"Sending mixed signals"
My new partner split up with his wife after many years together. This was before I met him and although he doesn’t want to be with her and has no regrets about the divorce, he’s feeling guilty about leaving her.
This is starting to affect our relationship. One minute he tells me how much he loves me and how he wants us to be together forever, and the next he’s distant and says he’s not sure he’s ready for another relationship. I want this to work so how much space should I give him? I don’t want to put pressure on him but I don’t want to be taken for a fool either.
It sounds like your partner didn’t give himself enough time to heal before he got involved in another relationship. He should have taken time out to deal with the loss he experienced when he broke up with his wife. It’s often a good idea to go for counselling after a break up, regardless of who initiated it.
This allows the parties to deal with all the emotions associated with loss. Grieving for a relationship and going through the healing process helps a person to move on without regrets. The years that two people spend together cannot be erased in one single moment – it will take time.
Equally, the mistakes that were made during the relationship need to be acknowledged so that the same errors are not repeated. Baggage from a past relationship shouldn’t be carried over to the next, and this seems to be what’s happening with your partner. I suggest he goes for counselling to work through it and that you continue to give him your full support during the process.
MentalHelp suggests that after a break-up or divorce one needs to be allowed to process the emotions these can either be betrayal, guilt or even depression in some cases. “The emotional coping process starts with allowing one's self the freedom to grieve and ends with moving on with one's life,” writes psychologist Dr Mark Dombeck.