SL Letter of the Day: What's a Month Worth?


You're not responsible for fixing something you didn't break.
Yeah, if there are problems already, it's not going to be a fun ride. Get off now.
MH has his own set of issues.


Run Like Your Hair Is On Fire
she wants to take a break but still remain exclusive? who's doing the controlling here?
Run. Run away as fast as you can. But, you should probably run to a therapist yourself. I'd be willing to bet there is something in you that is drawn by this woman's drama, or neediness, or whatever. If you don't figure out what the problem is,, you're just going to find someone else who won't give you that get out of jail card you just got.

Trust me - I didn't figure it out until it was too late.
I wonder how old the LW is.
spot on response, Dan.

And @5 - that's what I was thinking.
Even if she's not lying and has all these horrible past experiences for realsies, either way she has issues - with not being able to break up with people like an adult, or being seek help and fix yourself like an adult (or something). Also, by trying to 'help her deal with her issues', it comes across not as controlling to me, but desperate and doting. Play it cool, man!

Also, I've had plenty of friends (both male and female) who have had abusive exes and dads and moms. They come out of adolescence in all kinds of conditions, both unscathed and scathed, and some only partially so. This might just be how she is regardless of her past; rather fickle with her emotions and love interests. Counseling doesn't necessarily fix that.

Also, what Dan said, that's good too.
@5 - Maybe it's so she can blame him later if people ask why it didn't work out. "We had only been on a break for a couple of months while I sorted my shit out, and he cheated on me."
@6 - I find myself suffering from this same issue: drawn to women with issues. And it keeps biting me on the ass. And yeesh, therapy has not resolved it. I wonder how much "chemistry" is j ust a meeting of two messes...
So let me get this straight.... She put a hold on you for when she feels like dating you. Um, no. You're a human being, not a coat that's going on sale. You don't get put on layaway. If she's got issues she wants to address on her own, that's great. More power to her. But she doesn't get to put your dating life in deep freeze. Not cool. If you want to be with someone who's as controlling as she is (funny thing is that controlling people frequently accuse other people of being controlling), that's up to you. But tell her you're moving on with your life, and she can give you a call when she feels she's ready.
I agree with @5: anyone who wants to take a break but who also wants you to remain exclusive is simply not being reasonable. She can't have it both ways.

Or she can, if MH allows it, but he'd be a fool to.

To MH: Aside from agreeing with @5 (and @8 and @10), I agree with @4: RLYHIOF.
There's no such thing as a knight in shining armor - quit trying to be one.

There are, however, messes in the world. This lady's one of them. The sooner you move on, the better.
Wait, what? She wants to not date you, but she wants you to not date anybody else while she's not dating you? And she has the balls to call YOU controlling?

Dollars to donuts the old boyfriend (the abusive part may or may not be fictional) is back in town and she's keeping you around as backup while she tries it out with him again.

Your acronym probably should have been YGBFKMR. (for Ya Gotta Be Fucking Kidding Me, Right?) On the off chance that she's dead serious about her reasons (and not lying about some other guy), that still means she's a mess, You only have a month invested in this. Get out now.
heh. a whole lot of people had the same thought at the same time.
In the words of the great Kenny Rogers:
You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
MH, this is one of those times.

At one month, you don't love this woman. You're infatuated by her: that stage in a relationship when the other person seems perfect and can do no wrong. And there's nothing wrong with that stage-- it's a really nice feeling-- but you should also be aware that you are, in fact, infatuated. Which is why you didn't run for the hills when she dumped all this shit on you.

As Dan suggested, make the break permanent. If she's telling the truth about her issues, it will take her years to get through all that shit. And to be honest, she should have gotten through all that shit before she started dating.

If she's telling the truth, that is.
Yeah, exactly who's the controlling one here?

Jesus H, man. There are other people in the world who will fuck you. Or even if there aren't: blow up dolls might be an expensive investment at first, but they'll pay off in time versus this drama.
@10 - I have literally seen someone pull that shit. It was completely disgusting.

