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My discussion topic is a bit unordinary. I am writing as an ex girlfriend who’s ex boyfriend let her go because he needed to simplify his life. His mom has dementia and has taken a turn for the worse in the time we were together (8 months). Her husband had to quit his job 6 months ago to care for her full time. My ex in recent months committed to helping 2 days a week, in addition to being a part time dad to 2 girls, and a psyche nurse at a mental hospital full time. He would often express how stressful and depressing it is to help care for his mom. We had little time for us, and to make our relationship grow and be fun again like before he had all this when we first got together. His words were “my life needs less right now”. He needed to simplify so he could focus on his mom and girls and himself. 3 weeks prior to the break up his mom had an aggressive episode where it put him, his girls and mom in tears and her husband almost put her in a home. He told me the thought of putting her in a home really shook him up. I am absolutely heartbroken over our break up as we were so good together. I’m just looking for others to better help ME understand what he is going through... I appreciate it in advance.

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So, JB, did you have fun with this thread, and with leading us on?
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And with that, I’m gonna close out this post. I appreciate all that have helped.
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JoAnn is on to something. Your ex probably talks all day! That’s basically what nurses do especially psych nurses. Then he goes home and talks to his parents and family and then his two daughters. Give him a break. Don’t burden him with any more words.

So then, after all our posts you say at the end “well thanks y’all, but you aren’t intimately involved”!

You are being the same way to us as you are with him.

You have all the comeback phrases but will do what you want anyway.

Sort of how you treat him. You go to his mother’s birthday party. You have trinkets for his kids. You began to discuss a possible future with a guy you don’t even know for one year. Complaining about being a part time girlfriend to a guy that just needs to chill when he goes out, whether it be a date or out to do another errand. Talk to his sister about him. Geez. Can you see where you are wrong? 

He was probably married before or had some sort of relationship with another woman as they have two kids. I wouldn’t ask to take his daughters anywhere as you probably have to get permission from their mother. That will open another can of worms. He may not even want to go there and bring another woman around his daughters. Mail the souvenirs. Can’t you see how awkward that can be for him? 

You want drama and commitment, he just wants peace and quiet.

You are prolonging the inevitable and continuing this behavior will only break your heart more.

Let him go.

If he loves you he will come back. It’s true that if you love somebody, set them free.

8 months! That’s baby steps in a relationship. Give it up or you’ll only get more heartbreak. 

I bet you are thinking that tomorrow the four of you will end up going out together & then he can see what he’s missing. 

Don’t let him humiliate you. Don’t humiliate yourself. 
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Thank you Joann. Perhaps my intentions here have been mistaken. What you said has been my intention all along. I never meant to make this about me, but to change my perspective on how this break up felt it was about me. I have been trying to express that I want to be here for him and not just bail on someone who is important to me. Never once have I said I’m going to bombard him with calls and texts. Up until this past Monday, he has initiated our contact as I’m giving him space. He has asked to be friends! I have zero plans to text and call and say hey let’s go kayaking. All I was saying is that I have debated, NOW, expressing to him that I am not mad and I am still here. Because other than being cordial, I have NOT told him anything about where I am at, and his sister has told me over and over he worries about me and hates that he hurt me. My debate has been to specifically tell him I am ok, and to alleviate his guilt, or just drop it and let him come to me. That’s it! I have a life, and incredible life. A successful career and never once dropped my friends or extra activities even in our relationship. As I have reflected the end of this relationship, I started to realize maybe I put some undue pressure on him and feel like a jerk. That was the moment I realized I need to not be selfish and understand what he was going through.
Thank you to everyone who has responded and your advice and words. Messaging makes it incredibly hard to understand context added to the fact that no one knows the situation intimately. Regardless, thanks again.
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Lots of responses but just want to say...

