“I’m [29M] on mobile so I can’t type an essay. Her [31F] father recently was diagnosed with cancer, then she was scammed by an online refinancing operation and had her car repossessed. We had recently decided it was time for me to move in and her reaction to all of this turmoil was to postpone my move in. I had already brought over all my clothes and begun sleeping there every night. It really bummed me out to have to go in and fetch all of my stuff like I’d been dumped. She’s gotten cold and distant, seems to enjoy my company less, and even asked me to stay at home a couple times “so she could clean.” My living there and paying half of rent would help her financially so it makes very little sense.
I asked her why she asked me to move back out and she explained that she is feeling very depressed and doesn’t want the guilt of having it rub off on me. My reaction is to try and help her, but she seems disinterested in my help and company. We used to check in and flirt throughout the work day but that’s become one-sided. She still says “I love you” and calls me “My (name) ❤️” in texts but I’m worried about our relationship and don’t know how to handle this shift in her behavior. Please help!”
TL;DR – Girlfriend is having personal and financial issues and has been pushing me away. I don’t know how to react.
Dear Getting Pushed Away,
I’m really sorry to hear that she has been struggling so much lately. And I am really sorry to hear that that adjustment has been so difficult for you as well.
One of the biggest challenges in dating is in learning to be a lot of different things for your partner. Life often throws trials and tribulations our ways to make sure that we are still our resilient selves. And your girlfriend is definitely being challenged by life. She isn’t necessarily pushing you away intentionally; it could just be what she is going through right now.
When one of my partners suddenly lost her father last year, I had to step up and be the support she needed me to be. It was hard to experience losing a father figure of my own, but I knew she needed me more than I needed myself. So I had to be there for and support my partner along her grieving process. And you need to be there to support your partner along this incredibly stressful period of her life.
And that support can look wildly different from person to person. One of my former paramours liked to sit and cuddle while watching her favorite Christmas movies together. My partner liked it when I did chores that she felt too drained out to do on her own. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you aren’t there to help her help herself. It isn’t your responsibility to heal her, but facilitate her own healing process. Just continue to remind her that you will be there for her in the way she will need you, and allow for that space for her to come to you if she needs your help.
Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.
I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at email@example.com. If you liked my advice for this post, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!