Is my fiancée mourning the loss of being alone
November 17, 2010 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Is my fiancée mourning the loss of being alone? If so, what can I do?

I've had some real trouble posing my question and putting it up here on AskMeFi for some time now, searching for the right words or phrases...and the best that I can do is:

Is my fiancee mourning the loss of being alone?

We're both in our 30's, she is nine years older, and we're going to be married earlier next year. Neither one of us had been in any long term relationships prior to the one we're in now (both of us were pretty late-bloomers).

My thoughts really kicked into overdrive the other day while helping out my younger sister, who will be a bridesmaid in the wedding. She mentioned that on a recent outing for bridesmaids dresses, she thought my fiancee would be happier. In fact, outside of the first two or three weeks after I proposed, she's mostly be stressed and tired. She complains, quite often, about everything, including me. Work (too busy and stressful or too slow and boring), family issues (mostly her mom), and me of course. I can spend a week cleaning dishes, wiping down the kitchen, and she'll comment that I haven't gotten around to washing my clothes.

She's put on some weight since we started dating over two years ago, and it hasn't helped her self-esteem much and communicated as much on quite a few occasions. At the end of one recent complaint, I quite clearly stated that I am still completely enamored with her. And I am, both physically and emotionally drawn to her. She gets plenty of compliments, hugs, kisses, more than she seems to want. Our sex life is once or twice a month if I'm lucky.

We talk, quite a lot, mostly me listening, over an hour each day on average. Occasionally I chime in on things going on at work, friends, etc, but she rarely shows interest or inquires otherwise. I help babysit her goddaughter and little brother, I cook or pick up dinner. I watch "Teen Mom" with her, if only to spend some time when I know she's engaged and talking about something that interests her.

She rarely talks to her girlfriends, most of whom are married with kids and busy in the evenings and weekends and live outside of the state. If I buy flowers, cut the stems, and arrange them in a vase, the only time I'll here anything about them is when they should probably be tossed out or changing the water. If she can't sleep at night, I'll talk to her or give her a body massage (which, unfortunately, doesn't typically lead any where).

There are a few comments from her that I've taken to heart (in a bad way):

1. "I wish we had spent more time dating apart"
2. "I really felt the best when I was living alone a couple of years ago"

The context on #1 is that once we started dating....well I never really went back to my apartment very often. She was always very used to just being alone, something she has reiterated at times "I liked being alone." #2, when she was living alone, not dating, and working out for 2 hours a day, 5-6 times a week, doing what she wanted, when she wanted, and her weight was under control.

At this point, I've voiced my concerns for her being stressed out, withdrawn, and tired. I realize that she may have a more subdued demeanor, but I really want her to be happy....but right now I feel more drained, empty, tired, and helpless. There's a part of me that wants to confront her more directly, but I certainly don't think that talking about a long future together should start out with "So I think you want to be alone."

What I really need help with is a starting point to talking to her about this. Her almost universal response when I've previously voiced my concerns is that she "needs time to rest", which her definition of which is doing very little besides sit in front of the TV and minimize her contact with me. When she's 'resting' I can't help but think that maybe she has undiagnosed depression.

I could ramble on, but I guess I'm at the crossroads of:

A. Couples therapy (she's already turned down counseling for herself).

B. Some new approach to getting her to open up and tell me what she wants or tell me what is really bothering her.
posted by PonderousPursuit to Human Relations (61 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
There's a part of me that wants to confront her more directly, but I certainly don't think that talking about a long future together should start out with "So I think you want to be alone."

Please forgive me if I'm off-base, but it sounds like she's said several different times in a bunch of different ways that what she wants is to be alone, or have more alone time. And it seems like you're looking for a way to make her happy, that kind of skirts around that elephant in the room, the fact that it seems what would make her happy is to be alone.

Maybe the question to ask isn't, how should we discuss a future together while avoiding the fact that it seems like the person wants to be alone. Maybe the question to ask is whether she does, in fact, really want to be alone. I think you have to accept the possibility that's where this might, and should, end up.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:19 PM on November 17, 2010


Do you have separate interests that you can each pursue alone? Do you give her any time to be by herself? Are separate bedrooms or offices a possibility? Because it sounds like she's an introvert who hasn't had any time to recharge by herself.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:20 PM on November 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sounds to me that she's depressed and it may have nothing to do with you.
posted by k8t at 1:23 PM on November 17, 2010 [7 favorites]


Weddings are ultra-stressful. "An outing for bridesmaids' dresses" is my personal idea of Hell. I can't imagine being excited or delighted or anything but OH GOD WHEN WILL THE HORROR BE OVER; if it's something your sister finds fun, awesome for her, but I would not suggest that your fiancee's not being psyched about the wedding means that she is less than fully engaged in the marriage.

Your fiancee sounds depressed, and she sounds like she's in a horrible place about body acceptance (which of course makes the whole Wedding, Inc. business a million times more stressful and difficult).

The US wedding industry, at least (I don't know if that's where y'all are) is like a complete minefield of body shame and appearance anxiety. If I had a dollar for every time some random person violated my boundaries about discussing my body and appearance and self-presentation in the course of planning my very simple wedding (no bridesmaids' dresses, for instance) I would be able to pay for my wedding all over again.

Maybe she needs more alone time right now, just to recharge from the whole "You Are A Bride And Thus Everyone's Dress-Up Doll" bullshit. I don't know. In which case, giving her the time--even if it seems like all she's doing is moping in front of the TV--feels like the most supportive thing you can do.

One thing about body-acceptance support that might be helpful for you to hear is that when someone is venting their body shame or anxiety, saying "But I think you're gorgeous" may not be helpful at all, and may in fact be tremendously counter-productive. A real source of body shame and anxiety in our culture is the idea that bodies are commodities whose only worth is in their attractiveness to others. Can you offer your fiancee support in other ways than getting into that whole thing with her?
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:23 PM on November 17, 2010 [13 favorites]


Because it sounds like she's an introvert who hasn't had any time to recharge by herself.

a thousand times this. for an introvert, having time to be alone can be very important. don't judge the activity, don't schedule it for her, and don't feel it is a reflection on you.
posted by jimw at 1:23 PM on November 17, 2010 [8 favorites]


I am going to suggest you go out and buy a copy of The Concious Bride. For yourself, not her.