@6 - if every nice guy who chased after the disinterested girl with a ton of issues got therapy, then every therapist in the US would be booked out solid for the next 6 months. It seems to be a super common trope among well-intentioned, doting, naive guys. That's what I peg the letter-writer as anyways.

@11 - Maybe you just haven't found your particular kind of crazy that suits you? It took me a while before I found my girlfriend, who is crazy, but in a very endearing, manageable way. Call me crazy, but it can work.
"She tends to reject help from others and distance herself when things get rough, because her ex-fiancee would attempt to give her a perfect life despite her objections."

Ungh, she's displacing sincere help with stubbornness and blaming the whole thing on her ex. Which, while is *a* reason, can not be her reason forever. Get away.
@19: I don't know about therapy, but it is definitely worthwhile to take a good hard look at one's tendency towards knight-in-shining-armor syndrome. The dragons these days tend to be on the insides of the skulls of the victims, but they still eat you if you let them.
It sounds like she's lying. I don't believe any of it. She dumped you. Run!
Even assuming this woman's entire story is true, she totally lost me when "She wanted to take a break, but still remain exclusive." I'm sorry, but no. Either you want to be with someone or you don't. You don't get to say "I don't want to be with you, but I don't want you with anyone else either."

Basically, MH, I'd say DTMFA, except you can't because with that one line, she's already dumped you, only she's too much of a douche to actually say so. She wants to control you and, if she fails at that, she wants to force you to be the "bad guy" and dump her so she can cry victim.
Lying or no, this is a DTMFA letter if I ever saw one. I feel bad for her. She may very well be a lovely person. But this is not someone with whom you want to be in a relationship. It's sad when you find out a person you really click with is completely fucked up, but that's the way it goes sometimes. DTMFA. Definitely.
"She wanted to take a break, but still remain exclusive"

No no no. You take a break and you ARE BROKEN UP. If she wanted to remain exclusive with you, she might suggest that the two of you go to counseling to explore HER ISSUES with a professional, meanwhile continuing the relationship. But she didn't say that. She's either a girl that a) lives for drama b) is a liar for the thrill of it or c) wants to break up with you but keep you on the hook until she has something better. It doesn't matter how great she is (I agree with Dan), it is time to move on. Tell her in person, at a neutral site (preferably with a friend within hearing/sight) that you do not want a break-up on her terms. Be kind, firm and brief "I don't want to have any more contact with you, thanks for a great month, but we don't have a future."
Thing is, when she faced a problem, she didn't approach it from a partnership point of view. She didn't think "Here's this hard thing that could be dangerous to our relationship, so what can he and I do together to face it?" If she doesn't have a partnership viewpoint, you can't give one to her. You also shouldn't be partners with her. She's flying solo, even when she's supposed to be dating you.
Seems to me if you're going to be in a good relationship state/shape, you have to take care of issues like these rather than drag new people into them. So yeah, even if she legitly has these issues, the LW needs to drop ball and RUN. No fun getting tangled in that.

I *am* sympathetic -- when I first cut loose from one abusive boyfriend & started dating again, there was one incident where the new dating interest did something that completely flashed me back to the old boyfriend. I ended things then and there and made sure I wasn't in that sort of head space when I took up dating again. I hadn't realized how much of a hold that sort of thing could have on you and I didn't think it fair to work through that while dragging someone else into it.

So anyway. Head out in the other direction. A month? Just chalk it up to experience and move on. You'll both be the better off for it (she certainly shouldn't learn -- assuming she hasn't already -- to enjoy and/or get into this kind of drama either.
Dear god, just run away.

