Yo, help me determine my next step.

The Pedant is still silent. Unless his dad died or some other huge catastrophe, he’s ignoring/avoiding me. And given that he knows I’m prone to anxiety attacks and that sudden silence from a partner is a huge trigger for me, this feels like a pretty big “fuck you.” I mean, I’ve told him several times that if he’s gonna go silent on me I just need a heads up so AssholeBrain doesn’t start with the wild speculations as to why. And he’s been good about it. Until now.

Here’s the thing, though. I really think this whole recent kerfuffle is just him becoming really attached to me and suddenly getting scared/trying to poke holes in it/worrying that I’m gonna bail. So he’s doing exactly the same thing that made me break up with him the first time, to try to make me leave and get it over with so he won’t have to sit around wondering when I’ll drop the hammer.

But I was never going to drop the hammer, is the thing. I had reached a point where I was totally happy and secure with him – as secure as I ever get, anyway – and as long as he basically kept on treating me well, I fully planned on sticking around. I am firmly committed to him. I was wanting this to go long term.

And I feel like if we can get past this little freakout he’s having, the relationship will be stronger than ever and we hopefully won’t have any drama like this again – presuming I’m right about his motivations, of course.

So I need to figure out what to do next.

Any variation of “WHY ARE YOU BEING SO QUIET YOU KNOW THAT MAKES ME INSANE” is out. He’d probably use that as evidence that my anxiety is too much for him to deal with and he should break up with me.

could just be totally, totally silent and not say anything else until he does. However: 1) he might start believing that I’m angry with him or avoiding him, especially because 2) his birthday is next week. So being silent all through that would be…weird. He picked a really awkward time to be a dumb-ass drama llama.

I’ve come up with two possible next moves that I think could be good.

  1. Wait another few days (so that it’s been at least a week since his last text to me; I want it to be obvious I’m trying to give him space). Then call him and act like nothing weird even happened. Just be light and casual, make small talk, ask him if he’s having a big bday get-together this year or what and tell him I have a present to give him and blah blah blah. If I get his voicemail I can just leave a message inquiring about birthday plans.

Tina Fey’s autobiography has an anecdote about her walking away from work one day. There was an anthrax scare in her building and she just snapped and went home. And a few hours later Lorne Michaels called her like “Did you wanna come back in? We ordered pizza.” Not berating her, not making a big thing out of her inappropriate behaviour. Just giving her an opportunity to come back in without feeling too stupid. This is basically what I’d be going for with the “so what are we doing for your birthday?” gambit.

Probably I’d wanna have the “so WTF just happened?” talk eventually. But for the time being I just want things to get back to normal. I want to be with him; last I heard, he wants to be with me; we don’t have to hash out that pointless fight right away.

But maybe it would piss him off that I’m ignoring the elephant in the room? I don’t know. So my other idea is:

2. Give things another few days and if I still haven’t heard from him, text him (or should I call him, so he can hear my voice? My worry is that he’ll ignore a voicemail, though. With a short text message he’ll see it in the preview window even if he refuses to open it) saying something like “Okay, well, I love you and I trust you to talk to me when you’re ready.” Thereby giving him space and reassuring him that I’m not gonna freak out and break up with him.

What do y’all think I should do? (More weight given to the opinions of my longtime commenters, but I’ll give due consideration to any reasonable-sounding advice from someone who seems to have read my last few posts about the situation)


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3 responses to “Yo, help me determine my next step.

  1. Sara

    “Any variation of “WHY ARE YOU BEING SO QUIET YOU KNOW THAT MAKES ME INSANE” is out. He’d probably use that as evidence that my anxiety is too much for him to deal with and he should break up with me.” This part is worrisome to me.
    If your anxiety is too much for him, and could in anyway lead to him breaking up with you, then he’s an asshole.
    Sorry, not sorry.
    Anxiety, and apparently specially for you, is a serious issue. But its your issue, its part of who you are, its not a good thing, but its hardly the most horrible character trait I ever heard of, its not even completely irrational and in your case apparently, most times (including this one) is directly related to some specific event (such as him ignoring you for a period of time).

