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Loss for words
April 30, 2012 5:50 AM   Subscribe

How do I fix a soured relationship?

I'm still trying to figure this one out in my head. It's a new relationship, mind you, only a month old, but I'm really into this person, and about half the time, it seems like she's equally into me. I take her to meet my friends, and there's a bit of what I perceive as casual flirting between her and a friend - she may just be flirty, it doesn't matter. Anyway, I try to tell myself to just act normal, but I begin to move in the opposite direction, toward passive aggressiveness and resentment, and it's fairly obvious. At the end of the night, she asks me if I had an alright time, and not being able to hide anything, I say no... Anyway, flash forward. It's the weekend; she's busy all weekend. Fine. I accidentally bump into her out with a guy who she had been talking quite a bit about the week prior. Context: she interviews so it's not out of the norm for her to be out at a bar with some guy. But, since it's this guy, my mind goes where it shouldn't. I sort of stutter a hello and walk out of the bar and head home. Flash forward. I've been stewing, I don't know anything, I haven't asked her anything directly. I send her an email asking if our relationship is over (I say, "I hope I'm totally misperceiving things"). So I just shot the moon when it was completely uncalled for. She calls me and we meet over drinks to talk about it, me admitting I was wrong, her not giving an inch. I'm used to a kind of constant shifting of the ground in an argument, but with her, it didn't seem to do so at all. When she finishes her drink, I ask her if there's anything she wants from me. Her parting words are, in an angry tone: "No, I think you've explained yourself pretty well." I feel like I ruined something good. How the hell can I start picking up the pieces? I feel like I want to send flowers, but I also worry that that might be too forward in this circumstance, given that she's expressed uncertainty about ever wanting to see me again. An addendum: it's not that I don't date and this girl is the first person I've been with in a long time, rendering me a bumbling idiot. I date. A lot. The problem is, she gets under my skin - in good and bad ways - far more than anyone I've dated.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I feel like I want to send flowers, but I also worry that that might be too forward in this circumstance, given that she's expressed uncertainty about ever wanting to see me again.

You dated for a month. You got really intense and possessive on her during that time. She's expressed that she doesn't want to see you, so there really aren't any pieces to pick up. You're done. Take the lessons learned here and move on.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 5:59 AM on April 30, 2012 [30 favorites]


She doesn't seem to be interested in alleviating your jealousy, and I'm not sure what you expected her to "give" or say that she was wrong about. Apologizing when your boyfriend is jealous about a perfectly normal situation is just asking for him to be jealous in the future. She doesn't want that. She doesn't think she did anything wrong by talking to these two men and she probably thinks you are too controlling and out of line by expecting any kind of apology or reassurance from her.

Summary: let her make the next move, if any. Or move on.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:59 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


You need to give her some space. She may decide, after stewing over the situation a bit, that you get another chance. Probably she won't. I don't think sending flowers or otherwise pursuing her is going to help with this situation. You've given the impression that you are jealous and controlling. If you start to pursue her now, you may feed into concerns she has about your behavior.

As for her not giving an inch, she was in the right. She knew it, you knew it, and she is a strong person who wasn't going to pretend she'd done something wrong just to patch things up with you.
posted by Area Man at 6:06 AM on April 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


I think you have to move on.
posted by mleigh at 6:15 AM on April 30, 2012


I think Rodrigo Lamaitre sums this up pretty well. But go easy on yourself: everyone I know has some weird blip of a relationship in their background (or twelve) that basically served no other purpose than to teach them what not to do again. You'll be a better partner to your next girlfriend because of this.

I have a long theory that basically boils down to the idea that some guy is out there breaking up with some girl for a perfectly good reason right now, and that breakup will make her a better partner to you someday, too. Just take it in, and move on. This woman doesn't sound like she's that healthy for you anyway.
posted by juliplease at 6:27 AM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


When I was dating, intense/jealous behavior was a giant red flag - indeed, a dealbreaker. I had had one boyfriend who behaved that way; he was the sort of disaster I learned to reflexively avoid. She might possibly feel this way too. Someone displaying passive aggression and resentment so early in a relationship, when usually people are on their best behavior, suggests worse to come later, or at least plenty more of the same.
posted by tomboko at 6:28 AM on April 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


You were too possesive and she sounded not all that into you. Move on.
posted by yarly at 6:28 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


