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Is asking for immediate help from your partner unreasonable?
June 5, 2012 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Is asking for immediate help from your partner unreasonable?

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.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (191 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't say this lightly, but DTMFA.

He's shown himself extremely inconsiderate and uncaring to you. You are both still very young. Too young for couple's counselling. There are plenty of fish in the sea.
posted by hamandcheese at 7:05 AM on June 5, 2012 [151 favorites]


Your boyfriend is being incredibly immature.

It's completely reasonable to call and ask for help in a situation like a flat tire. Then, depending on what he is doing, he may or may not be able to assist you - but if he says he will, he should follow through. Getting distracted by video games? WTF.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:07 AM on June 5, 2012 [31 favorites]


Should I break up with him over this

Yes? He sounds like a real ding-dong. Is this really an isolated incident, the very first time he's ever treated you this way? Even if it is, who needs a partner who can be guaranteed not to help out when times are tough?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:07 AM on June 5, 2012 [30 favorites]


No, it's not unreasonable. I'd have come to help pretty much any friend of mine, maybe just an acquaintance, under those circumstances, not going to help my girlfriend wouldn't even cross my mind.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:07 AM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wow, this does not sound like a good situation. He didn't come pick you up when you had a flat tire? Surely that is the WHOLE POINT of having a partner! When your partner (or even your friend!) is stranded by the side of the road, hell yes you go pick them up, even if it's inconvenient to you.

You are not being unreasonable to be upset about this, and he sounds like he's got some weird stuff going on - maybe just scared about the future, whatever, but I don't think he can be a good partner for you right now.
posted by mskyle at 7:08 AM on June 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


You're too young for couple's counseling. Your partner sounds immature and inconsiderate. I'll start the chorus of DTMFA because this is a true application of the term. It's not unreasonable to expect him to come and get you when you're stranded. Getting wrapped up in video games with friends is not an excuse. There are pause buttons for a reason.

Anecdata: A friend of mine was also stranded in the middle of the night with a flat tire once. He called his wife to come get him, and she said, "I have to work tomorrow," and hung up. They were divorced shortly thereafter. The writing is on the wall here.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 7:09 AM on June 5, 2012 [12 favorites]


You blew out a tire and were stranded, and he thought it was more important to play video games with his friends? And he tried to make it seem like you were in the wrong? That is a major dick move. I would seriously consider breaking up with him just for that.

But honestly, it sounds like he is navigating his way out of this relationship. He may not be ready to break up with you, but it seems like that's where things are headed.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:09 AM on June 5, 2012 [59 favorites]


Yes, you should break up with him. Although the whole thing is so weird that I almost suspect either neurological causes or cheating-and-looking-for-an-excuse.

Because no, it is not normal or appropriate to tell someone that you will come and help them with a flat tire and then keep playing video games until you forget what you promised. A flat tire is what you might call a soft emergency - it's something where you are entitled to expect others to drop routine/fun stuff and help you out if you can't fix it yourself.
posted by Frowner at 7:09 AM on June 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


Wow.

No, asking for immediate help in an emergency is not in any way unreasonable. In fact, that is absolutely one of the perks (and duties) of a friendship - let alone a committed relationship. Drop everything, even if it's "inconvenient"? You betcha.

You are very aware of his shifting the goalposts, good for you!
And I'm sorry, but I think you are also wel aware of where this relationship is headed. You love him, and maybe he loves you. But he isn't showing it.
posted by likeso at 7:10 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


If this is truly the first time, have the conversation. Ask him why he prioritized his friends and the video game over helping you out. Because that's what distraction is on this level. Instead of being mature and telling his friends he needed to run out and help you, he chose to put it off and instead allow himself to be distracted. If the answer doesn't satisfy you that you are prioritized above a video game, it's time to move on.
posted by skittlekicks at 7:11 AM on June 5, 2012


our friends made some stupid noises about me acting like a bitch

(a) Your friends aren't very nice for saying such a thing. (b) Your partner should have told them so. He's an asshole for not defending you.

I should ask him a little before I needed the help, so that he could do it in time.

Your boyfriend is either an idiot or completely unsympathetic. Surely he's aware you didn't plan to have a flat.

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

Your boyfriend is an idiot. I'm quite self reliant, but would never consider walking to a store to buy a tire, then walking back to put it on my car. That's a stupid idea. You did what you should have done.

I felt like standing me up in such a situation showed a lack of respect and care for me.

You are 100% correct. Time to move on and find a guy who's not a waste of your time.
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 7:11 AM on June 5, 2012 [79 favorites]


You are not dating a very mature person. If you are OK with dating someone that behaves like this, keep going. If you are not OK with him getting distracted by a video game & friends to not only leave you on the side of the road, but also ignore the situation until 3am, keep on time to dump the guy. Personally, I lean toward the latter.
posted by kellyblah at 7:12 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes. This is a DTMFA situation. I literally cannot imagine the thought process that starts with "someone I care about at all is stranded on the side of the road and is asking me for help and I am hanging out with my friends within easy driving distance" and goes anywhere other than directly to help the person. This strikes me as one of the most selfish things I can think of. This person needs to learn a lot of lessons about how to treat people, but you don't need to be the one to teach them, other than the lesson about how they treated you this way and you said, "goodbye."
posted by gauche at 7:12 AM on June 5, 2012 [49 favorites]


He's wrong, he should have gone to help with your tire problem and not left it for his mother to deal with, especially since he was only playing video games with his friends. He showed you what's more important to him. Games, his friends, his own space. He says he can do things better without you around. Break up with him, he's the one being unreasonable. He doesn't deserve the perks of a loving relationship if he can't also make any of the efforts or concessions that go with it.

Maybe when he's playing video games with his friends next month and they're all talking about what a bitch you were, he'll stick up for you and remember that he was the one who lost you. You don't have to care about that. Leave him.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:12 AM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


If I was advising one of my daughters, I'd tell her to run like a rabbit.

If your partner was one of my sons, I'd knock the living hell out of him.
posted by jquinby at 7:12 AM on June 5, 2012 [67 favorites]


After all that and he needs space?

Oookay.

See ya.
posted by squeak at 7:13 AM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


You are completely and utterly right to be offended and upset, and this is a huge red flag. Any not completely narcissistic human with even the slightest bit of empathy would drop what they were doing short of surgery to come help a stranded friend.

HIS MOTHER had to help you, for chrissake.

He's still a child. Move on.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:13 AM on June 5, 2012 [19 favorites]


I don't think couples counselling will cure a 22-year-old boy of being a 22-year-old boy.
posted by muddgirl at 7:14 AM on June 5, 2012 [21 favorites]


Yeah... his live-in partner calls saying that they have a flat and no spare, the store is 10 miles away on foot, and he doesn't tell his buddies "Hit save, y'all. Emergency just came up and y'all are already out the door."

As a guy, I say lose this schmuck. Any guy who picks his fucking videogame buddies over his girlfriend with the flat tire deserves a cold, lonely bed.

You don't need a knight in shining armor, but this dude is not your boyfriend, he's your roomie who likes blowjobs. Time for him to take his space and find out how warm Halo π or whatever keeps him at night.

Go find an adult man to spend your time with.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:14 AM on June 5, 2012 [63 favorites]


Your boyfriend is immature. He's going to keep acting this way -- like video games and the approval of his friends are of life or death importance -- probably for a few years, definitely until he has a full time job.

Personally, I would end it. You're an adult, he isn't.
posted by telegraph at 7:14 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your boyfriend did a shitty thing by blowing you off when you needed help.

I fell asleep and my partner woke me up around 3 AM, asking to talk about why I was angry with him.

Just a side note but in my experience it's never a great idea to indulge the idea of talking through a conflict at 3AM. Best case scenario, everyone's crazed from lack of sleep. Worst case, they're crazed from lack of sleep and have been drinking. Talking things through is supported by having the kind of clarity that people experience at say, 2 PM.

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.

He had a point on that one. Lying on the floor is a dramatic gesture. There's something inauthentic about it--because it seems to be to create an effect. Combined with the Big Talk at three AM it sounds like there might be unnecessary drama going on and it's really important to jump on that when you see it happening and dial it way, way down, because it gets in the way of genuine communication if you want a long term relationship with someone.

All of that aside, your boyfriend really should be groveling for forgiveness. Having someone to turn to when you're sort of fucked is one of the finest reasons to be in a committed, grown-up relationship in the first place. Otherwise it's like having a car you can't drive--it fails on the most basic expectations.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:15 AM on June 5, 2012 [17 favorites]


He sounds like a totally inconsiderate moron. To leave a young woman with a broken-down car by the side of any road is not right. I'm with jquinby above on this: if one of my sons ever did this...

I agree that it's time to dump him. You also need to buy AAA or some other roadside assistance protection, and a spare tire so that this never happens to you again.

By the way, even if you had been able to walk to some tire store you still would have needed a wheel to put the tire on.
posted by mareli at 7:15 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


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 asked him if I had done something wrong and he said that I hadn't, that he was just having "weird head issues" [...]

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" [...]

His actions are telling me that he doesn't want to break up with you, but he doesn't particularly want to be in a relationship either. He is young and immature. If you want this relationship to work, you need to have a "come to Jesus" conversation with him and tell him that you need a certain level of commitment from him if he wants to continue being your boyfriend.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 7:18 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ask the child's mother to explain to him why this was unacceptable.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:21 AM on June 5, 2012 [62 favorites]


I hope his mom had something to say to him after SHE had to come and pick you up. (If she didn't, I have to wonder if that's why he turned out the way he did.)

I agree with "no regrets, coyote" about the come-to-Jesus conversation with your fellow, but I have a feeling that it'll be hard for you, since he's already trying to "gaslight" you into thinking that this is your problem for being upset, rather than his problem for being a jerk. You may want to practice what you want to say beforehand so you can get it out calmly.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:22 AM on June 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


Echoing that he's a moron. Video games? Really?

"Dude - my girlfriend is broken down - have to go help her out."

"But we're so close to getting the next level!"

"Oh, yeah - fake life is SO much more important than real life!"

He's still very immature. A ninny, even. Inconvenient would be you asking him to come help you unload the dishwasher RIGHT NOW. You were stranded. AND you brought him his takeout? Tell me you didn't bring him his takeout. Please. *hangs head*

He's not going to grow up any time soon, and he's become very comfortable with simply taking you for granted. You are more mature - find someone else that is on your level.

(not that someone young can't be mature.. I've known 30 year old 'men' and 'women' who are just as immature and 22 year olds maturebeyond their years)
posted by rich at 7:23 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


This assmonkey prioritizes video games over your comfort and safety.

And not only did he not come and help you, he didn't come and help you after explicitly saying he would.

He might grow up and be a good partner in five or ten years, but I recommend not sticking around. Break up and move out ASAP. And if you support him financially in any way, cut him off now.

Don't overthink this or discuss it to death with Cheeto-breath, just leave.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:24 AM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


he thought I was self-reliant enough to change a tire by myself, or walk to a store by myself and buy a tire.

I'm sorry, what? So you were supposed to carry a 25+ pound wheel and tire to a tire shop, let them fix it, and then carry the fixed 25+ pound wheel and tire BACK to the car so that he didn't have to stop playing video games?

He's not just a terrible boyfriend, he's also an idiot.
posted by toomuchpete at 7:25 AM on June 5, 2012 [34 favorites]


I stopped reading halfwway through.

Cut off all contact and run, girl, run.

His weird texts will drive you potty. Do not engage. Move on.
posted by Chorus at 7:25 AM on June 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


There is no circumstance in which I wouldn't find a way to go help my partner if he needed it. It is not unreasonable at all to expect your boyfriend to help you. His excuses are complete bullshit. You should have walked to buy a tire? How the heck were you supposed to get it back to your car? Last time I checked, tires are pretty heavy and not that easy to tote around. Any anyway, you were getting *him* takeout? Plus he flat out lied to appease you when he said he'd come help and then "forgot" for an hour. Those are the acts of a child.

This is not a good relationship. Your boyfriend acted incredibly rudely and inconsiderately to you. But the manipulative cherry on top is the request for "more space" in an attempt to make you take on the guilt for his bad behavior. This was his attempt to train you to suppress your needs and desires should they inconvenience him in any way.

Do not waste any more time with this person. Find a new living arrangement. Stop texting him. He's not going to realize or admit what a jerk he was, so move on.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:27 AM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


(I also agree with the AAA membership recommendation, or check your car insurance and see if they offer a roadside assistance service, which may be cheaper than a separate AAA account. Even if you stay with your BF and he grows a considerate pair eventually, there may be times when he can't actually help you--like he's several states away, as my husband was the last time I locked my keys in the car. With roadside assistance you at least have an option that doesn't depend on someone else's generosity.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:27 AM on June 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


He sounds like he really wasn't ready for this type of commitment yet. My guess is he's not a bad guy just immature and over his head. Sometimes when people are in a commitment they aren't ready for they act out, I think. I would try getting your own place. Whether you should break up or not is a separate question to me, but he's definitely not ready for a live in relationship yet.
posted by bananafish at 7:28 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Break up with him. He's inconsiderate at best and a gaslighting asshole at worst.

