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New relationship with old baggage

Community Member

Hi All,

I would love to get some advice if you are happy to share.

I have been in a new relationship with a lovely man for a few months. We knew each other for some time and all of a sudden, it "clicked". We are amazing when we spend quality time together and we are both in love with each other. The problem is that he had only just finalised the separation from his wife before we clicked. He is absolutely sure it was the right thing to do and I am also not a rebound because we have spoken about that and future plans. The last month, however, he has realised that although he had lived apart from his ex-wife for a while, he hadn't yet really dealt with his baggage. Now he feels a bit worse for wear and although he knows he will need to move through and out, it's a bit hard on us. We've had to dial back a lot and are kind of taking baby steps. He is not as forthcoming with his emotional professions and needs a lot of space to deal with raw emotions. Just to clarify, he is not playing with me and slowly leaving, he's honestly struggling to deal with his baggage and his new relationship. I think the main reasons as I understand from him are feelings of failure, loss of the concept of marriage, inadequacy and guilt.

I am trying to be understanding which he is grateful for. But I find it hard because I know how great we were and how hot and cold it is at the moment whenever he goes through his ups and downs. I have no doubt he still wants a future with me but I am not sure how to cope and what to do in this situation. I asked whether we should not see each other for a while so he can work through this but he looked very sad and said he would still want to see me, he just cannot move forward very quickly right now. Although I am doing my best to cater to his needs, I have my own, too. I miss a little bit of romance and it seems like most of the effort is coming from me. He seems a little self-centred and inconsiderate right now. I don't like that and that isn't the real him. How do we best manage this time until his biggest lot of baggage has lightened a bit? I do not want to break up because everyone has baggage and I know eventually he will shed some of it. I want to wait and work with him, I am just not sure how. Should I just be patient or can I say what I need even if he is incapable of catering to a lot of it? How can we make this work in the interim so that we get out the other end together? Does anyone have good tips and advice?

Thank you in advance!

7 Replies 7

Community Member

Hi there ReeCar123,

I'm not sure I have any good advice. I am currently struggling with my relationship and came on here for support but can't help writing to you. You both seem like deserving people and I'm actually one to try and be as upfront and open as possible, which can be a detriment at times. But I figure if I'm as open as possible I'm being as close to my self as possible and the other can take or leave it. That's the hard part I guess which I'm trying to deal with right now. So if you think you have a good man there, I'd probably work at it for a while and yes be forthright. But what he needs only he can say. I know how hard it can be to figure out what I need in trying times let alone try to communicate it.

All the best.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello ReeCar, and a warm welcome to the forums.

I do understand what you are saying and how he is feeling, but perhaps a great deal has changed between your relationship compared to his previous one, remember his reaction to how he acted before is because of what was happening.

You are different, the situation has changed as has the circumstances you are both in, these thoughts he has are because of the situation before, not now, it's completely different and he can't compare you to his ex-wife, if he does then he's only creating negative thoughts and needs to block off anything that happened before, simply because they don't relate to you.

Whether he was correct or made bad decisions is not up for question, that's past history and he has to accept the past, not so much either way, but leave the shadow behind.

If he has trouble doing this, then he a psychologist would help him, he has a new love and that's with you.

Old baggage carries past emotions with somebody else and in completely different circumstances, that's why the two of you have become friends in another environment, but he shouldn't be confused with having a bad day and linking this to bad baggage.

Ask him to discuss the difference between the two of these, so he can become stronger for you.

Take care.


Community Member

Hi Just a Guy and Geoff,

thank you so much for your responses, I'm very thankful for your help. I was wondering whether I could share a bit more and see what you may think?

I spoke to my partner today and although it was a painful conversation, it was good and helpful to some degree. He told me about how he's feeling at the moment and I believe all the things he describes point at depression. I know he doesn't normally suffer from depression, so I can imagine this is only a temporary issue following his separation. He said that he currently feels "numb" and then added that it was not about me specifically but everyone and everything in his life. He said, if a cat was being murdered in the middle of the street at the moment, I would probably just walk on by. He also said that most of the time, all he wants is to isolate himself at home. He has to fly to a friends party interstate in a few weeks and although this is a great friend that means a lot to him and he loves going there normally, he said he's thinking of any reason not to go. He said, maybe, if he gets on a flight he had to get on today, he might catch Coronavirus just so that he doesn't have to go to the party and mingle with people. I am concerned that he is so down. I can understand that this might be a normal reaction to heartbreak, I mean we've all been there. But it is painful to watch and hear. He said, a few weeks ago, he was still super excited about us, feeling like a little school boy and jumping out of his skin at the thought of seeing me. Now, he said, he feels nothing at the moment and sometimes he has to force himself to meet up with me. He clarified it's not because of me but because he doesn't want to leave the house. But I think he's questioning everything, including his feelings, because he cannot make sense of how he feels and what is going on. That scares me because I'm sure his feelings are real, they just seem totally buried. He even said, he doesn't feel capable to make any decisions because he feels "clouded". He is seeing a psychologist and I am very glad. I know that he will simply need time to work through everything and I am sure he will get better. But I don't know how long it will be so intensely negative. If he is not clinically depressed but "only" due to the breakup, is it normal to last long or shorter?

Most importantly, what can I do to support him as best as possible. I want to be there for him so that he doesn't despair and that he knows he will make it out?

How can I help him feel better and get to a more positive outlook in life?

Hello ReeCar, and many thanks for getting back to us, I know that it can be difficult but pleased that your care is trying to help him.

What you have said about him making plans to go to his friends place interstate but as the time approaches, wants to find an excuse not to go, is something I can definitely relate to, if I can explain.

When I was suffering from depression, plans for future events seemed quite easy for me to agree to, but as the time drew closer, that's when I started to think of any excuse why I couldn't go, so I can understand how he is feeling.

His apprehension to see you may not be about being afraid but maybe as I've described, not that he doesn't love you, but scared about what may happen, depression did this to me and could also be happening to him.

I can't answer the question you have asked, as I'm not qualified, however, if in this situation either of you were close friends then once he has been able to overcome his ex-wife then how he feels will become better, again that's how I felt.

No one can be certain how long he'll feel like this and I really hope the psychologist will be able to do this.

Please let us know.


Community Member

Hello Geoff,

thank you so much for responding and for sharing your experiences. I hope that my partner's psychology sessions will help him get through this grief or pain he is feeling. My question regarding what I could do was more regarding what a support person could do when a partner is depressed. I have read quite a few articles and information material but I am always interested in hearing from people about what actually worked for them in any way.

Thank you again, I appreciate your help and advice so much!

Hi ReeCar123,

Apologies I didn't reply almost a month ago. I haven't been on here and things have not been all smooth sailing as is the same for us all at this time. Things are a little compounded with all that is happening.

I hope his psychology sessions are helping and you both are building your relationship.

Take care,

Just a guy