One unhealthy relationship after another.
November 19, 2008 9:22 AM   Subscribe

I've become involved in another unhealthy relationship. What do I do, and how do I avoid it next time?

I was undecided about about asking this question anonymously or not, but I decided to go anonymous after Googling my account name and was astonished.

I am the same person who posted this question.

and another regarding how to cut an ex who wouldnt stop contacting me from my life.

So after deciding to cut my ex out of my life, and the other person mentioned in the first question, I tried to depend on myself, carry on the single life and have fun.

I started what was supposed to be a casual no strings attached relationship with someone I'd known for about a year. She's almost ten years older than I am and MUCH more experienced than me. Has more than one child, and lives with their father. He obviously doesn't know about this.

At first things were great. However I realized that I just started to feel shitty once again. For one, I couldn't help get attached. Being intimate with someone and not developing feelings for them is something I realized I'm not capable of. We had both agreed that no feelings would be involved, but I've failed at that.

On her side, she has acknowledged that spending so much time together will make it hard not get attached. I've noticed that she goes out of her way a lot to talk to and see me - going online, calling during the day a lot etc. She's going away for a one week trip and we both acknowledged that we'll miss each other.

Now the bad things. She has carried on relationships with other people outside of her domestic one before (me), and Im pretty sure if the situation arises she's not against something like a one night stand. However, we established before that we don't have to account to each other for anything.

Another thing that bothers me is the fact that I've never cheated on a gf, and I've never facilitated cheating before, but now I am. And it's making me feel pretty bad, even though if it isn't me it'd be someone else. Additionally, she's not spending as much time with her kids as she should, and that makes me feel worse.

Also, she has told me that I'm physically not her type, she doesn't find me sexy. That one really stung. So then what is it exactly that has us in this situation? Is it just because I'm much younger, and I pay her so much attention? She's said she can't believe that someone so young is finding her attractive. The amount of time and effort I spend on her (and her on me too I guess) is practically as if she was my gf. So am I simply just someone who pushes the right buttons? (We have sex in case this wasn't made clear earlier.)

Nothing can come of this situation, yet I've found myself caught up in it. I think about her too much, look forward to her calls and spending time with her too much. She isn't someone I could trust, plus.... nothing can come of it plain and simple. She's pretty much enjoying it tremendously, and so have I, but I've realized that more and more I only have fun when I'm with her, and apart from that I'm just looking forward to the next time we see each other.

It's hard to just give up on this completely, when I have no one else, because I do enjoy the attention (and sex, even though that's not all I enjoy).

How do I get myself into these situations? And what can I do about the one I'm currently in? I know it's unhealthy. I also realize this relationship might be destroying my ability to trust women, after all that I am witnessing.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I think you get into these situations because you don't really think them through when you walk into them. So next time, ask yourself, is this a bad idea? If the answer is yes, then don't do it. :-P

I think you need to break it off with this woman. Cold turkey. Let her destroy her life with someone else. Poor kids.
posted by ian1977 at 9:46 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's hard to sit here on the other side of a computer screen, reading the above, and not rolling my eyes and saying, "Oh grow up." But I think you do need to work on your emotional maturity.

You have to remember that you're in charge of your own actions and emotions. You alone set the rules. You have control.

You get yourself into these situations because you put events into motion - you do it - on your own. I can't stress this point enough: changing your behavior requires a commitment on your part to do the things which you know are beneficial and reject those that are destructive.

No one here can do it for you. There is no 12-step plan. It just requires maturity and determination.

The thing is, you're doing it now. Part of growing up is having lousy relationships, getting used, and sometimes doing things which you aren't proud of.
posted by wfrgms at 9:48 AM on November 19, 2008 [4 favorites]

agreeing with what I read above.

You need to end this relationship as she's using you to destroy her marriage, or to feel better about herself. And with comments like she isn't attracted to you, she's enjoying tearing you down as she tears down herself and her family.

I would even go so far as to say she isn't that good a friend to you given this information, but that's up to you to decide.

But as for how you avoid it next time, that all depends on what you WANT. Do you want marriage? A string of girlfriends? Casual sex? You need to determine what goals you have for yourself, and then make logical, reflective decisions that will meet that goal.