Don't be friends with her, either, because you obviously can't think clearly enough to distance yourself from your attraction to her. Which will be important when she calls you at 3 AM crying about her ex, or shows up at your door during your "break" to fuck the pain away, or whatever emotionally manipulative thing she's very likely to do to keep you dangling. Which is what she wants with this "exclusive break" bullshit.
She sounds like the controlling one here. And she's started in the LW. I'm sure she's had shit happen to her, but that doesn't give her the right to turn it on other people.
I will also add, to the LW's last few questions -- how to encourage her to work through this, how not to see him as controlling, etc. The answers are: You can't. In fact, trying to do so will seem to be or be interpreted as controlling behavior as well. Leave. That is really the only way you can unequivocally say that you are not going to / not interested in controlling her.
OMG, do whatever this woman tells you to do! If she needs distance, give her distance. If she needs exclusivity, don't touch other women. And for chrissakes, do not dump her, you selfish prick!!
If she's not seeing a therapist, by her own admission, she should be. Moreover, abused dogs do not spurn ultimately the company and affection of all people, merely because they may encompass the same general identity; it's a fucking line if there ever was one; and the only way to help someone sincerely is not to feel or express any pity for them.

Some people see things that aren't there and they hear things that only exist within the folds of their mind. And many of those some people, even if their hallucinations may never disappear, learn to acknowledge only what is real, and liberate the power back from delusion and obsession to responsibility and reality. If some live in a world filled with shadowy phantasms of the unreal and then deal with it, certainly others may learn to filter out the signals from another which truly imply abusive, from all the other unrelated character traits an abuser may possess.
@27: "Thing is, when she faced a problem, she didn't approach it from a partnership point of view. She didn't think "Here's this hard thing that could be dangerous to our relationship, so what can he and I do together to face it?" If she doesn't have a partnership viewpoint, you can't give one to her. You also shouldn't be partners with her. She's flying solo, even when she's supposed to be dating you."

Very concise advice that I wish I'd have listened to in the past. Thanks, seriously.
Avast said what I was thinking the entire time I spent reading that.

24 said it all,
"She may very well be a lovely person. But this is not someone with whom you want to be in a relationship. It's sad when you find out a person you really click with is completely fucked up, but that's the way it goes sometimes."


I wonder wonder what percentage of us have dated this person? I read this letter and started saying "get the fuck out" under my breath before I was halfway finished. These people are the dating equivalent of quicksand.

Please, MH, listen to what everyone that has been there before is saying. Get out. I KNOW that it is hard, but just because you miss her does not mean that you belong together.

And you aren't doing her (or anyone else she dates) any favors by going along with her twisted view of how relationships are supposed to work. She needs someone like you to stand up to her/for yourself so that she can see that she can't treat people this way and expect to get away with it. I'm sure she's very pretty, on the outside at least, but that only lasts for so long. If you've only put a month in, count yourself lucky, it took me a year and a half to dig my way out.

And thank you for writing this letter, MH, I'm sure it will come in handy to someone else out there. I only wish I had read it 3 years ago.

Good luck buddy. Be strong.

@36: "Avast!" is what I was thinking the whole time.
Cut the captain save-a-ho bullshit and leave. Taking a break while remaining exclusive is a way to sugar coat her desire to keep you around as plan B. Do not make her a priority while she makes you an option.
@21- true that

There's a lot of knight in shining armor talk shooting around here. This guy seems to me a lot more like a supportive, doting stepmother. "How can I encourage my [stepdaughter] to better deal with these issues of past abuse without coming off as controlling? How can I show her I'm not controlling despite still wanting to protect her?" "SHUT UP YOU'RE NOT EVEN MY REAL MOM, KATHY!!!"
#40 - I almost fell off the couch laughing....
run nigger run !
"...because her ex-fiancee would attempt to give her a perfect life despite her objections."

Well that's definitely a first-world problem. Dibs on the distribution rights to her real-life Lifetime Original Movie. Lets call it "How Nice Is Too Nice Enough?" and give Meredith Baxter Birney the starring role.
@24 is right: LW needs to run run run, and possibly ask himself why he would be drawn to such a hot mess in the first place. But beyond that, I feel sorry for her. Even if in her mind she's an ice-cold player and not a victim at all, the way she's clinging to, and repeating, her stories about the men who have abused her is just embarrassing.
This is not your Titanic, LW. So walk yourself back down the deck, and right down that gangplank to where a bunch of other women and relationships not heading for dramatic disaster are waiting for you.

