Wow. If someone needs to "test" their partner's obedience, that relationship is already over.
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I feel the guy is either a bit moved on and keeping her on retainer (which it sounds like from his demeanor on the phone), or he's dealing with something he's not open to sharing with her at this point. If she really loves him, after 3 weeks she can decide if his explanation of the bullshittery is worth the price of admission, and they can start from a better place. But either way she sounds concious and thoughtful, and she deserves better than a break with no explanation.
But really? Dude sounds like a dick.
To be clear, he can come to his senses and you can start again, but no until he gets his shit together.
And thank you so much Internet strangers. I really appreciate the support. I am currently waiting on him to arrive and don't know what to do with my brain in the interim.
I understand your point @6 and I do agree to a certain extent. I am realizing that I am not a person for whom 3 weeks of no-communication/silence is tolerable. I don't see how Dan's advice is incompatible with your point? If he goes away and thinks for 3 weeks and decides he cares about me after all, I'm not foreclosing that option. But he needs to take those weeks alone I think. I think it is unfair to have me wait wondering if he'll break my heart (more so).
If things were meant to be? Great. That'll happen no matter what. But right now you need to protect your own feelings and not sit around waiting to be validated by him. You are awesome. Eight months of a great relationship proves that. All his qualms and questioning is his own problem, and he will get over it or not on his own. You don't need to watch it happen. Because 6 months later he may looked around and realize that you are the best thing that ever happened to him. Or 6 months later you may realize that you are happier without him. If this was That Perfect of a relationship, skipping some months will feel like a blip, like nothing. I can say, because my boy did call me back, and months after the reunion things feel like nothing ever happened. Better even, because when we got back together I had already healed. I already knew I could live without him (which I know you can too, as hard as it may be at first). He got his shit together, and is now way more committed to us, as a couple, than he was before. I have so much more trust, knowing that he's already gotten all that hesitation out of his system. If our relationship dies now, it will die because something isn't working, not because one of us is hesitating about commitment (which is really what it was all about).
But that's for the later. For the now, focus on yourself. Let yourself be sad. Let yourself avoid the supermarket he shops in. If you can, take a vacation. Do you have a car? Awesome! Go visit that friend who lives 6 hours away and you always say you'll cut out after work and spend a weekend with but never manage to actually plan. It's okay to cry the whole ride there. Pull over if you can't see the road. Find a long book series/tv show/craft to spend hours and hours doing. Make it something that is separate from your relationship. It's really nice to come home from work and have A Diversion already planned. Spend time with your friends. Or hide in your room. It's okay to tell your friends you're hurting and not going to answer any calls for x amount of time, but when that is over make an effort to reach out and show that you still love them. They'll understand if you want to be alone, but miss you and not know how to keep touch if you cut them out and don't make an effort to reestablish a connection. You are awesome. Just be awesome. Whatever the outcome, you will heal, I promise.
I do wish you luck, happiness and self-awareness.
For me, those weeks of space, means timeto listen to myself without influence, and find if the truth I see is the truth that's there or only what i see.
I haven't done it because I don't want him in LW's position. So I've been thinking of other ways to seek and listen for truth.
And as @6 points out, two or three weeks is not that long in the grand scheme of things.
I hope everything goes well for you. Please keep us updated.
Take a week or two off work for a holiday, book a cabin/lodge/room/etc somewhere energising for you (the sea, the mountains, the bush), go by yourself, tell everyone you're turning your phone off for a week, then do it! Well, flight mode at least..
That way you're not putting anyone on hold, you get some time to be yourself away from the people you know, and you probably get a really good holiday too :-)
Wait out the time, LW, and use the time to get a bit of a hold on yourself.
Wait three weeks? I would have dumped his arse on the spot. It's power play. Why does he not have to see her to "think"? Bullshit.
Or if I was an abuser, and they flip out after 2 days, I know I have a winner!
