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akrasia 10-28-2018 07:40 AM

feeling conflicted about newish relationship
Hi all,

Could really use some perspective and some clarity about new-ish relationship.

I let my AH in February, so a good eight months ago.

Not long after I moved out, a man who's been a close friend for four years got in touch and confessed his feelings for me. We had been very close and I thought of him like a brother, and then over the past few months it has become more. Spending time, L-word, talking about the future, etc. I am mindful of how quick it is and so am trying to just take it easy.

This guy is the sunniest, kindest, wisest, bravest man I've ever met. I could talk to him all the time. He is supportive and understanding. He's hilarious and warm.

And he, like lots of us, has serious issues. (Nothing substance-related; in fact he doesn't drink alcohol at all due to his religion which as you can imagine is great with me!) But he is from a war-torn country (I'll just leave it there to protect his privacy) where sh*t got real and he's lost loved ones and gone through trauma. He supports his surviving relatives back home and is active in the expat community here.

At the same time he's developed a serious health condition for which he's seeing a specialist consultant. They have recently started a course of high-dose steroids and he might need to undergo more serious treatment (again I won't get into details just to protect his privacy; it's not cancer but a rare autoimmune disease that attacks organs).

I have helped him get organised around the treatment of his condition--finding facebook groups and getting him in touch with a charity who has now stepped in and helped him get access to all treatment and support services. He doesn't want to tell people back home about his illness and so I have become a sort of confidante and sometimes caretaker.

He's not getting help for the mental health stuff because therapy honestly just dredged it all up for him and made him worry more about loved ones stuck at home.

He lives a healthy lifestyle and makes sure he connects with friends/spiritual community. He is the sort of person who would drop everything to help a friend.

Anyway, my point/question is: I am crazy about this guy but there is a hot-and-cold element that is hard for me and I don't think I'm in a good place about it. The PTSD (which lately is exacerbated by the steroids) makes him moody sometimes. He has even said that he doesn't recognise this indecisiveness in himself which he never had before the war.

He will come and spend the weekend at mine and it's bliss, then later say he doesn't know what will happen with his life and asks me to please be understanding if he disappears. He'll send loads of loving messages over the phone then I will barely hear from him for a week (except for maybe one late-night text that he can't sleep becasue he's worried about his loved ones back home). It's not just me; when he's in that mood he doesn't talk to anyone.

He's asked me to marry him (I've told him it's way too soon!) and asked me to move in with him, but then on the other hand I haven't met any of his friends and he hasn't told his family back home about me.

In the past few weeks it's been worse, I'm sure because of a higher dose of steroids. He recognises his own behaviour and has apologised for it. I have told him that he's the one going through the treatment for a serious illness and that if he wants us to go back to being like brother and sister for the time being then we could do that.

I am actually abroad now for a couple of weeks, doing contract work (really enjoying it). He contacts me a lot during the day, but will not have much to say. I ask him how he is and try to chat and he just goes off on rants (something in the news/a friend of his being selfish). Then will say he's too upset to talk and disappear.

Yes, on one hand it's understandable and his right and he's the one going through the life-threatening illness. But on the other hand I'm worn out.

Today I'm enjoying a day off and after some wandering about the city I was sitting on my balcony when he called. Great, finally I actually have time to talk. I asked him how he was and we chatted. We were actually talking about food and I mentioned my mom's cooking, and then he started talking about his own mom (whom he lost in the war; really hard for him). I expressed interest and sympathy and he started talking about one of their last conversations. Suddenly he got angry at me for "making him talk about it" and ended the call.

I know within a couple of hours I'll get contacted again full of warmth and regret, calling me an angel, etc.

Just--okay, what do I do here? He's about to undergo chemo and might need dangerous surgery, so he's in the centre of the "circle" and needs only support. At the same time, I can't cope with any more of the "oh my god angel queen marry me" and then the "why are you contacting me and putting pressure on me"? Then round and round some more.

Do I try to tell him I want to go back to being close friends whilst he goes through his treatment?

53500 10-28-2018 10:20 AM

Hello Akrasia,

At the same time, I can't cope with any more of the "oh my god angel queen marry me" and then the "why are you contacting me and putting pressure on me"? Then round and round some more.
I couldn't cope with it either. It's crazy-making. IMO you should back off, be his friend on terms that don't drive you nuts if that is possible, don't depend on him as a romantic partner. He's shown he's not dependable. Too many really deep issues. Not through any fault of his own but unless he faces them and seeks healing, well, he'll just continue as he is or get worse.

I do not mean to sound unfeeling about his loss and other traumas he faced, and is still facing. Yes he needs support for this but it doesn't have to be all you. If you're not up for it - and it sounds like you're not - then that is your truth and he needs to accept it.

I have a friend who could be equally draining. He was never a romantic consideration, ever. He is also from a different country. Years back, I used to try to help him with emotional support and I helped him navigate paperwork. But - his life is one drama after another, he goes on endless rants about all the injustices he feels life has heaped on him. He seems to love being a victim and complaining endlessly. I stopped paying attention. I still care about him and we do still have pleasant interactions but as soon as it devolves into his litany of complaints, I'm out.

