It’s taken me a while to understand that what I’m dealing with from him is “emotional abandonment.” I’ve been quite honest to tell him that I want to be with him forever, but I never know when he’s going to disconnect. I suffer greatly, but I want to make it work. We’ve had many talks, and he always comes back to, “You didn’t say yes to the ring.” I’ve explained over and over again that I love him but that, before I can accept the ring, I have to feel that he’s not going to shut me out.
That brings us to now, and he’s shut me out again without an explanation, without a word, without my knowing how to fix things and move forward to a solid foundation for the relationship.
Is it possible to be able to work through emotional abandonment and be able to fully trust him again? — Emotionally Abandoned
Well, sure it’s possible to work through what you call emotional abandonment — people work through much worse all the time — but the question should be: Is it worth it? Many times, when people spend years working through issues in a relationship, as it sounds like you have, there’s an investment or an arrangement that’s particularly hard to walk away from: marriage; kids together; financial dependency; a shared home (including shared property). It doesn’t sound like you have any of those things and, yet, you’ve been with this guy for three years, “suffering greatly,” and doing much soul-searching and “a lot of work on things in your relationship.” (After all of that, and three years in, you say you don’t even have a solid relationship foundation.)
Here’s the thing: Relationships shouldn’t be that much work. I know people say the opposite all the time: Relationships take work; relationships are hard. But they’re really not. At least not when there aren’t extenuating circumstances that bring atypical stress to the people in the relationship, like illness, job loss, a death in the family, financial burdens, and even, ahem, a new baby. You don’t mention any of those things, and yet it sounds like your relationship is a ton of work. I don’t care how much you love the guy, if you aren’t married yet (do you even live together?) and your relationship is this hard and your boyfriend is such a jerk that you “suffer greatly,” you should probably MOA and make yourself available for someone who isn’t so much work to be with.
They’re out there, I promise: guys who won’t treat you like shit. Guys who won’t abandon you the second things don’t go their way. There are men with whom things can be easy and rewarding and joyful. You don’t have that with your boyfriend. You didn’t say yes to his proposal because the way he is now isn’t what you want to spend your life with (and I don’t blame you), and, frankly, if someone has to change in order for you to be happy with him, he’s not the person for you. People aren’t like houses; they aren’t fixer-uppers whose potential can motivate you through renovations. You take ’em as is or you move on and find a better match. I say MOA. He doesn’t sound like the guy for you.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.