I have a daughter, RN, who worked in rehab/Daycare facilities for 20nyrs. The medical field is a very demanding, stressful job and then...you have to deal with it when you come home. Caregiving is stressful enough without having a full-time job doing the same thing. Then throw on top of that the care of 2 children. OVERWHELMING! He probably doesn't know if he is coming or going. He may have thought about you and felt it was not fair to bring you into the situation. A relationship between two people is hard enough without all the baggage he has at this time. Eight months may be long to you but it is not really long enough to really know someone. Oh yes, fall head over heals for, but not really know. I see no problem in being a friend. An occasional "how are things going" can't hurt. Maybe even asking if you can take the girls out for a day. But make him aware that u understand what he is going thru but you would love to at least be a friend. But, Don't sit by the phone waiting. Date, go out wit friends. If he turns down your help, then just stand back. Patience is the key word here. I really think if it's meant to be, it will be. I am happy with my marriage and life but I have looked back and thought, if I had been a little more patient where would that relationship gone.
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JB, one of the posters here has volunteered at a hospice facility. I'm thinking that if you began volunteering at some kind of facility, you'll see how the pace changes: slow for hours, and sometimes a crisis. But you'll also get a sense of how patients need attention, how difficult it is to schedule because of changing needs and more.

If you put yourself in his shoes, literally and physically, and get involved in volunteering, you can better understand how your relationship is just not a top priority for him right now.

BTW, do you work? Do you have any outside commitments of your own? If you can lift and haul a kayak, you could easily kayak alone. It would be a peaceful activity.


I still want you to consider what I wrote above, but I confess that as I read through your repeated posts, focused on YOU and how YOU want to support him, etc., it occurred to me that you don't seem to have a life of your own.

Then I read CM's and FF's last posts on this page, with which I completely agree, and felt that I'm not the only one who sees that this issue is becoming a "quicksand post". We're caught in a trap of answering; it's time we stopped b/c our advice isn't getting through.

So I'm writing this very bluntly, because I don't think our advice is seriously being considered; you always have a comeback, a repeat of how you want to support him.

Did it ever occur to you that maybe this is his chance to break it off entirely? That perhaps he's tired of someone who seems to make him the center of her life?

I honestly don't think you're interested in advice but rather consolation FOR YOU, for your perceived loss.

This seems to be all about YOU. Do you actually have a life of your own? Don't you have other friends? Don't you work?

Give it up and let this man be who he needs to be w/o constant pressure from you to LET you be his support. I think you're only aggravating his stress.

MOVE ON.
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The last time you'll ever see or hear from him...

Lordy, girl, get a grip. Life is long. Time passes. Neither of you has done anything to cause the other to shun him or her forever and a day.

His situation is very sad. You have been hurt, and taken unawares by a situation that, if I were going to be harsh, I would have said he ought not to have led you into in the first place. But seriously, for you there is no tragedy here - no irretrievable damage, no blood, no bodies. You've had a nice time with a nice man, you haven't had your faith in mankind trashed or been left unable ever to trust again.

You are going to be fine. So, I hope, will he be in the end - but that is not your business. Enjoy your visit tomorrow, part as friends, and the next day do something completely, completely different.
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JB, you are NOT LISTENING TO US. Re-read all of your postings, you are in total denial about the situation. You are smothering this young man, big time.

I would cancel seeing him tomorrow, the last thing your ex wants to have is reminders of that you had the time and energy to go on a vacation. That would bring on a lot of resentment that your young man is too polite to show.

Friends give other friends time to adjust to their new situation. Your young man's Mom is younger than I am. This isn't the retirement that his Dad and Mom had planned, and that is what makes it very rough on the family. The Dad is going to lose the love of his life down the road, and your young man and his sister will lose a Mom way too early.
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It sad and heartbreaking to hear but I understand.
I am seeing him and his girls tomorrow as I have a few souvenirs I promised them from my vacation. I honestly don’t know if that’s the last time I’ll ever see or hear from him after that. Although his sister has told me he definitely wants to be friends and he’s looking forward to being friends when it’s not so fresh.
I realize there is nothing I can do. I imagine much of how I am feeling is what he is feeling but amplified. Sadness, exhausted, grieving, and lack of energy or interest. He’s just feeling it over his situation. Grief is universal
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JBH, with the greatest and most affectionate respect, you cannot support this man through this experience. He does need support, but not from you. For all sorts of reasons. E.g.

