How can I not be offended by my girlfriend's lack of enthusiasm?
November 14, 2009 11:11 PM   Subscribe

My SO has no passion and this turns me into an asshole. When I talk to her about things like finances or anything serious, she ignores me, and she doesn't know what she wants from life and has no wish to find out. She settles for what she has with no desire to improve anything. And the very very douche-y tone that I write that description in is a problem as well.

I'm sorry this is very long. I suck at editing and couldn't justify any cutting. The short version is that I feel like my girlfriend has no ambition and I don't react fairly.

I live with my girlfriend. We both just dropped out of college. We both had an aha moment where we realized college was not right for us right now. No friends, high depression, my ADHD, her anxiety.

My year off will consist of me trying to become a writer. I'm looking into IRA's as well, and have applied for a credit card which I will use responsibly. I'm going to go deeper into Buddhism, and as money permits, I will travel. I spend time reading self-help, personal development, books about finances, independence, philosophy. My only other question on Ask MeFi was about a business I wanted to try. It failed. I've tried other things since and I tried other things before. My point is that I try my hardest to seize the day and live in the moment and accept whatever happens, no attachments, et cetera.


My girlfriend draws horses in paint. I love her to death, I am not leaving her. I am, however, terrified that she will leave me. She draws horses in paint and plays a horse game online. She reads books about genetics. She gives each and every animal individual genetic codes when she plays zoo tycoon. She farms people in the Sims. She draws awesome. She writes awesome. She draws anime people really well. She talks about starting a webcomic. I say this to point out that she's not exactly your typical bum, but occasionally talking about one day doing a webcomic is the only thing she talks about in regard to having an actual future.

I want to travel, she thinks it's too much trouble. I want to move, she says it's too soon/far/different. I try to tell her to find a job doing something she likes, she says she can't think of anything she likes. She has no hobbies. She works a part time minimum wage job in an office. She hates it, but one day got recruited in helping an arts and crafts party for people with special needs. And she went on and on about how much she loved it afterward. But when I suggest she look into it as a job, she shrugs and says "I'd need a degree." "I don't think I'd like any job." "I don't like doing anything." "I'd hate it just as much."

She talks about not wanting to go to work ALL THE TIME. And I get mad. I yell because she won't quit. I think if she quit, the happiness would be worth the lower income. But she won't quit. She won't travel, she won't move, she won't look into doing anything artistic, she won't try writing, she won't look for a job with special needs. She does all these things for 10 minutes after I guilt trip her about it, and then she never speaks of it again.

I am an asshole. I understand that. I am going about this the wrong way. Yelling at her that I'm awesome and that she's not is not very effective. When I try just talking to her, she ignores me though. Mid-sentence she will show me something she's doing on the laptop. She can repeat what I'm saying, but I'm seldom actually convinced that this means she's listening.

I'm not leaving her because although this is a rather large issue in our relationship, it doesn't really change how I feel about her as a person. Either my reaction is justified in which case I want to know what we should do, or I am just being incredibly selfish in which case I want ideas on how to apologize meaningfully. Because I apologize a lot and it really has lost its meaning. Tell me how to not feel directly offended when she ignores my pleas to find and follow her passions, or tell me how much of a dick I'm being. Whichever I deserve.
posted by DerangedGoblin to Work & Money (66 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
She sounds depressed. If she's not depressed, she just doesn't like doing the same things that you do. She might not like them even if she weren't depressed. You sound like you really want to break away from what you have right now and try something different, you might have to choose between her and those ideas. If you choose her, keep in mind it was your choice to stay, don't get mad at her for not feeling the way you wish she felt.
posted by bluejayk at 11:25 PM on November 14, 2009

I am going about this the wrong way.

You want to change her. She doesn't want to change. It is not your method of change that is wrong; it sounds like you are incompatible. You can try and try and eventually you will wake up in a few years and resent her because you changed yourself to her and you can't stand it anymore. (Or if she does change, it'll be the but in reverse.)
posted by Monday at 11:25 PM on November 14, 2009 [4 favorites]

I'm not leaving her because although this is a rather large issue in our relationship, it doesn't really change how I feel about her as a person.

Boy is this the hard part. Naturally, you feel drawn to her--you like her as a person. And that will make breaking up all the harder, but it simply must be done if you're this incompatible. My girlfriend dated a guy who was simply too introverted, shy, and quiet for her outgoing, excitable personality.

