Nine Years In and She Doesn't Know What He Wants (And Is Too Terrified to Ask)

Comments

1

And so ends the perfect relationship.

2

And then I go and spoil it all
by saying something stupid
like:"I love you"

But what is far more stupid is not seizing on the chance for what is probably the love of your life. Life is about risks, and as we grow older we often reminisce on the risks we wish we would have taken.

3

"We've never had a monogamous committed relationship"

Do you want a monogamous committed relationship with him?

Would you be happy if the end result of telling him was that the relationship continued exactly the same, but you would now be able to say "I love you" to him?

It's fine to tell him you love him, but figure out first (maybe with a therapist) what your needs are and what you can let go. Once you tell him you love him, do you need him to say it back to you? Do you need him to stop seeing other people? to live with you? to want children with you? What can you be flexible about, and what is the price of admission to dating thirty-year-old you?

Most people don't end up with the person they were dating at 16. Maybe you would both benefit from taking a break and dating other people. If you are super compatible, you could always get back together in a few years.

4

And if he doesn't return those words, she'll have her answer and they'll both move on. Don't waste money on a therapist over relationship 101 issues like this.

5

And 1,000 points goes to @1.

6

Wow, are my spidey senses tingling on what the full backstory is here. As in, I bet he’s always been married, with all that implies.
There may be high-school-sweethearts and/or fuckbuddy relationships of 9 years still described as “sleeping with” and never progressed emotionally or socially, but...
LW, if this is the case, you don’t need to throw the rest of your youth away on this man. End it and live your life! And you’ll most likely end up with someone who loves you as much as you love him- and tells you and shows you, with joy!

Even if I’m wrong, he’s been treating you like a side-piece since high school, and if you ever wanted that, it’s not enough for you anymore.

7

And what do YOU want?

8

A friend from HS slept with one guy from HS, continued through her marriage from ages 28-32, and when her husband found out, dumped her. She finally told the very long time lover of 15ish years that she wanted more with him, and he dumped her. I kind of expect the same outcome here if she doesn't stop wasting her time right now.

9

It makes me sad that so many people (I feel like it’s typically women but that could just be because I’m a woman as are most of my friends) sell themselves short and waste time with people who “just aren’t that into them” but who will stay around for the sex, knowing full well that they are leading the other person on. She’s wasting her pretty over a douche who won’t give her a commitment after 9 years! It’s ridiculous already. If someone wants to be with you YOU WILL KNOW IT! She needs to tell the dude how she feels, as Dan suggested, and then walk away. 100% chance he does NOT feel the same. He will undoubtedly try to reconnect when he gets horny. Hopefully she’ll have the willpower to resist! But she probably won’t and she’ll end up dealing with this for a few more years until he meets someone who he really IS crazy about and by then she’ll be that many years older and alone. I’ve seen this shit more times than I could ever possibly count. It’s a cliche!!!

10

we need way more information on the nature of FEELS relationship with her stepfather to figure this one out .

11

Is he the same age as her? If he was her age, one thing, but if not, she needs to run now.

12

Throwing the "love" word around in high school tends to freak out a lot of guys. Most high school age boys do not know the first thing about love beyond what they've seen in Twilight movies. So it is no surprise he clammed up back then.

But that was nine fucking years ago. Hopefully he's matured at bit since then. A guy in his mid-to-late 20s should be able to manage an adult conversation about 'love' and expectations in a relationship. If he can't, then DTMFA.

13

If you can't talk honestly with your SO, and ESPECIALLY with your SO of NINE YEARS, it's time to seek out joint counseling to teach you both how to communicate. You haven't figured it out on yor own yet, so perhaps a lesson or two from someone who specializes in exactly this kind of thing would help.

14

Perfect for whom @1, not the LW.
Agree with Dan here.. you’ve got to front this man with your truth, LW. Nine years and only talked about feelings once. Is he a robot?

15

If you're this bad at communicating, you're probably not ready for a relationship.

16

When I was involved in a very similar situation in my mid-twenties, my Mom once said to me, “You know he’s parked in your boyfriend’s parking space, don’t you?” It kind of smacked me between the eyes. I hadn’t realized just how much of my time and emotional energy I had been investing in him. I finally told him “If I can’t be your love, I can’t your friend”, cut him out of my life completely, bawled my eyes out for a few months, and then started spending all of that time and energy that had been going to him on both myself and on meeting people that were actually available. A little over a year later, I met the man that became my husband.

17

@10 To which stepfather do you refer?

18

Not stated, but I'm laying 2:1 odds on this guy being significantly older. And he's simultaneously playing the field, is my reading?