Save yourself the seven years of hell I went through.

Make the break permanent. Kindly tell her you're doing it for both of you, and that maybe she can fix herself for the next guy.

Of course, those of us who've dated her and married her know that she most likely can't. And you absolutely can't. So forget it and save yourself. You had a fun month. Now go get on another ride. This one is broken. If you try to keeping going on it, it will still be broken and you will be hurt.
@1 This is a great refresher. I did a lot of shit for this girl I was fixated over--help her past her asshole ex, help her find a place to stay, help her find a new college--and she gives me the "I don't wanna be in a relationship" shtick while she's fixating about this new guy, who also has issues.

You and the others are right. It's not my responsibility to change her. She's fucked up, and I'm getting out of the way by walking away. Thanks, Dan.
Oh, LW, she really sank her claws and teeth into you in only a few short weeks. She dangled the lure of the possibility of terrific sex (what else would "naughty secrets" mean) and then became distant. Now you're getting the not-so-naughty secrets of her fucked-up life that she's done little to improve or heal from. See, that's what responsible adults do: if they're hurting, they fix it first (or at least TRY) and not drag unsuspecting people into a convoluted drah-ma. But she's NOT responsible.

She probably pegged you as a nice guy who would do the protective knight routine, no matter what (even as she continues to protest potentially "controlling" behaviour).

Though you may be of a knightly persuasion, she's no damsel-in-distress. She's really the fire-breathing dragon who will burn you up to a crisp if you stick around. Run. For. Your. Life.
Heh, love the Titanic analogy!

A month in, you don't know everything about her, but the learning curve has been steep, and none of what you've found out is good. Send her the URL to this thread and say "Buh-bye!" Then change your phone number.

Is this the longest unanimous thread ever?
Hey MH,

Don't let yourself get damaged by her emotional blackmail. Just because she has issues doesn't give her the right to work you over.

We are giving you a get out of detention pass, go have fun.

The "on a break but exclusive" line is pretty fucked up. Get out now.
Wow, seems like everybody is in agreement on this one. I'd like to note that, typically, people are on their best behavior in the early parts of relationships: they want to make a good first impression. So if you're seeing these kinds of problems this early, just remember that it's all downhill from here in terms of crazy. Sometimes it doesn't get better. Run like your hair is on fire.
If she can't handle her shit at all, get out. As adults we have a responsibility to treat each other with respect and care, especially in a dating context. She isn't even trying to do this. And I say this as a person who was the broken half of a relationship in which my (now) husband put up with a lot of shit. If she can't even try to contain her messed up issues, try to trust you now, it will only get worse.

I wouldn't be deleting her phone number straight off though, this might be the wake-up she needs, and she may agree to stop playing games. But if it happens more than once, run don't walk away.
Ha ha

Lettewriter is a pathetic case. If he had enough stones to dump this gal, he would not be writing in to Dan Savage, simpering about his indecision.

She is banging someone else and keeping him around to help her move furniture, give her rides or loan her money. But hey, those of us who actually get to fuck her appreciate it when he drops her off at our house!
This guy needs to run far, far away from She Who Cannot Be Fixed. Also, #9 is right, and it's backed up by science. Studies have shown that some people, subjected to horrible abuse as children, grow into healthy adults without any intervention. Others, subjected to relatively minor traumas fall apart at the seams and cannot be fixed no matter how much therapy they go through. This has to do with the kind of temperament the person is born with (the nature part of the nature/nurture equation), and if a person has a very delicate temperament, not only may they be unable to fix themselves, but it's only a matter of time before everything in their life hurts them in some fashion. Because of this, they often have victim complexes, and end up seeing everyone in their life as an abuser at one time or another. If this guy sticks with her, eventually he'll be the abusive/controlling ex she tells her next BF about.