And that's not to say that an extrovert can't date an introvert. It is to say, that *this* extrovert couldn't date *this* introvert, no matter what she thought of him as a person, because life goes by too fast to spend it with someone who doesn't want to truly share it with you. That's really all there is to say on the matter, but it's probably not what you want to hear.
posted by disillusioned at 11:28 PM on November 14, 2009 [5 favorites]

Best answer: At least she has a job. Do you? She's doing the basic practical shit that she needs to do in life, and she's surviving. Good for her. Maybe she needs the job because you're applying for a credit card and someone has to work. Do you think about that when you're urging her to quit?

You both dropped out of school because you can't handle it but you expect her to create and achieve. I don't get your logic. That's because there isn't any. You seem to be very focused on her life, I think because that's an easy excuse for you to justify you not living your life. So what if she doesn't want to travel, or move? You need to do it. YOU. Be the self-actualized person you need to be. Go study Buddhism instead of acting like she's somehow holding you back.

You are a grown person who should be spending your time working on your own dreams. So what if she draws horses in Paint. You read books. So? You're super cool and she sucks because your hobby is better?

Yelling at her is stupid and possibly abusive. She has anxiety issues, what the fuck do you think YELLING at her is going to achieve? Every time she shows an interest in something you YELL at her. Have you ever read anything about conditioning?

Behavior ---> Punishment --> Reduction of behavior, along with some shitty side effects

She reveals interest or skill --> You pressure her, yell at her, and make her feel like a failure --> Reduction of her revealing interests or skill

I know a lot of people like you, who see people who aren't super ambitious as somehow being "less than". It's silly. Maybe you want to be around ambitious people. Fine. Do so. It's your choice. She doesn't exist to be ambitious just because that's what you want in a partner.
posted by kathrineg at 11:30 PM on November 14, 2009 [62 favorites]

Can you truly imagine going through the rest of your life together like this?
Unfortunately, it will only escalate. The tension & resentment that is.

I understand you only want more for her, so you are not a dick. You both seem to be unable to communicate in a mature & healthy manner. A must for an adult relationship.

Your reasoning for staying in such a relationship is not justified. You are just sounding co-dependent. Why not find a SO who wants to do "some" of the things that you like to do. Be happy. Don't settle.
posted by sequin at 11:35 PM on November 14, 2009

By the way, as you're reading your answers, note which ones are helpful. Did my answer, which wasn't very nice, help you, or did it piss you off and distract you? Is being mean the way to affect or help someone else, or is it beside the point?
posted by kathrineg at 11:47 PM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Some people are sails, some people are anchors. Relationships need both.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:02 AM on November 15, 2009 [23 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds like she's more of a realist while you're more of a dreamer. She is working a job she hates while doing the things she enjoys during her off hours. The fact that she ignores you - well maybe she's sick of your unrealistic approach to life. She has to work. She probably feels crappy about quitting school which in turn is making her feel less qualified for other employment. You are both stuck in a rut but your solution is to be very critical towards her method of coping. You realize that yelling at her doesn't work - so stop doing it. The only thing you really can control is your own actions and reactions. Focus on that.

I just want to add that your relationship dynamic sounds like something I am familiar with. Being accused of lacking ambition while holding down a job and being the primary provider in a relationship is crazy mentally and emotionally taxing. And it sucks to hear this shit while someone else is chasing dreams, and looking for that job that pays millions, and that they'll love all the time. You don't want to leave her now but you sound so frustrated. Are you prepared to accepts her as is and be supportive?
posted by mokeydraws at 12:06 AM on November 15, 2009 [6 favorites]

She's being responsible and you're being an idiot.

Frankly, if you don't have money or a plan to get a job at your new location, you probably shouldn't move or travel. A credit card "used responsibly" is not a long-term solution. Or a short term solution.

Lots of people go to jobs they hate, it's called life. You also don't need to take a year off to become a writer. But since you are, then do that seriously. You should get your own part time job to support yourself, rather then just mooching off your girlfriend. Buy some books on writing and read them. Spend at least 8 hours a day (minus the time at your job) either studying or reading.

Then, after a year if you're actually successful, you'll have the money to support your girlfriend if she quits her job and you'll be able to pay for travel.


Also, rather then getting a credit card, you should try to keep at least $1000 in a checking account and use a debit card.

