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Can this relationship be saved?
March 25, 2014 9:42 AM   Subscribe

He's a doll ... who mocks religion, has a lazy, entitled child and is impatient.

Warning: Brevity has never been my strong point.

I am 3 ½ years into a relationship (FWIW: We are an interracial couple, me (43/f); he (55/m). We’ve been living together for the last year and a half and have actively discussed marriage. If we can survive the situation I’ll describe below, we’ll likely get engaged by the end of the year.

Pros: My boyfriend is the kindest man I’ve ever been with. I don’t mean “grand gestures” kind. I mean he makes and packs my lunch for me every day and puts it in my car. He’ll bring home a couple of my favorite French mints when I least expect it. He’s doting when I’m sick. He’ll write a grocery list and right between “Brussel sprouts and “hot sauce”, he’ll write “I love you.” He is egalitarian when it comes to house work and cooking. We are both liberal, social justice-minded and careful with our money. We have similar goals for the future (travel, volunteer projects, etc.) I’ve learned to really love movies since being with him. We’ve both learned a good deal from each other. He gets along well with my extremely dysfunctional family and friends to a one tout his good energy and sense of humor. He’s incredibly supportive of my career goals.

Cons: So, what, you say, is the problem?
1. He has disdain for organized religion. I mean REAL disdain. He mocks people who are believers and says disparaging things about the Bible and believers (in front of his 14-year-old daughter.) Recently, we were all on vacation and were in the hotel room. He pulled out the “yup, you know it’s there” Bible from the drawer and proceeded to mock-read a scripture while his daughter laughed. Though I was raised Christian, I am agnostic at best now. Nonetheless, I have real respect for people who live their faith and do my best to be respectful of everyone. I find his behavior immature and disrespectful and I have asked him not to say or do things that mock other people’s religion. Clearly, he ain’t listening.
2. The daughter: I’ve previously written about her. At 14, she has no chores whatsoever. Doesn’t clean her room. Doesn’t wash a dish. Leaves clothes everywhere. When she wants her laundry done, she puts the basket in the hallway and Dad does it. She doesn’t separate her clothes, fold them or put them away. She plays her parents against each other, causing conflicts between the two of them. I have never seen her do homework (though she gets OK grades.) If she is sitting in the living room and wants something from the kitchen, it’s “Dad, can you go get me a fork, a napkin and some ketchup?) If she is taking her medicine in the morning, she’ll stand two feet from the refrigerator and say, “Can somebody get me some water?” Her diet is atrocious and her doctor has recently told her parents that her cholesterol is too high and she needs to lose weight. She’s now on fish oil at the recommendation of the doctor. I have told my boyfriend that he needs to make her eat better and be more responsible in daily life. He uses food to gain her approval and to treat her – daily. Nothing happens. I’m afraid that when it’s finally time for her to leave and … do whatever, she won’t be prepared. She literally just learned how to use a microwave six months ago after I insisted that the child can’t be in high school and not know how to warm up an after-school snack.
3. He is extremely impatient. Not with me, of course. But we can’t go anywhere at all where there is greater than a five minute wait before he’s huffing and puffing. He’s also very easily frustrated with anything new in his life. (Windows 8 damn near gave him a stroke.) When he gets frustrated, he’s short-tempered and ugly. I’ll call him on it (He gets the temper from his father and does not like this aspect of his personality but at 55, I just don’t see him changing it.)

Despite all this, I love this man to pieces. I recognize some of what he does as insecurity. This is my longest relationship (Yes, at 43). We enjoy each other on a daily basis. Sex is great, we laugh a lot and agree on most of the “big things.” I am worried that the three issues mentioned above won’t change and that I won’t like it and will become increasingly frustrated. I know some of this is me. I’ve been single and independent for a long time and the compromise thing for me is very, very hard. I’d appreciate any advice here.

Apologies, again, for the length.

Thanks, folks.
posted by nubianinthedesert to Human Relations (54 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
1. I get why you'd not care for this, but if he did it only in private, I'd not consider it a dealbreaker, but I guess that's because I'm also a nonbeliever. If I was a believer, I'd be bothered by it.

2. Stay out of the livewire that is the daughter. Don't enable her by getting her water or contributing to her laziness, but stay out of that relationship. No good can come from getting more deeply involved in their dysfunction.

3. Is the temper a dealbreaker for you? I mean, if he's not violent and just gets in a lather...well, it's up to you if it's a dealbreaker. If he'd like to work on it, that's up to him, but only you can answer if it's a dealbreaker.
posted by inturnaround at 9:52 AM on March 25 [9 favorites]


I suspect his kindness you describe and the issues with his daughter are two sides of the same coin. Is him being as kind as you describe him really all that healthy? It seems he is maybe just using over the top kindness as a way to deal with people?
posted by ian1977 at 9:52 AM on March 25 [16 favorites]


Have you talked to him about how these behaviors make you feel?
posted by munchingzombie at 9:53 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Have you told him that you're actively wondering whether to break up with him over these things? If he doesn't realize the stakes, then he might not have enough reason to try to change.

Also, on the third thing: I was the same way. I resolved to spend less time worrying about "wasted" time, and I'm much happier. People can change.
posted by Etrigan at 9:53 AM on March 25 [5 favorites]


Is he lulzing at bibles in private with his loved ones, or mocking believers to their face? There's a big difference there, to me. I personally do not have a problem with people who do that privately. And generally this stuff exists on a spectrum -- "have real respect for people who live their faith and do my best to be respectful of everyone" -- really? How about scientologists? Conspiracy theorists? Anti-vax kooks?

As for the kid -- in the previous question, the then-12yo who had been through parental alcoholism and depression and general domestic sturm und drang, and then divorce, was "a spoiled rotten manipulative brat … and this is putting it lightly." And now the poor kid who has been through that crap in her early years has somebody in her life who dislikes her so much that it must be palpable to her, and it's impossible to imagine that that is doing anything positive for her behaviour, or life in general.

Lack of patience and being quick to anger are part of a very small number of things I have a lack of patience for and a notable extreme there would be a dealbreaker for me. I disagree that a 55yo can't change, though -- but he would need to want to.

Your disdain for the kid, who has been through a lot, seems like the biggest obstacle here.
posted by kmennie at 9:54 AM on March 25 [40 favorites]


Your disdain for the kid, who has been through a lot, seems like the biggest obstacle here.

