Denise in New York writes:
I need help figuring my boyfriend out. We just parted ways after being together for a year. We are both in our 40s. He was very serious about our relationship for the first 11 months. He told me I was the love of his life, and that he wanted to move in together and then plan on getting married. Then he began to withdraw, and started to cancel plans from me. He didn’t want to see me, and would only text message me. He said he was too tired to talk, and stressed out from work.
I was going away on vacation and he didn’t call me until after I had left. He left 2 messages on my home answering machine stating that he was afraid of commitment, and that he was afraid he couldn’t take care of me financially and give me what I needed. He knows, however, that I do not need him to take care of me financially. I got a few more texts from him after that, and he even told me he would call me – but he didn’t. It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve heard from him. I feel like I fell in love with a commitment-phobe!
The problem is that I feel such a strong psychic connection. I felt that I “knew” him the second I met him. Should I just let this all go and get on with my life? I feel like my soulmate has died.
Letting go of your boyfriend and moving on certainly is an option – but you’d probably be happier if you stuck around a bit longer and tried to work things through.
This man is a bit of a commitment-phobic, but not in the way you think. He has some serious abandonment issues, and that is what is presenting now. By withdrawing, and attempting to sabotage the relationship and your plans, he is keeping himself safe – in his head. Because he also has a bit of an old-fashioned ego, he was being honest when he expressed his concerns to you – even though you don’t need him financially, he worries about what he brings to the table, and whether it’s enough to make you happy – or if you’d one day think that because of his financial situation you had made a mistake. There is a whole list of things that he thinks may eventually turn you away from him, someday. These are the things that he has been going over in his mind, rather than talking them through with you.
He is hiding behind silence right now. Your vacation plans for some reason freaked him out a bit. Even though he was becoming more reserved before your trip, this was some kind of catalyst for him.
This man loves you, but he is scared. So if you want to be with him, you’ll want to help him. He needs to work through the fears that circle in his head, so you might let him know how important he is to you. Reach out to him, and he’ll meet you halfway. This relationship does look like it’s worth fighting for, but you have to find a gentle way to throw that first punch. If you leave things in his hands, by the time he is willing to take the bigger risks you will have already moved on.
I know you’ve got your own boundaries to uphold, and I’m not suggesting that you chase him – but if you love him the way that you appear to, it might be time to talk to him. Yes, this relationship has veered off-course, but it is still possible to get things back on the right road. It is still, however, going to be a give-and-take effort for both of you. Moving in together and marriage are still very achievable goals, but it is going to take a few months of rebuilding before any plans can be made.