Q: My boyfriend of 3 years has completely shut down on me. How do I show him I care, when he won’t see or talk to me? This is the third summer this has happened accept this time it seems worse… [In the past] he mentioned that I was always there for him. In fact we talked for the first time in depth about his issues. He apologised and said that all that was behind him now. We had a lovely year, lots of loving and caring. He tells me how much I mean to him and I believe him. He was working hard in his career to build a future for us.
This [episode of depression] seems worse to me. He does usually make some contact but when he does, the problem never gets mentioned. I really don’t know how to cope with this at the moment. Does he really love me; did he just think he did? Does he want me to be here for him or would he rather I just go because he believes he is no good for me? He has had a very troubled past…This seems to be the root of the depression. He told me that he has been hurt 3 or 4 times in the past, most likely because the women couldn’t take this behaviour. I want to be there for him. I love him very much and when things are ok, it’s wonderful.
Do you think he believes I am going to stick by him? I will, for as long as it takes but how can I prove that to him if he won’t talk to me or see me? Is he trying to forget me? He has not once said that he wants to end anything so I am trying to take that as a positive. Maybe he thought that being with me had put an end to his depression and when he realized it hadn’t he withdrew into it again?
To read the rest of her comment, go to How to Deal With Depression in a Love Relationship. If your boyfriend keeps pushes you away, you’ll see you’re not alone.
When Your Boyfriend Keeps Pushing You Away
A: All the questions you asked are about what your boyfriend is thinking, doing, and feeling. Those are impossible questions to answer – you’ll never know for sure what’s going on in his mind. People are very complicated, especially if they have emotional health issues that affect their thoughts and actions. I think you’re wasting your time and energy by trying to figure out why he keeps pushing you away and whether you can show him that you care.
Instead, I encourage you to focus on getting yourself as emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy as possible. Don’t drive yourself mad trying to figure him out, because you’ll never find the answers or any type of peace.
I think you need to accept that your boyfriend will always be in and out of your life, both emotionally and physically. He can’t sustain a healthy long-term love relationship without taking time away. I don’t know why that is or what he gets out of his time apart from you, but it’s something he needs to do. He is pushing you away, and I believe he does know that you care about him.
If you need to reassure yourself that he indeed knows you’re there for him, you might write him a note that says you’ll wait for him. However, I suspect you’ve made it clear for him. He’s pushing you away not because of YOU, but because of HIM.
To be happy in your relationship, you have to accept him on his terms. Your boyfriend has had some painful experiences in the past that have made him the way he is, and if I were you I’d assume that he won’t change. Change is difficult no matter how old you are – though a counselor once told me that older people (over age 65) are sometimes more eager to change than younger people, because older people realize that what they’re doing isn’t working for them anymore. I’m not sure if this is true for everyone, but it’s an interesting thought!
Accepting your boyfriend on his terms means that you stop trying to figure out his thoughts, motivations, and actions. You need to accept him at face value. Appreciate and love him when he’s in your life, and focus on having a happy, fulfilling life when he’s not around.
Accepting him this way means accepting that you’re in a relationship that involves an absent boyfriend for weeks or months out of every year. Is this something you’re willing to live with?
For more tips on being there for your boyfriend even though he keeps pushing you away, read Can Your Love Relationship Survive a Serious Illness?
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.