Is this relationship viable? Should I keep trying, or is it probably not workable?
posted by the second sock to Human Relations (39 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I am female, dating a guy, and we have been dating for about 5 months. We're well-matched intellectually and sexually and have very compatible values and interests. I think he's interesting and attractive and I have fun with him at least 80% of the time.
I had a fairly stressful and violent childhood and struggled for years after that, but he has basically never had anything bad happen in his life and never struggled. Great family, well-supported in school years, immediate success.
Problem 1: I do not want to tell him about my psychological disorder
I have a deep-seated psychological/physiological disorder that, at this point, I am not counting on to ever fully go away. I currently take medication for it which I might or might not continue (not sure how much it's really doing). I have never felt comfortable telling him about any of that. He has often stated his belief that people who have anxieties just need to try to to get over them and that people who are taking antidepressants should just try exercising more instead. He brought this up in relation to one of our very young friends, a struggling 23 year old girl who was understandably having trouble handling independent adult life and began to go into an emotional tailspin. She confided in him that she began antidepressants. My reaction was relief, but he said to me later that he was thinking of suggesting to her that she just start running more instead of taking the medications. I was a bit horrified by that.
I'm conflicted about what to do, because I feel that by not telling him about my disorder, I'm not giving him the chance to possibly be more supportive. At the same time though, I feel very resistant to opening my private health matters and choices about them to judgment by someone whose beliefs are, in my opinion, rather strong for how uninformed they are. To be honest, I may be avoiding this conversation in part because I know that I will strongly resent him if he reacts in a way that is judgmental of me personally in this area, or questioning of my choices in this area.
Should I open this conversation? If so, what is the best way to do it that will give it the best chance at going well?
Issue 2: Feeling judged and pushed into things.
He is somewhat judgmental in the area of fitness. He is a competitive endurance athlete whose last long-term girlfriend was competitive on a national level in their sport. I love sports but my body does in fact have an upper limit of athletic ability, my body has been to that upper limit, it's nowhere near a nationally competitive level, and even getting to and maintaining that upper limit is, for me, unpleasant. We do sports together a lot and he is always pushing me to try harder, go faster, endure for longer, and it is very unpleasant.
We did a hike while I was beginning to come down with what turned out to be a nasty flu. I kept going as many miles as I could and told him I was getting too sick and had to stop and turn around, and he pressured me to make it "just to the camp where it'll be better for you to rest." The camp was another mile further, steeply uphill. He argued with me for another twenty minutes before he accepted my "no."
He is the same towards himself. He injured his leg on a different hike, could not walk, and refused to get medical attention even as he was shaking with pain and was later in too much pain to sleep. After several hours he finally agreed to go to the hospital and repeatedly said he felt embarrassed, stupid, and humiliated by going to the hospital for that kind of injury, and that he was wasting resources. He said was embarrassed that he got an injury on such an "easy" hike when he's never injured himself climbing mountains. (Meanwhile, the hike was so hard for me it was close to my limit of endurance.)
He also keeps telling me I should exercise more, especially that I should run. I told him I get plenty of exercise and he said, "jokingly," "Yeah, ten minutes of tennis a week?" I recently gained 10 pounds, which was a good thing for me. (My disorder causes me to sometimes lose unhealthy amounts of weight, I am still well within my healthy weight range.) I have felt like he has made those comments more since that happened, but I could be imagining it.
He is also somewhat judgmental about how I arrange my living space, and how many possessions I have.
The hiking example is also an example of him being pushy. In general, he will be pushy when he wants me to do some kind of activity and he feels like I'm being unreasonable. These are just mundane things like taking walks when it's raining and cold out, going to parties late at night, etc. He has made comments to the effect that he wants to be with someone who is "up for anything." I am definitely not a person who is up for anything. I am flexible in many areas of life, but when I say "no" to something, I would like that to just be accepted without someone trying to wear me down with argument. As it is now, I say "no," then he spends 20 to 30 minutes arguing with me, and then he is frustrated and I am annoyed. It is true that I may be less flexible about certain things than the average person would be. It is also true that I may be inflexible about certain things that the average person might find to be arbitrary or random. I may, in fact, be "unreasonable" when I say no to certain things, however I still really don't want to do them.
I do not feel like putting any of my energy towards trying to change someone; I also think that is usually futile and can be pretty disrespectful. I also don't want to be changed. I like myself and my life, I am largely at peace with my flaws and limitations, and I am extremely happy. I am self-motivated and very capable, and do not need or want anyone to "motivate" or "improve" me by pushing me or harping at me; in fact, I'd rather not invest in relationships with people who feel I need to be substantially improved at all.
So, my questions:
I feel like I am too close to this situation to look at it objectively. So - do the kinds of issues in this relationship make it unworkable, or have you found that these sorts of issues in your own relationships could be solved? Am I too rigid? Should I give change a chance? Is it worthwhile to discuss some of the things that we haven't discussed? Any other insights that I am unable to see from my perspective?