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My boyfriend is 43 and I am 48. I admit he moved in very fast -- a few weeks after he lost his job. After three months his mood began to change. He tells me he loves me and I'm the greatest thing that ever happened to him, but I noticed he was becoming quiet and withdrawn. I texted him at work to ask if something was wrong, and he said "things" were on his mind. I asked was it me? He said no. When he came home I asked what was wrong, and he said things were happening too fast, that he wanted his own place and to move around as he wants to. I asked him if he sees me in his future, and he said, "Yes. Just bear with me and give me some time." I need advice, Abby. I am so confused. I love him dearly. -- TORN APART IN TOMBALL, TEXAS
According to Deborah Tannen in 1990 she states, "To him, talk is for information, and to her, talk is for interaction" (113). This is a great example of how men and women are different with communicating. This man that you are with may not have information for you right now and may need time to gather his thoughts. The reason why you feel torn apart and upset is because he cannot interact with you to give you the answers you need at this moment. Deborah extends on this thought, by saying, "Women who expect their partner to talk to them are disappointed that he doesn't. She perceives his behavior as a failure of intimacy: He's keeping things from her; he's lost interest in her; he's pulling away" (114). You have to remember that looking too far into his actions and words will generate a great deal of pain, even though that is what most women do, you have to try to stir yourself away from that path.
In It's a Guy Thing-Or Is it? Mary Paquette wrote, "Men are focused on achieving status and avoiding failure. Men are "doers" and want to solve problems and feel competent. Women are focused on achieving involvement and avoiding isolation. Women relate, connect, and want to feel loved, whereas men focus on independence and status" (1). As one can see with this statement, it can truly form a wide range of problems through communicating with the opposite sex. I believe that this is possibly the way that your significant other might feel. He wants to solve a problem, and the best way for him to handle that problem at the moment is to go away from it and think about it. He also might be feeling dependent on you, because he moved in with you when he lost his job, and that would not be satisfying his independence. On the other hand as a woman, you want to avoid isolation, and by him moving out and taking time to think about your relationship it is doing just that. As you can see this may be part of the reason why you might feel the pain and suffering that you do. You just need to remind yourself that once again men handle their problems differently and communicate differently than women do.
When it comes to relationships there are multiple different researches done that having somewhat of a distance in your relationship isn't always a bad thing. According to Kara Joyner in 2009, "The majority of cohabiting couples either marry or separating within two years, and their chances of separating have increased in recent decades do to the differences in how married and cohabiting couples evaluate justice in their relationships this may explain a small part of the great instability of cohabiting unions" (1). This research is verifying the fact that when couples aren't married but living together they can actually have the perception that their significant other should be acting as a husband or wife even though they aren't married, which in turn can create major problems. I know that in your situation he moved in because he lost his job and he needed a place to stay. Now that he is employed, maybe the best thing to do is to live separately until you both know exactly what you want from the relationship. I can see how this would be a very hard issue, having someone live with you, and then wanting their own space all of a sudden, but in the long run it could actually help more than hurt.
Gender roles in the United States have a vast impact on how men and women interact with each other. According to Richard T. Schaefer in 2008, the male gender role, besides showing that they aren't sissy's, includes working and sports and sometimes often using force in dealing with others. Most men also want control of all sexual relations. Males that do not conform to these gender roles can face constant criticism from others around them (270). As you can see, gender roles have an impact on this relationship. Your significant other wants to be in control of the situation, and is not showing any signs of weakness to you because in his mind he has to be tough, and strong. On the other hand women of all ages express themselves very clearly, because they do not fear the humiliation of doing so. This difference between gender roles has a direct correlation with relationships, and how sometimes it can be exceptionally hard to see the other side.
Every day advice
Research has a great way of explaining events as a whole, but I believe that your experiences truly shape who you are and where you want to go with this relationship. My advice to you is just ride it out. If you love him as much as you say you do then be patient enough to wait. On the other hand you also need to know when to say when. This is a very difficult thing for most women because we want to hold on, but you have to know that if you reach the point where enough is enough, then you should listen to yourself. I would also advise you to even take this time to figure out exactly what you want; the choice shouldn't just be his. With my personal experiences it is sometimes extremely hard to know exactly what you need and want when you are in a relationship. It seems when you have a connection with someone you are sometimes blinded by what is in fact actually going on. This is why I believe that being "torn apart" doesn't always equal necessarily a bad thing. The last piece of advice that I would share with you is to give him time, keep talking to a minimum, and don't do anything that you would necessarily do in a relationship, because if you do those things then it will be harder for him to understand that you two are not together anymore. Please understand that everyone can give you as much research and advice as you want but when it comes down to it, you are the one who has to decide what is best for you.
I understand as most of all of my reader's do, that right now this an extremely difficult time for you, but as much as you think time is against you it truly is on your side. Time will help you and your significant other figure out your issues, and not only figure out what they are, but actually work on them. For now, keep busy, even when all you want to do is stay home. I'm sure you have a terrific support group that will listen to you, utilize these people; they will be your backbone until you can stand straight again. My best wishes go out to you that you will find tranquility with this issue, and that it will eventually bring peace to your mind and heart.