Ask E. Jean - Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by confusion?

Advice Vixens

Hi Vixens, I'm wondering if the vixens here would be a bit bothered as I am. My boyfriend of 2 years bartends on the weekend at this bar he has worked at for over 5 years, he knows everyone there very well, naturally it's a close social circle for him. He clearly bonds with the other bartenders mostly who are all younger females, all attractive etc.

I'm a young attractive female too, and the girls he works with are all seemingly very nice. Am just mentioning the employees he works with because, factually, he doesn't work with a bunch of guys. Ironically enough his full time job is in IT and he says there's no women in his department lol. I digress.

And to describe the bar he works at, it's like a cheers, for him at least or the regulars of course. Always a positive and good time as there is always someone he knows working there.

I didn't hear from him yesterday from 1-10pm. We briefly chatted in the morning hello/ how are you etc like normal. We aren't big texters throughout the day. However he *usually* sends me a quick text here and there to say hi and visa-versa.

Yesterday I wasn't initially worried like at all. Figured he got caught up at work, all possible, and didn't think anything until he texted me back finally at 10pm or so.

He texted me: (These texts he sent all back to back)

"Hey babe sorry for the late response, I went to the bar after work for awhile to disconnect. Also my phone died.

Kinda of a hectic day at work, and I found out one of my friends od'd last night.

I'm fine. Haven't seen him in years. Just sucks. He was in a band with Jeff and some of our other friends back when we had No Less. We used to play shows together all the time. Was a great dude."

I responded, "Hey {his name}, oh my gosd wow Im so sorry to hear about your friend.

I would have come down and met up with you if you needed me to. How are you feeling now?"

He got back to me this morning and said:

"Hey babe. Sorry. I passed out shortly after I text you. I'm ok. He and I weren't very close per se, but our group of friends spent a lot of time together. I was definitely just in a solitary mood last night. All good though."

So, while I know the texts aren't that dramatic and he says "all good", am not trying to be dramatic, what bothered me is that he didn't reach out to me emotionally after his friend died first before going down to a bar where he knows everyone to decompress/ disconnect.

And I feel if he really wanted to truly disconnect and be alone, then why go to a place where he knows everyone?

Which leaves me to the conclusion (feeling) that he just didn't want to (or didn't think to?, both options upset me to be honest) share that with me, and rather share that with other people he works with first.

And I am guessing when his phone died isn't particularly relevant because he made it clear in his text this morning he wanted alone time anyways. Or, alone time without me there, but around his other friends/ co-workers.

I haven't had a chance to talk to him in person yet, this all happened between late last night and this morning. I want to say how I felt but maybe it would come across as making too big of a deal? I'm on the fence and not quite sure how I should feel about it.

What are your initial thoughts/ reactions Vixens? I'd so appreciate it. And a touch of backstory per my therapists words my last two long term relationships were with emotionally distant men, (just like my dad!) I am *not* trying to instantly label him as such. However, it can be hard for me to sort through those feelings/ put them in their place at times. I'm very aware or try to be, but before I made a mountain out of a molehill about this instance I wanted to hear the Vixens thoughts first.

Thank you for kindness and time as alway.



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    He reacted the way he did because he is a man. He received some sad news about an acquaintance and went to a comfortable place (his home away from home) to process internally what this news meant to him. This means he was operating under normal male parameters for this sort of thing. If he had gone to you with this, he would have had to process it using your methods, but because he's a guy, it wouldn't work so well for him.

    Men process emotions differently than women do. So if you're expecting him to react and process emotional events the way that you do, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. So my best recommendation is to revise your expectations of his reactions to emotional news. He wasn't shutting you out - he was just being a normal guy. So no worries.

    reply to Jill
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    Jill wrote: He reacted the way he did because he is a man. He received some sad news about an acquaintance and went to a comfortable place (his home away from home) to process internally what this news meant to him. This means he was operating under normal male parameters for this sort of thing. If he had gone to you with this, he would have had to process it using your methods, but because he's a guy, it wouldn't work so well for him. Men process emotions differently than women do. So if you're expecting him to react and process emotional events the way that you do, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. So my best recommendation is to revise your expectations of his reactions to emotional news. He wasn't shutting you out - he was just being a normal guy. So no worries.

