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Is my boyfriend uncaring or am I codependent?

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  • #373180
    faber castell
    Participant

    I am just starting to learn about codependency more in depth and I’m a bit confused. I am currently ending a 6-month relationship that I believe has become somewhat toxic. We share our taste in music, literature, we laugh together I’m sure like with no one else. Our stomachs hurt every time we do. We are sweet and have nice nicknames for each other, etc. and a deep spiritual connection, everything in our lives is full of weird coincidences, and I admire his talent so much. I truly think he’s special and I love him, but felt like he doesn’t treat me as well as I would like… I don’t feel that important, I know he’s very insecure as well, but I’ve seen how my anxiety rises and my overall health is starting to be affected.

    I’ve shared with him that I feel, sometimes, a lack of intimacy, or closeness, it sort of varies, I’ve had many partners that are so warm and that say nice things to me, romantic, and caring, and with him, I just think he has an attitude of protecting himself from showing too much or whatever. It makes me sad. There’s a huge lack of romantic gestures. We spend a lot of time at my place. I’ve met his family, his friends, etc. He hasn’t really met mine and there’s been a few opportunities when he has excused himself. Small stuff first that ended up being important at the end. My friends celebrated my birthday some days after we both did, they gave me a surprise party (it was special because my mom passed away January last year, and my birthday was going to be the first without her so everyone wanted to make t special). It was a big deal. He didn’t go at the end, because he said he had a lot of work. I knew he was swamped. But at the same time, he works as an independent musician, he had to finish something for a shortfilm but had like 3 more days, and I was hoping at least a video phone call, or something (!) to feel him more present. He just texted me many times asking if I had liked it, and I was sad to see that my friends invited him and he had excused himself. So I just answered shortly, like, yes, it’s amazing, they’re wonderful, its too bad you couldn’t come. Yeah I know, but you know I have a lot of work. Enjoy it, you deserve it. He says. I’m disappointed but of course I cannot really make a fight out of it, I don’t feel like he owes me anything, he’s free to be and do whatever he wants so, in my mind it’s like I can’t complain or whatever.

    Then it was the sex topic or physical intimacy, we do have intense and passionate sex but maybe, not so spontaneously for my taste. And the two times we’ve traveled together (both times to tropical very warm weather, let’s say, the beach) he has been distant physically and mentally. Like, I think we might be having issues in our apartment or whatever, but if we go with friends, he invites me, we have almost the perfect conditions to just relax and get closer and just have fun and be romantic, it should happen! On one of those trips there was lovely weather, we were next to a river, beautiful tropical place with his friends, and he decided to never get in the river with us, he just stayed the 5 or 6 days reading a book in the house. I ended up hanging out with his friends, first I thought okay, it’s fine, he’s having a good time and I am too, each one of us with the activities we were interested in, but we didn’t hang out. There’s just a difference between reading a book and not spending time together. He never came to check up if I was okay by myself with his friends, nor anything. We almost didn’t have sex, and I had decided by then I was not gonna have a bad time because of it, maybe, I thought, if he feels I’m having a good time with his people, he’ll relax and be more spontaneous as well and come join us. And though he wasn’t really upset or horribly cold, I felt unseen, I stopped wanting to have sex as well, and it only happened one time the whole trip. Like, just once we were by ourselves in our room in the afternoon and I thought well it might be a good time and he just took a nap with his back turned over not even hugging me, just beyond sex, I don’t even know how to feel. I would try to initiate it but I just feel a wall in his whole body language, like, hey you have your girlfriend in a bikini and next thing you do is turn away, should I even try? The thing is when I talk to him about this it becomes a fight. I don’t get angry, I just feel sad and end up freezing as well because I’ve never had this kind of situation before, I’ve asked sincerely like, do you want me? do you love me? and he’s like of course. I love doing this and this and this. And when it happens I feel like he really does enjoy it. But it feels like a knife in my heart, its not even the sex itself, its that cold gesture, the distance. I dont get it. Every time I express that I feel he’s cold he just complains that he receives all criticism while I don’t talk about myself enough. He says I only see the bad, that I focus too much on stuff, that nothing was wrong and I’m just creating fights or whatever. And I never end up getting a straight answer, he has mentioned that maybe he was stressed or whatever, but I still feel the varying closeness and it kills me, because I react somewhat similar than him and so he blames it on “my coldness”.

    So Im struggling to understand: how can we know if we have a healthy indicator of unmet needs in a relationship VS we’re being unreasonably needy and totally codependent?

