The New Love Rush is Gone - Now He's Changed
Visitor's Question from a 21-30 year old Female
I have been living with my boyfriend for 2 years. He's 26 years older than me and runs his own business, he is also estranged from his wife and has 2 children. For the first year we got on so well, now we do not get on at all. We argue all the time and he treats me like I am a complete stranger. The only advice I get from friends and family is "talk to him" but I do all the time, he just won't talk back. I am getting so upset all the time because of this and it is breaking my heart, how can I get the love back that we had?
Everytime I get upset he completly ignores me, i just dont know what to do anymore????
I have to really commend you for trying to talk this through with him, for realizing that things have changed between you two and that it's important to discuss why things are less pleasant now. And unfortunately, as you've discovered, talking requires two people. Working on a relationship and keeping it going requires two people. It sounds like in your relationship, there's only one of you that is working on it, and that's you.
New love is always great and full of excitement. Undoubtedly because he's older and estranged, he was thrilled to have someone new and young in his life. To many guys his age it's the ultimate proof that he's still "manly" and that even though things didn't work with his wife, that HE was still wanted and desired. So I imagine during the first year as he was caught up in this, he was full of love and romance and all of that.
But the new-love rush only lasts so long, and at some point in a relationship people return to their "normal selves". It's this settling in point that often makes or breaks a relationship. Anybody can be happy when they're in that new-love rush with lots of love and attention. But the real trick is to STAY happy when you both revert to your normal, chore-doing, cranky-morning, deal-with-relatives selves. And it sounds like his "normal" self involves retreating from conflict, hoping things just take care of themselves and looking on you as a chore-doer in the house.
You need to take a deep breath and realize this is the way he is. You can't get him to "go back to how he was before". What he was before wasn't his normal self, it was his rush-in-new-love self. What you see now is his normal self, the way he is when he's not trying to woo or impress someone. You need to look at this and decide if this is what you want or what you can deal with for the rest of your life. You can't be in a relationship and keep hoping to change the other person. It doesn't work. You have to accept what another person is, and do your best WITH that person to find compromises on any serious irritation points. But that assumes that the other person also wants this relationship to work, and is ready to actively work with you on it. A relationship can't work if one person is trying to make it work, and the other person is avoiding or retreating from any talks about it. It requires two people.
So it sounds like the way he is now is not a way you're happy with. And you're actively trying to find compromises and he's actively avoiding his share of the responsibility. This will NOT get better over time. He will get more entrenched in his ways and you will become more and more used to being "the only one working on it". Which is NOT normal. I really recommend finding a priest, minister, therapist, doctor, whoever it is you can talk to about this, to help you two neutrally start talking with each other. Either he makes the commitment to HELP you in this, to talk to you and work through issues, or he's throwing in the towel. Because relationships don't just "happen" - they need constant care and attention. So by deliberately refusing to give yours the attention it needs, he's in essence starving it to death like a plant or pet.
Definitely don't think it's just you, and while your friends and family mean well (and are giving advice I'd often give at the beginning) there comes a point where you just can't do all the talking yourself. And you can't stay in a relationship for the rest of your life where you are always the one trying to fix things and work on things and talk to him, and he's always dodging you. It will really make you miserable.
Good luck with everything, I hope you find someone that you two can talk to, and get some progress going. But if not, I would seriously sit down and think about the relationship, and what it is doing for you. To be stuck for your entire life with someone who is not willing to do his fair share to maintain the relationship can be very painful.
-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at RomanceClass.com