I love my girlfriend, but am I doin it rite?
February 7, 2008 10:17 AM   Subscribe

I am madly in love with my girlfriend. I want it to last. Am I doing everything I should be doing, as a good boyfriend?

I have been with my current girlfriend for 6 months. We are both between 18-21 years of age. I've had relationships before, but they were different. In the past, I liked someone's company and the feeling of companionship. Sentimental, you could say. My longest relationship before this was 2 years, but it was casual and didn't mean much in the end.

Before this, I had never been with someone who I would consider marrying, spending the rest of my life with, etc.. I'm sure many of you have been there, but this is really new for me. I know we're both young, but I am so in love with her that it just.. it doesn't make sense. The only way I want this to turn out is with me giving her my love for the rest of my life, if not for the freakin rest of time itself.

But beneath all my layers of sap and sentimental mushiness, I do have a cynical, pessimistic realist side. I have a few concerns with our relationship and I want to know:
- if I should be concerned
- and if so, am I doing everything in my power to make things work?

1) She has low self esteem. She is very up and down, with her self-image and bouts of self-deprecation. I would say that she has an episode of either one (or both) maybe 5 or 6 days out of the week. She gets down on herself because she thinks she looks fat, or she doesn't think she'll amount to anything, or she hasn't decided what she wants to do career-wise, or she has one zit on her face that you can't even see with a microscope.

What I'm doing about it:
- I tell her very often how much I love her. I tell her in different ways. I tell her how I think about her during the day. We buy something from the grocery store, and I take her through a detour in the candy aisle to buy something she likes, just because.
- I tell her how beautiful she is, that she's slim and gorgeous (she's tall and slender, and her body fat is like.. if she leans back you can make out her floating ribs. It's all in her head!) I talk to her about how great she looks, how her hair is awesome, she has great lips and such a cute face. She's a knockout.. she just has trouble seeing it. She will eventually smile, get kind of giddy, and be like "okay :)"

2) We're both young.. what does that mean? I know that back in the "good old days," two people could spend their whole lives together, but my parents are divorced. Everyone's divorced. Some people have relationships in their twenties that last 3 years and then fizzle out. How can I prevent that? Is it even worth stressing over? My common sense tells me I should just live for the moment, be thankful day by day, and other stuff like that.. but if we ever end up apart, that stuff won't be enough.

3) She's exactly like the girlfriend here. That guy strikes me as kind of full of himself. I am not. I just love my girlfriend very much and want her to think us as equals, because I do. Honestly I think my girlfriend is hotter than I am by a pretty healthy margin.. but she often tells me that I'm so good to her, and so good-looking, and nobody else would ever love her this way if I left her. I mean.. it's really touching, and I know it comes from the heart.. but with that, obviously, she is missing some sense of self-worth.. you know?

TL;DR: I am happy with my girlfriend, she's happy with me. In the long term, am I doing things right? What should I do? What can I do? I somehow landed the woman of my dreams - how can I be perfect for her?

Thanks in advance for your help and advice.. I'll be checking back a lot so feel free to ask questions if you want.
posted by crunch buttsteak to Human Relations (32 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
We're both young.. what does that mean?

It means you should take things one day at a time -- no amount of advice can guarantee you happiness and longevity in a relationship. It sounds like you're scared of losing the feelings you have now, and that this is more or less a fear of the uncertainty of the future rather than of this specific relationship. You say you are both happy with each other, so just let it be.
posted by spiderskull at 10:27 AM on February 7, 2008


First, I would say not to stress out about how the relationship will end. Not only is stressing out about it bad for you, it is going to be bad for the relationship. Stress is contagious. Continue to be supportive and encouraging, but try to be relaxed about it.
posted by d4nj450n at 10:27 AM on February 7, 2008


In my experience, the best possible thing you can do to find a suitable long term relationship is to just be yourself.

It doesn't really matter how much you want this one to work. It may or may not be the right one, but if you end up worrying, stressing and not being you, you'll either end up with a relationship in which you are unhappy with the constant effort, or you'll ruin it by changing from the person she already likes.

Se's young, you're young. You'll both grow and change. Hopefully you'll grow either together, or in a mutually compatible way. If not, you'll have to go your separate ways to be happy.