    BTW the length of the period of time, doesn’t really matter- for a week, an hour or a day, it makes no difference except maybe in degree of awareness the ignored person has of being ignored. And in this case, yes you are being ignored, its not in your head, (I mean, you even say “My worry is that he’ll ignore a voicemail”– you shouldn’t have to worry about this!).
    He knows what he’s doing, as you have repeatedly spoken to him about this exact issue. Being ignored is being ignored, it sucks, and he wouldn’t like it either.
    Lady, you are not crazy.
    This person put you in this position.
    I don’t think they meant to do it, or actually I think they meant to do it and did it on purpose, I just don’t think they really, fully comprehend the depth of the shithole they are digging for themselves.
    Because most people rarely do, we don’t stop to think of all the ramifications of our actions, specially those actions which are dictated by emotions we don’t completely understand.

    So, advice. Well I don’t advice you to do what I would do, which is ignore his b-day and the tell him I forgot about it, and when he gets upset about it, ask him, if this feeling of “someone he loves forgetting about his bday” can be comparable to the feeling of “having someone you love ignoring you for days” and then start a conversation about how that makes him feel so he can better understand my own feelings on the matter.
    When people hurt me I tend to lash back and make sure they get hurt back in a equal manner, a sort of carrot/stick approach: when you are nice to me I’m nice to you and vice versa… its a defence/coping mechanism, and not a good one either.
    But I’m a horrible person, and I really do not advice this train of action, what I do advice is thinking about your own feelings.

    Instead of focusing so much on how to respond to this, or even on trying to understand why he’s doing it (which I applaud you for always trying to do, not everyone does and its a testament to the depth of your feelings) why don’t you try to really think about what you can bear, more specifically: in what situations you can say: “in this I’ll bend, because I love this person, and love is in part sacrifice” and in what issues you can’t.

    My advice would be to take a real hard look at your own limits.
    I think they are so mutable (not a bad thing) that sometimes that adds to your anxiety and your own fear of abandonment.
    Also this will help you to actually constructively deal with your anxiety, if you are confident about how you feel, and if that leads to you saying from the heart: “Okay, well, I love you and I trust you to talk to me when you’re ready.” to use your own words-
    Then the anxiety you feel about being ignored will diminish, because you’ll know your own feelings on the matter, and your own feelings are only dependent on you- others can ignore you, sure, but no one can make you feel anxious or bad about it if you don’t let them.
    (Also a large part of the anxiety about this issue comes from fear of acting out and having him break up with you over it, which in turn is an understandable fear and can only be overcome by understanding that any man who breaks up with you for this, has no excuse and most certainly does not deserve you).

    You’ll see the best course of action for you, much clearer, once you understand your own feelings on the matter, apart from fear and anxiety which are simply response-feelings.

    What I mean is, are you okay with simply ignoring his inappropriate behaviour? (It is inappropriate, again you are not crazy, think of being ignored as a hard limit for you, now think of your other hard limits, how would you feel if he broke them? Would you be thinking: “I’m exaggerating, his dad could totally have died, or something, I mean he’s only been ignoring me/ breaking my hard limit, for like what a couple of days? I should totally play it chill…”
    Having limits, having things you don’t want in a relationship, (be those things sex stuff or in this case being ignored with no previous notice, even if only for a couple of days) is a good thing. A defining thing.
    I would dare to say, knowing, establishing and ensuring the ways you want to be treated in a relationship is the damn foundation of the relationship.