I'm with those who think the problem here is the LW is probably too codependent for the guy, and his 3 week break was a testing period to see if he actually liked that level of codependence or preferred more independence. I fear LW likely drove him to his answer.... I mean, 3 days and she's flipping out? We're not talking just a, hey, hope you're doing well, been thinking about you. I'd run.
So you've got to reduce expectations without, you know, telling the girl to her face that you don't want to break up but you don't know that marriage is a potential future. I've done that before, it's hazardous to your health. It's a no win scenario.
On the other hand, I agree with #24 Functional Atheist that three weeks is a strange amount of time. If my partner wanted that long of a break without actually breaking up, I'd need more explanation than "I need to think."
People sometimes do these sorts of things because someone new has appeared and the "I need a break" partner is trying to decide between them.
That is confusing and anxiety producing.
I agree with @33.
All those saying LW is overreacting? Seriously? People feel what they feel. LW feels concerned. That should be enough.
If he were deciding if she were "the one", he would not be putting distance between them; he would be inventing new ways to experience their relationship. No, he has already decided that he wants something else, he just wants to keep LW in his back pocket. Sometimes good sex is all there is between people. That is not bad in itself, if both parties understand that that is all it is.
Their meeting has probably already happened by now. I hope LW told this person to find what ever it is he wants on his own, and LW will move on to have a happy, non-anxiety ridden life without him.
After eight months together it should be your *authentic* self that he has come to know. Whether or not you break up, take some time to think about how to make your best version the default one.
" I'm struggling with this".. Sounds like he's struggling with the relationship, to me. Not too ambiguous.
That he wants time to himself, to see how he feels away from her.. Yes, I can see how hard it would be for her to be suddenly hit with that. He's done it though, and she could use the opportunity, if it isn't over, to straighten up a bit. Falling in love is not an excuse to collapse into someone else.
The difference between me and LW's situation is that is that we actually talked about what the issues were instead of him shutting me out. But I was a wreck those two days we were broken up because I thought I had fucked up the best thing that's happened in my life. A lot happens in eight months.
Hopefully, LW can get a conversation going and see what the real issue is but she definitely shouldn't submit to a however-long break with no goal. Best of luck!
I'm surprised too. He didn't say, "Honey, I'm going on vacation alone / with an old friend / to see my folks." He basically left her hanging, out of the blue, with no real explanation. And now she's expected to sit there and wait like a loyal dog or something? That's not how you treat people you're in a relationship with, even if something is not right in that relationship.
Now, I can imagine that he's someone who needs more space than he's currently getting. The right way to address it is by *talking*. To your partner, and maybe to your shrink. Not playing mind games with someone who's supposedly dear to you.
Personally, the words" I'm struggling with this", would make sense. A relationship can take one over very easily, sometimes it's only by being alone for a period of time, can one see if it's what is wanted.
He may feel overwhelmed by her needs, and given how easily she has fallen apart, his fears may be justified.
I'm saying this as someone on the clingier side of a relationship with a similar mismatch re needing your own space. Recognizing and discussing the differences helps and makes both people feel more secure. You feel more at ease when you know the other person is aware of your particular needs and that you can ask for more space/closeness when you need it. Also, I should mention that my clinginess mostly came from feeling insecure in the relationship, partly because my partner was being extremely ambivalent towards me. The moment that was resolved, I became much more calm. I don't care if he parties every day without me because I know that if I feel lonely, he'll be there.
" I'm struggling with this ", while short hand, conveys to me, a whole world of possibilities. If she trusts this is a long term relationship, then giving him some room to feel his feelings, may indicate to him that she does care who he is- rather than who she needs/ wants him to be.
Sad, hurt, worried that she's losing the relationship.. I get that, not anger, though.
Words can't make a person stand in their own space.
I agree. These two are Not meeting each other, maybe best to move along.
First, he wasn't upfront. Apparently something has been bothering him for a while, and for her it came out of the blue, which means he didn't share his concerns with her.