You can't force this. You can't change this. Trying to will break it. Be positive and enjoy what you have. That's the most healthy thing to do for both of you. Obsessing about trying to keep a certain little bubble of perfection will most likely break it.
posted by Brockles at 10:29 AM on February 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


My common sense tells me I should just live for the moment, be thankful day by day, and other stuff like that.. but if we ever end up apart, that stuff won't be enough.

You should listen to your common sense.
posted by SBMike at 10:29 AM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


To answer your first question, yes, it sounds like you're doing everything right. But true love and a lasting relationship means being able to just be yourself with your partner, and not have to "do" everything right. Project ahead 10 years. Will her constant self-doubt grate on your nerves by then? Will you tire of being her constant cheerleader? If you married her and suddenly suffered a debilitating illness or serious accident, can you picture her staying by your side and tending to your daily needs? Would you do the same for her? (It's rare, but such things do happen; I in a hospital ICU waiting room once where I overheard a tearful woman talking about her husband who had broken his neck the previous month in a diving accident during their honeymoon.)

It's probably best to take things one day at a time and enjoy the moment, but keep your eyes and mind open before you make any life-altering decisions like proposing marriage.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:30 AM on February 7, 2008


Congratulations on the wonderful relationship!

One thing is don't stress out about doing everything perfect. Its a good thing to strive for, but unless you're super human, you won't always be able to accomplish this all the time. Don't set up unreachable expectations that'll lead to your own unhappiness when you fail to achieve them.

Second, keep up the positive reinforcement when she has her doubts about herself. Over time, hopefully, your constant support will wear down that poor self-esteem.

Third, don't stress out about if the relationship will be around one year from now or five. Enjoy it for what it is. One thing you can do is just remind her you love her and she's important to you. You can do this not with just grandiose gestures, but little things. Notes, letters, the occasional flowers, just little things that say, "Hey, you were in my thoughts and heart today. Thank you for loving me!"
posted by Atreides at 10:31 AM on February 7, 2008


but with that, obviously, she is missing some sense of self-worth

yeah she is. It's a good thing you recognize that but, well, nothing in your post actually mentions anything you are doing to help her find some self-worth. Telling her that she's beautiful is a good thing but what are you doing to help her find something to hold on to? Encouraging her hobbies? Encouraging her friendships? Supporting her and trying to really listen to her?

A lot of women at that age are going to have problems with self-worth. A lot of guys are too. It's completely normal. The trick, though, is to get in a position where she's able to gain confidence in herself and you're able to gain confidence in yourself at the same time. You both move in your own trajectories while being together. Is it easy? No. Is there a chance that once you both start moving where you want to go that you'll both split? Hell yeah - it's quite common. But like d4nj450n says, don't focus on the end. Focus on building yourselves together.

And in terms of divorce, a couple at my church just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. So, not everyone married young gets divorced, just so you know.
posted by Stynxno at 10:34 AM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is it even worth stressing over?

As people have said already, probably not.

In my opinion none of the things you mentioned are worth worrying about. Your girlfriend has some pretty common self-esteem issues, and it seems like you are doing a good job of being supportive. It sounds like you are both happy with your relationship.

There's not any secret way to make sure that both of you are always happy together and will stay together forever. Your relationship will probably go through some hard times eventually, and yes that could end up with the two of you breaking up, but all relationships hit rough spots at some point. I would say just enjoy the relationship you have today, and deal with any problems when they come up rather than worrying about them now.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:35 AM on February 7, 2008


With regards to #1 and #3, you gotta watch out for the insecurity and lack of self-worth. It's insanely common in girls her age (and guys, really), but it can be incredibly poisonous to relationships. Ultimately, you can't make her more secure in herself. That's something she has to find on her own. Establishing a pattern where stating "I'm fat!" is followed by twenty minutes of praise from you and a trip down the candy aisle is not healthy for either of you. You will eventually get upset that she still thinks she's fat--believe me, you will--and she will become dependent on your praise in lieu of actually learning to appreciate herself and her body. So positive reinforcement is good, praising things she does and personality traits is good, getting into regular arguments with her over how gorgeous and not-fat she is won't really help anyone.

