Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Her big, positive change is his unrequested, uncertain future
NYC: I'm going through an application process that could be pretty life-changing, in a positive way. If I'm successful, I would be moving away from my boyfriend.
When I asked him a few weeks ago if he was upset about this, he told me no, because "he knew we could work it out." He then proceeded to ignore the fact that anything was going on — not offering support, asking questions, being excited for me, etc. When I confronted him, he finally admitted he can't get excited for something that will take me away.
I feel angry and upset that he's unable to be excited for me, even if it's not exactly what he wants. Now I feel reluctant to even bring it up. How to move past this? Or has this kind of been an eye-opening deal-breaker about the support I'll get from him in the future?
Carolyn: He just got an eye-opening deal-breaker about the third-degree (plus smackdown) you're going to give him whenever his feelings don't align perfectly with your expectations.
He's upset that you might be leaving! He didn't tell you that outright, quite possibly because he didn't want to rain on your parade! You confronted the truth out of him, and then got angry at him for it!
How about: "I'm touched that you're upset. Your support is really important to me though, so I hope what you initially said is still true, that 'we can work it out' "?
NYC again: I don't have a right to be upset that he left me on my own to deal with an incredibly stressful period in my life, after he TOLD me he wasn't upset? I feel like his behavior was passive-aggressive and cruel, but it sounds like you think I'm way off base here?
Carolyn: You've also left him alone to deal with an incredibly stressful period in his life — a fact you still don't acknowledge — and your stress at least involves a "positive" change that you sought out. He faces the prospect of getting uprooted or left behind, changes he didn't seek.
His assurances that he wasn't upset could have been his trying to rally for you, which is exactly what you're angry at him for not doing.
By all means, tell him you're upset that he wasn't honest with you sooner about his reservations, or sympathetic to your suspense/stress; in fact, make it clear you have been stressed, since it doesn't sound as if you spelled that out for him. The only way to stay close through big changes is for both of you to be honest about your feelings . . .
And, for both of you to want the best for each other. To that end, be sure you also admit without qualification that you've let him down, too. You haven't been terribly (er, at all?) sensitive to his feelings; you want cheerleading and hand-holding from the guy who's about to have his world upended, without offering him anything in return.
In fact, your reaction to his true feelings might help explain why he put on a brave face to begin with. If you want people to be sympathetic to your plans and needs and feelings, then it couldn't hurt to acknowledge theirs.