If she wrote this question from her perspective:
It's a new relationship, mind you, only a month old, but he's really into me, and is more serious about it than I am. Sometimes I get excited about that, but then I remember to take it slower. I've met his friends, and hit it off with them, one in particular. This immediately brought out some passive aggressive behaviour in him and he was obviously resentful. At the end of the night when I attempted to explore how he was feeling, I got a negative reaction. I managed to be busy all weekend after, and was glad for the space. I was out with a friend, a guy I've talked about a lot, which is normal for me, when he accidentally showed up at the bar. He exhibited jealous behaviour, walked out of the bar and spent some time stewing; then sent an email asking if our relationship is over, saying "I hope I'm totally misperceiving things." It's only been a month!

I called him to meet over drinks to talk about it, and he admitted was wrong, and I let him know my boundaries. He kept pushing into areas I didn't want to go. He's used to arguing in a different way than I am. I'm not up for so much drama only a month in, but he is making a lot of effort to patch things up. Do I give him another chance?
...I think she'd get a lot of answers saying "DTMFA". It's not that you're a bad guy - you're not what she's looking for in a relationship, and you're not getting her clearly stated messages. It sounds like she's ready for a certain quality of relationship, and didn't get it from you.

It's been about a month and you:

*have a "relationship"
*have been obviously passive-aggresive and resentful
*accidentally (?) bump into her with someone else when she's indicated she's not free to see you and behave immaturely
*stew for some time
*email (email!) requesting her to clarify the "relationship" status
*meet up, and attempt to talk your way back into it when she'd stated her boundaries

You didn't ruin something good - this wasn't a good start to a relationship to begin with. What was ruined was the potential for both of you to work towards something solid and mature. There aren't really any pieces to pick up. Sending flowers would be another controlling move, forcing her to pay attention to you when she's indicated her preferences. What you have to "get" her is not what you naturally seem want to do. It's not as simple as gifts and promises.

If you want this woman, start behaving like the kind of person she'd be attracted to and comfortable with. Do that without the end goal of getting her back. It would probably be best to do this with any future relationships, since I think she's going to be too wary of your past behaviour re-emerging. It's great that you're aware that something has to change, but I'm not sure you know that it isn't just for her, but for anyone. From what you wrote, I can see that would mean take it slower; don't force your presence either by design or accidentally, and give space when your partner indicates it; speak clearly and politely in person about issues at the appropriate times; respect other relationships with people; respect your partner's stated wishes and don't attempt to manipulate her or the relationship. That's just good form all around. Good luck in the future - relationships as learning experiences can be a good thing in the long run, even if it's tough right now.
posted by peagood at 6:43 AM on April 30, 2012 [22 favorites]


When I was younger and dumber I dated a jealous guy. When we first started dating he used to get jealous about me getting "too flirty" with other guys we knew. From my perspective, I was not flirting but having normal friendly conversations, but I justified his behavior by reminding myself that my new boyfriend had had a rough dating life and was sensitive and insecure. He must like me a lot to get jealous, anyway, I thought. And like you he would always apologize. Didn't that make it okay?

It wasn't long before his jealousy about my male friends became jealousy about my female friends, too. Why did I want to go to the movies with my friends from high school? Then came jealously about time spent with my family, jealousy about my time spent at work, etc. He went from getting upset that I was "too flirty" with guys we knew to calling me at work every couple of hours "just to check in" and having crying fits over the phone when I was out at birthday parties he'd refused to go to.

Oh yeah, eventually he started breaking dishes and punching walls and shoving me around, too.

I've never dated a jealous guy since.

I am not saying YOU are abusive, or that you would ever turn abusive. I take you at your word that you know you made a mistake and you feel genuinely contrite. But constant jealousy is a big red flag, and given my experiences with it and the similar experiences of many of my friends, I would not fault your girlfriend, at this point, for never speaking to you again.

If you are having problems with jealousy over minor interactions then you need to focus on fixing whatever it is about YOU and your life that is making you feel that way before you can expect to have a healthy relationship with someone else.