With regards to #2, taking things one day at a time is exactly the best thing you can do. The worst think you can do is start worrying about marriage six months into the relationship when you are barely of legal drinking age. That will put loads of pressure on the two of you and seriously fuck things up. You have a lot of growing to do, so take it slow and grow together.
posted by schroedinger at 10:39 AM on February 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


Your post is sweet.

Take it one day at a time. You can't predict the future and you can't control it either. Just enjoy what you have and try to be a good person to her every day.

On a more granular level, I agree with everyone upthread mentioning the positive reinforcement.

As another option, you could consider how open she might be to therapy. I had a very promising relationship start out exactly like yours reads and it crashed and burned within the course of a year due to Point #1/depression. I'm in a happy, fulfilling relationship now, but sometimes it makes me sad that the other one died. I'd tread lightly unless you know she is comfortable with therapy, etc. It's one thing if you've been together for a while or other people have suggested it, but she may take it the wrong way if it comes from you so early on. NB: it won't necessarily save your relationship, and could in fact end it. But it will help her self-esteem issues. YMMV.

You might want to consider a therapist too - my most recent therapist had a lot of great ideas on how to keep my relationship happy and maintain communication, etc. My SO loved him. :)

The last thing is not go overboard to save it. Sometimes when you're in that situation and things were so good, it's hard not to do everything in your power to avoid the end. If the end is there (like, really there, and there's no hope of going back to how things were), just let it go. I think sometimes it just makes things worse when you hold on past the expiration date.

Good luck, I'll be rooting for you.
posted by ml98tu at 10:40 AM on February 7, 2008


You sound fine to me. Obviously you have a bit of a tendency to obsess over and overthink things, but I think that's just something you need to go through. Maybe one suggestion: Try to keep up your other passions and not just completely define yourself through her, it'll make you more interesting to be around and also buffer you a bit against the effects of any possible future breakup.
posted by teleskiving at 10:42 AM on February 7, 2008


I'm an old-fashioned geezer 59 years old who has been married to the same woman for 34 years. I've also dealt with some of those self-esteem problems on my wife's part. In case you're expecting that to just go away, it's not. Positive reinforcement from you is fine, and if it helps, great, but be prepared to deal with this for a long time. If it turns into serious mood swings and depression, there are medications that will help, but it doesn't sound like that's needed at this point.

To put burnmps3s' suggestion another way: Never go to bed angry at each other. Couples that stay together, I think, tend to follow that rule, while couples that stay angry overnight or for days tend to break up. It also parallels your though of living for the moment. There is nothing you can do, in a big way, that will guarantee a long-term relationship. But there are lots of small things you can do to keep your relationship strong from day to day. Fixing each problem as it crops up is part of that; doing nice things for each other is another.
posted by beagle at 10:45 AM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


You should totally take things one day at a time. It's the only way. Honestly. And I could cite my husband and I as an example of that (we got together 10+ years ago, and we've only been married for 4+ of those), except for the next piece of advice I'm about to give.

Try not to compare yourselves to other couples, especially when it comes to the OMGDIVORCE thing. Long term committed relationships are ALWAYS hard work, especially when they start so young. You're both going to be doing a lot of growing up over the next several years, and there's no guarantee that you'll grow in compatible directions. But there's no guarantee that you won't, either. Whether it will work out in the long run depends on how high the highs, how low the lows, and each of your individual thresholds for both. Other couples break up because the highs aren't high enough, or the lows are too low. But their thresholds are different from yours, and so are their highs and their lows. In this case, you really are a special fucking snowflake.

For now, just keep being the sweetheart that it sounds like you are. Try not to worry so much. Yes, you could fall out of love with each other tomorrow. You could also get hit by a bus. Or the earth could be destroyed by a rogue meteor. So just love each other, and enjoy the ride for however long it lasts. That's really all any of us can ever do.
posted by somanyamys at 10:48 AM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


what are you doing to help her find something to hold on to? Encouraging her hobbies? Encouraging her friendships? Supporting her and trying to really listen to her?

All of those things, really.. and more. In the past half year I have gotten used to giving so much more of myself, to one person, than I have before.. like I said, this kind of relationship is really new to me, but I like it and I am more than eager and happy to love her that much.

I think you guys are all right in a lot of ways.. I'm sure a lot of young people have her same self esteem issues and that we can handle it. Like spiderskull guessed, I just get worried sometimes because what we have is so amazing, but the world is cruel and not everything lasts forever.

