Is this normal behavior?

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-15-2009
Is this normal behavior?
Sun, 06-16-2013 - 3:54pm

Hello, I have been with my boyfriend for a year and a half, living together for over a year.  I think I'm starting to realize that we are not right for each other.  I just need to know how others would feel about something in particular.  My father died in December.  It was unexpected and took and huge toll on me.  I only have a small immidiate family, so lossing him really wrecked my life.  I am dealing ok though, I do what I have to do and I don't mope around all day.  I have moments where I get really upset, which I think is understandable.  My boyfriend was good when it happened, he was by my side through everything.  Its just when it comes to talking about how I feel about it he could care less.  I feel like I have to hide when I am upset.  My Dad died not my cat.  So today being fathers day, i was feeling down leading up to today and I told my boyfriend this.  I told him this morning that I can't believe this is the rest of my life, no reason to celebrate fathers day.  He basically said nothing.  I just want a hug or for him to say something. I went to the cemetery and spent time with my mom and nephew.  I havent heard from my boyfriend.  Why am I getting this coldness from him?  What would you do?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2001
Wed, 06-19-2013 - 10:23pm

I just realized that you posted about your relationship in April:

he doesnt want to get married? now what?  

In that post you said your boyfriend WAS understanding to your emotions about your father's death.  You also said you were feeling like maybe this wasn't the right relationship for you, that it wasn't what you wanted.  With that I'd say you're finding more reasons to move on and should do just that.  You don't need to pinpoint a reason to justify leaving; not wanting to continue in the relationship is all the reason you need.

~ cl-2nd_life

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2001
Wed, 06-19-2013 - 10:02pm

First, my deepest sympathy on the loss of your father.  I was devastated when my dad passed, I understand how you feel.  

Secondly, my ex-husband was like your boyfriend in how he acted/reacted to sad emotions from me, so I understand the hurt and lonliness you feel in that regard too.

Question:  Is this his usual reaction to deep sadness from you or does he usually act differently when you're hurting?  My thoughts might change based on your answer to my question, but here are my primary thoughts:

It's possible that his lack of reaction isn't indifference.  It may well be that he doesn't know how to react or what to do.  That said, what you're likely seeing is how he is and what you can expect from him in these kinds of situations.  It doesn't matter what the reason for his action/lack of is, what matters is it's not what you want in a partner.  If you haven't already I would suggest sitting down with him and telling him not only how it makes you feel but how you'd like him to react.  Be sure to give him the opportunity to tell you what's going on in his head when faced with your sorrow too.  If after that you continue to see the same lack of reaction you know this is how it is.  And yes, at that point, it's time to move on because you want and need someone who CAN respond to your needs in the way that you need.

~ cl-2nd_life

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 06-19-2013 - 10:47am

I'm so sorry for the loss of your father.  Since you say his death was unexpected, I'm guessing that maybe he was on the young side, and therefore so are you.

I cannot imagine being with someone who needed to be told that he needs to listen when I am upset.  I mean, I just can't.  OTOH I do recall when DH & I were 22yo and he was going through radiation therapy after a brain tumor.  I was too young or too stupid or too insensitive to realize the physical and emotional toll radiation was taking on him.  So he had to tell me.  Over several months, he had to tell me several times what was going on with him so that I could stop being so self-centered about how lonely, bored or left-out *I* felt.  I am fortunate that he was willing and able to tell me, so that I could adjust my expectations.

Maybe what you need to do is to talk to your BF more about how you're feeling and what you need.  Since this may be the first time he's experienced something like this, he might just not know what to do.  Try it. 

Also, don't expect him to be everything you need as you work through your grief.  My mother died in 2007, when I was 45yo.  My DH & I have been together since we were 20yo, and he is my very best friend in the whole world, but there were still things about my grief that he didn't understand until his father died two years later.  It didn't mean he didn't try or that he wasn't there for me in every possible way, but he couldn't truly *empathize* until he'd experienced that loss himself. 