Calling her a poor communicator is likely off base. This looks from here like a classic "pressure to be the Cool Girl who is fun and low-maintenance and doesn't have messy needs." In other words, the tacit rule is that she shouldn't communicate effectively. Extracting herself will not be easy, but I see a messed up situation more than a messed up person.

19

@16 “You know he’s parked in your boyfriend’s parking space, don’t you?”

That is great. Go Mom!

20

Has FEELS been having sex with a partner who was also in high school when their relationship started nine years ago? Such relationships are usually uncommon and often operate on what appear to outsiders as unusual rules. I have observed such relationships continue and mature into something committed and lasting, but I have not seen any that became monogamous or where the couple chose to have children. FEELS never articulates what she really wants out of this relationship, and there is a big difference between a committed monogamous, marital relationship with children and a committed poly relationship without children, or something else. Whatever FEELS is feeling, it is clear that she has not communicated anything to Mr. Feels in seven or eight years; that has to change, but that is not his fault.

I would have thought that FEELS would have mentioned if there is a significant age difference between herself and Mr. Feels. If so, there would be much more at play in this relationship right from the start, and much less likelihood that the relationship can shift into something more stable.

21

Sporty @10, bwahaha.

PatriciaV @7, I agree. The first question is, what does she want (that she's not getting now)? Does she want a monogamous, committed relationship? As opposed to the non-monogamous committed relationship she currently has? What about monogamy is it that she craves, given that this relationship has lasted nine years in its current form? Does she want marriage and children? Has she asked him whether he wants marriage and/or children? Does she want him to say "I love you," instead of just showing her? Is he in another primary relationship? Is it open or is he cheating? Does she want these trappings more or less than she wants him? She's right that she could risk what, from the letter, looks like a fantastic situation (but, admittedly, would not have looked that good when I was 25). He's shown you what kind of relationship he wants; can you live with this as a long-term thing?

If not, take it from someone who fell in love at 17, married him at 22 and was divorced at 26: Nine years is only a fraction of what will be your adult life. If you cut him loose, it may take time but you WILL get over him, and eventually stop comparing all other men to him. Don't worry, he'll only be the first of many to break your heart in your lifetime! :-p

22

Mtn @18: 'This looks from here like a classic "pressure to be the Cool Girl who is fun and low-maintenance and doesn't have messy needs."' Yes, gold star. He may even have told her he likes being around her because she's low-maintenance, because she doesn't want to tie him down. Very hard to then say, "Guess what? I AM like those other girls who want a committed relationship," if she's seen him reject a string of women for that reason.

23

@1. zapotec. Perfect for him, maybe.

@10. Sportlandia. Huh?

@14. Lava. Ha! We had exactly the same reaction.

@20. Sublime. My inference was that he was her high school bf; he was in high school too when they started dating. This is not the inference other commenters have drawn.

@21. Bi. So you understood Sportlandia's joke? He's her stepfather, that's the joke?

/break/
FEELS understands instinctively that telling her nine-year lover she loves him would jeopardise their relationship. If this is so, it's not a good relationship for her to be in. The most important thing she says is that the attachment she feels for this guy leads her to sabotage the other relationships she starts. Not good. It would seem these are the relationships with a potential for growth, with some sort of future. As hard as it is, FEELS has to be prepared to love and lose. She has to be able to hear--even to make out--some version of 'I like what we have' ie the sex 'but I don't want to be with you long-term'. If she hears that, she should end things. Yes--I agree with the people who have said that she should aim to be thoroughly explicit in her own mind about what she wants.

It is hard to bite the bullet like this, so wishing her strength and clarity of mind.

24

Harriet @23: Sublime @20 doesn't appear to be "inferring" anything; he is asking, since she did not specify. She says she's been with him since she was 16, but doesn't mention his age. Her "years ago, back in high school" could be read as "when we were in high school," but it's not clear. The dynamics could be different if he were her age versus older -- high school girls are typically enthralled by older men and want to impress them -- but as she's an adult now, she should cast that dynamic aside, if it indeed existed, decide what her needs are and advocate for them.

And yes, that's the joke. What, are you now going to claim transphobia because I found Sporty's joke funny but not yours?

25

I think Sportlandia was insinuating that the man is her Stepfather. Which is pretty funny and also might be true. Doesn't seem likely that two people the same age would go nine years and never talk about this - there has to be some natural barrier to that conversation or it'd've happened. If nothing else, with one of her friends who he also knows. But if he's older/married/her stepfather, it makes perfect sense that she'd be more powerless in the relationship and that FWB is the most he could do. And that he'd be kind of a secret from friends or family.

Either way, no way this ends well. She will talk to him and best case scenario he dumps her. Worst case he ignores the request and she lacks the fortitude to end the relationship. She needs to go see a therapist and figure out what she wants and set some boundaries for herself before attempting this or she's going to end up right back where she started.