All of you have been pretty much right on.. I guess I'm not used to just assuming I'm doing things right. I feel like I should always strive to be better.. but for the most part, I think everyone is right and I should just savor what we have right now, and just roll with it. Is that about right?
posted by crunch buttsteak at 10:50 AM on February 7, 2008


Ultimately, you can't make her more secure in herself. That's something she has to find on her own.

Yup yup yup.

Also: don't panic the first time you hit a not-perfect moment - you have a (big) fight, or you discover that some habit of hers makes you incredibly irritated. A fight is not the end of the world, or a sign that the relationship is Doomed. If you haven't already, you may find that you fight in different ways - some people get screamy, some people clam up, some people get all sarcastic. However it is you are, try to remember, in those tense times, to use "I" statements. Try not to say "You always [whatever]!" Instead, try "I feel [whatever] when you/we do/say [XWZ].

Communicate. If someone in this thread hasn't already said it, remember that you have one mouth and two ears: use them in their proportion.

If you need to have a hard conversation, try to have it when you're both relaxed - like when you're in bed together, either before or after sex. It's hard for someone to use the usual body-language defensive posture stuff when they're in bed being cuddled. It sounds weird, but it works. Your body and your brain are always talking, and if your body says "Hey, I'm nice and warm and relaxed and cuddly," it's harder for your brain to make your mouth say stuff you shouldn't. YMMV, of course.

Apologizing isn't easy, but sometimes it's better to be happy than to be right.

Relax. Take each day as it comes. It's not that you can't plan for the future, but try to look down the road with optimism, and not dread (what if we break up?!?). Try to encourage her to do stuff that makes her feel good, and confident - do those things with her, if you enjoy them. Best of luck to you both.
posted by rtha at 10:55 AM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


You sound more selfcognizant and mature than some 30 year olds, the fact that you are young doesn't preclude you from having found a potential life parter. My SO and I started dating at 21 and are still going strong now at 24, and marriage doesn't sound AS ludicrous at our age.

Your partner on the other hand, sounds like she has a ways to go to make herself happy, because she's the only person who can truly do that-- no matter how many times you tell her you think the world of her.

Does she know that you feel this way about her insecurities? She may not even know she is verbalizing her poor body image to you so often, it may have become instinctual; she feels down, and knows that if she tells you so, she will get your attention and you will tell her she's beautiful, thus positively reinforcing her tactics. You may want to try definitively telling her that you think she is the most beautiful thing you've ever seen, but the fact that you have to reiterate this so often makes you feel like she doesn't believe you or trust your judgement and this is hurtful to you- and by proxy, destructive to the relationship.

As for "just rolling with it," I am of two minds about this. I think your forsight and desire to solve a problem early on is double edge sword because if you let things slide, they could snowball and lead to more problems, but alternatively, obsessing about them when you admittedly proclaim your love for this woman could also be destructive. Everything in moderation.

That said, I think you both are lucky to have found each other, goodluck!
posted by flaneuse at 11:03 AM on February 7, 2008


She is very up and down, with her self-image and bouts of self-deprecation. I would say that she has an episode of either one (or both) maybe 5 or 6 days out of the week. She gets down on herself because she thinks she looks fat, or she doesn't think she'll amount to anything, or she hasn't decided what she wants to do career-wise, or she has one zit on her face that you can't even see with a microscope.

Oh, hi, that's me! Except I'm a little older, and you definitely can't find my ribs. But I'm improving. She doesn't need reassurance about her attractiveness so much as she needs to learn ways to build her self-esteem. Obviously she's great enough for you to be in love with her, but you're not going to change her mind with buckets of compliments and flowers and the like. Ultimately it's something she has to do for herself; you can help her along the way, but trying too hard to improve her will backfire. And schroedinger is right: if she doesn't improve, it will wear on you.

(Not to mention she's not going to be a hott co-ed forever. You probably already know this, but the rest of your lives involve the wrinkly saggy years too.)

