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ah1207

The case of the disappearing boyfriend

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ah1207

Hi everyone -

I'd love some help/reassurance with a recurring issue in my relationship. As you might be able to guess, I'm currently in the throes of this issue right now.

 

Background:

We are mid-to-late 30-somethings. We've been together for 18 months. He has Aspergers. I am a highly empathetic person with depression/anxiety disorder and a bit of a history of emotionally messed up relationships. I'm in therapy and take meds. Some of his behaviors have confused me and made me feel sad, unloved, or emotionally crappy (again, working on it in therapy). Once I was given the information that he has Aspergers, my perspective changed and our relationship improved.

 

I'm not good with abandonment and radio silence. Without notice, my boyfriend will occasionally disappear. When we are in a loving space, he will tell me in advance that he's going quiet.  Not so much at the moment.

 

The Issue:

We discussed having our first vacation together and he told me when we could go and I took the time off 2 months in advance. We both have traveled the world solo many times so a trip together is a big deal for both of us.

 

Over a few weeks, I made it through his declarations that he was feeling pressured to make plans, that he refused to talk about the trip, and, ultimately, his spontaneous bouts of brainstorming vacation spots.

 

1 Month to Go:

I declared that there was no way I was being stuck in town and gave him 2 weeks to figure out if we were going to go on our first vacation together and, if he can't commit by that date, I'm going to leave town with my friends who are renting a house.

 

2 Weeks to Go:

He still wouldn't commit and told me to "do what you have to do" (pretty passive aggressively).  So, I purchased a ticket to go away with my friends. I told him but I said I was flexible (granted I should have been clearer and specified I meant 1 or 2 days of flexibility - not the whole 5 days).

 

1 Week to Go:

He surprised me with having purchased supplies for a trip 12 hours away and booked a hotel.  I was taken aback! I said that I’d already made plans, which he knew, and why didn’t he tell me he was making purchases and reservations? He pointed out that I said I had said my plans were flexible.

 

After his grouchiness and my shock/anger dissipated for the most part, we had a lovely afternoon. For some reason I felt compelled to ask “is this my only chance to go away with you”? (yeah, needy to ask)  He said (possibly joking) - “yes. this was it”. Multiple times over the day. That got me super duper anxious, since I’ve been asking for us to go away together for 6 months.  (And he has a tendency to make declarations that it takes forever for me to get him to drop.)

 

4 Days to Go:

Over the past 3 days I’ve sent something like 20 emails and texts. (I know this is over the top and clingy. My anxiety was totally getting the best of me.) The first one explained why I needed him to plan in advance and that having some sort of plan calms me. In a very kind and thought out way. It also explained that I was anxious about the idea of me screwing up our only test-vacation chance.

 

Then I tried to track him down and pushed him to tell me if he had really planned the trip or he was just saying it, and, if so, I would try to get the money back. Then I got the option to get the money back, informed him, but I needed to know right away so I could find my friend another way to get to the beach. (I also sent our normal jokey forwards and such, which accounts for the bulk of those emails.)  

 

Note:

He has a tendency to go radio silent for a few days. It drives me crazy.  I fall into self-loathing and/or hating him.

 

Status:

We are now 2 days away from the trip. He has not responded to any of my emails. I’m an anxious wreck. I love him when things are good. Really love him. We have amazing, amazing days of laughing and romance and intellectual stimulation. But when things are like this, it feels so painful.

 

Question:

I know I MUST not contact him. That’s a given. But I want to know, is this disregard for my needs somewhat normal? Is this avoiding planning a familiar trait? Should I just nix this?  What else jumps out at you when you read this? Should I just give up the ghost and get out?

 

 

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epiphanycakes

when was he diagnosed  ?  have you sat down and talked about it? is it recent this behavior? 

btw i do walk away sometimes if i think a covo is over if my mum and dad have a long pause, and i do stay indoors alot and get upset/ frustrated if my " alone time" is taken from me. also, he might be stressed due too the diagnoses, i was its hard to accept it sometimes.

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Willow

I don't wish to be dismissive of the bulk of your post, but: 
 

What else jumps out at you when you read this?

 

It jumped out to me that, had I not know who had what diagnosis, I would have guessed you had Asperger's and he didn't. Planning is a huge, huge deal for me, and a lot of other people on the spectrum.

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ah1207

Thanks! He was never officially diagnosed.  But he's been told over the years and he has said multiple times "I think I have Aspergers" and "People have told me I have Aspergers".  Among many symptoms, he has confided that he has been told many times he needs to work on empathy (an understatement).  

 

Through out our relationship, he's had a history of doing this annoying disappearing for days and it always makes me angry/anxious that i did something wrong.

