Join 3,377 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Should I Stay Or Should I Go (Here We Go Again)
October 13, 2012 5:28 PM   Subscribe

Going round and round in circles in a relationship that has me asking 'what's the point?' and thinking 'why bother, he doesn't care'. Add to this my freelance work pattern, cohabitation but sleeping in separate rooms, his eating disorder, my issues with child abuse, his distance geographically from his family... and it's all just a big mess. I don't know what to do. Perhaps you can help me untangle things?

Thank you in advance for reading this, and apologies that it's long. I'm sorry if I'm including lots of irrelevant bullshit.

My SO and I are 30, and have been going out and living together for 3 years. He moved a long distance away from his family for us to be together, and arrived here with no job and no contacts or friends. I was working in a job that had a long commute, shit money, mega stress and crazy people. I love him and want to be together but am starting to doubt that this is realistic.

Fast forward to the present day. I have now left that job to work from home, after much urging from SO that we could afford it, especially if I got a part time job with less stress that was closer to home. The idea being we could see more of each other, and actually have a relationship instead of passing like ships in the night. It has been (predictably) a bit of a struggle - we're not starving or going without necessities, although it's not exactly comfortable and we have no savings. We're sleeping in separate beds due to his snoring/sleep apnea and have been for 2 years. It's killing me - he says he isn't as bothered by it as I am.

My SO wasn't as supportive as I'd hoped during this time, asking me things like why can't I just get '*a* job, any job', for the time being - which I can see the sense in but also got angry and frustrated about, because the idea of leaving my shitty job wasn't to go find another and keep grinding - it was to change things for the better and to give me an opportunity. I felt extremely alone and like he had no faith in my or my choices/reasoning/decisions and wouldn't hear them out. I thought we were supposed to be a team.

My luck has changed recently, and I am getting a modest amount of money coming in the door - enough to get a coffee and a muffin/lunch once a week, maybe shout a round of drinks, maybe a book, but not enough to justify buying a new pair of shoes or clothes, if you get me. And not a whole lot left over to contribute to our expenses, but probably enough to stop getting an allowance. Our current arrangement is that he pays the rent, bills, food, everything when we're out (eg, dinner, drinks, transport) but when I'm on my own I pay my own transport and whatever else. He also puts $50 a fortnight onto my credit card. I feel awful being dependent financially like this: I suggested a while ago that perhaps an allowance would be easier than me asking him for money, and now get $100 a fortnight, although this will probably stop now.

He has been carrying a financial burden for both of us and is still working in a job with a boss who is extremely aggravating and hard to deal with, and who my SO hates. SO has a good track record at this job and says he will move on in the new year.

My SO told me soon after we started going out that he had bulimia. He said he hadn't purged since we were together but that he overate and uses food as a crutch. He is now quite overweight and is getting breasts. I think he has purged a bit lately but have been wary of asking because I don't want to meddle or be a nag or his mother/checker upper-er. I have spent two years trying to encourage/provide a safe space for things like losing weight, seeing a therapist, going to the Doctor, and addressing the snoring which he says and said he wants to do. We finally had a breakthrough a few months ago, and he went to see a doctor, and has seen a therapist, and has found out some options about the snoring. But that's all kind of stalled and hasn't been readdressed by him. We also started couples counselling because things were really getting hard to handle and we were fighting a lot.

I am conscious that I put in more than he does. He gets coffee and a smoothie in bed every morning, and I also wake him up to start the day - as he seems pathologically incapable of setting an alarm/using an alarm clock and just rolls over and turns it off and keeps sleeping. He is extremly forgetful, and delgates much of the responsibility of the day to day onto me. He breaks promises and generally derps about a lot of small to medium stuff. He can remember/prioritise to go to work, but can't remember/prioritise that he promised he'd clean the bathroom every Monday or that he said he'd change a lightbulb last week. He makes an effort for a while, but then backslides.

When we do talk about this deeper shit, I can literally see him close his ears and start forming an response as to why I am wrong, or being unfair, or why it's too hard to do that, or a list of all the shit I do that's bad and proves I'm a hypocrite.

I do want to emphasise that he pays all the bills and that this is a big, big burden and I am grateful for the chance to do things differently work-wise.

In counselling recently he admitted that he doesn't feel comfortable in situations where I am the expert and he isn't. So we don't do many, if any, things which I know all about and he has to learn. I learned more about the sports he liked and worked on seeing the value in things he valued, because they were important to him. He also mentioned he has thought I am 'a know it all' - but he is happy to rely on me being the one who does know it all around the house/our social life/organising stuff day to day.