26

Speaking of not communicating her feelings:

"Years ago, back in high school, I told him how I felt..."

And that was what? Don't just expect us to assume you felt then like you're telling us you feel now.

27

p.s. and without knowing we're left with a big gap in the knowledge necessary to answer you, FEELS.

28

Larry @25, I don't think it's impossible that they're the same age. I can easily see, they get together in high school, she says I love you, he doesn't say it back, she doesn't say it again. They date until graduation when one or both of them goes off to college, they date other people, but keep hooking up when they come back for breaks. In the meantime they keep in touch online. Three years post college they're back in the same town, sleeping together when they are both single or while casually dating other people. She has never said anything to indicate she's not just as happy with this arrangement as he is, so it continues. And why not, since they're both getting something out of it -- he gets to have his cake and eat it, with her as a reliable side piece / fallback, and she gets to postpone indefinitely her first broken heart. She doesn't say they've been sleeping together for nine years continuously. So yes, I think older and married is a possibility, but I also think 25 and not ready to commit is a possibility.

And I also disagree that there's no way this ends well. I think there's a chance that if she catches him when he's single and says, "Look, we've been FWBs for nine years now. We try dating other people but we keep coming back to each other. What would you think about taking this relationship to a more boyfriend/girlfriend level?" that he might, in fact, be at a point in his life when he's ready for that. There is a way for her to ask without making a fool of herself, as Raindrop @2 alludes. And if he says no, and she can't deal with a lifelong FWB, she can walk.

29

@1 perfect relationships rarely lead to one of the parties writing to Dan Savage for help and certainly don't involve years of repressed feelings. It might be perfect for him, though.

@16 - Nailed it. 9 years is a long time, especially when you're in your mid-twenties - the relationship spans more than a third of her life. So understandably it's hard to let it go. But it's absolutely taking up a lot of space.

LW - either something changes dramatically here or else another 9 years go by and you find yourself 34 and not in the relationship you want for yourself. This is the part of your life where you get to really explore relationships and your own interests and find what works for you. It sounds like you really want a partner, not just a friend with benefits. There are other people out there to love. Give this guy the chance to make the relationship serious, and if he takes a pass, cut the chord. And let your friends know what's going on because you'll be needing their support. Good luck. Oh, and while a plain ol' friendship (sans benefits) may be a possibility eventually, it's probably best to stop talking to him altogether (should he take a pass on monogamy, which he most likely will) for a few months.

30

I'm sure the guy in this deal views this as a FWB / NSA / Booty Call situation. 99% he's not taking the ho to dinner. Sorry.
I do regret not having the backstory on his age and such...

31

If he's roughly her age, then fine. They should have a talk, and who knows maybe it will work out and they can spend their entire lives together. I think young relationships (young marriage) is usually stunting for people- you close off a lot of possibilities that come with being single, and I don't just mean with relationships. But I think it's good for people to have a period of time in which they just consider themselves and their own choices, you can move without consulting someone else, take a job without considering how it affects others, go out with people without needing to let anyone know where you are, take things as they come, and just the little life lessons of having to be alone and deal with your own choices, obstacles, problems, boredom, hobbies, etc.

But fine not everyone wants that and the world is full of people who have been in relationships since they were quite young. If that's what you want though, you absolutely must talk to him and get him to bring his feelings/commitments/thoughts to the table as well. There's no wiggle room- it must happen or you walk. I'd suggest also looking inward at your own unwillingness to make demands for yourself as well as considering the dynamics of the relationship that have allowed these terms to go on for so long and honestly considering if it's worth changing and if it's even possible or else if not and you still must stay, you should ask yourself honestly if you can just accept that this is how it's going to be.

If on the other hand, he's significantly older and has been courting you / fucking you since you were 15 or 16, I'd say it's time to yank off the bandaid and move on. The relationship was a big part of your life and maybe it did some good things too, look at it that way, and get the fuck out of there. Nothing good can come of that because if he's older than you and has been setting the grounds for what you communicate and what you don't, then there's nothing good that can come of it- it's deliberate manipulation and grooming and you need to get yourself out.

I also hope you have someone who knows you who can give you some good feedback. Dan's advice is good as usual but you've left out so many details I don't know if he could help very much.

I agree with most of the advice above, some of it is really good- esp Mtn Beaver, BDF, Kashikat. Also I think Reverse Polarity is on to something- if the guy is as young as she is, then he might not be an asshole or controlling but just immature. Like I said, being in relationships really young can stunt you, men and women.

As for the stepfather thing, yes Sporty just cracked a joke. Het porn is full of step parent sex, Harriet, it's sort of a trope and I thought it was worth a little chuckle.

32

Something about this letter makes me think that while they met in high school, they were not both students.

