Dear Ms. Vicki,
This past summer, I saw an old friend at a local bar in my hometown. We hit it off immediately! He admitted that his marriage was heading for divorce and that they were about to separate.
We started dating. He told me that in three weeks he would be deploying to Afghanistan.
I agreed to stand by his side because I knew that I had found the one I was meant to be with forever.
He is a contractor for the Army. He has made me feel like no one else has. We texted all the time. We had everything in the world to talk about, and we couldn't wait to be together in the future.
When he left, I stayed in most nights. He got frustrated when he couldn't reach me. After a couple times of taking his anger because he couldn't hear me when he called, I flipped out.
I had built up so much inside that I couldn't hold it in anymore. I went as far as to threaten our relationship, which was wrong on my part.
Ever since then, things have changed. I can tell he's emotionally detached himself from me. I don't get as many phone calls; I don't get good morning texts.
My anxiety has grown for him because a contractor from back home got killed in his area by a sniper and he was recently put on lockdown due to a suicide bombing.
I don't get many words of affirmation on us, and I am an emotional wreck. I don't get flowers like I used too or any of that. So now I don't have him physically or emotionally.
Is this normal? I am feeling hopeless. He says he is just worn out and tired from being over there and this is how he is right now, that he is doing what he can, that he doesn't have any more to give and it will be better once he gets back.
He says he still loves me and still wants to be with me, but I cannot get past the feeling that he doesn't need me anymore. Can you help me?
-- #He's Distant
It sounds like you have invested a lot emotionally in this relationship. Here's my concern: He's still married, right? Separated, but still married?
Because of this, I don't see how he can really promise you anything.
You are putting your heart in a relationship when you don't really know what will happen when he returns. I agree that this is a stressful time for both of you.
Afghanistan is a different place, culture, climate, time zone, etc. Moreover, it's a dangerous place. The time in Afghanistan could make him more resolved to put time and effort in his relationship with his wife when he comes home.
He can't expect you to stay home and twiddle your thumbs because he's away. That's not realistic.
The stress of his assignment will cause some changes with his personality and temperament. It's normal that he would experience an array of emotions (e.g., sadness, anxiety, agitation.) These emotions cause him to respond irrationally or much differently from his usual self. You could be experiencing the same.
I think you should put the brakes on this relationship and give him time to work through things. You have a lot of things to do that will be beneficial to you, like finding a job and continuing your education.
Nothing about this relationship sounds settled enough for you to invest everything in it. Please stay in touch and let me know what you decide to do. Thank you for writing to me.
-- Ms. Vicki