Communication is a big problem

WhiteRose

Registrant
**Possible triggers**

Hi. This might be easier if i just explain everything, and then anyone who can offer any advice, i'd really appreciate it.

My boyfriend and I met about three and a half months ago. We quickly hit it off, chatting in a pub. He told me a bit about his past and it was clear that there was a lot of trauma; he's a military vet and has seen active combat, following which he was married to a woman who was physically and emotionally abusive toward him. He lost his son in the divorce as his ex threatened to accuse him of molesting their son if he tried to argue for custody (he had been the main carer up until that point, as she has an alcohol addiction). That was about 13 years ago.

So mostly I spent the first weekend just listening to him and allowing him to talk. In the last year he's lost all his income because of the covid lockdown and has been quite depressed, suicidal at times. He drinks more than he should, although only when out in town - he goes days in between without drinking (although his mood suffers for it).

His mother also lost her income and apartment this year, and demanded to move in with him, so when we started seeing each other, as i work from home, i offered him to come and use my apartment to get away from her any time he wanted. He basically moved in a few days later (although he still won't get a key cut, lol).

Oddly enough - and believe me, it sounds unlikely even to me - in these three months we've very much fallen in love. He's clever and funny, he loves to cook, we love all the same things and have great conversations about politics, films, books, music, we both love to go hiking so we've been doing that on the weekends - all that sort of stuff. In many ways it's a totally normal, very enjoyable relationship and both of us feel like this is 'the one'. We want it to last.

But underneath all that, there are issues.

Since I've known him he's always talked very badly about his mother. I figured that she was emotionally abusive, and that that was the root of a lot of his lack of self esteem. But last week we were with some friends, out for a drink and he said something like 'you don't know what a b*** my mother is.' I said "what do you mean?" and he said "she sold me to my uncle for him to rape me, in return for use of his convertible car." I was so shocked i could only say "Oh my God." Then he added: "That's not the worst thing" and without thinking i interjected "I don't want to know." We haven't spoken about it since.

Money is a big issue: i'm earning very little - just enough to get by on when it was just me, not going out or doing anything - and he earns none. I can see that this is denting his pride, but he can't seem to get himself together enough to do something about it. I'm starting to slide into my overdraft paying for food for both of us. When i've tried to bring it up he promises he'll do something to earn some money, but the next day goes straight back to watching films on his laptop all day, leaving me feeling like i have to deal with the problem all by myself, which is starting to make me resentful and feeling somewhat abandoned. I don't know what to do about that.

And the other issue is intimacy. He told me very early on that he has a problem with impotency, but that he has some pills which can overcome that problem. They're sitting on our kitchen counter. I few times i've suggested we could use them but he's demurred, saying he wants it to be special, not just any night. Realising that full sex might be too challenging i've suggested a few times that we could try something else, just being intimate without an expectation of sex, but he seems to have it in his mind that it has to be sex or nothing - and as he's frightened that he won't be able to perform, it always ends up being nothing. Also, i suspect it runs deeper than that as he seems to find even kissing problematic, pulling away after a few seconds at most.

I'm more than willing to work with him on all of these things - to take it slowly in the bedroom, to help him in any way i can to earn some money, to talk to him about his past, but he shrugs me off and says he doesn't want to talk about it. If I ask him if he's ok he shrugs, but won't say any more. I understand these things take time, but because he's closed down, i've started finding myself keeping secrets from him, doing little things behind his back which i feel i have to hide, like posting on this forum for example.

Guys, talk to me about the communication thing. Will he open up in time if i'm patient enough? Should i encourage him to talk to me or just leave him alone until he's ready? Partners, how do you deal with the distance without feeling like the relationship is suffering for it? I know it's early days, i just want to start out on the right track rather than letting problems develop and having to sort them out down the road.
 

WhiteRose

Registrant
I'm not trying to save him. I know he needs to do the work. But he also needs to be loved and supported - plus we actually have a very nice relationship overall. He's just used to relationships in which conflict and abuse is the norm.
So I guess what I'm asking is: how can I show him that it doesn't have to be?
 
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Healing light

Registrant
I'm not trying to save him. I know he needs to do the work. But he also needs to be. Loved and supported - plus we actually have a very nice relationship overall. He's just used to relationships in which conflict and abuse is the norm.
So I guess what I'm asking is: how can I show him that it doesn't have to be?

