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My boyfriend's behaviour is erratic and is really triggering me. I am struggling to think straight right now

Thread starter #1
I have lived with my boyfriend for 3 years and we met 4 years ago. Earlier this week I arranged something for our 4th anniversary, I booked a table at a restaurant we really like and found a really good deal as it is usually expensive. All paid for and ready to go, I know that if I don't arrange things nothing will ever happen as he finds it hard to make plans but is usually happy for me to arrange things. My bf was excited about it and knew in the lead up to it what we the deal included - I would be happy to buy anything extra he wanted as well, as he is unemployed and has been for two years since being made redundant. Anyway so the day itself came and he began complaining about what the restaurant would offer and was looking at the menu saying it will be too much for him because he has had acid reflux lately and finds it hard to eat large meals. Ok, fair enough. So I told him we could still go and just let the waiter know, no big deal. He continued to complain - I believe he is on the autistic spectrum and he also feels this may be the case but has not been diagnosed. He likes things to be a certain way and he doesn't like anything new. Something on that menu he hadn't had before seemed to be bothering him. He kept complaining to the point that I asked him what he would like to do for the day and if he would rather we go somewhere else. I anticipated an argument and as we argue frequently over silly things (but arguments have become more intense and heated) I told him to tell me there and then as I am unable to deal with the stress. He decided that we should cancel, so I did. On that day later on he chose to go to a local cafe to make up for cancelling plans and he had a big burger with fries - no acid reflux, he was fine. That evening he checked the confirmation email I had originally got from the fancy restaurant and he realised he had misread and at that "actually, we could have gone after all." After all that drama.
The next day, he started on at me about Covid and the fact that I am due to return to work and doesn't want me to as he is worried about my health. I reassured him and told him measures have been put in place, I will be partly working remotely and will only go in 2 days a week but he started shouting at me and getting really angry. It made me cry and was very triggering as he got so angry. The argument went on and on until he decided we should go out to a park to get fresh air. We did and again, when we were out he was messing around as if nothing had happened.
The day after that, I went to stay at my mum's place for one night just for a break as I found the past two days a bit stressful. I went back and he was all low and depressed about not working. I gave him a pep talk as I always do and he then began talking about his anxiety that he might have a heart attack one day. He has never had issues with his heart - I have. I have a genetic condition and he knows that but he said the fact that some of my family members have passed away due to heart problems makes him worry about himself (not sure about this logic).
That evening we argued again and he told me to "get out and go to your mum's!" He has been telling me lately to "get out" and then takes it back and says it was "in the heat of the moment" and he changes his mind. He told me to go for 1 week because he thinks we're arguing so much lately that he's worried about my health and him giving me stress. I went to my mum's feeling all over the place and unsettled - I didn't expect to be packing a suitcase and getting out of my own home. I then get a message that evening telling me to come back, saying that he has changed his mind and he thinks we can work this out after all. This is just an example of a week of arguments with him and how they go. We have cycles like this and then we go through stages of getting along really well. He sees things from his perspective only and never understands the impact of his words, he can be very tactless. For me this is so upsetting, being told to leave my home and yes I know I don't have to and i should tell him to go instead but I feel so vulnerable and shaky that I went ahead and left. This is not the first time he has done this. He doesn't have friends, doesn't work and I feel mentally he is going through something as these strange impulsive things are happening more and more. I am at my mum's place and I feel like I've tried so hard in this relationship that I have no more fight left. I feel like he gaslights and is emotionally abusive but then I tell myself that it is because he probably has autism and he just doesn't get it and he means well. It is so hard. Just needed to vent 😢 I am 31 and just feel so stuck and confused. My mum thinks I can do so much better, she is finding it triggering because she left my dad who was violent many many times and packed a bag and went to her mum's (when she was in her 20s before I was born). My bf is not violent but I find him unpredictable.
 
Thread starter #3
Yeesh. This would be hard for me as well. Your bf sounds to be possibly suffering from an untreated or undertreated mental illness.

Do you think you can sustain things as they are long haul?
I am not married to him. He told me to move in with him and we would get married. I moved in and he said marriage is just a piece of paper and he has changed his mind but said "we can still be together forever". I was hurt at the time but then focused on myself for 3 years and my career. I did come into this relationship for the long haul but we do not own a home together, we are just renting. We don't have children or pets or anything to tie us together.
I have tried to sustain things but I feel that I am now struggling with him telling me to leave, asking me to come back, telling me to leave etc. I feel like a dog who has been kicked out, called back in and then kicked out again and the person who is doing the kicking doesn't seem to understand why this is upsetting.
 
