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My boyfriend and I met almost 2 years ago. He was separated and ended up going through a drawn out, long, stressful divorce. His ex is very narcissistic and manipulative. We ended up being friends for a year, becoming best friends and he asked me out last July. He is an honourable person, he has strong convictions and doesn't make hasty decisions. In his own words: He thinks things through and makes deliberate, purposeful decisions. I only met his kids 2 months after we started dating - a year and 2 months after we first met... they apparently love me.
Things have been amazing, we have good communication, always have fun, we disagree on things - but never fight. He would bring up marriage and our future house, from time to time. But then COVID hit and the border closed ( I am Canadian, he's American).
He wasn't able to see most of his kids, his 18 year old moved in with him and was having a hard time in the beginning following COVID rules he had set. (We think we may have had a mild form of it.) She snuck out of the house and was assaulted. He and I dealt with her, consoling her and talking her through it (I did so via facetime) after this happened, he said it brought us one step closer to the future... that he fell more in love with me that morning. She eventually started following his rules. A lot of things she does reminds him of his ex, so it triggers him.
He is an essential worker - so he avoided seeing his other kids, as he didn't want to get them sick, potentially spreading it to others because his ex was not socially distancing. But her and her mom would text and email him often, making him feel like a bad father.
I started becoming depressed and more emotional than i typically am (I was usually the one who was positive and upbeat). I think that made him feel helpless, he couldn't do anything to change it. As the closure extensions kept happening, it took a toll.
Finally, the kids told him his ex might has been talking about remarrying her boyfriend (whom the kids cannot stand). He saw the disappointment in his kids faces and i think that, mixed with hurt from his ex remarrying, sent him on a spiral.
He has been saying for about 2 months "nope, i don't want to get married again, i wont put myself in a position like that again".
One day, after us having a discussion - I was trying to ask what changed all of a sudden... he ended up saying maybe we should break up. (this was a couple weeks after saying he could never explain or put into words how much he loved me. Then backtracking... saying it'll just be a break while he figures himself out...
Yesterday, after kicking his daughter out (very out of character, I am not saying he was necessarily in the wrong, because his house - his rules. but the reason he did and way he did was very bizarre and unlike him.) He told me he wanted to talk to me about something.
He started telling me he thinks he was trying to convince himself he was in love with me, but that he actually never was in love with me. That I am his best friend, and he thinks that's all i will ever be to him. Even before we were intimate we had talked about the potential of waiting because of religious convictions, but now he was saying it felt wrong because we were best friends (which i think he is confusing with his religious convictions). We haven't seen each other or have been able to be "us" in 3 months. But he was saying he has been taking a hard look at everything and said he was trying to shoehorn himself into a relationship but doesn't think he was never actually happy.
He kept using words like "I think". I listened calmly, I asked questions calmly, and I told him I was worried he was making such a big decision while he was under an incredible amount of stress (Not seeing kids for 2 months, his 18 year old sneaking out, being argumentative, triggering him from his ex, his ex talking about getting remarried, feeling like a bad dad for not seeing his kids, his kids not liking the new boyfriend, feeling pressure for our relationship to go somewhere - even though i am trying to reassure him i am not in a rush or even need it, not seeing me and the border being closed, all among COVID and these uncertain times.) and he said "that's what makes this a perfect time to do this." He then told me it wasn't fear making me do this, it was fear that made him ask me out - because i was the safe choice. (this is something his ex said to him).
I calmly asked, if i did anything, he said i was amazing and it had nothing to do with me.
We hung up and I called back, after i had time to digest. I still, calmly asked, how it was possible, if he was never really happy or in love, that he had convinced me and his closest friends and family that he was truly happy (so many friends and family members would comment on how he hadnt been this happy in years and it was nice to have him back). He said he was so messed up in the head that he convinced himself he was happy, because he thought he was supposed to be. He started getting frustrated with talking about it (something that rarely happens with him and I) and said since we had hung up it was Non stop, like an avalanche and he couldn't breathe. I calmly pointed out I hadn't spoken to him since hanging up an hour ago and I was just trying to better understand what was happening.
I had a strange calm about me during it because he wasn't sounding like himself, the way he was talking. He did something similar when we were just friends, where he started pushing everyone away (things were really bad with his ex and in the divorce).
I guess I am having a hard time believing these are his TRUE feelings, that he has reflected on and come to the realization of, while under a great amount of stress. As opposed to feelings he felt and reflected on while his stress was low and things were going well.
I guess I am trying to determine if I am off base thinking this is just based on stress and he is likely depressed and having a "nervous breakdown" and is just shutting down. I love him, and will be patient with this, giving him space, I am just at a loss for words and if I am wrong in thinking that this is just fear and depression talking.
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