Is he ready to move on after his ex passed away?

I've been dating a guy for a year and half now. We've said I love you and I honestly feel he is genuine and I know I love him too. Unfortunately, 6 or so years back he was involved in an accident that took the life of his girlfriend at the time. I have heard they were very close and high school sweethearts and deeply in love. What bothers me is I have not heard any of this from him. I'm concerned because he seems unable to talk about not just the event (which I never ask him to) but about much of anything in his past. It's hard to tell if it still affects him and I deeply want to help him. Also, although he is unable to speak about her to me, he still posts about her death and celebrates her birthday on social media..can I help Him? What should I do? Is he ready to be with me?

Ben's Response:

It's clearly a deep loss for your boyfriend, and it is safe to assume he has not fully dealt with his grief.

Honoring her birthday is not a sign of a problem, and he may do that for the rest of his life. Not talking about his past, or about his loss to you, is a sign of a problem, if he is to fully let go and have a deep relationship with you. Although some people are more private, or not so interested in engaging in conversations about their past, especially their past traumas (and this may be more harmful than healthy if done too much) - you are his primary relationship.

It is very vulnerable for anyone, especially a man to open up his deepest emotional pain to his partner. He may also not want to make you feel as though he is comparing you to the girlfriend he lost.

But for himself and for his relationship with you - doing some healing work on this traumatic loss would be a very good idea - and is completely possible if he is willing.

People tend to either go into denial - and convince themselves they have healed a trauma or loss, when they really have not - or they assume that they cannot or should not ever get rid of the pain. They often think they have to carry this pain for the rest of their life, and may even feel that if they were okay, if they were happy and moved on, that it would dishonor the person that died, (survivor guilt).

Healing a pain like this, does not mean forgetting or dishonoring the one who has passed. It just means getting your life back and being able to fully trust, love, and be at peace in your life. Guilt for being the one who survived, can be a big obstacle to healing grief.
This may be hard for him to understand.

He may need to do some trauma treatment, and may want to do that privately and still not talk much to you about it. Or he might want to share that experience with you. Either way, it's his work to do, and it would be well worth it.

It doesn't mean he can't have a good relationship with you. Only that it would likely be so much better and deeper if he didn't hide this part of himself from you.

Hope that helps.

Take Care,
Ben Schwarcz

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