I'm going to share some things I hope will help
Myself and my partner weren't together very long before I disclosed 7 years ago she was the first person I told
But then I totally shut down , I didn't think I deserved what she was offering in the relationship , I couldn't work , I drank to much , I couldn't verbalise how I was feeling or what was inside my head. I hated saying repeatedly I have had a bad day. Intimacy was barely existent

We had a baby born last year , I have had no relapses with the alcohol since before the birth of our baby. We've both had therapy and accessed support and I definitely think when the other friends and family come on and see your post they will be able to identify with what you are facing and be supportive too

I continue to have therapy and access support , take my meds it's all part of our agreement to stay together as a family and I really think that partners have to protect themselves emotionally and financially they have to consider themselves too

The ripples of abuse are many sadly

I wish you and the survivor you are with all the best

Peace
HL
 

WhiteRose

Registrant
But then I totally shut down , I didn't think I deserved what she was offering in the relationship , I couldn't work , I drank to much , I couldn't verbalise how I was feeling or what was inside my head. I hated saying repeatedly I have had a bad day. Intimacy was barely existent

Ah ha, so this feels very similar. May I ask, what was it that shifted you from this state toward being able to access support and healing? Did your partner do or say anything that tipped the balance, or was it just patience and building trust?

Congratulations on your baby, by the way. I'm so pleased that you have been able to make this journey.
 

Healing light

Registrant
Ah ha, so this feels very similar. May I ask, what was it that shifted you from this state toward being able to access support and healing? Did your partner do or say anything that tipped the balance, or was it just patience and building trust?

Congratulations on your baby, by the way. I'm so pleased that you have been able to make this journey.

I think patience and trust is really important along with boundaries
to begin with my partner let alot go I was having a hard time she didn't want to heap pressure on BUT it was hard on her too , and boundaries really helped both of us I knew exactly where I stood I felt secure because of that.
I feared rejection alot because that is what I had experienced the rejection of my emotions when I was abused

I was abused by family members also there is lots of similarity s . Which is sadly offen the case here were not alone by far sadly.

I had little idea how to be properly intimate I actually didn't really understand what she needed it took some time for me to explain this and for her to see how much I didn't get it. The intimacy in sharing hopes and dreams , fears and such like or just laying together and sex being one strand of intimacy amongst so so many others
When I was touched as a child it led to things I had to unwire that part of my brain

I put my all in therapy when I realised that I wasn't a lost cause , Recovery can happen and I read some recovery stories
Joining Malesurvivor helped me alot

I kept my abuse secret a long time Sometimes in the early days I easily reverted back to it being secret again because then I could detach and not have to face it and what it had done to me and how I felt about myself
Same as alcohol I actually used to say I'm going out to forget my own name I didn't want to remember , think , or feel

Whilst you can support and be there to what ever your boundaries are . And also find support for yourself like here at ms. That in its self helps tons you can't do more than that
But he can , there is recovery I think for everyone. Reaching out is the hardest bit though says the person who said when told about Malesurvivor " I don't do groups I'm not joining no group " :cool:

Thanks very much , certainly been keeping me busy and out of any mischief :D

HL
 

WhiteRose

Registrant
I think patience and trust is really important along with boundaries
to begin with my partner let alot go I was having a hard time she didn't want to heap pressure on BUT it was hard on her too , and boundaries really helped both of us I knew exactly where I stood I felt secure because of that.

Thank you so much for this, this is amazingly helpful. I can see a lot of similarities here between what you're saying and what he tells me when he does open up a little.

It's really useful to know that boundaries made you feel secure. Do you remember what sort of boundaries they were, and how you figured them out? Was it through therapy? Did she eventually just say "this is what i need"? I ask because I feel the same way she did - I don't want to be nagging him or putting pressure on him because he already feels like a failure and i don't want to make him feel worse, but at the same time, I really can't take the whole responsibility for things like the money situation because I'm ending up over stressed and short on sleep. Plus i know that he does worry about it too, so it seems pointless us both worrying seperately and not sharing our concerns. I just don't know how to approach him so that he knows i'm not blaming him or forcing him to do something he's not comfortable with, i just need support too.


I feared rejection alot because that is what I had experienced the rejection of my emotions when I was abused.

That makes a lot of sense, thank you. I'll try to remember to make sure to validate his feelings. Is there anything else that helped you with this?


I kept my abuse secret a long time Sometimes in the early days I easily reverted back to it being secret again because then I could detach and not have to face it and what it had done to me and how I felt about myself
Same as alcohol I actually used to say I'm going out to forget my own name I didn't want to remember , think , or feel

That sounds so familiar, sadly. I'm sorry for what you went through, and for all the others on this forum and out there in the world who have to deal with this sort of thing :(


Thanks very much , certainly been keeping me busy and out of any mischief :D

Thank you so much. I can't tell you how amazingly helpful you have been!
 

