My boyfriend and I have been together for 4 years now. We’ve lived together for 3 years and generally we have a great relationship. In the past year however, the relationship has brought up our own issues to the surface more and created a lot of conflict. For me it’s brought up my own PTSD, making me realise I have trust issues that basically prevents me from being able to relax when things go well. I’m always on the look out for danger and expecting things will go badly. I’m insecure and usually in need for reassurance etc.
My boyfriends problem has been communication. He comes from a very non expressive family where he had to repress his emotions. So he never really learned how to express himself and communicate in a mature way during conflict - resulting in him having defensive reactions, being passive aggressive, having outbursts, becoming quite attacking when he realises there’s things we have to talk about. We trigger each other because I obviously need to talk, and he has trouble talking (in conflict).
The past year has been chaotic but he has understood what I need from the relationship and made a serious effort to learn more about handling conflict. He started reading books and even keeping a journal for self reflection and study, he writes in it almost every day. Despite that the progress hasn’t been totally linear. It got better, then suddenly got sooo much worse over Christmas. This is all really difficult for me because I don’t feel like I’m as objective as other people might be - I’m already struggling with trust issues and problems of feeling invalidated, disrespected etc trigger me greatly. I probably don’t deal with the mistakes as well as I should, and quickly panic/react when things aren’t going well rather than get curious and believe that there’s a reason for it. Like when he fucks up, my brain goes ‘see, this was all a lie. He doesn’t actually care about this, he will never change’
It did get so bad though that after new year I told him I don’t want to sleep in the same room as him. I need my space, I don’t feel ‘safe’ and him not handling conflict well triggers me greatly so I want that safe distance.
It’s been over a week though and I’m confused because I never used to do this and even when I did, I’d miss him and want him to come back to bed like after 1 day. But now, I am still happy to have my space and I’m really put off by the idea of him sleeping with me again.
I’m really worried about why I’m actually enjoying the space a lot and why I have zero desire to be close. It’s not like I want to be close but can’t, I feel as though I don’t even want it.
There are still strong fears I guess and just because our distance has made things a little calmer, it hasn’t automatically fixed everything and so maybe that’s why I’m happy to stay in this space and don’t want to get close. But yesterday we had an intense argument and he handled that really well, and it seemed like he is getting better again at communicating. I was happy about that. But I still didn’t want to be near him.
I’m confused by these contrasting feelings. How can I know I love him and at the same time I don’t want to share the bed with him or want to be close in any way? Is it really because I’ve been hurt that much that it is gonna take some time to repair, or does this mean something worse? I’m afraid to embrace it and allow myself to have the space so I invited him to bed last night thinking it’ll trigger those feelings of warmth again. Instead I felt totally uncomfortable and really disliked it.
this is all very strange to me, I don’t usually feel like that about him.
He did hurt me a lot. Even if I can understand his upbringing affected it and even though I can objectively see how dedicated he is to repairing, the fact he is still failing makes me feel like he is out to hurt me. I used to feel strong resentment when we first started working on communication properly, because I felt like I had to be a teacher to get him to do something that was basic and what I deserved. But now I don’t feel resentment, I just feel... hopeless and put off. I think I feel like because he got better then suddenly reverted so aggressively, I feel like that’s really impacted my already fragile trust. Even though he is showing me he is getting better again, I feel like ‘well clearly he can revert again’
Why am I feeling this way? Is it even normal to feel this way? If I let myself feel it and continue having the space will that mean I’m letting the relationship fall apart? I don’t feel good about closeness at all. In fact I feel angry that he even slept here. I’m scared if I don’t allow him to be close after doing better though, that he might revert again. No matter how I look at it I’m terrified about that
( by revert I mean become childish attacking defensive in conflict etc, saying things that hurt which he doesn’t mean, deflecting and blaming things on me and being unable to have an open discussion. Only to apologise about it after)