New here as the GF--any hope?


New Registrant
I was asked to post an introduction, so I will....
I am the GF to a survivor of both physical/emotional abuse by his mother followed by sexual abuse by a family friend. His parents didn't believe him. He was honest with me very early on (we've dated for a year) about the abuse.
At first, it only manifested about every 4 months of something triggering him followed by a couple of weeks of isolation, then we would come back and resume our unbelievably idyllic and intimate relationship.
But now, this recent trigger has changed things significantly. A silly miscommunication of when each of us expected marriage (we had discussed marriage quite a bit)--and now this "damage" seems permanent? I've read enough to know these "episodes" of shutting down, going numb, shutting me out are quite typical, ---and that in general, the intimacy of our relationship holds immensely more risk of triggering than any other relationship. I know he loves me, and he's honestly the greatest, most amazing man I've ever met,...but....with this one, hope that this relationship will last is fading quickly. It's so hard for me to wrap my head around him telling me that he already considers me his wife, then followed now by days of no contact at all. I've VERY expressly told him I'm not going anywhere and I will stand by him through this battle, but I'm assuming at this point, he will just end it. I guess my presence is just too much? He's very commited to self-improvement, although wants to battle it all isolated. Is there any hope at all?


I’m very sorry you are both in this position. As long as he is working towards healing, there is hope. However, that being said, you need to take care of yourself. You can’t force him to let you in and if he does it can be very difficult road to travel. If he let’s you support him, it is important for you to be mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually fit. I would encourage you to have your own counselor to help with this process.


Have been there many times before when one silly comment misconstrued, or one tiny miscommunication sets off a nuclear bomb. Triggers are like that unfortunately. Many times I've feared that our relationship was "ruined". But we are still standing. I don't feel comfortable issuing any predictions on your situation, but your history of working through triggers successfully as a couple, bodes well, I would think.

That said, some triggers are bigger than others and some setbacks are more damaging than others, and might take longer to overcome. It sounds like this trigger was particularly powerful and this conflict cut particularly close to the bone.
The important thing to remember is that while you (as a couple) are recovering and rebuilding from the setback, you are also moving forward in your relationship skills and wisdom, so that you will end up ahead of where you were before.
Intimate relationships like the one you describe, are a constant learning process, and as long as you are both game, every conflict is an opportunity for growth as a couple.

Marriage in particular has been a very sensitive subject for my guy. More often than not, when the "M word" comes up organically (as it does from time to time, for instance if I mention my marriage to my ex, typically followed by how I plan to never marry again), the conversation derails and somehow ends in a massive argument. It's like his ears turn off, and he simply doesn't hear what I'm saying, and instead substitutes his own baggage and negative assumptions. It used to be so bad that I feared it could be the end of our relationship. Over the years, it's gotten easier and the M-word-related misunderstandings briefer and less intense and to a point where we can recover within the same conversation, and move on.


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if I can offer anything it would be to suggest that whatever behavior you see is not a good indicator of meaning. What i mean is this... Say we akes together. we have had an intense night and things were great and all that . Seems that things are going well so you decide to make breakfast. and you make your specialty, say a particular omelette. you work quietly so you don't wake him and tip toe around so you can surprise him, and he wakes and you are anticipating this great loving response. In stead he scowls and tells you he doesn't like omelettes.
suddenly you are upset because you have worked so hard for the surprise. you may say something like " sorry I didn't know" and somehow there is this weird over the top reaction maybe something like "I wish you wouldnt try doing things like this" maybe something even more strongly worded, point is it doesn't make sense. The chances are very good that he doesn't fully understand it either. and the fact that he loves you may actually make it harder for him. when I am in that place I hate, hate,HATE what it does because it leaves me acting like a total ass and it has little if anything to do with my wife... and many times I cannot put a finger on a particular trigger. I know i love her I know she has gone out of her way and as soon as I can get out of those feelings I will try to make it right.
In my example I think about the possibilities and there are so many. perhaps the abuse happened while staying the night so the perp made breakfast... perhaps the smell of the eggs is triggering , perhaps he made an omelette? perhaps just the Kindness that i feel is not deserved or I am not worthy of such a wonderful woman. it may be triggering just as a picture in my mind of THAT morning. or depending on who the abuser was... it might be a perfume, it may be shame for having had sex or any particular thing that took place, it might be the morning clothes that you are wearing. maybe a picture on the wall... the prospects are nearly limitless. but here is the twist of the knife... there is a good chance that I DONT KNOW what the problem is specially early on in the healing process
so in the example it comes out as I HATE OMELETTES, when that may or may not be true. it might happen " you always make omelettes" certainly not true. or it just may show by him being distant and not wanting to talk. so many times we have had arguments about food or a gift that she bought me. being willing to talk through the experience with him having a voice is so helpful in time. go to a place that has been safe and perhaps say " i have been trying to figure out the argument this morning I don't know why it happened in time maybe he can share more and maybe you can figure it out together.
This is not a short trip or an easy one but you can make it if you want it... Oh BTW I expect that he is not trying to leave you. perhaps he feels you are better off without him, perhaps he thinks he doesn't deserve you , perhaps you feel like risk, maybe afraid of the marriage and hurting you, perhaps the abuser was married, perhaps he is afraid of the vampire thing ( abusers always abuse) not true btw... my point is it is very possible that he is " SAVING" you from himself... this stain he does not want to see cover you as well.
All these thoughts are just that of course. but I needed to try. so many times I still find myself in that place doing things I don't understand with motivations that make no sense. I hope you guys can find your way through


@newground your post was so helpful. The omelette example encapsulates many experiences my guy and I have had, particularly following nights of intimacy or especially close bonding...suddenly his reaction is hostile or seemingly completely out of the blue. I wrack my brain trying to figure out what went sideways, and he doesn't seem to know himself. Your examples of the many possible things that could be triggering you, I think would resonate with him also. There are many possible triggers - impossible to predict or identify or verbalize them at the moment it's happening. Instead he will lash out as a "quick fix" to create distance/safety. It is him trying to protect himself I think. As you say...sometimes a few hours (or days) later, with a little space and groundedness, we are able to discuss what happened and figure out the root of it.