Marriage is a huge transition. It is wrapped up in MASSIVE issues of identity and self, in my experience much more so for women than men. She absolutely may be mourning; I certainly did. I needed to spend a lot of time in my own head negotiating a lot of thoughts, and it sounds that's what your partner is very explicitly asking for. I'm not sure why you wouldn't give her that.

On top of that, you know what? Planning a wedding sucks in a lot of ways. It's super stressful, there are 3,000 tasks you cannot really delegate, and shopping for dresses makes almost every woman who doesn't have the perfect body FEEL LIKE SHIT. How happy are you supposed to be about that?
posted by DarlingBri at 1:24 PM on November 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


I suggest you bring your concerns to her in a non confrontational manner similar to this post and suggest couple's counseling. If she is not receptive to that then I would very strongly suggest you reevaluate whether or not you want to keep moving forward and marry this individual as I can guarantee you that this problem will not fix itself.
posted by BobbyDigital at 1:24 PM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Couples counseling sounds like it could be a good thing for the two of you. It sounds like you need help navigating some common issues- how to communicate, how to balance alone vs. together time, how to deal when the other is unhappy, etc. It's certainly not hopeless.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:24 PM on November 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


Get her hooked up with a gym and let her go work out. Alone. Make sure she gets to do this for several hours several times a week. It will give her the alone time she needs. Also, exercise will give her more energy, make her feel better about herself, and maybe even help with the weight issues.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 1:25 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm seconding elsietheeel's "introvert" idea - it's not a slight to you or a commentary on your relationship if she just needs time really and truly by herself to recharge, get her head on straight, and feel rested. Give her some space, and make sure you've got plenty to do for yourself outside of your shared apartment. Take a night class or something.

It also sounds like you do a lot for her, and are expecting more in return (here are these acts of service which she does not appreciate enough), and maybe that's part of the difficulty, too. If you're kind of storing up slights and deeds done but not commented favorably upon like nuts for the winter, eventually you'll hit some critical mass and start resenting the situation and your lady friend.
posted by lriG rorriM at 1:25 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe she wants to be alone for a couple of hours each day to work out or do whatever. Maybe it is a weird 'opposites' effect where you are trying to be very romantic with massages and flowers and she is feeling smothered and would just like some space. The 'resting' could just be recharging and maybe she misses having more control over her own space and time? Ask her directly if maybe that would help....Anyway, that's my 2 cents. It's what I would worry about if I was to be a-fianced tomorrow- how can I still do 'my things' with someone else around 24-7? She might just want an hour or so a day alone- not to break up, just to have some breathing room.
posted by bquarters at 1:26 PM on November 17, 2010


She mentioned that on a recent outing for bridesmaids dresses, she thought my fiancee would be happier. In fact, outside of the first two or three weeks after I proposed, she's mostly be stressed and tired. She complains, quite often, about everything, including me.

Planning a wedding is hard work. Dealing with the family and social drama that surrounds getting married and throwing a huge event that is also a major cultural rite of passage is extremely intense, as well. It can be very difficult to go through all of that and hold down a full time job and keep house, in addition to all the other things people have to do to get by. It is not unusual that she would be stressed out.

Especially if you're not aware of this stuff outside of "why is my fiancee acting so pissy?" - she may be shouldering the entire burden and not communicating that she needs you to help her do some of the heavy lifting. I'm especially familiar with the feeling of, "I am SO STRESSED OUT and I have all these responsibilities and So-and-so CAN'T EVEN DO HIS OWN FUCKING LAUNDRY, grar!!!!" Usually I feel that way when I expect someone else to step up/help out/be more supportive but can't properly communicate that for whatever reason.

When my best friend got married, I noticed a lot of those same symptoms in her. She became an incredibly not-fun person to be around, and constantly bitched about everything. Which was especially irritating since she also expected a lot of help with wedding stuff. My solution was to relax, accept what she was dealing with, and try to be there for her in whatever way I could. And you're the husband in this situation. So yeah, do that. Times 100.

Also, in a whole other direction - how long have you guys lived together? Because a lot of this also sounds like the natural growing pains of learning to live with another person, figuring out what kind of privacy you need and how much, etc. For one thing, talking on the phone with my partner for an hour a day would drive me fucking BANANAS. Which I know goes totally counter to the rest of my advice. But yeah. Maybe less talking, more doing?
posted by Sara C. at 1:27 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Introversion is not depression.

Introversion is NOT depression.
posted by slow graffiti at 1:28 PM on November 17, 2010 [29 favorites]


Also, I need tons of alone time. Fortunately, so does my husband, so we negotiate that fairly easily.

But it may be important to remember that her need for "alone time" does not, in and of itself, mean a rejection of you. For me, at least, my love of alone time isn't a veil for "wanting time away from my husband" but a real thing in my heart and soul.

William Carlos Williams's poem "Danse Russe" has always spoken to my heart in this way (and although I have not thought about it until now, it seems to really underscore the connection between alone time and body acceptance)--

Danse Russe

by William Carlos Williams

If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,—

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

posted by Sidhedevil at 1:28 PM on November 17, 2010 [30 favorites]


Have you gone to therapy by yourself? You probably need more insight than remote strangers can offer.

Based on your description, she sounds depressed to me. But I don't know her, just what you've said.
posted by SMPA at 1:29 PM on November 17, 2010


Is my fiancée mourning the loss of being alone? If so, what can I do?

Have you asked her this specific question?
posted by nomadicink at 1:34 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


shopping for dresses makes almost every woman who doesn't have the perfect body FEEL LIKE SHIT.

Fixed that for you--I know a fit model for very high-end ready-to-wear who was completely devastated in her wedding dress search. I mean, if buying a wedding dress makes a Vera Wang fit model feel like shit, it's got nothing to do with the dimensions of anyone's body.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:38 PM on November 17, 2010 [9 favorites]


From your description of the situation, it seems like any conversation which takes as its premise "we will have a long future together" will also be one which dodges the main thing you're afraid of, "she wants to be alone."