Yeah, agree. No matter how well you think you are masking it, you probably aren't. And it probably bothers her.
posted by ian1977 at 9:56 AM on March 25 [13 favorites]


Millions of people are totally twitty fourteen-year-olds who turn out to be just fine as adults. Your obvious dislike of her and disapproval of basically everything that has to do with her is Not Helping, and if you can't help, you really need to stay out of it. That doesn't necessarily mean you're wrong about the fact that she'd be better off if she ate better and did more chores--but the list of things that would make her better off that come before food and housework is several miles long, and does not include you anywhere on it.

If you can do that, I think it'll reduce your stress level and everything will seem better. If you can't, probably best to go find a boyfriend who doesn't have a teenage kid, because the teenage child of your partner will never be yours to parent, and I'm talking personal experience here in terms of how hard it is to NOT give that kind of feedback when you're in that relationship, but you just can't. I am much happier now that I'm out of it, and for the foreseeable future I'm not dating anybody with kids between the ages of 9 and college for exactly that reason.
posted by Sequence at 9:56 AM on March 25


These issues won't change. Ever.

So. How is that for you?

1. He'll go on mocking religion. Can you tell him in that moment, for the fifty-eleventh time, that it's inappropriate and unkind?

2. His daughter. She'll either grow up to be a nightmare or a perfectly fine person. You don't get any kind of say at all. You can decide if you don't want to do things for her. You can ask her to help you with something, or to take out the trash. She either will or won't. Can you be at peace with this?

3. The impatience will only get worse.

So what you need to ask yourself is, is being with him worse than being without him?

The other thing you need to know is that you may change your mind down the road. You might be able to put up with this for another 5 years. Then one day, you'll decide that you don't want to any more. That's okay too.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:56 AM on March 25 [15 favorites]


Both 1 and 3 are things where you need to clearly communicate that you won't tolerate the behavior. Wishin' and hopin' won't change these behaviors. You need to communicate. Letting him continue to do things which offend you is counterproductive. This is "stop, or I'm leaving," then he either stops or you leave.

The daughter is a more difficult problem. People parent in the way they know how to parent and criticism isn't really helpful. If you stay with this man, then you need to accept that his parenting is unlikely to change. Brass tacks: you don't like the kid. We don't always like the children of people we like.

His temper, your disagreement about parenting issues, and your general dislike for the child make this a good time to wind down this relationship.
posted by 26.2 at 9:58 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


It's kind of blowing my mind to see such a disconnect between how he treats you and how he treats others and their beliefs. I can't even begin to parse that one, unless he's really just an angry man who hides it quite well when around you.

Live Wire #1: Religion. It seems as if you've tried to discuss this, but he ain't listening.

Live Wire #2: The Daughter. She sounds like a right terror. My question to you would be "Can you put up with his and his daughter's behavior for the next 4 (or more) years?"

If yes, then grit your teeth and gird your loins, as they are a package deal.
If no, then you better start planning a graceful exit from this situation, as there's a distinct possibility that it can only get worse when the daughter gets older.

Live Wire #3: His impatience. I don't see this changing at all. See #1, as I bet $10 bucks he ain't going to listen to that either.

If you're going to have a Come To Jesus with him about all this, you better have an exit strategy.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 9:59 AM on March 25 [4 favorites]


My only threadsit: I'm sorry. I have to disagree with those of you who say I have "disdain" for his daughter. Frustration? Yes. But she and I regularly spend time together alone (shopping, dinner out, movies with friends, pillow fights at home). I just don't approve of some of her behavior. Otherwise, I'm still listening.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 10:01 AM on March 25


I just don't approve of some of her behavior.

What people are saying is that the daughter knows this and can tell that you don't like her, no matter how well you think you're hiding it. Young girls are extremely, extremely, perhaps overly perceptive of when people feel negatively about them.
posted by phunniemee at 10:04 AM on March 25 [10 favorites]


He gets the temper from his father and does not like this aspect of his personality but at 55, I just don’t see him changing it.)

Why not? Behavioral change can happen at any age. It's part of being a resilient, adaptable human being. Anger management is a life skill that can be taught and learned.

If however he chooses to hide behind the excuse that "he got it from his dad", then you're pretty much hosed. And I can tell you, this type of guy gets worse over time, as his body starts to fail, and as he starts to feel more and more "disrespected" and socially-impotent due to his age. (I come from a long line of these types of guys.)

To me, this would be the dealbreaker. The kiddo will grow up and move out; the religion thing is annoying, but isn't a daily quality-of-life thing; but the impatience and his willingness to impose his ill-temper on those around him, that is going to grind you down.

Esp. given the age difference. In the next 5-10 years, the effects of aging are going to really kick in for him. Prepare for his grouchiness to get much worse...
posted by nacho fries at 10:05 AM on March 25 [7 favorites]


There are two different things you need to consider here - the short term and the long term.

First, the short term. For at least the next 4 years, and likely longer if what you describe is truly accurate, you will be dealing with his daughter and all the drama that comes with it. I agree that by your description, they are raising an entitled, self-centered kid that is going to have a rough reality check when they enter "real life". Until then, mom and dad will fight for attention and affection and it sounds like he's willing to be Nice Dad to win that battle. Are you willing to live with that for the next 4-10 years?

Second, if you are willing to live through that, is this someone you want to be around for the remainder of your life? You'll have another 10-20 years of empty nest with just you and him. As others have noted, his impatience and temper are just as likely to get worse as they are to soften. Maybe having his daughter and the stress out of his house will change him, maybe not. Is this someone you want to spend hours and hours a day with as an older couple? Things that you can look past now might start to grate on your nerves more as time passes.

Personal opinion: I don't feel like this passes the gut check. If I was a betting man, I'd bet that this isn't the man you want to spend the rest of your life with. He may be a fantastic boyfriend, but long-term I see a lot of red flags that have no sign of disappearing.
posted by _DB_ at 10:06 AM on March 25 [6 favorites]


The things you have identified as problems are not relationship problems, which makes me wonder if there's something else going on that you're not talking about when you're asking if the relationship can be saved.

It sounds like your teenage daughter is a bit spoiled, but honestly, nothing outside of the ordinary for teenagers, particularly given what she has gone through per your previous questions. I think it's worth looking into why it bothers you so much - particularly because some of the things you mention as being sweet things he does for you (like packing a lunch) are the same things you mention having a problem with him doing for his daughter.

