Hello. My boyfriend is leaving for the army and I won’t be able to see him until Christmas.
I’m currently struggling with anorexia and he is the only person I speak to.
I’m scared of feeling lonely.
He’s my only comfort blanket and I don’t know how to deal with him leaving.
He normally facetimes me every night to help me sleep but he obviously can’t because he’s not allowed his phone.
Is there anything you could help me with? Any distraction ideas?
You are fearing loneliness. There’s the loneliness of missing a loved one due to distance. Then there’s the loneliness of feeling alone because we have no one to call close, or, the loneliness of being in a disconnected relationship where one feels lonely.
Your situation is about distance. Despite that enforced separation, you have that warm ‘comfort-blanket’ of knowing he loves you and IS there and thinking about you. But I’m not going to say, ‘so remember how lucky you are’ (which I think a lot of people hear from others when they share a feeling like this), because I know that won’t change the pain of your particular situation for you. It’s your pain and you feel it.
Maybe start with the obvious. The Army has information online for wives and partners. Even support groups. Explore these and take from them anything that helps. Does your boyfriend have a friend with a girlfriend in a similar situation? Could you be put in touch?
What about people around you? When we are very much in love, especially relatively new love, our world becomes very small and focussed on the one person. How many times do we notice this? A close friend suddenly becomes less available. “Oh, he’s all loved up!” You say he’s the only one you talk to about your issues with eating. Can you extend this to one or two other trusted people in your family or friends group? Are other people aware, including a GP or consultant? Are you already in touch with support services? Could you be? Are there groups you could become supported by.
What you’re also asking is, how do I keep feeling that closeness when I can’t see or hear him?
Could you get him to pre prepare some voice recordings before he leaves. Rather than him be tongue tied and awkward, I suggest they be done as an interview where you give him some questions and prompts to respond to. For example, ask him to talk about the three favourite things you’ve done together and why. Or to tell you all he remembers about the day you met. Planning the things you want him to talk about might be distracting, and listening to one of these each night might replace the phone call. I guess some will become your favourites and, like a favourite song lyric, you will listen to over again.
Write to him online. Send him a daily ramble about what you’ve been doing. Again, make it positive rather than negative. As with the things I suggested above, focus your mind on the happy times and write about them to him. Don’t dwell on the down thoughts, for your own well-being, take your mind to the fun times. He may not get to read these each day, it depends on his deployment, I guess.
And, most importantly, do something new that engages your time and your mind, and is just for you, not, as with my previous ideas, around your relationship. Good relationships flourish on two individuals choosing to be together. Each individual element makes a strong whole. Keep focus on yourself and what you can do for you.
Self care includes all sorts of things from a long bath to learning Japanese. Use the time to do something you have always wanted to try, or never thought of trying - ideally that gets you out with others, though as I write this in lockdown that’s a challenge. Exercise is great for mood, knitting is great for concentration and creativity. Perhaps write a blog about your experiences of this time apart or try poetry or a short story and submit them to a website. Visit a counsellor and see where talking leads you. Or try riding, or just be around horses or investigate equine therapy.
And when he’s back home, keep up the new venture, or ventures (the scarf you’ve knitted him will make a great gift!). Keep being you and him, not just us.
Mig Bennett is a fully qualified relationship counsellor specialising in relationship problems, sexual issues and sex addiction. She has over 25 years of experience, both in her own private practice - Mig Bennett Relationship Counselling (www.migbennettrelationshipcounselling.co.uk) and Relate. She is able to provide relationship counselling online and face-to-face.
Contact Mig on [email protected]
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