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OT: Week Two Begins

futurobrillante99's picture

These blogs are purely selfish and I'm using them to try to grow as a supportive partner and to process my complex emotions that stem from my fear of abandoment and anxious attachment style while my SO is away for a month. Thankfully, I also have weekly appointments with my therapist and we met today. It is helping. woosah

In addition to working through this new territory, I also wouldn't mind tips from people who are in relationships where one or both partners spend chunks of time apart for hobbies or special interests. Particularly if you have an anxious attachment style like I do. How do you stay grounded and/or connected when communication is limited or not possible?

I've been thinking back to life before technology. Throughout time, there were people who tended to stay put and maybe never left their county or country, let alone their own town their whole entire lives. Then there were the adventurers, the explorers and those who had to seek their fortunes far from their families.

My lot is much easier because technology exists so that people can stay connected while apart. I have made sure my SO knows that my expectations are not high while he's off on his adventure and may be out of cell phone or wifi range, but it hurts when I can see he's active on social media, even if it's just briefly, but a text I've sent goes without a response overnight or for hours. It would be really nice to keep that loving connection going until it's not possible which is most likely during his event.

I get that he gets very focused - myopic. I know the event is a difficult one. But I am doing my level best to stay chill and accept that there are about 3 weeks left before I'll see him and communication will be slim either because he's uber focused or cannot contact me. I just wish he would remember that this is hard for me even if I'm not telling him I miss him or blubbing on the phone or signaling my struggle, somehow.

The one fear I have that I'm trying to shake is that he'll tell me he wants to REALLY take his time coming back from Colorado and won't be back for the 4th of July weekend. I don't want to be, but I will be deeply disappointed and hurt. I've made sure I'm busy or occupied all the other weeks he's away, but that's a 3 day weekend and it would mean a LOT to me if he would promise me he'll be back and settled before the weekend.

I won't ask because he bristles at the idea of having constraints put on his travel. This trip started out as being a 2-3 week trip, then became nearly a month due to needing to acclimate to the altitude - fine, cool. So I figured let's round it up to a month so I can get an idea of the MAX time apart and prepare myself. But, I would really like him to commit to being gone no longer than a month, THIS TIME. If he wants more time away at a future date, I'd be up for the challenge, but it HELPS me if he can give a "drop dead" date to be home. More time could be negotiated for something really fabulous that comes up, of course. But I am most comfortable with a loose timeframe and something I can count on to ease my anxiety.

I don't know what it is, but this stubbornness about not wanting to give a timeframe really pokes my anxiety. Personally, I will give people an itinerary. I usually follow it to the letter, BUT I do reserve the right to adjust my timeframes and where I'm staying. However, it's a basic framework. I wish he was less resistant to agreeing to an endpoint. Even if it was longer than I'd like, I'd like to be able to have some trust that we are only going to be apart without a surprise extension.

Let me clarify. I'm not saying he WILL extend. I'm saying I am afraid he will because he is resistant to agreeing to a drop-dead return date. In the past, he's come back early or roughly on time.

Relationships are about compromise. I'm doing my best to be a supportive, loving, non-grasping, non-weeping and non-depressed partner while he's off doing exciting things, but I need him to do his best to understand that this "muscle" will take time to develop and he can help it develop by showing me I can rely on him to be sensitive to my need for him to return "no later than" a certain date - the open-ended stuff is unsettling to me.

I'll say it. I miss him terribly. I miss going to sleep and waking up beside him. I've only cried once, so far, and I managed to put things in perspective fairly quickly.

If I could wave a magic wand, I'd change my attachment style and this would be much easier for me. It's not an attachment style I would choose for anyone!!

Thanks for reading if you've taken the time.

On a side note, I did text his daughter (first text ever) to let her know when I'd be at the mountain house and when I wouldn't in case she either wanted to join me and my visitors or have the place to herself. The text was just a statement, but I never got a response. I am not taking it personally only because it was a statement. Besides that, her father has a habit of not responding to statements by text, so she may have picked that up from him. Who knows.

The polite thing to do is say, "Thanks!" But I'm not going to overthink it or take it personally.