    Thanks for your response Jill. That helps. My gut says you're probably right. He told me this afternoon that he sat alone had a few beers then went home. He seems fine today and like his usual self. I am probably too introspective and sensitive so I'll let this go. It was more of this quick gut reaction I had that felt bad. And the small fact that's there's a specific bartender there he seems to share things / bond with. I just need to not let that get the best of me. Again I'm trying my best to rid myself of past emotions and experiences after dealing with a lifetime essentially of really difficult men.

    My current boyfriend is the healthiest and kindest relationship I've had so I don't want to project or mess it up.

    I took it too personally initially I guess. Thank you again I really appreciate it.

    reply to anonymous
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    Death is something that can make us behave in ways we otherwise wouldn't ... dealing with mortality, even from a distance, is *hard*. So it's usually best to cut someone a little slack in these sorts of situations.

    In this case, I'm guessing that when he got the news, he may not have known exactly how he wanted to deal with things, but he DID know he suddenly wanted to hang out with a bunch of people he knew -- and who maybe knew his old friend, at least a little?

    Or perhaps it was just the opposite ... maybe they wouldn't ask him anything at all. And knowing that would be the case, he knew he could collect his thoughts in amongst some easy-to-take chatter about the Red Sox World Series hopes, or whatever,

    As well, he maybe didn't want to frustrate you with endless stories about a guy who isn't part of your social circle....

    So, in other words, I don't think he was deliberately shutting you out, as much as he was trying to process some emotions in a way that wouldn't leave *you* bored and/or depressed.

    Makes sense?

    There is a caveat here. If he's *consistently* shutting you out? Then there's a problem.

    But a one-time incident (and one that involves the unexpected death of a friend, at that)? I'm with Jill. Let it go.

    reply to Kal
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    Dump him.

    No, not really.

    Here's the thing.

    Being vulnerable is hard. Sometimes life gut-punches us to the point that we have no defenses. That's when we run to our partner, emotionally naked and in need.

    But sometimes life just smacks us out of nowhere, not hard enough to knock us off our feet. Just hard enough to make us a little uncomfortable, leaving us with the heart-breakingly child-like hope that maybe ignoring it will make it go away.

    So, you've got this sudden shock and your first thought is "Oh, crap, no. Nope, nope." The first place you go isn't true denial, it's more like putting your fingers in your ears and singing "la la la!"

    Your BF made that clear in his texts "Haven't seen him in years ..." "We weren't close, but ..." He's trying to distance himself, because pain freakin' hurts.

    He needed time to process this from a distance. You are a warm and empathetic woman who is smart about emotions, and you would have wanted to love and support him through the whole Kubler-Ross litany of grief.

    But, that's not what he needed. He wasn't ready for it. He needed a few hours' worth of distance, of gentle denial of this death's importance to him. He needed to take some time to let it sink in.

    And that's okay. Grief is even more individual than preferences surrounding music, food and sex. I think that he told you the truth: he needed time. And that's okay.

    reply to Robynne
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    For what it's worth, the way he's acting does not sound like anything you need to worry about in terms of the fate of your relationship. Just be kind to him, let him come to you and trust him. His being at the bar for alone time (with or without familiar faces who maybe-maybe-won't-be there) is something I see a lot of hard-working men do - whether something sad just happened or not.

    I've actually picked up this habit from men, since I walk home from a difficult job and pass several bars where I know everybody. It's not every day, but it's good to know they're there when there's shit you have to calm yourself down from for the preservation of your mental health. There's stuff you don't want to take home with you, or be a mess in front of your significant other about. It's like a debriefing or transition period. There are healing properties in just sitting there, having a beer, being quiet or talking about nothing important with whoever. I'd think he'd appreciate your acceptance of him doing this occasionally. As it sounds now, there seems to be no reason not to trust him. Those young, pretty co-workers were there all along and he's chosen you deliberately!

    In addition, sometimes the people he surrounds himself will be looking after him for you. If they're good people and they see he's got it good with you, they will steer him away from messing it up. (Not so much if they think you're not treating him well). It sounds like it will be to your advantage to give him the time he needs.


    reply to Queenie
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    I think youíre over thinking it. Both people in a relationship need room to breathe. Just loosen the tight cling and let life happen.

    reply to Lotus
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