There's married couples in the world who keep separate flats, or separate rooms, or vacation apart. There aren't very many of them, perhaps, because most people value quite highly the companionship of a marriage. Maybe you girlfriend's among that space-needing minority; maybe you're not; maybe you can come to some sort of accomadation; maybe she's unhappy about other things. But you can't make the answer not true by avoiding the question.
posted by Diablevert at 1:38 PM on November 17, 2010


Based on the description you've given, it sounds like she is unhappy in this relationship. The loss of alone time can be adjusted for -- you just see each other less, live separately, give her more space while still remaining partners. Plenty of couples make this work without any drama. But still, if you are going to be getting married, you should be happy to see each other and spend time with each other, you should have a mutually satisfying sex life (it sounds like neither of you is happy with it at the moment), and you should be a source of comfort of support for one another rather than a source of stress and anxiety.

It may be depression on her part, or it may be stress from work, or it may be something deeper. But I don't think you should move ahead with the wedding until you've had a discussion about this and until you are both happy and excited about your future together. You need to ask her the following:

"I am getting a feeling from you that there is something making you unhappy in this relationship. Am I imagining this, or is this real?"
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:41 PM on November 17, 2010 [7 favorites]


I think it's also important for you to remember that "being alone" doesn't only mean "being single". I'm a bit of an introvert and even in quite serious relationships often need a lot of space. Like I said, the thought of having to talk to a partner on the phone for an hour every day, in addition to planning a huge event together, in addition to living together and being socially expected to spend all our public time together as committed couples are - it would make me absolutely batshit insane. No matter how much I loved my partner. No matter how much I wanted to be married and spend the rest of our lives together.

And, yeah, I could definitely see myself looking around, discovering I was a frog in now-boiling water and feeling like, "Why didn't I take that solo trip to Greece when I had the chance?" Which would have absolutely no bearing on my feelings for my partner.
posted by Sara C. at 1:49 PM on November 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Like a lot of people, I kind of freaked out right around the time of my own wedding. I found the process if planning it really stressful, and I wasn't always as kind to Mr. Narrative as I could have been. But we got through it, because I actually really did want to be married to him, and I never seriously doubted my desire to have a future together. It's that underlying conviction of "This is what I signed up for and I'm okay with that" which gets us through rough times.

If your fiance is questioning whether she wants to get married/continue to be with you at all, that's a really big red flag. If she isn't interested in doing the work to maintain and repair your relationship, and is checking out instead of engaging you about what's causing her stress, that's an even bigger red flag.

A close friend of mine had his marriage end after three very difficult years. His description of her attitude leading up to their wedding is sounding awfully close to what you're describing here.

Get into couple's therapy. Continue to try and talk to her. Tell her you're worried that she doesn't want to get married after all. Tell her that you'd rather deal with these things NOW, rather than years down the road when the situation is more complicated.

If she can't meet you in the middle on this, you may need to take a step back and reevaluate.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 2:06 PM on November 17, 2010


It seems obvious to me that your fiancee is an introvert. From your description, she's told you as much many times, though without using the word "introvert." Some people (myself included, to an extent) are naturally this way, and it has nothing to do with our feelings for significant others, it's just how we operate.

I can see why she would be frustrated or depressed - you're making it very hard for her to be an introvert (regardless of how good your intentions are). She might be nervous about talking about it with you. You should initiate a frank conversation about this, and make it clear that you will love and support her even if you guys need to make some considerable changes to how/how much time you spend together. Ask her how you can make her feel loved while giving her the time she needs to herself.

My guess is that the associated problems will get a lot better if she is happy and feels comfortable.
posted by hootenatty at 2:07 PM on November 17, 2010


It seems obvious to me that your fiancee is an introvert.

Frankly, to me it seems more like she preferred being single to being in this relationship. There is a pretty critical difference between the two.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:13 PM on November 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


Was she like this before you both got engaged, during the time after you started dating and before one of you popped the question? If not, I really think this is wedding stress or some fear of commitment. If she started feeling and acting this way before the engagement, I think it is something else that is more concerning.

She turned down counseling for herself. Well, it would be a bad idea for the two of you to get married without some kind of premarital counseling. I personally would not get married without some form of it and in my state your marriage license is cheaper if you go through it. I don't think it is unreasonable to insist on it.

Various people have insisted she is just an introvert or that she has to be depressed. It may be one of those, it may be both and it may be neither. You can ask her straight out what she thinks or you can see if counseling will help you both figure it out.
posted by soelo at 2:14 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I totally agree with folks here that introversion is not the same thing as depression. And it seems that you're dealing with both issues here. I don't have much to contribute as far as near-term advice, but based on your quote of her saying "I felt my best when i was living alone a few years ago," it sounds like you're with someone who generally has difficulties being happy. There's nothing wrong with this -- there are lots of melancholy people out there. It sounds like you're an attentive, engaged partner, and you've said you want her to be happy. I'm just a random internet stranger, but I think you need to factor in the fact that she may not be a very happy person in general into your long term expectations for your relationship.
posted by sk932 at 2:18 PM on November 17, 2010


Nthing the introvert thing--the phrases she's using came out of my mouth a while back*. I'd talk to her about how much alone time she wants/needs and then see if you there isn't some sort of compromise that can worked out with what you want/need...because your marriage isn't going to work if you both can't strike a balance.

*Years ago when I was younger and not as good at communicating, I broke up with a great guy because he just WOULDN'T LET ME BE ALONE--2-3 hours a week, not including work, doesn't cut it for me at least. As much as I loved him and appreciated him, I felt smothered, panicked and generally unhappy. Please talk about this with your fiancee!
posted by smirkette at 2:18 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, if it is a matter of her being an introvert, then Caring for Your Introvert is required reading.
posted by nomadicink at 2:20 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


First, ask her directly if she still wants to get married.

Second, set up more alone time for her. Get out, do things with your friends or by yourself.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:39 PM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Are you sure she really wants to be married to you?

She may not even realise it herself yet. Perhaps she's telling herself that you're a great guy (sounds like you are, by the way!) - you buy her flowers, you cook and clean, you're generous and affectionate and want to commit to her. There's nothing wrong she can put her finger on, but she feels depressed and withdrawn. She's not interested in taking positive steps for your relationship. She wants to be left alone because that's easier than the stress of pretending she's feeling something that she's not. She's been brought up to disregard her own feelings and desires until she doesn't even notice she's doing it any more. On the surface, she's agreeing to what you want, and if you asked her she'd probably say she wanted it too, but underneath something feels very wrong and scary to her.

