Love In A Void
September 9, 2011 9:50 AM Subscribe
My other half seems utterly paralyzed. How do I talk to him about it?
posted by anonymous to human relations (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've been with my honey for about a year and a half. He's terminally shy and socially awkward to an extreme. He's also Type I bipolar (heavily medicated by lamictal and lithium) and suffers from extreme flatness of affect. In his particular case, he has very little motivation to seek out social contact, has only two or three close friends, and makes no plans of his own except when those friends reach out and make a concerted effort.
The crux of my problem is that I've tried everything I can to get him to engage and enjoy not just "our" life, but his own. I don't expect him to appreciate the same things I do, but I do want him to have his own set of passions. I'd like us to savor things independently and bring new things back to the relationship to keep it healthy and vibrant and diverse. Unfortunately, this has yet to happen.
I've just come home from another trip (alone) and I'm feeling the distance between us more than ever. This is my third trip without him. (To clarify, two of these trips have been for work, but this one was a large party in an extremely inhospitable environment, and he has no interest in attending.) He never asks me about them - how they went, what I did, who I met, what I saw, anything. He simply glues himself back to my side and expects me to return to the dinner/movie/concert rotation that makes up our life.
He never denies me the opportunity to do anything that I love or want to do, and has never once made me feel guilty about it, but he also doesn't want to partake of any of them. How this plays out is that when he's not at the gym or at work, he's hiding in his apartment or hanging out with me under rather limiting circumstances. He won't even let me into his apartment because it's such a disaster; he's lived in the unit next door for six months and hasn't unpacked or even cleaned since then.
I've been as understanding as I know how about the difficulty of suffering from severe bipolar disorder and the trauma that comes from having had a terrifying manic episode (and hospitalization), but I simply don't know how to abide by someone who seems so frozen. He's defensive about his condition and doesn't want to discuss the possibility of changing his medications, nor has he sought out therapy, even when he says and acknowledges that he needs it. I care about him deeply, but I feel as if I'm putting in all the work and I obviously can't make him change.
Now that I'm back from another trip, he thinks I want even more independence from him, but what I really want is for him to push through his fear and pain and join me in the world of the living. I'm going to talk to him about it in the next few days, but I would very much appreciate some strategies for positively approaching this conversation. I'm a bit at a loss as to how to not make all this sound like a big pile of His Problems. Your thoughts, please?