Anecdotal story: I once had a flat tire and called up the dude I was FWB with and he dropped what he was doing at work to come get me. I wasn't living with him, or even dating him, just occasionally banging him, and he took time off from work to help me out. A guy that you're living with, presumably in a committed relationship, who can't take a 20-minute break from playing video games to pick up his stranded girlfriend (while she was in the middle of doing him a favor, no less) is not a keeper.
posted by bedhead at 7:28 AM on June 5, 2012 [14 favorites]


The best way you can help him, if you really care at some point, is to print out this Ask, when it has run its course, to however many pages long it will be, and give it to him as an answer to "why?".
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:29 AM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


It looks like it's time for you to get a new boyfriend AND new friends, because none of them are worth anything.
posted by crankylex at 7:29 AM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ugh. Please, please, please break up.

Can you really imagine building a life with this person? If you can't count on your partner to help you in an emergency situation like a flat tire, there's no way you can depend on them to be there for you in more complicated crisis situations, like a sick family member or long-term unemployment or a chronic illness or any of the other terrible things that happen in the course of life. He is selfish and immature, and I don't think he can learn to be a better partner while getting to keep his relationship with you -- it will be too easy to continue being his same old childish self.

I know that when you're inside a relationship where you've invested time and emotion, live together even, it is devastating to think about breaking up. But looking back, you are going to be so relieved that you ended this now. You are going to find a good partner than you can actually trust, and you're going to wonder what you were ever thinking bringing this d-bag his takeout and taking crap from his stupid friends.

(Seriously.)
posted by crackingdes at 7:30 AM on June 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


I would never leave a friend by the side of the road. I would stop an help a stranger in this situation.

My girlfriend has left work to help me in this same situation and it was a lot more miles to drive.

I think I would give him another chance to come to your understanding of expectations, then if he doesn't agree, or does this again in the future walk away.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:31 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Unacceptable. Pack your things. No backward glances.
posted by adamrice at 7:32 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was once broken-up-with over similar circumstances. One night, the woman I was dating got her car stuck in snow a block away from her apartment. On getting a text informing me that she was stuck, I asked if she needed me to come dig her car out, or if she just needed me to listen while she vented her frustration.

(You see, we had a very pointed "do not try to solve my problems without asking me if I want help solving them; I usually just want someone to listen" discussion not three days prior.)

Her immediate response to my query? Roughly, "We're done. I need someone that's less words, more action."

It's moments like these that reveal deep, fundamental incongruities between partners.

Do I miss her? Sure, sometimes. That relationship had its share of fantastic moments to go with the not-so-fantastic ones. But we got back together shortly thereafter, and a similar situation repeated itself weeks later.

Lean from this experience: you were stranded nearby, you politely asked for assistance, you were assured that assistance would be rendered, and... he broke his word to you so he could keep playing video games. That's pretty insane, and you're too old to be dealing with that kind of crap.

DTMFA.
posted by SemiSophos at 7:32 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Don't waste another minute. He's not even a decent friend, never mind life partner.
posted by HotToddy at 7:33 AM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


(I add that I was once stranded in an ice storm and I called my ex - he was the only person I knew who had a car, was local and was home and there were no tow trucks/other help because the storm was so severe. He helped me without question in an ice storm even though we'd broken up a couple of months before, because he was a prince of a fellow. My ex did that for me because he felt that being stranded trumped the break up.)
posted by Frowner at 7:33 AM on June 5, 2012 [17 favorites]


If you can't count on someone to help you change your spare tire because he's too busy playing videogames then you won't be able to count on him for pretty much any other things in life either.

I would recommend ending this relationship so that you can find a partner that is able to support you and be there for you when you need someone to count on. That's what a partnership is.
posted by livinglearning at 7:34 AM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Holy crap. This idiot is not what you want in a life partner, or even a friend. I literally can't imagine a circumstance where I would do that to someone, even someone I didn't like or care about at all. (Not that I'm available for instant assistance to anyone, but I wouldn't say I was coming and then not show, unless I got into a car crash on the way and had to be taken to the Emergency Room). As a mother, I hope his mother is chewing him out big time right now.

(Also, please do enroll in AAA or other roadside assistance just in case, it's not that expensive.)
posted by Daily Alice at 7:34 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ugh. I'm so sorry that this happened - it must have been frustrating and kind of a shock. He's acting like a turd. I think it's definitely dump-worthy. Like HotToddy said right above me - he's not even a decent friend, never mind life partner.
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:35 AM on June 5, 2012


Yea, I sort of agree with SemiSophos. Sounds like he might have been looking for a reason to break up and this was just... convenient.

Walk away.
posted by wrm at 7:36 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unemployed. Video games. Fetching take-out. Stranded. You're a "bitch."

Are you f-ing kidding me?
posted by amanda at 7:37 AM on June 5, 2012 [92 favorites]


When I was about seven months pregnant with my son, I was having a bad day physically. I won't go into the details, but it was unpleasant and I thought I could get through it and work and be normal, but I couldn't. It was far from an emergency, more a --- parts of my body just weren't cooperating thing.

When I called my husband to tell him what was wrong, his first question was, "Do you want me to come get you?"

We didn't own a car at the time.

His coming to get me involved booking a Zip Car, getting to the Zip Car, driving to get me, dropping me off, and bringing the Zip Car back.

But he did it.

Because that's what partners do for each other.

This boyfriend of yours may be a good guy. He may be a good partner in general. He may very well some day be husband material, but he needs to do some growing up first. You don't need to wait for him to do that.
posted by zizzle at 7:39 AM on June 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


Okay, here's an anecdote.

I was driving up a road near our neighborhood and although I tried mightily, I accidentally ran over a squirrel. I felt horrible and started crying. I called Husbunny from the car, he was as distraught as I was, not because he loves squirrels, but becaue I was upset. He told me to come home.

I arrived home and he was waiting in the driveway with a box, a garbage bag and a roll of paper towels. He got in the car, and we went back to see if we could render aid to the squirrel. The poor thing had died.

I felt awful and he soothed me all the way home. He encouraged me to light a candle for the wee beastie and to make a donation to the ASPCA.

So what's my point? He's my husband because my emergency was his emergency. It didn't matter that he thought I was being stupid, or overly sentimental over a furry creature. His number one concern was my welfare. Full stop. He was on-board for whatever it was that I thought was necessary, even if it was icky or beyond what was needed in the situation.

This is the kind of man you want to have a relationship with (or build a life with) not some idiot who is too involved with video games to come help you out of a jam. He didn't even have the courtesy to tell you that he wasn't coming!

DTMFA.

No boyfriend is better than this child.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:40 AM on June 5, 2012 [63 favorites]


Lots of folks seem to think this idiotic behavior is a result of immaturity. BULLSHIT! If a 14 year old pulled a similar stunt he would still be a major ass hole. If a 16 year old did, you would start considering a personality disorder. This guy is a creep. Run away. figure out how you were duped into committing to a creep.
posted by txmon at 7:42 AM on June 5, 2012 [16 favorites]


Turning the situation around in which you needed help and he didn't even have the consideration to come and help you - then making it seem like it's all your fault - is gaslighting in the worst way. It's a form of manipulation and emotional abuse, meant to make you feel bad and question your own actions, and he obviously got you to do that.

However, since you've decided to come out and ask a group, listen to the group. Get out, dump him, kick him out of the apt (unemployed and playing video games instead of interviewing? give me a break). He's young, you're young, these things don't always work.

Make sure to recognize if this happens again in any other relationship you get in. Once I recognized it and took a step back from the relationship I was in, I found that so often if I had a problem or if I needed help and my partner didn't help me, he found a way to turn it around on me and make me feel bad for asking for help or for requesting assistance. You should never be made to feel that way.

Nthing look into AAA or a roadside assistance program. AAA is like, $65 for the year, and totally worth it.
posted by bleachandink at 7:43 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


My wife called me when she had a flat tire and I was in the middle of a big client project that was, to me at least, more important than beating Level 27. I said, "Sorry, guys, wife has a flat tire" and went to help her out and get the tire fixed.

And you know, if someone I vaguely knew, like Facebook friend-level knew, was in my area and asked for help, I'd go help them out (or at least call them a tow truck or roadside assistance if I really and truly Could Not Leave). Because that's what decent people do.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:44 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


In your first paragraph, you state that you love each other very much, and you don't seem to have any other relationship complaints, other than the one you outlined in the question. In your honest opinion (and do be honest with yourself), was this an isolated incident, or is this part of a pattern of events? Has he been inconsiderate like this in the past, or were you genuinely surprised by his selfish behaviour?

I mean, it was definitely a dick move on his part, but if it was out of character for him, then maybe find the reason why he acted like this (and why, all of a sudden, he's asking for more "space"). If it's part of a pattern of behaviour, then by all means DTMFA, if that's what you want to do. But don't just throw away a "very good and happy relationship" (as you say in your words) of 3 years based on one (seemingly) isolated incident. Have a talk, see what's up. You know him much better than any of us here on AskMe, so you will know if he's worth saving the relationship for.
posted by marcusesses at 7:46 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dump him. There are some valid reasons that a friend or boyfriend couldn't help you out with a flat tire. Playing videogames with friends is not one of them. His actions are those of a selfish teenager, not a grown-ass man. And hell, as if it wasn't bad enough that he didn't come help you, he said he would and then forgot. Forgetting to do the laundry because he got caught up in playing videogames with friends? Okay, whatever. Forgetting to get groceries because he got caught up in playing videogames with friends? Okay, but he better order you some pizza. Forgetting to pick up his girlfriend stranded on the side of the road because he got caught up in playing videogames with friends? Absolutely unacceptable.

I wouldn't say that was a dumpable offense all on its own, but on top of that, all this bullshit about him being the one who needs space and being so productive without you there is a giant blinking red sign that he wants out of the relationship, even if he's not fully aware of it himself.
posted by yasaman at 7:49 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


And you like this adolescent loser because why? Ditch with extreme prejudice and from orbit.
posted by spitbull at 7:55 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


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.

DTMFA.

Be ready for the begging and the pleading. What a jerk. Just come back here and reread what you wrote and what we wrote when he's begging you to come back.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:55 AM on June 5, 2012


I don't think that your request for his assistance was unreasonable, but your relationship definitely has some communication issues/passive aggressive behavior on BOTH sides. I don't know if couple's counseling would be helpful but perhaps individual therapy would be of benefit.

I'm not really adding onto the DTMFA pile-on because I think there's quite a bit of context missing, plus I hardly think the internet judgment of a single, convoluted incident in your three year relationship constitutes sound advice. My kneejerk reaction whenever someone asks if they should end a relationship is usually yes, because that desire came from somewhere, yes?

But, what do your friends/parents think?
posted by sm1tten at 7:56 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Good for you for going to stay with your parents for now, rather than staying with him.

Definitely not unreasonable to ask him for help. I mean, I think if for some important reason (work-related? health-related?) he couldn't help, or if he didn't answer the phone or something, that wouldn't be unforgivable. But distraction? I actually can't imagine myself getting distracted enough by anything (especially video games--c'mon!) to forget to help my boyfriend if he needed help.
posted by mlle valentine at 7:56 AM on June 5, 2012


Leave.

Don't negotiate, just go. Years from now when you are in a relationship with a loving a supportive person who values you as you should be valued, the both of you will laugh about this jerk.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:59 AM on June 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


I asked him if I had done something wrong and he said that I hadn't, that he was just having "weird head issues".

His "weird head issues" are his feeling guilty about being such a dick, and scrambling to justify his behavior and shift the blame to you. That can be quite a mental challenge to pull off smoothly. That's his "issue."

Do you want to take another stab at trying to get him to see his ridiculous behavior? Another try at getting him to apologize? He really does need to grow here if he wants to be with you.

In fact, I would put it that way: "I am hurt by the way you dropped the ball on this and the way you have spun it into a failure on my part. I need you to understand how I see this. And I need you to learn from this and commit to doing better in the future."

Then listen to his response.

Then: "If you still feel you were totally justified in this situation, and see no need to change your mind, then I'm sorry but we need to break up."
posted by General Tonic at 8:00 AM on June 5, 2012 [19 favorites]


If I called my partner with a flat tire and needed assistance, he would be there as fast as he could. It's worth noting that my partner doesn't drive and would probably have to walk/bus/cab to get there. But he would. And if his friends called me a bitch in front of him, they would be instantly thrown out of our house (and I do literally mean "thrown"). And on top of all of this, now he's playing mind games with you via text.

