Savage Love Letter of the Day: Advising On a Tight Deadline

Comments

1
Good advice. Hope the LW updates
2
Excellent advice. Do not let someone jerk you around like this - letting them put you on hold sets up a really poor mutual respect dynamic. If he was unsure and wanted time and space to think, he should have ended it himself. You do not want to be in a relationship with someone who is uncertain whether they wish to be in a relationship with you; ask anyone who's been through that misery with a partner who didn't have the honesty|courtesy to do what your boyfriend did and inform them.
3
As usual, solid, thoughtful advice from Dan. On the quicks like.

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.
4
Really solid advice. Never let someone put you on hold. "Hell's yes or it's a no."

To be clear, he can come to his senses and you can start again, but no until he gets his shit together.
5
What #2 said. Dump his chicken shit ass. If his response to being in a relationship is not 'fuck, yes,' then dude can fuck off.
6
Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but ... two weeks is not that much time. Calm the fuck down. Yeah, you don't want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with you, and no, you shouldn't let someone jerk you around. But also? If you're talking about a *long term* relationship, two more weeks is kind of a drop in the bucket. If someone you love asks for a few weeks of space so they can work on stuff in their head, and you agree to it and then freak out after three DAYS and barge back in? This might point towards the root issue you two may be having: a mismatch in terms of personal space requirements.
7
Dan. Thank you for the advice. LW here.

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).
8
3 wks = imma date this person I just clicked with and see who I like better
9
@8 just wanted to send virtual hugs, Lilmisscanada, if that's okay. I hope the breakup goes smoothly and no harsh words are spoken. Good luck moving forward; I hope your real life friends have time to hang out with you a bit this week and help with the processing.
10
Whoops, that's Lilmisscanada @7.
11
I'm with number 6.
12
Hey letter writer, I had almost the exact same thing happen to me. It was awful. Worst week of my life. Things were going awesome, and then suddenly he needed a break to reevaluate. He only asked for a week, but it was too long. In retrospect, I should have told him we were done to start with, because that week of hope and doubt was way worse than just having a clean break and being able to move on. I spent that week questioning every single aspect of myself as a person, and second guessing my memories of our time together. It was so bad that over a year later I'm actually tearing up thinking about how unhappy I was. Completely undermined my sense of self, etc. What I am saying is: do not prolong this. Break up with him now, for your sake, so you can move on.

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.
13
Let us nosy neighbors know how it goes, okay?
14
Omg please tell us the outcome! So much love and light to you, LW. People are hard sometimes. But they can be awesome too.
15
I, too, am with @6. I know it sounds harsh, LW, but speaking as someone who years ago used to react just as you're reacting now? I learned the problem had way more to do with me than the other person.

I do wish you luck, happiness and self-awareness.
16
Some people really do need to think shit out. With alone time. That's a normal thing. I like the advice. She's not on hold, he gets space. Maybe the emphasis that this is a true break for both people will focus his mind. If he's thoughtful-alone-guy great. If he's dickhead-hedger then fuck him, good thing it's over on her terms.
17
I hope you're doing alright and you're stronger than you think. Let us all know how you're doing when you're done. Much hope, love and strength to you.
18
So, I'm on the other side of a similar sounding relationship. I had the thought cross my mind to do the same thing LW's bf did. The reason it crossed my mind, though I haven't moved forward and not sure I really would, but for me, I've been in relationships where I've lost myself before and my current relationship has moved very fast. I'm extremely committed to my partner and he's a perfect match for me, but a little voice says "are you sure this wasn't too fast? Are you sure *this* is the right guy, for the right reasons?" I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for 10 years (so was my current partner but he played the same role in his relationship I did in mine.)

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.
19
I hoe you didn't break down in tears when you saw him, LW. I strongly doubt that would have helped. If it weren't too late, I would have suggested you go with option 3. Tell him you love him, you really enjoy being with him, and you respect that he needs his space (even if you don't understand or like it). Fine, give him his space. Meanwhile, you try to live your life. If you're both single when he gets his shit together and wants to date you again (and you still want to date him), great. If not, well, that's the risk HE takes by putting you on hold the way he is.

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.
20
Dan's right. I've been on both sides, and being on hold is BS; keeping someone on hold is a chickenshit "I think I can do better but I'll keep you hanging just in case" move. DTMFA.
21
"Do I want to be with you" is a sometimes a hard question to answer. Sometimes the answer is absolutely on one side or the other, but even in healthy times the answer can veer into the grey zone. The results of most events in our universe do not have binary inputs. Human relationships would be easier to navigate if there was better language to address the middle ground. I hope you and your partner get everything you want, LW.
22
@18 - See, this is one of the things that organised religions got right: The Retreat.
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 :-)
23
I have a feeling he is not showing up.
25
Don't agree, Dan. This person is too clingy. Crying at work, after 8 months?
Wait out the time, LW, and use the time to get a bit of a hold on yourself.