Yes, dating is emotionally risky. Yes, people cheat on each other. Yes, it's important in a relationship to set healthy boundaries and talk about what one another's needs and expectations are. But you do not, ever, ever own a woman. You do not get to dictate to a woman you just started seeing where she goes or whom she speaks to in her spare time. And you certainly do not have the right to throw a fit and storm out like a child when you see her having an ordinary conversation with a person she has a perfectly good reason to see and talk to. She had every right to break things off after that .

The good news is, it sounds like you already know that you were in the wrong and have learned from your experience.

If I were in your shoes, I would definitely not send flowers. I'd send a brief, non-whiny, no-excuses written apology, along the lines of, "I apologize for acting like an idiot. There was no excuse for my behavior and you certainly deserve better." No claiming temporary insanity. No shifting the blame for your behavior back on to her by saying she got under your skin. And no begging her to come back, either. It needs to be her decision.
posted by BlueJae at 6:44 AM on April 30, 2012 [22 favorites]


If I were this woman's friend and had heard the above story (even told from your perspective) I would still advise her to keep moving. It's a big red flag to see that much possessiveness from a guy you've only been dating for a month. It's interesting that you say that you're used to "a kind of constant shifting of the ground in an argument, but with her, it didn't seem to do so at all." I think that's the mark of a woman who knows when she's in the right and isn't willing to compromise about certain things. I think (and hope) I would behave the same way as her as your behavior was not acceptable and could be an indicator of worse to come. If you want to try and get her back do what BlueJae said above, definitely don't send flowers and change your behavior for the future -- you want to find the sort of mature woman who won't put up with this nonsense.
posted by peacheater at 7:19 AM on April 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm caught on two points in your narrative:

Anyway, I try to tell myself to just act normal, but I begin to move in the opposite direction, toward passive aggressiveness and resentment, and it's fairly obvious. At the end of the night, she asks me if I had an alright time, and not being able to hide anything, I say no...

...I've been stewing, I don't know anything, I haven't asked her anything directly. I send her an email asking if our relationship is over (I say, "I hope I'm totally misperceiving things"). So I just shot the moon when it was completely uncalled for. She calls me and we meet over drinks to talk about it, me admitting I was wrong, her not giving an inch. I'm used to a kind of constant shifting of the ground in an argument, but with her, it didn't seem to do so at all.

It sounds like the way you handle conflict is by trying to provoke the other person to engage with you - the first instance with passive-aggressiveness building up into telling her off, and the second instance with overreacting, expecting/hoping that your apology & backing down will result in her apology and then you both are on the same level & make up. You feed your anger, build it up, lash it out and then expect that the other person will react in a way that makes you feel justified (but now they're sorry and you can feel forgiving and loving) or in a way that makes you feel placated (you overreacted but you're really sorry and they will show you their lovingness by forgiving you). Basically, this is one of your "scripts" (the way you expect scenarios in your life to play out).

She didn't play into your scripts. She doesn't handle conflict like that and she may have found it manipulative (it is manipulative, but many people are used to handling conflict this way, consciously or unconsciously, and probably don't analyze what they're doing). Notice that both conflicts could have been defused early on by honest and open communication, and/or by assuming innocence until proven otherwise; but you chose not to do that & you chose not to say anything. Why? Because then you wouldn't get the payoff that you're used to, that you might even be a little bit hooked on, since it's your predictable rollercoaster of emotions?

I could spitball that your attraction to her might be based in being intrigued by a different way of doing things and wanting to learn from it; or it could be being intrigued that someone doesn't play the way you play and it's more of a challenge to you. However, even should that be true, she's obviously under no obligation to stay engaged with you. After only a month, there's just too much drama here and "getting her back" would involve more of this same manipulation and drama.

So I think you are best off letting it go. But this question shows a good amount of self-awareness - you can clearly describe what you're doing; maybe on some level you're realizing it's a problem. Perhaps you should consider analyzing in therapy, on your own, or both, why you handle conflict/relationships this way and what you could do to move toward a more healthy pattern of interacting, so you don't repeat this mistake and lose the next chance or potential that comes your way.
posted by flex at 8:13 AM on April 30, 2012 [24 favorites]


You pick up the pieces by moving on.

You were probably wrong, you know. But let's say you were right and your deepest, darkest fears were accurate: you were in a exclusive relationship with her and she was cheating. What then? There's nothing you could or should do. She was unapologetic and uninterested in making you feel better about your concerns. She doesn't want or need your bullshit. In turn, you shouldn't want or need hers.