He masturbates almost every night, apparently, and when we do have sex, which isn't often (once a month?), he is so out of shape it doesn't last long. He does not seduce or romance me. When I have tried to initiate recently he has rebuffed me. The sexy powerplay we had years ago of him being the Dominant and me the submissive has gone, utterly. The relationship feels like we're flatmates. I feel like I get very little out of this situation and have to constantly be 'on' and aware, with no break or chance to be less responsible or 'off'. And no feeling of being with someone who has initiative or is proactive or notices me and my needs and desires and tries to fulfil some of them on his own impetus.

I know it's mostly his job which makes him stressed, and overeat, and put on weight, and the sleep apnea he has makes him constantly tired, which isn't in turn helped by his weight, his lack of motivation, here we go round and round again.

I went to couples counselling alone this morning after he walked off angry when we had a spat on the way there, and spent most of the time crying angry tears. She suggested I roll back the things I do and let him have his own consequences instead of stepping in.

Do you have any other perspectives you could offer me about this situation? It feels like such a huge, gross, sticky mess and I don't know what to do any more. I have tried to be good and feel like my 'reward' is someone who barely bothers to think about being considerate, let alone act on the issues we have as a couple or he has himself. Am I that girl who everyone has a little inward sigh about when she starts talking about her relationship, because, duh, it's broken, move the fuck on? Is there anything you can see that I could try or refrain from that may make things less upsetting and more rewarding? What IS the point? Thanks if you made it this far.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sounds like he's got a sackful of issues and you are quite burdened by them. There are a lot of fish in the sea. I see no reason you should feel that you are bound to this quite dysfunctional one. Ideally a relationship should be with someone who lifts you up, not makes you struggle immensely, or worse yet, sinks you.
posted by Dansaman at 5:37 PM on October 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


What are you getting out of this relationship? (Besides the financial assistance you mention.)
posted by Mr. Justice at 5:47 PM on October 13, 2012


I think it would be useful to know a few things:

Originally what brought you guys together?

What was so great about your relationship that resulted in him deciding to move this long distance to be with you?

What's this bit about child abuse that you skipped over?
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 5:49 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's the point of staying? What outcome are you hoping for? Describe things as if they were ideal for you - what you want. Is that what you have here?
posted by Miko at 5:52 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Am I that girl who everyone has a little inward sigh about when she starts talking about her relationship, because, duh, it's broken, move the fuck on?
It really seems that way, from what you've written.

Is there anything you can see that I could try or refrain from that may make things less upsetting and more rewarding?
You've already done couples counseling and individual counseling for him and it's not helping, so, no. From what you've written you've done more than enough to salvage this shit show. It really sounds like it's time to move on.
posted by bleep at 6:00 PM on October 13, 2012


You are probably both resenting each other now.
Sounds like you resent putting more effort into the relationship than he does and it sounds like he resents putting more money into your relationship than you do.
I would guess that he feels like you might even owe him that coffee and smoothie etc for his sacrifice to stay in his crappy job and support you while you get to quit your crappy job.

It doesn't really matter who puts in what, at the end of the day, if neither of you are happy doing it.

I think you should each be more independent and stop relying on each other for money and chores or organization, and see if that helps you like each other again as people.

It's good that you are making more money now and might not need an allowance anymore, but you sound like you are aware that paying all the bills etc is a huge burden on your partner. So maybe do think about taking a second job so you can kick in a little more towards those.
I bet even the effort of babysitting or tutoring once a week would make a difference to him.

Then tell him what you need in return to stop resenting him.
Good luck
posted by rmless at 6:08 PM on October 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I can't answer every question you have, but I want to draw your attention to something:

I know it's mostly his job which makes him stressed, and overeat, and put on weight, and the sleep apnea he has makes him constantly tired, ...

It may be his job that makes him stressed, but its probably actually his history of coping with stress through food that's making him overeat.

Personally, I'm not a good problem solver. I can easily get weighed down and whiney about my life. It threatens my relationships. The best response anyone has ever had was to tell me "I'm ignoring you/your anxiety/the crying."

Dear reader, I married him. He loves me even when I'm whiney, but he's not going to spend anytime talking to my whiney-ness. He'd much rather spend time with me.

It just sounds like all of your efforts, jointly and singly, are reifying the mess that is his life (and yours). Where's the joy? And where the hell is the cpap machine?
posted by vitabellosi at 6:15 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


You've given us a lot to read through, and I did read it once, but I hope I didn't accidentally skim past something big.