26
Didn't read others' post first functionalA, and we agree- at last.
27
Nope, nope, nope, nope nope.

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.
28
Someone already needing a really specific amount of time and getting pissy about explanations? Are you dating my ex? If you don't like going no contact for that long, he isn't your type. He wasn't mine (also, he was cheating on me...ymmv)
29
...but, I hope your meeting is going as good as it can be, considering the circumstances.
30
So what I've learned from this is that I need to tell every person I've been dating seriously for a while that I need a two week break for myself, and if they flip out in two days, I know they're waaaaaaay too codependent for me.

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.
31
@3 I've been that guy - in a great relationship but not wanting to move at the same speed of my partner. For me, that manifests as extreme guilt over "leading someone on", and a desire to not imply a future that doesn't 100% exist. My scenario has always been "I like this person, I enjoy spending time with her, it's a great relationship. Is this my forever, let's go get married person? Maybe, but there are some issues. Where at an inflexion point in the relationship... am I wasting my time? If I'm with the right person aren't I supposed to just.. feel it? Should I move on and look for this person? Oh man, that's gonna break her heart, I don't know if I can do that". Shit.

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.
32
LW sounds kind of young - this was the kind of thing I saw happen in college and a couple years after. If you've got a good balance of stuff going on in your life, three weeks off can seem a bit long, but not so long you've got to call in desperation after a couple days. I think you're putting too many eggs in this guy's basket.

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."
33
Eight months is actually quite enough time to know if the relationship is worth a long-term investment or not. It certainly seems like enough time for the letter writer to see herself with this fellow in her future. I don't think it is unreasonable to be distressed to get such an odd request for time apart (odd in the time frame). And I don't think it is asking too much for the bf to not be mysterious about the time apart. And after this much time, it seems like its sort of cruel not to offer a better explanation.

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.
34
Letter Writer sounds rather immature and clingy. I am guessing that her BF sensed this also and that the three weeks off was meant as a test. A test which was failed by the LW breaking down and contacting him within three days.
35
Who the fuck says, after almost a year long, seemingly stable relationship, says "I need three weeks by myself to think about this" and offers no other explanation?

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.
36
Wanting a few weeks to himself to think.... sounds like he has already done his thinking and needs a bit of time to put distance between himself and LW. His cold demeanor on the phone kind of supports that.

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.
37
Oh man, I have been in this same spot. It's guy wrenching as you feel everything is going great and it's completely out of the blue. My impulse was to fight for what felt so good to me. But, it set me up to always feel insecure in the relationship and not good enough. Check out attachment theory "attached" or "insecure in love." The comments above echo the dichotomy between too needy and too distant and how the two opposites can get trapped in a push pull with each other.
38
Kind of surprising to me that people actually seem to think it's okay for someone to "test" their partner.
39
Without significant regard for how he's feeling (because I'm no better at reading his mind than anyone else), I'm more concerned that the status of the relationship is upsetting the rest of her life to the extent that she indicates. Perhaps I'm just better at compartmentalizing (particularly when I'm not in a relationship at the time), but if relationship problems are messing with work life -- even a little -- then the relationship is taking up a disproportionate amount of time and energy, particularly if it's in flux. I say take the guy at his word first. LW can explain her position, like Dan said, but for a questionable-if-great relationship is this disruptive to her existence, even for a little while, something is out of balance.
40
"I feel like I'm the best version of myself when I'm with 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.
41
Dying to know how it went. We need an update LilMissCanada!
42
I think the guy did offer an explanation,
" 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.
43
@34: Wow. If someone needs to "test" their partner's obedience, that relationship is already over.
44
A lot happens in 8 months. I had a similar thing happen to me with a guy at the 8-9 month mark. Classic extrovert-introvert mismatch. He wanted a 3-6 month break to figure things out, which I negotiated down to breaking up because no one puts me on hold. After a couple days of going through the break up motions, I convinced him to give us another shot given that we cared about each other, worked really well together and our main incompatibility was easily manageable if we worked on it. We still took a month-long break, but after we had agreed to stay together at the end of it. We've been together almost 3 years now and practically engaged.

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!