And about being a writer: Jerry Pournelle once said you ought to write a million words of short stories before trying a novel. I don't know if that's really necessary but really, if you want to be a writer, you've got to put in the work. You've got to buckle down and do it
posted by delmoi at 12:09 AM on November 15, 2009 [6 favorites]

Best answer: You just dropped out of school to be a writer. I would wait until your writing and your Buddhism materializes before your let your high horse justify your assholery - your assholery which indeed seems to be the problem here.
posted by flavor at 12:09 AM on November 15, 2009 [10 favorites]

She sounds like maybe she is depressed. Has she always been this way, do you know?
posted by Jacqueline at 12:15 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

You want to go deeper into buddhism? Set aside the esoteric texts and ask yourself, bluntly but humbly: What do you think the buddha would have to say about how you treat your girlfriend? What would the buddha say about your judgments of her, and you attempts to control her and to make her conform to what you think is best?

Go back to the second noble truth: what is it that you are craving to cause your suffering? And then the third noble truth: what desire can you remove which is blocking your path to happiness?

On preview: Have sex with her when you want, don't ask permission,

Um, that's called rape, and it's illegal.
posted by scody at 12:31 AM on November 15, 2009 [12 favorites]

In your post, you've acknowledged issues with ADHD in yourself, and perhaps depression.

Are those conditions being treated? It's great that you want to help her, but you also need to help yourself. With those under control, you may be in a better position to look at the situation (and your life) with a healthier set of eyes.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:36 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I might be jumping to conclusions, but it sounds like she's depressed, and like maybe you're fighting off some depression of your own by focusing outward/onward/upward through professional and spiritual self-improvement (which is a totally valid way of fending off depression, so no criticism implied). Her statements must exert a downward pull on your emotions. Your focus could be on sharing with her (in a non-blaming way) how you feel when she says certain things and generally finding a way to protect yourself from that downward pull.

Re: how to talk about this, the thing to focus on is the division between you and her. There's you, and there's her. You have your feelings. She has hers. You choose your actions. She chooses hers. Right now, this is all mixed together in the blink of an eye, transmuting "it's depressing me to hear about how much she hates her job" into "she should quit and do something else and she won't!!"

Instead, you need to split it up between you (your feelings and actions) and her (her feelings and actions, which are entirely under her control). Your job is mainly to tell her how you feel without blaming her for it. Try to really understand what you feel and why. ("When you tell me you'll never find something better than this thing you hate, first I feel this flash of panic, then I imagine a life of misery -- and I want to improve that vision, so I start brainstorming solutions, but when none appeal to you, I feel so powerless to prevent this image of misery from engulfing us both forever.") She can ask you about this. ("Is the problem more than I'm unhappy now, or that I don't share your optimism that I could immediately get something super-perfect-better right away?") You can choose your behaviors. ("No offense but I'm going to walk away and go put on my headset if you're in a complain-y mood because I can't listen to these complaints without getting really upset.") You can make requests about her behaviors. ("Could you stop complaining to me about it?") You can ask about her feelings or thoughts. ("When you say you won't be able to find anything, do you feel disheartened as you say that?")

I'd also ask yourself why you're so scared that she'd leave, and why you're not willing to leave her.
posted by salvia at 1:14 AM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You realize you're being a douche. This is good. It show growth. It shows maturity. What you must do now is actually stop being a douche.

How do you do this?

Henceforth you are not allowed to utter the word 'should' - or any of its relations - in your girlfriend's direction ever again. The only exception is to say "darling, I'm so sorry. I should never presume to tell you what to do."

In your mind, replace "WahWahWahWahWahWahWah" with any intimations of "you should." This is most likely what she hears. At best.

When you tell her all the ways she is obviously failing in your life (because really, this is about your life, right? not hers) and she ignores you, you must thank her. "Honey, I was being an ass. Thank you for not kicking me in the nuts and leaving me."

You see, you and your lady love are adults. As such you are responsible for your own lives, your own happiness, and your own misery.

You must relent. You have to step aside and let her flounder and struggle on her own terms. Not yours. She has to find her own voice to tell her what she needs to do. She has to find her own gumption to do it - or not. She won't do that if You Are Constantly Yelling At Her.

You pressure, she resists. The more she resists, the more you pressure. That's your deadlock. You only thing you can change is you. So stop pressuring her. Not because it is another tactic in getting her to do what you want, but because you love her enough to give her the space she likely needs to figure out how to build her life on her terms.

