Help! He's cut off contact

This is my first post here.  A brief summary of my situation:   For over 3 years I have been in a long distance committed relationship.  Our relationship has been tough for the past 2 years because of the distance, the fact that he was out of work for 18 months, which meant all visits were done by me, and the fact that he has a sleep disorder (long sleep syndrome) which means he often sleeps for very long periods of time (12-15 hours is not uncommon)...even during my once a month weekend visit.  Anyway, after trying every which way to express my unhappiness and feelings of not being appreciated and acknowledged, I came to the point a couple months ago where I could envision leaving, though I don't want to.  I then started putting 2 and 2 together and began studying adult ADHD and so many things became clear to me.  (He admits he has it, but then retracts that statement when confronted, and has never been diagnosed or treated...I feel VERY strongly that his untreated ADHD is destroying our relationship, but I won't go into loads of detail right now).

  Anyway, I went to visit on Thanksgiving (our first time seeing each other in 7 weeks because, once again, he couldn't come here because things kept coming up with work).  We ended up getting into a huge fight (seemingly out of nowhere) on Friday night.  We are both very hurt and angry...he feels I am always blaming him for things and always too negative, and I feel unappreciated, unacknowledged and sick of feeling lonely even when I visit.  He was very upset that night and eventually I wound up leaving and driving 5 hours home in the middle of the night. 

I haven't heard from him since.  I know he likes his space when he is upset, but I am stuck in limbo and don't know what to do.  As hurt and angry as I have been, I do not want to end this relationship.  But he is super defensive and refusing to accept the possibility of the ADHD (and everyone else thinks I am just a pushover who needs to leave). 

My question is...How do I approach him now?  I know that I cannot control anyone but myself.  I know I cannot save a relationship alone.  I am trying to give him space and not keep hounding him, but I wish I knew the magic thing to say that won't make him feel like such a failure and so angry.  I don't want to make things worse...but it is tough because he is at the stage where he thinks I am making up all the relationship problems and that if I just "let things go" we would be ok.

 

 

you sound a lot like me

Hurtbuthopeful, I just want to send you a huge hug. I'm going through a similar situation right now. Im far from an expert, but here is some insight I've gotten into my own situation, which may be helpful for you. 

I have been reading a lot about emotionally unavailable men lately, I know that Adhd and it's comorbid disorders can cause this. He is being emotionally unavailable, and maybe not on purpose, it sounds like. Here's a general article on the emotionally unavailable man: http://www.yourtango.com/experts/ms-kristina-marchant/how-tell-if-hes-em...

You are obviously a loving person and you care deeply about him, but you're settling for crumbs of a relationship and that's why you're so upset. You are NOT a pushover, somewhere in your past you learned to settle for relationships (not just romantic) that were not emotionally nurturing to you, so this push-pull is what you subconsciously seek. You deserve so much more than what he's giving you. If you read my post in this forum called "Huge setback..." you might notice similarities between us. The troubling part is that your bf is in denial, and people in denial definitely won't get help. 

You need to figure out what YOU need from him. And if he can't give it to you, hopefully he will say it, but I think he is silently saying it by not contacting you. I'm sure he loves you but in order for this to work he'd have to take responsibility for his life and his ADHD, and it doesn't sound like he's there. You can't do it for him, as you know.

You are obviously a great person and you can't have a relationship for two people and you're burning yourself out by trying. If he can't be there for you, take the opportunity to embrace your own life. Pay those bills, clean your apartment, work out, pamper yourself. Focus on you. Get your own therapy if you can. Lots of love and light to you.

Thanks, Sowondrous. Ironic

Thanks, Sowondrous.

Ironic that you mention that I am "settling for crumbs", because lately that's the exact analogy I have been feeling...that I am like a starving animal that gets scraps from him and then once in a while gets a real "meal" which encourages me to stay focused and hopeful...only to get scraps again.  It's tough because I KNOW deep down how much he loves me...he would tell me every day and was capable of showing it in meaningful ways...especially early on.  I know that's still there, but he's got way too much hurt and defensiveness on top of it right now.  I can only hope he is able to see through it after some time...

Stonewalling

Hi HurtButHopeful,

I am also in the middle of a situation where my bf is stonewalling/not communicating. He can only see his own feelings and thinks that I am the problem. It seems that no matter the subject of the argument or how hurt I become, he lashes out at me and then withdraws. The other day I was upset about how he had changed some of our plans--he invited people I didn't know to an event that I wanted to be a date night, and he decided I was cooking dinner instead of going out so we could save money. I wasn't direct with him at first because I thought he might be nicer if I didn't just state what was bothering me. He asked what was on my mind and I told him, and apparently he didn't hear that as my feelings, he heard it as criticism and something that made him feel bad. He thought it was okay to go out of his way to lash out at me because that's how he felt I was towards him. I didn't see it that way at all, but he is so sensitive and takes everything so personally that my feelings always end up being overshadowed by his feelings about my feelings. He even said something like he isn't going to spend the rest of his life "making up for the way I feel"... I said that I think people in a relationship should support each other emotionally, and I don't know why he sees it as "making up" for a wrongdoing. Things escalated and he said some insulting and out-of-left-field things about money, but when he decides he doesn't want to apologize a second time then it's "never good enough." 

