Is asking for immediate help from your partner unreasonable?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (191 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
To start out with, here is the demographic information: I am 24 and female, my partner is 22 and male. We met in college and have been together for three years. We normally have a very good and happy relationship, with few arguments. When we do argue, we are normally able to sort things out by sitting down and having a good talk. We have lots in common, similar senses of humor, and similar value systems. We love each other very much. We share a large group of mutual friends, and both of our families love us as partners and get along with each other swimmingly. He recently graduated from undergrad and we moved in together. I am currently pursuing a grad degree, he is currently unemployed.
Up until the incident I am about to detail, we had a very good and happy relationship. Unfortunately, in the last few days, I feel like our relationship is falling apart. My partner and I are having a disagree about how much and how quickly partners should help one another in a relationship.
A few days ago, I went out to pick up food for us. On the way back from the take out place, I got a flat tire and had to pull over. I am aware of how to change a tire, but had no spare. So, my only choice was to call for help. I called my partner and asked him to come pick me up and take me to a nearby store, so I could buy a new tire. He informed me he was playing video games with friends, but that he would definitely come help me. The take out place was only about ten miles from our house, so I thought he would be there to help me pretty quickly. It really pains me to write this, but I waited by my car for an hour and he never showed up. I ended up having to call his mother and she came to help me.
When I returned to our apartment a few hours later after parting with his Mom, I was understandably (well, at least I thought so) pissed off. I wanted to talk about the incident immediately, but he was still deeply engrossed in video games with some of our friends, so I brought him his take out food, told him I was very angry at him, our friends made some stupid noises about me acting like a bitch, and then I went into our bed room to lay down. I fell asleep and my partner woke me up around 3 AM, asking to talk about why I was angry with him. I told him that I was upset that he left me standing on the side of the road for thirty minutes with a flat tire, with the expectation that he was coming to help me. I felt like standing me up in such a situation showed a lack of respect and care for me. I told him that in the future, if he did not want to help me, he should just say so, so that I can move on to asking other friends or family members, instead of relying on him to complete tasks that he has no intention of ever doing. I told him that he was telling me through his actions that if I need support or help, he is not a good person to ask at all.
He told me that he had intended to come help me, but that he got distracted by his friends and the video game. He told me that he thought I was self-reliant enough to change a tire by myself, or walk to a store by myself and buy a tire. He told me that he thought what I wanted from him was to just drop everything and come help me whenever I want help, even if that is inconvenient for him, and he thought that was unreasonable of me. Not that wanting help from him was unreasonable so much, as that wanting help immediately was unreasonable. He told me that he was willing to help me, but that if I wanted help with a situation, I should ask him a little before I needed the help, so that he could do it in time. I told him I could not anticipate a flat tire and that he was being very inconsiderate of me.
He then shifted the goal posts considerably, and told me out of the blue that he needed more space from me within the apartment. I want to note here that I am by no means a smothering partner. In fact, I am introverted and normally need more time alone than he does. I give him lots of space within the apartment to socialize with others because being alone and able to concentrate on my own projects is preferable for me. So, to me, his request for space read as, "I'm breaking up with you", as he already gets a lot of space. I asked him if he wanted me to move out or if he thought he should move out of the shared apartment. He said that was unnecessary, that he loved and cared for me, and wanted to be together. He did not want to break up. At this point, I became really confused. I told him that I would go to my parents home the next day, and stay there indefinitely. He said, again, that was unnecessary. I asked him if I had done something wrong and he said that I hadn't, that he was just having "weird head issues". I started crying because I was confused and went into our bedroom, and made a bed for myself on the floor. I laid on the floor sobbing for awhile before he came into our bedroom and told me to stop crying and get up in the bed, like a normal person. I got in bed with him and he tried to comfort me. He said that he loved me and that he was still trying to figure this relationship stuff out. He told me he was willing to work on the problem and that we had just had a miscommunication. We scheduled a date to talk specifically about this problem for Wednesday. He reiterated that he did not want to break up and that he loved me very much.
The next day, I went to my parents house anyway, because I felt uncomfortable after this argument, especially with my partner's request for more space. I have been at my parent's house for three days now, and we have been talking intermittently via text messaging about the incident. Yesterday, he texted me to inform me that he was being much more productive without me there, and then said that he "promised he wasn't talking sideways at me, just that he had been really productive since I was gone". This really upset me. I am very upset about my partner's lack of consideration for me. I am also upset about how he has manipulated this argument into one about his need for space instead of his lack of consideration for me in regards to the tire incident. Breaking up with him over this incident is definitely on the table, but part of me still wants to try to make this work out because I do love him very much. Should I break up with him over this, or would couple's counseling help? More importantly, I want to know if asking for immediate help from your partner is as unreasonable as he is making it out to be? Any help is appreciated.