You have no idea what you're doing.
You don't know what he's talking about.
You can't possibly understand what is and is not going to help.
He doesn't want to do that to you. He doesn't want you to be a person who has gone through this ordeal. Any more than he would want you to empathise with his broken leg by getting someone to kick you very hard.

And DO NOT tell him you are there for him. You bloody well ought NOT to be there. You are supposed to be going your own way, having stored this pleasant relationship in your treasury of good memories, and getting on with your life.

You may genuinely not realise this but what you are actually doing is holding your breath and hoping that there will be a role for you.

STOP IT.
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I wouldn't call or write, to him or his relatives. Just let it be. Since you've been cordial and understanding the last times you have spoken, I'm sure he knows you are not mad at him and that you are there if he needs to talk. If he doesn't reach out to you, you can probably safely assume he is not wanting to talk at this time. Like so many others have commented, you should use this time to get busy taking care of you. Your feelings do matter, just as much as anyone else's. I know it feels unfair that you haven't gotten the chance to get your feelings off your chest to him, and that you are grieving. Maybe write a letter but don't send it, then burn it as a symbolic way of letting the relationship go and having some closure.
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This is why I have debated a letter, since “in person discussion” gets awkward for him on this subject. Just telling him I understand his decision and I am not mad at him and I am here if he needs.
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I try. This is why the break up has been shocking to most, because I was his support. And why I’ve asked on here how to be there for him still (or make him comfortable enough to feel I still am), cause he DOESNT have emotional support really. I think he buries it. He doesn’t talk too much about difficult issues, he changes the subject quickly. He had said months ago he thought he needed to see a counselor but I don’t think he’s actively pursuing it. I’m trying not to be “Ms. Fix It”, and just letting him talk when he wants. I won’t be actively reaching out to him but at the same time asking you all how I can still be there or make him comfortable that I am here. He told me so many times I was HIS sanity maintenance. I understand why he let the relationship go but I am SO kicking myself for bringing up the future and asking for more time when he’s at his worst. It wasn’t my words I was sorry for, it was my timing!
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Oh JB. I absolutely wail aloud at the thought of what boyfriend's family is going through. She's young, young, young and this is purest nightmare.

If you are speaking to him, you could check that he is getting emotional support for himself. He should have access to counsellors at work, but you know what they say - it's the cobbler's children who go barefoot, it's the doctor's family whose health is neglected...

It's important that he doesn't think he has to set an example for others all the time. There's a hug image here on AC: "it's okay not to be okay." Make sure he knows that.
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JB.. both of my parents have dementia. Its gut wrenching hard..it changes you.. I don't think I could be in a serious relationship at this point in my life.

Take it from someone who wasted many good years on waiting for someone to come around and commit to me..it just doesn't work! Life is short and you are at the point in life where you want a serious relationship.

Please take the sage advice of the others on this thread and move on, focus on yourself and be thankful that you are not having to deal with dementia or end of life issues in your life right now.
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Thank you Countrymouse. Your words were exactly what I needed this morning. I am grieving, I am going through my own loss and it’s easy to get selfish about it. That’s exactly what I am trying not to do.
His mom is 67. I believe she was diagnosed about 3-5 years ago, but has progressed even in the short time I’ve known her. You can’t realky have conversations with her. She doesn’t put sentences together but does use words independently. She needs help dressing and showering. She needs to have meals made for her and reminders to drink fluids. She walks slow and with a slight shuffle. When I met him, she had a caregiver but that ended right after I met him. Her husband quit his job in November to help care for her, and it wasn’t until about January my ex starting helping 2 days a week which includes taking her all day on one of his days off. She was spending the night with him one night but back in January she started waking up several times looking for her husband so my ex stopped the sleep overs. Since about February she’s been more combative with her husband who struggles to calm her down sometimes and he will Call my ex to talk to her or come over. This activity has picked up quite a bit in the last few months. But it’s also where they think the early Parkinson’s might be coming into play.
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Sorry - I didn't explain what I was getting at.