Healing light

Registrant
Thank you so much for this, this is amazingly helpful. I can see a lot of similarities here between what you're saying and what he tells me when he does open up a little.

It's really useful to know that boundaries made you feel secure. Do you remember what sort of boundaries they were, and how you figured them out? Was it through therapy? Did she eventually just say "this is what i need"? I ask because I feel the same way she did - I don't want to be nagging him or putting pressure on him because he already feels like a failure and i don't want to make him feel worse, but at the same time, I really can't take the whole responsibility for things like the money situation because I'm ending up over stressed and short on sleep. Plus i know that he does worry about it too, so it seems pointless us both worrying seperately and not sharing our concerns. I just don't know how to approach him so that he knows i'm not blaming him or forcing him to do something he's not comfortable with, i just need support too.




That makes a lot of sense, thank you. I'll try to remember to make sure to validate his feelings. Is there anything else that helped you with this?




That sounds so familiar, sadly. I'm sorry for what you went through, and for all the others on this forum and out there in the world who have to deal with this sort of thing :(




Thank you so much. I can't tell you how amazingly helpful you have been!

Eventually for her sanity and wellbeing she said this is what is what for me.
the most difficult thing for her was my drinking , being a binge drinker I'd be delivered home in the early hours in some states that she'd have to deal with , the one springing to mind is the time I arrived home with one shoe and no shirt couldn't even say the word whiskey . so the first boundaries were alcohol related in by 1am or stay out till morning so she could at least sleep properly so me being me I missed the 1am more than a few times it gave room for soul searching you know where do I want to wake up , it's my choice. Sleep isn't a choice though it's something she has to do

It's a bit like providing for yourself as an adult that's something we have to do for ourselves so we can eat . Finances can cause a huge amount of stress. I'm sure you're right your probably both Stressed about it. I put pressure on myself to go work an average 50/60 HR week like every other "man"
As much as he has alot going on sitting down and looking at what's coming in and going out regular is important understanding that , that needs to balance for everyone's sanity is important and seeing just what is needed and maybe that's not a 60 HR week right now but a couple of days work or maybe he is entitled to some government support in your country and can apply for that. Maybe taking the approach of , looking over bills together to see if you're on the cheapest tariff , working out how much you actually need to live it gives room to discuss concerns and do you think we have the cheapest internet or phone tariff isn't like saying you must get a job

I think that the fact she reassured me I was believed helped. Alot.

Wishing you both all the best in your healing journey together

HL
 

karin4him

Registrant
I’m very sorry you are going through this. I hate to be a wet blanket but hopefully you can get something out of my story, maybe what not to do.
My H of 30+ years, self medicated with alcohol, then when he got sober he moved to gay erotica and porn. I’ve tried to be supportive and I will honestly admit I don’t have the first clue about setting boundaries or holding onto them. Our life is similar in that even kissing is problematic for him, so we are basically living together as great friends. Ive suggested therapy, but he has never done the work, telling me he’s afraid. So here I am at 56, addicted to him and paralyzed with anxiety.
 

WhiteRose

Registrant
Hiya Karin,

So sorry to hear about your experience. Yeah, I think that stagnation is definitely something I'm keen to avoid. He's had that sort of relationship before with his second wife, they were great friends but no more than that. Eventually they decided they wanted different things - she wanted to move back to the city they'd met in and he didn't, so they split pretty amicably. But I think that experience made him aware that just being good friends isn't really enough.

Actually, what HL said above really helped. We did sit down and I explained that I didn't want to feel like I had to carry the responsibility of everything for both of us, and he said he'd been feeling the same way but didn't know what to do about it. I can't say it resolved anything exactly, because it's a work in progress, but it did at least start that conversation.

So we'll see. I think the hardest thing to figure out is when to give him space to figure himself out, and when to ask him to step up. That's pretty tricky.
 
... I’ve tried to be supportive and I will honestly admit I don’t have the first clue about setting boundaries or holding onto them. Our life is similar in that even kissing is problematic for him, so we are basically living together as great friends. Ive suggested therapy, but he has never done the work, telling me he’s afraid. So here I am at 56, addicted to him and paralyzed with anxiety.
You deserve more @WhiteRose and @karin4him for yourself and I think you deserve more from him, and I say that knowing there are many factors that lead to a survivor breaking free of the gravity of living with effects from the abuse. Your continued support but with clear firm expectations and boundaries will help him get unstuck.
 
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