Is part of the issue the fact that his teenage daughter will be your only child? You say that you've spent time alone with her shopping and such. Did you envision a different relationship with her than the one you got?
posted by corb at 10:07 AM on March 25 [10 favorites]


I think the specifics you've detailed here are not all that important. For some people all of those things would be okay and for some people none of them would be okay. The issue is that they are bothering you, enough to ask this question, and it is not all that likely they are going to change. In a happy relationship you have to accept the other person for who they are, annoying personality traits and all. This is really up to you now, to determine whether you're able to do that.
posted by something something at 10:07 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


The reason people are perceiving it that way is that you seem to have had two threads that were in large part about her, and in neither of them have you used any positive language at all to describe any of her qualities. If you think you're being reasonably even-handed about her... I don't think you are. But honestly, it wouldn't really matter either way; by the time they're teenagers, you don't get to parent the ones you like any more than the ones you dislike. You can certainly hang out, but you don't get to parent, and if you can't resist the urge to parent, it's not a good situation for you to be in.
posted by Sequence at 10:07 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Part of the "please get me a glass of water" thing is "please prove that you love me, that I am worth going out of your way for". (I'm guessing, based on people I know who do this.) It's annoying, and you personally don't need to say yes to her every time, but it's coming out of insecurity more than anything else.
posted by jeather at 10:08 AM on March 25 [20 favorites]


On #2: I would never, ever, ever advocate for "Just get married and watch how things improve!," but it's worth noting that if you married him, the daughter would become your stepdaughter. You'd have a very legitimate basis for going into family counseling with her, or with all three of you, to try and sort it out and make life enjoyable for your family unit.
posted by magdalemon at 10:16 AM on March 25


Honestly - you wrote a similar question two years ago, using some pretty harsh language about the kid. Moving in didn't fix it - so why would you possibly believe doubling down and getting engaged will?

One thing to note is the behavior you love about your boyfriend (buying you things, bending over backwards being doting) is a behavior you criticize in this and your last question about his daughter. It sounds like that's how he shows he loves people, and to be honest I think suggesting he curb that around his daughter while still providing it to you won't be a good conversation to have.

14-year olds are rude, lazy, entitled and, particularly if they have parents who never speak to one another, might have some angst that manifests all kinds of ways. Her home situation has changed drastically recently. Have some empathy about that.

Kids are very attune to when people perceive them to be a problem, so I think if you can't accept the kid as they are and work to be a positive influence (i.e., not referring to them as a " spoiled rotten manipulative brat … and this is putting it lightly"), then for everyone's sake you need to end the relationship.
posted by rutabega at 10:17 AM on March 25 [29 favorites]


1. This doesn't seem to actively matter to you, so who cares?

2. This is the big one. I come from a blended family, myself, and have seen ten rounds of the step-parents/step-kids game. From your ages, I'm guessing that you don't plan on having more children, so this is possibly less of a big deal than it could be (don't even get me started on step-kid/bio-kid favoritism and different parental expectations). But bottom line, if you're going to marry this guy, you're going to have to make your peace with his pesky teen dirtbag daughter. She's not your kid. You don't have a say whether she is polite or what she eats or how he disciplines her. Being a teenager with divorced parents is fucking hard. I would encourage you to be lenient and let her grow into the civilized human being she is strongly likely to become once she emerges from the teen dirtbag chrysalis.

3. I don't see him changing this, but I also don't think this particular personality flaw is worth breaking up over unless it's causing him to treat you badly or he's doing egregiously inappropriate things.

TL;DR: who cares about the religion thing, people have personality flaws and there's nothing you can really do about it, make your peace with the daughter or GTFO.
posted by Sara C. at 10:18 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Final comment. I promise: Me: Parents never married. Not one, not two, but three fathers for me and my siblings. I have a stepdad. I know it's hard for her.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 10:20 AM on March 25


I can see why this is a difficult decision for you--it sounds like there is a lot of good in the relationship that you are quite frankly lucky to have found rolled up in a single package.

I guess my question for you is, have you let your guy know not just that these things frustrate you, but that they are bordering on dealbreaker territory? Doing so in the context of short-term couples counseling might be the safest way to approach that. A 3.5 year serious relationship that involves living together (with a 14-yo, no less) merits that effort.

Of the things you mention, #1 is totally fixable if he's motivated, and progress should be possible on #2 and #3, although I will say that it's easy for nonparents to overestimate just how much control parents have over their adolescent children, especially in an age of radical changes in acceptable parenting tools (so please do try to avoid falling into the "when I was a teen..." trap).

A little more on the daughter, because I have some experience with parenting a teen daughter who can be lazy, disrespectful, overly dependent, and just plain more obnoxious than even your typical teen girl, who have a general reputation for obnoxiousness with good reason:

1) Does she have a psychiatric diagnosis? I ask mainly because "takes medication every morning" leads me to suspect that might be the case. If that's true, that's an important piece of information--not necessarily because kids with mental health issues should be excused from the expectation of some baseline civilized behavior, but because it's a much higher bar for them to meet and because for the parents, it's often a question of "is this the hill I want to die on?" Again, if this is the case, dad could probably benefit from working with a family therapist who can help create a better environment for everyone involved and provide support in the difficult job of raising a challenging kid. Also, certain psychotropic medications and/or the diagnoses they are intended to treat can have a strong impact on diet and eating behaviors.

2) At least some of what you mention is due, as I mentioned briefly above, to generational differences. In the past 30 years, parents have become much more involved in meeting their children's needs to a much older age, kids are not as independent as they once were, expectations about chores have changed, etc. etc.

3) Among her many other issues, my teen daughter has an eating disorder. We can talk about healthy choices, I can make changes in what I buy and serve, but (a) I cannot "make her eat better" and (b) any changes that I do encourage or introduce need to be thought out in the context of the whole emotional side of her eating behavior--a whole series of baggage tied up in thoughts about associations between food and feeling loved/worthy/deserving, being skinny and being liked and desired by peers, etc. etc. Ultimately she needs to be the one who makes choices to do things differently.