    I am not a caregiver or an “enabler” nor controlling, but I do  have a lot of guilt when sharing my needs and trying to get them met.

    I do try to solve everything collaboratively, I ask what he needs, if there’s anything wrong, and ugh, we end up fighting. Truth is, I don’t want to criticize him, but I don’t want to be gaslighted either.

     

    Any thoughts?

     

     

    • This topic was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by faber castell.
    #373189
    Peter
    Participant

    So Im struggling to understand: how can we know if we have a healthy indicator of unmet needs in a relationship VS we’re being unreasonably needy and totally codependent?

    Hi Faber

    My understanding with regards to codependent behavior is that at some levels it is always present in relationships. At its best each person inspires the other towards their betters self’s. A loving relationship with health boundaries a safe place to heal and grow.

    Negative codependency stifles growth enabling people to remain stuck in unhealth behaviors.  The challenge is that we bring our best and our worst with us into relationship, the relationship the crucible in which everything is mixed together and the task is to sort out the wheat “from the chaff”.  Like attracts like but also repels and some of our “ghosts”  fears and hurts picked up from our past will sometimes feed off each other and create a negative codependency.

    Reading your post the thought that came to mind is that each of you may be speaking a different “language” of love. How you experienced being loved and how you expect others to “hear” you as you express your love.  The book ‘The five languages of Love’ may be a interesting read. The intention is to become conscious of ones language and their partners and work together to become bilingual.

    #373193
    Peter
    Participant

    To further elaborate: Like attracts like but also repels and some of our “ghosts” – fears and hurts – picked up from our past will feed off each other and grow, developing into a negative codependency or  our “ghosts” will shine a light on each other, fade and move forward. In the process both are likely to happen

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by Peter.
    #373200
    anita
    Participant

    Dear faber castell:

    Welcome back, faber castell! I read your past threads so to be better able to respond to your most recent thread. First I will summarize what you shared before, including quotes, and then I will respond to your new thread.

    In November 2013, at 26 or 27, you shared that you met a guy who told you that “he thought that a combination of my brains and personality with *somegirl’s*face would be just the perfect & ideal woman”, “I’ve felt like he told me something I’ve felt my whole life: that guys don’t really find me that attractive… We live in such shallow world”.

    A year later, in September- October 2014, you shared that you were in an on and off relationship with a guy for nine months. You initiated four breakups, but he was “the one who actually followed through every single time”,  “he said he wanted to marry me every single time we got back together”.

    You shared: “I’m normally very explosive and while I’ve made a big effort to be calm.. he says my anger is horrible and my temper is out of proportion”. He broke up with you for the  last time right after the two of you had sex in the shower. You were hurt and upset by the timing, and he told you: “well, sorry about that, it was a mistake because I still wanted to break up with you”. The experience affected you this way: “I wake up everyday with a horrible pain in my stomach and I think I’m angry and frustrated but can’t really connect to those emotions. I feel like I have no strength at all and I need to hold him accountable… I think I’m starting to get depressed, my sleep patterns are off”.

    In March 2015, at 28, you shared that you attended a party where a guy approached you and told you that you had “nice energy”, that you were “a normal girl.. cool and.. a little ugly”. You kept asking him: “What?”. He apologized and told you that he was drunk. Another guy you knew from college told you that you were “attractive in a non-mainstream way”, and yet another guy told you regarding his interest in you: “It’s not because you’re pretty, hell, if it were for that, there are much prettier girls out there”.

    In January 2016, at 29, you shared that you were recently ghosted by the first woman you ever dated. You found out that she had business cards of a person she was perhaps interested in romantically. Regarding those business cards, you “asked why she had them (no snapping, just asking) and she gave me almost 5 contradicting answers. I asked again, why? what?… I got mad, naturally.. I was tired of fighting”.

    Three years later, in March 2019, at 32, you shared: “I feel apathy after my last relationship ended. It’s as if I lost my sexual energy… I say what I think, I get sad, I get angry but feel powerless, impotent with what I’ve seen in humanity in recent years”.

    In September 2019, you shared that recently you had a match with a guy on tinder. The guy was very conflicted about dating you, taking a very long time to ask you out, telling you before the first date: “if we weren’t attracted to each other ‘at least’ we knew it would be fun to meet”, and during the two dates you had,  “he didn’t try much”. On the second date, “he spoke on and on about him.. he didn’t ask too much questions”, and later, he “stated again, awkwardly: ‘… I don’t know if I think you’re cool, of if I’m physically attracted to you”. He then asked you if you “would be interested in hanging out again knowing he’s not ‘necessarily’ interested in something romantic”, but then, he was gone.

