He seems to be backing off

Hi Meredith,

I have started a new relationship, and we have been together for six weeks now. I am 31, he is 40. The relationship was intense from the start because we'd already known each other for about six years through work.

I have always been in abusive relationships, so it was a big step for me to open up to him that quickly. We talked about moving in together one day, and even discussed how we'd like to spend our retirement years. Now, six weeks in, things have gone very wrong and I don't know why. He has become very dry and distant. He says it's because because I am so negative, and that it makes him negative. I am constantly questioning whether he wants to be with me, even though he says he does.

At the start of our romantic relationship, he tried to spend time with me whenever we could (sometimes we have different days off). Now he says he needs alone time and that he hopes that I'm OK with that.

I know that my past problems with abusive relationships are affecting us. I am seeking help, and he convinced me that was the best thing to do. I have asked him twice now if he would just rather end things, and he has said he wants to stay together. I realize that this is a lot to deal with at six weeks, but after having been closed off to these feelings for so long, only to have them reignited by someone who is now backing off ... it's left me confused. Can you offer any kind of advice?

– Confused

It sounds like you both got confused about what it means to start a new relationship. Sure, you've known each other for six years, but not like this. Not as romantic partners.

You can't skip ahead to retirement just because your connection grew out of a friendship. You have to start with getting-to-know-you dates just like everybody else. It's possible that his new boundaries are about trying to reset the pace, which is probably best for both of you.

It might help to use some of your therapy time to talk about expectations in a new relationship, and how you can navigate these early weeks. You need to be able to trust yourself, even if it's too early to be all in with someone else.

It's great that you're getting help, by the way. I hope you continue no matter what happens with this man.

– Meredith

Readers? Is this man backing off?