 

Comments

advice.only2's picture

Would texting him letting him know you have made plans for the 4th of July weekend and asking if he will be home to join you work? Maybe that will help him make the choice? I hope it goes quickly for you. As for the text, it would have been nice if she had responded with something just to acknowledge she received it, but common courtesy is isn't always that common now a days.

futurobrillante99's picture

I've mentioned that weekend at least twice now. Got a little grill and said what I'd like to cook for us. Neither mention recieved a response that indicated he would be home for sure. Doesn't mean he won't but I've noticed that he'll remain silent sometimes if he doesn't want to do something or hasn't made up his mind, 

If I outright ask, I don't want to get into a discussion about his need to be flexible. 
 

That's where the stubbornness comes in. Even if he was going to be home in plenty of time, he bristles at being "on the record" saying he is.

In this, we are somewhat alike. He acts like it will set a precedent to constrain him and I fear the open-ended ness will set a precedent that he feels comfortable being away much longer than I might be comfortable with. 

Tried out's picture

better in a relationship with someone who's a homebody like me, in part because I need the security that this is where he truly wants to be. It must be difficult to be with someone who needs to be away, separately, for long periods of time. But I can see that this could be a growing experience for people like you and me. 

futurobrillante99's picture

He actually is a homebody, too. He LOVES this mountain house and I'm sure he'll be pining for lazy days at home soon after his bike event. 
 

He has traveled solo in the 2 years we've been together a handful of times and it's been a couple days to a week or so. He had several trips planned for Europe last year that we're botched due to Covid. In all those cases, he would have been gone for 2-3 weeks and we lived a mile apart in the same town. Now I already see him less because he lives 2.5 hours away, so it complicates things. I've been at his house since Friday and it helps me to feel closer to him. I'll be back next week with my sons for the weekend and I'm staying busy with our cycling group up here. It all makes the time fly by.
 

I don't really think he's going to repeat this month long thing very often, but it would be easier to be apart from him for a stretch if we did live together full time and my life was up here with him instead of split between 2 places. 

futurobrillante99's picture

My only plans for that weekend involve seeing him after a month apart.

I think my ability to be comfortable being apart for 2-6 weeks is like a litmus test for him to be sure we're really compatible. 
 

If it's a test, I need to be sure there isn't a pop quiz with new material (extended trip) when I've just passed the test. 

CLove's picture

3 day weekends and especially 4th of July are big deals where I come from. Especialy since he will be gone a significant amount of time prior. I would definitely ask if you should make other plans. He "bristles"? Oh Well! 

You are giving him a looooooooooong time away without having to have contact, I think he can at least give you a little bit of piece of mind...

I think that his daughter is old enough to have the manners to text you back a "thanks for the heads up"...IMO.

futurobrillante99's picture

My own kids ignore me sometimes, so millennials, maybe? I didn't really need a response - just to let her know my plans if she wanted to use the house.

futurobrillante99's picture

Amen!!

For us working stiffs, a 3 day holiday weekend is a big deal. It's not like a typical weekend where friends might be available. For working people, a 3-day holiday weekend usually involves plans with family and friends. I know all my friends have their plans set and my plan is to see my partner after a month. If it were a run of the mill weekend, I might be able to make backup plans. At this late stage, everyone else has plans and it would not be nice to be alone or scrounging for something to do.

I guess, for retired people, all the days run together and you're not even sure when the weekend is! LOL

But that level of freedom and flexibility means that my SO doesn't really need to dawdle in coming back because he has the freedom to go on another trip any time he wants to.

CLove's picture

LOL. Yes. Retired folks have a whole different lifestyle/rhythm. I have a few friends that are retired and its one very long never ending vacation.

My days off are precious. IM certain that he will come running back to see you!

Stepdrama2020's picture

First I agree with Clove. His DD is old enough to have manners, but it seems your anxiety is because of SO and being away for so long.

I have never been with the type of person he is. Not saying whether thats good or bad. I would be put off by his not wanting to give a time frame. Some people are ok with that, I wouldnt be and you arent either. BUT you are trying.