33

It's amazing how people will write for advice instead of talking to their partner.

34

‘Taking the ho to dinner...’ tim browne @30?
I hope that sorry in your comment was for calling the LW a ho.

35

I agree with Dan. It is absolutely worth risking what you have. If he's not interested, I promise you, you'll someday look back and wish you had left sooner. In the moment, it will hurt if you find out that he's not interested. But after you've had time to grieve and move on, you'll feel so much better than your current state of uncertainty. The only way out is through, and the longer you delay, the longer it will be before you get through, and the more time you'll spend in this uncertain limbo.

And, besides, there's a chance that he feels the same as you, and maybe he's just been complacent about it, and your words will help galvanize him to realize that he could lose a good thing.

One last piece of advice: If he does say that he's interested in a relationship, make sure that it's a "hell, yeah!" on his end and not a "sure, I guess I might as well." If he's ambivalent, move the fuck on. You deserve somebody who's absolutely into you.

36

Sporty @10. Thanks. I LOL'd. Good thing my office door was closed.

@18 I agree on the older and unequal vibe this letter gives off, but my gut is that he's married and/or a teacher. I wonder if their talking every day is really just her giving him phone sex.

BDT @ 32, Agreed. So, what's your guess: Teacher, coach, counselor, or other school employee?

37

@17 the one she's sleeping with

38

@36 - I had been thinking teacher or coach, but hadn’t considered other roles. I also bet he was not that much older, but was in his 20s.

39

EmmaLiz @31, great analysis as always. Is this When Harry Met Sally or To Sir With Love?

Dashing @33, it's not amazing at all! Talking to your partner is scary. There's a real risk he dumps her. There's no risk at all in asking strangers for advice. Other than the risk Dan won't run her letter, I suppose.

Thanks, Lava @34 -- there was no need for that misogynist epithet, Tim! For shame.

40

I agree that the main problem here is that this woman feels reluctant to talk about her feelings. So I think she's awesome for writing some of them down here!

The practical benefits here include that she will start thinking about her relationship desires more if she is determined to communicate them, and may have better luck identifying her needs and making more solid agreements with lovers to meet each others needs. If this guy can't have a calm kind discussion of how they feel and especially what they want from each other, maybe she will begin to respect men who can calmly discuss their feelings and kindly negotiate agreements and be drawn to a better match.

It's an important part of freedom to be able to express yourself (without hurting others). First priority is to stay in touch with your own fears and desires, you can't really care for anyone else if you don't care for yourself!

But I had a strong objection to 'you've been together 9 years you're allowed to make some demands'. I'm reminded often that it's within others rights to ask me for money before asking me my name. But while demanding may be legal it is always rude. He doesn't owe her anything that he has not promised, just because she slept with him for 9 years, he gave her sex for 9 years too. Demanding can also mean 'refusing to settle for what is offered' but it doesn't sound kind and I think that relationships should be ended kindly, I think if she doesn't like what he's offering she should simply spend less time with him. And that will be easier if they are talking about their disagreements rather than agreeing to ignore them.

The flip side is that she's discovered that an unsatisfying relationship can be extended for as long as she wants if she hides her feelings about it. This can be of short term benefit.

41

Ms Fan - Yes, LW could be an unlucky Pamela Dare.

Ms Phile - Yes, the difference between a demand and am urgent request seems significant.

Ms 2085 - You may be right, but we have a bigger scarcity issue on the SS side of the divide, so that I'd guess it's just as common among the G.

Ms Soup - Desert implies a sufficiency of merit (I am not implying anything either way about LW at this time), and that line of thinking always has to be careful of the Silver Casket trap.

42

Philo @40, "you're allowed to make some demands" isn't "he's obligated to meet them." It means she's entitled to speak up and articulate what she wants. I agree that "you're allowed to open a renegotiation" would have been more helpful phrasing.

43

My lovely BiDanFan, yes, I'm sure my feelings had less to do with Dan's answer (I agree she should expect him to kindly let her know his feelings as an adult&lover) and more to do with my own current thoughts :)

As for Tim Browne,
I dislike the words bitch and nag much more than ho or cunt. Like it is so much worse if a woman has a problem with someone, as if her concerns are as easy to dismiss as a dumb animal's. While a guy's rant is just scary. Disagreeable, even aggressive guys get a pass while only agreeable women are real women. Like men aren't capable of learning social skills and women aren't "allowed" to assert themselves. Blech. Otherwise I agree that it's wrong-headed to punish the letter writer with insults for the 'crime' of expressing herself.

People will have problems relating with each other. In response they can make choices that are kind or mean or even illegal to express their feelings.. or just ignore relationships and other people in general and do what they want. Whatever works.