Now let's say you were wrong, and either your relationship wasn't exclusive, her behavior was entirely innocent, or both. She was unapologetic because she did nothing wrong, and uninterested in making you feel better about your crazy jealousy and lack of trust. She doesn't want or need your bullshit. In fact, she clearly told you to fuck off and that she doesn't want to ever see you again (and if she does, it will be on her terms, not yours).

In either scenario, there's nothing you can do here. You have to move on. Any action you take involving her will only reinforce her problems with you and raise red flags that you may unbalanced and dangerous.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:15 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


... we meet over drinks to talk about it, me admitting I was wrong, her not giving an inch. I'm used to a kind of constant shifting of the ground in an argument, but with her, it didn't seem to do so at all.

I want to point out to you that she had anything to apologize for, and no position that needed changing, so why would she apologize. She was sociable to your friends, she went out with her friend/acquaintance... As others have said, you don't get to dictate who she spends time with and she doesn't have to apologize for making plans without you. That's why the ground didn't shift in your argument.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 8:50 AM on April 30, 2012


A month into dating someone, you don't have a relationship yet. There's nothing to negotiate over, pick up pieces of, not even enough weeks to use the phrase "flash forward" like you're using it. This is ten pounds of drama in a two pound bag.

Your behavior reads as really possessive and controlling. That's totally uncool. You don't get to control someone you're dating. Under skin, not-under-skin, whatever. Hell, even if it had been six months or six years, repeat this phrase to yourself until it sinks in:

You do not control the person you're dating.

At all. Ever. Not a bit. Check that impulse in yourself as ruthlessly as you'd check the impulse to steal or cheat. Maybe more. I'm more forgiving of thieves and cheaters than someone who thinks they get to control me. And I'm a large, physically imposing man. Women often have even shorter fuses on it.

Cut your losses on this one and revise your behavior for the next.
posted by ead at 8:57 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I TOTALLY disagree that this was a "good thing" you had going. She sounds horrible!

When she flirted with your friend in front of you, to the point that it made you intensely uncomfortable, that's when you should have dumped her. On the spot.

She sounds like a playa and someone who would be constantly been challenging your boundaries down the road and making you doubt yourself (like you are right now!), if you had been passive and easily fooled enough to continue dating her.

You dodged a bullet. Rejoice!

Go find someone with a better character to date. This girl was trouble.
posted by jbenben at 9:03 AM on April 30, 2012


When she flirted with your friend in front of you, to the point that it made you intensely uncomfortable, that's when you should have dumped her. On the spot.

This, assuming that she was in fact flirting with your friend... you're not 100% clear in your description whether that's what was going on, or how she handled your concern afterwards.
posted by Beacon Inbound at 9:39 AM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Things should not be this hard when you've only been dating for a month. My general rule is that if there are two tense and uncomfortable conversations within the first month of dating, I break things off. I would suggest you walk away from this one.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:03 AM on April 30, 2012


I'm the OP. I opened a new account so that I could remain anonymous but comment. I just wanted to clear up a couple of things.

1) A lot of people are making much of me saying she didn't shift ground. Let me be clear on that: I didn't expect her to apologize for anything. What I didn't expect, though, was that she would not acknowledge my apology at all. But I think it makes perfect sense that she didn't, especially after reading the comments here. One thing I continue not to get is that, at a certain point in our conversation, she said she was more disturbed by the fact I wasn't trying to argue my case (I wasn't trying to accuse her; I wasn't trying to defend my actions; I wasn't trying to put the blame on her) than if I had been trying to accuse her of something. But the fact is, as soon as I got a phone call from her, I knew just how wrong I had been.

2) The relationship has only been going on a month, but I've spent more time with her - generally at her prompting, because I consciously wanted to avoid being too clingy - than some relationships that have gone on a lot longer.

3) There are mitigating factors that change things from my end without changing things from hers. First, I spent a lot of time over the summer working with someone who is probably diagnosable with narcissistic personality disorder. This has made me very distrustful of charisma, while still remaining attracted to it. Second, I came out of an "open" relationship where the openness of the relationship was more of a way for my partner to look for other people. So I now tend to read flirting and cheating as people seeking an out, rather than what it is. Third, the friend who she was or was not flirting with has managed to unintentionally mess things up between me and women before, simply by being attractive and charismatic. I was recently dating someone, and it wasn't a passionate relationship, but it was comfortable. I took her out to meet this guy, and she started throwing casual insults in my direction in order to impress him, which totally turned me off of her. I broke up with her shortly afterward.

