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Difficulty expressing emotion

Community Member

My partner is very affectionate &constantly needs to be reassured that I want him.

I am the opposite. Physical affection often makes me feel annoyed & smothered. I wasnt raised with much physical/verbal expression of feelings. It makes me uncomfortable &feel foolish. I often feel as though there’s a physical block inside of me that won’t let me say how I feel.

I have no trouble expressing when I feel I’ve been treated poorly. After a few bad relationships I wont let anyone push me around again. But expressing positive emotions is a struggle.

After a rocky beginning where my partner was insanely jealous& controlling, we broke up& spent 6 months apart before trying again.

He has changed in many ways to better our relationship & work past his trust issues. But often I still feel undertones of accusations.

While I want to be with him &do believe we can be good together, I have doubts that I cant shake. Every time we have a minor disagreement it turns into a major argument, ending in him questioning why Im with him. I feel attacked &get defensive. I cant reassure him. Constantly questioning why Im with him makes me feel like he’s got one foot out the door.

I like my alone time. My whole life I have felt I’ve had no privacy & never was able to truly relax. Constantly living with people has been exhausting.

During our 6month split, I managed to buy a place of my own& am loving having my own space.

Since getting back together, my partner spends every weekend at my house & sometimes stays through the week as well.

We both treat & speak about the place as if its ours. He has keys & has left belongings there. This is ultimately where I see things going but I don’t want him moving completely in just yet. He always needs company and I value my alone time. I’m not ready to give that up yet.

He takes offence to this and turns the conversation again to why Im even with him at all. We have discussed children &marriage &all sorts of things. Yet he still constantly questions if I want to be with him.

I feel things are going really well when we are co-existing peacefully. But he takes this state of casual co-existence as indifference, because Im not showering him with attention &words of love.

I do so much to look after him & include him socially &consider him in every decision I make. He should see that I am in it &I clearly care about him.

I have battled with depression &anxiety in the past. I thought I had worked through my issues. But have I? Am I in the wrong?

10 Replies 10

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Alley_Cat~

Welcome to the Forum, your situation does not sound a happy one and from what you say there does seem to be a fundamental miss-match between what you and your partner need and expect from the relationship.

It is not a fault to value your own company and a measure of solitude, in fact for many it is a very necessary part of life. It does not mean one does not need others, just there are boundaries. I can understand his moving in and treating the place as his own can seem an imposition.

Your partner does not sound the same at all. Starting out very jealous and controlling is not good. May I ask in what way he tried to control you? Even now after you reunion it sounds like the same tendencies are still there, even if to a lesser degree.

If this is a fair summation of things what do you see as the possibilities? I would be surprised if you were able to accept being permanently the one to constantly reassure. A partnership should be exactly that, with a degree of equality, each able to rely upon and trust the other.

I guess you also need to know how he feels about a possible future life where his needs are not constantly met.

Is it possible to talk over these things without it becoming an argument? Counseling together may be an option to consider, so to might his seeing if there is an underlying cause for being so unsure of the relationship, an anxiety condition perhaps?

Living where you feel your partner has 'one foot in the door' is simply going to make things worse and in that situation I'd hesitate to open up even more.


Community Member

Thanks for the reply Croix.

What I mean by controlling... he would be very suspicious every time I would use my phone. Who was I talking to, why, & wanted to see the conversations.

When I would go out with my friends he would read into every interaction &accuse me of flirting/having other intentions.
If a stranger approached me at a bar I wouldnt have time to politely decline before he was almost starting a fight.

I moved out of a sharehouse &in with relatives to save for our future house. He would be jealous of the attention I was paying them ¬ him. If I didnt answer texts quickly or calls he would accuse me of hiding something ¬ making him a priority.

He would regularly argue at events. I became so embarrased to bring him along &I began to look for ways to go without him. I didn’t want people to dislike him. &I didn’t want people to see me cry.

He has been cheated on in the past& I guess that is where this fear &jealousy has come from.

I had a previous bf that was similarly controlling &this is a sore spot for me. The thing I am on highest alert for is his weakness. He would fear& I would fight.

The last straw was him taking my phone &going through my conversations. The argument that followed &his expressions of rage towards the walls was enough to scare me off.

During our 6month separation he saw a psych &realised how his actions impacted me.
He also began going to the gym as an outlet for any anger.

He changed his behaviour in so many ways &it’s been 8 months since agreeing to try again. I admit I have tested him. Re-created situations to see his reactions.

He has shown me he has changed. I dont know if its just me being on alert that makes me sense the undertones are still there.
The jealousy seems to have been resolved. The issue now is him feeling unwanted and needing reassurance. The lack of physical intimacy effects him a lot. When I can’t answer his questions with emotional intimacy either... everything breaks down.