Meeting people is NEVER easy, but the quick answer is rarely the right one.
posted by arniec at 9:55 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

You're not going to be a father to her kids, which is where the long-term aspect comes into play, and she's said she's not really attracted to you physically-- but she's happy to have sex with you, which means it's not really about you, it's about the fact that you put out reliably. Her saying she misses you really means that she misses having a booty call who can be trusted to show up, satisfy her, and stay out of the way otherwise.

Also, exactly what is her relationship to the father of her kids? She either has a pre-negotiated arrangement with him about other people, which she should've told you about, or she's cheating on him and needs to come clean. If he doesn't know about you, there's a chance that you could be in for consequences ranging from a discussion you don't want to have to a full-on cops-called beatdown.

In a similar situation, I got the discussion I didn't want to have, and then the mention of the cops. I got the hell out, and I stopped dating women who were OK with using me for sex but not OK with actually having an open relationship. I advise you do the same, and start looking for a partner who can actually commit to you-- because, face it, you're not doing so great at casual, and there's nothing wrong with that... long as you don't date people like your current squeeze, and start dating people who want what you want, want you for your brain and your body, and can be trusted to treat you with the respect you deserve.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:56 AM on November 19, 2008

The point of a no strings attached relationship is exactly what she's doing.

If you don't like it, then you need to part ways and say "no" to the next offer like it that comes along.

Actually be single for a while. Go out, flirt with people, snog randoms and - if you want - have the odd one (and only one) night stand. That is the point of being single after all.

When you're ready for a proper relationship, look for that and nothing else.
posted by mr_silver at 9:57 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Dude. You repeatedly get involved with girls who are not available for a full relationship (hint, no string attached means JUST THAT), and then you're upset that you're not getting a full relationship from them. You're facilitating cheating, and you feel bad about it, but you continue to do it. Maybe, just maybe, if you stop getting involved with women who are spoken for, you'll have time to find a woman who wants what you want, a true relationship, and as a bonus you'll stop feeling bad for enabling cheating.

What do I do, and how do I avoid it next time?
You stop getting involved with women who are not available. You get out, to a bar or a comedy club or whatever tickles your fancy, and you chat with girls who aren't wearing a ring. If you start getting to close to a woman who is not available, you STOP. Yeah it takes some self restraint, but that's just a part of growing up.
posted by Meagan at 10:06 AM on November 19, 2008 [7 favorites]

This is the same old story. Please consider talking to a therapist about these situations you keep finding yourself in - clearly the last mefi thread didn't teach you a thing... You are repeating your mistakes. Find a girl who is SINGLE. It's not hard, there are more of them than ones willing to cheat on their partners.

And honestly, you're being an ass to these other guys. Stop helping to destroy their relationships.
posted by Bakuun at 10:12 AM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

Sounds like you're both lonely and you're using the other person to fill the void within yourself. This will never ever ever work, because no one else - even the most perfect person in the world - can make you whole. You have to do that. Relationships like these only make you more aware of that void, and more desperate to fill it. Look, you're willing to accept someone who's not available and not attracted to you in a desperate bid to avoid loneliness. Fill your life with things that mean something to you - hobbies, career, spirituality, whatever. Don't enter another relationship until you feel complete within yourself, and you're not looking to the other person to validate you. That's how you break the cycle.
posted by desjardins at 10:16 AM on November 19, 2008 [3 favorites]

It is really simple -- don't date people who are in other relationships. Believe them when they say they cannot commit to you and they will not leave their partners for you. They will never be able to give you what you want. Use the pain of not seeing this person anymore to get yourself to promise not to date people who cannot be your real girlfriend.
posted by salvia at 10:23 AM on November 19, 2008

It's hard to just give up on this completely, when I have no one else

This is your problem. You haven't "embraced the single life" like you said you did, you are instead continuing to look for relationships and latching on to other people. It's ok, and probably really good your case, to be alone and not have anyone else.

How do I get myself into these situations?
You don't spend time alone and you think that unavailable women are the answer to not getting attached, but they clearly aren't. It's good that you recognize a pattern, now you have to step out of that pattern and do something you wouldn't ordinarily do, like break it off with this woman before it becomes even more of a trainwreck and while there is still some fun it it, not seek out any dates for a while, and when you've changed a little, look for someone unattached and emotionally healthy like you will be then.
posted by rmless at 10:23 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

This isn't about you not being able to find the right person. IMO, reading the above, there probably isn't a right person for you in your current state.