Second, it's a common misconception that healthy people don't experience anger except in rare situations. Notice, I didn't say she should have *acted* in anger. But she feels blindsided by him, and the healthy emotional response would not be just crying and worrying about the relationship, but also feeling at least a little bit angry. He was essentially dishonest with her for god knows how long and now he decided the right thing to do is to turn cold and distant all of a sudden? Becoming angry in a situation like that is a normal self-defence mechanism. Of course the question is what you do with it. Just shouting at him would be unhealthy. Deciding that if he thinks that's proper treatment of a partner he can go to hell (<-- anger), would, IMO, be healthy. Or at the very least expecting a profuse apology.
"The clingy person just needs to get it, to not be so needy. Words can't make a person stand in their own space."
This is where we differ. If something is wrong in a relationship, expecting the other person to "just get it" is not going to get you far. I already described my own experience with this (#49).
The three weeks is a worry, for sure.
This relationship may not be as real and true as she has grown to believe.
It may not have been a consciously designed "test", more something like "my GF is getting too clingy, I need to be alone for a while". If it then turns out that the GF can't even keep her distance for three days, the effect will probably be "she is indeed too clingy".
Late night whiskey, would do me.
Ugh. Dump him, and then dump yourself. 32 is about 17 years too old to be using tears strategically. Hopefully the break will give him time to realize that he should be dating an adult, and hopefully some time single will give you time to realize you want to be one.
Crying in order to force your partner to make the decision you want him to make is such manipulative bullshit. It's the kind of thing that's a warning sign for someone who'll wait three years and then insist that their partner sleep with other people--and then, when they can't handle it any more, tell everyone that their victim is a cheater. It's not quite visiting the Wizard of Abuse yet, but it's certainly running down the yellow brick road, unburdened by heart or brains.
Dating is done for me (at least I damn well hope it is!) but I wouldn't do a "hold" either; I would offer instead a "break," which Dan suggested. The difference is that the relationship defaults to OFF unless a specific conversation is had to put it back ON. Each person is free and single, no one is waiting for the other, like a dog by a door.
If he's reading that and is also relationship averse/stunted, perhaps he's feeling that full-court press. And I'm laughing at that 'perhaps' because of course he is. I know when I read the letter I thought seriously?
So. I took a deep breath and agreed that she sounded young and young feelings happen to young people. I see a number of you are thinking she's having to pass a test her boyfriend has given her and that it was a douche move. Could be.
I couldn't help but notice, however, that she wrote another man, Dan Savage, and demanded an answer from him in the fashion and timing of HER choosing. As in RIGHT NOW, motherfucker. She demanded her answer from Dan Savage WHILE she was demanding her answer from her boyfriend. Both men needed to answer her. PRONTO.
My two cents. Sure, boyfriend might be pulling a douche move. Three weeks is an unnecessarily long time. Granted. But human beings do get to say to other human beings things like, "Let me think about this. I need a little time to clear my mind and without your presence so I can know better how I feel."
That's not crazy. I don't know about your experiences but some people want EXACTLY what THEY want for your couple-dom so much that just being in their presence leaves you completely off-kilter understanding what YOU want.
You can't even think in their space of knowing what THEY want.
That said, two or three days are a long time for someone who needs immediate emotional resolution. Two or three hours can be too much. Minutes, even. That might be where they are. Only weeks away from each other emotionally. When you can't handle your partner's not being on the same page as you are RIGHT THAT MINUTE (and that happens all the time) and that's where this woman seems to be, it's not a good sign.
So she wants her answer now. Her answer and his answer should be no, probably. For her sake and for his.
While we are busy bringing totally irrelevant situations into the mix (the "cuckolding" husband, seriously, wtf?), what about a woman who's crying in front of her abusive husband, hoping this will make him stop abusing her?
If she's being childish, so is he. Who the hell treats their partner like this? And by the way, last time I checked, cold-shouldering someone was emotional abuse.
The situation you describe ("You can't even think in their space of knowing what THEY want") sounds so horrible I don't really see how one can stay in a relationship like that. In this case there's really nothing to think about.