If he knows what makes you anxious he most certainly should be sqwashing your fears good partners do that. Again I aint saying he isnt good this is just IMHO.

Hope he returns for the fourth weekend. Stand strong.

futurobrillante99's picture

I hope he returns, too. Thank you. 
 

You're right that it's not about being bad or good but whether our relationship needs are compatible.

Im a very tactile person. I CAN be away from a partner but I would prefer the time was no more than a week or two. I don't want to be joined at the hip but I like to be in the same orbit more than not. Not doing everything together but seeing each other almost daily and sharing the day to day load.

Right now, I want to give him space to focus on his big event. He doesn't need to feel bad that I'm missing him. I can suck it up, but really don't want to go any longer than a month. 
 

((hugs))

secret's picture

I hear you.. I'm in a situation right now where the next drop dead date I get to see my honey is 85 days from now.  Ive just been able to spend 10 days with him...24h a day. I left where he is to come back home on Sunday... and so Monday and Tuesday I was missing him so much more and felt I needed extra phone time with texts and video calls, whereas he felt like he didn't since we'd just spent so much time together.

When I told him about it, he told me he understood that I needed that extra... except that when I'd ask for sappy crap..he said it made him feel like he'd have to force it, and found himself not responding as quickly or with as much lovey-dovey-ness.

Being apart is hard.

I did tell him I'm just missing him extra because I can't sit next to him or reach out and touch him or get a hug... he said he feels the same but also felt obligated to respond how I wanted him to without giving a chance to do it... since I'd question it.. like I saw you logged into the game we play together.. but you couldn't say good Morning?

Little crap like that can hurt.. and I told him that. His response was that sometimes he just needs to chill a little while thinking about what he's going to send me... but now that I've called him on it.. a response in the way I wanted wouldn't be organic, it would be obligatory...

So I stopped calling him out on it.. and he makes an extra effort to send me longer sweet texts or recorded video messages.

It's possible he may be able to travel to come home for a week before I go back to see him in September.. but it's not set in stone, and it sucks.

futurobrillante99's picture

Being apart is hard and it's tough when your SO seems fine with it. He seems able to compartmentalize. I suck at that. Besides, it's different when you're the person ON the adventure and not the person doing the usual grind....but alone. yes, I have friends and plenty of things to do. But on a regular basis I can still do those things and come home to my partner.

He has my full support. I won't make this trip difficult for him nor do I plan to ever try to limit him. I'm just hoping that he's sensitive to my feelings and understands that this is something I have to adjust to and will get better at each time. 
 

I hope you get to see your honey sooner rather than later

secret's picture

Yeah I've come to understand that his pulling back isn't that he's fine with it... it's just that it's easier for him to switch his mind to something else.. like gaming..or a show or something...and he can focus his attention on whatever he's doing, while for me.. I can do other things... but my focus is on missing him.

It's mental and emotional for us... not so much for them. Lack of communication cam be a bitch on our thought process... but for them... it doesn't mean the same thing. It's like they can pick up where they left off, while we go down this mindfuck rabbit hole of insecurity at not having heard from them for a couple hours... Lol

I'm lucky in that he can be extremely expressive about his feelings...and is always communicating openly and honestly... he just doesn't want to do it on demand. Lol

I hope it works out for you

futurobrillante99's picture

You understand!! "Mindfuck rabbit hole of insecurity"!!! 

I love it. Lololol

 

caninelover's picture

When SO and I first moved in together, he was working on a project that required international travel for 4 weeks at a time.  We were in a committed relationship at that point but I always felt the pain of seperation most when he was leaving and for the first few days after.  Then I would get into a focused routine and be alright with it.  We would text through the week (due to the time difference calls weren't really practical) but did make time for a video call on the weekends to catch up.  I would start feeling anxious for his return a few days before - but he always had a set timeline, not a flexible one like your situation.

As I am planning an early retirement in the next year or so, I can understand your SO's perspective in not wanting constraints.  Most people, after a lifetime of constraints driven by work, enjoy the freedom of having unlimited time to pursue activities.  I know I certiainly will and I do intend to indulge in some open-ended travel when I retire, and that maybe without SO as he may still be working.  