I've got my own individual therapist, and we spend a lot of time going over issues with my daughter and how to most effectively parent her. I swear to god, my therapist is the most valuable therapist my daughter has ever had, and they've never met :-) If you really want to stay in this relationship, I recommend you encourage your partner to work together with you to get outside help to make the improvements you need to see happen in order to feel comfortable about this relationship in the long term. How he responds to that request will tell you what you need to know about whether it's worth making the effort to make things better for everyone.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 10:24 AM on March 25 [6 favorites]


Another thing I thought of/noted on the second go-round:

You mention you are an inter-racial couple. I know from experience that there are strong differences in terms of what is expected in various cultures, particularly around the obedience/respect that children owe their parents.

It'd be worth sitting down with your partner and talking about what you expect from a child and what he expects, and see if you can come to some sort of understanding.
posted by corb at 10:26 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]


I can't imagine how frustrating it must be for you to live with the daughter, especially after a lifetime of independence and the ability to run your household the way you want it. I really dislike my boyfriend's son, but we don't live together and the son is an adult (who acts like a child) and I barely have to deal with him.

I think that one of the most important spiritual/psychological/emotional opportunities offered by relationship with another person is the opportunity to live with things that are not exactly as we would have them. I consider myself happy but slightly deficient because I am pretty clear that I can't/shouldn't live with an SO, since doing so would almost inevitably lead to the end of the relationship because I'm so stubborn and I Do Not Suffer Fools Gladly, even if they are only foolish in one or two little things.

Ultimately only you can say whether these issues are dealbreakers, but I do encourage you to consider whether these are the great lessons that your relationship can offer. Ram Dass used to say that he liked to surround himself with people he didn't like because those were the only people he really learned patience and compassion from. I think I would be a better person if I could live with what you've presented, even balanced with all the great gifts of the positives that you listed. I wonder if you could see your way clear to just learning to breathe through your frustration.

The religious snark and the not-directed-at-you impatience are (IMO) the easy ones. The daughter is the big one (again IMO). Just keep telling yourself that (a) you can't fix it, (b) it's not your job to fix it, and (c) it won't really be all that long before she's out of your hair. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater if you still like the baby.
posted by janey47 at 10:33 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I was a "spoiled" kid who grew up in a poor, very permissive family. We rarely did chores, had no discipline, ate horribly (god bless my genes, it didn't affect my health as a youngster), and we were probably right holy terrors at home (though always very polite and proper with strangers). When I was 13, my parents got a divorce, and my dad started dating a woman who was very strict with her children. Apparently, she complained a lot to my dad about how undisciplined and unhelpful we were, but to our face she was always nice and friendly and did kind things like driving me 500 miles to college when no one else could do it. I could "sense" that she was frustrated with our family dynamic on some occasions, but honestly, it didn't really affect my self-regard. I liked her, but she was "just" my dad's girlfriend. I was mature enough to realize at that age that someone could be frustrated or disagree with my life or even think I was lazy and not hate my guts and personality. So everyone who wants you to have the patience of a saint lest she sense your hatred is probably being a little demanding (you're only human, of course it bothers you that this girl isn't being raised right-- for her sake most of all).

I wish I had been raised with more responsibility-- some research shows that early soft skills are one of the most important factors in later life success-- but I turned out alright, after a few rocky years in college. I'm actually quite neat and tidy now, have a college degree, a job, an apartment, and a long-term boyfriend. The best thing you can do for her is BE THERE to show/help her when she needs help soon, as an independent young adult. When she's actually out on her own, she might realize she needs to take care of herself and then she'll want to learn all those skills she missed out on and will need someone to turn to! Four years is a long time and a short time. I wouldn't push her too hard now-- she's used to her life as is, it's all she's ever known. (If she's doing well in school on autopilot she's luckier than many.) The issue is if you lose respect for your guy because he's maybe not the world's best father-- but she'll be on her own soon, and maybe he was doing the best he could under the bad circumstances.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:34 AM on March 25 [13 favorites]


I'm sorry. I have to disagree with those of you who say I have "disdain" for his daughter.

You literally call her a "lazy, entitled child" in the first line of your post. Check yourself.
posted by Jairus at 10:35 AM on March 25 [35 favorites]


If you have such respect for other people's religious beliefs, you need to learn to respect his atheism.
posted by w0mbat at 10:36 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]


If you have such respect for other people's religious beliefs, you need to learn to respect his atheism.

Respectfully disagree. Being rude and mocking isn't part and parcel of being atheist, any more than it would be of any religion. Rude and mocking aren't covered under the umbrella policy of respecting people's religious beliefs.
posted by ian1977 at 10:44 AM on March 25 [29 favorites]


Only hang with him when his daughter isn't there. Roll your eyes at the religion thing. If he gets ugly while waiting in line...ignore, but depends how ugly.

You can't make him parent how you want him to, so why be involved in all that?
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:45 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


#1 sounds to me like something where it's hard for outside people to evaluate how important it is to your happiness. I mean, everyone you love is going to do certain things you wish they wouldn't; that's what category this would fall into for me. But if it really burns your bacon and makes you respect him less, maybe it is a deal-breaker. I'm not sure there's a lot of advice for this one other than "talk to him about it and then decide whether you can make your peace with it."

#2: My sense of stepfamilies is that this is a really common problem, particularly when you come into the picture -- or into the picture as a parental figure of any kind -- when the kid is older. She's already 14; you're not going to change the basic parenting style that's been applied to her. It seems to me you've got two obvious rights: for her to treat you with respect, and for her to recognize that you're an adult and she's 14, and when the two of you disagree about something that you and her dad have agreed you'll handle or help handle, she's to listen.

But ... there's so much stuff mixed in here, you know? You don't like the way she eats; that's a common and *complicated* problem that, if she's 14, he's not entirely able to control even if he tries. She doesn't have enough chores; that's something you and her dad can probably navigate. She leaves messes in her room; that might be a battle not to fight. She leaves messes in common areas; that's clearly your business because you live there. It's so hard.

Not everybody is cut out to live with another person's child who's probably not ever going to look at you as a parent. You wind up with a different, special, often incredibly valuable relationship, but in a lot of these cases I've observed, it's not parenting exactly. And that's a very tough gray area to exist in, because you're not in charge.