People who have partners who use emotional blackmail to pressure them into commitments they don't want to make, and who need a moment away from the constant, soul-killing pressure in order to be themselves--in order to even see themselves, rather than just getting steamrolled again and again, forever. That's who. Given that the LW's first idea, when faced with the possibility of a partner who might give some thought to what he wants, was to apply the steamroller...
People who've been treated badly tend not to act like angels or geniuses. Cope.
My thoughts exactly.
Her FIRST idea was to agree to his conditions, if you read the letter carefully. She waited for several days and called and then agreed to wait a couple more days until a meeting. Don't see how that's steamrolling. Also don't see how three weeks is "a moment."
From what I see in the letter, she has been treated badly. The fact that her partner was treated badly is just your assumption. And I don't really see why *I* need to cope with something. The fact that you brought in an *entirely* irrelevant situation from last week's letter just makes your argument even less convincing.
Ahem. Not to slag on the LW, but she does come across as a tad clingy/needy. That's clear. Doesn't mean she's a bad person. But it's also clear that her boyfriend is less so than she is. Anyway, there are two likely possibilities here: 1) he's breaking up with her, and this is his (bad) way of doing it, or 2) He's recognized this difference in their temperaments, and perhaps other differences, and yes, he is "testing" her. If she can't handle this little vacation from each other, he's going to conclude that she is not independent enough for him, and will probably move to break things off.
In either scenario, is the boyfriend being a bit of a douche? Yes he is. Do what you will with that knowledge, LW. And good luck.
You do what you do!
Then she should leave, shouldn't she? "Punish him until he turns into Perfect Boyfriend" is never an option, and should not have been the first one she listed. It is also something you should stop encouraging. It doesn't work, and it's abuse.
LW is clearly clingy and immature, and seems to be working toward becoming an abuser. He asked for some time to himself, and she refused to respect his needs. If her needs and his are incompatible, she should leave, rather than come up with ways to hurt him until he does what she wants.
Sometimes, other people don't do what you want. You don't get to punish them for it. Cope with that. If your needs are incompatible with theirs, go date someone else--though not until you realize that hurting people until they do what you want is not the way to treat a human being.
You can't hurt someone into taking you back. And even if you can, you shouldn't.
Explain me this: I think that she has been treated badly AND that she should leave. You think that the boyfriend was treated badly but it's totally okay that instead of leaving he decided to dangle her around for THREE WEEKS? How is that okay?
For you darling sweethearts out there that seem to lack sympathy: She thought everything was going great. She was confident in the relationship. All of a sudden he wants a solid three weeks apart.
That's three weeks is potentially going to FEEL worse than getting dumped outright. There is zero clarity. She has zero control. Of course she's gonna harp on it and wonder what the fuck is going on. "Limbo"
We wouldn't all respond in this exact way but none of us would be at all comfortable with the situation(if we cared about the relationship as she does)- so at least try to see her perspective here.
And stop throwing around "codependent". You're not right and you are all being mean.
I must take issue with people saying LW is "a tad clingy." That's way off the mark. She's fucking nuts. See also @12 more of the same. You are not your relationship.
You're 32. Act like it! Use your grown up words too! It's 8 months not 8 years. Personally, when I've been in a situation like this (the guy lived in Europe too and we'd been dating for 2 yrs), I hung up on him, got mad in the privacy of my home (because there is this horrible thing called professionalism ) and sent him an email telling him that he can do whatever he wants but as of that call, he's no longer allowed access to me.
That's what a rational,mature person does. Get emotional,but not at work because professionalism! Rather than call him asking to talk,that call should've been to tell him to fuck off as nicely as possible. I just got vibes from you like 'i gotta lock this shit up before i get older'. Calm the hell down,lady and tell him you're breaking up with him.
2. His request and the way he phrased it is reasonable. If he needs time to evaluate the relationship and he is honest about struggling, he gets the time. It doesn't make him a dick. It makes him honest and thoughtful.
