I have just a few quick things I wanted to jot down to you about this situation between you and your partner. The first and foremost thing I feel is important is to not peg your partner a being “the bad guy” just because he’s been less than ideal lately or compared to that of previous. Beyond that, you will need to be willing to have a few not-so-fun, necessary conversations. Maybe more than a few of those conversations. A relationship cannot survive if you’re not on the same team, willing to work as a team. Teamwork means communication, compromise, and care.
Think of your partnership as being teamed up together. Communication is crucial. Listening is crucial. Trust is crucial. Helping one another is crucial. Sometimes things get stressful. Sometimes you have wins. Sometimes you have a few bad games. Turning against each other isn’t going to be productive so it’s important to always remember who your teammate is even when they’re having an off day.
I feel like your Daddy has at least attempted to communicate with you about unavailability. Maybe it hasn’t been thoroughly explained but he has answered about his absences instead of neglecting the question. Perhaps a few conversations can lead to discussing the need to inform you, if possible, prior to him being unavailable and providing and estimated time of absence. You will need to accept that he won’t always be capable of doing that, and you have to trust his answers as being valid when he says he suddenly had to go. This may also mean working together to to create a plan of self-care for times where you feel you need his attention and care but he’s not able to see to that immediately. Sometimes being told that you were desperately needed when you were unavailable creates not only guilt but stress and depression, especially if the unavailability was not enjoyable. Sometimes you have to learn healthy coping skills for issues like anxiety instead of relying solely on the comfort of another person. A professional therapist should be able to give you a few ideas for good self-care when feeling overwhelmed so this is not something you have to necessarily figure out alone.
One or two conversations may not be enough to get through this rough patch together. This may be an ongoing point of discussion that will need to happen more times than you want or expect. It’s okay though. Communication makes progress even if it doesn’t look that way for awhile. So, you may want to gently discuss your discomfort in his sudden departures a little bit at a time while also wanting to extend him care since such sudden departures are typically undesirable and probably stressful for someone to feel the need to do. It’s okay to keep talking about this for sometime but do so while listening and allowing him to express his frustrations too. Parents don’t want to have to explain themselves to their children and children should not be holding their parents accountable for their time placement so maybe some of his reactions are so because he feels his child-like partner is treating him, the more parental personality, lesser or in a way that’s foreign to him. You can work through this by continuing to bring up the topic and normalize the conversation and safety in receiving his responses as valid instead of hostile or deceptive.
I would strongly suggest that you consider this to possibly be a point of Caregiver Burnout
for your partner. You seemed to indicate that he’s become not only less available but also less patient with you. It could mean he’s under a lot of stress that he’s trying to deal with without involving you so much. He definitely sounds stressed out just based on what you’ve said and how I’ve interpreted it.
Long-distance relationships can cause a person to feel the need to keep stressful things to themselves instead of sharing burdens, and there is some unfortunate pressure for Caregivers in our community to be forever giving, self-sufficient at all times, and unhealthily superhero-like that can also cause a bit of seclusion. So, you may want to think about extra ways you might be able to alleviate your partner’s stress and tend to his unspoken needs in cases it’s a bit of that burnout
It may also be helpful to create a dedicated, scheduled time that you both can add to your calendars so that there is always an expected, good time coming up to reconnect and talk about important topics. It could be a stress-free, no-expectations “date night” of sorts or just a set time every week where you both feel free to say whatever without pressure to “be” a certain role. While it isn’t spontaneous many people find that it can be helpful in feeling secure conversing about stressful or generally important topics with their partner since there is the expectation that it’s a set time for that. It’s worth a consideration.
Remember, this is not you versus him. This is not about only you needing something. Work as a team to make sure you’re both in positive spaces or working toward those points. Make sure that you’re listening to your partner and being reasonable with your communication too. Communicate and talk about what’s wrong and what’s right. Understand that sometimes things change but by working as a team then you can find the special sparkle and happy smiles together again.
Best of luck!