You say you love this guy, but your description of him is just laced with contempt: he's pathologically incapable ... he derps about stuff ... his looks are changing in ways you palpably dislike. I'm not talking right now about what his actual issues are--maybe he's terrible. But if you really stand by the feeling that any contempt toward him is justified, then this relationship is Not Going To Work.

I think rmless is on the right track about there being some mutual resentment here. You say yourself that both of you think you're being unfair to each other--at least, that your partner doesn't see your account of what's going on as fair. If you think there's something left to save in your relationship, both of you need to start from the assumption that neither of you are getting everything you need.

And that's a tough spot to start from if you really think you're already giving too much. Suppose for a moment that there's something he think is essential that you ought to also be giving him--praise, perhaps, since there's none mentioned here, or some fantasy of his that's unfulfilled, since he's evidently not engaging with you on that level either. I don't know if it's the case, but if you're both thinking you're not getting what you need, all the things you are doing for each other won't "count"--it's human nature to mostly feel the lack.

I think there's enough broken here to walk away. The guy certainly has flaws, and it's not working for you.

But I'd consider first trying to inventory all the things he thinks are wrong too. Can he say--without attributing blame, without really talking about the past at all--what needs he has that are unfulfilled and what action items on your part would fulfill them? Can he accept the same kind of list from you? Do any of you see any dealbreakers on each other's lists? Can both of you suspend judgment of the other for a while and let each other work on those needs without worrying about the past?
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:43 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why are you with him?
posted by lalala1234 at 6:54 PM on October 13, 2012


If he doesn't use a cpap machine that is step one. Untreated sleep apnea is a bitch, literally.

(My husband has it. That machine saved our marriage.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:56 PM on October 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Your description is a mix of things where I think he sounds like the problem and things where I think you're being unreasonable. But this isn't about who's right. I just can't see a relationship in which one of the parties could write this sort of thing about the other surviving.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:05 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I also wake him up to start the day - as he seems pathologically incapable of setting an alarm/using an alarm clock and just rolls over and turns it off and keeps sleeping."

This is from the sleep apnea, he probably doesn't even remember it going off. He needs to set the alarm far enough away that he'll hopefully wake up fully getting out of bed, or get one of those alarms that hides/has a combo/requires some brain power to shut down.

Fixing his sleep apnea would help with a good amount of these issues. Of course, he's the one that needs to get that sorted, which appears to be its own problem.
posted by Dynex at 7:07 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It doesn't sound like a very fulfilling relationship, and I think you should break up. But if you do want to try and work on it, here's the "other perspective" you asked for:

enough to get a coffee and a muffin/lunch once a week, maybe shout a round of drinks, maybe a book, but not enough to justify buying a new pair of shoes or clothes, if you get me. And not a whole lot left over to contribute to our expenses

I think it's very strange that your priorities seem to be that you treat yourself first, and then contribute to expenses with whatever's left over. I would resent that if I were him.

My SO told me soon after we started going out that he had bulimia. He said he hadn't purged since we were together but that he overate and uses food as a crutch. He is now quite overweight and is getting breasts. I think he has purged a bit lately but have been wary of asking because I don't want to meddle or be a nag or his mother/checker upper-er. I have spent two years trying to encourage/provide a safe space for things like losing weight,

I don't know a lot about eating disorders, but I would be very surprised if encouraging a bulimic person to lose weight would be recommended by an expert. I think you might have to accept that trying to lose weight might be more damaging to him (both physically and psychologically) than being obese. If you are not okay with that, again, maybe this relationship is not for you.

he seems pathologically incapable of setting an alarm/using an alarm clock and just rolls over and turns it off and keeps sleeping. He is extremly forgetful, and delgates much of the responsibility of the day to day onto me. He breaks promises and generally derps about a lot of small to medium stuff. He can remember/prioritise to go to work, but can't remember/prioritise that he promised he'd clean the bathroom every Monday or that he said he'd change a lightbulb last week. He makes an effort for a while, but then backslides.

What the hell was he doing before you moved in with him? He's an adult who manages to keep a good job, so presumably he CAN get up on time for work (or maybe works somewhere where it doesn't matter). And maybe lightbulbs and bathrooms are not as high on his priority list as they are on yours. But this doesn't necessarily mean that your way is right and he is not keeping up. You need to decide jointly what needs to happen in terms of morning routines, cleaning, etc, and you might need to compromise.
posted by lollusc at 7:17 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


You both have a lot going on in your lives, struggles with money and work, his health concerns, and then both your feelings that each other is not doing enough in the relationship. It seems like focusing on the relationship as the issue is taking both of you away from seeing that it is your own individual problems that need sorting out. You might be able to work all of that out while together, but it really seems you need to separate so you can start seeing through a clearer lens and owning all your own stuff, rather than projecting it on each other.