I do agree with people who have noted that while you don't feel like you have disdain for her, you kind of come off like you do, which means that whether you actually feel it or not, you may be giving the same impression -- even if it's a mistaken impression -- to her. I don't think it's a situation you can't address by talking to your boyfriend; you can talk to him. The two of you can talk about it as a couple. But you probably cannot take it out of his hands, and you probably cannot change the kind of parent he is at this stage. Adjust, yes. But if he's permissive, he will probably continue to be too permissive for you. If he doesn't hold her feet to the fire, she will probably -- just as you expect -- have a rough landing on her own, but she'll probably figure it out. Many folks do.

This is one of those things where I think you're less in search of advice and more in search of something like support, just because ... the situation you've entered into is really, really hard. I read your other question about her, and this child has had a really, really, REALLY hard road. Your sense that she's spoiled and entitled, I mean ... I was not spoiled in the ways you're talking about, but I can tell you that I had a much easier life than she's had. She's paid a very heavy price for how she's been parented, based on what you've said, and if she understood that, she wouldn't like it any more than you do. She's learned to get by. She'll continue to do that, and yes, it's really, really a lot to ask of you to stay in this with him and with her. I admire good stepparents/additional trusted adults enormously. It's a hard gig.

#3: See #1.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 10:47 AM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Relationships don't have to be 24/7 live-in to be valuable. You don't have to marry to be happy. Taking a big step back could be really good for you.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:49 AM on March 25 [7 favorites]


Oh, also, I've noticed that repartnered men sometimes subconsciously consider themselves less responsible for the difficult parts of parenting because there is a woman around. You might find him stepping up to the plate more if you really disinvest yourself and he has no one to blame, resist, or rebel against.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:53 AM on March 25 [5 favorites]


I can't speak to the other aspects, but I dated a guy for several years who was very disdainful of religion, and perhaps more to the point, of religious people. He openly admitted that he could not respect people who were religious, no matter what else they had going for them. His rejection of religion was, as far as I could tell, tied very deeply into his self-image, his coming of age, his quest for independence from his Orthodox Jewish religious upbringing. Nevertheless, I came to see it not just as a harmless, private quirk, but as an inability to empathize with other people, to recognize that others could have just as much intelligence, awareness, information, critical thinking skills, and so on, and simply come to different conclusions which were as valid as his own.

Over the course of our relationship I eventually found that this included a general inability to respect the viewpoints, feelings, and intelligence of others (including me) on many other topics. My own over-compensating understanding of his influences and decisions was not extended back to me. He tended to put me in the middle in my early-twenties disagreements with my conservative, immigrant parents (because I didn't handle things as he would have, he would lose respect for me and speak disdainfully of my actions/inability to myself and others; I was stuck between a loving rock and a beloved hard place for pretty much the whole relationship with repercussions afterward). He was often patronizing toward me, generally manipulative about reaching his own goals without equal regard for my own, and may have loved me (?) but did not treat me with respect.

He was very intelligent and an amazing talker, but it wasn't until years afterward that I realized how young he was (and he was many years older than I). And yet, set in his ways: as far as I know he's still saying the same things, over and over. My ex is more than 20 years younger than your boyfriend, and I suppose anything could happen; he could yet change, your boyfriend could still change. I'm still figuring it out; maybe I'm the one who needed to change. But at 55 and with a 14-year-old, your partner is probably the way he's going to be, and you have to figure out if you're OK with this never changing.

People are saying that these are not relationship issues, and maybe they're right. But I think they're indicative of values differences, of mismatches in the ways in which you both think of respect. It sounds like you have trouble respecting his choices and behavior (and I probably would, too) and feel that he doesn't respect others' viewpoints or teach respect for others to his child. You must find a way to work past it, or it's the beginning of the end. If it gets to the point where you can't respect each other--if disdain ever gets a foothold--no matter what else you do for each other...well, you might be able to make it work, but you might not want to.
posted by spelunkingplato at 10:53 AM on March 25 [17 favorites]


The daughter: I’ve previously written about her.

So, that prompted me to read your previous question about her. Wow, that was a long time ago, and it's the exact same issue as today. I don't know what you've done between then and now to fix the issue, but it's a long time to have a problem with a child. Whoever's "fault" this is, I don't think the dynamic will change given how long it's been going on. She can't leave the relationship, so it's probably time for you to do so.
posted by Houstonian at 10:54 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


I can understand how these things would upset you. What I'm reading is that there are issues with respect. The father doesn't show respect for the views of others. The child follows his example by not respecting cleanliness standards, her health, and the father allows it, maybe even encourages it. The only suggestion I can think of is really talking to him about your concerns. "I'm seeing these things, and this is what I think/feel." You might be able to come up with some solutions together, such as making a routine chore list, pushing self-sufficiency and confidence, setting up some way to make eating healthy and enjoyable for everyone. I'm not suggesting you need to give an ultimatum, but if you're close to leaving, then you probably need to seriously communicate that.

Just speaking from my own experience, it can be very difficult to change a family dynamic when you're coming in to the family late. If you really care, and you seriously want to be apart of the family, then you should talk about what you see and feel. But I think you really need to approach this from a place of gentleness and love, not anger and disgust (though I understand those feelings.) This is a damaged kid with likely a rough road ahead and your boyfriend is struggling, too. How committed are you willing to be?
posted by amodelcitizen at 10:57 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Regarding disdain for organized religion, sounds like my in-laws. I think that you and I are in similar positions where we're not religious but have some respect for religion and religious people. I might just come up with a short phrase you can say when he does something like that: "Honey, we've talked about how that's disrespectful." Done. He might not change but he knows how you feel.

When it comes to the daughter, I feel like you may be able to draw some lines in the sand. It is not a good situation when a teenager doesn't know how to do simple chores like microwave a snack. She's going to go to college some day in the not terribly distant future. She needs to know how to do certain tasks like laundry. When it comes to some of these tasks, you can try to be like a big sister to her. Assuming you actually enjoy spending time with her, can you have a laundry night where you watch a movie she wants to watch or catch up on shows and you both do laundry and show her how?

Some of these things will be resolved by age. I learned how to do laundry when I was a teenager, was getting ready for school one morning and could not find *any* clean underwear. She'll learn to do things like cook for herself when she has to. Right now, she doesn't have to.

As for her diet, a 14 year old isn't doing grocery shopping and meal planning. Who in the house is? Where do meals come from? Can she be more involved in the meal planning process? Can you and your boyfriend teach her about healthy eating? She's going to resist to some extent but again, this stuff catches up to you - maybe not at age 15 but when a doctor is telling her she might have to go on statins when she's 19, she might wise up and remember the things you taught her.