You want to understand what is happening with the mother's disease.

How old is she? What do you know about her diagnosis/diagnoses?

The thing is. We can readily point you to reliable, relevant sources of information. They will explain the kind of things that are happening and the likely direction of travel. But they cannot tell you what it feels like to be there, and to love the people who are affected by it. And I am not at all sure that it is healthy or helpful for you to be taking too close an interest in the detail - when you think it through, that is a form of stalking. Which you do not want to do!
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JB, you said, among other things:

1. We are so good together. Yes, as far as it went, and that was lovely. But then you said:

2. I hoped I could be more than a part-time girlfriend. Well, what's wrong with that? Nothing! Of course you hope that. Who wants to be a sideshow in the life of their partner?

You deserve more and better, and this nice, considerate man *agrees*. You do deserve more. But he can't give you more.

So it isn't that you were demanding. It's that the completely reasonable expectations you have of a relationship are still more than he can meet.

It isn't you. It isn't him. It's just bloody life, doing what it does sometimes to good people who find themselves in impossible situations.

If you roam around the forum site, you will see lots of irritated caregivers complaining that uninitiated people are forever saying sentimental things about how looking after your demented parent is the equivalent of her or his having looked after you when you were a baby. They are not at all the same thing, and the notion of reciprocity is false. It gets very annoying.

But in one respect there is an important similarity. And that is that, just as you cannot explain what having a baby is like to someone who hasn't done it, or know in advance how you might feel about it when it's your turn, you cannot really understand what it is like to see your beloved - or even not so beloved - parent's brain turn to mush before your eyes.

This is an entirely new challenge for him, too. He is processing an avalanche of emotions, from sorrow and loss to apprehension, even dread. And I expect, given his professional background, that even though this is all new he is keenly aware that he is going to need all the mental space he can get just to survive it, and to support his father through it, and to protect his daughters who - don't forget - are losing their granny in a way they cannot begin to understand. What he doesn't need is another person's *important* feelings to manage.

You know what would comfort him? To know that he hasn't done you any lasting harm and that you like him. Don't pretend to be okay. BE okay. Put yourself first and move on.
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Re-reading all the comments from today and surely helped me tonight. Again, thank you everyone for entertaining this unordinary post.
Right now, he’s not in full time care for his mom, but she is progressing fast, and I know it’s hitting him hard. First there is the caretaking side after a day of chasing around mental patients. Then there is the emotional side of watching the woman who raised you slowly deteriorate. When I talked to him the other day it sounds like he’s stopping by to see her almost everyday now. I can see how he’s living out his reason for the break up, and just caring for himself in his free time right now. It’s so hard to understand this aspect when you’ve never come close to experiencing that. And that’s why I came to this site! I agreed to be his friend in the break up, and I will stick by whatever that means for him.
I am curious what have you all seen in the progression of dementia? It seems to me like she got worse, fast. Either that or the Parkinson’s brought something on, or she moved between stages.
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Breakups are always hard but I think the best thing you could do is maintain your distance and let him come to you if you are hoping for a reconciliation of any kind. People always appear more desirable when they are independent and have their own life. I know it sounds like playing games but sometimes it's what you have to do.

