He is in his "bat cave," how do I show support without appearing absent?

My poor, dear boyfriend has had one hell of a year. When we first got together, his dad was diagnosed with cancer, and although it took a little bit of prodding, he opened up to me about his feelings, and we got through it together.

Then, he got really sick, and despite being to countless doctors and doing what seems like hundreds of tests, he never found a cause or a solution, and he missed about two months of work from it, all told. He had just been sitting around at home mostly, and I've been there as much as I can be.

A week ago today, he found out his kid sister has cancer (she's only 12), as well. The news was devastating to him, because he is super close to her, and he collapsed on my shoulder in wracking sobs because of it. He doesn't open up much, so it was big that he came to me for this.

Since that time, he has basically disappeared. I went with him to the hospital that night (I am close with his family, as well, and it meant a LOT to everyone that I was there), and the next day, he told me to leave him alone for Thanksgiving because he wanted to spare me the pain. I just wanted to be there for him, but he told me no, and I respected his wishes.

Since then, I haven't heard from him, at all.

I sense that he needs space, so I gave it to him for a few days (we're used to talking to each other every single day on the phone, so that was a lot), texting him only a "<3." On Sunday, I called him, and he ignored me, and I told him I supported him but to let me know if he is OK. He responded, after some prodding, "I'm OK, I just need some space." I answered that I understood (because I truly do!) and that I would be here when he is ready, and that I'm not going anywhere.

Since then, I have been focusing on me--hanging out with friends, working, whatever I have to do to keep my mind off everything. I haven't tried to contact him AT ALL since Sunday.

My question is, what are my boundaries? Can I send his sister a card, knowing how much it would mean to her? Should I send the occasional text letting him know that I'm here but not asking for anything back? I know he has nothing to give to me right now, and I understand that, but what can I do to help, besides leaving him alone? Or is leaving him alone truly the best thing? How long should I wait?

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What Guys Said 1

  • If you're close to the family like you said, I think you can definitely send his sister a card.

    I'm not comparing this to what I'm about to say (because damn, that's a lot of stuff to deal with in a short period of time) but recently my grandfather passed away, and I was feeling pretty depressed about it. My girlfriend said all the appropriate stuff and whatnot and was very supportive, but what she was saying didn't really "connect" with me. I'm not sure how to describe it, but I just was feeling almost emotionless at the time and honestly I didn't really care about what she said. It didn't help one way or the other. Looking back, it was nice to know she was there. Anyway, during that time I texted her a lot less than I usually did, because I didn't really have much to say and didn't want to be ultra depressing.

    Then a few weeks later HER grandfather died and I had NO idea what to say, because I know that really saying anything won't make what she was feeling go away, but I still said supportive stuff and whatnot and interacted with her to whatever degree she wanted to at the time.

    So I don't know if he's going through something similar or what (he's clearly dealing with a lot more than either of us were) but I would keep giving him his space, but I wouldn't define that as absolutely no contact. I just wouldn't push him to have some spectacular emotional opening up if you know what I mean. Just the occasional text wouldn't hurt in my opinion. And really, letting his family know you're thinking of them too every now and then wouldn't be too bad (if you're that close I mean).

    I don' think he means NO contact. I think he's just depressed, which can lead to apathy about a lot of things, especially relationships, as they require a lot of emotional dedication to maintain and his emotions are pretty out of whack right now.

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    • Also, I'm really sorry you're going through this. I know it's stuff on his "side" of the family that is going wrong, and that it might not feel right given the circumstances to feel bad about the state of your relationship, but it's normal and it sucks. So I'm sorry about that, and best of luck.

What Girls Said 1

  • Wow, must be such a difficult time. I think sending his sister a card would be a nice thing to do considering you are close to his family. Maybe bring cook your fb some food and drop it at his house just to show him you care. If he wants space then give him space and just check up on him here and there. Maybe you could offer to take him to the hospital and and then go out to dinner. Just be there to listen to him and don't bombard him with questions :-)

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    • Just offer support offer to see him but don't put pressure on him or he may feel bad that he doesn't have the emotional strength to see you right now. Send him texts every now and then just saying your thinking of him and you hope he's OK, that way he can reply if he feels like chatting, and if he doesn't wanna talk at least he knows you're there

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    • is 'no contact' how you understand space? or is that what he requested?

      I think by space it means give him emotional and also physical space. I think dropping him a text once a day or even once every two days to let him know you are thinking of him etc and he can call you any time is fine.

      I think approach is nice, as it takes any pressure off him. he may feel like he has too much on his mind at the moment, whilst having to make time for you is causing him to withdraw...

    • ...so avoid any texts or communication which may put pressure on him to play his 'role' as a boyfriend. In the meantime just trust that he will come back to you when he is ready. in the mean time just continue to keep yourself busy and try not to take this to heart, and send him maybe a text a day or once every two days telling him you love him and hope he is OK etc (without expecitng a reply )

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