Ask Stef: My S.O. Is Shutting Down. Is It Too Late to Save My Relationship?

Dear Stef,

My S.O. and I had the most amazing, positive and uplifting relationship for two years until they decided to move across the country for a job. That’s when the first and only really major conflict in our relationship began and I didn’t deal with it well. I was left hurt, heartbroken and the sadness turned into anger and resentment. 

While they tried their hardest to stay positive and give me their love and support as I went through the motions of being angry, hurt and resentful, I continually blamed them for the problems in our relationship and rejected their efforts to make things work. I didn’t appreciate them. I chose to dwell on the negative versus appreciate the positive.

After a hard year of distance I decided to make the move to be with my S.O. and work on the relationship, but arrived carrying the same negativity. So they finally told me they had enough and said that they no longer saw a future with me, that they didn’t think we were compatible anymore. Me, the person they once said was their soulmate, the love of their life, the person they wanted to be with forever.

That was the wake up call to me – it was my choice to focus on the negative versus positives in our relationship. So it’s my choice now to reverse that outlook, because I realize now that I can’t hold those feelings and be happy, together or alone. 

So I guess my question is, can I mend a heart and relationship that I chipped away at for so long? How can I get them to be receptive to my efforts to mend things when I can feel them shutting down? I know this for sure – I’ve learned a lot about myself from this experience and will not approach conflicts like this in the same way in the future. I just hope that my S.O. gives me a chance to show them this….

If I Could Turn Back Time

Dear If I Could Turn Back Time, 

I want to say, first and foremost, that you are brave and strong. A move is never easy, especially one that isn’t born of your own volition. So remember those things about yourself as you embark on this endeavor to mend what is broken.

Now, I’m going to say something that won’t be easy to hear. Maybe this relationship isn’t what needs mending.

Let me explain. You love this person. I’m sure they love you. But there is a disconnect. You shouldn’t need to convince them to give you this chance because they should WANT to give it. Aren’t the people we love, and who love us, supposed to give that chance to us freely? Especially when we are admitting we are wrong. 

I understand what you mean when you say you chipped away at what you built with a negative attitude and resentment. And then there is this courageous move you made in order to finally prove that you were “in it”. 

But what about YOU? What about what you want? What about what makes you happy? Whether it be what you’re doing for a living or where you are living or who you are with every night when you fall asleep. What about YOU? I feel like in all the negativity and resentment, in trying so hard to salvage this relationship, and in uprooting your entire life, you may have lost yourself. Finding that sense of self is the only thing that is going to allow forward motion. That is what you should be fighting for right now, not fighting for someone else to give you a chance.

I recently came across a quote while I was trying to find the words to give you.

“People who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, learn it doesn’t work that way. Where ever you go, you take yourself with you.” – Neil Gaiman

Take yourself to where ever it is that you can thrive and find that happiness within yourself. Perhaps then, if the timing is right, and you and your significant other are both willing to open that door again, you can find happiness in a relationship with them again.

Stef

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