This isn't about you messing with other people's relationships. People do it all the time, and the women that are getting involved with you would be cheating with or without you.

This IS about what's going on behind the scenes in your head. If you're incapable of just changing your ways, you're also probably not going to find any sort of solutions here. You need some _serious_ guided self-reflection.

Therapy: Go Now.
posted by paanta at 10:42 AM on November 19, 2008

The attention and sex are not what is keeping you there. You can get those without the complications. The complications are what you want. You want the complications because there is something you consider worse which you want to avoid. Only you know what that is. Usually it is a set of emotions you don't want to feel that are easily masked by the type of drama you are engaging in.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:55 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

I see a few things here - one is that you seem opposed to affairs, etc... I find that when i act in away that is against my values or better judgement to "get" something (money, sex, whatever...) it always causes me stress because i am not being true to myself - in that my self esteem also takes a hit and i begin not trusting myself...this is why spending time becoming comfortable with who you are - not in a relationship is so important, so that we can know who we are, what are values are and so that we can act from them - not just ignore or better judgment for some nookie.

Another is that you are beating yourself up over her behavior. She is who she is. Her values and priorities are what they are. It is not your fault she is who she is.

Also, she is not all women. We are individuals. her behavior is not reflective of how other women behave in relationships.

Trust your self. Trust your values. Be true to them.
posted by jeffe at 11:19 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Here's a little test you should run before you start your next relationship:

Are they already in a relationship with someone else?

If the answer is yes, walk away.
posted by ook at 11:27 AM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I've never facilitated cheating before, but now I am.

Now, that is a blatant lie, because that is exactly what you were doing in the last question. Fooling around, kissing, getting to second base, and begging and begging a girl for physical and emotional attention after she told you she has a boyfriend is called "facilitating cheating."

How do I get myself into these situations?

You go after girls who have boyfriends and husbands, fuckwit. Quit doing that. Go find single girls. If there's a ring on her finger or a boyfriend on the speed dial you get the fuck out. This is not destiny, this is not cruel fate, you are choosing to pursue women who are already attached and what's more when they don't want to cheat/leave their guy you play the victimized hurt puppy, like they did you wrong.

I also realize this relationship might be destroying my ability to trust women, after all that I am witnessing.


Excuse me, did I hear that right? Did you just say that you find them untrustworthy? As opposed to yourself, who is not at all untrustworthy for pursuing multiple attached women and encouraging them to cheat? THEY'RE the untrustworthy ones? DUDE. You pursued them. You hooked up with them, knowing they had a guy, and if they wouldn't do it, you put on the victim act to try to manipulate them into fucking you. You begged them to leave their dude for you. And you have the gall to do all this, when in your other question you went on about how brokenhearted you were when your girlfriend flirted with another guy?

Do you honestly believe this shit? Do you not see how absolutely ridiculous your rationalizations are? Do you not see what kind of manipulative, playing-the-victim bullshit you are pulling on yourself and these women? Are you that disconnected from reality? I'm not going to give this lady a pass for cheating on her guy--but it takes two to tango, you selfish douchebag.

You need to leave this relationship. And then you need to figure out why you prefer the attentions of women who are attached, and why you are so hung up on this "Women done did me wrong" persona. Preferably in therapy.
posted by Anonymous at 11:51 AM on November 19, 2008

In the short term -- the reason why you're finding the thought of breaking off with her unpleasant right now is, endorphins. Plain and simple. You're getting sex from her, and that does something in particular to your biochemistry, and your brain is now digging having that particular biochemistry going on, and the thought of your supply getting shut off would be like withdrawl.

In the long term -- the reason why you keep getting involved with people like this is because, it sounds, somehow you've convinced yourself that this is all you deserve.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:14 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Your heart and head aren't in alignment.

You don't want to be in these situations, rationally you know it's wrong, but yet here you again. Like a love starved kitten, you wander around looking for what you never got and rationalizing away the abuse you get and shady actions you take because dammit, _______ is there and it's what you need AND IT WILL OVERRIDE ANYTHING ELSE.