45
I'm with @6. Sounds like the BF is someone who needs a little space and that the LW is way clingy. Also @37 on the "pushmi-pullyu" dynamic.
46
I agree with choice three and Dan's advice. Dangling is for ornaments not people. If he wants to jerk something around, well he's got his dick. Until he's willing to be in an adult relationship with you if he needs to talk to his spirit animal, retrieve his soul from a duck's egg, or make a sacrifice to Lord Hastur he can do that on his own.
47
@ seatackled @38
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.
48
All true, this man could have articulated his feelings a lot better, than he did. Hopefully, during the meeting they had earlier- he explained himself, so she could understand.
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.
49
@LavaGirl, still, just the four words are not enough. If he's overwhelmed by her needs, he should have articulated exactly that and had a discussion with her. "I'm starting to be afraid we are too co-dependent, I no longer feel like myself, I'm a person who needs more space, etc. etc. I would really like to go on vacation just by myself. [But I can't afford a vacation so let's just pretend I went on vacation]. But by all means if you feel lonely, text me. I know you need less space than I do and if it becomes too hard for you, talk to me." You don't just go cold turkey on someone without breaking up with them. And anyway, without this discussion the problem is not solved at all, however much time he spends alone. And if he needs three weeks ALONE just to articulate something like what I wrote above - well, then he really shouldn't be in a relationship at all.

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.
50
P.S. To be fair, just saying yes to such an outlandish request that you know you're not okay with (LW mentions being in tears) and not feeling anger as a healthy person would (ask your therapist) to me says that the LW is not really ready to stand up for her own needs and therefore not ready to be in a relationship. LW, if I were you, forget the guy and get you some therapy.
51
Ginnie, do men talk like that in your world? I'd like to meet them. I'm not used to men being so articulate with their feelings..
" 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.
52
@LavaGirl Well, yes, they do. I wouldn't enter in a relationship with a person who is not articulate, we wouldn't be compatible. See, I agree that giving him some space is totally the right thing to do, but he should also show that *he* does care what she is. It doesn't seem from the letter that he does, at least in this instance. He's basically freezing her out for not recognizing the needs he can't articulate.
53
Ginnie, I don't get that the " healthy" response is anger. He's been upfront and honest, asked for some time.. Why should her response automatically be anger?
Sad, hurt, worried that she's losing the relationship.. I get that, not anger, though.
54
Yep, that is what he is doing. Freezing her out for not recognising she is too clingy, maybe? How is that communicated, carefully? The clingy person just needs to get it, to not be so needy.
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.
55
@LavaGirl
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.
56
@54
"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).
57
Fair enough. He should have kept her abreast of how he was feeling, if these feelings were building up over time. They may have been sudden, though. Something triggered him off, a fear, a memory- we don't know. I do know, it has happened to me. All of a sudden, the timing is out, I've felt cornered or overwhelmed- and taking time out to reflect, is what I have to do.
The three weeks is a worry, for sure.
This relationship may not be as real and true as she has grown to believe.
58
@43
Wow. If someone needs to "test" their partner's obedience, that relationship is already over.

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".
59
@57 Well, if the feelings were sudden, she still deserves kinder treatment. But I agree, the best thing to do for both is probably to move right along.
60
I don't think wanting time to himself necessarily means he is testing her. He may be testing himself. The fact that he has no explanation is a bad sign though.
61
Morning/ evening coffee, anyone?
Late night whiskey, would do me.
62
I hope the meeting
63
@61 Hehe, I'm having lunch right now.
64
Maybe he's waiting for test results that require 3 weeks for answers. Or...
65
"1. Talk to him today, break down in tears and hope he changes his mind about this weeks and weeks of time? "

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.
66
I get what commenters are saying about "too clingy;" but the LW does not come off as a needy, desperate person. She seems thoughtful and reasonable, and stating, thoughtfully and reasonably, that what he has asked is too painful for her. Recognizing and honoring her own feelings does not make her needy, although it may make her the wrong person for this man.

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.
67
Just read comment #65, and you have a point, about the tears.
68
I hope the meeting went okay but, although I'd be as sideswiped as the LW, she does seem young. I don't know what's going on in her boyfriend's mind but I know, because I'm obviously older than she is, that crying at work and not being able to do anything but think about said boyfriend and the overt attachment that implies might have been coming off in waves from her before his announcement.

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.
69
@Eudaemonic
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.
70
@ zipline
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.
71
@69: "Who the hell treats their partner like this?"