I wish my parents had taught me how to prepare some healthy meals. I had to teach myself. If you made grocery shopping, meal planning and cooking a thing you do together, I think that would be very rewarding. Plus it will make her feel more confident to be able to do things like chop an onion or make a special meal for her father. You could keep a journal or start a blog of recipes you tried making together and how they turned out - what stuff you liked and didn't like, how you might do it differently the next time, etc.

Similarly, I wish my parents had taught me how to calm myself down when I felt stressed out. It sounds like that is not something that your boyfriend learned from his family but maybe you can help? I used to be really impatient and I think I'm less impatient now. I try to remind myself, hey, it's not a big deal, it has only been a few minutes, count to 100, etc. You can gently remind him. My husband helps me calm down while I'm stressed out.

You won't be able to change some of these things but I'd prioritize the items that are most important to you and really work on them. At the same time, no one is perfect and if you're otherwise happy, maybe the good things outweigh the bad enough for you. If not, maybe you shouldn't get engaged.
posted by kat518 at 11:00 AM on March 25 [6 favorites]


.He mocks people who are believers and says disparaging things about the Bible and believers (in front of his 14-year-old daughter.) Recently, we were all on vacation and were in the hotel room. He pulled out the “yup, you know it’s there” Bible from the drawer and proceeded to mock-read a scripture while his daughter laughed

If this bothers you, then say that. Don't make it about the daughter. Atheists are allowed to raise their kids with their worldview just as religious people are allowed to do the same. If he thinks religion is a fraud, why would he want his kid to be hoodwinked?

Don't cloak your problem in protecting the daughter; that's pretty much assured to make him defensive. You don't like it. Your daughter has nothing to do with it.
posted by spaltavian at 11:25 AM on March 25 [10 favorites]


Why don't you start doing a dinner-and-a-movie night where everybody is involved in choosing & cooking the meal and then, after the movie (the daughter gets a lot of input here), cleaning up the dishes? There's no point in getting upset about his parenting style, so you should use your energy in a positive manner that brings y'all closer and provides an opportunity for the daughter to learn about life skills. :) You could all volunteer for Habitat for Humanity on a Saturday (get a snack that she likes afterward, like Pinkberry or whatever), or plant a garden together (let the daughter pick out what kind of music to listen to while you're building the raised beds and play it outside on a boom box). Try to do things that help bring those positive behaviors into all of your lives and create a good family environment.
posted by semaphore at 11:40 AM on March 25 [5 favorites]


I dated someone who was terribly impatient and quick to get frustrated/overwhelmed, especially in public situations that involved waits of any length. He turned out to have an untreated anxiety disorder, and his life was much, MUCH improved by seeking therapy and medication for that problem. Has anxiety been ruled out in your boyfriend's case?
posted by Pizzarina Sbarro at 11:43 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]


I think the insight above about therapy was excellent. My mom's therapist is the second-best therapist I've ever had (I love my therapist too much to say best!)

I know you care about his daughter. Because of this fact, I would advise you to think carefully about your relationship with her - and I think it might be more productive with a therapist. This has been an issue for two years and I think unpacking your relationship with the daughter with an individual therapist of your own might really help you crack this problem. I don't think there is something wrong with you: I think this is complicated and you're too close to it and that a therapist could really help you tackle it. An LCSW might be a really good choice of therapist for you.

I wish you the best of luck.
posted by sockermom at 11:45 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Wow. Some really helpful and insightful responses here. Thank you all sincerely. I marked quite a few best answers but others were helpful as well. I especially appreciate the ideas surrounding healthy eating (I do cook and grocery shop for us but she will not eat anything I bring home and daughter and dad end up at Micky Ds or Taco Bell. Sigh.) Also, someone upthread asked whether daughter is in therapy. She is and is on medication, as am I. When she started that course, things were really good between us because she was able to talk to me about things she was feeling with the new meds. Her mood is substantially brighter now.

BF went to counseling for about three months, tried meds for the same amount of time and then dismissed them. I think there is definitely something to Pizzarina Sbarro's point. I might have to gently bring it up with him again.

Finally, I know I post about the daughter when I've reached my breaking point and I sincerely appreciate an outlet to get a fresh perspective, particularly from folks who have been in my situation. At home, I do my level best to make sure dad and daughter have time alone without me and I don't say anything critical about daughter in front of her. Ever. I understand her circumstances are tough because I've been in her shoes. My mother married my stepfather (a Nigerian man; I am African-American) three months after meeting him at which point we left Brooklyn, where I had three generations of extended family in five boroughs and the islands to move to a suburb of Omaha where I was the only black person anywhere. I am intimately familiar with the perils of teen life.

I plan to try some of the suggested tactics and will get back with an update. Thanks, again.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 12:24 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


I do cook and grocery shop for us but she will not eat anything I bring home and daughter and dad end up at Micky Ds or Taco Bell. Sigh.

I don't want to create an additional problem where you're not seeing one, but this actually strikes me as significantly more disrespectful than your SO's treatment of religion. I know every family/culture is different, but in my parents' house, passing up a thoughtfully-prepared, home-cooked meal in favor of fast food would have been unacceptably rude. The fact that your boyfriend not only accommodates his daughter in this situation, but actively participates in undermining the contribution you make in buying/preparing quality food, seems like something you should discuss with him.
posted by Pizzarina Sbarro at 12:44 PM on March 25 [16 favorites]


Honestly, the daughter doesn't sound terrible for her age. I don't think it's fair to blame her for being lazy and entitled, when what I think you're really irritated with is how your boyfriend treats her like a baby. She's daddy's girl. It's suiting both of them -- she gets affirmation and security, and he gets to generously make the little things in her life easy because he's guilty about the disruption of divorce. (This would make me grit my teeth to witness as well, so I feel you there.)

I'd advise to not think of things with her, philosophically speaking, as her dad's indulgence requiring a correction or disapproval on principle. She knows she could do things for herself. She knows that not everyone is as indulgent as her father. So does her dad. That's the point. She's special. He's special. If I were you, I'd roll my eyes but not argue, just treat her graciously the way you would treat a niece or a friend's kid, but on your own terms, not her father's, and don't take any of it personally.