And you. If you feel lost and uncertain, admit it. Don't blame your directionless on her.
If you wish to travel, travel. If you feel you need to wander in the worlds of religion, philosophy, finance - please wander. If you wish to move, move. If you wish to foolishly open a credit card - by all means, do it.

You can do all of these things without breaking up with her.

What you can't do is tell her how to live her life and then resent her for not doing it. I mean, you can, but that means you go back to being a douche.

Good Luck!
posted by space_cookie at 1:57 AM on November 15, 2009 [5 favorites]

It sounds like you do love her.

In my opinion, you can discuss issues for a long time but what you need are SOLUTIONS.

The most unsavory solution for you is to leave her so lets put that on the shelf for a moment.

The core issue seems to be communication. I believe solutions will come if you develop better communication but it takes two to make it work.

How about if you do the initial hard work and write out potential solutions to the following:

My Financial Goals are...
My Educational Goals are..
My Travel Goals are...
My Career Goals are..
My Spiritial Goals are...

And then present it to her to ponder for a week and then talk to her about where it fits in with the future of your relationship.

If you do have a bit of money, send her to one of those career counselling services. Perhaps they can do a Bryers-Migg type of test so she gets a sense of what she is good at.

You can travel and make good money. Try being an English teacher. They are in demand in various places around the world.

She doesn't like her job and I agree that it can be a pain when people complain and do nothing about it!

I believe she is an avoider. You are facing things head on and she wants to bury her head in the sand. She needs to talk about things. Maybe counseling can help or talking with friends?

To be honest, I'm more on your side than hers because of that. You are trying hard to make the relationship work and she is avoiding it.

Everybody needs some level of motivation and enthusiasm in life. Its not about being a super-ambitious go getter.

Everyone should have some ideal to aspire to. Yes, people may be comfortable living day to day and not thinking about their own life but why aim so low? People shouldn't be pushed unnecessarily but an appropriate knudge isn't out of the order here.

I'm not in favor is quickly leaving a relationship. Give it a good shot and then decide.

People can change. Not everyone but a lot of people.

My previous long term ex had characteristics of being avoidant and the relationship didn't last because she wouldn't talk about issues we had.

I'll follow this thread....let us know how its going and what specific things you tried..
posted by simpleton at 2:02 AM on November 15, 2009

How about if you do the initial hard work and write out potential solutions to the following:

My Financial Goals are...
My Educational Goals are..
My Travel Goals are...
My Career Goals are..
My Spiritial Goals are...

And then present it to her to ponder for a week and then talk to her about where it fits in with the future of your relationship.

Why should he presume to give her homework? Why is it about her financial goals, for example, when he's the one who doesn't have a job and wants to live off a credit card?

I'm all for conversations about the Big Issues in relationships, but this approach reeks of paternalism and the OP's girlfriend will very likely react to it in that vein.
posted by scody at 2:10 AM on November 15, 2009 [12 favorites]

You can always only support other people while going about improving your own life and doing your own stuff. Never the other way round.
Resentment has no place in all this. Not against yourself either for that matter ("douche-y"). That needs to stop.
posted by Namlit at 2:39 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

This part:
I try to tell her to find a job doing something she likes, she says she can't think of anything she likes. She has no hobbies.

Doesn't match this earlier part:
She draws horses in paint and plays a horse game online. She reads books about genetics. She gives each and every animal individual genetic codes when she plays zoo tycoon. She farms people in the Sims.

She does have hobbies. They are perhaps not the sort of hobbies one might one day turn into a profitable/successful career (like your writing). That doesn't make them any less valid.

You say you're taking a 'year off'. A year off from what--school? Working? Is she supporting you? If so, no wonder she sounds resentful. Please tell me you aren't lecturing her about her ambition when she's working some shitty part time job to support the both of you.

Frankly you both sound miserable. She will either realize she doesn't like her current life and do something about it or she won't, but you cannot change her and no amount of lecturing or brow-beating her about this will make this situation any different.

What you can do is fix things for yourself. And not just traveling or digging into your spirituality or developing your writing, although those are all fine things to pursue. Get a job if you don't already have one. Figure out your own life and stop trying to change people around you.

All you sound like you're really doing now is pushing her away, so if you continue on this path there may not be a question of "I am not leaving her."
posted by asciident at 2:54 AM on November 15, 2009

You can travel and make good money. Try being an English teacher. They are in demand in various places around the world.