I'm not saying that she definitely wasn't abused by her father or her ex, but whether or not it's true doesn't even matter the most in this equation. True or not, she's unwilling or unable to fix herself. She went to counseling, if that's true, but obviously didn't stick with it long enough to fix her issues. That's another problem - the main reason why people like this can't be fixed is because working on their issues requires doing a lot of things that make them feel threatened or uncomfortable. You can't fix something you don't want to fix, so a lot of times these types come to therapy seeking a sympathetic ear for their woes and being exonerated of any guilt (and yes, they should not feel guilty if they were abused). However, once the therapy moves from talking about the past to actually focusing on what the person can do with their life NOW in order to become stable and avoid these things in the future, suddenly they feel attacked and defensive, the therapist is no longer there to be their emotional tampon, so they drop therapy.

As for MH himself, YES, this guy should get some counseling as well - most people, after a month, would know this is something they don't want a part of. He may either have abandonment issues (which show themselves not only as not wanting to be abandoned, but also as not wanting to abandon others because they feel guilty about it), or a hero complex in which he only feels a true sense of worth when he's spending all his emotional and mental resources trying to fix someone else. Either way, it's not healthy, and he's not destined for a happy life in the relationship department or otherwise if he doesn't figure out what's going on with him that makes him feel attracted to this kind of person.

re your third paragraph. There is another possibility: he is simply inexperienced with relationships. If such is the case, he may not need counseling, just to go out and date and have a number of short-term relationships.

The value of dating in high school is not that there is a realistic chance that you'll meet the person you will spend the rest of your life with (though a few do) but that you learn how to date, how to break up, how to determine whether someone is compatible, how to identify someone who isn't and let them go. People who delay dating due to shyness, being in the closet, religious beliefs or whatever, have to learn these lessons in their 20s or later and have a harder time, because they are hoping and expecting to jump straight into a lifelong relationship. Add to that the excitement of actually finally being in a relationship, and disengagement is that much harder. I don't know that this applies to LW, but it shouldn't be discounted as a possibility.
@54, 55: Agree that LH may just be inexperienced. You only need counseling if you keep making the same mistake. If you fall for the wounded bird once and walk away thinking "never doing that again," that's just a learning experience.

Hell, I bet most of the people advising against "fixing" her have direct, personal knowledge of why that doesn't work (ahem). Doesn't mean we all needed counseling.
I knew someone who nearly fit the pattern #54 describes, and it was amazing (or maybe not) how many men tried to "fix" her, then got resentful because she didn't get all better as a result of their knight in shinging armor-ness. The question we should ask ourselves about such relationships is not "can I fix this person?," but "is it worth living with this person's issues?"

In MH's case, it sounds like the answer is no. I wouldn't recommend trying to be friends, but I also think it would be a piece of unnecessary drama to say "Don't ever contact me again." How about "Yes, I agree you need time and distance to sort out your emotional issues. I, however, will not be holding my breath waiting for you to come back. Best of luck."

MH, you missing her is a normal physiological response to your body's sudden withdrawal from "new girlfriend happy" hormones. It should pass in a few days or weeks. Meanwhile, get out and do some new activities and visit unfamiliar places in order to avoid those cues that remind you of her.
@53: Funny enough, you belong with the writer's "girlfriend" personalitywise, you're both nuts.
I'm the guy who stayed in that relationship. It works, but it was a LOT of work to get here. And issues don't ever completely go away. I love my partner and my partner loves me... and everyone has some stuff to deal with. But this letter sounds like there are more red flags than I had up front.
She said she sees me as the protective type of person and is having trouble sorting out if I'm going to be protective or controlling.

She wanted to take a break, but still remain exclusive

Wow. Just wow. THerapy is a good idea for the letter writer. Any time you're remotely interested in how to fix things with someone who is punishing you for sins you have yet to commit (controlling her) at the same time that she's offering you nothing and asking for commitment (exclusivity) is a GOOD TIME to have your head examined.

Any way to leave your (perhaps) lover is a good way at this point.