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.
72
I found the "three weeks" thing to be odd. Mainly wondering if he had an old flame from out of town coming for a visit. That said, I know that after I'd been with my wife for about eight months I started to feel boxed in by the thought that this could be *the one*. While I didn't ask for a break, she knew something was up. Her mother gave the excellent advice to "Just relax. If he comes around, great. But going crazy over this is just going to push him away." I definitely think LW's overly anxious response is going to do just that.
73
@Ginnie (70) @Eudaemonic (69 AND 71)

My thoughts exactly.
74
@Lavagirl (@51) There are plenty of men capable of sharing their feelings in an adult way. Not everybody with a penis grows up to be an emotionally stunted man-child who's emotional range is basically just a fight or flight response.
75
@ 71
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.
76
Heeeere I come, to save the daaay...

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.
77
Oh, I just messed up my first Savage comments. I will read from now on, people.

You do what you do!

78
@ zipline You messed up? I don't understand.
79
@75: "From what I see in the letter, she has been treated badly."

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.
80
Re #6: does anyone ever "find their space" and figure things out after a tiny "break"? A long one sometimes and dating other people in the meantime, but I question the success rates.
81
@ 79 Oh god, I'm not encouraging her to "punish him until he turns into Perfect Boyfriend," what's wrong with you? If you actually read my comments, I totally think that she *should* leave. Because it's not okay when someone makes a unilateral decision like that in a relationship and doesn't offer you any explanations, and either they apologize or you leave. And I'm sorry, but no, standing up for yourself in a situation like that is NOT abuse. She doesn't describe calling him a hundred times or coming to his place or what not. She contacted him and asked for a meeting.

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?
82
LW- I think you seem great, level-headed, sane and I wish you the best. I'm sorry things are unclear and you don't feel all of that now.

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.
83
Good advice, Dan.

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.
85
LW,sorry but you come across as codependent and clingy. The guy was clear about asking for time and you AGREED. Then 3 DAYS later, you reneged on your agreement. Then crying at work. I hope you're not one of those clueless idiots who burden co-workers with your personal shit for attention whoring purposes. I don't know what field you're in where that shit is acceptable.

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.
86
1. Eight months is not too soon to be in love. LW shouldn't beat herself up over that.

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.

87
@85 - An emotionally mature person hangs up, then tells someone to get lost via email?? ok ...
88
I find this fascinating not because of the question, or even the answer, but the fact that not only was this question selected by Dan, it was answered in detail. I think this post is a perfect litmus test for male heterosexuality. I can't imagine a straight guy taking this question seriously, much less giving it a thoughtful answer. Just one more vote on the side of "Born This Way".
89
Dan,
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.
90
@81: "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?"

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.
91
@Eudaemonic Now you're confusing me even more. I never said one was a villain, another a hero. I pointed out that it was shitty treatment and she shouldn't put up with it and she should feel angry (but not act angry) and probably leave this relationship instead of waiting there patiently like a doggy.

--- "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?
92
Okay, just to be clear:
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?
93
LW: How often have you cried in order to make someone do what you want instead of what they want?
94
There is no way in hell I would sit there for three weeks and wait for someone else to decide MY fate. Fuck that.
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.
95
@Eudaemonic, when I use caps on one word as opposed to a whole sentence, it's to indicate emphasis, not shouting. Furthermore, I have a problem with your words, you seem to have a problem with me personally (seriously, you have to pretend I'm nuts and don't know who I am? That is just...weird).

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.
96
He's a game player. Unless you like playing games—and I can pretty much guarantee there will be more—dump him now.
97
@Estabien74 Of course there are. I was being a little provocative. Though I've yet to meet a man who would/ could/ cared to, articulate as well as Ginnie did @49.
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.
98
@95: My problem with your words is that they indicate you're kind of nuts. And that you keep insisting that one and only one of them can be in the wrong. While insisting that you're not insisting that. And shouting that I'm shouty. Um... when you're the only person in the room shouting, it looks pretty crazy to accuse other people of shouting.

"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.
99
BTW,@Eudaemonic, you're assuming that LW's projected tears would be for purposes of manipulation. She's been crying at work nonstop. So when she says "Talk to him today, break down in tears and hope he changes his mind about this weeks and weeks of time? " maybe the reference to the tears is just the fact that she knows she's gonna cry. LW? Ruling?
100
Or minimalists, men with few feeling words. Hence, my perfect understanding of the LWs guy.
101
@86 using tears as a tool of manipulation isn't a sign of emotional immaturity - it's normal behavior practiced by normal people.
102
Mr E, some great insights above, Hope you're not going to menace Ginnie.
deep breath