    On October 2019, you shared that you “feel uneasy almost all of the time” when you are with guys, and that you rationalize yourself a lot, that “there are two types of uncomfortable: sometimes you need to get out of your shell to meet people and have fun and share with others.. and sometimes you’re just with the wrong people”. You asked: “How do you differentiate your own feelings of insecurity from toxic people who can harm you?”

    On January 2021, at 34, you shared about ending a recent six months relationship because you feel unimportant to him, and you feel “a lack of intimacy, or closeness.. a huge lack of romantic gestures”. You shared: “Every time I express that I feel he’s cold he just complains that he receives all criticism while I don’t talk about myself enough. He says I only see the bad, that I focus too much on stuff, that nothing was wrong and I’m just creating fights or whatever… we end up fighting”, and he blamed you of being cold (“he blames it on ‘my coldness'”). You also shared that you met his family and friends, but that he did not meet your family and friends. You asked: “how can we know if we have a healthy indicator on unmet needs in a relationship VS we’re being unreasonably needy and totally codependent?”

    My input/ questions today: I don’t have any thoughts or suggestions for you at this time. I may have thoughts and suggestions if you choose to answer any of the following three questions (please feel free to answer or not, I am okay with whatever your choice may be):

    1) You wrote regarding this most recent man in your life: “he has mentioned that maybe he was stressed or whatever, but I still feel the varying closeness and it kills me, because I react somewhat similar than him and so he blames it on ‘my coldness'”- can you give me three concrete examples (no commentary about your thoughts and intentions/ no rationalizing) of him behaving toward you a certain way, and you reacting to him with coldness?

    2) Regarding the same man, you wrote: “we end up fighting”- can you give me a concrete description (no commentary about your thoughts and intentions) of two fights you had: what you said/ did, what he said/ did?

    3) Can you share about your childhood experience, your relationships with your parents/ siblings?

    anita

     

    #373264
    faber castell
    Participant

    “To further elaborate: Like attracts like but also repels and some of our “ghosts” – fears and hurts – picked up from our past will feed off each other and grow, developing into a negative codependency or  our “ghosts” will shine a light on each other, fade and move forward. In the process both are likely to happen”

    Yes Peter, thank you so much, I think I get what you are saying. It does seem to me like every need is valid, then… How complicated can relationships be…

    #373435
    Peter
    Participant

    Hi Faber

    Relationships can be complicated yet maybe also simple, the key perhaps is paying attention and taking a breathe when we feel ourselves panicking.

    I recently completed a Book by Fredrik Backman ‘Anxious People’. A complex simple story about a lot of things but maybe mostly about how we are all need and rely (co-depend) on others, even if we don’t always know how. Being co-dependent can be the most beautiful of experiences someone ever has and also the most painful.

    I think here of fathers and sons… my father recently passing… In memory I wonder about the times I was dependent and times I was depended on, sometimes failing yet I trust most times… good enough, doing the best we could. The bitter and the sweet giving life its flavor, maybe the error we make, if their is a error, is in the way we measure.

    I like the way the book begins.. I wonder if it might not be a good way to start our stories.

    “This story is about a lot of things, but mostly about idiots. So it needs saying from the outset that it’s always very easy to declare that other people are idiots, but only if you forget how idiotically difficult being human is. Especially if you have other people you’re trying to be a reasonably good human being for. ”

     

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by Peter.
    #373949
    Emily
    Participant

    Hi Faber,

    I came across your post when I was searching for ways to ease my stress at work.

    I do not believe you are co-dependent. I believe that your needs are absolutely normal and not exagerrated. The behavior you described doesn’t mean that your boyfriend is “wrong” for being who he is, it just means that he really is not a match for you. I hope you broke up with him by now. If you don’t, it will only become worse on the long term because he is who he is and things like that only get worse in a long term relationship.

    I am in a similar situation with my husband. However, when we were dating, he was not like this. I knew he wasn’t as over the top as other people I have dated, but he was plenty romantic and was meeting my needs. However, he got worse and worse and worse with the passing of time. Now there is no sex at all, but also no cuddling, romance, nothing of the sort, and I’m telling you this is hearbreaking. I know he is a good person and I know he loves me, but this is not something I wish you experienced. I get that you dated a lot and were probably dissapointed a lot, but the sooner you let this man go, the sooner you will find the one who will be happy to touch you and tell you he loves you. You deserve better than someone who can’t offer the affection you need. Regardless of how much you could understand what love language he has and how different it is from yours, you will not be happy with him because you two are not a match.

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