That being said, being in a committted relationship means you do make compromises for your partner's happiness as well.  I don't think its a lot to ask for him to commit to being back by the July 4th holiday - I think he's being selfish by wanting to keep his options open and it isn't fair to you since its causing you alot of anxiety.

It seems like his attachment style is more aviodant which is likely a lot of the problem as well.

Yes, his daughter should have acknowledged your text with a simple thanks or ok - that doesn't require a lot of effort LOL.

futurobrillante99's picture

It's funny because I think he also has an anxious attachment style. He just has the super power of being able to compartmentalize.

i'm a very interactive person. He can usually rely on me to be fairly available by text and phone. He, on the other hand, can get deeply engrossed in things and it's not always a very responsive communicator.

where he is like me, is that when he's ready to engage, if I am not responsive, he becomes anxious.

also, the first year we were together, if there was any conflict, he was sure I was about to break up with him. I can't tell you how many conversations were I was just voicing how I felt or something that hurt my feelings, he was sure that the relationship was over. It was the strangest thing. I think it turns out that he's very uncomfortable with conflict and didn't have much experience with conflict resolution. He is definitely conflict avoidant.  But his skills in that department have improved greatly.

 

futurobrillante99's picture

And I have to tell you, that it would almost be better if we couldn't communicate at all. If I knew we couldn't interact at all. Then I could become hyper focused on things I'm doing. What gets to me is when he is able to communicate but chooses not to for whatever reason.

caninelover's picture

He's avoiding connecting with you because he fears it may upset you more than calm you?  Just thinking as to why he wouldn't just check in when he did have some connectivity...

futurobrillante99's picture

I don't think that's it, actually. I have lived up to my end of the bargain and I've been nothing but happy and upbeat, and I've told him that he's made the first week easier by calling me unprompted and staying in touch by text, letting me know he's arrived at his destinations during his road trip.

He did that for me on the first three nights. Then the 4th night, after texting in the AM, he CHOSE not to touch base with me to let me know he'd arrived, and it was a short day of driving.

Since then, he's shifted his focus. He and his friend have to check their equipment, pack and drive to the event. He also has to get out for some training at altitude. I know how he gets when he's got something big looming. All I'm saying is if you have a few minutes for Facebook, you have a time to respond to a text. And you have to wonder why someone wouldn't just respond or make time to call the person they love. If I only had 5 minutes, I'd call and say, "Hey babe. I only have 5 minutes, but wanted to hear your voice......" and then I'd say I had to go after 5 minutes.

bananaseedo's picture

I think this is just your issue to work on, I don't think he's doing anything wrong.  Some people take longer to respond.  As you said, he gets in his groove, he DID compromise it seems by connecting with you several days in a row....I wouldn't press the return date idea personally.  Yes, he's retired, yes I'd tell someone to fly a kite if they wanted me to put a deadline on something when I'm finally enjoying my life.  He'll call/text when he wants to is the bottom line.  You'll just have to process (or vent here) to work through it just like you are doing futuro....which is fantastic to have this outlet!  

 It's tough- maybe this is your test too, to not insist on a return date (relinquishing control) -and his to be responsive w/out your prompting.  It's always a growth/learning curve in life.  I sure hope you get to do fun things while he's away!

futurobrillante99's picture

You're right about the anxiety being my issue and I fully own that.

I won't be making demands or insisting that he return at a certain time. At an appropriate time, I may let him know that it would be very helpful to me if for this trip he did not extend it any longer than a month.

it's a holiday weekend and everyone I know already has plans. I have an extra day off work. We will have been apart for a month. I don't live with him full-time. So I will need to plan, pack and travel to see him. In this specific case, I believe it is reasonable to want my retired partner who can travel anytime he wants to, to come home after being away for a month. And I don't feel bad about that. We all have our tolerances for separation from our partners. I can learn to stretch my tolerances, but he also needs to be patient. 

