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Old 02-11-2013, 03:16 AM
BlazenBurn BlazenBurn is offline
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 34
Default What to do when your partner is grieving the end of a relationship?

Darling broke up with Chatty and it was not an easy break up. Chatty did not take it well and Darling has decided to not have contact with her (as described in my earlier post about BPD). He is very depressed now and keeps coming to me for reassurances that he is not an horrible person. Today he basically hibernated in bed. Rationally, I know he is grieving the loss of this relationship. I know it will take time for him to recover. I am trying to support him as much as possible but I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.

I'm having some irrational feelings. I am a bit depressed myself because he can't be with me emotionally right now. He head is very full of her right. He starts a conversation with me about how he is feeling and then when I talk back tells me that he doesn't want to talk about it. I am paranoid he will contact her and we will start back on the roller coaster again if I don't give him constant emotional support. If he does that, I know that I will have to step back from him. I love him very much and am afraid that will happen. Then I feel guilty because "how dare I be thinking about myself" when he is in so much pain?

I think I am taking on too much but I don't know how to support him but not loose myself in his grief.
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Old 02-11-2013, 04:13 PM
MeeraReed MeeraReed is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: East Coast, U.S.
Posts: 441

Let him grieve on his own. Don't try to manage his feelings for him. Let him hibernate in bed and be sad. Go about your business.

I know you want to be there for him and be supportive, but giving him space might be the best way to do this.
Single, straight, female, solo, non-monogamous.
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Old 02-11-2013, 04:27 PM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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Location: US
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Does he have someone else he can vent to? A close friend? If so, urge him to talk with them. It is pretty common for a primary type partner to want to be there emotionally for a grieving partner but when the cause of the grief is the end of a rather messed up relationship, that can be difficult to do. Having an 'outsider' provide some support can be a very healthy thing.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:09 PM
BlazenBurn BlazenBurn is offline
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 34

I've encouraged him to talk to a therapist because he needs someone outside the situation to talk with. I've encouraged him to keep busy. He goes to work, comes home and hibernates. Either going to sleep or just laying there in bed, doing nothing.

Yes, it is very hard for me. I want to help him get through this pain but in doing so, it causes me pain. I feel horribly selfish right now.
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Old 02-23-2013, 02:00 AM
BlazenBurn BlazenBurn is offline
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 34

Darling is still actively grieving his relationship with Chatty. He has started seeing a therapist, thank goodness. He still has terrible bouts of guilt, which sends him to hibernate in bed. He tells me he needs me to "just be here" for him.

I have been in the middle of a custody battle for the last eight months and this week I was given sole custody of my children. This was a big deal to me. I was so happy and wanted to share it with him but he was too depressed. He just couldn't be there in the moment for me.

I know there is no time limit for grieving. I am trying to be very supportive but I am starting to get sad too. It's like I've lost him. I miss him.
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Old 02-23-2013, 03:06 AM
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undefinable undefinable is offline
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: East of Calgary, Alberta
Posts: 33
Default Let it lie.

Grief is a tough one to measure, but in general, let it be. Time will heal the sharpest pain, and more time will soothe the lasting aches. I know its tough, but things will return to where they are right. They always do, it sometimes just takes longer than you want them to.

Stay strong, and keep on writing, it can be extremely cathartic.

Life is all about connections. Love is infinite. Spread the wealth.
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Old 02-23-2013, 03:19 AM
ThatGirlInGray ThatGirlInGray is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Northern Cali
Posts: 552

I can understand grieving that even a friendship isn't possible and being sad about how many issues she has, but hadn't he already decided that he wasn't interested in a romantic relationship with her, and that it was basically done out of convenience in the first place? I guess I don't understand where this strong depression is coming from. It's good that he talking to a therapist- if this has deeper roots than the loss of one relationship hopefully the therapist can help him figure it out.

I don't want to say to someone, "Okay, your time to grieve is up, snap out of it" because I know it doesn't work that way. But at the same time I feel like celebrating the positive conclusion of the 8 month custody battle should take precedence over grieving a relationship that ended. Particularly when it's already been 2 weeks, and it was not a "life-partner" type of relationship. He may not be able to *feel* as happy for you as either of you would wish, but as a grown adult, assuming no mental or physical health issues, he should at least be able to be there for YOU in your happiness as he wants you to be there for him in his grieving.
Pan Female, Hinge in a V between my mono (straight) husband, Monochrome and my poly (pan) partner, ThatGuyInBlack
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:18 AM
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Emm Emm is offline
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Originally Posted by BlazenBurn View Post
I have been in the middle of a custody battle for the last eight months and this week I was given sole custody of my children.
That must be a great weight off your mind. Congratulations.
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:29 PM
sparklepop sparklepop is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 467

Hi Blazen,

First of all - congratulations on your custody battle.

Secondly - I understand how hard it is to not only try to support a partner through breakup grievance; but to also have a partner who shuts you out
in some large way during their process: be that hiding away, or not wanting to hear about your successes.

Am I right in remembering from an earlier post that D and C were together for 10 years??

If so, that is a very, very long time indeed and I can understand why he is still depressed after two weeks. Not only does he have to unpick a decade of habit and connection with this person... he also has to let go of any codependent guilt he may be feeling (or even pure, normal, "I dumped someone vulnerable" guilt).