44

Dan - re @40/42 - 'Demands' isn't just a regrettable word choice. By definition, it carries a sense of entitlement that has no place in a relationship: "I have some demands I'd like to discuss with you" vs "I'd like to talk to you about what I want from this relationship." Worse yet: "I demand that you marry me." Gross. Kidnappers and terrorists and tyrants make demands. And if LW is hesitant to discuss her wants, framing the conversation as making demands is probably less than helpful on that front.

Demand your leaders be held accountable for the sharpie drawings they make on official weather maps. Ask you FWB to make a monogamous commitment.

45

My lovely Philo @43, Tim's "ho" was both slut shaming and misogynist (is -he- a "ho" for being in a casual-sex relationship?). All of the words you mentioned have got to go.

SMajor @44, great analysis of why that word "demands" was such a poor choice. They could have a FWB relationship for fifty years and she still wouldn't be entitled to "demand" anything he didn't want to give.

46

Re: "demands"
I haven't been paying close enough attention (sorry), but I'm a little confused. Everyone can always demand any damn thing they want. They'll rarely get it of course, and most things if demanded as a price of (relationship) admission/continuance will result in relationship extinction, but they're still welcome to demand them if relationship extinction without them is their choice. They just need to bear that in mind before stating their needs (aka issuing their demands).

@44 smajor82
"...vs. "I'd like to talk to you about what I want from this relationship.""

If it's something one needs, why present it as an optional wish? Sure open with the misleading but gentler word "want", but shouldn't the ensuing negotiation make clear that what one needs is a /need/ not a want? Otherwise one wouldn't have expressed the truth of their choice of relationship extinction without it.

47

Curious
"shouldn't the ensuing negotiation make clear that what one needs is a /need/ not a want? Otherwise one wouldn't have expressed the truth of their choice of relationship extinction without it."
It just seems like an aggressive phrase here, that Dan is telling her what she needs, that she should be upset as if he broke an agreement rather than hopeful that they can work out something new that she wants/needs. (It can be confusing for others when someone states a new need in an old relationship, especially when there is no obvious catalyst for this change). If you tell someone that you need something they cannot give you so you are leaving, you are either telling them they need them to change to stay with them! or you are saying that you need someone else who is not them, both seem rude.

Why not say that she would like to try a more traditional, maybe monogamous or family oriented or marriage relationship whatever she wants, and see if he is interested or not. Maybe there is no need to be any more aggressive and they try something new. Or maybe he says that's not what he wants right now, and she can say, oh, sorry, I had hoped you might want to explore with me, but if not, I understand you'd rather I look elsewhere for what I want right now."

Then call him every other day, then a few times a week, then maybe once a week, until there is enough room to think about how the next guy might fit into her life and desires better, she'll meet someone who wants something more similar, and she'll start forgetting to call this guy for months. "I'll be spending more time dating men who might be interested in something closer to what I want, " sounds kind and reasonable if that's what she's going to do, he has no reasonable way to complain since she offered him the choice to be with her kindly, if he starts calling her more or pushes her new boundaries, he's trying to pressure her to keep their unsatisfying but close relationship, he is making the bullying/controlling mistake instead, it should be easier to avoid him as he's showing his low partner value.

"You never agreed to do what I need, but I'm upset that your're not doing what I need, what are you going to do about my problem!" is about the worst way to persuade another to do what you want, just practically speaking.

Everyone loves money right? Everyone loves Warren Buffett? Even Warren Buffett was Dale Carnegie fan, he understood the practical value of learning to work with other people kindly.
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/04/warren-buffett-says-this-one-investment-supersedes-all-others.html
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Win_Friends_and_Influence_People

48

Hope you're having a good weekend BDF! but isn't it fun to talk dirty?
Somehow I think the words cunt, twat, dickhead, pecker, dong, aren't going anywhere, our sexual differences are here to stay and be problematic forever I hope! but I'd love the extinction of the ones that invite a clear double standard like bitch and ho and nag, they are more like the n-word to me. Although ho could maybe become nongendered I think. I would like a better alternative to carpet muncher, to pair with cocksucker. Like nub nibbler. Something squickier but more fun.

I like the word cunt. Maybe from the vagina monologues. Asshole is an interesting one. I always thought of it as nongendered, but recently I think it could have bigoted gender connotations for men.. Possibly unfortunately has been used to demonize healthy parts of men like bitch is used to demonize healthy parts of women (rbf???).. Maybe because of the sorta trope 'men are assholes'. I dunno might be just my corner of the world.

49

@47 Philophile
"...seems like...Dan is telling her what she needs..."

Oh right sorry I missed that.

"...both seem rude."

Well, "they need them to change to stay with them" might certainly be painful for everyone, but if true (and if worded instead with the most gentle kindness) I dunno about "rude".

