Increased life stress plus new relationship
July 23, 2019 3:32 PM   Subscribe

In the past few weeks, my general life stress has skyrocketed in response to drama with my living situation. But I've also been enjoying a happy new relationship for a while. I'd like to limit the impact the former has on the latter and also get support from my new partner. Though I'm prioritizing self-care and though he's very patient and understanding, I'm trying to think of ways I can be fair to both of us and to our relationship at a time when stress is having a big impact on all my life.

My new partner, Chris, has been a friend for about a year, and we started dating a couple months ago. It's mostly gone well, though of course in every new relationship it takes a little time to adjust to one another. I've been super impressed at how good of a listener he is, and how gently wise and compassionate he can be, as well as nonjudgmental. He also I both have a history of depression and trauma, so we tend to understand each other.

However, being a new relationship--and also honestly because he's male and I'm female--I don't think he's always terribly intuitive about how to be helpful, though he's willing to help when asked. (Eg it not occurring to him to offer to bring me supplies when sick but gladly doing it when I sent a list.)

Anyway, things have been escalating with my stressful apartment situation (dealing with a very volatile fellow tenant with little support from landlord) , and I'm putting a lot of time and energy into trying to move and also trying to work with what's happening at my current place, all the while being super depressed and stressed and triggered at how this reminds me of a previous situation.

Going through stuff like this can impact any relationship, especially a new one, and it means a lot that I know he'll be supportive and that i know I'll look out for myself (e.g. taking time when I need it, therapy, getting out tension through walking/writing/etc).

But I also know that I'm hypersensitive right now and can be kinda touchy--I got really annoyed at Chris the other night because of that--and I'm trying to minimize the spread of that negativity (while realizing it's inevitable to some degree). And, though I know he will want to be there for me, I don't totally know exactly what kind of support I want or need, and I suspect it could take some energy to communicate those needs well.

How have you dealt with the unfortunate timing of godawful life stress with a promising new relationship? What's helped you to keep perspective, to figure out and articulate needs, to be fair to the other person even when you're so often at your breaking point?
posted by mermaidcafe to Human Relations (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My experience with this was a year ago. I had a lot of life stresses going on, and my time with the man I was dating was my oasis, the relief from stress. It's not that we didn't talk about the stresses of life, not exactly. Maybe we weren't as far along in dating as you all. But I definitely saw my time with him as a lovely and much needed break from some really stressful things in my life.

But if you all have only been dating a few months, is it necessary for him to be your primary support person? In a way, that seems like a big ask in a new relationship. You've been friends for a year, so maybe you are already closer. But it sounds, in a way, like you are maybe wanting to accelerate the relationship in a sense of asking him for a high level of support pretty early on.

Is it possible to step back the amount of time you are spending together if you are finding yourself snappish with him? Do you have other support systems/people/therapy that can provide you with support right now?

For me, I tried to insulate with my time with that man from a lot of the unpleasant things in my life so that I could enjoy my time with him so thoroughly. Could that work for you?
posted by bluedaisy at 4:07 PM on July 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

Spending time with my girlfriends, on day shopping trips, or chatting online with them instead of my husband (who listens to me, but often falls asleep when I am talking, and is just plain not as interested as I am in talking things out and analyzing, tho' we intersect on many issues)...

Self care for me means, I get a pedicure once a month, that is the ONE single indulgence I allow myself, I don't buy make-up or spend lots of money on purses or new clothes, etc. My pedicure lady is my friend away from home, and she's wonderful.

Keeping in touch with my female friends and relatives on social media, avoiding political discussions at all costs, just talking about things we all care about, nature, animals, gardening, cooking, how are the parents doing, etc.

I also TELL my husband if I am cranky and tired, and he gets that, and if I have been snappish, I apologize later, and he tells me I am wonderful and that's it. It's let go, and we move on. He REALLY encourages me to get together with my girlfriends, as it doesn't happen too often, we are out in the country, and he says, "Enjoy your day! Text me when you can, but I won't bother you, see you when I get home, love you!" Which frees me up to do just that, enjoy myself (otherwise, he calls me on all his work breaks, so having a whole day apart is often beneficial for our relationship, as then we both have new things to tell each other at the end of the day).
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:09 PM on July 23, 2019

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