4) I think flex pretty much hits the nail on the head, even down to his/her speculations on why I'm attracted to her ("Your attraction to her might be based in being intrigued by a different way of doing things and wanting to learn from it").

5) You're all right. At one point in our conversation, I mentioned that I've been in her shoes. She asked me if the women responded the way I'm responding. I didn't say it, but the truth was, I didn't even give them enough time to respond in this way. I cut them off immediately. So it's hypocritical of me to want different. But I want different.
posted by nob'dy at 10:41 AM on April 30, 2012


What I didn't expect, though, was that she would not acknowledge my apology at all.

She barely knows you. Apologies and words are cheap. Actions are much more meaningful. It speaks well of her that she judges you by your actions at this point. Also, maybe you’re just not that great. Maybe she’s not that invested in you when there are other guys who are just as handsome and compatible and whatever else out there, who are also not jealous and controlling. You honestly seem miffed that she hasn’t forgiven you, as if you’re entitled to it, which just doesn’t jibe with your claims that you realize you were completely in the wrong. If you thought you really were completely in the wrong, you wouldn’t want to be forgiven, you’d just promise to never act that way again.

The relationship has only been going on a month, but I've spent more time with her - generally at her prompting, because I consciously wanted to avoid being too clingy - than some relationships that have gone on a lot longer.

That really doesn’t matter. A month is still a month.

There are mitigating factors that change things from my end without changing things from hers.

No, none of those factors change anything. Why would that be her problem? Your past is your own problem to deal with, and if it causes you to act crazy and controlling in relationships, maybe you aren’t ready for relationships. Other women are not her, and your past experience does not excuse you from acting like a good guy.

You're all right. At one point in our conversation, I mentioned that I've been in her shoes. She asked me if the women responded the way I'm responding. I didn't say it, but the truth was, I didn't even give them enough time to respond in this way. I cut them off immediately. So it's hypocritical of me to want different. But I want different.

I have no idea what you mean by this. You mean you’ve flirted around on other women and they haven’t gotten jealous, and you were somehow upset that they didn’t fly into a jealous rage? What?

You claim you date many people, so just move on. There are other fish in the sea. At this point this is clearly about your pride and sense of inferiority or whatever, and not about actually liking her or enjoying her company. Just move on, it shouldn't be like this.
posted by quincunx at 3:28 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't feel entitled to anything. More just trying to understand, but thanks for the hostility.

I have no idea what you mean by this. You mean you’ve flirted around on other women and they haven’t gotten jealous, and you were somehow upset that they didn’t fly into a jealous rage? What?
No. I meant that I've dated women who became possessive, and I didn't give them time to defend themselves before breaking things off.

At this point this is clearly about your pride and sense of inferiority
No, it's really not.
posted by nob'dy at 4:53 PM on April 30, 2012


Please take this as an honest attempt to help you and not an insult: you sound a bit unhinged about this girl. I totally believe that you're not normally like this, which is great. Sometimes people really bring out the worst in us, and it sounds like she brings out some really unfortunate tendencies in you.

Intense good/bad relationships can be exciting and fun, but they change you. Think hard about whether you want to invest any more time in being possessive, jealous, and ill-tempered.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:37 PM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


There are mitigating factors that change things from my end without changing things from hers. First, I spent a lot of time over the summer working with someone who is probably diagnosable with narcissistic personality disorder. This has made me very distrustful of charisma, while still remaining attracted to it. Second, I came out of an "open" relationship where the openness of the relationship was more of a way for my partner to look for other people. So I now tend to read flirting and cheating as people seeking an out, rather than what it is. Third, the friend who she was or was not flirting with has managed to unintentionally mess things up between me and women before, simply by being attractive and charismatic. I was recently dating someone, and it wasn't a passionate relationship, but it was comfortable. I took her out to meet this guy, and she started throwing casual insults in my direction in order to impress him, which totally turned me off of her. I broke up with her shortly afterward.