So, hey, if you're close to the fridge, maybe you don't really mind fetching her a glass of water when she asks. It doesn't mean anything more than a glass of water. If you're absorbed in something and she demands that you jump up and serve her, I would laugh it off good-naturedly. (e.g. "Uh, no can do, silly, got both hands full here!" or "Yeah right, but while you're up, could you fetch me some tea?") Keep in mind that you can demonstrate over time the ways that YOU show indulgence and caring -- different than her father, because you're an actual human being that she knows and not just "grownup lady in the role of dad's girlfriend-person."

Honestly, your relationship with your boyfriend doesn't sound doomed at all to me, and none of the situations you describe sound like dealbreakers. It's just the part of the intimacy that comes with being adults who want to share their lives with each other.

The religious mockery sounds annoying, and I think it's totally fine to point out that it's really no fun to hear him sound like a jerk, even when you agree about religious beliefs being nonsensical. Surely he has friends that are Christian who he doesn't walk around constantly despising, surely he believes some irrational things himself, let's not get too high on our horses, shall we? (I would definitely go with the angle of "your behavior is gross" versus "you are disrespectful." Actually, I would probably mock him right back with a well-placed sarcastic zinger about some of his "irrational beliefs," but that's me.)

The temper can totally be a changed behavior -- he's not enjoying it, it's making him unhappy and you unhappy and he undoubtedly remembers how he felt as a child. He's not his dad. It'll take some time, but he CAN slowly learn to deal with it a different way. (And it's also okay for him to just avoid some of the stuff that makes him nuts. There's a reason why I'm the one who handles utility companies and computer stuff and my partner handles the grocery shopping, and that reason is our mutual sanity.)
posted by desuetude at 1:03 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Do you respect him? Look at him like he was an outsider who you aren't in a relationship with. What do you think of him as a man and a parent? There is a reason why Mefis tell posters to look at how their partner treats servers at a restaurant, or other people in the community. I don't know this person, so my advice might be off, but what I see in your post is multiple examples of him being very nice, but not very kind. "Nice" is not the same as "kind."

Nice: being nice is often associated with being agreeable. It involves doing things for others that also makes the individual's life easier, or serve to raise the individual's reputation in a relationship.

Kind: acting for the good of people regardless of what they do.

This is why we say "it's a nice day out" vs "it's a kind day out". The weather can be agreeable to your tastes, but it cant be acting on your behalf. Usually, kind people are honestly considerate and sensitive to the needs of others. Nice people just know how to seem agreeable and pleasant. My point is, he's doing sweet little things for you, but from your post, I can't tell if they're just "things you do to keep your partner happy, which in turn makes your life easier." Same with his daughter; is he trying to be kind, or just taking the path of least resistance? A mixture of both? How much of each?

Writing you love notes is nice, but realizing that a wait time at a restaurant usually means that the place is understaffed, and everyone is working hard to do the best they can during rush hour, that is kindness.
posted by Shouraku at 1:19 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


To me it sounds like he's slightly depressed and these are a bunch of coping mechanisms. I think it also sounds like he's by and large doing the best he can, given that he's not a perfect person.
posted by heyjude at 1:56 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


For those mentioning SO's depression: I agree. Any tips on how to approach this with him? We've discussed it but it's almost like he doesn't think he can feel any better, despite my own experiences with anti-depressants/therapy.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 1:59 PM on March 25


Honestly your SO and relationship sounds pretty great.

#1. I have a distaste for people who mock religion/religious people too, but at this point it sounds like a habit and not something he's consciously doing, if that makes sense. Like, he takes it for granted and may not think he's being hurtful if he's doing it privately and not in front of religious people. You can ask him to refrain from doing it in front of you but try to remember the habitual aspect to it if he's been making these jokes for several decades.

#2. You cannot control this girl, try reframing your "shoulds" for her to "hopes". So, you hope that she decides to start eating better so that she can be healthier. The dad is enabling her somewhat but on the other hand lots of teenagers eat like that and grow out of it on their own. I know someone who ate nothing but nachos with fake cheese sauce for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for years as a teen and now she's a super healthy vegetarian. I had an authoritarian step-parent figure around as a teenager and it made living at home so much worse during that time, I really resented having to hear them tell me what to do even if it was reasonable, my parents needed to step up their game with me but I didn't want a non-parent trying to do it. Could you try asking her what she would like to eat? Like if you can make slightly better versions of the food she likes (e.g. tacos, burritos, even some fries).

#3. He can learn better stress management if he is interested, but I would see if you can just accept it as is without it upsetting you. I would frame it as something that will benefit his health and well-being and not something that drives you crazy. Could you start with trying to meditate or take long walks together? Anything to increase mindfulness?
posted by lafemma at 2:38 PM on March 25


I don't know what kind of crap food his daughter is into but an easy "in" might be trying to make it yourselves. I tried this recipe for homemade Oreos before and they were a bit of work but pretty good. I haven't tried this recipe for oven-fried potato chips but my husband and I have made oven-fried potato chips and they were really good.

Even if you make something and she doesn't like it, you can use it as an opportunity to start a conversation. Cookies too crunchy? Maybe next time, we can bake them at a lower temperature and use butter or Crisco. If she doesn't like the potato chips (or even if she does), maybe try putting a different spice on them the next time or try sweet potatoes. Sure, homemade Oreos aren't at all like a kale salad with beets but something made at home is almost always healthier than something you buy in a grocery store or a restaurant. Or at least that's what I tell myself.
posted by kat518 at 2:59 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


I hate to be a downer, but I don't see any of those things changing. The type A impatience and hostility towards whole categories of people... at least some of that is probably basic temperament. I think you *maybe* could get traction on one or two behavioral expressions of that, with a lot of motivation and work, but I basically agree that at 50+, odds for a wholesale personality transplant are slim. Agree with other posters' thoughts about the daughter and will add that it's going to be a lifetime commitment, not four years. The actual living with her part may be limited, it may also be longer than the four years. If you want to make this work, my view is, it will have to involve acceptance of these things and a lot of adjustment, probably on your part.
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:29 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


I'm coming at this as a nonbeliever myself, but I don't think I could be in a relationship where we disagreed on a topic such as making disparaging comments about the Bible. I don't think he will change, I don't think he should have to, and I think it is probably important to him that you not only tolerate those comments, but agree with them. I guess you'll have to decide how big of a deal it is in your relationship, but if my husband told me to stop making fun of the Bible I would be shocked. And disappointed. And would wonder if we even agreed at all.