Anyway, as everyone has already said, don't freak out about the long term (easier said than done, I know); love her now. Keep in mind that when things aren't honeymoon-perfect, it doesn't mean the relationship is doomed. Serious relationships can and do involve arguments, and sitting together in the same room utterly bored, and balancing the urge to make out with the urge to tell your girlfriend her breath is kinda foul. Remember the "for worse" in "for better or for worse." Relationships where everything is perfect all the time, and you are both constantly happy and thrilled every waking moment, and you both have simultaneous multiple orgasms... those relationships don't actually exists. Don't worry about "perfect forever" when you already have "pretty great." And good luck!
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:10 AM on February 7, 2008


Some of the responses I see in AskMe to questions like this strike me as too laissez faire. "Relax, don't stress, if it works it works, que sera, sera."

It's true that you can't force something that isn't going to work out in the long run, but the relationships that do work require effort, commitment, and determination. You have to be each other's best friend, the one that you can always turn to no matter what.

Genuineness, supportiveness, and sincerity are key. You have to really like each other, love isn't enough. Infatuation will pass. Will you still be happy with one another when you are both older, flabbier, wrinkled, and less attractive? One definition of a friend is someone who knows all of your faults and shortcomings but still likes you anyway.

Whether a couple is married or not, there is a lot of wisdom in traditional marriage vows. They say it better than I can. Successful relationships are built on what each partner brings, not what each takes.

Please excuse me if I sound too preachy, I don't mean it that way! This is what I have seen prove to be important during the 26 years of our marriage. BTW, we were 19 and 18 when we got married.
posted by Daddy-O at 11:19 AM on February 7, 2008


Oh, and I wish you the best!!!
posted by Daddy-O at 11:19 AM on February 7, 2008


Day to day, definitely. I was in a similar situation once. Regarding her depression, one thing I'd say to look out for is your own boundaries. Don't make "fixing her" the point of your relationship... when you care deeply about someone, that can be easy to do, and that won't work. She's the only one who can do that. You can support her, be there for her, but don't OWN her issues and problems, or you'll be going down a long, dark, painful road. She'll be dependant on you for a short-term ego-fix, and you will possibly be a codependant on that as well... needing her to feel good so that YOU can feel good. It's a slippery slope.

Just be aware and don't forget to focus on your OWN issues as well. Love her, love her HARD. But don't create a codependant/boundary-less mess out of it, like I did. Learn to be strong, individually, so you can be strong for her AND yourself. She will be able to utilize this strength from you in a much more beneficial way than constantly catering to her self-esteem issues and giving them a short-term fix.
posted by Espoo2 at 11:22 AM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


All the above advice is already good.

Try not to be that guy who has to make her happy. I mean, don't feel you are a failure if you can't make her happy.

If she self-deprecates around you, tell her "Please don't do that. I think you're wonderful, and when you say you suck [or whatever] it makes me think you don't respect my opinions." Don't let her put herself down in front of you, in other words.
posted by herbaliser at 11:22 AM on February 7, 2008


crunch buttsteak: I am madly in love with my girlfriend. I want it to last. Am I doing everything I should be doing, as a good boyfriend?

It won't last; at least, not the 'madly in love' part. Yes, you're doing everything you should do to be a good boyfriend. The test is time, and the question is whether you'll still be a good partner to her when you're not madly in love with her, when she just said something hurtful because it's late and she's a little drunk, when you're pissed off at her because of what she said about your family, when she's pissed off because you won't go to church with her, or when you're both pissed off because you can't decide whether to send the kid to yeshiva or catholic school. Life is maddeningly practical, and it's delightful when love can stand that test and confront it every day for the rest of your life, but it's not wine and roses. The pleasure and the pride is in the shit you put up with and the pleasant companionship you get in return.

Like I said, you're doing everything right-- as a boyfriend. There's another level beyond boyfriend: partner. But that takes time. Study her, make it your highest goal to know her better than anyone else has or anyone else will. Know her well enough to provide a lasting help to her. And think about what you need from her in return, since yours is a mutual relationship.

You're on the right track. Loving someone isn't easy, but it's not rocket science; handily, it's been broken down for us into days. And one last piece of advice:

I know that back in the "good old days," two people could spend their whole lives together, but my parents are divorced. Everyone's divorced. Some people have relationships in their twenties that last 3 years and then fizzle out.