Dump this silly little boy immediately.
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:00 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


He's shown his true colors. You should break up with this douchebag immediately. He probably deserves a swift kick in the nuts on your way out, too.
posted by gnutron at 8:01 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, everyone is right. You should dump him. But let me add two tangential bits of advice for your future (better) relationships:

1. Do not discuss your relationship at 3AM. You are more emotional and irritable when you are tired.

2. NEVER discuss your relationship by text message. It is too limiting a mode of communication for big discussions like that. Call or talk in person.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:02 AM on June 5, 2012 [18 favorites]


I'm a woman and I haven't tried to change a tire in years (don't drive anymore). But if someone called me stranded with a flat tire I'd try to figure out if I could help and if I couldn't help I'd find someone who could. Even someone I didn't particularly like.

Something isn't right here. He's saying that he thought you could fix the flat yourself, or walk to the store, but that's not what he said when you called. He said he was coming.

I'd let him go. The world is full of men (and women) who would never leave their partner stranded and waiting for them, and who if they couldn't help* would immediately tell you that and help you figure out a plan B.

That "your" friends called you a bitch in front of him, and he said nothing about it - that's not how a good partner should behave. They're his friends, not yours. Dump them too.

As mentioned above, don't let it turn into a big discussion. Just get out.

*For legitimate reasons, like being 50 miles away. Not playing video games.
posted by bunderful at 8:04 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree that the tire thing is dumpable. And that the 3am argument is crazy drama, and there's some (intentional or not) gaslighting going on about the situation.

But I would dump him because he f-ed up bad enough to get you to stay with your parents, and yet hasn't put any effort (aside from texts) into fixing what went wrong.

Let this relationship die. Meet some new people. Have fun being single for a while, then date someone worth your time.
posted by freshwater at 8:04 AM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Not having read the thread, I will likely pile on everyone else here. "Being distracted by videogames" is no excuse for anything at all, much less not coming to pick you up. That's neglectful in the extreme. Then, turning it around and making it your problem? Way beyond the pale.

I realize you're had a long-ish relationship with this guy, and you're young, so it seems like you'll never find another, but boy howdy, I'd prefer being alone to having to deal with what he's offering you.

Dump, dump, dump, dump.
posted by LN at 8:06 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had an ex like this... leaving me stranded and overhearing him and friends bitch aboutme. it just got worse.
posted by KogeLiz at 8:06 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


It is a slap in the face to promise help to someone and then not show up. There could be a discussion about whether it's reasonable to expect him to drop everything to help you -- most of us think it's absolutely reasonable, maybe he doesn't, and maybe you can find a pattern for your relationship that works for you with this in mind. But in no universe can you tell your partner that you're on your way, and then just not come.

Listen to his excuses. He "got distracted" and that's why he didn't come -- but he shouldn't HAVE to come because blah blah fucking blah. He had an imaginary discussion with you after he promised to come help, and the conclusion was that he didn't have to come, but he didn't feel the need to inform you. It's as if you ceased to exist once he hung up the phone; the only way in which you matter to him is how you affect HIS life and HIS actions. All he can talk about is how his life changes when you move in and out of it; there is no conception of your needs in his head. He's deeply deeply self-centered and he needs a wake-up call that you do not exist as a satellite that orbits around him.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:11 AM on June 5, 2012 [29 favorites]


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

Are you really interested in raising a teen to act like a man? Get a spare tire, a AAA or some other auto club membership and kick his sorry ass to the curb.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:12 AM on June 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


If all I was doing was socializing with friends, I'd stop that to go and help a casual acquaintance with a flat tire, never mind someone I was in a serious, committed relationship with.

Moreover, once I had actually said I was coming to help someone with a flat tire, I would drop anything and everything to help even a casual acquaintance with a flat tire.

Your boyfriend is an ass and he's gaslighting you to make your totally, completely reasonable expectations of his behaviour seem incorrect and unreasonable. If you don't break up with him just for being an inconsiderate jerk, then please do break up with him for being an inconsiderate jerk who is trying to make you feel bad about his inconsiderate jerkiness, because that's a level of emotional manipulation that's completely beyond the pale.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:14 AM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


One Christmas Eve, I was working late and it started snowing and the manager at my store said, "It looks like it's starting to come down, you should get going before the roads get bad." I ended up spinning off of the highway into a huge snowdrift. There were hardly any cars on the road, and this was before "pretty much everyone has a cellphone"-era. So I sat there pretty nervous, and then a guy in a snowplow stopped. He had gone to the airport in the snowplow to pick up his dad. He then pulled my car out of the snow, made sure I was ok to get home, and when I tried to thank him, just said "If my wife were in a similar situation, I'd want someone to help her out."

The point is, the example you've given is a textbook case of when a partner should drop everything and come help. And I agree, this isn't just a case of being 22 years old and needing to grow up. This is being incredibly inconsiderate, in ways that even teenagers should not get away with.
posted by bardophile at 8:16 AM on June 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


The problem I see isn't so much the fact that he didn't show up- sometimes we can't always drop everything- but that he SAID he would, and then didn't. And then tried to turn it around on you. If he didn't want to help, he could have said so.
posted by gjc at 8:16 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I posed this part of your question to my 15-year-old son:

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.

His response: "I would stop everything, maybe ask my friends if they wanted to come with and help out, and I'd go get her." He said your boyfriend should have dropped everything and not given you any flak about it whatsoever.

My 15-year-old son, who has had one girlfriend in his life (for about a month, at that) would be more considerate to you than your 22-year-old boyfriend.
posted by cooker girl at 8:16 AM on June 5, 2012 [74 favorites]


Unacceptable. I actually think the absolute worst part is that he didn't stand up for you when his douchey friends called you a bitch. What the actual fuck?

You deserve an adult boyfriend. I'm very sorry you were treated this way.
posted by pazazygeek at 8:20 AM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's weird.

Very weird that he didn't stop his video games and get you. He is a child. Maybe he was concerned what his friends would think. Maybe he was trying to impress them in some weird way, or not let them down.

It's childish of him to tell you he needs space but he doesn't want you to leave. Seems manipulative to me. Seems like he knows it was jerkish not to get you when you were stranded and instead of apologizing he thought he would try to blame you and play with your emotions.

You seem like the more adult person in this relationship. When you ask your partner to do something, he is allowed to say yes, no, or maybe. When you ask him to get you on the side of the road he should be dropping everything, unless he is in the middle of surgery or something, or in a class or a job. You have a right to be pissed off. It's okay to be mad. In a perfect world when he told me he needed space I would have laughed, told him to fuck off, and stayed in the bed instead of weeping on the floor. I know it's not that cut and dried, and there are feelings at play here, but don't let this guy manipulate you.

Good luck.
posted by Fairchild at 8:22 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


You are dating an extremely self-centered child. Couples counseling will absolutely not make him an empathetic adult; couples counseling pretty much only works when both partners are already empathetic adults.

I know you care for him very much -- there's nothing wrong with that. But it is really time for you to consider that whatever qualities you want in a partner (such as support, reliability, kindness, trustworthiness, respectfulness -- whatever is important to you) will only be found with someone else in a different relationship. Your boyfriend does not in any way embody these qualities and, based on what you're written, there is basically zero chance he will embody them at any time in the foreseeable future.

This is basically a kinder, gentler way of saying DTMFA. Because you deserve SO much better, and there are literally millions of men who would never do to a partner what yours did to you.
posted by scody at 8:23 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


>I want to know if asking for immediate help from your partner is as unreasonable as he is making it out to be?

It is true that you cannot always get immediate help when you ask your partner for it. When my husband and I were both ill with a stomach flu, he couldn't go down to the store and buy me some juice and crackers, even though it would have helped a lot. When my husband had a nosebleed that wouldn't stop, I couldn't drive him to the doctor's because I couldn't drive (and his car was manual so I couldn't even fake it.)

But if you can't help, you SAY SO. If you can help, but not for two hours, you SAY SO. If you can help in some different way than was asked, like calling a tow truck, you offer to do that. And if you promise help and don't deliver, you BEG FORGIVENESS and DO LOTS OF NICE THINGS TO MAKE UP FOR IT and then APOLOGIZE SOME MORE. I've screwed up in dopey ways like that before (though not to quite the same extent), and I still cringe to think of it. The fact that he's not cringing is a bad sign.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:26 AM on June 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


His response only makes sense if your emergency was "I need help picking out the color of these curtains RIGHT NOW! Bring a pillow from the couch!"

His response makes no sense when your emergency actually is "I have broke down 10 miles from anywhere and need help."

Dump. And if he manages to come around and see the error of his ways, under no circumstances is any friend who called you a bitch to be allowed in your home again. I suspect there was some stupid male bravado egging him on here and the dude that called you that is probably at the root of it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:26 AM on June 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


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.

If I were not the most cynical person in my social circle, I would have great difficulty believing that this situation actually occurred. As it stands, I had to suspend belief to type this out. This is the worst non-abuse, non-cheating relationship issue I have ever heard of. It is an extreme outlier for the way adults behave toward one another. You should not only DTMFA, but you should laugh heartily about the idea that such a person exists (over drinks with friends). I mean this whole situation sounds like a retread of a piece of a Judd Apatow script that a scavenger picked out of the recycling bin to use as a napkin.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:28 AM on June 5, 2012 [32 favorites]


Um, why are YOU moving out? Same reason you're making a bed on the floor when he needs 'space'? (wtf) Same reason you're out getting the brats their take out while they loll around in front of a screen (lady, you even brought him back food!) It's no accident that these kids all pulled the 'bitch' routine - they/he sees you as a controlling mother harshing his vibe, who doesn't, like, get tell him what to do, man.

So, tell him that bring 'productive' is packing up his shit n moving out.
posted by honey-barbara at 8:29 AM on June 5, 2012 [29 favorites]


He's not an adult yet. He moved straight from undergraduate to living with you and him mom is still available to bail out not just him, but his girlfriend. He needs to spend time living on his own to learn what taking care of yourself really involves. He may yet turn into a responsible individual. Or not. The wife of a friend of ours gave birth in the parking lot of a 7-11 because he just couldn't get his shit together to leave for the hospital.
posted by BibiRose at 8:30 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you let him get away with this, then all you can expect from the rest of your relationship is more of the same -- and probably worse, as he pushes the envelope to see just how much he can get away with.

Maybe he grows up... someday... but it won't happen quickly. I don't know that I'd recommend hanging around for up to a decade of this just to see if he does.
posted by Pufferish at 8:32 AM on June 5, 2012


Are you really interested in raising a teen to act like a man?

I couldn't say it any better than that. If I were feeling exceptionally generous I might extend the benefit of the doubt of the original situation to a combination of super-flakiness plus misunderstanding of your actual situation. That alone is a stretch.

But the real screaming red hazard light is his behavior in the aftermath. Starting with "our friends made some stupid noises about me acting like a bitch". Hold the fuck up. Woe fucking betide any "friend" of mine that says in my presence anything like my wife is acting like a bitch. Even if I happen to actually feel like she is "acting like a bitch" in that moment, okay?

Then all this equivocating bullshit? There are only two interpretations: either he consciously or unconsciously wants out of the relationship and is basically leveraging the first ripe fight to move things in that direction, or he ostensibly wants the relationship - the good, fun parts of it that is, but doesn't want to deal with grown up responsibilities of being in a relationship, like stepping up to a bare minimum of being there for you. Not shutting down video game time to help your partner in distress is bad. Letting your friends bad-mouth your partner about being unhappy about that is worse. Shunning any glimmer of apology and making it about how you aren't self-reliant enough, or don't plan your unplannable mishaps well enough, or how he needs more space in the apartment, or how "productive" he is when you aren't around (WTF?! productive at what - being unemployed? Rocking Diablo?). He ain't the one. If you were my sister, my ex or my friend I'd be telling you to Get Out.
posted by nanojath at 8:39 AM on June 5, 2012 [19 favorites]


It's such a cliche to say that partners have to also be friends, but in this case, what that means is that you should never tolerate from boyfriends what you wouldn't tolerate from friends.

You by the side of the road is an emergency. E-MER-GEN-CY. In case of emergency, you get off the couch. Like, right then! Not after you finish that level! Emergency! Woop woop woop!

You're supposed to be self-reliant enough to change a tire? When you didn't have a spare? To walk to get one when he had no idea how far that was?