She isn't close to her friends, so none of them are noticing and privately saying to her 'hey, are you really sure you want to go through with this?'

Did you initiate the engagement? Was she impatient to get married too? I married a lovely man who was crazy about me. He wanted us to get married, my family wanted us to get married, I was so out of touch with myself and my true feelings that I eventually said 'yes' - he was a great guy after all. In the run up to the wedding I felt very depressed. I was scared of dying. I had panic attacks. I was irritable and took no pleasure in all the nice things my boyfriend did for me. I put on weight. I spent as much time as possible by myself and had no interest in planning for our future.

I hid my feelings from everyone. My boyfriend guessed something was wrong but I made excuses and didn't tell him the truth - it was too immense for me to admit to myself, let alone him.

The long and short of it is I ended up leaving him quite soon after the wedding. It was a dreadful time for him and for me, and a terrible shock to our families.

Could your fiance be going through something like this? Would she agree to seeing a therapist with you? (if not I would see that as a warning sign - she may be scared to reveal her true feelings to you, especially if she's suppressing them herself). Please don't get married unless you both feel excited about it.
posted by prune at 2:45 PM on November 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


Just reading that made me tired on your fiancee's behalf, and I have a toddler! She sounds like she has a metric buttload on her plate -- wedding planning in and of itself is terribly stressful -- and is worn out. She is TELLING YOU she needs to rest and she needs to be alone. I think I'm pretty extroverted, and even for ME a fantastic Saturday is if my husband takes the baby and they both LEAVE for several hours so I can sit in my house and do NOTHING AT ALL with nobody wanting anything from me.

Maybe you can try starting with, "I think you want more alone time to recharge and think your own thoughts; it's hard for me that we're not spending time connecting and I want to connect more. How can we work this out so you get the time to yourself that you need, and we get time together that's good for both of us?" I think part of why YOU are so frustrated is because the time you're getting together is low-quality because she's so worn out. Maybe if you spend LESS time together but it's better quality you'll feel better too. Offer to leave the house and go spend three hours at the library/hiking in the forest preserve/at a friend's house -- in my observation, it is often more important to women than to men to spend time alone with their home, and men often don't understand that. I don't know why. But there is something way, way better about spending three hours alone with my house vs. spending three hours alone somewhere else. My house and I need to bond sometimes. (Most of my girlfriends agree. Most of their husbands couldn't care less where their alone time is.)

And dude, if you're giving her full-body massages hoping it turns into sex, she can tell that's what you're hoping, and it's stressing her out and making her feel LESS sexy by making her feel pressured. I would not even mention sex right now.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:48 PM on November 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


She's nearly 40, and hasn't had a long-term relationship before you? You've only been dating 2 years, and you're already engaged? I get the feeling she accepted on the few rational points that a) you're a good catch and b) who knows if this opportunity will happen again? But she's not had sufficient experience to emotionally mature as an introverted person in a relationship. I'm thrilled for you, that you've found someone you adore and that you're ready to spend the rest of your life with, but it's clear that SHE isn't.

This doesn't mean a breakup. But it does mean not pussy-footing around the situation any longer, and preparing yourself for some tough love. You can't avoid calling her out on the fact she clearly wants some space. There's also no avoiding the necessity of giving her some space, and forcing her to sort out her priorities.

I feel you should write her a letter with your thoughts and feelings in it - your adoration for her, your unhappiness at what the relationship's become, the need to communicate and find balance in a relationship (and so many other things brought up in the rest of this thread). Then tell her you feel you need to talk, but since she's unwilling to do that, you want her to read the letter. Say you're going away for the weekend (or better yet, staying with someone else for a whole week), and will be back on X day when you hope she'll be able to give you some response. Tell her you love her very much, you want her to be happy, and you want her to figure out what it will take. Then let her be alone, zero contact from you until that chosen day comes.

Then you go see her and ask her what she wants to do - work it out, have one of you move out for a while, designate alone time, whatever comes up in discussion. And you prepare to hear what you don't want to hear. Better to have it out now than let it continue to fester.
posted by lizbunny at 2:58 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


PercussivePaul: if I'm correct about her being introverted and feeling smothered, then she probably would prefer being single. But if PonderousPursuit makes it clear that he understands that isn't working for her, and wants to change it for them, then she would probably prefer that relationship to being single.

She's been in a relationship with him for more than 2 years, agreed to get married to him, and is planning the wedding; those don't seem congruent with wanting to be single.
posted by hootenatty at 3:03 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just checking: you do have friends and hobbies of your own, right? You're not depending on her for the bulk of your social interactions? Because even with alone time, knowing your SO is waiting patiently for you at the end of it so they can get on with their day, which can't proceed without you, gets a little stifling.

I remember my step dad wanting to know exactly HOW long my mom needed to be on her own that day- would an hour do? Say, from 3:30 to 4:30? How about 90 minutes? Heck, 2 hours? He was totally cool with however long, but he just needed to know. (Why?! They had no plans afterwards.) I thought she was going to throw a pot at him, and she's really not the pot-throwing type. I'm not saying this is you; I only mention it because I don't see much about what your separate lives are like.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:04 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hm. Stressed, tired, irritable, critical, unhappy. I am not surprised thatshe's not having lots of sexy times with you. She sounds pretty bummed out. But all you can work with is what she's *said* to you.

Whether she's an introvert or not, she's voiced a desire for some space. It sounds like you're frightened that space necessarily means breaking up. As a bunch of people here have said - it doesn't have to, and you can try some other things before you go to the nuclear option. Someone mentioned "getting her hooked up with a gym", which is a fine idea but as expressed is kind of controlling, which is counterproductive. (People who need more space often also need more control over their environments and choices.)

It might help to say the equivalent in your words of "I love you and want you to be happy. It seems like you need some space, and I know your life is very busy and stressful - what can we do to open up some time for you to spend on yourself, on your own?" And brace yourself for a cranky, desperate response, because people who are already stressed tend to see things in black and white, and since she's already expressed it as a problem, she's already been trying unsuccessfully to find solutions. From your story, you sound like a fairly patient person. If that's the case, good - hang in there, be patient and persistent in making it clear this is a solvable problem and you're her ally in this as in all things. (If you're not naturally patient - well, now's a good time to start working on it. Patience, which I'm lousy at, is required for marriage.)

