"You deserve better"...say my boyfriends. What's up with this trend? And if/since that means they won't do it, how can I actually get
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (119 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
I've dated a number of guys, in timespans ranging from a few months to a few years (not counting anything casual here). Inevitably, I get treated pretty shabbily, then I tell them clearly and undramatically that I'm hurt, and then they come out with "You're awesome and you deserve someone who treats you better." Subtext: "but it won't be me."
How can I derail that at any point? How can I not get treated poorly in the first place, or how can I encourage them to respond by stepping up instead of giving me the wishy-washy "break up with me, you deserve better"?
By treating me poorly, I don't mean outright abuse or anything that severe. Not terrible, awful treatment, just...poor treatment. I'll give some examples, but let's not focus on the specifics, these guys are done.
Example #1: I went to get a medical procedure done. Although it was minor, both Adam and I thought the procedure would be very painful, with a somewhat difficult recovery over the course of a week+. I sent him a light e-mail the night before, and didn't get a reply. I took a Friday afternoon off to go, while Adam was still at work (but even if he'd been free, I doubt he would've come to hold my hand). No "go get 'em, tiger" or "thinking of you" e-mail the day of. The procedure actually went incredibly smoothly and much less painfully than either one of us had thought. Usually we see each other on weekends, but I went to my parents' to recuperate. On my way, I sent him an "omg, it hardly hurt, I'm so thrilled" e-mail. No reply. On Monday morning, I e-mailed him again, saying (briefly and calmly) that I was pretty bummed I hadn't heard from him to acknowledge the procedure or ask how I was doing. I asked if there was anything I could do to enable easier communication somehow (e.g., I was just e-mailing because he hates phones, but would it be easier to text or IM?). Answer: Nope, you just deserve better than me, blah blah blah. Adam and I had been together for two years at this point.
Example #2: When I was in a relationship with Bill, an actor, I went to a lot of his shows, with tickets generally ranging from $10 to $25. At this time, I was really struggling to make ends meet. Going to his shows completely wiped out my discretionary income (which was, like, $5/week) and often meant skipping meals. He knew that. I always went to his shows because I wanted to support him, I wanted to know what he was talking about, and I often enjoyed myself. After 18 months, I found out that if he'd wanted to, he could have gotten me into almost all of his shows for free, and he regularly comped his other friends. I was totally surprised and baffled, but not accusatory, and the conversation ended again in "You deserve someone who treats you better."
Example #3: I was head-over-heels for Chris, who claimed to be in love with me, but he was dithering between me and his ex, depending on her behavior. He eventually went back to her for good, but not before having a ton of conversations with me about how he was the worst person on earth and I deserved better than him. (I just wanted him...)
Example #4: I had been dating Dan exclusively for six months when I got a major promotion. He was busy with work for the next two weekends (which was fine), then eventually he said awesome, I'll pick you up on Saturday night and take you out to celebrate. We talked about it all week. I cleared Saturday night, got all dressed up, spent a ton of time on makeup and hair, and he just never showed. He didn't answer his phone. I cried myself to sleep. On Monday he e-mailed me, without any excuses or explanations, to tell me how much better I should be treated.
These aren't the only examples; there are about a dozen from varying dudes, in addition to the usual litany of forgotten birthdays/valentines/anniversaries (none of which came as surprises to the guy), bedroom inequities, and other everyday disappointments. What is causing this? Are these guys just acknowledging that it's not fun for me to date a jerk, but also that they're not going to stop being a jerk? They keep telling me to find a guy who'll treat me better -- but every other guy just tells me the same thing. And they don't come out with it after a week or a month or two; the examples are all way into relationships. Am I correct to infer that they just don't give a shit anymore, and treating me shoddily until I gtfo is easier than an actual breakup?
Other information: This is all in New York City. I'm 25, dating guys around 27-35 (so shouldn't they be past this?). My expectations, I hope, aren't ridiculous. I'm not looking for jewelry or carriage rides or Mr. Right, I would just really like to date someone who doesn't treat me like crap...and acknowledge it. When bad stuff happens, I don't go into an "omg, this is unlivable, you are a terrible partner, how dare you" tantrum; I'm calm about saying "well, this makes me sad, is there anything we can do to change it?" I hope I'm being reasonable in my expectations, but I feel like maybe that's not possible because every boyfriend is failing them.