Most countries require people who come to teach English to have a bachelors degree.
posted by delmoi at 2:55 AM on November 15, 2009

You say she has no hobbies, but it sounds like her hobbies are painting, drawing, reading books about genetics, and playing horse games, zoo tycoon, and Sims. So it's not that she has no hobbies, it's that she has no hobbies you think are worthwhile. "My girlfriend draws horses in paint." Did you intend for that to sound as derisive as it does? Compare it to "My girlfriends loves to paint horses." Sounds different, right?

Do you realize how easily someone could look at your hobbies (reading about self-help, independence, and philisophy) and your personal motto (seize the day and live in the moment and accept whatever happens, no attachments, etc.) and mock you?

Meanwhile, she's at least working. Yes, it's exhausting to be with someone who hates her job and complains constantly. But it's equally exhausting to be around a self-described asshole who yells at his girlfriend for not being "enthusiastic" enough. You want her to quit her job because you think the happiness would be worth the lower income. But would quitting her job mean merely "lower" income or no income? And would it really mean happiness for her?

How are you two paying your bills right now? Who pays the rent? Do you have a job?

Frankly it sounds like you're punishing her for being different from you, for being herself. What do you get out of criticizing and focusing on her so much? It sounds like you feel out of control yourself (especially when you say things like you're terrified she'll leave you) and so you've shifted your energy to try to control her.

Right now, you're full of lofty future goals: you will try to become a writer, you will go deeper into Buddhism, you will travel. How about making another goal: I will stop being so hyper-critical and convinced of my own superiority and when I feel compelled to dissect someone's life choices, I will start with my own.
posted by Majorita at 3:15 AM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Why should he presume to give her homework? Why is it about her financial goals, for example, when he's the one who doesn't have a job and wants to live off a credit card?

Yes, she may perceive it as "homework" which would be unfortunate. However, I asked the OP to do the initial "homework" to figure out his own financial goals, etc.. Can't live off credit cards for long, that's true enough.

But at least the OP wouldn't present the "homework" to her without analyzing his own position.

Everyone has to do "homework" in various aspects of their lives. Whether its exercising to stay healthy, eating right, learning something new. The word "homework" really just refers to "work".

Everybody has to do some work to achieve something useful in life. So does the OP and his significant other.

How to present the "homework" without making it appear condescending to her is a good question. And to be honest, I don't think I have a good answer to that except to be respectful.

Something to ponder...
posted by simpleton at 3:22 AM on November 15, 2009

Salvia favorited, not for the guess that the gf is depressed, (I think that's far from clear here) but for the rest of it. You've got your emotional life tangled up with how your girlfriend talks and behaves and feels in a very unhealthy way. This is called codependency.

What you've described is not a situation where you're okay being you, she's okay being her, and you have a relationship that maybe needs a little work. No, no, no.

What you've described is a situation where you are not so okay being you, and instead of fixing yourself you're pressuring your girlfriend to behave in ways that you imagine would make you feel okay.

What I get from your story is that you are being a colossal asshole because you are terrified of what it means if she doesn't follow your glorious script. You are pressuring her to behave differently to save you from having to feel fear. If she would only pursue something with outwardly obvious passion, then you'd be reassured that dropping out of school and living in poverty as 'artists' was the right thing to do. You'd be having this mind-blowingly great experience. You'd be Free and Alive! Woo! Please, please girlfriend, follow my Free and Alive script so I can pretend that life is awesome right now! Because if you don't help me pretend that our lives really rock, then I'm just a college dropout with little money and few immediate prospects. And worse, what if she leaves you? That picture is just too horrifying to contemplate...

Look, it's okay to feel fear. You have made some choices that have scary implications. Fear is natural in your situation even if they were the right choices, and you need to be able to face it and feel it on your own. Stop setting up your girlfriend's behavior, or credit cards, or half-baked business ideas as bulwarks between you and fear. Let it come. Don't jump to react, just sit with it and feel it really deeply. Let that anxiety pass through you and out and away. Then maybe you'll be able to live the life you dream of, not without fear but in spite of it.
posted by jon1270 at 3:23 AM on November 15, 2009 [5 favorites]

Most countries require people who come to teach English to have a bachelors degree.

I didn't know that. I thought you could just get your TESOL certificate and teach.

I know students who went to Korea for example to teach and they didn't have their bachelors.
posted by simpleton at 3:24 AM on November 15, 2009

She sounds depressed. You are about to spend a year hiding and getting into debt. I can't help thinking your joint "aha moment" about dropping out of college was a huge, life altering mistake.