So, what goes in the blank? I dunno, that's for you to figure out, but until you do, you're going to be unhappy.

Note, none of this makes you a bad person, just someone with issues. Welcome to the club.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:22 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

schroedinger hit the nail on the head.

In addition, I think that you just plain like the drama of it. There's some kind of underlying insecurity there that makes you want what is considered "unattainable". By being able to get these women to do stuff with you, you're confirming to yourself that you're irresistible. Makes you feel just a tad better about yourself at the end of the day, whether you admit it or not.

Let's face it, this is really all about you. You don't really feel guilty or bad about any of this. What other reason is there for you continuing to do it? Your partner is not completely blameless here. But neither are you. The fact that you continue to blame them for the things you "don't do" or "didn't do" is a glaring example of this.

My advice? Get ye to a head-shrinker right away. You are obviously past the point of being able to objectively get things sorted. You need someone to give you a verbal spanking in order for this to sink in. In the meantime, stay away from the'll do them and yourself a favour.
posted by arishaun at 12:32 PM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

We can decide the size of a foothold that a partner holds in our psyche. This happens in two ways: we know and respect our own deepest needs, values, and wishes, and we find a partner who agrees with them and willingly joins us in them.... Once we make our relationship choices in an adult way, a prospective partner who is unavailable, nonreciprocal, or not open to processing feelings or issues becomes, by those very facts, unappealing. Once we love ourselves, people no longer look good to us unless they are good for us.
posted by scody at 1:38 PM on November 19, 2008 [5 favorites]

The attention and sex are not what is keeping you there. You can get those without the complications. The complications are what you want. You want the complications because there is something you consider worse which you want to avoid. Only you know what that is. Usually it is a set of emotions you don't want to feel that are easily masked by the type of drama you are engaging in.

ironmouth is on to something, but I was going to add what scody's saying, too: the appeal could be their sheer unavailability. You can't really get close to them, which is safe in a certain way. You have the sense of romance without the threat of real closeness.
posted by salvia at 6:04 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Do you not see what kind of manipulative, playing-the-victim bullshit you are pulling on yourself and these women?


The complications are what you want. You want the complications because there is something you consider worse which you want to avoid. Only you know what that is.

Also this.

You sound so much like my batshitinsane ex. His problem was utter lack of self-esteem, coupled with an insidious need to constantly be the centre of attention. Well that plus he's a bipolar, selfmedicating alcoholic, but those are minor details.

You need to first STOP. DATING. ANYONE!! Stop rationalising yourself as the sum total of the women you're fucking, because guess what? No one ever died from sleeping alone!

Next you need to do some serious introspection. What is it that has so damaged your self-esteem that you feel like you can only get involved with completely unavailable women? Or do you simply enjoy being a victim so you can cry to everyone around: "OH GOD I'M SUCH A PRECIOUS FRAGILE FLOWER, WOE IS ME, MY LIFE IS SO FUCKED UP!!!!" Being an emo boy isn't merely immature, it's also so very five-years-ago.

Please do two things. 1) Break up with this woman; she is toxic. 2) Address your own issues with why you feel such a driving need to be surrounded by constant drama.

Good luck.
posted by lonefrontranger at 6:26 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

She ... has more than one child, and lives with their father. He obviously doesn't know about this ... At first things were great...

Huh? No, they weren't. They were crap from the get-go. That's the problem right there. Don't mess with married women. Ever. Regardless of what the media and your enlightened friends might tell you, it is never the right thing to do.

Focus on doing the right thing regardless of where it gets you, and things will start to get better. Very slowly maybe but, as they say, what's important is that you are moving in the right direction. No point moving quickly in the wrong direction, you know?

Have some self-respect.
posted by bricoleur at 7:12 PM on November 19, 2008

You sound like you're having a crisis of confidence. The solutions are readily apparent on this thread, too obvious even, and you probably know the steps that you need to take. But to apply that knowledge is a separate game.

So the question I have for you is, what gives you confidence to do the things you need to do? Is it writing in a journal? Is it self-expression on MeFi? Is it religion? Is it music?
posted by philosophistry at 2:41 AM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

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