All of these things may be reasons for your behavior, but they do not justify it. They are simply your baggage that she has no obligation to deal with. You should avoid dating until you learn to direct blame appropriately towards people who hurt you, not people who are completely unrelated to the source of your pain, and especially not people you care about.

I think that if you make a concerted effort over a period of time, you may be able to become friends with her, but you'll probably never be her lover again because by the time she finally trusts you enough to consider you datable, she'll already have found somebody new. Can you live with that? If not, just learn from the experience and move on - otherwise you'll only get even more jealous that somebody else is with the person you think you're meant to be with.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:17 PM on April 30, 2012


Whooo, you are getting a lot of tough love.

I do think you behaved poorly, regardless of her intentions (which you can't know from what you do know thus far). But you also think you behaved poorly. So... next.

What I didn't expect, though, was that she would not acknowledge my apology at all.

Was she pretending you didn't even say it? That would be weird. Or she acknowledged that you apologized but didn't also forgive you/move on? That would be acceptable. There are some things I won't put up with, full stop. No "I did it but apologized" business on such issues. And here it's actually "I did it but apologized" twice.

One thing I continue not to get is that, at a certain point in our conversation, she said she was more disturbed by the fact I wasn't trying to argue my case (I wasn't trying to accuse her; I wasn't trying to defend my actions; I wasn't trying to put the blame on her) than if I had been trying to accuse her of something.

Two possibilities:
1) She likes drama. Some people do, whether they acknowledge it consciously or not. She wanted a rip-roaring argument which upon its conclusion had you on your knees begging for forgiveness, but didn't start out that way at low volume.
2) She may be unhappy/confused as to why you behaved the way you did, given that you apparently knew either while it was happening or immediately thereafter that you were wrong. The thought process here would be, "Well, if he didn't know why what he was doing was wrong, I could teach him and he'd stop. But since he does know why it was wrong and did it anyway, it indicates a lack of respect/lack of control that I find even more unappealing than pure ignorance."

There are mitigating factors that change things from my end...

You're getting flak on this because of words like mitigating and change. These factors don't mitigate. They don't change. They may explain, but they don't make your behavior less wrong.

Finally:
Like I said, you're getting a lot of tough love. If you do end up reconnecting (upon her initiation, not through you further pursuing this), don't let these blunders warp your perceptions of the whole relationship so that she's an angel and you're a scoundrel forevermore. You've both known each other for a month. Even if you were together 24/7 that whole month, that is not enough time to know someone inside and out. She could well have been being a dramatic, overly flirtatious poor fit for you at the same time that you were being a jealous, passive-aggressive poor fit for her.
posted by vegartanipla at 9:32 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


To follow up on your follow-up:

I'm really into this person, and about half the time, it seems like she's equally into me... I date. A lot. The problem is, she gets under my skin - in good and bad ways - far more than anyone I've dated.

At one point in our conversation, I mentioned that I've been in her shoes. She asked me if the women responded the way I'm responding. I didn't say it, but the truth was, I didn't even give them enough time to respond in this way. I cut them off immediately. So it's hypocritical of me to want different. But I want different.

...I've dated women who became possessive, and I didn't give them time to defend themselves before breaking things off.

So what I'm seeing here is that she isn't like other women you've dated. You've set the bar for other people - what's acceptable, what isn't - but they're not allowed to set the bar for you. (This is again manipulative, keeping you at the advantage.) She's not playing that. You set up a script and she didn't follow; she's not doing what you expect and you're not shaping her reactions.

Many people are intrigued by what they can't control/manipulate; people like a challenge. (There's a study I recall that people are more interested in a relationship if they feel they had to overcome resistance in the other person first - it's more satisfying than someone who liked you all along, it speaks to your ability to persuade and charm; most people are not going to object to somehow managing to land something slightly better than they expected to. Also, if you can that easily set your own agenda on someone else, then you might perceive them as not up to your level.) I note that you chose not to tell her that you cut these other women off when they did the same thing you've done - you're deliberately not yielding up information that might give her an advantage.

I didn't expect her to apologize for anything. What I didn't expect, though, was that she would not acknowledge my apology at all... One thing I continue not to get is that, at a certain point in our conversation, she said she was more disturbed by the fact I wasn't trying to argue my case (I wasn't trying to accuse her; I wasn't trying to defend my actions; I wasn't trying to put the blame on her) than if I had been trying to accuse her of something.

