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Partner pushing me away - left out of Xmas plans
A first time post on here. My partner of just over a year has depression and anxiety. He masks it well and I am the only one who would know. He’s known as a funny, social guy and we have many mutual friends. We met through our outdoor interests and were friends before we dated. We are very compatible, have easy conversations for hours on end, and enjoy being together when he’s feeling “all in” and positive.
During our time together we have been in a cycle of on/off driven by him. I’ve been all “in” from the start. I have a few family members who have/had severe depression so I have empathy and patience. They have turned corners due to loving partners.
I have had a rough patch in the past few years - divorce, moving house, death of my mum, two controlling narcissist relationships. I’ve been able to cope by seeing a psychologist and with help from family and friends. My family live 6 hours away and are busy, so mostly friends are my immediate support.
Back to my partner - I assumed I would be spending Xmas lunch with him and his family, as I did last year, when he didn’t have his daughter. However this year he has his daughter and I’m not invited as he doesn’t feel comfortable with me being there. Also his ex-partner will be picking her up and doesn’t want us to meet as it would be “messy”. Are my expectations too high after one year of dating? I am now spending Xmas alone, just my kids in the morning and evening, as is assumed I’d be going to his family lunch. This makes me feel incredibly sad. Xmas is a horrible time for me as it is with loss of family/spouse.
We live within 7 mins of each other but with the juggle of kids and shared care, plus my work, we see each other for perhaps a total of 24 hours one week, maybe 12 the next. He is depressed but seems to use this as a reason to not see each other more. He hasn’t been working for over a year and want to establish his own online business. But his procrastination and self-doubt are holding him back.
He has told me numerous times he’s not sure about out relationship and me. He says he cycles between seeing a clear future one minute then feeling anxious that I’m not “the one”.
Last night he told me he’s still not sure and I should make a decision. When my mum died a man gave up on me and has regret. Do I give up on him or remain patient? I love him very much and know we are highly compatible. I see us being old together. He does too, but at the moment can’t see past tomorrow as his life is uncertain.
Christmas can be a real tough time for many people and divorced parents with children especially. Please accept my sympathy for your plight. You sound like an incredibly patient person and in my opinion he is lucky to have you.
I believe it is unreasonable not to invite you to Christmas lunch because his daughter will be there. If you had known each other for three weeks, that would be different but after 1 year you should be treated with more respect. I also have no patience with the excuse that his ex wife may turn up and bump into you.
The sentences that jumped out to me was "He says he cycles between seeing a clear future one minute then feeling anxious that I’m not “the one”. Last night he told me he’s still not sure and I should make a decision.
That sort of talk raises real red flags with me. It could be he wants to end things but he doesn't want to be the one to make the call, he wants you to make that decision. If you hadn't painted such a rosy picture of your compatibility in the beginning of your letter, I would be advising you to move onwards. and outwards.
As it is, it's probably worth being a little more patient. I believe when Christmas is over and you can find a quiet time to have a chat with him, you should clearly explain your expectations. If he wavers or can't commit to offering you the sort of relationship you seek, I advise you to end it.
In the meantime, try and remember that the many readers of these posts will be thinking of you on Christmas Day. We all know what it means to be truly lonely. Good luck.
I can imagine this situation must be incredibly hurtful for you, being committed to someone who you are compatible with and ‘all in’ and wanting the same in return. It would have been nice if he made you a priority, particularly at Christmas, and said that you would both be spending the day together. Since his ex will only be dropping his daughter off, I don’t really see why it would be messy and also you have to meet some time. That being said, it does sound promising that last year you spent it with his family? So maybe he is just being somewhat overprotective of who his daughter meets and doesn’t want the angst of what his ex will be like. Does the ex sound like a nightmare or are they on fairly amicable terms? Some people tend to get in these holding patterns, where they are not entirely sure if the other person is the one, or whether things will work out. But I don’t think that it’s fair that they expect people to stick around for years while they make up their mind. In this instance maybe he needs a little bit of time, but if it continues on this trajectory for much longer, I’d probably be having a conversation with him. You could even have a conversation with him about how this made you feel and he may elaborate a bit on why he doesn’t want to spend Christmas together this year.
Thank you for your replies. I really appreciate your viewpoints. Maybe I feel like I’m over reacting. I feel like I keep making excuses for his unstable behaviour and know deep down there’s a real imbalance in our relationship. It’s an Anxious/Avoidant situation. His past relationships and disconnected childhood (he’s adopted plus struggled at boarding school) reinforce this. I went to boarding school too and my parents weren’t very affectionate. That explains my anxious attachment.
He gets on well with his ex but I can’t help but wonder whether his lack of commitment means he doesn’t want us to meet. He was “all in” with his last, much younger (gorgeous) partner but she ended it. She wasn’t sure she wanted to be with him! He says he’s now very wary in love. At the beginning he was amazing and very loving. No sign of depression. I was wary but then fell hard for him.
I’ve been stung by two narcissists so he’s been easy compared to them. He’s always kind and can be very loving. But disappears. Sporadic messages. Doesn’t like phone calls. Limited dates/catchups. The anxious part of me sees this as a sign he’s about to end it, as this is how we came to break up at least three times in the past.
I understand the pressure of Xmas - family, affording presents. Perhaps this isn’t the ideal time to talk and make big decisions. But I have messaged him today to say how upset I am about Xmas and to tell me he’s either in or out. That I’m getting worn down by it all. We spoke about most of these things last night for two hours. He knows his I feel and that I don’t like being in limbo. It kills me!
By the way, his family are distant relatives; his parents passed away. My family is very disjointed and not particularly “warm”.
Betternow is so right. I lived with a partner that was great for ten years, then it started a down hill spiral that was incredibly destructive over the next15 years. She has been saying to me "I just can't see a future with you in it", and goes on holiday without me, takes our children places without me, refuses to show me any emotion or provide support, then isolates me to the point of sheer insanity. It is all a control mechanism. It is power tripping to the max. Read Betternow's message, then read it again.
I wish you the very best, I will be thinking of you on Christmas Day, as my X-partner (I have left) has denied my request to have Christmas with my own offspring- they are grown up. I will pop a party popper for you too, but I get the prize!