I don't have or want children, but I can see how this would be super tough as a not-quite-stepparent, and I'm sorry you're have to deal with it. I do agree with others who say you sound like you have some contempt towards her. I totally understand why! But again, I don't think I could continue in a relationship like that.

His patience may be the easiest fix--you'll either learn to deal with it like we deal with our spouse snoring or making that same lame joke all the time, or he'll learn to knock it off. Maybe you can meet in the middle? You can agree to take over some of the tasks that stress him out since they don't bother you, and then maybe he can relax a bit.

I think this relationship CAN be saved, sure. But do you want to do all this stuff forever?
posted by masquesoporfavor at 4:33 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


It sounds like you have a pretty good relationship! When you say, "despite all this, I love the man to pieces" -- well, that sort of eyes-open assessment could apply to just about every functional relationship. No relationship is perfect; every relationship is a work in progress. But here are my two cents on your specific questions. Tl;dr -- spend more time communicating about these issues, ideally in couples counseling, particularly #s 2-3.

On Number 1, I'll just share my experience being rattled by someone's open hostility to religion. To me, this issue declined in importance over time. I spent some time considering the cruelty caused by organized religion (not that there isn't also good) and the hypocrisy of some of its practitioners, and was soon able to both respect good people of faith and his antipathy toward religion. Ultimately, if he generally behaves kindly, as you say, then this simply becomes a difference of opinion. Tolerating a few of those is a very minor price to pay for a good relationship. Of course, perhaps he will also come to understand why this bothers you and learn to tone it down a bit.

Numbers 2 and 3 are bigger deals. If they're not dealbreakers now, they may never be, but they do sound like they substantially bother you, and you've even posted about one before. It seems like you haven't gotten very far in talking these through with him? These things seem like fairly complex issues that will take some time and conversation to come to a place of peace about. Have you two ever considered couples counseling? It could be highly valuable.

Even if they are caused by his depression, couples therapy may well be the best place to start. It might sound great to hope that he'll go to therapy, but honestly, it just doesn't work to tell someone else "go get therapy and fix yourself." (I've tried!) It's a very hard sell, and at best, they'll go and fix something else. :) If you're having problems with the way he is behaving, even IF those behaviors stem from some diagnosable mental illness, couples counseling is both the easiest way to begin this conversation, and the most likely path toward solutions for what most bothers you (as opposed to the symptoms of that illness that most bothers him, say, his procrastination at work).

It's a wonderful thing, honestly. The best couples counseling will build upon your strengths as a couple while gently easing into addressing the more difficult spots. These issues sound like ones that you need to discuss a great deal more, and couples counseling can make this process a bit more productive, maybe also more comfortable. Both #2 and #3, but particularly #2, have a lot to unpack -- his upbringing, your upbringing, his past alcoholism and guilt, his desires now, your desires now... Couples counseling creates a space for discussing those things in a respectful manner and really hearing one another.

Someone might ask, "how can talking really solve anything? He needs to just change how he behaves!" But the talking at couples counseling can be a necessary precursor for having him understand what change you are asking for and why, and for feeling willing to consider those changes. He might not understand how seriously these things bother you, or might not yet feel sympathy for the emotions that arise in you when these things occur.

Sometimes it's not even about one person or the other changing. Sometimes just more deeply understanding why someone does what they do, or them acknowledging that this thing bothers you (an apologetic smile when they realize "I just did it again, didn't I?") can change a problem from a dealbreaker into something you can live with. I read somewhere (one of John Gottman's books?) that it's not always that a problem has to go away; it can be enough for the couple to feel like they are on the same team, to be able to discuss "oh yeah, there's that problem again" with humor, mutual concern, and love. Right now it sounds like these problems feel huge and scary, a third rail too explosive to touch, something that divides you. Instead, the problems could be something you know well, almost a way to come to understand one another more deeply.

Anyway, your relationship sounds like one that is worth some effort, and now you've heard my sales pitch for why that effort should come in the form of couples counseling! I wish you guys all the best.
posted by salvia at 4:48 PM on March 25


One more thought: you clearly want to talk about what it's like to watch him parent and the pain it causes you, and you clearly want to hear why someone might act the way he does. You clearly wonder whether he might change his behaviors in these three areas. The problem is that you're asking the wrong people! (I mean, I can see why, we are pretty great and all. But we just don't know!) So, the question is, how do you have these conversations with him? How do you explore these topics without someone getting hurt or somehow damaging the relationship? Those kind of guided conversations are exactly what couples counseling exists to provide.

But if you're not willing to go to couples counseling, you might polish up your skills around non-violent communication, respectful inquiry, compassionate listening, etc., then start exploring these topics and sharing your own opinions. I'd caution you that you seem to have some strong opinions, (as do we all), and while in some places I agree with you, in others I think "well, that's your preference and desire, but I don't completely agree with you. I don't personally think that what he or his daughter is doing is such a big deal in that case." So if you try to have these conversations without a third party to make sure that both people's views are respected, you should go into the conversation ready to carefully listen and to share your own preference / desire / opinion as your own, without assuming that it's "the right way." (This is very hard to do.)
posted by salvia at 5:01 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


First, let me just say that have a lot of compassion for what it feels like to wonder if a relationship can be saved. I'm in a similar boat myself. Okay, now back to you.

#1 and #3 would be deal-breakers for me. I was once involved with someone who was very hostile toward religion. It rubbed me the wrong way and caused me a great deal of stress. The same person also happened to have a very short temper. He could not deal with difficult situations or pressure at all, and his impatience was very unpleasant to be around.

That said, the most unpleasant thing of all is that I personally chose to stay in a relationship with someone who had qualities that I found so unappealing. I didn't realize until after I left the relationship that I could actually be with someone whose personality did not drive me crazy or make me recoil with horror.

Relationships with people who are not entirely compatible with us help us identify the qualities that are and are not dealbreakers. You have to decide, based on your own fierce determination to love yourself and honor your truth, if you would be happier alone than forcing yourself to lower your standards and get by with someone whose basic mode of functioning and seeing/reacting to the world (#1 and #3) seems to be so at odds with yours.
posted by Gray Skies at 12:06 PM on March 29


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