    Think of the reasons why you feel you can’t be silent about this yes, (I don’t think he picked a dumb time to do this, I think he picked a really smart time to put you in a really sucky position, of either ignoring his b-day and looking like an asshole or acknowledging he’s ignoring you and being forced to confront him about it) but also think of the reasons of “why the hell should you??”.
    And if the answer to that is:
    “Well I really love him, and I wanna keep him, regardless of the fact that he apparently has no regard for my limits, and if I can just ignore it, this one time, and talk to him later about it, he’ll be like super apologetic (they tend to be) and never ever do it again”…
    Do yourself a favour and think about said limits, and what other things are you ready to sacrifice for this relationship, because I don’t think I even have to tell you that: “I love him, and I don’t want to lose him, so I’m just gonna let him do this thing that hurts me, just this once” works really, really badly.
    And OMG this is a wall of text, I’m so sorry!
    I’ll just finish it then, by saying, that I don’t think you should or will break up with him, he seems great, your relationship and your partner can only be judge by you, and sometimes compromising is not only possible but necessary.
    Your anxiety in this and in other things is something you really struggle with, and I understand your feelings on the matter, how much you wish you could change this feelings/emotional responses you have, how much you think you should, how much happier you and others would be… I think, no, I know you are strong enough and brave enough, that you can overcome your anxiety, not only in this matter but in all others, but you should do it when, how and because you want to, never because someone put you in a situation in which you must do it.
    Thanks all! and sorry for all the bad grammar/spelling mistakes etc.
    I’m Portuguese, so english is my second language.
    Hope it turns out for the best,

    • “Instead of focusing so much on how to respond to this, or even on trying to understand why he’s doing it…why don’t you try to really think about what you can bear, more specifically: in what situations you can say: “in this I’ll bend, because I love this person, and love is in part sacrifice” and in what issues you can’t.”

      This is maybe one of the wisest pieces of advice anyone’s ever given me. Thank you.

      On a related note: I had already been planning on writing him a “manual” listing what I need from him. Because he does seem to have a lingering paranoia that I’ll break up with him again, and I’ve told him that if my needs are being met I won’t go anywhere. Listing very specifically what those needs are should hopefully put his mind at ease (“I’m doing all the things, therefore everything is okay”) and make things better for me, too (“Now that he knows what all the things are, he can consistently do them.”). Or – tragic but still a good thing in the long run – maybe he’ll see the list and know that he is not willing to do the things. In which case I can just end things and save myself a lot of beating my head against a brick wall.

      He wrote to me this morning, btw, without me having had to do anything. It seems that when there’s a relationship-issue email for him to read, it takes him forever to read and process it and it kinda clogs his brain up so thoroughly that he can’t hold a conversation with me at the same time, hence his not replying to my casual/chatty texts. I know to many people that would sound like a cheap excuse for lack of contact, but my anxiety issues often freeze me up and make me unable to do things that seem really easy and simple to other people. And I do think he has a lot of anxiety around managing the relationship properly and dealing with emotions and stuff. I’m not inclined to think that he’s bullshitting me here.

      And for whatever it’s worth, he HAS revised some of his behaviours in the past after I told him I couldn’t deal with them. He’s not always just apologetic at first and then goes right back to how he was before (well, he used to be like that. But then I broke up with him. This time around I guess he takes my complaints more seriously). I can see that he’s willing to make changes for me (which is a huge reason why I’m still with him). But old habits die hard and it might take a few tries sometimes to make him understand that something is important to me. Or maybe there are some things he CAN’T change or doesn’t know how. I think the whole “give me a heads up before you retreat to process feelings” thing will be one of those sticking points. We’ll see.

      • Sara

        I’m so happy things worked out!
        I do have to say, you look like you have everything under control, I know you feel your anxiety cripples your life many times, but if I may bring out a positive, it does give you unique perspective, it allows you to be truly empathetic towards other peoples’ social issues, whether they be anxiety or other social interaction related problems and phobias 🙂
        That’s the important part, communication, communication and more communication. It solves pretty much all relationship problems. So many people seem to get stuck into the “he loves me so he must somehow magically have developed mind reading abilities”, expressing your thoughts is the only way they are ever going to be heard, and just putting it out there, on the table so to speak, is sometimes all it takes, even if you end up compromising or even changing your mind in some points, your part is simply making sure he know where you stand, so he can know where to put his feet without falling.
        And if he steps on something, or you do, by mistake or intention, then that becomes not some horrible problem, not something inherently bad and all ending thing- but an opportunity for self evaluation, growth.
        Relationships are as mutable and ever changing as people, your relationship with the Pedant is a great example of that, as long as there is love and will, we add the fairy dust of communication and that’s a flying happy relationShip.

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