Livingoutloud's picture

My DH has anxious attachment style and I am the one is periodically gone for longer stretches of time and in general am gone all over a lot. My DH has hard time with it and I don't. So I am on the opposite spectrum of your situation. I am trying to be understanding of his needs and his anxiety but I don't always do a good job as I can't really relate. I am not anxious in relationships. But I am trying to be understanding. And I communicate, might not be as much as he'd like but I do 

Now my DH is very direct and verbal about his anxiety. He has no issues telling me he is not handling separation well and before we were married he was afraid I'll dump him or won't come back. Knowing how he feels helps me to find ways to comfort him. I appreciate directness and honesty.  

The difference in your situation is that you aren't always being yourself and you are trying to be calm and collected when you really aren't. If you are happy and upbeat it's great. But if you aren't but pretend so you can appease your boyfriend, then it's a problem. You should be able to tell him that you are anxious and worried and upset and he should be able to find ways to calm your anxiety. You also should be able to tell him that lack of communication is upsetting. Otherwise it's not real and isn't going to the next level. Are you planning on pretending to be ok with things snd suffer silently for your whole life if you two stick around? Pretending gets old real fast 

this guy is who he is. He doesn't communicate and he is ok with distance. You either have to accept it or leave. It's been an issue from the day one and in his 60s he isn't changing 

My DH also gets all upset and worried if my DD doesn't reply to his text on occasion (they have some hobbies in common so it's about the hobby etc). Typically it's she either missed it or forgot and will reply later but he'd concoct a scenario in his head how she doesn't like him. He's not shy about his worries though. He'd tell me he thinks he annoyed her. That maybe too lol 

You could tell your boyfriend you worry about his DD not replying. It's likely nothing 

futurobrillante99's picture

Everything IS ok. I'm being myself 100% but I know which part of this is mine to handle and he doesn't need to know if I boo hoo or feel sad. I know my anxiety is not really based in fact. I'm working on it. Wink
 

I am also very direct and advocate for what I need, but It is very important to me to be supportive of this adventure because I've been the adventurer in a past relationship where I was dragged down and not supported. That's the last thing I want to do.
 

So I will spare him the emotion because it upsets him and I don't want him to feel bad about doing something exciting. 
 

I let him know that it means a lot to me when he contacts me/calls me but I reinforce that I understand it may not be possible for him to do either once he's traveling to and participating in the bike event. I'm prepared for possibly a week or more of scarce communication. It can't be helped, and it will be a challenge, but I'll survive. He's reassured me that when it's possible he will be in touch. I trust him to do that. 
 

As far as him coming back, I'm willing to be flexible but we do not live together yet. I have constraints on my time so weekends are my main time off and I have to pack and travel to be with him. I think it's reasonable to want him to come back two weeks after his event has concluded. He is retired and has no constraints so he can always leave on another trip to meander the country/world and maybe stay gone for even longer. 
 

All I'm asking for is baby steps. You don't go into the gym the first day and start lifting 100 pound weights. You start with smaller weights and build the muscle. 

So this time we're apart for a month. Let's stick to that and I'm sure I can handle longer next time if needed.

 

 

Zenmode's picture

Book up things that keep you busy and your mind off of it. I'm usually the one off on adventures. DH and I spend a lot of time together especially now that he works from home. I need me time and nature time. He's not into nature so I book up camping with friends and family. Before we were living together I would get extreme anxiety if I didn't hear from him via text or a phone call. I expressed my "need" for just a simple good morning and goodnight. He was pretty good about it. Fast forward to us being married and together almost 24/7 (pandemic hours) and I no longer am riddled with anxiety when he doesn't reply to texts the few when he does occasionally go to the office. I think once the relationship settles into routine this issue will go away for you. Funny story though DH went on a rare 3 day weekend with his boys and it was very different for me being the one at home. I now can relate to HIS neediness when I come back where in 6 years together I hadn't really experienced it because I was the one off on adventures so I'm now going to be more responsive when I come back from mine. 

futurobrillante99's picture

Thank you for your post, Zenmode. I think you understand.