If you called a friend and said, "I am by the side of the road and I need your help," your friend would PUT. DOWN. THE. GAME. CONTROLLER. That's what his mother did, for the love of little green apples. If he were only in the middle of playing video games when I called in a situation like this, my best friend would drive ten miles to do this for me. Fifty. A hundred. Without hesitating, right then, because he couldn't sit there and play video games knowing I was STANDING BY THE ROAD. My emergency would be his distraction, you dig? That's, like, fundamentally what caring about other people is about. And your boyfriend should treat you at least as well as my best friend would treat me.

People can be weird stooges sometimes, and if you had come home and he had said. "Oh my God, I got distracted and I am a complete jackass in this situation and I am so sorry and I will rub your feet for two hours," then maybe. But all this other stuff? Blaming you, and then wanting space, and then denying that even means "don't get in bed with me," and then making you completely freak out?

This ain't worth it at your age. It pains me to say it, but let him go. He's not even ready to be a particularly reliable friend, and that's only the first step in being a good boyfriend.

By the way, it also sounds like he has complete jackasses for friends also, and that they think they can be disrespectful to you in your house to your face and that's allowed, and that's a bad sign as well.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 8:41 AM on June 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


This whole story is a single moment in time, taken out of your whole relationship. So I only have that to go on here. Nevertheless, I'm pretty confident in my appraisal of this.

Dude has checked out in some major way, or resents you for some reason we cannot possibly know, or really whatever his deal is here. He tried to paint this as some sort of calm, rational argument - that it's unreasonable for you to expect immediate assistance - but the truth is that this is clear and obvious bullshit. Emergencies happen. What he was trying to say was that it's not reasonable for you to ask for immediate help from him, because he just kind of doesn't respect you a whole lot.

I mean:

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.

Girl. Come on. Think about this. Think about which specific situation he's talking about here. "Oh, you're stranded with a flat tire, not ten miles from our house? You know I'm playing with the loud blinking toy box with my friends, right? SIGH. Fine. Yeah I guess I'll just drop everything and come help you."

And even then, he didn't even do it.

The proper response to that phone call is, "Oh shit guys, my girlfriend's on the phone and she's stranded with a flat. Let's put this on hold a second - maybe grab some snacks while we're out, yeah?" He may be an immature little shit but there's no way he doesn't know this. He just doesn't see a problem with treating you with contempt as soon as you represent even a minor inconvenience to him.

In other words, he thinks of you as a vector for his gratification, to whatever end. The second you start acting like a person, or you ask for something other than exactly what he wants to be doing at that moment, he pretty much just wishes you'd go away.

Something else is going on here, but it's not your problem, and it will drive you insane if you try to figure it out because he's not dealing square with you. Just leave and don't look back. Don't let it turn into an argument, don't let him try to talk you out of it. Break up with him.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:41 AM on June 5, 2012 [20 favorites]


One part of your story that jumped out at me was that after you had waited on the roadside for a while and he wasn't showing up, you didn't call *him* back to see what was taking him so long. You called someone else. What was your thought process there? Did you know instinctively that he was a lost cause, and so you moved on? Why did you not call *him* back? (You don't need to answer here. Just answer in your own head.)
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:41 AM on June 5, 2012 [30 favorites]


You are not his girlfriend. If he treats you like that he is not your boyfriend. You are someone he has sex with and who gets his food for him. Respect yourself enough to dump his sad little boy ass, give him all the space he wants and then some.
posted by wwax at 8:44 AM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'd been dating my (now) wife for a little over a year when I got pulled over and put in jail in western Kansas. We live in St. Louis, 8 hours away. She dropped everything, called two friends to get enough bail money out of the ATM, and drove straight out there to get me. We got home so late that she had to miss an (unpaid) day of work, too.

This jagoff wouldn't put down the joystick to get you a tire. Dump him.
posted by notsnot at 8:46 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Your boyfriend is totally and completely in the wrong here. It is inexcusable that he just left you there by the side of the road. On top of that, it is such a dick move to then change the conversation later to how he "needs more space" around the apartment.

If I were you I'd break up with him and move on. You're young and deserve to be with someone who values you.
posted by barnoley at 8:47 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ruthless Bunny is exactly right--YOUR emergency should be HIS emergency. No fucking exceptions. And I wonder if you reconsider your relationship, you'll find lots of examples of this sort of selfishness.

My anecdote: my partner called me at 2:00 a.m. once, saying that he couldn't finish the bike ride he was on and that he'd just tried to eat and couldn't keep anything down. I happily drove an hour and a half to pick him up and an hour and a half to get us home. I was so glad that he knew his limits, knew when to call it quits, and knew he could rely on me to be there for him. That's love. Forgetting your girlfriend is stranded on the side of the road is not love.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 8:47 AM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Has anyone mentioned you should DTMFA? Because you should.

IT IS NEVER UNACCEPTABLE TO ASK FOR IMMEDIATE HELP FROM YOUR PARTNER. Not during a relationship fight, not during the Superbowl, not during a rainstorm. Never.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:52 AM on June 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


I almost never answer these questions because I always feel like context is left out and they turn into a peanut gallery of mefites speculating about hypothetical problems in the relationship.

This one, however, is so mindblowingly clear. Like everyone above - I would immediately stop playing videogames to help a casual friend, much less my partner. Your partner is at best oblivious/immature and at worst simply doesn't care about you. Lose the loser.
posted by Wretch729 at 8:53 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm going to go against the grain here, sort of, and say that you don't need to necessarily dump him right now.

He did an incredibly stupid and immature thing, and instead of just owning up to it, he dug in and stupidly and immaturely tried to defend it. And, judging by his text, he still is doing that.

But there is a difference between doing something colossally stupid and immature and something that is malicious and toxic. So I think that this is something that can be forgiven, provided he gets his head out of his ass and understands that what he did was wrong.

Upthread, someone asked what I thought was a very good question: is this behavior a completely isolated event, or is it any way typical of other behaviors? Because, frankly, the part that bothers me isn't the fact that he sat on his ass and played video games with his friends while you were stuck by the side of the road, but the fact that he somehow thinks he can defend this.

In short, sometimes people we love are total dumbasses. People have bad days and do stupid things. We can love them and stay with them in spite of it. But when their typical response is to stubbornly defend that dumbass-ness to the end, they are immature and unlikely to be good partners.

You should know him well enough by now to know whether this was like a one-off moment where he acted like a total asshole, or if he's the kind of immature guy who won't admit his mistakes.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:54 AM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


What everyone else said. A looong time ago I went through a careless phase during which I locked my keys in my car two or three times over the course of a summer. I'd have to call my now-husband to come with his copy of my car key and let me in. (1. this was before remote openers; 2. eventually I got a copy made and stuck it in my wallet.)

It really bugged him. He was really annoyed. He groused about it. He dropped everything and came to help me when it happened. Even the second or third time.

It's fine for him not to like it, but he still has to do it.
posted by Occula at 8:55 AM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


My friend's car broke down on the side of the road between the town we lived in in Mississippi and Memphis one Sunday morning. He called me to tell me he'd broken down. He wasn't even asking for a ride, just some advice. I told him to hang tight and drove the TWO HOURS to get his happy ass from the side of the road. Now, this was just a friend, mind you. We had his car towed to the nearest shop and four days later, I drove him back to pick it up.

And I would do that for any friend. If my partner called me, I'd walk over fire for them. That's what partners are for. DTMFA. And I never say that.
posted by patheral at 8:57 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have friends - people with whom I have no financial, sexual, or other enmeshed relationships - who will leave work to take me to the hospital or help with car trouble or come get me if I'm having a panic attack. And I would do the same for them. That's a choice I and they make, to choose to surround ourselves with those kind of people. We may not be the most cool or socially graceful, but we are kind and we don't leave each other alone on the side of the road.

You also get to make that choice in your life.

Now, as for his bullshit afterwards, I will tell you this: he got busted being a complete douchebag and is creating defensive drama to distract you from what an asshole he was (and doing kind of a crap job of it, too). That turns a bad decision into...he's too young to really be a bad person yet, but let's call it taking one firm, chosen step down that road. Maybe he'll learn from this. Lots of people have to learn how not to be selfish, it doesn't come instinctively.

But you still get to choose what kind of people you want in your life. You don't have to be anybody else's training wheels.

(I can't imagine having any ability to concentrate on anything if I knew my husband was on the side of the road - with cars passing by not paying attention - with a flat tire. I'd go sit with him to wait for AAA. He's done the same for me.)
posted by Lyn Never at 9:03 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm going to go against the grain here, sort of, and say that you don't need to necessarily dump him right now.

I'm gonna go ahead and re-align with the grain and say yes, yes, you do need to necessarily dump him right now, because getting away with this shit once is all this very immature, wholly infantile, ill-prepared for adulthood and its incumbent responsibilities person needs to keep treating his girlfriend worse than most people would treat someone they actively dislike.

He is 100% in the wrong and he needs to suffer the consequences for his appalling choices. Otherwise, it will be more of the same indefinitely, and you will have signed up for it knowing you had the choice and opportunity to demand a better standard of treatment going forward in life and didn't take it because you wanted to give an asshole a chance to act like a non-asshole when he has proven to you in your time of need that he is, in fact, an asshole.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 9:07 AM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wow. You were getting your unemployed boyfriend take-out and he couldn't come help you with a flat tire because he was busy playing video games? Wow wow wow. DTMFA.
posted by amro at 9:10 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh and that babble about where his head is at, and waking you up at 3am demanding to talk? He is testing you out to see if you will replace his mom. Don't pass that test.
posted by BibiRose at 9:11 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


"the part that bothers me the most," that should have read.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:12 AM on June 5, 2012


Some day he will (hopefully) look back on this and say to himself, "Holy crap, I was a huge asshole." You do not have to wait around for him to get there. The way he treated you was just terrible. Beyond a simple "human mistake."
posted by anya32 at 9:12 AM on June 5, 2012


When I was 22, my boyfriend at the time locked himself out of his running car on the side of the interstate 90 miles from our town. He called me from a pay phone. I immediately left home, went to his house for his spare car key (broke in, actually, which involved kicking in a boarded-up window, and hoisting myself through it), and then I drove 90 miles out to find him by the side of the road. He got back into his car, we drove caravan-style back to our town, and then we treated ourselves to giant bowls of pasta for our trouble and stress. It's a funny story, but it also made me feel super great to be able to help him out like that.

You deserve better than your boyfriend. Dump him, cut off all contact with him, and go have some fun.
Also, send a nice card to your boyfriend's mom to thank her for helping you out.
posted by aabbbiee at 9:13 AM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wowwwww.

Just in case the 100+ unanimous responses haven't convinced you... ever see the movie Bridesmaids? In it, our heroine is in an unhealthy FWB relationship with the biggest, most prickish, most egotistical douche ever, played (hilariously) by Jon Hamm. When our heroine is stranded at the roadside and has no one to call but him... the douche shows up.

Even THAT GUY showed up. Your boyfriend of 3 years, who purports to love and care for you, did not show up.

And age is not a thing here. Every boyfriend (heck, friend) I've ever had, from my teen years onwards, would have come to help if I were in that situation. This dude is not treating you right AT ALL.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 9:15 AM on June 5, 2012 [40 favorites]


Wow, that is a painful but true point about that Jon Hamm character. Daaaaaamn.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:20 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just read this to my 11 year-old daughter. She thinks you should break up with him. This is no way a "friend" should treat you.
posted by Sassyfras at 9:23 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dude's an asshole.
posted by natteringnabob at 9:25 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow. To give you perspective, I would (and have) gone immediately to help my partner in that exact circumstance. Hell, I've gone to help my partner's friend with a flat tire when needed.

I think your first instinct was correct -- he does want out of this relationship, and he's too immature to do it honorably. It's time to cut him lose, and do not under any circumstances get back together unless he can explain himself.

PS -- his friends are jerks. He leaves you stranded and somehow you're the bitch? Dump the whole lot of them.
posted by snickerdoodle at 9:25 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, ou don't necessarily need to tell us, but did you tell his mother that you had called him and he didn't come get you? Didn't you put it that way to her?

Because if I was his mother --- boy, would he be hearing about this from me, too.

Point is, if his mother's reaction was even vaguely similar to ours, if she was put out and upset or wondering WTF herself, take that as a clue that she didn't raise him to be a jerk and take that as a sign that it's time to get out.
posted by zizzle at 9:25 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, so I read enough of these responses to get the idea that they're all DTMFA. And I don't disagree. BUT. There are a couple of possibilities here:

1. The problem is your friends. They're assholes. Your BF said, "GF is stranded, must go get her!" and they said "aw hell man you are pussy whipped god so bad hahaha" and, because he's still a kid, he decided to wait for a bit to prove how manly he is. This may not be a dumping offense if it's never happened before and he's willing to admit to it. You can talk him through sticking up for himself a little and maybe get new friends.