I know. What you need to do is find someone who's part of a partnership that isn't divorced, someone who's made it last a long, long time. They're rare, but they're around, and they can be a real help. Ask them how they did it; ask them what it's like to be with someone for so many years; ask them if they were ever afraid that they'd lose what they had. It can seem impossible when you've never really known anybody up-close who's make a lifelong relationship work, but it isn't. You need to find someone who's kept it together and get to know them well.

Oddly enough, though nothing beats talking to someone in real life, I found Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About remarkably enlightening, and also a great read.
posted by koeselitz at 11:38 AM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


OH hai. You sound exactly like me, in my previous relationship. I was dating a girl 2 years younger (me 22 her 20), and she had big self-esteem problems, although not physical. Her father was an alcoholic and left the family. This made her crave attention (especially male), and constantly worry/paranoid that her friends/family/me were going to leave her or didn't like her anymore.

I thought I could handle it. I come from a very stable, supportive family so I thought I could help her improve, see her worth, deal with her issues, etc.

It didn't work. Things got progressively worse over the 1-year relationship, with me getting frustrated in her behaviour (mood swings, slightly manipulative, borderline compulsive-liar), most of which was because of her past. She also had trouble staying emotionally loyal to me, as any passing guy which expressed interest caused her to waver and question our whole relationship (she was actually quite upfront and honest about this, thankfully).

Near the end I suggested counseling or therapy several times, promises were made but she/we never went. It ended peacefully, with both of us agreeing it was best to move on. She was dating someone else two weeks later, take that as you may.

ANYWAY, I think you need to watch the self-esteem as other posters have mentioned. This needs to be solved by her alone, you can't really help. I was really frustrated by her lack of self-worth and constant need to be flattered and get attention -- maybe you can handle this better, but if it bothers you now, it probably won't go away. Best of luck!
posted by lohmannn at 11:38 AM on February 7, 2008


crunch buttsteak..

I can hardly type your handle without laughing my ass off. Where the hell do these things come from?

I'm with ms98tu.... sweet post. Also with beagle... you have a gaggle of old geezers pulling for you!

I have been married for 29 years... 24 to the first wife (died)... 5 to the second (immortal!). If there is one thing I'd wish I could gift to the young, it would be to somehow get across the point that what you are going through is one phase of a series of phases. You seem to be in the one that is the most fun, but the shortest. You are doing the internet equivalent of shouting from the rooftops and it is endearing and wonderful.

Infatuation is inebriating. You are drunk. There's nothing bad about that.. just realize that you have love-goggles on. All obstacles can seemingly be overcome. All deficiencies are seemingly minor.

It ain't necessarily so, but we have to plan like it is.

Love like there isn't a tomorrow and if you REALLY want this to last, be prepared for the inevitable changes from infatuation to comfort to contentment. Along the way, there will be conflict. Things cool down. Lust is replaced by something wonderful, but it fades.

If you really want this to last, aim for a mutually fulfilling and growth producing partnership that can perservere after the infatuation fades. Infatuation is the easy part. (Nature is on your side... and a million generations before you. You have been selectively bred to react this way and it is working.)

If you really want this to last, honor whatever commitments you make to her and practice forgiving the ones she breaks to you.

Don't be dishonest. Regardless of what else you do, it is the purest form (and in my book, the only) infidelity. We're an odd lot, we humans.

Good luck!
posted by FauxScot at 11:57 AM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


What everyone else says.

In addition, I have concerns that all of her self-esteem is currently coming from you. As you yourself have semi-hinted at, this can lead to her being dependent on you and the relationship for her self-worth.

This is very, very unhealthy, for all parties - you, her, and the relationship.

You want to be with someone who wants you not someone who depends on you. Being able to rely on each other is obviously important, but neediness can become very unattractive.

Some of this is age related, sure; you have to grow into being your own person, and some of us take longer than others. But really, you need to encourage her to stand on her own two feet self-worth in things like her skills, her compassion, her humour, whatever - stuff other than her weight and beauty. That shit is fleeting and insignificant.

Because dude, let me tell you: if you do end up married for 60 years, her ass will get bigger and her face will wrinkle. And then where will you be?
posted by DarlingBri at 12:19 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


See, this is why people join MetaFilter. You guys are so damn smart and wise and it's like having a hundred best friends who give good advice, but don't bug you for rides from the airport at 3AM because their other ride fell through :D

It won't last; at least, not the 'madly in love' part.
I'm sorry, I kind of typo'd that part.. it's not that I think infatuation lasts forever or something. I want our relationship to last - that's what I meant.