HTown 10-28-2018 10:20 AM

This is a tough situation. My wife had some issues when we met and she passed away as a result. I went into it knowing she had a past history of cancer. I do not regret it, but it took a lot out of me. In a way, I believe God brought her into my life so she would not die alone, that she would have support.

He is facing serious issues. You cannot and will never be the center of his thoughts. He is hot and cold as he moves through the stages of disease and mortality. You just left a relationship and you deserve to be cherisedand loved.

He cannot really give now, he can in spurts based on what you are saying, but I get the feeling you want to be the center of his life which is normal in a normal relationship. See this as what it is, a nice time together, support and some fun and hard times, but based on your comments this is not a good basis for a long term relationship, you are not equal coming together as one.

boreas 10-28-2018 10:47 AM

Originally Posted by akrasia (Post 7043006)
Anyway, my point/question is: I am crazy about this guy but there is a hot-and-cold element that is hard for me and I don't think I'm in a good place about it. The PTSD (which lately is exacerbated by the steroids) makes him moody sometimes. He has even said that he doesn't recognise this indecisiveness in himself which he never had before the war.

This would be hard for anyone to take. Before I got into the co-dependent side of things, I started looking at my problematic relationships seperate from any substance abuse. I read some of Natalie Lueís writings which were enlightening. Now I also recognize my unhealthy tendencies, exacerbated by alcohol, but Iíve learned that sometimes relationships are unacceptable without any ďblameĒ on either side. Healthy is healthy, unhealthy is not, no matter the cause.

Take away your compassion and you are in a situation where you are on pins and needles waiting for the other shoe to drop. Thatís tough. And you have every right to protect yourself, no matter his current circumstances.

Iím currently with someone who has terrible issues with his FOO. But where Iíve detached from mine, heís still enmeshed in the drama of his. Iíve had to set a hard boundary there, and the truth is the relationship may not work out because of that issue. It doesnít mean I donít love him or that heís not a wonderful person, it just means there is a limit to the crazy Iím willing to have in my life now. And thatís ok. Iíve worked hard for the peace I have.

Best wishes to you.

trailmix 10-28-2018 10:49 AM

Originally Posted by akrasia (Post 7043006)
Do I try to tell him I want to go back to being close friends whilst he goes through his treatment?

HI akrasia. I think the above is your gut feeling on this and I personally think you are spot on with it.

I went back and skimmed a couple of your previous posts to refresh my memory and you know, you are that helpful person that people can rely on and turn to and I commend you for that (I really do).

He obviously relies on you and I'm sure he appreciates all you do, but you are in that situation again where he checks out emotionally and you just don't deserve that and as you said you are not up for another round of push - pull. It may not be alcoholism, it may be steroids (or PTSD etc) but the result to you is the same?

I hope you bring this back to you. I recommend focusing back on yourself and as I said above, your gut feeling is right, detaching a fair bit in this situation is a wise move I think.

PuzzledHeart 10-28-2018 11:06 AM

This is not sustainable.

As flattering as it is to be a primary confidant and therapist he needs a NETWORK of people to help him out. The fact that he doesn't want to go therapy and get the help he needs is just as bad, in my mind, as a cancer patient who doesn't go to the doctor because he/she doesn't want to talk about the disease. Frankly, it's unfair to you and to everybody else he relies on for emotional support.

Honestly, his behavior reminded me of my own sister, who either 1) lashes out or 2) shuts down whenever she is faced with a situation steeped in emotion. It's one thing to step away for a moment, it's another thing to duck it entirely and run away.

Both my sister and I were physically abused when we were younger - and although I had to go through major depression with bouts of suicide ideation, in a way I'm glad that I actually went through that and emerged stronger on the other side. It's also good do know that when my depression does rear its ugly head, I have a toolkit that would probably take up an entire hardware store. However, she denied that the abuse ever happened in the first place. Her children no longer live with her, and she has a history of using pot/alcohol/boyfriends to get by.

If he was truly a romantic partner for you, he would try to be the best partner he could be. You would be meeting his friends and the people back home would know about you. Those are two red flags right there that you can't ignore. Why is he treating you as someone he should be ashamed about? Why would you want a partner who would want to keep you a secret?

Disease or no disease, he's not ready to be committed to this relationship.

Blueskies18 10-28-2018 11:27 AM

Iím trying to learn, for myself, that in times when Iím feeling drained from being there for other people, I need to really think hard about what I want for me, what will make me happy, and how much I can handle. Itís hard, and I still feel guilty when I put my needs before other peopleís, but I tend to get caught up in one-sided relationships (where I do all the giving). I stopped being there for a girlfriend a few years ago, after trying to have boundaries, after Iíd already spent a year dropping everything for her whenever she needed me. I felt so guilty for changing things on her. Now I have health issues that are related to stress and I know that itís not selfish and itís very necessary for me to only take on what I can handle. I hope that helps. I get the sense that you are feeling conflicted and stuck in your situation.