Good luck, been there, it can be done.
posted by nanook at 7:20 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Leave. Be single for a while. A life unburdened by him will feel like walking on air. You can't fix him, so walk away and be single for a while and let a world of possibilities bowl you right over in the best possible way.

He will whine and cry and beg and if you stay nothing will ever change.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:50 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't mean this to sound so blunt, but this is the only way I can think to phrase my advice.

It sounds like your life kindof sucks right now.

It sounds like his life kindof sucks right now.

You want to get your life to suck less. You logically finger your relationship as the cause of your unhappiness. It's a pretty large part of anyone's life, so it makes sense.

Is your relationship really what is making you unhappy? Being broke sucks. Being overweight, and mind-numbingly tired all the time sucks. Being a mother-hen to a grown man sucks. Paying all the bills in a relationship sucks. Having a history of bulimia or child abuse REALLY sucks.

If you should end a relationship anytime someone went through a shitty period in their life, none but the luckiest, wealthiest, most fictional-happy-couple-on-a-beach-in-the-photo-that-comes-in-the-photo-frame people would stay together.

What you need is a partner to work through your shitty times with. Do you have that in your current boyfriend?
posted by fontophilic at 8:05 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to say DTMFA, but I do agree you need to put some space between you two and each of you work on your own issues.

You need to become financially independent and set a priority of finding a job you enjoy doing and are good at.

He has waaay to many issues: the sleep apnea, the weight/bulimia thing, his constant masturbation, disliking his job, and you mentioned distance from his family.

You said he doesn't feel comfortable in situations where I am the expert and he isn't. So we don't do many, if any, things which I know all about and he has to learn.
...he has thought I am 'a know it all'...

This puts up a red flag for me.

Find a job that will support you, then sit down and tell him that you are moving out, that each of you needs to work on personal issues, and that there will be at least two months break while you sort yourselves out. If after that, you both feel you can work on issues together as a couple, then you can plan to move back in after six months or so.

I'm betting if you get away from him and are able to look at how you want to live your life, you will decide his issues are not worth it. Let us know how it goes.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:18 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm a little bit surprised that you receive an allowance of $100 a fortnight, presumably for personal stuff rather than for shared stuff like groceries and bills since you mention that separately, and you are also complaining about the fact that he doesn't clean the bathroom.

For many couples, when one person is paying all of the bills, the other does all of the housework (regardless of gender). Is it possible he has this expectation or has prior experience of that model, and that's what's colouring his approach to household chores?
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:23 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


You asked for "other perspectives" ... well, I have reread your post over and over and I still have no idea how it is you could possibly feel like you "put in" more to the relationship than he does!

Here's what he's "put in":
1) He moved far away from all his friends and family and started over his career in a new city just to be with you.
2) He provides your total financial support.
3) He supports *you* pursuing *your* dreams at the cost of *him* being stuck working at a job *he* hates.
4) The stress from his hated job and being the sole provider is so great that his physical and mental health are rapidly deteriorating.

So, he's sacrificed everything -- his friends and family, his own career dreams, his financial security, and his health -- just to be with you and try to make you happy.

Here's what you've "put in":
1) You wake him up and make him breakfast.
2) You do more housework than he does.
3) You keep track of household items and your joint social calendar.
4) You spend his limited free time primarily doing things that he enjoys.

So, you've sacrificed some of your preferred recreational activities and provide some limited domestic support so that you can mooch off him while you pursue your dream career.

Again, I don't understand how you can compare those lists and come to the conclusion that you "put in" more than he does.

You write that you "try to be good," but it seems that he's trying (and working) a *lot* harder to be a good provider than you are to be a good housewife.

"Am I that girl that everyone has a little inward sigh about..."

No, based on how you've described yourself here, I think you're more like that girl everyone rolls their eyes at while thinking "wow, what an entitled little princess."

I did find it odd that your couples therapist's advice was for you to "roll back the things [you] do and let him have his consequences..." Does she think that it would also be appropriate for him to roll back his total financial support and let you have your consequences of insolvency and homelessness (or finally be forced to "get a job, any job" to survive)?

I just really don't understand how you can be so resentful of a man who has apparently sacrificed so much to support you and try to make you happy when all you've apparently given in return is your companionship and some half-assed housewifery (you don't even have any kids to take care of!).