She might well be mourning the loss of being single - but she doesn't have to lose being alone. Lots of successful, healthy relationships have alone time built in.
posted by gingerest at 3:13 PM on November 17, 2010


You've only been dating 2 years, and you're already engaged?

That seems to be considerably longer than the norm (among my circle of friends and acquaintances, at least) for people over 35 who want to get married. The rule of thumb I have heard frequently is that "if you're not ready to get engaged after a year, move on."

we were engaged after six weeks
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:14 PM on November 17, 2010


First off, wow, thanks all of your responses! Some very valid points made.

set up more alone time for her. Get out, do things with your friends or by yourself.

At present she gets a minimum of two nights each week to herself, often more. I asked her if she needs more time for herself and she hasn't asked or inferred that she does. I enjoy time on my own and with friends, but in many cases she will paradoxically seek me out. For example, if I'm on the computer and she's watching TV, she'll try and 'keep me in the loop' on what she's watching. If I'm working late she'll text me. It seems to fluctuate unpredictably. I try and remain pretty flexible, but it can be a bit frustrating as to trying to figure out if she wants to be alone, or if she wants me around.

I totally agree with folks here that introversion is not the same thing as depression

I agree that she's an introvert and probably more on the melancholic side than depressed. I can honestly relate with her, but what bothers me is that she has down-cycles that last much longer than her up-cycles (if that makes sense). That's what concerns me. She tends to stress the negatives....and stress, and stress. I kind of hope that having the chance to talk to me about the things that bother her lets her de-stress....but she has a way of reiterating that makes me thing she doesn't really let it go.

Get her hooked up with a gym and let her go work out. Alone. Make sure she gets to do this for several hours several times a week. It will give her the alone time she needs. Also, exercise will give her more energy, make her feel better about herself, and maybe even help with the weight issues.

She has a membership, it's accessible, to and from work....and she doesn't go, alone or otherwise. I've offered to go walking in the morning with her...no dice. I bring it up, but I don't nag. She even has flexible work hours. I'll support here, but I've had very, very little success with motivating her.

Planning a wedding is hard work.... It is not unusual that she would be stressed out.

Definitely one of the areas I've keyed in on being a potential source of stress, even before I proposed. I helped line up the reception location and been actively involved with the planning process. Her mother's sporadic semi-controlling involvement seems to be more stressful than any other parts.

Giving it some more thought, it seems like I'm becoming increasingly 'aware' of sources of stress in her life to try and align my expectation. Everything from knowing that she's talked to her mom, to having to deal with an issue at work, to other 'stressful' events that I know are coming up. Part of the problem with 'confronting' her with more direct questioning is that I wait until she isn't already 'stressed' to bring it up, and when she isn't stressed....I seem to want to keep her that way. Maybe I have a controlling streak in me...but I honestly just want her to be content, not always on an up-cycle or ecstatically happy...just well, more positive in general. She seems to drag herself out of bed each morning and she'll often shrug me off when I go to say goodbye.

how long have you guys lived together?

Our first year as friends, before dating, we had plenty of space. It was a strictly platonic relationship and our boundaries were very clear cut. We moved in together after dating for six months (though I was at her place most of the time), and we've now been living together for over a year and a half. I did have to learn to give her more space, and work out our living arrangements (cleaning the house the way she likes to clean, when she wants it clean).
posted by PonderousPursuit at 3:28 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


In a hurry, skipped the other comments.

It seems like you have a number of individual facts that you have pieced together to make a single theory. That actually doesn't work (speaking to you as a long-time theory-creator). Your theory is wrong, I can tell you now, because I've been with my BF much longer than you and he regularly disabuses me of my theories -- now that I remember to run them by him. But for years, I had theories that turned out to be wrong, and I learned a lot in the process of realizing I was clueless.

Here are the individual items to discuss with her:
- you have noticed she doesn't seem to be happy. what's up?
- you remember two statements she said, which stuck with you, so you want to clear them up. "hey, do you remember when you said ___? I think about that from time to time. What does it mean? Do you really think you'd be happier living alone? [Listen.] It makes me sad to think you'd rather be living alone. [Listen.] Can we do something so that you get the space you need?"
- you notice that she doesn't ask about your day, you would like her to listen to you more (have you tried just talking without her asking?), you wonder if she's interested in you
- you only have sex from time to time, you would like to have sex a bit more (have you tried just trying? i'm assuming so...)
- you noticed that she doesn't say nice things about the flowers. Does she like the flowers? You haven't heard that she does, and if she doesn't, you can stop buying them, but if she does, it'd be nice to hear that.

If you want, you could add together the sex, the talking, and the flowers into a "feeling underappreciated" category, but they could also be distinct issues.

All in all, I'd address these separately, and moving forward, once you get through this backlog, I'd try to address things as they come up so that you don't have a bunch of issues at once.
posted by salvia at 3:33 PM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


One thing that jumps out at me in your response is that you use words like "confront" in reference to discussing important issues with her. Would it help to think of it less as a confrontation and more as a conversation? Do you guys have problems communicating with each other in a non-adversarial way, in general? Does this predate your engagement and the stress/depression/whatever that's going on right now?

You also phrase things in your reply as if they've been going on forever, when in your original question it seemed like there had been a sudden drastic change in her behavior. How long has she been like this? How does that compare with the length of your engagement, the amount of time you've lived together, the time that her mom started butting in, or any other big change that could have sparked this? Is this How She Is, or is this an unusual change in her outlook?
posted by Sara C. at 3:41 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, seeing your comment, there are some concerning signals. She has stress or depression issues that leave you tiptoeing around them, and instead of saying "hey sorry you're so totally stressed, and I want you to know that it's hard on me to be around it, what can we do here?" it sounds like you have settled on strategies like trying to manage upstream factors, guessing about how much alone time she needs, and not speaking up about issues that bother you. Meanwhile you're not getting your needs met. This is going to take a little while to untangle. I'd seek couples counseling. What you want to shoot for is a situation where you get your needs met. And if you're not getting your needs met, you speak up. And if her emotional state isn't working for you, you either get a little space ("I don't like this pots-banging-stomping-feet atmosphere; I'm going out for a walk") or you speak up ("hey, I know you feel XYZ right now, and that's your right, but it's getting pretty hard on me that you're down all the time, can we work something out here?"). I think a place to start is to study and manage your own emotional state more than you study and manage hers.
posted by salvia at 3:44 PM on November 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


(Hmm, I'm making a lot of assumptions there; so I may be way off-base. I'm sorry if so.)
posted by salvia at 3:48 PM on November 17, 2010


Oh, lord. A wedding is hard for many women. A wedding is likely to be really, really hard for a woman who has body issues AND mom issues.

