-- Question for John --
I have been in a relationship for just over a month. We met at work and now live together after becoming friends. I realize to be living with her so soon is quite a big step but that is not really the problem. She left her home town to be here, and has suddenly become very homesick and misses her friends and family. I am scared she may leave me to go back.
I am new here myself and know very few people. She left her home as her boyfriend left her after three years of going out together (this happened about half a year ago). She is uncertain if coming here was the right move. She also doesn’t enjoy her job here as much as she used to in her town. We both want to travel together. The thing is that she has become distant recently, doubting the move, the job, misses her friends and family. She is almost scared of being loved again after her ex boyfriend left her so badly. I try and help her by telling her that she will find her way and that I will support her all the way and if she wants to move back home I will go with her. I get on well with her parents and her friends all like me – which was not the case with her ex. How can I help her? I feel scared that because she feels depressed about being here, the move, her job, and misses everyone… I feel scared that she will associate all those bad things with me and she will leave me. Please help. I don’t know how to help her and stop our relationship from falling apart. Thank you so much…
-- Answer from John --
I can certainly understand your fears. And hers.
The best things you can do are:
(1) Be very supportive of whatever she needs to do.
(2) Stay strong within yourself.
Love is a gamble and a risk. And there is never any way around that. The best you can do is to embrace whatever seems to be coming up. And not make a bad thing out of it. Chances are, if you fully support her in any direction she needs to go — and if you stay really strong in yourself rather than giving in to the more “needy” part of you — then things will have the very best chances of working out longterm.
She is young. And, actually, so are you. And love does tend to be more rocky at your age. And what usually happens is that people run away real fast when the fears come up. If you can stand your own ground, and support her to do what she has to do, and not make a big problem out of that — then you will show her a kind of acceptance and strong support that is very rare in life. Something you cannot get just anywhere.
Even if the road is bumpy immediately ahead, you will be giving your love the best chances in the world to succeed in the long run. Maybe this even may mean she would move back home for awhile, and then travel around with you shortly after that. Who knows? Just stay open and give her your full support to hear whatever she is feeling.
The less you take all these feelings of hers as a threat to the relationship, the less it will be a threat to the relationship. Have you ever heard the old sayings about Self-Fulfilling Prophecies? If you have never heard of those, a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy works like this: If you see her unhappy feelings as a potential threat to the relationship, you are in danger of starting to talk and behave in ways to turn the situation into a real threat to the relationship.
How might this work? Feeling the fear of a potential threat, you may try to change her feelings. And that never works. You may try to fix her feelings. And that never works. Then you may start blaming her for having those feelings… or trying to talk her out of feeling that way… or trying to keep her from acting on her feelings, if it means pulling away from you. This will not work. And all of these things that you might do will make her feel like something is wrong with her… like you do not accept her for who she is… or that you are trying to control her… or trying to kind of put her in jail. That will not work in a big way. She will have to break out of that jail. Hence she will pull away in a real way. And thus, finally, the potential threat will get turned into a real threat, all because of the ways you reacted to the fears you initially had.
So one of the best ways to make sure this is not a threat to the relationship is to stay strong within yourself and don’t give into the fears that are coming up. This will enable you to stay in a supportive position with her, and it gives her a sense of security, safety and trust with you over time. These are rare and important things which support a longlasting relationship, no matter how bumpy the start.