He says he emotionally checked out...if I prove myself will he ever check back in?

I've been dating my boyfriend for 5 months, have known him 2 years. He's 25, I'm 28. I'm his first serious girlfriend since high school. He's dated, but he says he's never met someone he wanted to call his girlfriend until me. We have been great friends the past couple of years, and when we finally realized we loved each other, we fell hard and fast. I take his age and inexperience into account when it comes to certain things that would usually bug me. However, I'm afraid that my past issues have unfortunately been creeping into my current relationship. I've had some tough breaks with guys; in emotionally abusive relationships, even have a broken engagement under my belt. So things that should just be minor disagreement turns into me saying "Oh, we should just break up," or "I'm leaving." That has become my defense mechanism, because I'm tried of being hurt. I feel like I should leave before getting hurt. However, he has never given me any reason to not trust him, and while he's not perfect and has screwed up a few times...I love and care for him wholeheartedly. He even discussed marriage and moving in together in the very beginning of us dating. However, every time we fight, I threaten to leave. Even though I don't mean it. I have sworn up and down that I will NEVER do this again, since I want to have a clear line of communication with him and want to work through our problems instead of giving up. And I haven't for a good 3 weeks now.

I've started every fight, I admit it. And I know that a relationship of 5 months should not be that hard. However, I have realized he's been treating me differently the past few weeks. He's distant, not attentive and just doesn't seem "checked in." I have been dying inside, and finally confronted him about it in a very professional way. And he was honest. He said ever since the last time I said "I'm leaving" he emotionally checked out. He says he definitely cares for me, and realizes how much I do for him. He says he wishes he could reciprocate, but he's afraid it's not enough. I told him I do the things I do for him because I care for him (cook, clean, just be there, etc.) and that I do not expect anything in return except for his love and support. He also notes the difference in the stages of our lives: He's just finishing school and I'm already well into my career. He's afraid I'm thinking marriage, baby soon and he's nowhere close (although he mentioned it in the very beginning? wtf?) Truth is, I see that in my future, but I'm more focused on finding the right person to share that with. Even if it takes 10 years, if I'm happy, that's all that matters. But his entire demeanor towards me has changed. He's checked out. He still shows affection, but it's almost like we're just going through the motions. I told him I cannot live like this, that I want someone that wants to be with me. He says he does, and that it's going to take work. But I'm afraid I'll never get it back to the amazing beginning. Will he ever check back in with me?
I just want to add, that I have made a promise to stop this behavior and to talk things through with him when they're bothering me, rather than just wanting to walk away. I understand my faults. He told me he wants the fun loving girl he loved in the beginning...I know she's still there. Sometimes, I feel like I wasn't emotionally ready or prepared for this relationship, due to all of the issues I needed to work out myself. But it felt so right.


Most Helpful Guy

  • i understand the feeling of wanting to leave before you get hurt. I've been there. been cheated on, and engagements broken as well...

    that said, and again I've dealt with this, if you threaten to leave enough times it makes it hard for a person to fully invest in the relationship. just as you feel like you have to protect yourself I imagine your boyfriend feels similarly and so he is checking out a bit so that if you do finally follow through on your threat to leave and end the relationship his investment isn't as great.

    kinda like a stock that seems very volatile and on teh brink of collapsing. the investory will probably pull out entirely or at least somewhat to protect their investment right?

    I think you just need to tell him, look I know I've got to work on my committment issues. I know I've got to stop threatening to leave. Explain how you feel about him and ask him to please give you a chance to a) improve yourself and b) prove your devotion to this relationship...

    that said don't ignore or let him get away with things if they are truly inappropriate behaviors in a relationship. while you are concerned about your own history he needs to take responsibility for his behaviors and work to improve it. you both should really just work on things and understand that is is a work in progress

    • Thank you so much for your comment. Everything you've said is 100% true, and I have asked for him to give me a chance, which he agrees that he still wants to be with me. I'm afraid it's too little too late though, & although he says it, he may never fully emotionally invest again. I guess that's just a risk I'll have to take. 5 months is way too soon to be having these issues, & I hate that I feel like I've brought them all on myself. Where's a time machine when you need one?! lol

    • i don't think it's too little too late. the issue isn't about chemistry or things you have done wrong in the sense that you aren't the person he thinks you are or vice versa. it's just a matter of overcoming some adversity. trust that his feelings for you are there until proven otherwise...this is something I have to work on constantly in my relationships as a result of past relationships.

    • Thank you for the positive reinforcement :) I really do try to be positive in most aspects of my life, but when it comes to relationships...that's a different story! I guess I'm just confused on what the next steps are. Do I just sit back and give him space? I guess time will help this situation. I just need to continue to better myself. I appreciate your feedback & it helps to know I'm not the only one dealing with this

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What Guys Said 2

  • I'm sorry, but... Differences can be fun in the start, but in the end, it's the things you have IN COMMON that counts... if he is on a different stage of life, chances that the relationship will last is already slim.

  • I didn't have to go past the first sentence. The answer is no. If you can "emotionally check-out" in under 6 mos. you're simply not capable of showing any form of grit. He's worthless for any long-term anything.

    • she needs to stop threatening to leave though. if someone you care about/love tells you you're a piece of sh*t enough times you'll start to wonder if you in fact are a piece of sh*t... if a person constantly threatens to leave at some point it is going to affect your behavior

    • You both are right. Yes, I agree that 5 mths is a bit too soon to be having these types of issues. But I know not every relationship is cookie cutter. And I understand my threats to leave have definitely put a strain on it. I have never said he was a "pos" nor would I ever speak that harshly to him because I know it's not true, but I understand it feels the same inside. I never did this with past relationships, when I should have. Now I'm doing it with a guy who hasn't given me a reason to. I suck.

    • Well it doesn't matter who is at fault; the truth is that the relationship may as well have ended by now. The only way to mend such a broken thing is to decide together that you will both change and work as one's check and balance. That's hard. Really, really hard.

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