Many women who have great relationships with their mothers find that wedding planning strains that relationship. Women who have undermining or hostile or withholding mothers often find that wedding planning strains the relationship to the point of breakdown.

What if she was always as unhappy as she is right now? Do you still want to be married to her? I mean, if your conversations with her are framed in similar ways to the conversation you're having with us here, I would want to look at whether she is feeling like your acceptance of her is conditional (and maybe that's part of her issues with her mom?)
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:50 PM on November 17, 2010


You also (if I may be so presumptuous) seem to be checking with other people a lot about what's up with your fiancee. (Ironic, I know, because I wouldn't be talking about this unless you were checking with us.)

The flower thing, for instance, is something that many people advise as a universal good. If my husband brought me flowers frequently, I'd be really unhappy because I kind of hate cut flowers.

Similarly, "if you want sex give her a massage" is very frequent advice. Again, if my husband gave me a massage because he wanted sex, it would just make me hate a) massages, b) sex, c) my husband.

In other words, the person you need to check with is her. And I really know that this is more easily said than done when the other person is a bit of a loner being one myself.

Something a couple people have also mentioned, and which I'm going to applaud and underscore, is that your asking for what you want is quite likely to feel less burdensome to her than your trying to anticipate what she wants. I know that may sound completely weird, but think about it a bit.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:55 PM on November 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


your asking for what you want is quite likely to feel less burdensome to her than your trying to anticipate what she wants.

This is completely true for me, though I never thought of it that way before.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:12 PM on November 17, 2010


PonderousPursuit, you mentioned that your fiancee is nine years older than you, which makes me think that YOU think it might be relevant. Do you think that's relevant?
posted by jayder at 4:30 PM on November 17, 2010


To add to what jayder says above, you mention that you don't have sex very often and don't sounds happy about it. Is that what you want? I favorited the advice for counseling above, because I think you both could be happier if you paid attention to your wants and needs, and then communicated them clearly and discussed compromise. It sounds like you fear she's not having her needs met, but you also need to pay attention to your own needs, too.
posted by ldthomps at 6:08 PM on November 17, 2010


your asking for what you want is quite likely to feel less burdensome to her than your trying to anticipate what she wants

Oh lord yes! This.

This is one of the (many) reasons my previous relationship failed. It was so godamned hard to know that my S.O wasn't listening to what I was saying, but was doing what made him feel good and then expecting that it would 'fix' me/our relationship. For example, he would be disappointed when I was not all "RAPTURE! JOY! You bought me a magazine about the thing YOU are obsessed by!". (Not that I was perfect either of course...).

So, strange as it may seem, my advice is to focus the questions on yourself for a time. What do you need? Are your needs being met? What sort of a relationship do you want? What are you bringing to the table?

And then take another look at your relationship, preferably with couple's counselling.
posted by RosiePosie at 12:31 AM on November 18, 2010


Oops, I've gone a little off track there.

But yes, there were similarities between what you describe happening in your relationship and what happened in mine. One of those things was that my ex would tip-toe around me and then guess what I wanted... and it was very rare that he would guess correctly. If only he had listened to what I was actually saying instead of doing what he thought I wanted.

Maybe you guys can sort this out. But it'll take a lot of talking and listening. And then more talking and listening.
posted by RosiePosie at 12:36 AM on November 18, 2010


Ok, she's stressed, wants more time alone, etc - all those things are valid. But it just doesn't sound like she's being very nice to you or behaving at all respectably of you.

My partner and I are both introverts and both like a lot of time alone, and we have no problem telling each other that WITHOUT throwing things out like (paraphrasing) "I was happiest before I met you." What's up with that?

My guess, and I'm sorry if this is very blunt, is that she's settling for you and it's bringing her down. You sound like a very nice person but are you sure she's in love with you and not just marrying you because you're the first guy who came along and wanted to marry her, and she's almost 40 and possibly feeling like she might not meet anyone else?

I'm also catching an undertone of you doing most of the housework. Is this the case? If this is something you're trying to communicate with us but instead of saying it directly you've put in a few almost incongruous-seeming comments about housework, I'd say you need to look at your communication style. If you're not able to state how you're feeling and what you want, you're going to get walked on and your fiancee isn't going to respect you for it.
posted by hazyjane at 4:09 AM on November 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I can relate to the whole introvert issue here, but am I the only one who thinks this guy is getting a bit of a rough deal?
From his description, introversion aside, I can completely empathize with how he feels. It is one thing to cater to a lover's needs, but something has to be given in return. There is so much emphasis on her needs, that I feel this could be somewhat detrimental to his.
Sure, it helps to assess how we communicate, how giving someone more alone time might be the ideal solution, but something just feels 'off' to me here.

It certainly sounds very much like she is suffering at least some depression, and may easily be overwhelmed by the changes ahead, but from the OP's post I get the impression that literally everything he does goes unnoticed, unappreciated and hardly any of his basic needs are getting met. If she steadfastly refuses counseling, what more can he actually do?

It sounds to me, OP, that you have given this your best shot, and I sympathize with your position here. I wish that i could fathom some worthwhile advice. You really do need to step back and take some alone time for yourself, not just to give her space, but to gather your feelings, ask yourself how marriage is going to alter the situation, and to think about what you need for a while. Literally breaking your back to please her doesn't seem to be working.