Plus trust me as one who has been a caregiver, maintaining a relationship is the last thing on a person's mind when they feel emotionally battered.
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I still kind of feel like a jerk for bringing up our future, and a desire to see him more amid his crisis. This was about 10 days before the break up. He never shut it down. He said he saw a future and hoped I did too. And totally agreed to more time. I can look back and see where that fell apart for him when he realized he was just too maxed out.... and I feel so bad for ever bringing it up now. I never wanted to bring unwarranted pressure to him.
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Ok. I have tried to put myself in his shoes and part of why I sought out this site. To better understand those who are in the same place. I can’t exactly ask him. I’ve also tried to look at my own life and give myself analogies. It helps to get me out of the typical “why” break up feelings. I realize that no one on here knows me, or him, or was involved in any of the circumstances or relationship. He’s a sensitive guy but does shut down under stress, and avoids negative emotions. In the minimal contact we have had, I can sense where he’s felt bad for hurting me. When we have communicated verbally or when I saw him at his moms birthday, I didn’t wear a sad face. I made sure to be myself and be as comfortable as possible, and silently deal with my pain.
I called him Monday, as I told him I would after I got back from my vacation. He sounded down, or sad, or tired. But he asked me all about the trip, and I asked about his new truck. I never asked what was wrong. I have souvenirs for his girls as I had promised, so we agreed to meet up Friday. He thanked me for calling and said it was good to hear from me.
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JB, when I was looking after my Mom I had tunnel vision. She was on my mind 24/7. I am married and my Hubs did get resentful occasionally but without me even having to say anything he just sensed that I needed his quiet support. I would be in the midst of one emotional crisis after another and resented anything that tried to get in the way of my single-mindedness. I know it probably doesn't sound fair but that's life. When he stepped away and quietly kept busy with his own stuff I appreciated it so much and therefore moved more towards him when he did that.

I'd suggest you try to keep busy with your own life and be there if and when he asks for your support. If he doesn't ever ask for your support take that as a hint and give him his space.
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JB,

Nope, don’t even think about it! He pushed you away for a reason. He is overwhelmed with his current life situation. This is not the time for some heavy duty spill your guts all over the floor relationship talk. Don’t do it.
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Well said lizzy.
Don’t add to his stress. That also means not talking with his sister. It’s his choice, let it be.
It was probably hard for him to break it off but maybe it wasn’t. He made his point respectfully to you. He didn’t not call or simply disappear. Maybe he lied to let you down easy. Who knows? 8 months is not very long- it’s still the “getting to know you” phase in many relationships. 
Don’t apologize either. Apologize for what? You guys were dating a short time.  
Get busy living your life.
Let him go. 
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Thanks Lizzy. It’s hard. Especially when you feel so hopeless. I was once a source of relief in his life. We’d talk everyday and he’s share about his day and stresses at work, or with his mom. I realize he’s pushed me away in the relationship, but I’m still here to vent to. I feel like he’s not doing that because he feels bad for hurting me. His sister has told me several times how bad he feels. It’s hard because other than being cordial when he called, I have not been able to actually tell him I understand and I am not upset with him. I feel so incredibly stuck. Probably much how he feels about his mom.
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JB,

You are about my daughters age. So I am going to speak to you like I would her.

There has been a breakup. You guys are cordial at this point.

But, from your posts it appears to me that you are desperately trying to find a way back into your ex’s life.

Be quiet. Be supportive if you are contacted.

Get busy with your life and take care of yourself.
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Ok I get it. Since I have not done so yet, do I at least tell him I understand why he had to step out of the relationship and express that my support is still here if he needs?
I am not for certain but I think the house is only in his moms name, not the stepdad. I don’t have a lot of details but I know the stepdad was playing out options to keep the house somehow... which included asking my ex to move in so he could afford it. The ex of course said no, being 40 and dad of 2 kids. I don’t believe the stepdad has the credit or means to “buy” the house, which is part of the stress my ex has on if his stepdad is making the right decisions of when to put her in a home.
Also, it sounds like she was recently seen and they believe she has early signs of Parkinson’s. Which may explain how her aggression progressed so quickly. Can anyone help explain if they have seen this, and what they’ve seen as far as how fast progression happens?
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JB, FF makes the point that I was trying to make. Caregiving is exhausting. There were times when I could barely make if out of the hospital.

I was trying to convey the intensity of caregiving, of focusing on someone who might quickly enter the final stages of life. Playing tennis or whatever, even kayaking, is the last thing on someone's mind.

Read some of the posts by people who are at the "end of their ropes", who are completely exhausted, who are getting ill. Perhaps their pleas will shed more light on how demanding this is, and how recreation with someone who might be seen as insensitive is not even on their radar.
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JB,
Do not be a pest!

Do not let him know you are available for fun activities! He is not available for fun activities! You will be bugging him.

Give him space! Do not bug him.
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