Anyway, I like your approach, I kinda forgot about the letter and was just checking in about semantics.
////////////////
Oh that reminds me, I read Dale's book, thanks very much for the recommendation! It really is spectacular; the examples it's stuffed with are all absolutely priceless, every single beautiful one.

I think it's a perfect book, and yet I also understand the criticism that had so long kept me from reading it. (Er, reading it about a year ago; I wish I hadn't read it so long ago.) He repeatedly emphasises that the key is to really mean his advice, not just to follow it to manipulate people...but most of his readers won't really mean it. They'll really need to grow in ways not just limited to, outside the scope of, the book. Until they do grow in other ways, I think the critics have a point. (What exactly their point is, I can't even recall anymore, it's been so long since I heard the criticism.)

I guess I'm just thinking that the book is out there in the world now both in service of good people, and of people misusing it. Still, it's an absolute gem and I can't fault it for imperfections in it's readers.

50

It is different though, if you call a woman an asshole it doesn't seem like an insult to men.. if you call a man a bitch it sounds like you are also saying that women are weaker, maybe because the word "emasculating" has no pair. Language/communication/meaning and especially profanity is weird right?

51

@49 p.s.
Maybe it's better (or nicer) that they follow the surface advice of the book without really meaning it (genuinely and sincerely), than to manipulate (and 'sell') people in the uglier ways that they were doing before reading the book. But I dunno, I can't stand advertising, and I might rather see manipulation out there that's less effective (if cruder) than more effective (even if lighter).

52

Curious,
Well, "they need them to change to stay with them" might certainly be painful for everyone, but if true (and if worded instead with the most gentle kindness) I dunno about "rude".

You're right, I'd say ineffective may be a better descriptor. It's ineffective to expect people to change. More effective to make sure you understand them correctly and then plan for them not to change while you are pursuing your own happiness.

About the book's criticism, I may be more optimistic about people than you, I most often think that people want to understand and get along with others but just don't know how. Only the most traumatized... or cognitively different... of us really want to be hermits, or want to have to hurt other people in society to get ahead (or just to keep their head above water). Because we are social animals, some social drive or attraction exists in most of us.

I'm glad you enjoyed the book. I thought you might like it too, I hoped that it would not be a waste of time for you. I like to revisit it occasionally.

53

@52 Philophile
Yes, "ineffective" is perfect.

Ok maybe you're right I shouldn't have said "most". But a very significant %. And I think most people whose work (sales, politics, PR) led them to the book.

54

@53 p.s.
Yes I absolutely am criticizing most people who work in sales, policics, PR, etc.

55

I've missed speaking with you, Curious..
I think that we agree that most people even salesmen and politicians would like to work with people more effectively. I think that we believe differently whether people desire to be predatory towards other people or simply want to earn money, fame etc by having an important job that helps other people. A desperate salesperson may be driven to deception and manipulation in order to eat. But I think the happiest most effective salespeople take pride in making their clients' lives better, whether selling insurance to mitigate disasters or the perfectly designed Ferrari that makes traveling anywhere fun rather than a chore.

So I think that Trump really wants to make American lives better. He is just out of touch with the concerns of those in a different income bracket or class, we unfortunately live in a class system so it's hard for him. And he's not very well informed about his own legal position a lot of the time, and he doesn't know how to get along with people who are very effective at their jobs rather than sycophants.. He'd probably like to be more effective though. It's just tough to have compassion because he is so potentially dangerous I think. I'm not sure how to feel about the trade war I don't think I have enough info about trade history to understand if it's fair to China. My big problem is that I don't trust his knowledge or advisors even.. probably because I haven't been able to find any well written publicly available publications about the it that address all the precedents that have been broken in recent trade history. Help is welcome. I would like to see a self sustaining American economy that trades out of desire rather than necessity, maybe his trade war is ultimately helping? I'm socially liberal, arguably fiscally conservative so I usually don't agree with him. Racially and family-wise he's pretty much been a nightmare. He lost his brother early, the men in his family have seemed deeply unhappy, his dad marched with the kkk... Maybe he's doing the best that he can...

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@55 Philophile
I'm sure you're right that most salespeople aren't malevolent. Maybe I just can't relate to them.
I think once here I quoted a wonderful book on optimism, that observed that salespeople are delusionally optimistic (one that only makes one sale every 500 calls, will believe before /every/ call that the next call will be a sale). But that's OK, I learned from a couple difficult days of pharmaceutical-induced depression (which I told the story of here I think) that everyone needs a little delusional optimism to be mentally healthy. Salespeople-types just have a vastly greater need of it; and maybe I shouldn't consider that a problem they have, maybe I've been unfairly critical of their much greater need for delusion.