I like to travel, too. I would love to have the time to meander the back roads across the country with him. I cannot. I also like going on solo adventures. My XH1 didn't want to go where I wanted to go or be as relaxed as I was. Once, we went to an all inclusive resort in Jamaica and because it was all inclusive, he wanted to do every "FREE" thing. He got really pissed when I just wanted to stay in the room and read a great book with a view of the mountains. No! I wasn't wringing as much out of the all inclusive package as we could get. Ugh. So, I started traveling solo and then I didn't have anyone giving me grief for sitting in a cafe for an hour or two, reading a book and watching people.

I wouldn't say our travel styles are identical, but SO and I are similar enough and independent enough to travel internationally and have a good time. We've talked about it and he knows that I would love to spend a day in a museum all by myself and meet him back at the hotel (if we ever get the chance to travel abroad again).

We enjoy camping, hiking, biking, kayaking, etc. Our interests are fairly similar, but.......I have a job that's 2.5 hours away. I can't go with him and I want him to go, just not stay away for long stretches unless it's absolutely necessary.

I guess my point is that some people are committed homebodies and some people are prone to wander like gypsies. My SO is more of a wanderer but he can totally be a homebody, especially at the mountain house. I am the same way except I'm probably a little bit less of a wanderer. I want to go WITH him, but cannot. There's a little envy mixed with missing him, and already not seeing him as much as I did from October 2020 to January 2021 - we lived together for those months and lived only 1 mile from each other.

My main anxiety is really about when he's coming back. I miss him, but he's been pretty good about being in touch when he can, so I think all is going to work out fine.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Zenmode's picture

I also think once your relationship is in that, dare I say it? Zen place and there's no lingering doubts of is this a deal breaker?" Are we solid?" Most of my anxiety simmered down, and maybe yours will too. It's still early days for you and it's come a long way from your early blogs about it. We dated for two years. Then got married. Even once we were married there were some moment that we both were like "uhmmm did we do the right thing?" We will be celebrating 5 years married soon and there's still a learning curve. COVID was a new experience that's for sure, I'm semi retired and home a lot, he was not but began working from home. It took a bit to adjust. I was very used to my own routine and he was not a part of it. Now we have a new cute routine of having coffee together and just chatting about news of the day, whether it's the world or our kids. COVID also opened my eyes to how very different his kids are vs mine. The disrespect of boundaries during it was very noticeable and has helped solidify what I was feeling towards them precovid. I hope that once you get to that comfy place with your new beau that you'll find the anxiety of separation will melt away. I also think that being he is a widower, this freedom might be a new thing for him? He might be enjoying the feeling of not checking in like he did during marriage? I do have to say my DH is a much better husband than he ever was as a boyfriend/fiancé and it gave our relationship the solid foundation it needed once we married, something I vowed I would never do again btw hahahaha!

futurobrillante99's picture

All good points. I think we're more solid than ever, thankfully.

I think his LW was VERY easy going and supportive. She loved him and wanted him to be happy. When he's happy, it's a thing of beauty. I'm sure she saw what travel did for him, and she was supportive. The only constraint he likely had was work.

But, they were married 27 years when she passed. I know the stability that many years can provide. I would have been thrilled if my XH1 wanted to go off on a solo trip for a few weeks because of how negative and clingy he was. Sadly, he wouldn't come back from a trip invigorated and high on life. He'd come back complaining of all the problems and annoyances and costs. Despite our marriage ending in divorce, the 26 years we were together gave me a lot of stability to grow and flourish.

It is early days for us and SO moving 2.5 hours away has shaken things up a bit, but we're doing well with that. Once we get to the point where we're sharing a life in the same place, it will be easier to send him off on adventures. Anything is up for negotiation. I'd like to be included sometimes and I'd like there to be a good balance of time at home and time away. I'd be much more comfortable with many 1 or 2 week adventures, but I think it's pretty normal to for most people to have a limit for how long they're comfortable being apart. My current limit is 1 month!! LOL I might be open to longer stretches if he'd be willing to say when he's coming home.

 

futurobrillante99's picture

It came up in conversation and he says he'll be home by the holiday weekend for sure. Possibly, long before. Anxiety gone. That's all I needed - a "no longer than" date.