2. How do you feel about drugs? Is it possible they were getting high at the time and he wanted to sober up, but knows you hate drugs and didn't want to tell you? Just a thought. This, too, may be something to talk through instead of dumping.

But, if he truly is unapologetic and truly believes he was in the right? DTMFA. It's not your job to raise him.
posted by AmandaA at 9:28 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


In 10 years, your (ex)boyfriend is going to look back on this moment with embarrassment. You, on the other hand, will have a hilarious story about that shitty guy you dated when you were younger. This is way unacceptable of him.
posted by rosa at 9:30 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Self-reliant" isn't in it when you don't have a spare. What were you supposed to do with your self-reliant ways, crochet yourself a spare tire out of roadside litter?

Your boyfriend acted like an incredibly shitty friend. Hell, your boyfriend acted like a shitty acquaintance. In fact, he was kind of a jerk even if you were a stranger; I have given strangers rides to gas stations/tire stores/home when they were stranded with a flat tire, and I am hardly Girl Scout Of The Year.

Your boyfriend is a massive, self-involved douchecanoe. You know what to do.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:31 AM on June 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


I haven't read the whole thread, but I wanted to draw more attention to the responses from bedhead, bardophile, and cooker girl. 15 year olds, strangers, and FWB's have found themselves in your bf's situation and dropped everything to help. Your boyfriend's mom knew that you needed help now, not 'when it's convenient.'

There are a lot of people out there who will drop everything and help someone who means far less to them than (presumably) you mean to your boyfriend. He sounds like an incredibly selfish and insensitive wanker. DTMFA.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 9:34 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and: use General Tonic's script. It is a good one.
posted by AmandaA at 9:34 AM on June 5, 2012


I have a slightly different take: He's trying to break up with you but doesn't know how.
"You're unreasonable for expecting me to stop playing video games and help you."
"Stop crying and get in bed like a normal person."
"By the way, I need some space."
"I feel so much better without you around."

Especially if your relationship was great and this incident was out of the ordinary, I think it may have been his wake-up call that he needs out of this relationship.
posted by chickenmagazine at 9:38 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am sad for you that you don't think you're worth more than a video game.

His argument of being self reliant is possibly the dumbest attempt at manipulation I have ever read in my life. Why you were calling is irrelevant.

You called and said, "I really need your help."

He then:
1) Chose a video game over you without as much calling to check in.
2) Allowed other people to ridicule you. (and this seems to be an ongoing thing.... at the very least he was talking smack about the situation to his friends)
3) Tried to manipulate you to make himself feel better for screwing up.

That is the action of either a) a person who doesn't love you or b) a complete moron. Regardless, I don't think you want to bother with that person any longer.

It is up to you to decide if you deserve more than this and not settle for someone who would do that to you, but I hope you know that you do deserve better.
posted by haplesschild at 9:40 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Save the good memories. Lose the bad boyfriend.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 9:54 AM on June 5, 2012


Kick this giant manbaby to the curb, stat. I have EX boyfriends who treat me better than this, ffs.
posted by elizardbits at 9:55 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agree that he's immature and doesn't know how to prioritize the relationship and seems to be thinking about maybe getting out of the relationship. Agree that he's using this first major schism to boldly go where he hasn't gone before and float some "what if we weren't together" feelers out there ("space," "productive").

Sometimes young people go through this. They don't have any relationship negotiation skills yet and don't know how to be honest and say what they need and plain-deal with a partner. He's caught between his desire to be freewheeling like his "friends" (these people sound terrible BTW) and to have everything good and nice and cuddly as you normally have. But it's you that has to make all the sacrifices, apparently, which will allow him to keep one foot in the grownup world and one foot in the bronies world.

It's not uncommon, and one reason people are leaping all over this with DTMFA is that it's kind an easy one to parse.

When I had just started my new job, I was commuting home on the train and accidentally took a train that went down the wrong branch line to an endpoint 50 miles away from my house. Stupid mistake, but I was totally new to the system. Once I realized it I got off at the next stop. The train in the other direction wasn't coming for an hour, so I called my partner thinking he could be there in about 30 minutes and bring me home without me having to go back to the station, take another train home, and then walk home which would have been 2 hours or so. He happily set off to get me, even though he doesn't like driving, particularly at night, and in a totally unfamiliar place. I was perfectly safe and, in fact, had another option to get home, just not a real convenient one. Even so, he was happy to come get me.

Unbeknownst to me, this station was the smallest train station in the smallest obscure burg off the most inconsequential set of old county highways in the most remote section of the region. He didn't have GPS at the time and printed out some Google directions, but because of all the Y-forks and weird turns, he kept getting lost and going in circles. He stopped several times to ask directions, and he noticed he kept getting the same response: He'd ask "Can you help me get from here to Podunk Station?" and the convenience store clerk or bar owner would say "Podunk STATION? Oooh, honey." It was just one of those can't-get-there-from-here places, and we were both totally unfamiliar with this new region. Oh, also, it was a dark October evening, and also it was bucketing down rain and blowing like stink.

Long story short, after about 3 hours of rambling around, he finally pulled in and found me. I was extremely happy to see him arrive and he was never happier to give up the wheel. When we got back to our town it was 11 and all the restaurants were closed. We went to a bar and ate some stale tortilla chips and salsa for dinner, very happy the whole thing was over. We still laugh about it.

You want that kind of partnership. If this guy can't grow up, step up, and give it to you when you ask, no BSing and manipulating, then you can't make him. If he's not ready to do that he's not ready for an adult relationship. The trick with people like this is they're so not ready they don't even know how to say they're not ready - that's why the manipulating, to make you think maybe it's you. It's not you. You might have to be the mature one, not only in acting like a partner, but in recognizing the situation and taking the lead in managing it, even if that means a breakup, which likely it will. He doesn't sound like he has the wherewithal to manage that well for himself, and will make a mess of it if he tries, dragging it out, being inconsistent, being dramatic, and throwing blame wherever it'll stick.
posted by Miko at 9:56 AM on June 5, 2012 [35 favorites]


Yep, you need to DTMFA. But also - all that stuff he's giving you about how he still loves you, doesn't want to break up, etc? He just wants to be able to keep having sex with you.

And my anecdote: I was riding my bike last summer on a 100°+ day, and started to feel sick. I regularly ride 13 miles a day, in all kinds of weather. But that day, I felt like I had heat stroke. I had no one to call except my ex, with whom I had (and still have) a very antagonistic relationship. As in, he hates my guts and to this day blames me for everything from his alcoholism to his bi-polar diagnosis, to his inability to get along with his coworkers and his total lack of friends. And guess what, he came and picked me up and drove me home. And by the way, he's a total video game addict. He stopped playing to come pick me up that day.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:57 AM on June 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


What he did is indefensible, and, as noted above, is something you can DMTFA without any guilt. EVERYONE screws up at some point (note: this is a huge screw-up on his part); it is how they handle their ownership of the situation that lets you know if they are an adult or a child though. You said you are meeting him on Wednesday for a discussion about the relationship. If you have any hope of the relationship continuing I would expect - at a minimum - from him:

-A contrite, unprompted apology from him for his behaviour before, during and after your phone call/stranding.

-No discussion of his "needing space" or "weird head issues"; this is about you and your feelings, at best he can apologise for bringing them up at an innapropriate moment as a defensive/deflective technique

-Part of his "productive effort" the past few days will have been doing tasks that benefit both of you or, better yet, just you. If he spent all his time on just himself ... well that lets you know who the priority in his life is, doesn't it? The house better be immaculate as well.

-He has a job. Doesn't matter what, he is working and contributing equally to the finances (just out of curiousity, did you guys move in together when he was unemployed, did you have a plan of what to do if either of you could no longer contribute financially?).

-His friends apologise to you, in writing, on paper in a proper letter for calling you a bitch. Said friends are also either dumped or downgraded to bare aquaitences that have now lost their house priviledges. Get a better class of friends.

I would go to the meeting and see if he has taken concrete actions like those I have suggested. Promises of better behaviour in future or doing something you have suggested does not count. He has to have spent this time apart actually working towards making your relationship better through multiple actions that are for your benefit. I kinda get the feeling he is more of a talker than do-er.

You may decide to continue this relationship, however you would be well within your rights to say there will be no second chances; if he doesn't meet your now much higher expectations you will walk out the door. Have your exit plan ready and do not invest any more time or money in him than necessary. HE should be making all the effort, going out for take out for you, etc.

Be honest with yourself though, this is probably part of a pattern of behaviour he has trained you to accept (as evidenced by you giving him his food instead of throwing it in his face in a big WTF), if your relationship continues will both of you really make the effort to change the dynamic that much or will you slip back into old, dysfunctional ways? Sometimes relationships get broken past repair and the best thing for both parties is to walk away.

Good luck, you deserve so much better than this.
posted by saucysault at 9:58 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would DTMFA, but keep his mother.
posted by jb at 10:02 AM on June 5, 2012 [27 favorites]


Here's another couple of anecdotes for you.

1) my car battery died in the parking lot at the grocery store. I knew all of two people in this city...My then boyfriend (who didn't have a car at the time) and my best friend's ex boyfriend. My best friend's ex-boyfriend dropped what he was doing to come jump start my car and then followed me to the auto parts store to make sure I got there ok.

2) a couple years later my car battery died again. Now the only person I really know that could feasibly help me is my ex-boyfriend. He was there in about 20 minutes to help me.

This is what adults do. Adults prioritize emergencies over stupid shit.
posted by magnetsphere at 10:07 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


At this point, it's adding to the pile on, but... I'm an adult with the capability to handle my own problems, but here's a story about my kick-ass wife. My wife was sick and immediately came for me vs. your boyfriend playing video games and abandoning you.

Adding in the part about him not putting the immediate kibosh on his friends calling you a bitch, in your shared apartment? I'm sorry, but WTF? This guy is not a keeper. People can change, but he's likely 5-10 years and a few other relationships away.
posted by nobeagle at 10:07 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


When I read the headline for your question before clicking on it, I assumed you were going to be talking about how you and your partner got into a fight because you wanted him/her to drop everything and help you ZOMG RIGHT NOW to rearrange your living room or paint designs on the kitchen cabinets. Things I have seen my girlfriends get into fights with their male partners over.

Yeah, no. He left you stranded by the side of the road while you were out PICKING UP DINNER FOR HIS LAZY ASS? And failed to come and pick you up because he was playing video games? And his MOM had to come get you? Then he pulls this sucky baby I need space shit? YEAH, NO. Trust me, you do not need to stick around for the rest of this relationship. It doesn't get better.

When I was 22, I was in a really terrible relationship with an immature, emotionally abusive jackhole. I was working two jobs to pay our bills and would take the bus home from my retail management job and then walk over a mile from the stop to our apartment. This was between 11PM and 1AM at night. Did I mention we lived in a really shit neighborhood? He would never come pick me up. He flatly refused. Not if it was raining, snowing, sleeting, 100 degrees out, 20 degrees out, not if someone had been murdered at my bus stop the night before (not uncommon). The reason? He didn't want to lose his parking spot. I stuck around for over a year. It was a mistake. I deserved better. You deserve better.
posted by Aquifer at 10:07 AM on June 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


I am a pretty even-tempered person about a lot of things. Don't sweat the small stuff. But when eventually something comes along that is serious, I own my reaction and I don't feel bad about it. I don't just blow up, I do it spectacularly.

In your situation, I would not only NOT have given him the damn takeout food, because hell no.

I would have told his friends to GTFO because this was going to get ugly and they did not wanna be there, and demanded to know why he didn't show up, like he promised to. I would have pointed out how humiliating it was to have to call his MOM because he wasn't man enough to rise to the occasion. Admittedly, I would have been a crying mess during all of this, too. Those are normal reactions when someone you love hurts you, and nothing to be ashamed of.

He should have kicked the friends out himself. He should have admitted he was wrong. He should have felt bad for letting you down and leaving you stranded. Because he loves you, too, right?

But it also should not have even gone to this place, because when someone you love nees you, you don't think twice--you go help them! Immediately. FFS, emergencies don't happen when it is convenient!

But he didn't show up, made excuses, and turned it around on you to make you feel guilty. He let his friends insult you because you were upset. He stayed up until 3 a.m., then woke you when HE wanted to talk. Would you do that to him? No, because you love him.

It doesn't matter whether this was an isolated incident. Your relationship might have been great, but that was only because he had everything the way he wanted it. The moment something inconvenienced him, his true colors came out. He showed you that you are not a priority for him and that he cannot be counted on. That snide aside about being "more productive" when you are gone is his way of letting you know he is ready to dump the relationship, too.

I am with the commenter above who feels like this is such an absurd situation--especially after a three-year relationship!--that I would assume it was fake if someone posed it to me. Who does this stuff?!

NOT someone who loves you.