"I think that Trump really wants to make American lives better. He is just out of touch with the concerns of those in a different income bracket or class, we unfortunately live in a class system so it's hard for him."

Never let it be said that you shy away from a difficult challenge!

First, I think he's such an extreme narcissist that he's mainly interested in other beings only as doing so might aggrandize himself. But I will grant you that his degree of pathology is virtually unprecedented, so I don't extrapolate him to others.

I don't think he's openly hostile to his own class (just indifferent to people that aren't him). As for the 99% in a lower class, he is generally hostile (unless they actively adore him, feeding his narcissism), probably out of fear (not unreasonable for a dumb person to fear being poor), and not surprising if they're a rightwinger.

"Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative." -John Stuart Mill

"I'm not sure how to feel about the trade war"

Honestly I think tariffs could be done right, were they done exactly the opposite of how Trump does everything. (Much like I thought removing dictators like Saddam Hussein could be done right.)

But good things can be bad if done by the worst people (Dubbya, Trump) for the worst reasons.

But internationalizing such measures could be welcomed by the world's people, and doing so could elevate the people to leadership over their governments.

Heck if the global community in the UN were to have made a list of brutal dictators to depose, in most cases they'd flee (depose themselves) before boots hit the ground to do so (amidst cheering multitudes).

As for trade, globalization has been a race to the bottom that hurts workers everywhere. I dream of a system of tarrifs that protects against that, and foots the bill for elevating workers everywhere.

"He lost his brother early..."

I didn't know that.
Wow, reminds me of that Dubbya lost his sister, with whom he was very close, early. I vaguely recall reading in "Bush on the Couch" that unfortunately his toxic mother refused to allow anyone to process it with each other.(1)

"Maybe he's doing the best that he can..."

That's true of everyone. (No one can do better than their level of development/evolution.) People usually take it as a great compliment when I say it about them (and don't mention it being true of everyone including, say, Hitler).

(1)
"Bush’s parents dealt with Robin’s death by squelching any expression of grief; there was no funeral and they played golf the day after she died. This, according to Frank, is a key example of the family’s approach to all such painful emotions, and the result was to distort and cripple the psyche of their firstborn son." http://thereitis.org/bush-on-the-couch-psychoanalysis-of-a-mad-man/
I doubt Trump's KKK dad was any healthier.

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@56
"a system of tariffs"

An internationalized one, not a unilateral one.

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Curious @46: You've answered your own question -- if someone phrases something as a "demand," even if the person might be okay with it, the likely result is that they will balk -because it was phrased as a demand-. Sure, technically speaking, if an ask is so important one will leave the relationship if one doesn't get it, it amounts to a demand. But if you say, "I ask you for this," you just might get it -- and if you don't, you can say, "Well, if no is your answer, then goodbye is my response."
Re "need" vs "want" -- if she "needed" something, she wouldn't have stuck around for nine years without it. Similar to the above, if a partner came to me saying they "need" something from me, I'd be less likely to try to give it to them than if they said they "want" it. Words like "need" and "demand" don't seem to leave much room for compromise and negotiation, which are critical in a relationship. For me, "I want a more serious relationship" would lead to a discussion about what sort of relationship might work for both of us, but "I need a more serious relationship" would lead to my blessing to go seek one with someone else.

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@24. Bi. I know Sublime was asking; it was @6. CLDG & @18. Mtn. Beaver who supposed that her nine-year lover or fuckbuddy was an older guy (i.e. these were the 'other commenters'). Then we have @32 BDT and others chiming in in agreement.

@31. Emma. I genuinely didn't understand the joke at first. I know het porn is full of 'stepdaughter' fantasies--and I actually don't understand it at all; my instinct is to see it as 'problematic'....

/break/
As it happens, my instinct would be to think that the lw and her occasional lover are roughly the same age. It would be right for her to get him to commit more or to end their liaison--I'm with all the people saying that. Where are the indications in the letter that he sees her in the way she sees him--as a soulmate, as someone with whom he's shared a lifelong adult connection and emotional intimacy? If he felt that way, if he even betrayed he felt that way through words or ambiguous gestures, I think she would have revealed it somehow.... The sense I get is that he means more to her than the other way round. This is a good reason for her to force the issue and make a declaration she wants something more.

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@46 - "Everyone can always demand any damn thing they want." ... So many absolutes in one little sentence - if this were a Lucas film, I'd be warning you about the path to the dark side right now. Sure, you CAN demand anything you want, but going through life like that makes you an entitled jerk. She isn't dying of thirst in the desert and demanding water from a communal well. It IS an optional "wish". He can say no, and her life will carry on all the same. Probably for the better in the long run.

