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He shut down

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  June 23, 2010 09:00 AM

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Our letter writer either named herself after a novel I had to read in high school … or an upcoming movie starring 50 Cent. Either way, I'm into it.

Chat at 1.

Q: Meredith,

I had been dating a guy for about five months. Things went really well. We were both amazed at how we could spend hours talking. While we had very different backgrounds and interests, our common ground was our morals. I was very happy. I felt adored. I felt listened to and cared for. I felt like I had a partner in crime and in happiness. He would interrupt a conversation to tell me how happy I made him.

Early on, he had been honest with me about his past, that he had a serious drug problem that required intervention, nasty breakup with a girlfriend, depression, and a stressful family situation. I was honest with him and told him those things were in the past and that I didn't feel right judging him based on past events, however if they reappeared we would have to deal with them.

Cut to the past two weeks.

I went on a trip to visit some friends cross country -- while I was away, he ignored every text, email, phone call, voicemail. I was so hurt. I’m not clingy, but a funny text here or there or a good night phone call never hurt anyone. Mind you, we email frequently while at work, text while not at work, and see each other about 4-5 times per week – so a form of communication per day is not asking for a lot based on experience.

I come back and express that I was really hurt. He goes into this long drawn out conversation about how unhappy he is, how I don’t trust him, how he’s busy "making moves," and that we should break up – this is all at 2am. We talk it out and he admits that he's been really unhappy with himself, doesn't feel he’s where he should be (job, house, education, etc.). I promise to support him however he needs it (through space or through actual support). Things are fine for a week. We have dinner with his mother, she gives me a gift she got me while on her vacation, and pulls me aside and tells me how happy she is, and that she thinks her son is very lucky to have me in his life. Next day I take him to meet my extended family – which I have only done on one other occasion, so it’s a VERY big deal. Everything goes well.

Day after that, on the way to look at condos for him, he makes a very hurtful comment to me. I was really upset and didn’t want to derail the process of house hunting so I said I was going to go home. He had no objections. The next day I had a job interview, and when discussing it with him that night, all he could do was pick it apart and was so extremely judgmental and argumentative. He tried to get off the phone, but I told him I wanted an explanation for his behavior, why he was acting so cold to me.

He gave a very distant speech about how he needed to worry about himself and couldn't deal with me stressing him out and that it was best if we parted ways. I called him out on speaking to me like it was a business transaction – his response -- "I apologize."

So here's the question, do I walk away and forget about him, seeing how I can't really talk to someone who doesn't talk. OR Do I fight? I know something is up with him. He's obviously depressed again and refusing to talk to anyone about it. I really care about him, but where do I cross the line and worry about myself rather than him?

– Things Fall Apart, Boston


A: We get a lot of letters from people who want to know if they should fight for their relationships, TFA. I’m all for fighting to save things but only when two people are fighting together. You'd be fighting against this guy. That doesn't seem like a good use of your fighting powers.

He's either mixed up and doesn't want you near him, or he's less mixed up than he seems and he doesn't want you near him. Maybe this is more depression. Maybe he has commitment issues. Maybe he doesn't understand that the whole "I'm not feeling like I am where I should be" thing doesn't entitle you to be a jerk. Also, while we're on the subject, how many of us are exactly where we think we should be? Unfortunately, we can't script our lives so that we meet the perfect partner right after we find the right job, purchase the right property, and lose the right amount of weight. He either wants a partner right now or he doesn’t.

If you're really worried about his depression and think he might be a danger to himself, e-mail his mom. I'm sure pretty sure she's already aware of his issues and is watching over him. She bought you a gift and told you her son was lucky to have you around. Seems to me she knows he's not so easy to deal with.

At this point, your job is to worry about yourself, which means lots of time with friends and that extended family of yours.

I'm sorry. The good news is, he may have changed his behavior, but you're still awesome.

Readers? When are you supposed to "fight" for a relationship? Should his personality change be the letter writer's concern? What should the LW be doing now? Discuss.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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