DTMFA.

P.S. Lying on the floor when there is a perfectly good bed available is acting the martyr, as is going to your Mom's. He is not the only ine who needs to grow up a little here.
posted by misha at 10:14 AM on June 5, 2012 [17 favorites]


I noticed a distinct pattern with my terrible ex that this seems similar to. Basically, he would be okay sometimes, and do nice things sometimes. But he did NOT like it when I would point-blank ask him to do something above-and-beyond for me that involved dropping what he was doing, ESPECIALLY in front of his friends. He never came right out and said he didn't like it- he'd make excuses or reasons as to why he wouldn't do whatever thing I asked of him. Eventually I concluded that he just didn't want to feel like we were in a position where I had power, or that he was "whipped." In particular it seemed that he had this extreme fear of his friends thinking he was "whipped" which was ridiculous because we'd been together for three years and lived together- it's okay to openly love your partner by that point. But it made him feel too insecure. So, it's not the fact that he "forgot" (he didn't). His lame excuses aren't really trying to justify his laziness or inconsiderate behavior- I feel this is really a power-struggle type move that he made deliberately. Which is wildly immature and like everyone else has wisely pointed out, grounds to DTMFA.

Although I must say I LOVE all the wonderful anecdotes that have popped up in this thread, the one with the squirrel made me a little teary! The best part about these stories, OP, is we all seem to have one. I think one of the great joys in life is to have to opportunity to go out of your way to rescue someone. I've happily spent hours lost trying to pick someone up from a train station in the middle of nowhere. I've had friends climb through windows for me because I locked myself out. It feels good to be able to help out someone who's really in need. If he isn't feeling that, well, basically he just plain sucks. You can do so much better. I agree that he's stringing you along to keep having sex with you, do NOT buy into it. If I were you I'd tell him what a jackass he is before cutting off all contact.
posted by Argyle_Sock_Puppet at 10:16 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


If my partner was not willing to be my emergency contact, they would not be my partner.

If you were my daughter I'd be hiding a body.
posted by French Fry at 10:18 AM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


He's actually being really explicit that he's trying to teach you what to expect out of this relationship.

What I'm fixated on at the moment is that he finds it upsetting and offensive that you'd expect him to come help you when you were stranded on the roadside. One of the reasons I would go help basically anyone who called me asking for a similar favor is that I'd be pleased and flattered that they thought of me as reliable and kind. He is worried and alarmed that you might think of him as reliable and kind. I mean, just, Jesus Christ.

(and not just "will help in the event of an emergency" reliable, but "will act on what he says at that very moment in the event of an emergency" reliable. The latter is a lower standard, a ridiculously low standard to which I would hold out-and-out enemies*, which he has also failed.)

*I mean, "I wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire" isn't help, but at least you know where you stand.

I also wondered if he might have been stoned. The short-term memory loss would account for his easy distractability. Not excuse it, but explain it.

When I bashed up the car driving on ice, I steered it into a only-sorta gracious neighbor's driveway to get it off the road. I theoretically could have handled the situation myself, but I didn't want to, and I called my husband (he's a better driver, the car is legally his and he handles all its maintenance and insurance and such, he's more male and could handle convincing the neighbor that the car wasn't "just fine", and I was shaken up and needed comfort.) He walked half a mile across treacherously icy sidewalks to just talk to the neighbors, calm me down, and walk me home.
posted by endless_forms at 10:31 AM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm a 25 year old dude who thinks he treats his girlfriend fairly well.... when girlfriends call with "emergencies", we often don't perceive them as as critical as you do (even though this situation qualifies), but us decent dudes would still come help, even if we secretly didn't want to.

I'd expect many of the anecdotal stories here, the "emergency" partner was aware they were inconveniencing the other, the "helper" partner acknowledged it was an inconvenience to themselves, but at the end of the day they still helped.

I only say that because the shoe can also be on the other foot.... my ex had no shame in asking for help in every little task, making ALL of her problems my problem, etc. and I hope your boyfriend doesn't view you in that regard if its not true. There is definitely a balance, and sounds like you need to be in a more balanced relationship because you're giving too much but not getting enough.
posted by el_yucateco at 10:32 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think one of the great joys in life is to have to opportunity to go out of your way to rescue someone.

on not-preview, YES EXACTLY.
posted by endless_forms at 10:32 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's not unreasonable to ask for your partner's help, according to Ask Metafilter. According to your boyfriend, it is. He is unbelievably wrong. He doesn't sound like he's going to back down from this.

If you don't want to stay with your parents permanently, go back to the apartment and ask him to leave. I know, he's having weird head issues and needs his space. He needs to make that space by getting out if that's what's called for. Sleep in your bed, in your apartment.
posted by RainyJay at 10:34 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Honestly, too, I think a lot of this stuff is his age. Especially the kind of afraid-to-look-like-a-good-guy-in-front-of-his-peers thing. Guys his age are still punching each other in the arm and being bros and think there IS such a thing as "whipped." (I'm sorry to be a know-it-all older woman who's generalizing right now.)

My husband and I met more than 20 years ago when we were 23 and 22 respectively, and while we loved each other and were right for each other, and while he DID come unlock my car for me, he would probably have been somewhat embarrassed to be overheard cooing love songs to our cat back then like he does now. I think a man's tender heart can take some time to grow from the Dude, I'm Not Gay and Women Don't Tell Me What To Do protective shell of a boy-man facade.

That said, I definitely agree that 1. he has to SHOW UP and 2. when he screws up, he has to own it, especially in private and not in front of his bros.
posted by Occula at 10:47 AM on June 5, 2012


Just a couple additional thoughts:

-I'm not buying the "well maybe he was stoned" thing. Even if that was the case, him not being forthcoming about would be total BS with a girlfriend of 3 years. If I were in that situation (someone called with car trouble and I was stoned) my reaction would probably be something along the lines of, "OH FUCK I can't believe that happened!! Oh no, it sucks!! Here's the bad news, I'm baked off my face so I can't drive anywhere, but how can I help you? Want me to walk/ bus it over there so I can offer moral support? Can I call someone else for you? You name it and I'll do it." And if I said I was going to help you, I certainly wouldn't forget. That's not how being stoned works. You might forget that you had a burrito in the microwave, but you are not going to forget that your girlfriend is stranded on the side of the road RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

-AAA is amazing. I'm single now, and those wonderful knights in shining pickup trucks have helped me out more in the past month than my jackass ex-boyfriend did over the course of three years. It's really nice to know that when my car fucks me over, the first number I call is always going to get me someone who's happy to help me out and can be there in less than an hour (hell, usually less than 20 minutes.) I highly recommend it.
posted by Argyle_Sock_Puppet at 10:49 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


In case you need it, I'll add to the chorus: leaving me stranded on the side of a road because he was "too distracted" playing video games? RED FLAG. Playing head games and trying to blame me or make me feel insecure afterwards? DOUBLE RED FLAG.

My husband couldn't change a tire if his life depended on it and doesn't have a handy bone in his body, but if I called for a flat tire? He'd still be there so fast it'd make your head spin.

It doesn't matter HOW self sufficient you are. It's a basic act of caring and giving a fig about someone's well being.
posted by ninjakins at 10:51 AM on June 5, 2012


I've never said this here before, but DTMFA.

Find a partner who actually cares for your well being. If I broke down on the side of the road, my husband would be there in a heartbeat. He'd be worried about my comfort and safety the whole way to me, even though he knows I can change a tire all by myself. In fact, he printed out the numbers to the TWO different roadside assistance services we have access to and put it in my glove box and told me to call him then the RA - in that order. I guess my point is that he is so concerned about me that not only does he respond if I need help, he proactively looks for ways to keep me safe and comfortable. You deserve a man like that, not the child you've got now. DTMFA.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 10:51 AM on June 5, 2012


It's hard for a young man to grow up, and it is hard for a young man to find his way in the world. People make mistakes, but this young man broke the standards of good behavior in a manner I would not accept from babies-raised-by-wolves.

Most good men this age treat their romantic partners like visiting heads-of-state - this has it's own set of problems- but you should really expect a lot more from your boyfriend.
posted by Intrepid at 10:55 AM on June 5, 2012


I can't believe HIS mother didn't come over there and kick his ass—if my son ever did something like that, I sure would. You are dead on in your analysis of this situation. You have more than enough comments backing you up, but I could not resist adding mine as well. DTMFA!
posted by Eicats at 11:05 AM on June 5, 2012


He's actually being really explicit that he's trying to teach you what to expect out of this relationship.

That's absolutely right -- and, specifically, he is teaching you want to expect when you have needs that interfere with his immediate preferences and interests. And the lesson is: what he wants trumps what you need, no matter how pathetically mundane his immediate desire is (i.e., to keep playing a video game) and how seriously urgent your need (i.e., being stranded by the side of the road at night).

There's a saying that people show you who they are. This is especially true when it comes to a crisis of some sort. People really show you what they're made of when the chips are down, either for themselves or for someone around them. I suspect he has no idea how much he's really revealed about the person he presently is, but he has. I hope you pay attention to the message he's sent.
posted by scody at 11:05 AM on June 5, 2012 [17 favorites]


I agree with the consensus that this guy is childless - but not thoughtless. He really thumbed his nose in your face with this behavior. It was hostile, deliberately douchey, a big old fuck-you designed to really get your attention and change the whole dynamic between you. Whether it was unconscious or not, he threw down the gauntlet and is now forcing you to break up with him, so that he doesn't have to take responsibility for ending it himself.

Your post shows that you're intelligent and sensitive with a healthy sense of what you deserve and don't deserve. Now you know what you will and won't take in a relationship. Good thing to learn early on.

You'll feel better about this later. Thanks for documenting it though.

Some women mature emotionally before some guys do. Maybe try dating an older guy next time. They rock!
posted by cartoonella at 11:12 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I bashed up the car driving on ice, I steered it into a only-sorta gracious neighbor's driveway to get it off the road.

Yeah, further anecdote: I had a super contentious relationship with one of the few neighbors in my rural valley when I lived in Spain - constant fights over barking frolicking dogs and loud parties and people accidentally three-point turning in vegetable gardens in the rain and whatnot. And then, on goddamn christmas day, while driving home alone (my boyfriend was home visiting the US without me) after having just found out that my gramma died, I had a head-on collision with those exact neighbors.

These people who could literally not stand a single thing about me? They had my car towed at their own expense and brought me (and my barky frolicky dog) into their home for christmas dinner. Because that is how decent human beings behave when there are emergencies.
posted by elizardbits at 11:13 AM on June 5, 2012 [29 favorites]


Ditch this jerk.
Join AAA, they're FAR more reliable.
posted by easily confused at 11:30 AM on June 5, 2012


Wow. I rarely read a relationship MeFi where it is so clear to me what I would do in the poster's shoes -- DTMFA.
I was in a (minor) car crash the other day. My husband IMMEDIATELY left some important meetings to be there for me. If he was stranded by the side of the road, I would drop absolutely anything to help him out. Willingness to be there when the partner asks for help (assuming they don't cry wolf) is such a fundamental requirement in a relationship for me that I cannot imagine staying with someone who couldn't leave a video game to help out.
posted by LittleMy at 11:40 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, in my charitable interpretation, what happened is, he was playing video games, you called, he said "Sure, be right there," and then realized he was five minutes from the end of the level, and it'd take 10 minutes to get to you, so he'd finish the level with his friends and drive fast, thus getting to you in 13 minutes instead of 10. And then he got sucked into the game and didn't realize how much time had passed and the next thing he knows it's been an hour (and you called his mom instead of calling him a second time?).

So, he seriously fucked up. It's the kind of thing that happens, we all fuck up from time to time, and I can understand how, especially if he's a laser-focus sort of person, he might get so sucked into a game that he would fuck up like this.

What troubles me is that instead of immediately being like, "Holy shit, I fucked up so bad," and bringing you flowers and chocolates and unicorn poop, he doubled down and insisted not only had he not fucked up, but that you'd been super-unreasonable in expecting his help, and that you were supposed to be self-reliant, and blah blah blah. And I kind-of understand that too; it's hard to admit when you've been so spectacularly wrong. But it doesn't bode well for a relationship when you fuck up this badly and cannot admit it was wrong of you.

Two other points:
1) There does seem to be a fair amount of drama -- sleeping on the floor, fighting at 3 a.m. How much do you each contribute to that? (Have you before asked him to drop everything for your convenience, is that why he's so focused on how it's inconvenient for you to demand immediate help? Or is that just douchery?) The more drama there is in this relationship, the less reason I think there is to continue with it.

2) WTF is up with your mutual friends? You were doubtless (and rightly) pretty pissed off, and having it out in front of friends is never cool, but a normal-person reaction to seeing ones couple-friends fight in front of you (which happens!) is to cower in the corner and hope it's over soon, not to be like, "Man, what a bitch," and to join in the drama.