Avatar for ukgirl82
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-17-2005
Tue, 06-18-2013 - 6:49am
I think you've gotten some really good advice already, I just wanted to add that you will not necessarily never had a reason to celebrate Father's Day again. In my experience, most women also celebrate Father's Day for the father of their children as well. On Sunday, I saw many women posting photos on Facebook on their husband/partner with their children saying things like "Happy Father's Day to the father of my children." You may not be at that place in your life yet but unless you plan to never have kids, there may still be a day to look forward to when you can celebrate Father's Day again.
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2010
Tue, 06-18-2013 - 3:09am

Please accept my condolences on the loss of your father.

I think your bf's behavior is pretty normal, and your behavior is too. Many people are uncomfortable about death and have no idea what to say to somebody who is grieving. They don't understand why it takes so long to "get over it". Some people are more empathetic than others, but a lot of it has to do with experience. Has your bf ever lost somebody close to him? How old is he?

Losing your father is a major stressor. It can hit hard no matter how old you are, whether he had been sick for a long time and you were expecting him to die, or unexpected like in your case. I was in my 40s when my dad died from a terminal disease and emotionally I felt like a little orphan child! The entire first year after the death will be hard for you as you go through special days like Father's Day, his birthday, etc, and those days may continue to be sad for years to come. I suggest you look into a grief support group or grief counseling because it will help to be able to discuss your feelings with people who understand what you are going through. Also, see if you can pinpoint some things that your bf can do to help you when you are sad: do you want a hug? for him to just listen patiently? If you can tell him exactly what he can do, then he has a better chance of consoling you. Right now he probably feels inept or inadequate because he doesn't know what to say, how to make you feel better, how to make your sadness go away. (and a lot of guys don't understand venting, they  want to fix things and move on) That might make him pull away from you.

Obviously I cannot say if he will be there for you in the long run, but if you can help him understand grief, and if you have another outlet for discussing your sadness, then maybe there's a better chance of him hanging in there with you while you go through this difficult time...and know that in time it will get better.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-16-2002
Mon, 06-17-2013 - 1:01pm

You say that your boyfriend "could care less", but when your father died he was "by your side through everything".  Perhaps your bf is not who you need now to get through your continued grief, but your family.  Or if you feel like you aren't moving forward, you may want to talk to a grief counselor.  Everyone deals with death differently, and your bf only had a year and a half to know your father, he does not have the emotional investment you do so cannot relate to what you are feeling.  I think you could tell him that when you are feeling down that what you need from him is a hug.  Men are not mind readers, and sometimes we need to tell them what we need.  You can still celebrate Father's Day by doing something in memorium of your father, or by getting together with your family and remembering him.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

.  -Albert Einstein

Avatar for xxxs
Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010
Sun, 06-16-2013 - 10:28pm

  Demon is right.  Your boyfriend is not a mirror image of you.  My father died and I went into survival mode as I had been raised.  But no one is you.  You may need grief counseling from time to time to get thru these emotional triggers.  If you want a hug ask for it!  He can't read you mind.


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Sun, 06-16-2013 - 6:02pm

I don't know what is "normal". To give your BF the benefit of doubt:

1.  Do keep in mind that many men are not good at "talking about things".  If you just need to talk, sometimes you need to just tell him, "Look, I just need to talk this out and not expected you to solve the problem.  Could you please give me XX minutes?  It will make me feel better".

2.  Which leads to the second point.  Most men like to fix things.  He may be avoiding you not because he doesn't care, but because he feels helpless that he is not able to "fix things" and make your sadness go away.

3.  "I told him this morning that I can't believe this is the rest of my life, no reason to celebrate fathers day.  He basically said nothing.  I just want a hug or for him to say something".

In most families, it is normal for the father to die before the children.  And most people eventually learn to realize that life goes on - it is all part of the circle of life.  I am sorry your father's passing is unexpected, but I am sure he would not want you to be sad.

I think basically you need to tell your BF what you told us here.  He cannot read minds.  If you need to talk, a hug, etc., you just need to let him know.  Do understand some men are not good with words; he may be able to give you a hug, but may not always be able to say the things you want to hear.