3. She's not emotionally equipped to deal with his period of reflection and the risk of an adverse decision. That's okay, too. So Dan gave her the right advice: break up with him and let him know getting back together is an option if that's what he decides he wants to do.
But there are some troubling things about her letter.
First, she does come across as hyper-emotional and clingy. These are not good things. Of course, some of it is simple shock finding out his uncertainty about that something she thought was going so well. I get that. But her being completely blindsided just might be an indication that she's not intuitive or, at the least, doesn't understand the guy she's in love with as well as she ought to. She doesn't even seem to grasp that there are things about the relationship which are clearly giving him pause (when she calls bf she leads with "I don't understand" and she asks Dan "Why do you need to think about a good relationship?") and that those things most likely involve either her personal traits or some dynamic between the two of them or both. The fact that that she views tears as a weapon of manipulation is troubling and emotionally immature. Finally, she just puts all the power in his hands by default. Since she was going to talk to him, what she should have done, rather than being all hyperemotional and demanding explanations, was to let him know that if he was having specific concerns about any aspect of the relationship, including anything about her specifically, that she was open to discussing it, as adults, without prejudice, and seeing if there was a way to address his concerns.
On the other hand, what's giving him pause may have nothing to do with he. If that's the case, he ought to let her know, in all fairness. But I suspect it's just a case of he's just not that into her and he's at the spot where he's deciding whether to keep investing in a relationship that he doesn't see proceeding to the next step of commitment.
Your words are as usual bursting with flavor. How i do life with a partner versus how i do life without are different enough that spending 3 weeks in uncertain status ends up being the worst of both. Some folks work differently and good on them, but I've spent a bit too much time being strung along as it is to "wait for someone to make up their mind." They may not be a bad person, but it ain't gonna work out with me and them, no matter how strong I feel it. I recall once being in a place similar to this writer (crying at work etc . . .) and learning the word "limerence" and realizing "holy shit that's me right now and this uncertain status is destroying me." A day later I was in the arms of another and three days later the uncertain status relationship was over. The writer sounds like a wonderful lovable person who would benefit by surrounding herself with people who can reflect her, rather than isolate her.
People who've been treated badly don't act like angels or geniuses, m'kay?
Are you able to comprehend a situation so complicated as "two people did things they shouldn't?" Life isn't a story with one and exactly one villain and one hero.
Stop seeing this as arguing over who The Hero is, and it might make more sense to you. You can do something wrong without turning yourself into The Villain and turning everyone else into The Hero by default. There aren't any heroes, and seldom any villains. Pointing out that someone is displaying a very bad habit isn't the same as saying that everyone else is therefore an angel.
--- "People who've been treated badly don't act like angels or geniuses, m'kay?"
Sooo... What we have from the letter is:
a) they had a seemingly good relationship;
b) the boyfriend blindsided her by suddenly announcing a 3-week break;
c) the LW first agrees, then is too sad and asks him to talk to her.
The letter doesn't in any way indicate that she treated him badly before all this happened, just that he wasn't happy in the relationship for whatever reason. Then *he* treats her badly, and she doesn't act like an "angel or genius." Or does your logic only apply to him, not her? Why?
--- "Are you able to comprehend a situation so complicated as "two people did things they shouldn't?" Life isn't a story with one and exactly one villain and one hero."
What. The. Fuck.
In my comments I pointed out exactly that: relationships, especially with widely differing needs, are complicated and people need to TALK to each other if they want the relationship to work. YOU started shouting abuse and demonizing the LW for events that you just assumed happened before the break. And now you are accusing me of seeing things in black and white?
1. She says things are fine, and demonstrates (in her #1) that she has no concept of boundaries, and the maturity of a teenager.
2. He "blindsides" her with an absurd request; the kind of request people make when they're used to being steamrolled by people with no concept of boundaries and realize they need time to clear their heads, but don't yet have a clear enough mind to realize they should run away. Given that the LW seems to be exactly that kind of person, it seems likely that this is what's going on. Less likely, but still possible: He met someone else and is stringing the LW along while he decides who he likes better.