Couples counseling might help, but there is a lot of drama from a lot of quarters in this relationship, and this may have just been the bat signal to let you know that it's not going to improve.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:47 AM on June 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


He has been able to be more productive...doing what? Okay, I'll resist the urge to take a cheap shot at the video games, there's nothing wrong with recreation, but his behavior is deplorable. He's wrong, period. And if the friends knew that you were on the side of the road with a flat while they were being snide about this, they're wrong too.

Don't talk yourself into putting up with this. This is not acceptable. It's not even merely immature -- ask a child what your boyfriend should have done, I bet they'll say "come and help you right away."

You asked him for help and he ignored you for absolutely no good reason, then picked a fight with you in the middle of the night. The only explanation I can think of that makes any damn sense is that he was really high or drunk and didn't want you to know.
posted by desuetude at 11:53 AM on June 5, 2012


I would have given his take out food.to the dog, kicked the friends out, sat him down and torn him a new one. If he wasn't groveling by then I'd have packed my stuff and not looked back. That is really the only appropriate response.

He's a dick. The way he basically threatened to break up with you if you didn't back down and say it was partly your fault is a HUGE flag. Go get your stuff and don't talk to him again.
posted by fshgrl at 11:56 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


"weird head issues" = my thoughtless, selfish behavior has consequences?? This feels bad and weird! Let's see if we can turn this thing around and make it her fault.
Also, judging by their behavior, those are his friends, not yours. Upgrade your friend list while you're cleaning house, you deserve better on all fronts.
posted by FeralHat at 11:57 AM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


You know what makes this even worse? That after the whole thing, he woke you up in the middle of the night to discuss the whole thing. Christmas.

all that stuff he's giving you about how he still loves you, doesn't want to break up, etc? He just wants to be able to keep having sex with you.

Ayup. Move on from this guy with a quickness. You two are just ratcheting each other up with the drama.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:16 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, break up. I won't say DTMFA because his mother sounds awesome, so let's not drag her into this. It's not reasonable to expect immediate help with all problems ever, but the only acceptable response to "I'm stranded on the side of the road" is "I'm on my way."

Bonus Extra Credit Advice:
This is to keep in mind for your next relationship. The way that you handled the second part of this fight, where you made a bed on the floor, was a little bit needlessly dramatic. I'd stay away from big, demonstrative things like that in the future - they only escalate. BUT. It's not clear to me if this was still during the conversation where he woke you up at 3 AM to talk. If it was, I'm going to go ahead and assume that you don't usually act that way, and were coming from a place of sleep deprivation. In any event, this all happened after he already crossed a big dealbreaker line, so it doesn't affect your decision as to what to do now.
posted by Ragged Richard at 12:19 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and just to be clear--you're not pissed because he didn't rescue you. You're pissed because he didn't do what he said he was going to do. That's the baseline definition of integrity--you do what you say you'll do. And why would you be with someone who doesn't have that?
posted by Ideefixe at 12:23 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would also add to my previous comment that you should be sure to cut him off completely. No more of these negging-type texts about how he cares for you but it's sure been great to have you gone. DTMFA cleanly and completely.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 12:27 PM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was only halfway through before I thought "dump the fucker." Seriously lame.
posted by rhizome at 1:01 PM on June 5, 2012


DTMFA

Just reply to his neggie text on how wonderful it is without you there and how productive he is, with a text that says "I am breaking up with you. Please have your stuff out of the apartment by tomorrow end of day"
posted by zia at 1:04 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I am breaking up with you. Please have your stuff out of the apartment by tomorrow end of day"

I just wanted to add to this -- I'm presuming that you're the one paying for the apartment. If that's the case, he's the one who needs to move out if you still want to stay there. Be sure to get a new lease with just your name on it.
posted by runningwithscissors at 1:08 PM on June 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


Fshgrl has it spot on.

My husband and ALL his/our friends would have piled into the pickup and come to the rescue STAT! I would do the same thing for him, and even for a friend or acquaintance.

These jerks are a bunch of losers--dump them all. Get yourself real friends.

Oh, yeah, cut out the personal drama. Be a strong, assertive mature woman and get yourself a loving, considerate mature man.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:13 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not only DTMFA. DTMFA, go get a manicure, put on some tight jeans and go find another guy. Do not be sad about this even for a second. There are no extenuating circumstances that make this acceptable, or even redeemable. I know it's been three years, but those are sunk costs. The quicker you move on from this the quicker you'll find an adult to have a relationship with.

You moving on will either make him realize how badly he screwed up and really change some stuff about his life, or you will see that he's not really affected and you're that much more vindicated.

The main thing to remember is that you do not deserve to be treated like crap. I'm sure you're not perfect, but you are probably the best thing that ever happened to this douchebag and if he doesn't know enough to figure that out, he should be pitied.

Or at least, that's what I would tell myself if I could go back in time about 10 years.
posted by TallulahBankhead at 1:38 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


He is in a transition that it sounds like he doesn't fully understand yet. He just finished school and hasn't got a job yet, and maybe he's a little confused about the rest of his life. He may not realize this stuff is bothering him. So that is maybe part of what is underlying his behavior -- maybe an unwillingness to enter the adult future.

His behavior towards you was terrible. Not picking you up, not telling you he wasn't coming, sitting by while his friends called you a bitch, telling you that it was YOU that was unreasonable, and finally, sending the "productivity" texts. Alll 100% terrible.

I guess the question is, after three years of a good relationship, can this one be saved? I wouldn't break up with someone just because they screwed up once (not picking you up), but might if they doubled down by claiming they were in the right the whole time. I also agree with some of the earlier posters that it seems like he might be forcing a breakup (consciously or unconsciously).

If he were my long-term boyfriend and this were an isolated incident, I would have a serious talk saying that breaking up was imminent unless he owned up to and amended his behaviors. (He may need his own counselor to deal with this transition time in his life, too.) I'd give him specific demands and a timeline in which to respond (like 1 week). And if he gave me any guff at all I would break up and move on.

Sorry this is happening, anon. Take care of yourself, and remember that sometimes a breakup can be a good thing even if it is hard at the time.
posted by feets at 1:44 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some situations are drop-everything-and-come-and-help-immediately situations.

This is one of those types of situations. Being trapped under the refrigerator in the kitchen is also one of those types of situations. Just so you know the seriousness of which I am talking about.

People get killed by the side of the road trying to deal with flat tire situations. That is some potentially serious stuff.

I would DTMFA and never look back.
posted by dgeiser13 at 2:00 PM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


He sounds like a jackass who doesn't really care about you.

My guess is that this is not the first time he has been inconsiderate, but that the more obvious results of this incident make it stand out much more.

A guy who won't drop something as unimportant as a video game to help his girlfriend when she's stuck by the side of the road with a flat tire is not someone you want to be saddled with. He needs to grow up and be a man instead of a boy.

Since that doesn't seem to be immediately forthcoming. I've never heard DTMFA before until this post, but after looking it up on Urban Dictionary: DTMFA.
posted by fitzage at 2:07 PM on June 5, 2012


I just wanted to add to the virtually unanimous DTMFA.

Giiiiiiirl. Give him however much notice is legally required for him to find a new place. Get him out of your life-space! Scrub the bathroom walls, spray some air freshener in the living room, whatever it takes to purge this dude and his shitty behavior!

It's one incident, yes; but it only takes such an incident of that magnitude to show someone's true colors. You now know that in a time of crisis, this jackass is not on your team. He's more invested in posturing with the bros and pleasure-seeking than he is treating another human being with integrity. I saw it a LOT in undergrad. It seems that even when the robes come off and the diploma gets nailed to the wall, some people still believe they're on campus.

Girl seriously. DTMFA. Like yesterday.
posted by Ashen at 2:14 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think couples counselling will cure a 22-year-old boy of being a 22-year-old boy.

FYI not all 22 year old guys are assholes, but this one is.
posted by nuclear_soup at 2:33 PM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


He's a douchebag - get out now!

Your friends sound like tools too.
posted by mleigh at 2:36 PM on June 5, 2012


Ugh, I started this multiple times: with anger at your idiotic boyfriend and his stupid friends (seriously?! wtf did you just call me?? gtf OUT of MY HOUSE!); with an anecdote about my husband (who was only my boyfriend at the time, and drove over to my apt to see about a noise! that I was too afraid to investigate), but it all boils down to: you deserve better than this. Please say it to yourself: “I deserve better than this.”

I have a dear friend who continually ends up with people who don't treat her well because she’d rather be in a crappy relationship than be alone. It breaks my heart. She deserves better, but can't see it.

I can't make her see it. Nobody can make anyone see it, who isn't able/ready to see it.

I hope you come to see it.

You deserve better than this.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 2:40 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had a boyfriend like that once. Whenever I needed help, or didn't want to walk home alone in the dark at 10:00 p.m., he'd just accuse me of being whiny and dependent. Eventually, he broke up with me so he could screw chicks that wouldn't ask anything out of him. At some point, his guilt diodes started flashing and he wanted us to be friends again. Now that we're on okay terms, he still is weird, evasive, and condescending. We rarely talk these days.

This tolerable fate could be yours, too, if you act now and get out of this fucking relationship! Because, believe me, this guy is just getting started. If you stay with him, he's going to mess with your head until he finds a way to dump you in a way that makes him feel like the good guy.

In fact, he's already trying to make you look and feel crazy. Don't stick around for the rest.
posted by Coatlicue at 2:42 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I had a boyfriend a lot like this when I was younger, and breaking up hurt like hell, but what made it a lot worse was falling for the mind games and drama that he dished up afterwards.
Please learn from combined Mefite experience, and break up with this loser, and make it a clean break. Know that when you decide to break up with him, you are not responsible for his emotional, physical, and financial well being.
He won't want to "break up" and will fight the break up because he is immature and unwilling to take responsibility.
If he has to move back in with his parents because he has no-one to pay his rent/make his dinner/warm his bed it is NOT YOUR PROBLEM.
posted by Catch at 3:09 PM on June 5, 2012


My kneejerk reaction whenever someone asks if they should end a relationship is usually yes, because that desire came from somewhere, yes?

Agreed with this. A lot of times I read these sort of relationship questions where it feels to me like the asker is looking for permission to break up with someone. Like they don't trust their instincts and need corroboration that what they're doing is ok. Totally grok that.

Anonymous, you have my full permission as a Member of the Internet to end this relationship and move on to happier things.
posted by sonika at 3:13 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


He won't want to "break up" and will fight the break up because he is immature and unwilling to take responsibility.

Yes, this is a really good point. His backtracking about how he doesn't really want to break up with you -- despite doing a damn good impersonation of what I like to call the Reichstag Fire Breakup Method -- is as much about any emotional/sexual attachment that he may genuinely feel for you as it is about the fact that you, as the adult in the relationship, keep him afloat. I would bet you're likely paying a disproportionate amount of the rent, groceries, utilities, etc. (or his parents are). Heck, you literally feed him while he's playing games. Keep this in mind when he starts telling you how much he wants you to stick around (and remember this is the same guy who made a point of telling you how "productive" he was with you out of the way).

One more thing (probably more for future reference than for anything else). When you mention this...

We have lots in common, similar senses of humor, and similar value systems.

...the thing to keep in mind is that these are perfectly good reasons to start dating someone. Call 'em the Six-Month Requirements -- you probably need them in some combination to enjoy each other's company for up to six months or so to see if there's serious relationship potential. But in and of themselves, they are not the adequate basis for a successful, healthy, mutually satisfying long-term relationship.

I say this not to criticize you (or the fact that you two have been together 3 years) in the least, but rather to suggest that the things you may think are compelling arguments to stay in the relationship are not necessarily that weighty after all. Having everything in the world in common is not actually more important to a relationship than being with someone who has your back. I really wish someone had told me that in my 20s (and hell, even in my early 30s!); it would have saved me a fair amount of confusion and heartache.
posted by scody at 3:27 PM on June 5, 2012 [28 favorites]


Wait -- he wants you to be more self-reliant? Says the guy who sent his girlfriend out for food? GIRL. I just . . . ditch this jerk and go find someone who actually wants to be there for you.
posted by KathrynT at 3:29 PM on June 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


P.S. Lying on the floor when there is a perfectly good bed available is acting the martyr, as is going to your Mom's. He is not the only ine who needs to grow up a little here.

Also agreed with this as someone who is OH SO GUILTY of having pulled the "display" in relationships past. Oh, so things suck right now and we're having a fight? FINE! I'm gonna go and sleep in the car to make a point! Until half an hour from now when I sheepishly wander back into the house because you haven't followed me to continue the fight... (Not saying this was your motivation, just that oh yes, I've been there. Done that.) It can be scary to act like a full grown adult and say "You know what? This blows right now and I'm going the fuck to bed and you can talk to me in the morning." Sometimes it's easier to pull the "You're mad at me so I'm just gonna go and eat worms!" sort of approach.

