Sex and the city: My boyfriend disappeared on hearing of pregnancy, only to appear after 3 months
Abortion and attachment
Q: I had an abortion last year. My boyfriend disappeared when he heard of the pregnancy, only to appear after 3 months profusely apologising for being a jerk and leaving me to deal with the abortion alone. He said he was scared and so I took him back into my life. He does not talk of marriage as he says he needs to settle financially first and we continue to engage in sex. He comes from a wealthy family and his family is quite capable of supporting him and both of us were we to marry. I really want to be with him and marry him. My friends say that he does not want to marry me ever, and that his financial reasons are a cop out, and that forcing him to marry me because of the abortion would be a mistake. I often guilt-trip him about the abortion and insist on marriage, because I really want to be with him. Then he cuts contact till I call him back once again. What should I do?
A: An abortion can be emotionally and physically trying for a woman and your state of frustration is both justified and understandable. But in order to get a grip on this situation, you’re going to have to start being extremely mindful about how you come to grips with information that comes your way. The hard truth of the matter is that your boyfriend has developed some fool proof techniques of dodging uncomfortable topics with you. His disappearances are a testimony of his utmost jumpiness and lack of control over what he may be seeing as a ‘difficult topic to speak about’.
Marriage is long term goal and sometimes, some people like to live in the chasms between one short term goal and the next. Have you ever asked yourself as to why does he tend to get uncomfortable whenever you ask him for a long term commitment? This is an uncomfortable thought to entertain, but you’re going to have to get a tad direct about it with him if you want an honest answer. It is likely that his disappearances take place due to a series of factors that are not just restricted to his fear (as he shared with you).
In addition to feeling nervous about the relationship escalating to the next level, it is possible that you have been trying to hard sell the idea of marriage to him whereby he may have been wanting something quite different and possibly even casual from you. In order to not appear callous or zoned out in a manner that makes him appear insensitive to your needs, he may also be at a loss of words in his ability to tell you that he doesn’t want to marry you or that he was with you because of sex, social prestige, loneliness or peer pressure. These factors are commonly seen in many relationships. Love is oversold in our movies and pop culture but people being together is a far more nuanced and multi-layered dynamic.
His family wealth may very well be his ‘back door’ exit from being cornered with questions that strong-arm him to be accountable to you as his partner. Many men view being a good partner to a woman differently. For some men, rules of limited engagement apply since they love their private space and like to construct a parallel world without their woman. For some men, they only feel like real men if they are constantly putting on the cape and meting out services and solutions to their partner. For some men, relationships are about fun in the most breezy and easy sense of the term with little else than food, sex, friends and road trips to really ground a relationship.
You need to ask yourself why your boyfriend is with you. It’s quite possible that you already have the answer to this or you may have to ask him this to clarify his intent and goals for the relationship with you so have your answer from him at the outset. Be patient when you communicate. You may not always like what you hear. It is possible that he is feeling nagged by you to tie the knot and sees himself in a tight spot whenever you hold him responsible for his ‘disappearing act’ or for being ‘allegedly flaky’ about the relationship culminating into a marriage. This is your dream but this may very well not be his dream and your force feeding your dream to him may be the reason he runs away and then return for his ‘fix’ of you. This could be a possibility.
Guilt is seldom a motivator that sticks. Guilt leads to decision making that is less than optimal because it comes from self-rage that often mutates to self-pity which often becomes loop based self-destruction. That path to a relationship that’s nurtured cannot be through the pathway of destruction. In all relationships, both partners have needs and agendas to have those needs met.
Sometimes a difference of opinion or diverging goals for ‘oneself’ can lead to estrangements. This is to be expected when partners aren’t communicating with patience, integrity, trust, respect and transparency with each other. You are going to have to ask him direct questions in a manner that feels inquisitive as opposed to threatening. You’re going to have to learn to accept the fact that even though you’ll have dated and been physically intimate, you cannot and will not be able to sustainably own him or his wishes for himself. If counselling support is further required, I suggest you seek it out immediately.
(Aman R Bhonsle is a qualified Psychosocial Analyst and a Professional Youth Mentor with specialisation in Transactional Analysis and REBT. He is available for consultation at the Heart To Heart Counselling Centre.)