53500 10-28-2018 07:08 PM

asks me to please be understanding if he disappears.
Akrasia, this ^ - he is telling you, in no uncertain terms, he is not capable of making a commitment. Listen to him. He may be a wonderful person in many ways, support him as a friend if you can but he is NOT relationship material.

A guy who talks about marriage and also says "but I may very well disappear" is not someone to marry.

velma929 10-29-2018 06:13 AM

I'm widowed. I dated a variety of men in widow-hood,most of them only once.
The easiest let-down I ever heard was from a man who had asked if I had worked through my grieving and asked if I was emotionally available for a relationship.

I don't know if it was an excuse or not, but we spoke after the date. He said, "You know when I asked if you were emotionally available for a new relationship ? Well, I realized *I'm* not."

You've been out of your marriage only eight months. (yeah, I'm aware that you'd been thinking about it a long time. Humor me.) This is the perfect thing to say to someone who wants a commitment from you but "may very well disappear. " From the outside looking in, his attitude toward this is hogwash, and I'm cleaning up the language here for the audience.

LifeRecovery 10-29-2018 07:35 AM


Reading your post it struck me.

How do you feel with him? You had a lot about him and what is happening for him in your post, but little about how it impacts you.

That to me is a red flag around my own behavior. I feel like as I am growing it is less about if someone else has red flags and more about how I respond to them. Your response to his life situation feels pretty familiar to me.

CentralOhioDad 10-30-2018 06:31 AM

I dunno, it just doesn't seem right - steroids or not. The come here, go away thing has all the trappings of manipulation and control. He has a lot of issues about many things, and do you REALLY need that at this point in your life? Are you ready to become a possible full-time caregiver? What is the culture in respect to women where he is from? Walk behind him? Don't speak unless spoken to?

Just doesn't feel right to me. But that's just me. Good luck.

atalose 10-30-2018 08:36 AM

My perspective on this is, if you cannot speak your feelings, wants and needs to this man then yes, you need to tell him you can only be friends and that moving forward with marriage is not something you couldnít consider right now, if ever.

When we feel the need to walk on egg shells to save a fragile relationship then itís time to think about being in such a weak relationship or be ready to continue walking on those egg shells.

akrasia 11-02-2018 10:54 PM

Thank you friends for the thoughtful replies.

His condition is deteriorating. He's on dialysis. I have offered him one of my kidneys.

The whole issue of romance/engagement is off the table now anyway. Maybe God brought us together so that he wouldn't go through this alone.

Leelee168 11-03-2018 05:13 AM

Manipulation, control, mood disturbances--these are serious red flags.

When I read your entire post, I got the feeling that this guy is playing with you. You're kind to offer your kidney, but I'm willing to bet he doesn't accept it.

Best to you as you move forward with your own life.

Mango212 11-03-2018 01:40 PM

God's brought me into many situations that were for a reason. Asking for guidance and clarity is very helpful, along with connecting with healthy people and good self-care.

It's very kind and extremely generous of you to offer your kidney. It's also very extreme. You only have one to share. Is there perhaps someone out there who cares more about being alive who would be so very glad to have someone like you in their life? You have a lot of time in this world. I suggest pausing, waiting. More will be revealed. (((hugs)))

I love my husband. I've had to step out of the role of trying to save his life. It wasn't my job.

53500 11-03-2018 09:43 PM

I agree with Mango. Offering your kidney is very kind, generous and extreme. If you knew for a fact that after getting your kidney he'll continue the "come here, go away" dynamic, or disappear - would it change your feelings about offering your kidney?

Obviously it's your body and your choice and you're a kind and caring person.

Clover71 11-04-2018 06:33 AM

He sounds controlling and manipulative. You deserve a healthy partner, and I'm not referring to the physical ailments though in a new relationship that should also be a consideration IMO

Clover71 11-04-2018 06:40 AM

sorry - double post

August252015 11-04-2018 06:48 AM

Hi there- I read your post a few times, akrasia. I am so sorry for your pain.

I think there has been some excellent thoughts shared already....

And I just have to add that when I have found myself in a situation or relationship of some kind that required a lot of detail to share with others, a lot of what was trying to express that there were "two sides" to the whole thing....I really knew it wasn't good for me, usually in multiple ways, and was grasping for reasons it was actually ok.

It caused me lots of pain and emotional drama. I hope you can put some distance if this might be the very same outcome for you.

akrasia 11-08-2018 10:04 PM

Just wanted to say thanks friends. Your thoughtful comments have helped. Working away like this has also given time to reflect.

We FaceTimed last night and out of the blue he said, 'I'm worried about wasting your time. I'm all over the place right now.'

I told him the focus right now is on him getting well. He spent two nights in intensive care this past week, FFS.

When I am back we'll talk again and I want to say two things:

1. I will tell him that I will let him take the lead more about how much I help him. It was turning into me bringing him food and sorting out Dr appointments, he'd be happy but then he'd get annoyed and I felt like a stalker. Confusing. Maybe I should take a step back? Let him form a network?

2. Sorry if TMI but we need to cool it on the physical stuff. Especially if I'm then not going to hear from him for a week, and especially if no one else in his life knows about me so if he ends up in a coma or whatever, I would never know.

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