What do you see as the difference between demanding something and asking for it? Maybe this is a language issue - why would someone in your mind demand things rather than ask when the other person would be well within their rights to refuse the request? And when you say need - do you really mean need? Or is need the new 'literally', in that it no longer means what it originally meant? I would contend that she doesn't need him or anything from him. The only phrasing where 'need' seems accurate is a conditional one: "In order for me to continue to see you and be happy, I need our relationship to change." But even then, to follow up with "So I demand you make a monogamous commitment to me" is a little nuts. She wants him to WANT to be in a serious relationship, I would presume, so probably the healthy approach is "Are you willing to give a serious relationship with me a try?" And if he says no: "That makes me sad to hear but I understand. For my own good, I need us to not see each other anymore because I want a serious relationship and if it's not with you, then continuing to see you will only hurt. I love you and I wish you well in life."

No demands - just an honest statement of how you feel and what you want (without any consequences attached) and then a response that takes ownership of the situation.

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@58 BiDanDan
As usual I agree with every word.

"technically speaking, if an ask is so important one will leave the relationship if one doesn't get it, it amounts to a demand."

Yes, that was my only (meta) point. Not about how it should be communicated, but about what it objectively is.

"Re "need" vs "want" -- if she "needed" something, she wouldn't have stuck around for nine years without it."

But IIRC she seems to think she needs it now.

""need" and "demand" don't seem to leave much room for compromise and negotiation"

I agree absolutely that no matter how much one needs something and can't live without it, one shouldn't get to the word "need" until one is simply acknowledging the failure of the negotiation and moving on to the repercussions.

@60 smajor82
Mostly nothing to add to my above reply to BiDanFan's similar points, but...

""Everyone can always demand any damn thing they want." ... So many absolutes in one little sentence..."

It's true, I do enjoy hyperbole.

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SMajor @60: "Sure, you CAN demand anything you want, but going through life like that makes you an entitled jerk." Very well said.
In a relationship sense, "need" versus "want" does seem to be a difficult distinction to make. After all, no one even "needs" a relationship in the first place; no one will die without sex or companionship. So anything involving relationships is a "want"; there are just different degrees of wants. Dealbreaking wants versus nice-to-have wants. Then again, people override their own dealbreakers frequently when they've fallen in love -- often with disastrous results down the line when the shine wears off. If only we were capable of rational decision making in relationships. But then Dan would be out of a job.

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@62 BiDanFan
""need" versus "want" does seem to be a difficult distinction to make. After all, no one even "needs" a relationship in the first place"

Insightful point. Maybe the word need is at most simply what one needs from a, or a particular relationship? (Aka a "Dealbreaking want".)

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I think there are a couple of things that someone can "need" in a relationship and can "demand" without being an asshole. Granted, there are very few such things. Maybe it really boils down to only one: respect.

You need a certain level of autonomy in your life. You need to not be controlled. You can demand someone respect you, your boundaries, your consent (or lack thereof), and your time -- especially if those things have already been violated. You can demand respect and a certain level of thoughtfulness and consideration -- the level that all humans deserve.

Thoughtfulness isn't absolute or unconditional, and needing someone to respect your boundaries is only valid if your boundaries are tenable and don't cause the other person unnecessary or undue pain. (I can't demand someone respect a boundary that involves never seeing the color pink.) But you get my point.

I do have a tendency to soliloquize, but here is my point in short: a basic amount of respect is one thing everyone needs and everyone should be able to demand if another person fails to recognize that -- especially in a romantic relationship.

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I'm not talking about evolutionary fitness/survival needs here, just basic human decency.

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Curious @63, I'm happy with defining a "need" in the relationship context as "a dealbreaking want." Or, as a want that is more important than the want of a specific person.

Calliope @64, sure. I'm happy to define respect as a relationship need. However, if you have to demand that someone respect you, you're betting off DTMFA'ing them.

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*better off

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R E S P E C T.
A great song.

A great Comment CalliopeMuse@64.

And true BiDanFan@66 such an expression of need (couched as a want at first) will one expects end in DTMFA, but IRL I usually ask for the thing instead of just assuming it won't happen...even though I never expect people will change I try to give them an opportunity; it probably won't work (in time for it to matter for me, but I think the odds might not be absolute zero) but maybe given enough time it will help them in a future relationship. (And it's what I want; I value growth above all.) Of course I totally get that such patience might come at too much cost, and no one has to exercise it.

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BiDanFan @66 Yes, naturally such a lack of respect in a romantic/sexual relationship should most of the time be responded to with a dumping. There are also other sorts of interpersonal relationships in which you cannot dump someone and may need to demand respect. For example: I have many times demanded respect (though not in those words) from my brother when he wasn't showing me any.

curious2 @68 Indeed, always a good song. And thank you.