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Single Women (Abandoned Women) ; Boyfriends that Leave; Men who Abandon Women - Reply No 2

Abstract: Is it acceptable that a man from time to time abandons his woman for a shorter time?

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Single Women (Abandoned Women) ; Boyfriends that Leave; Men who Abandon Women - Reply No 2

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Question(s): 
Written by: Mattias Wide Westin, psychology student, under the supervision of Gunborg Palme, psychotherapist.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 20 Aug 2008.

I have had a relationship with a man for a year. Every third month, when our relationship is at its best, he dumps me and takes off. This has happened three times now and he can be gone for several months. He says that he feels claustrophobic and feels trapped and locked in a coffin. The only way for him to feel better is for him to take off. Is this some kind of phobia? /single women

Answer:

Web4Health has two answers written by different specialists. This is the other reply to this question.

Thank you for your letter.

You ask if your partner's behavior is caused by a phobia. It's difficult to answer this based only on your short description of the situation, but the behavior you describe doesn't match any phobia that i know of.

I interpret you letter as that you are not happy with him leaving and that you want to know what to do about it.

Since I don't know much about your relationship, it's hard for me to give you any concrete advice, what i can give you is some general thoughts about the situation.

All people have a need to be alone and to have the possibility to grow on their own. It's important to recognize this in a relationship and to give each other the space needed for personal growth.

This, however is not the same thing as the possibility to come and go as you wish in a relationship!

When you are in a relationship together it is important that you solve your problems together. When you write that your husband "takes off", it doesn't sound like a decision that was made together.

The situation might be working for him, especially since it seems like he can come back when it suites him. You, on the other hand, don't sound happy with the situation and it doesn't sound like it will work, at least not in the long run.

I think that you should really consider if this is the kind of relationship you want. Don't just think about the present, but also about the future?

Do you wish to have a family with children together with this man? How would him "taking off" work in that situation? I don't think that you should expect him to change just because you have children. And I think that you should ask your self if you really want to take that risk. Why would he feel less "trapped" just because your family got bigger?

In your letter you ask if he might be suffering from some kind of phobia that makes him leave you. As I stated I don't believe that is the case. This however, doesn't make him feeling trapped less real.

It is important to remember that although him feeling trapped can explain why he leaves you, it cannot defend it.

No matter how claustrophobic and trapped he feels, he is still responsible for his actions! If I'm angry and hit someone in the face it's just as wrong as if I was happy when i did it. It is still a choice that I make. Don't forget that he choses to leave you and he choses to come back.

I don't think that you should just stand idly by trying to understand your partner. Of course it is good to understand him but it is not enough. Try, to the best of your ability, to actively deal with the problem and to be an active participant in your relationship.

Someone might come with the objection that he might leave you if you start to make demands. This might be true but if he leaves you the question is how much your relationship meant to him in the first place. Isn't a relationship between two people all about both getting something out of it and feeling good? And if you want to change something in the relationship to achieve this he must be able to accept it - otherwise the relationship is only for him and not for you.

How can the two of you solve the situation?

This is nothing that you can solve by your self. Since your relationship involves both of you, you must actively try to solve your problems together!

I believe that the first thing that you must do is to talk to each other. Try to tell each other how you actually feel and take the time to listen to what the other has to say and try to understand the situation from the other person's point of view.

In your case you can try to find out what is making your husband feel trapped? Maybe it is possible to solve the situation by less drastic means than him just taking off.

I also think that you should clarify for each other what expectations you have on your relationship. How do you expect him to behave and what does he expect from you? Maybe you have very different expectations?

Also, think about what the relationship means to you and what it means to him.

Try to come to a solution that you are both happy with. It is important that neither of you just give in to the other's demands. That kind of solution tends to cost more than it's worth, and to make the relationship a burden rather than an asset.

If you find it difficult to talk to each other there are family counselors who can help.

Maybe you won't be able to solve all your problems just because you manage to talk about them. It is one thing to say that you are going to do something and a different thing to actually do it, but I believe that open communication is a step in the right direction towards a relationship where you don't have to "take" space but rather "give" it to each other

This is all the advice I can give you. Maybe it won't work out for you anyway. Maybe you can find a solution that you are both happy with, maybe you will find that there is "nothing to talk about". If so, I think that you should ask your self if this relationship is giving you what you want. Is it still worth it, despite the fact that he will leave you from time to time? If not, maybe you should start to think about how it would be to leave him.

Most of the men I know don't have the issues with closeness and commitment that you describe that your husband has. But maybe your husband has other qualities that makes it all worth it? What you should do is something you have to decide for your self.

To summarize, I would like to again stress the importance of both of you taking an active part in resolving this conflict. Don't sit idly and expect something to change for the better. Your best shot at fixing this is to take action to make your relationship better. You have your relationship together and it is your joint responsibility to make it better. Try to create a relationship that you are both satisfied with.

When all of this is done (or not done) it is up to you to decide if it is enough or not, it's your decision and you have to make it.

Web4Health has two answers written by different specialists. This is the other reply to the question.

Intelligent natural language question-answering in the area of psychology and psychiatry. Ask a simple question:
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