Where I am going with this is, as you know, both people are influential in a relationship and responsible for how their actions affect it, even when they withdraw. You might not be able to change his feelings of failure and anger, or the feeling that you are responsible for everything. In fact when he withdraws, he is denying you access to any of his feelings. It doesn't sound like a result of anything you are doing wrong. It sounds to me like he is not seeing how he affects your feelings and is not taking responsibility for his role in the relationship. By not talking to you for days on end, he is in essence saying your feelings are less important than his, even if that isn't what he means to be conveying. I haven't yet figured out a successful way to break this cycle in my relationship, and I have tried everything. What works at first is ignoring the fight and pretending like everything is okay (my bf is comfortable doing that), but it does not heal anything or help us trust each other with our hurt emotions. We are lacking that intimacy that comes with trusting the other person with your hurt feelings--he never lets me make them better, he just disappears, and I am left to fix my own feelings. The relationship suffers as a result, and we build up resentment. I am trying to figure out how to explain this to my bf without him hearing it as more criticism and blowing up or pulling away.

At a certain point he needs to come to the table too. You are doing what you can as one person, and you have a right to feel like your feelings of being unappreciated are being validated. Though your feelings include him, they are about you! (My bf disagrees with that premise.. if I mention him, it's about him.) If he is anything like my bf, he may be hearing them as something he did wrong (not making you feel appreciated enough) and then if that upsets him, it's easier for him to tell you not to feel that way than to accept that he upset you. I think my bf's lens on life is that he has a lot of control and that when something happens, it is a result of something he did or didn't do. (I'm not sure if this is compensation for when he feels overwhelmed and out of control.) It is strange to think that someone else hears our feelings as a commentary on themselves. As you said, we can only control ourselves, but we also want to improve our relationships. 

As far as approaching him, if you contact him first, that keeps the ball in his court for controlling when you communicate (he can continue to shut you out if he decides to, and then you are pursuing him). At the same time, you would be the bigger person and you have to do what feels right to you. A good way to break the ice might be to talk about something unrelated to the fight. I have been in the pattern of almost always being the one to break the ice and then let things slide, but that feeds into the dynamic of me tacitly taking the blame. If you feel like you still want to talk about the issues that you argued about, you can mention that once he starts responding to you, and ask when would be a good time to talk about it. If he has been feeling bad about himself and blames you for it, he might be taking this time to try to feel better about himself away from you (a concept I didn't understand for a while), even though it seems like it would be better for everyone if he let you in on his feelings. I always wonder why, if my bf blames me for his hurt feelings, doesn't he let me help repair them? Anyway, I would say try to break the ice and don't open up emotionally until you feel like the conversation is mutual. Good luck!

Wow...

Yes, it sure does sound like we have a lot in common right now.  I am very new to this site and to adult ADHD...so every time I read more and hear more stories I continue to be so blown away and continue to be more baffled as to why I can't just get this across to him!!  It seems so obvious to me!!  But that is the sad reality of ADHD symptoms (denial, stonewalling, lack of initiation, etc).

I definitely feel he isn't aware or isn't willing to yet accept how his behavior affects me.  To him, we have no relationship issues...and he accuses me of projecting...even when I am acknowledging his hurt.  He also seems to take an awful lot as criticism, like your BF as well, but then he accuses me of taking things too personally all the time.

There is a part of me wondering if his mind is actually confused as to what's going on right now...I mean...I know the ADHD brain perceives reality much differently.  And a couple months ago I got very upset because he forgot about a party my friend was having and thus didn't come in to visit that weekend (after only visiting once in 2 years by that point)...so I was pissed and he didn't contact me for almost 2 days during that time and when I texted him to ask if he thought I didn't want to be talking to him, he said..."well, yeah...you're mad at me".  I had to explain that because I was mad about feeling neglected and unimportant (by him forgetting an event again/not visiting again/etc) him giving me space only reinforced why I was mad in the first place!!   So...even though I have emailed him twice since the fight/me leaving his house last Friday (one email to say I was home safe and sorry we fought so fiercely and that it sucks that we are both hurting and another quick one to say ILY and that I hoped he was feeling better (we had spent T-giving in the ER)...there is part of me that wonders if he assumes I WANT to be left alone...though that makes no sense to me and the reality is probably that he is still angry/processing...who knows.  I am so confused...

Anyway...thank you for sharing...I wish we knew the magic answers!!

Send him my way!

I'd be happy to share my story with him HurtbutHopeful. I was initially very slow to react to my wife's suggestion that I was ADHD. By the time I decided to look into it more, my wife had lost all hope. I did turn my life around and have made tremendous progress through the course of this year but at the high cost of loosing my wife and being alienated from our daughter by acting too late. Men have a strong sense of pride, and telling them they may be "broken" is a big blow. I took it hard myself and for many months was angry at myself for not recognizing it sooner, felt inadequate due to my disorder, and felt mortified for how it has affected those I love, especially my wife. Hopefully, he realizes that he needs to look internally before it's not too late.

Thanks!

Thanks RoadtoRecovery!  I, too am hopeful that he looks internally...and soon.  He was divorced by his first 2 wives (not that there is ONE side to either of those situations) and has no close relationships with anyone in his life except for me and his youngest daughter...he admits he is "bad at relationships" but thus far has been nothing but adamant that he won't change for anyone. 

At any rate, I would love to take you up on your suggestion...even hypothetically...but I need to hope he is even willing to talk to me again.