Most importantly, he's getting help from someone else. We all (myself included) can be guilty at times of expecting our partner to be our sole source of comfort and congratulations. It's natural to feel that way - especially if you feel you would offer both in return.

I do not think you are being 'me me me'. I think you are saying 'that is him' and 'this is me, over here'. You are saying 'where is the partnership here?'

Though I have never been diagnosed, I am pretty sure I've had some bouts of depression. Sometimes 48-hour black, morbid moods; sometimes week-long dark moments; sometimes longer. I've been through breakups. I've never been in a headspace where I haven't wanted to hear about my partner's joy... unless, perhaps, that joy relates to another relationship... then it just feels like rubbing salt in an open wound.

However, I haven't ended a 10 year relationship, either. I think it might take him a very long time indeed to get over this.

If this helps at all... I have been in your position with my girlfriend very recently (and once before). She broke up with her secondary of 2 years, whom she loves with all of her heart and soul. She was devastated; completely wrecked. She and I usually talk for hours and hours every day, about everything under the sun. When this happened, she completely pushed me away. For the first few days, her mind needed to lash out, so she blamed me for their breakup, because our relationship had been growing closer and she'd been giving him less attention. She was battling grief, guilt, anger, sadness; everything really. For an entire month, she barely spoke to me at all. She would go for days on end not speaking a word, just hiding away and not coming out for 48 hours. I was starting to wonder if I would ever see a glimpse of the girlfriend I knew again. In the end, when she finally came out into the light, our relationship was even better than before, because she was amazed at how I'd been there for her for this whole month with nothing back.

Giving support can be the most strenuous of all when one of two things are happening. When you are either the sole source of support and the depression is relentless - or when you are being completely shut out.

I understand you feeling down because he's not 'present' in your relationship right now. I personally think that's natural and normal. If he broke his bones and was in hospital for an extended period of time, you'd feel lonely and strange without him there. You would be focused on supporting him through his injury; but of course it's ok to feel sad, too.

I do think that it's perfectly reasonable for you wanting to share your news - I cannot put myself in his headspace, because even when I'm completely depressed, there's still this tiny light in me that doesn't want to shut my partner out.

Poly breakups can be tricky and awkward for the other partner too (i.e. you). If you didn't have a high opinion of the ex, it's hard to keep hearing about her and find that place of altruistic support. If you thought of lot of an ex partner, it can be hard on the metamour because the metamour might be losing a friendship or positive influence too; then it's hard to find constant support when you are grieving yourself.

The bottom line is that I do sympathise with you. I would say give it more time. You might have a long road ahead of you, but you should get closer and closer to the light. Be patient - and when you don't feel patient, don't express it. I find it horrendously painful when my GF tells me to snap out of it after a week or two of blueness or depression. You can't just snap out of it. He's getting professional help and that is good.

One last thought is that I noticed he does what my GF does. He raises a topic, then doesn't want to hear you talk about it and doesn't want to talk about it more. Ask him what he needs. It sounds like he actually just needs someone to listen without interacting - a sounding board. Does he need cuddles, space, to offload, to feel understood, to have a conversation, to talk about other stuff? If you find out, you may feel more productive offering it. This way, you can achieve some sort of feeling of interaction in the relationship - even if what he needs is 'space'. (The act of 'giving' space is 'giving' something - and it can make you feel less lost and worthless in the situation).

Finally, can you do things to alleviate your own stress and blueness? Do things with your children, take them out? Any friends? Start a new hobby or invest in a current one? Any other partners you can turn to and enjoy time with?

My GF and I use an analogy of a cup for these things. Sometimes, when you've given and given and you're starting to feel overwhelmed, stressed or down yourself... think of it like a glass full of water. It depletes the more you give to someone else. When it's hitting the bottom, you need to do something to refill it, so that you can healthily manage to keep on giving, whilst looking after yourself. Anything that replenishes feelings of joy in your life would be good for 'refilling your cup'.
Me: 32f, evolving

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without." ~ Buddha
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:43 PM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Pennsyl-tucky
Posts: 1,862

My husband goes through bouts of depression (not precisely the same as grief, I know) and it is still difficult for me to discern how to "help" him - especially because when he is feeling that way HE doesn't know what would help.

The tack I take now - I ask him if I have done something to upset him or if there is something that we need to talk about. If no, I ask him if there is anything that he needs/wants from me - physical presence, listening ear, soothing food or music. If no, I leave him alone and work on keeping myself happy (if his sad makes me sad then he feels sadder).

Sometimes doing nothing IS doing something.

Me: poly bi female, in an "open-but-not-looking" V-plus with -
MrS: hetero polyflexible male, live-in husband (24+ yrs)
Dude: hetero poly male, live-in boyfriend (6+ yrs) and MrS's BFF
SLeW: platonic hetero girlfriend and BFF
MrClean: hetero mono male, almost lover-friend to me, FWBs to SLeW
+ "others" = FBs, FWBs, lover-friends, platonic G/BFs, boytoys, etc.

My poly blogs here:
The Journey of JaneQSmythe
The Notebook of JaneQSmythe
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