(My speciality was always the "dramatic walk out." Until my current partner had a habit of never, ever falling for it. And I eventually just cut it out because it only made me look bad. It was a hard one to give up. Seriously it's easier to be childish about fights sometimes. Emotions are hard!)

I really came back in to post my own anecdote about emergencies. I had a minor car accident not seventy two hours after my ex-husband moved out of our apartment. (This was about three weeks after asking for a divorce and two months of total relationship melt-down hell. To say we were at the top of each other's "Would rather see in hell" list is putting it mildly.) My car was drivable, but I was in no position to get back to my house. I knew plenty of friends who could drive... only problem is the car was a stick and my ex was quite literally the only person I knew in town who could drive it.

He left work, came out half an hour on the bus line and a ten minute walk from there, drove me home, and walked back to work. At the very apex of feeling shitty towards each other, he could still manage to not leave me totally stranded because he's a decent human being.
posted by sonika at 3:31 PM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


To more specifically answer your two questions:

1. Are you being unreasonable?

Good lord, no. He is.

2. Would couples counseling be worth it in this case, or should you break up with him?

Whether couples counseling would help depends on whether you see this episode as, say, revealing his true nature, in which case his actions in this case have made plain that he doesn't respect you/doesn't care about you/wants to break up with you/is too immature to be in a relationship with (or some variation on those themes). Or, you could see this episode as an outlier, and his true nature is actually the guy who is willing to talk things over with you when you have arguments, shares your values, and is very loving.

If you see this as the former, yes, you should break up with him immediately. And you, not all of us on the internet, are in the best position to know. But if you see it as the latter, then there is reason to believe that there is hope. Now, I don't know if this is really a "couples counseling" issue (having never been to couples counseling myself), but suggesting couples counseling to him might be instructive. For starters, if he refuses and continues to defend himself and tries to shove blame onto you, that's a big indication that this really isn't some kind of one-off Incredible Asshole Moment, but that he really doesn't respect you, care about you, etc. If he does agree to go, he might benefit from hearing from a talking it through in a more neutral situation. You did suggest that he's good about talking things through when he gets upset, I thought.

Anyway, I wish you the best. If this event confirms for you that he's not a good partner, then you are lucky to discover that at this point when you can still get him out of your life with relative ease. If it instead is just a hurtful and insensitive thing he did, then forgiving him for it after he understands how badly he acted might just be a bump in the road to a long and happy relationship.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:37 PM on June 5, 2012


No need to repeat the DTMFA bit. I'm sure you've got that. Now you need to do something for yourself. Work out why you had to ask if you were calibrated right. (Me too, for that matter, but it's easier to see in someone else). I guess therapy is what people do for that. (Ditch the drama too - it's much better to come from a position, of WTF dude, I'm being a total adult here about this situation, and you're the one who can't hold a conversation). You'll feel better about yourself too.

Doesn't matter who gets to keep the place, except if you want it. But here's the thing, ditch him, don't talk to him, don't accept his emails, texts whatever. Don't send long rambling emails about how he did you wrong. He is dead to you.

Oh, and send his mum a nice thank you note without telling her what a douche her son is, no doubt she knows.
posted by b33j at 3:41 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


In my view, what couples therapy does best is facilitate communication and allow two people to process how the group dynamics are working. So, it might help him understand how disappointed you are. It might help you hear, say, maybe he is worried about being pushed around and losing his autonomy. you could potentially troubleshoot what exactly about your interactions brings up that fear so that in the future, you two can hopefully discuss "I need picked up now" without that issue coming up for him.

To me, in this case, it sounds like too much money and time to put towards a relationship that had a long way to go before it'd look at alike one I'd want to be a part of. In fact, his desire for independence may well mean he doesn't want to go. Best of luck.
posted by salvia at 5:41 PM on June 5, 2012


He has already messed with your head because you had to ask this question. Don't become used to being treated badly.
posted by meepmeow at 6:15 PM on June 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


If my son's girlfriend called me to let me know that she was stranded on the side of the road and had asked for help from my son, and that he had decided to play videogames instead and could I come please help her in lieu, I would 1. Drop everything to help her out to the best of my ability and 2. Be very shortly having a very long, very serious conversation with my son about How the hell did I raise you and general WTF. Just to add to the pile on.
posted by jokeefe at 7:09 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I once drove 30 miles each way to change a flat tire for an ex girlfriend, followed her to the tire repair place after putting the doughnut tire on to make sure she got there safely (and to make sure there was no "unaccompanied woman = easy sales commission" bullshit), followed her back home, & refused payment. This was all a spur of the moment thing, as she called me while I was driving home from working out.

Mind you, this is the woman who dumped me & whose justification was "I just don't feel like I like you enough."

If I can do that, then basic human decency would mean that someone in a three year long relationship should also drop what they're doing to go help their SO.

I don't think that this guy has basic human decency.

Dump that motherfucker. He isn't worth your time anymore.
posted by AMSBoethius at 8:06 PM on June 5, 2012


In case you need to hear it from one more person, a boyfriend worth keeping around would have hauled ass out of the apartment the minute you called, helped you change the tire, and stayed with you until the situation was under control. If someone I knew had played video games instead of helping his girlfriend, I'd ask him if he was going to officially change his name to "Eunuch the ball-less wonder."

You just don't do that. Even if she were the whiniest, clingiest, most irritating girlfriend in the world and you were going to break up with her in the morning(which you aren't, obviously), you still drop everything to get the problem solved.

So that needs to be your baseline for "normal," and you need to find a regular guy who will treat you well, love you, and respect you.
posted by Forktine at 8:49 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Should I break up with him over this, or would couple's counseling help?

Are you sure you're still compatible? It sounds like you're moving forward with your life, while he's keeping himself stuck in one place. Yes, he has his good points, and yes, you love him. That doesn't mean you have to stay with him. He was good for you at one point in your life.

However. Once you've reached the point where you find you are in the position of acting like his mother, you have outgrown him. He is holding you back in a very real way--you have learned how to be an adult, but he is causing you to doubt that knowledge. You are right and your expectations are reasonable. You're not doing either of you any favors by staying or trying to make it work. He has to grow up on his own time and you are too far ahead of him to keep waiting for him. I'm sorry.
posted by sockomatic at 9:17 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


our friends made some stupid noises about me acting like a bitch,

Just to be clear- they aren't your friends. You need to sweep them clean along with Mr. Videogame.
posted by ambrosia at 10:25 PM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've been in this kind of relationship, and something useful that a therapist said to me during couples counseling was bluntly, "Are you always prepared to come last in this relationship? Because you're going to." My partner wept on the couch, but did not disagree.

You are always going to come last with this guy. He could be narcissistic, not that into you, or just wildly, wildly immature with very little empathy or real desire to have a serious commitment right now. Can you stay around and live a 1/2 life with this dude? That's up to you. But you shouldn't, and trust me on this, no amount of love is going to make up for what he's not giving you in the long run. And my experience tells me that therapy isn't going to make a difference. After all, he doesn't think he's done anything wrong.

No, you're not overreacting. Not only do you need a new boyfriend, but you need new friends. You weren't being a bitch. Also, if someone woke my ass up when it was convenient for him to have an argument, I'd be chucking him out the door pronto. Along with his stuff.
posted by thelastcamel at 10:29 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


An ex of mine wouldn't go and buy me paracetamol when I had a migraine - first because he'd 'spent enough money today', and then when I gestured toward my purse, because he didn't want to. Looking back, that was a red flag. It should have told me how the relationship would go, but I was young and thought I could ignore it.

Conversely, two years or so ago I managed to lock myself out without my purse or travelcard. A friend of mine offered to put down her joystick, come all the way out to where I live, pay for my ticket back to hers, then let me stay the night. Luckily she didn't have to - my housemate got home in time - but this is the kind of thing a friend would do for you, never mind your boyfriend.
posted by mippy at 4:58 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want to add something here, just because there's so many answers all saying the same thing. You might be sitting there thinking "What does it say about me that everyone thinks I'm in a relationship with a loser and I didn't notice?" or doubting your accuracy in telling the story or wondering why it's so obvious to everyone else but you have doubts.

Your view of the situation is clouded by your very real love for this guy. You want to like and trust and think the best of him. That's good, that's what you're supposed to do in a relationship. But it also leaves you vulnerable to people who would use you or abuse you or treat you badly, because you won't want to believe them capable of that. As outsiders, we're not labouring under the burden of loving this guy, so it's easier for us to recognize the problem.

And these sorts of things never start with one shocking display of assholism. They start small -- it's likely that he's been a little selfish since the beginning, and has gradually become a little more selfish along the way. And he's probably been gaslighting you all along, as well, making you doubt your own feelings. It took leaving you stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire to bring this all to a head, but I suspect if you look back in hindsight, you will realize there were little signs that he was immature and self-involved all along. Signs you didn't notice, because you are a good, loving, trusting person and you assumed that he was all of those things, as well.

Don't stop being loving and trusting. But do trust your instincts -- you knew something was off-key here, off-key enough to bring it to Ask.Me and get confirmation. Take that as a sign that your instincts are good and trustworthy and that you are both loving and worthy of love.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:15 AM on June 6, 2012 [45 favorites]


From the OP:
We broke up. Despite the fact that he was obviously a real jerk and breaking up was the right thing to do, I am completely heartbroken and socially devastated because I was very much in love with him. Anyway, thank you for your overwhelming response and all your helpful advice.
posted by taz at 2:09 AM on June 10, 2012 [14 favorites]


You'll be happier without him in the long run, OP.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:45 AM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sometimes the best choice is the hardest choice. This pain will pass and you will meet someone worthy of you. Stay strong and look forward to the future.
posted by saucysault at 10:14 AM on June 10, 2012


So sorry you're hurting, OP. It's very true that even when it's the right choice to break up, it still hurts like hell. Hang in there -- it truly will get better with time (even though I know that seems impossible right now!).
posted by scody at 10:22 AM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hang in there, OP. Know that there are many people here wishing you well. And thank you for emailing the mods with that update. May your heart heal swiftly.
posted by bardophile at 12:08 PM on June 10, 2012


This internet stranger, for one, is really proud of you for having had the strength and courage to break up with him.

That you feel heartbroken right now is a testament to how fully and deeply you can love (even someone as imperfect as he was), and one day soon, some lucky and much more deserving person is going to be on the receiving end of that.

I hope your grief passes quickly, and that you meet lots of awesome new friends who will treat you with the same kindness, thoughfulness and respect that you extend to them.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 1:58 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hugs to you and a punch in the nose to anyone who messes with you while you're healing. Breaking up is never easy - even when it is the right decision. There's not really much I can say to help right now, just know that some lady out there on the internets is rooting for you.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:00 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know it's tough right now --- any breakup is hard, but you've been pretty well blindsided by this whole thing. Count me as another internet stranger sending you hugs and good thoughts; I hope someday you find a good partner, one who will treat you right.
posted by easily confused at 5:59 PM on June 10, 2012


It is hard. But you have all this love to give - he just wasn't ready. You won't believe how nice it is to be with someone who is ready to accept it. And you will definitely find it. Maybe not right now - and maybe it would be really nice for you to explore life on your own for a while, since you hardly had time to be a freewheeling young adult yourself - but eventually. I wish you lots of good healing and happiness.
posted by Miko at 9:34 PM on June 11, 2012


You made the right choice. I know it hurts a lot now, but I guarantee that it won't be long before you can't believe, looking back, what you used to put up with. Things will be much better soon. Good luck!
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:04 AM on June 12, 2012


OP, I'm really sorry you're going through this. I can relate. I recently broke things off with my boyfriend for a lot of reasons that had to do with his stress over being unemployed, the way he handled that stress, how checked out he had become and how he treated me. He was no longer behaving like the man I met and fell for. He was no longer acting like my friend, let alone a loving partner. He just doesn't have it in him right now.

Logically, I know it was the right thing to do. Emotionally, it was so incredibly confusing and painful. I felt heartbroken and so, so sad. I not only lost my boyfriend, I lost my friend. I'm new to this city and met him soon after moving here. We spent so much time together, vacationed together, talked every day. I feel very alone right now.

Breaking up was still the right thing to do. It's one thing to feel lonely when I'm actually alone. To feel lonely when I'm in a relationship? That's unbearable.
posted by Majorita at 9:44 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, I just noticed my comment said 50 miles away. It was only 15.

But anyway, hope all is well with you, OP.
posted by Miko at 8:15 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


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