You are living in a ridiculously unhealthy codependent situation. The slavering tones in which you describe your girlfriend, who seems to sit doing nothing much at a PC, indicates a dangerously skewed view of the situation.

Dump her, dump your credit card, forget about buddhism, immerse yourself in a job, save some money and go out and travel and meet people.
posted by fire&wings at 3:33 AM on November 15, 2009

It's not clear why you are staying *together* when clearly you're both in different places emotionally.
posted by watercarrier at 3:51 AM on November 15, 2009

I'll add to the pile-on, since you concede you're being a douche and it seems fair game to confirm said fact.

You can't edit this insanely detailed and confusing question into a coherent one, yet you're *dropping out of school* to become a writer, proposing to go into debt to travel, and taking out an IRA (?) to fund it (that's a retirement account, you don't know what you're talking about). You're dabbling in Pseudhissm (as I call it) but she's at fault for drawing animals?

Your attitude is profoundly un-Buddhist, not to mention selfish and wrong-headed. You sound very immature. Despite your protestations to the contrary, there is no evidence in the wording of your question that suggests your girlfriend is important to you, let alone that you love her.

Do her a favor and leave.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:55 AM on November 15, 2009 [14 favorites]

The two of you have different approaches to life. It's far from clear that yours is the better approach. Why does seem clear is that neither of you is willing to change, and it's wrecking your relationship. So, break up with her and find someone more on your wavelength.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:07 AM on November 15, 2009

Whoa! Some people are so keen on breaking up.

I say break up only after you've given your best shot.

Maybe DerangedGoblin can give us more info on the relationship. How long has this been going on? How much do you really love her?
posted by simpleton at 5:31 AM on November 15, 2009

It isn't that your girlfriend has no passion, no ambitions, or no interests. You just don't think they are of value. Maybe this is part of your journey this year, being able to acknowledge the value of others and the things they care about, even if you can't see it yourself.

Her drawing skills, her enjoyment of gaming, her considerable interest in horses, and even more so, her fascination with genetics could take her somewhere. It's as likely to lead to something as your writing and Buddhist journey. You've decided the best way to find yourself and shape your path in life is to drop out of college, focus on your writing for a year, while including a strong component of self-exploration and travel. I'm not sure how you are funding this year, since you do not mention a job, so I am just going to assume you have a large savings fund to draw from as you need. Some people may look at your plan and think it is aimless, irresponsible, and not well thought-out, but you quite clearly have a goal in mind, are purportedly being responsible within the confines of your process, and have clearly given this a lot of thought. Your goals, methods, and interests as valid and worthwhile as they are, could just as easily be dismissed by someone who has different ideas and perspectives. Pretty upsetting and unhelpful, huh?

She has also decided college isn't for her, but is not sure what her next step should be. She has a job, which she doesn't like, but won't quit because she understands that in order to survive in modern society, you usually need an income, and that often involves jobs and tasks we don't find interesting or don't particularly like. She didn't pounce on the arts and crafts for special needs people idea because everything that we might have a vague interest in, doesn't always necessitate an immediate life change which would involve quitting a job one may not love but knows and needs, to pursuing a degree (time consuming and costly) or switching to a new job that would be an unknown quantity which already contains some component she senses would make it just as undesirable. You were not wrong to suggest it, but that doesn't mean she was wrong to reject it as a possibility.

Frankly, you need to chill, you have to realize that your way is not the only way, and even when someone else's way may have things in common with your approach, it does not mean that your processes are, or should be, identical. Most importantly, you need to respect your girlfriend and her interests a hell of a lot more. I am impressed by anyone who reads about genetics for fun and even incorporates it into their leisure time. Why aren't you? Yeah, the complaining can get old, but so can being judged and questioned. While she could just be venting, she may be repeating things because she feels like she is not being heard. I would just back off a bit, reflect on your own reactions and what they say about you, not her, and if you think your ADHD, depression, or other mental health issues are a factor, expend your energy getting help for those, and you may be surprised to see that some things do, indeed, just fall into place. Good luck to both of you.
posted by katemcd at 5:45 AM on November 15, 2009 [5 favorites]

Also, is it just me, or is "anxiety/adhd/depression" becoming a generic catch-all excuse for everything or what?

Given both of your apparently serious interests in intellectual matters, writing, science, religion, and philosophy, staying in school would be a smart idea (and also probably make it easier to deal with your mental health issues).