#4
I feel like he gaslights and is emotionally abusive but then I tell myself that it is because he probably has autism and he just doesn't get it and he means well.
A person doesn’t have to be abusive for you to be absolutely not okay with how they behave, up to and including leaving over it. You also don’t have to justify not liking the behaviour.

Case in point? I come from a military family. About 1/3 of the military spouses I’ve known HATE the lifestyle. Most? Leave. Some? Stay & bitch/moan/complain about how awful it is. To anyone who will listen. Which has always struck me as not-quite-bright. The military ain’t changing. Furthermore, most of the people they’re trying to “convince” what a terrible lifestyle this is? LOVE the lifestyle. But, for whatever reason, they just don’t seem to understand that people can feel differently about the exact same thing. They they can hate it, whilst others love it. But that staying there hating it? Isn’t going to make it change. They’re just going to be miserable, making everyone around them miserable; rather than finding a life that suits them down to the ground. To be clear, I’m not saying it’s not totally normal/reasonable to reality-check with people. The whole... is it just me, or is this really f*cking awful? But upon finding out that, yes, it IS just you... instead of taking the power in that to make real & lasting change to their lives, it’s like they get stuck. And just sit there. Bleating. Waiting for someone else to change everything they don’t like, so they can be happy. And UNTIL someone else swoops in and changes everything about the military lifestyle to suit their own tastes? They’re just going to continue to sit there, miserable and making everyone around them miserable. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? I’ve seen some people so determined that someone else should fix things for them, that even after being divorced by their spouse? They still follow them around. Post after post. Restraining order after restraining order. Trying to get them to “admit” it’s the military’s fault, not theirs, and if the military would just... or if they would just... then they could be together again, and be happy!

Am I saying you’re doing this ^^? Pfft. Nope! I just wanted to show you a spectrum of responses to the exact same situation of people realising they’re unhappy with a thing that’s not inherently bad (like abuse). In absolutely normal-life. Just a lifestyle preference.

You don’t have to stay with someone UNTIL it rises to the limit of no-one-in-their-right-mind-would-stay.

I don’t know what your trauma history is, but something common with both DV & child abuse is a sort of black and white thinking about relationships; where abuse rates leaving, but nothing else does. Including one’s own happiness
He has been telling me lately to "get out" and then takes it back and says it was "in the heat of the moment" and he changes his mind.
Some people? Are perfectly fine with whatever kind of bullshit someone else says when they’re angry. I’m not. I’ve learned to take angry people at their word.

They want me out? Fine. I’m gone. Later, they realise I pay their rent or am f*cking amazing, so they regret that I’m not there paying their bills or making their life awesome? Well that’s too damn bad. Especially if there was already a buy on the exact same behavior. I can accept a mistake. Sometimes. Depends on the nature of the mistake. But a mistake and a pattern of thinking/behaviour are 2 totally different things. They can ASK me to accept this pattern of behavior in my life.. but their asking doesn’t oblige me to accept. Nor does my accepting once obligate to me accept all future occurrences. This is my life, and I’m the only one who gets to decide HOW I live it. It doesn’t matter if your ex was fine with ABC or your next GF loves ABC, if I don’t want ABC in my life? That’s what counts. Ditto the reverse. You’re not dating your ex or your next GF. What they like/don’t like, are okay/not okay with doesn’t enter into the equation.

***
Am I telling you to leave? Nope. This is your life, and your decision if you want to live this way... or not.

I wouldn’t want to, but that’s me. There are probably things about the people I date you would hate that I love, and love that I hate. We’re, all of us, different people who want different things for our lives.
 
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#5
If it's worth it to the both of you to do couple's therapy, then that's certainly one option. It sounds like he isn't being able to fully communicate with you what he is going through.

On the other hand, I had a boyfriend get upset with me one day, leave the house and never call that evening though he had promised he would. I spent my whole evening terrified that something had happened to him - in absolute misery. I left him the next day because I figured that was a shitty thing to do to a woman who had already buried two men and because I came to the conclusion that his ongoing lack of sensitivity toward my trauma was not going to end.

This was not the first relationship I was in where my anxiety and trauma was treated like it was a non-issue. One was with a guy with bipolar and the truth is he probably couldn't have stopped himself from causing me panic but it still made for an unworkable situation, even if I did empathize with his mood problems. It really wouldn't have mattered if I'd met someone with trauma identical to my own that I could completely understand and empathize with: if we couldn't make it peacefully, we would have had to split.

Frankly, I've been through too much to have the one safe person I think I might get to have in life turn out to feel unsafe due to abuse, chronic arguments or constant lack of consideration.
 
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