 

I've told him the behavior causes me tremendous anxiety but this is a particularly frustrating one.  



Thats interesting Willow. Planning, for me, is simply a way to control the mania. I tend to rarely follow the plans i make, but need the commitment of a plan when it comes to something this big.

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spiderwoman0_2

I must admit I agree with Willow, now to me it sounds like he only wants to know you when it's at his convenience and if I were you I'd go on the trip either alone or with your friends.  Don't contact him at all and if he doesn't contact you then you at least know that he's just not that into you.  

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ah1207

Thanks, Spider Woman.  I'm sure there is also some freaking out after the whole "i love you" thing too

Edited by ah1207

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Michael D

I have been in your situation. With the wisdom of hindsight I'll offer some tips on what I wish I would have known during my relationship with a lovely Aspie girl. It sounds like you're already doing most of what I'm about to say.

* Assume NOTHING. Spell everything out in excruciating detail, especially plans, needs, or expectations. Go for getting the message through first, before you work on agreement.

* When you've got agreement, or at least mutual understanding, stick to your side of things unless/until you both agree there's a change. This includes things you've put forward as your demands or requirements in the scenario. You may have to play hardball to protect your own emotions or delicate plans. If you give in on the important things to "keep the peace", it is unlikely to be appreciated, or even noticed.

* If your partner can't adapt to this very basic level of reciprocity in the relationship, you'll have to decide if this relationship offers enough positives on balance to make up for this type of grief for you. Only you can answer that for yourself.

* Always have a "Plan B", and don't feel guilty if you have to go to it to salvage something from a scenario gone bad.

In general I'd say to make very explicit attempts to come to understanding on any given point, before abandoning it as hopeless out of hand. But in the end if you can't get your needs met, you have to decide if self-sacrifice for another's needs is what you want.

There's a YouTube video by "Willow's Web Astrology" about the NT woman's perspective on dating an Aspie male. (No connection to our Willow here). Aside from the unfortunate reference to astrology nonsense here and there, she does a fine job of explaining the challenges inherent in the relationship.

Edited by Michael D

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L Lawliet

I like to plan everything in advance too, but sometimes, even if something has been planned for ages, I get anxious. I'm going on holiday next week with my other half and I got quite nervous last week.

 

I think it's mainly the fear of the unexpected, the thought of something or everything going wrong and not going to plan, or what if we fall out over something stupid and I'm nowhere famlier to retreat to or feel comfortable. Things like that. It's silly I know. I like to know all of the dates so I can prepare myself but I get anxious. As a teenager I just used to walk off to clear my head. Not as much nowadays but I used to do it a lot.

 

I don't know if I think you have aspergers, I would say that because he's been quite distant it's caused you to be frustrated because you can't plan, and then clingy because he's being hard to read. But I'm no expert and don't have much experience when it comes to AS (apart from my own :P).

 

I don't know how to solve this for you but maybe back off on the txts and stuff for a while, he might be feeling a little bombarded which won't help things. I know it's frustrating for you but try to not contact him right until you really can't leave it anymore. However this turns out, you need to have a conversation with him for anything that may happen like this in the future. Hope everything goes ok :)

Edited by StarGazingWithU

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Pinky and his brain

As others have mentioned, I don't necessarily think he's an aspie. He could have some other issues though.

 

Not making plans, and not being willing to talk about plans, is not very aspie typical. In my case, I would probably be the one who drove you crazy with having to plan every little detail of that trip. I would just be going on and on about it, until nobody would want to go anymore. ;)

 

I need my plans to be perfect, otherwise my anxiety will destroy me.

 

 

I think you need to figure out exactly what the problem is, and then decide what to do about it. It might be too late for that trip, but then you just have to go alone. And then when you get home, you take a long talk with your partner. If he cannot commit/open up to you after 18 month, he will never do. And then you might both be better off alone.

Edited by Pinky and his brain

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ah1207

Everyone-

Your advice has been extremely valuable and I appreciate you so much. I think its clear that we are not a good match and his tendencies, while perfectly fine for him, activate my severe depression and anxiety disorder. This is not the only time ive felt like my heart was broken by actions he cant change or see as potentially causing hurt feelings. That and frustration/anger as a result of our core differences.

I love him deeply and know he loves me - but i dont want to feel needy, anxious, or dismissed repeatedly. Its time for me to end it. He ffundamentally cant understand things that activate my mental health issues (which ive been in therapy for for years.)

Oh - and an update: I decided to go away with friends instead. Within 30 seconds of my email he responded. "Sorry ive been busy with work. Are you free tonight?"

We had a lovely time. He was sweet and attentive (and we were our usual sarcastic selves).

But its clear I need to nix this. It isn't going to get better. Thanks again for your help. XO

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