The sentence about the flowers was heartbreaking. We all deserve some warmth in return, and to know that what we do doesn't go unappreciated. If this is, as I think I recall you mentioning, your first long term relationship, you might not be aware of just how crippling this situation is. Marriage sounds like the worst possible outcome for a relationship which already barely exists (infrequent sex, minimum emotional responses, etc). Marriage isn't the magic ingredient that will rejuvenate your relationship either. It sounds to me as though the two of you are already emotionally 'alone'.

And I am thoroughly in agreement with most of the the posters above: she needs time to recover her self esteem, her interest in life, sex, activity. But remember that there are two of you in this relationship, and that you have every right to expect the same respect and understanding in return.

I wish you luck, whatever the outcome.
posted by noella at 7:06 AM on November 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


No, you're not the only one who thinks he's getting a rough deal, noella. I hope the OP comes back to this thread and sees this.
posted by hazyjane at 9:38 AM on November 18, 2010


I was in a very similar situation to your fiancee at one point. A lot of other people have touched on introversion and wedding stress, so I'll mostly avoid that, except to say that maybe (if you can swing it), giving her space for a longer period of time might help recharge her alone-time batteries. Then again, it may not be that helpful considering timelines and such for wedding planning.

For me, the root cause of a lot of these behaviors was emotional; specifically, the birth control I was taking. It made me depressed, withdrawn and morose. Every type of hormonal BC affects different people differently, but the hormones can bind to testosterone and reduce libido, etc. Here's a link to a news story that has some more basic overview information.

If she's on hormonal birth control, it might be worth it for her to go off of it - it'll take 1-2 months for the hormonal effects to subside. And, frankly, what's the point of BC if you never have sex? I have a copper IUD now that is less maintenance and no hormones, and I feel like myself again.
posted by bookdragoness at 9:41 AM on November 18, 2010


Counseling is a good idea independent of either of your psych issues. Couples who get pre-marital counseling stay together much more often. In particular, it sounds like you're having some communication issues: it's important for both of you to get on the same page about what you feel and why you feel it.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:27 AM on November 18, 2010


you mentioned that your fiancee is nine years older than you, which makes me think that YOU think it might be relevant. Do you think that's relevant?

Something that came up early on in our relationship was having to acknowledge our age-gap and life experience gap. Also a maturity gap. I wonder if this might not be a point of resentment that she is still holding onto, that she doesn't have a partner who is on the same level.

you mention that you don't have sex very often and don't sounds happy about it. Is that what you want?

While not the whole of it, there is definitely some sexual frustration on my end, something that I've mentioned in conversation previously. Her answer has been either that she isn't feeling great / tired, or just not 'feeling it'. Something that really irked me here was when she would tell me that she 'felt something' when I wasn't there. I've done some reading here and self-esteem factors in pretty big to ones libido. My dilemma is not associating guilt to her for not meeting 'my needs'. However, given everything that has been said, it seems like I need to worry less about imposing guilt because of the fact that it is probably something she is feeling anyways, even if I'm not saying it. I'm going to definitely revisit this from a more 'productive' angle.

Sex aside, it's the simple physical intimacy that I miss most of all. The weekend and week following our engagement we didn't have sex, yet she was more open with kisses, touches, hugs, and just being comfortable and open around me and that felt as amazing as the first few months we were dating (our honeymoon period as it were). The week following she visited her parents out of state and came back upset and frustrated with her mom over being lectured and 'told the facts of life' on when she should get married (sooner than later because of her age). We talked about it and said that I'd be happy just planning the wedding together with her. After a couple of days they sorted it out, but she since then she hasn't openly expressing physical intimacy. She talks with her mom pretty much once a day, but it seems like it is more a habit than any kind of real bonding time.

It certainly sounds very much like she is suffering at least some depression, and may easily be overwhelmed by the changes ahead, but from the OP's post I get the impression that literally everything he does goes unnoticed, unappreciated and hardly any of his basic needs are getting met. If she steadfastly refuses counseling, what more can he actually do?

Her whole life has changed in the three and a half years since we met and the more than two years we've been dating. She never expected to get married. She never thought that having children might be a real possibility. She has expressed her fears of not being able to love me enough. I can see how it is overwhelming, but it seems like she doesn't have very productive outlets to express this. She doesn't like asking for help, and her own mother's complete rejection of counseling herself sure hasn't helped with my fiancee interested in pursuing when I've brought it up before.

And I am thoroughly in agreement with most of the the posters above: she needs time to recover her self esteem, her interest in life, sex, activity. But remember that there are two of you in this relationship, and that you have every right to expect the same respect and understanding in return.

Indeed, that's the fine line I'm trying to draw. Every time we're apart for more than a few hours, I light up when I see her, if she isn't feeling well, I'm right there beside her. If something is bothering her, I'll try and talk it through. Yet I don't see much by way of reciprocation. I've long outgrown most of my needs for immediate gratification, so I've realigned my expectations, added more activities on my own, and spent more time with my family to give her time and space....but even when she has it, she still seems drained.

Based on all the feedback, more clearly communicating my needs in person would be the best start, followed by counseling together, is probably my best means moving forward for the two of us. As I've told her before (and she usually rolls her eyes) , a door opened up in my heart when I knew I was really in love with her, so I'm not going to close it and run away any time soon.

If she's on hormonal birth control, it might be worth it for her to go off of it

She's been off birth control for most of the time we've been dating.
posted by PonderousPursuit at 10:35 AM on November 18, 2010


Hey, OP, you're not me, but when I was in a relationship where I felt like I was being criticized a lot and rarely got much love, and putting in a lot of effort and not getting anything back -- it fucked my shit right up. The subconscious line of thought runs like this: "if I try my best, and that's not good enough -- if the person I love the most doesn't want to have sex with me -- if none of the things I say are interesting -- what kind of boring, unattractive, incompetent person must I be? What could I deserve that's better than this?"

I doubt I ever even thought that out loud (because I probably would have seen how crazy it was), but it crept into my self-image. I was so locked into trying to do the right thing and fix her unhappiness (and doing a bad job of it) that I had no idea how broken I was. It took me months after we broke up to see how skewed my perspective had become.