Just when I start to settle &trust in the future we have, a small argument turns into him asking why I want to be with him. Again I shut down. I can’t reassure him. I withdraw.

I want to try relationship counselling, but money is vey tight.

Everything above makes me seem crazy for staying.
But I can’t seem to let go. He has tried so hard to change for me. &He has proven he can change. I know he honestly cares for me deeply. I don’t know if I’ll ever find someone so dedicated and willing to change for me.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Alley_Cat~

No, I don't think you are crazy for staying, we all want the person we love to be with us, and hope in our hearts that hard problems can be resolved.

I would think for a start that your BF's improvement is something the is very good for him, irrespective of if you two remain together or not.

The types of actions he indulged in, not trusting an inch, giving way to aggression and forever seeing possibilities of faithlessness would make for a very miserable life for him as well as you and anyone else in his life. I guess there is still a gap, and if it was me I'd wonder if some future pressure might make him revert.

I guess you are in the best place to judge if he will improve to the extent that he is not making both your lives unhappy, and also if you yourself will come to find contentment with someone who needs closeness so often.

Counseling may, even though expensive, be part of the answer. It is a hopeful sign that he is able to gain benefit from therapy (and can find an outlet for that anger). Does he plan on continuing?

Maybe one thing you might asked yourself is how you would feel in a relationship if you were with someone more like yourself, able to exist and enjoy solitude?


Community Member

Dear Croix,

His counselling has stopped... as has his gym regime... life gets busy and money troubles get in the way...

I was a firm believer in “people don’t change”... until he showed me he could...

But the never ending battle is wearing me down.

I do often wonder if he will revert.
If we got married and had kids... would he know I’d be too invested to leave.. would he revert... the thought has crossed my mind.

I don’t know if I’m in the best place to judge... I don’t know if I’m blinded by the outcome I want... if I’m fooling myself.... or seeing true potential.

I don’t know if I can ever overcome my inability to express emotion and open up.
I don’t know if he can be content with a life he feels has no intimacy.

I’ve never been in a relationship with someone who enjoys solitude. Everyone I’ve ever known seems to have this desire to be around people all the time. Nobody seems to need time alone like I do.
Nobody seems to struggle with relationships like I do.

I just feel drained, sad and lost.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Alley_Cat~

I guess it is easy to loose sight of what a relationship should be, to get bogged down thinking of problems and not looking with perspective.

Frankly I've been more lucky than I deserve, however that has allowed me to take part in two long term relationships that were as things should be. Partnerships where there is fun, where one person knows the other will cherish them, be reliable and strong when needed. Someone to rely upon, not be an ongoing hassle. True there are arguments, but even they can be without a desire to hurt. And the reverse of course, a desire to make the other person's path through life as good as it possibly can be.

Yes one can be blinded by hope, though hope should always be there. Your worries over making that investment and having no easy way out are valid, I'd worry too.

Can't suggest, except to say look how you feel now, do you expect to feel better?


Community Member

Dear Croix,

I guess the problem is I do expect to feel better.... but fall apart when it doesn’t happen.

Thats the cycle I seem to be stuck in.

Always hoping and then feeing like a fool for having done so.

Don’t know how much hope I have left.

Thanks for giving me a different perspective on things.
I’ve got a lot to think about.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Alley_Cat~

I can't see a single reason why you should feel foolish, hope is part of life, as is forgiveness.

I'm not blowing my own trumpet but I try hard to give my partner a good life, and she does for me, in fact I'm basically spoiled and she says she is too.

Why do I say this? Just because I believe it takes two people trying to make a partnership work long-term. If a person is always the one who 'makes allowances' or the one ending up 'feeling guilty' or constantly 'doubting them self' then there is no balance, it's one-sided.

Some people cope with a one-sided arrangement for a long time, I suspect though it can end up with one feeling unjustified or unimportant, or angry, or all sorts of corrosive things.

If talking between you ends up as accusations, or an argument, or a feeling it is the end and one is about to leave, then maybe a third party, a councilor, may help. What do you think? I know it costs.


Community Member


My two cents: he must love you very much if he’s tried so hard to make changes.

It sounds like you both have opppsite anxieties you need to work on separately and together.

I had this same issue with my partner where I felt he wasn’t all in and wanted to spend lots of time together whereas he didn’t want me to have any expectations of him and wanted lots of his own time.

i think it can definitely work if you both are willing to compromise.

Hi Belle32

Thanks for responding. Comforting to hear someone else has experienced this struggle. I hope it worked it for you in the end

I think my willingness to compromise has been lacking a bit. I have been hurt so often and so badly in the past from compromising for people. I do have a lot to work on.

How did this situation work out for you and your partner?

What did you do to overcome this?