a rut. I feel horrible to even be having these doubts. We've had these conversations in the past, and he shuts down and feels hopeless. Things always feel fantastic when we can be together again, but I don't know how many times this cycle can happen. I don't want to hurt him, I don't want to miss him.
My friends know how I feel, and they encourage me to "follow my heart," but it's all over the place. Please don't just comment "break up with him." If you think I should, how do you think I should? If you think there's hope (and I hope there is) what should I do next?
Sorry for the novel, thank you in advance. <3
I don't see just a long distance problem. The things he's saying - on the surface it would be easy to say he's being manipulative, but if what he's saying is the truth, he's seriously ill. This is no way to start a relationship. Partners shouldn't be projects. It isn't up to you to fix him, that's not your job.
I wrestle with depression myself - for over 40 years. I have never threatened anyone with it, though. And when dreadful things happened (addiction of spouse, death of spouse, job loss) I never tasked anyone else with my mental health and well-being. So, typing that out, now his behavior does sound manipulative. If he's getting help, a professional should be encouraging him to look to himself for solutions, not a relationship. If you stay with him and Heaven forbid something happened to *you* what will become of him? Being dependent on you isn't in his best interest.
"However, when we're apart... his only purpose in life is to find a way to be with me. We have a 7-hour time difference, and he has no independence from me. He has anxiety that keeps him up at night and occasional bouts of depression... He has declared that he will not date if we ever break up, because he's done trying and getting hurt. He also said he wouldn't be able to talk to me at all anymore because seeing me with someone else would destroy him." I never kept up with people I dated when one of us moved on. Maybe some people do. Of all the men I met after my husband died, none of them wanted a female buddy. They wanted a romance (or sex) and once that wasn't happening, we had no more dealings with one another.
Does he have a job? Are you going to make enough money at your field of work to support both of you?
It sounds a little like you were kind of cornered into this relationship- he kind of love-bombed and guilted you into the "I love yous," not fair. (I remember a man asking me out in front of a group of mutual friends, making it awkward to say 'no.') This is not a reason to stay.
As for breaking up, I can tell you that the most diplomatic explanation I ever got was a man saying "I'm not emotionally available for a serious relationship."
Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply.
I (and my therapist) agree that his words have been manipulative. Im still friends with most of the people I’ve dated, but I’d understand if he’d rather cut off communication. The issue is more that he swears he’d never date again, though I know that’s not my responsibility to change.
Since posting this thread, I reached out to him with some boundaries, including that I think I should live alone or with roommates for my first year of grad school, as I’ll be getting accustomed to a new city and a very new academic pace. He responded that he was worried that more time apart will push me away from him more. Im not going to give in, of course. Im willing to make compromises in any relationship, but moving in is too big a step to take before I’m confident. I also said it’s important that we have our own hobbies and friends, and he said “it’ll be easier for you to make friends because I have the language barrier and I’m an introvert”.
This is starting to feel like the end; like he won’t respect my boundaries. He tends to shut down and say “I’ll figure it out” when we have conversations like this, but he doesn’t seem to understand the real issue. He thinks I’m complaining that *he* is complaining. About being lonely, about being anxious. But I’m more worried that he’s not consistently acting to improve his mental health and lifestyle. He firmly believes that all will be fixed when we live together. With the language barrier in the distance, it’s hard for me to explain why, for me, these issues need to be resolved first.
We had a friend, "Lucy." Her first marriage was a whirlwind romance with a man who had misled her about major things going on in his life. I didn't know her well, but years later I was told she had divorced her second husband, as he had mental health issues. I said Lucy seemed pretty warm and nurturing and loyal, divorcing him over this seemed not like her. The person relaying the news said her husband refused to do anything about his depression, that was the issue.
It does sound like the beginning of the end. Reading your reply, I wondered what he did to sustain himself before you happened into his life, and what, if anything, he told previous consorts when the relationship wasn't working.
Seems to me that he has an Anxious Attachment Style, while yours is more of a Secure Attachment Style. Also, seems to me that he love-bombed you, meaning that he said I-love-you too quickly and otherwise projected a bond between the two of you that did not yet exist, for the purpose of securing a relationship that he's too afraid to lose. He is so anxious to lose you that he is not able to.. even get to know you well. Does this make any sense to you?