3. The LW agrees, but then decides her feelings trump his and demands that he see her. She toys with the idea of using a strategic burst of tears to browbeat him into letting her feelings trump his.
4. You announce that since his request is absurd, she's not treating him badly, despite really, really obviously being the kind of person who treats people badly in exactly that way, and her boyfriend acting exactly the way people being mistreated in that way tend to act. Huh.
"Or does your logic only apply to him, not her? Why?
--- "Are you able to comprehend a situation so complicated as "two people did things they shouldn't?" Life isn't a story with one and exactly one villain and one hero."
It's hilarious that you asked a question and then quoted the answer to your question right below it, without the slightest hint of self awareness. Wow. The situation not having one Pure Perfect Hero and one Dastardly Villain really does confuse you, doesn't it?
"YOU started shouting abuse and demonizing the LW for events that you just assumed happened before the break. And now you are accusing me of seeing things in black and white?"
You realize that I'm me, and you're you, right? We are different people. The person "shouting" is you. You can tell which of us is which, right? Scroll up and double-check who's going nuts on the caps-lock key here. Since you seem to have trouble remembering which comments came from yourself and which came from me, I'm the one named Eudaemonic, with the cute little Cobra symbol. The shouty person is named Ginnie. Ginnie is you. I'm not Ginnie. You're Ginnie. M'kay?
Wait. I seem to recall I did exactly that... only the three weeks was more like six months, and the eight-month relationship was a 20-year marriage with kids and all kinds of baggage. But when I finally grew a backbone and decided that I would no longer let myself wallow in limbo while waiting for him to make up his mind, it was cathartic. It felt great to say, "You need to leave." Man, was he surprised. Suddenly I became more interesting to him. There's something to be said for playing hard to get. Kinda sick, really. But I wasn't playing. I realized that he was manipulating me, seeing how much I would take. He used me as his safety net while he searched for something better. He still hasn't found it, but I have.
LW, I hope your meeting went well, but the best thing you can do for yourself is to set limits. YOU make the decision here.I know it's painful, but asking someone for three weeks is just freaking manipulative. Such a weird thing to do. And his coldness on your last conversation speaks volumes. Send him a text, wish him the best, but tell him his arbitrary time limit is unbearable and unfair, so you're making the decision. Then do what @12 abieanon said... great advice. You'll respect yourself, and you'll KNOW. Wish I could go back and give myself the same advice... coulda saved myself half a year of misery.
And what's so hilarious about that quote? If they both treated each other badly, shouldn't your logic apply to both of them?
And where, oh where, did I say that one of them was a villain, and the other a hero? Why do you insist on ascribing that to me? As for your point (2), there's SO much assumption there it's almost not worth arguing about it. I don't think what the BF did is the most common reaction to being "steamrolled", as you assume he was. The most common reaction is staying until you can't bear it any longer and then leaving.
My therapist could speak so eloquently and with such care and empathy.. Not a whole lot of other men.
Then, I live mainly with Cowboys. Down under Cowboys.
"I don't think what the BF did is the most common reaction to being "steamrolled", as you assume he was."
Thanks for telling us what you think! Given that you are wrong--the LW describes herself steamrolling him after agreeing not to--why not spend some time listening to people who've been there? We don't agree with what you think.
The boyfriend's actions look exactly like the crazy flailing people do when they're so used to being steamrolled that they've forgotten where their boundaries are supposed to be. To anyone paying attention--and in possession of a clue--the LW's actions look exactly like the crazy steamrolling that's the standard behavior for people with no regard for boundaries. You seem upset that some of us are able to recognize this extremely obvious pattern. Maybe get over it?
Even if that means acknowledging that she isn't perfect, and that she can be imperfect even if he is also imperfect. The world is big enough to contain more than one imperfect person.
I realize that's unthinkable for you, but seriously: Think it.