I think my boyfriend wants to leave but he won’t tell me why

Woman looking angry and worried

My boyfriend and I have been together for over a decade and have two children. I think he wants to leave, but I don’t know why. He has been off for a while and is often out, but whenever I talk to him he acts like he’s ok. He talks to me like normal, but he never asks how I am. He said he wants to try with our relationship, but I think he’s just waiting for the time to go and doesn’t want to try at all. Is counselling something that would help? I love him with all my heart and I don’t know what to do.

Ammanda says…

It sounds as if you’re feeling very confused right now about what’s what in your relationship. You say that in some respects things seem normal, but that he’s also going out a lot and I guess leaving you feeling alone with the kids and your worries. You say too that he’s been ‘off’ for a while and I’m assuming you mean you haven’t felt like you’re as close to one another recently. But the big question is whether or not he wants to leave. You say you don’t know why he might want to go, but that even when he tells you he wants to try to make things work, it’s clear you have big doubts about whether he means this.

So let’s step back a few paces and have a better look at what might be happening. It sounds like one of the biggest issues is that you feel he never asks how you’re feeling. Has that changed? With lots of relationships we often take it for granted that our other half is OK unless they actually tell us that something is wrong. I’m wondering if maybe you’ve stopped asking him how he’s feeling too. When we don’t communicate, feelings that could be expressed about all sorts of things can get stuck. That can lead to resentment and often anxiety because you feel like something is wrong, but no-one’s talking about it in a way that helps.

If you haven’t been clear with him about how concerned you are, now’s probably the time to start. But getting this conversation going right can be tricky. Sometimes when we’re worried about something, our anxieties get the better of us and we end up asking, accusing or even telling our partner how they feel and forget to concentrate on helping them to understand what we’re experiencing.

Perhaps you’ve always found it difficult to share thoughts and feelings with each other. Some couples just assume that, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, everything’s OK. This often is fine until someone changes and needs more. Lots of things can make any of us feel vulnerable or that we need more support and affection than usual. For example, losing a parent, the kids getting to an age where it feels as if they’re a little more independent or maybe a job feeling like it’s not going well. And looking after kids, while lovely lots of the time, can also be exhausting and mean that we end up too tired to concentrate on being a couple. I don’t know if any of this sounds familiar to you, but to me it does feel as if you’re like ‘ships in the night’, just missing each other but close enough to realise that if things aren’t resolved, your relationship may be on a collision course.

I think counselling could help you both. For a start, you’d get the chance to talk openly about how you’re feeling. It strikes me that perhaps neither of you is really asking each other the right questions. Perhaps you’re worried that, if you do, the answers will be painful – it certainly sounds like you’re lonely and scared about what his behaviour towards you might mean. But even if this is the case, your counsellor will help each of you to look at what you each bring to the relationship and figure out together what might need to change.

But here’s the other advantage to counselling. Often when we’re really worried about something we start assuming that we ‘know’ what things mean. You say you think he’s just waiting for a time to go. But there may be lots of other reasons why he may have changed towards you. As I’ve said – perhaps it’s you who has changed and now needs something different from him. Counselling could help banish all those assumptions and missed opportunities to talk.

Get your courage in both hands and book an appointment. Whether he joins you or not, at least you may get some clarity about a way forward for yourself, and that’s rarely a bad thing in my experience.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)