And even if you really are that resentful, I don't see how you can write out a list of all the things he has done (and continues to do) for you followed by a description of how little you've done for him and still try to present yourself here as the wronged party in this relationship! I mean... did you even read your own post?!

He must really, really, REALLY love you.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:28 PM on October 13, 2012 [17 favorites]


2nding the CPAP device for sleep apnea. Seriously, my experience was that when I first started using one... everything changed! I felt so much better that almost every aspect of my life improved. Still works, too, over ten years later!
posted by drhydro at 11:09 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's broken. I believe you.

Run.
posted by jbenben at 11:47 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I recommend "Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay" by Mira Kirshenbaum

It helps you notice what's good about your current relationship, and what's not working (that you may not have noticed) and then gives you some things to think about. There's also a fair amount of examples of other couples she's seen in similar situations, and what worked and what didn't.
posted by Ashlyth at 12:46 AM on October 14, 2012


That $100/fortnight doesn't sound like an allowance: it sounds more like a salary for a live-in maid/cook/housekeeper/wake-up service/etc. --- this whole thing doesn't sound like a partnership between two loving people at all.

Why are you with him? In what ways does HE make YOU happy? What, other than financial assistance, are YOU getting from this relationship?
posted by easily confused at 3:13 AM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I think the idea that if one person pays the bills the other person should do all the housework is abhorrent. The amount of money someone makes doesn't factor into what you put into the household. My ex made 3x as much as I did so he paid the rent when we moved together, and he also paid when we went out. I paid as much as I could, that is the bills, and whenever I could afford to foot the bill.

That said, I don't understand what the benefit is to either of you in this relationship.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 3:18 PM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your description of your relationship made me squirm. One word: codependence.

When my mom married my step-dad, he let her live in his apartment, paid all the bills, and didn't hound her to find a job. He was also physically and verbally abusive. When she fled from him and moved 300 miles away, he followed, leaving behind all his friends and family, and is still living with her, even as she has been for years trying to figure out how to leave him again. He found a new job as a garbage man (a pretty thankless job) and put money toward her bills and their debt. He did a lot of things that you could look at factually and say, "wow, what a mensch," but he's clearly not. Conclusions like "he must really, really, REALLY love you" based on what you've written are unfounded. People do a lot of things "for their relationship" which are both selfish and sometimes very bad decisions, and they do them unthinkingly, because they're codependent. They do what they have to to keep the relationship going because they think they need it, but they have no concept of what it means to have a healthy emotional exchange.

You both sound miserable and I would suggest that you read the "too bad to stay, too good to leave" book, but to be honest, couples' therapy is not working for you and that's a high-level solution.

It's possible that you may be using him for financial support with or without realizing it. It's also possible that he's been using you as his "mother" instead of his partner. A third possibility is that one or both of you are so depressed that you can't have a healthy emotional relationship right now. (He certainly sounds depressed, as do you.) Couples' therapy has to work or else I'd call it "too bad to stay."
posted by stoneandstar at 5:11 PM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm also kind of confused about the dynamic/timeline when it comes to your job. From what I can tell,

1) you had a job you hated,
2) he encouraged you to quit so you could see more of each other,
3) it turned out that wasn't tenable and he got desperate for you to find a "real" job, but you don't want to turn back because this is a good opportunity for you

Is that correct? If so, what would you do if you were single? Live on a shoestring to pursue the opportunity you want, or go back to the "grind" and try to manage? Being financially dependent seems like it's taking a big bite out of your self-esteem right now.

Again, as to him contributing more financially, it sounds like he's nearly entirely absent from your shared life in any other way-- no sex, no loving gestures, can't sleep in the same bed (for good reasons, but still), depends on you to take care of him in superfluous ways (coffee in bed, waking him up, blah blah). What you two have right now isn't good, it's not a life. You're both doing way too much for each other (things you should each be doing for yourselves) and it seems you're at a point where you can't appreciate or respect each other enough to make it work. Have you tried individual therapy for each of you?

After a re-read, what I see is you both taking advantage of each other for questionable reasons. I think you're putting too much of a financial burden on him for self-interested reasons, and he's expecting you to do things for him that no real adult should expect someone else to do. (However, him working a shitty job does not make him a saint, and you wanting pocket change to buy a coffee occasionally without devoting 100% to bills is just... reasonable, don't feel bad about that).
posted by stoneandstar at 5:28 PM on October 14, 2012


« Older Make me look like Sterling Arc...   |  I need information on the long... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.