Your apology was an opening salvo to engage her, but she refused to take the bait. You weren't trying to argue your case because that's not how your script works - your script starts from an overreaction and then a dramatic hashout/pull back. To someone who doesn't operate with that script, it's weird to overreact that much and not try to justify it; it reads (consciously or unconsciously) as a strategy, perhaps less genuine; how could you be that upset and yet not be stacking out reasons why?

This has made me very distrustful of charisma, while still remaining attracted to it... I now tend to read flirting and cheating as people seeking an out, rather than what it is... the friend who she was or was not flirting with has managed to unintentionally mess things up between me and women before, simply by being attractive and charismatic... I took her out to meet this guy, and she started throwing casual insults in my direction in order to impress him, which totally turned me off of her...

I hear insecurity here; maybe leading you to keep the upper hand as much as you can, hence the passive-aggressiveness, the hypocrisy in possessiveness and so forth? Your script is one that keeps the other person a little off-balance, on the defensive. But the one who can take it or leave it is the one with the upper hand. You're trying to figure out how she got the upper hand here - this makes her basically "a worthy adversary" to you; your reaction is that someone who could do that is someone to take seriously, it makes her compelling to you. She's showing you something different and you're caught up in it.

Again, though, we're back to the "too much drama". Opposites attract because the novelty and differences are refreshing, but opposites have friction where they don't fundamentally understand each other. Because it's been this dramatic so far, it doesn't seem like you'll find an even keel here. Even if you somehow end up back together with her, it's quite likely it'll wear the relationship down - intensity can feel like forward momentum but sometimes it's just grinding gears. Other people don't fix us - we fix ourselves, we change ourselves. I posit that when things become uncomfortable for us, often it means we should investigate if there is a lesson there - we should turn our focus to ourselves and look inside. Your fixation on this situation is less about what it seems on the surface - this person and your relationship drama with this person - and more about what reflects of you to yourself, what it can teach you about yourself.

Anyway, this is only my (limited) take - perhaps helpful to some further insight.
posted by flex at 11:08 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


So what I'm seeing here is that she isn't like other women you've dated. You've set the bar for other people - what's acceptable, what isn't - but they're not allowed to set the bar for you. (This is again manipulative, keeping you at the advantage.) She's not playing that. You set up a script and she didn't follow; she's not doing what you expect and you're not shaping her reactions.

Again, you're very perceptive, flex, but I don't think it's about what they're allowed to do or what I feel entitled to. I don't feel entitled to anything - I'm not that bad, I promise. It's more about what I want versus what I actually (think I) deserve. I know what I want is not always in line with the way I've behaved. It doesn't stop me from wanting it. Desire versus entitlement.

Also, you're misreading the statement about breaking things off with other women. What I'm trying to say is that, when women become possessive with me, I break off the relationship, which means I can't blame her for doing the same with me, even if I don't want her to. Again, desire versus entitlement. It's not the same. I feel entitled to nothing, even if I want certain outcomes. You can't possibly claim that you've never acted in a way in which you didn't deserve things (whatever that might mean) that you nevertheless wanted.

At this point, I really do feel like you've all answered my question, and that I'm simply trying to defend/clarify certain aspects that people seem to be mistaken on. Maybe it's best not to dwell on them though.

vegartanipla: I really like your response. Thank you for seeing the difference between certain word choices (mitigating, for instance) and what I'm trying to describe.
posted by nob'dy at 11:52 PM on April 30, 2012


[nob'dy, moderator here: it's fine to use a sock account to answer questions and offer some clarification, but please don't carry on a running commentary responding to specific answers. (It's less important for user X understand your inner processes than for you to glean some useful feedback from various perspectives.) ]
posted by taz at 1:07 AM on May 1, 2012


I find it interesting you are so invested in everyone understanding exactly how you perceive things. Maybe you're so stuck on what happened because you are hoping to make her understand the events from your end. This sounds like you might have some hang-ups about control, particularly controlling how you are viewed.

I think you'd potentially find it useful to accept that every action can be interpreted as many ways as there are people on the planet, and in the end it doesn't really matter what your emotions and intentions were during the act. She, and everyone here, is going to view it through their personal lens of beliefs and past experiences.
posted by Dynex at 11:37 AM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


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