Like I say, you're not me. Maybe this part is no problem for you. But take care of yourself.
posted by jhc at 11:54 AM on November 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


(Post-post: I don't mean to imply that you need to find a better person. But you certainly deserve to live a more functional life.)
posted by jhc at 11:57 AM on November 18, 2010


I also think that personal therapy for you could help.
posted by salvia at 7:24 PM on November 18, 2010


I light up when I see her, if she isn't feeling well, I'm right there beside her. If something is bothering her, I'll try and talk it through. Yet I don't see much by way of reciprocation. [...]

As I've told her before (and she usually rolls her eyes), a door opened up in my heart when I knew I was really in love with her, so I'm not going to close it and run away any time soon.

Wow. It sounds like you are very much in love with her, but she just isn't on the same page, and perhaps the stresses of the wedding are bringing this to the forefront. I'm with noella - something seems very off to me, and it sounds like you two are in your own separate "alone spheres" in a way that is detrimental to your relationship.

My heart sank when I read your post and your follow-up comments. Especially the part about how you "light up" when you see her, yet you don't feel similar loving and appreciative energy coming from her toward you. Ouch.

Does she really roll her eyes when you offer an honest, non-manipulative, vulnerable and heartfelt declaration of the depth of your commitment and your feelings for her? Seriously? If so, that sounds like a form of contempt from her, and whatever else may be going on (depression, pressure from family, job stress, wedding stress, body issues, introversion), it is not at all a good sign for the future of your relationship.

I wish I had better advice for you. All I can say is that I know what it's like to feel that your best efforts are chronically under- or un-appreciated (and even criticized) in a relationship, and I know how much that hurts. Don't underestimate how much damage that sort of pattern can - and will - do to your relationship and your self-esteem over time. Get thee to counseling, pronto. I wish you luck.
posted by velvet winter at 8:56 PM on November 18, 2010


If this was only happening around the wedding stuff, that would be one thing. If she just needed more alone time, that would be one thing.

But she seems to specifically not enjoy time spent with you, intimate or otherwise.

You've been open, honest, nonjudgmental, supportive. She's been cold and isolating. You've stated your needs and she's ignored them.

You talked about the age/maturity gap. It sounds to me like she's the on short end of that stick.

Stop trying to fix her. You're both adults. If you're not getting what YOU need from the relationship (all of which are reasonable requests), and you've let her know that, and she dismisses your needs, SHES JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU.

For God sakes, she sounds like she regrets the marriage that hasn't even happened yet. And you're signing up for a lifetime of that?

If it were me, I'd gather my courage, set out an ultimatum (i need these things in a relationship in order to continue in it. I've made plenty of concessions, now it's your turn to try for me, if you want to continue), and plan to stick to it.
posted by softlord at 6:15 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


At this point, I've voiced my concerns for her being stressed out, withdrawn, and tired. I realize that she may have a more subdued demeanor, but I really want her to be happy....but right now I feel more drained, empty, tired, and helpless.

Man, you need to say THAT. Trust me on this. My partner has said exactly that to me before and it's got us started into much-needed talks. You need to say "I see you not being happy and it upsets me because I love you and I feel so helpless about it." And she will probably at some point reiterate that she needs to rest, and then you can mention about how she has time by herself (at least 2 evenings a week) and it doesn't seem to be helping, and what would help more? Why does she think that's not working for her? What does she think would help more?

As someone who deals with depression and reacts to stress pretty quickly AND I'm an introvert, I have had to tell my partner that I'm not going to magically Be Happy And Bubbly all of a sudden. He needs to stick with me through the rough patch. And we talk about how that is hard for him. Sometimes it's the motivator I need to give depression the ol' suckerpunch. But we have those talks and that keeps us on the same team through that process. Those talks are hard to start, but they help both of us.

I wonder a bit about the assumptions:

- Does she like the flowers? If not, you're trying to demonstrate your affection in a way that she's not able to hear.
- Same for the massages. Does she perceive them more as sexual pressure than affection?
- Is it healthy that she talks to her mom every day? Try checking in with her and saying "I notice that you seem more frustrated and stressed by this. Am I reading that right? Is there something we can do about that?"
- Why isn't she going to the gym anymore? "Sweetie, I know you used to really like going to the gym, and you have the membership and it's near your work, but you don't go anymore. What's up? Did something happen? Do you miss it at all?"
- "I really felt the best when I was living alone a couple of years ago." Okay. Big deep breath. WHY? Pursue this line of thought with her. What made her happiest then? How can we bring those elements back? Does she need more alone time? Was she living in a neighbourhood she liked better? Were her friends more available and involved in her life? Dig into this and be her ally.

Maybe try suggesting taking a weekend off from wedding planning. Just a weekend where you don't talk about it, you don't do anything about it, and if anyone starts talking about it they are quickly diverted to another topic because this is the Wedding Free Weekend where we can just hang out like normal. (Of course, you will want to make sure that this won't mean she has a million tasks hanging over her because the schedule's off.) And talk. Tell her you adore her and you're concerned. Tell her you feel helpless when she is so obviously stressed and unhappy. Stop sleuthing and predicting, and get on her team.
posted by heatherann at 6:31 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


All I can say is that I know what it's like to feel that your best efforts are chronically under- or un-appreciated (and even criticized) in a relationship, and I know how much that hurts. Don't underestimate how much damage that sort of pattern can - and will - do to your relationship and your self-esteem over time.

And this too. Say this. Say "I know you're stressed and frustrated, and that's coming out in all sorts of ways, and all I'm getting from you is negativity and holy hell I'm tired and it hurts. Help."
posted by heatherann at 6:34 AM on November 19, 2010


I don't know what's going on with your fiance, but I can tell you one thing: the fact that you are in love with her has nothing to do with how she acts and feels: how she feels about you, how she treats you, her own stress and her own depression. I think sometimes when we're totally head-over-heels with someone, we engage in a kind of magical thinking based on how *we* feel. We light up when we see them and feel everything's ok -- so it seems logical to us that our presence ought to have the same effect on them. Unfortunately, that's just not true. Your mental state has nothing to do with hers. Just because you love her doesn't mean she loves you the same way. Just because she makes you feel better does not mean that you can cure her depression.

This is not to say that you should call of the wedding or the relationship. But you do need to start figuring out how *she* feels -- not how you think she ought to feel, or how you hope she feels.
posted by yarly at 7:21 AM on November 19, 2010


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