It's hard for someone to use the usual body-language defensive posture stuff when they're in bed being cuddled. It sounds weird, but it works.
I promise to remember that, that sounds really good. We don't have many "oooh, serious face >:|" conversations - we spend most of our time hanging out and laughing obnoxiously - but I'll remember it.

You sound more selfcognizant and mature than some 30 year olds
Thank you. If it helps my judgment, especially with this, then I'm glad for it.

But don't create a codependant/boundary-less mess out of it, like I did. Learn to be strong, individually, so you can be strong for her AND yourself.
Also something really valuable for me to consider.. thank you.

You need to find someone who's kept it together and get to know them well.
I can do that too. Thank you.

crunch buttsteak..
It's from Mystery Science Theater 3000. :]

You want to be with someone who wants you not someone who depends on you. Being able to rely on each other is obviously important, but neediness can become very unattractive.
That's true, I thought about that but couldn't get it into words. At this point in time, she doesn't just "depend" on me. She wants me too, and we have a lot of very positive and happy time together. I think it's something she can work out (we can work out? no?), as her self esteem troubles are more like a team of nagging doubts that just show up once in a while. She's nowhere near hopeless, not that I can tell.


I have read every comment and I wish I could mark almost every one of them as "best". I might, before the end of the day. You guys are telling me all the things I want to hear and all the things I don't want to hear, but know I should hear. I am really grateful for all your stern advice, warnings, and encouragement. Especially from those of you who are out there and still very happily together - it really puts things in perspective for me. Thanks, guys.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 1:04 PM on February 7, 2008


It is your insecurity that is the problem for you, not hers. If she decides to work on it, then be there, but you aren't responsible for taking care of that, you can't.

Work on therapy for yourself.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:29 PM on February 7, 2008


lots of young people have the self doubt issues that both you and her seem to exhibit
posted by Salvatorparadise at 1:38 PM on February 7, 2008


Are you sure you're not my boyfriend? The age/time frame doesn't match, but that could be easily fudged for anonymity ;)

I was like your girlfriend. Rollercoaster self esteem (one moment I'll be all "I WIN AT LIFE" and the next "I SUCK") and I'm not exactly the easiest thing to handle for anyone, much less my boyfriend. We have gone through stages of codependency, emotional turmoil, worry, blah blah - even split up for two months because of it. It was a hard learning process, but we're working really well, and right now I'm in the airport waiting to catch a flight to see my sweetir after 3 months. yay.

It does take time, but you (at least) seem to be making some great steps already. One thing that's important to learn: you can't save your girlfriend. My boyfriend has this superhero complex where he keeps trying to find the one thing to say or the one thing to do that will cure me of my depression and anxiety and whatever problems I have. Sweet, but the problem is no such thing exists. It only ends up draining the both of you and making you resent each other.

Support her, but recognize that you are important too and that your job isn't to be her savior.
posted by divabat at 10:30 PM on February 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


I found a few tidbits from Boundaries in Dating and Finding the Love of your life:

- Date for at least a year before getting married. There's a season for everything. One full year is a wonderful sample to extrapolate from: holidays, summer vacation, busy spring work, unemployment, promotions, family tragedy, etc.

- Having a life partner with mental health issues or emotional issues will sink any relationship. It's a very frequent cause of divorce. And this isn't an acceptance issue. You can accept someone with any fault, but the relationship will simply have trouble functioning properly with those issues in play.
posted by philosophistry at 2:19 PM on February 9, 2008


Check your MeMail :)
posted by Phire at 12:08 AM on February 10, 2008


You're creating a situation where her self-esteem is only connected to you and your role is always boosting her up. Thats not healthy.

Im not saying you shouldnt say all those nice things but its as important to help her see those things about herself and feel able to cope with life. like if she's stressing about her lack of career choice, be practical and encourage and help her to do things that can help her see her path and her value.

The greatest gift you can give someone you love is the confidence to be themselves, there's a risk with that, people change, you might find yourself out of it. That's the sacrifice of love. If its meant to be your relationship will get stronger.
posted by browolf at 7:01 AM on February 16, 2008


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