Not sure how you plan to make a living as a college-dropout buddhist writer with ADHD and an IRA.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:16 AM on November 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

Possible exercise: Try to write the AskMeFi question your girlfriend would write about this. It might go something like this: "How can I not be offended by my boyfriend's lack of realism? We're broke, and he wants me to quit my job and travel; he has vague ideas that he's going to start an Internet business and make a decent income, but the one thing he tried didn't work and now he seems to mostly read self-help books."

Don't just think about it. You're a writer, you can inhabit other characters -- actually write it. Post it in the thread if you want.

I think your reaction is justified -- but its not a reaction to what you think. It sounds like you're both really frustrated -- you tried to start a business, and it failed. Your girlfriend has to work at a job she hates. Neither of you has a clear picture of what the future, or even the next year, holds.

What you really need is to be in a place with a little more structure; where you wouldn't be solely responsible for advancing your ambitions, because there'd be someone else prodding you, giving you assignments and tests along the way. It would be better still if that place were able to make you eligible for jobs less soul-killing than the one your girlfriend has now, or offered the opportunity for you to get serious training in writing, genetics, Buddhism, internet marketing, or whatever you want. An added bonus: the place offers free treatment for depression and anxiety.

The place is called college. Think about going back.

What you're having now is another "aha moment" -- college is hard, but life outside college is even harder. The giant complex of issues you're struggling with now? College is training wheels for that.
posted by escabeche at 6:38 AM on November 15, 2009 [9 favorites]

Best answer: A few thoughts for you, which may or may not be useful.
Many people make plans to "be a writer". My advice: write or don't write, don't make plans to "be a writer". And don't make plans to make a living at it. The very very few writers who become successful, i.e. the ones we've all heard of, obscure the reality that there are millions (?) of writers who don't/can't make a living at it. By all means write, it's a healthy and productive thing to do. But do it for yourself, and don't think of yourself as "being a writer".
Also, don't romanticize Buddhism. I have a fair amount of experience in Theravada Buddhism / meditation, and I can tell you two things:
1) If you take it seriously and persevere, it can be the most profound and useful thing that you ever do.
2) Its usefulness has NOTHING to do with romanticism, exoticism, its Eastern origin, etc. It's about attaining mental clarity by hauling the shit out of your brain, and its about as much fun as hauling the shit out of anywhere else.
So be honest with yourself: if what appeals to you about it is the fact that it's hip (in some circles), or you want some special high or trip or to be special, don't cheapen Buddhism or yourself by pursuing it. If you really want to be a clearer, more compassionate, more focused person, go for it. It's really hard and its worth it.
My wife and I have been together for 20 years. I have often had thoughts like yours. She is a self-described "type Z personality" and needs an incredible amount of sleep, downtime, and alone time. Reading, sitting in the sun, watching movies, cleaning the house is a huge part of her life. The lesson for me, which I'm just beginning to learn, is that that's WHO SHE IS. She's her, not me. And I find that the more I accept that, the happier we both are.
Good luck!
posted by crazylegs at 6:55 AM on November 15, 2009 [16 favorites]

When I talk to her about things like finances or anything serious, she ignores me, and she doesn't know what she wants from life and has no wish to find out....Tell me how to not feel directly offended when she ignores my pleas to find and follow her passions, or tell me how much of a dick I'm being. Whichever I deserve.

Well, to be honest, it seems like your chat about finances involved seeking approval for taking out a credit card (for which you have no present means of paying the bills) and a retirement account (although I presume you are years away from retirement age). I can't imagine anyone, who acts as the sole-income provider for a family, taking your suggestions seriously.

You need to own your own life. If you want to be a traveling author studying eastern philosophy, that's fine - you're allowed. But you are not "allowed" to rely on someone else financially to make that dream a reality. She's as equally allowed to prefer painting horses and reading about genetics, and she has no obligation to fund your rent, your credit card bills (responsible or otherwise) and especially your travel. There is nothing at all inherently "better" about your interests, and many people would suggest her realistic, 'get a job and keep at it' approach is more praise-worthy than yours.

My point is that I try my hardest to seize the day and live in the moment and accept whatever happens, no attachments, et cetera.

Okay, so accept what happened - you love someone who doesn't want to travel, who likes to paint horses and play horse games (have you considered setting aside your expectation that she fund your travel, and see whether she might like to ride, lease or own a horse?), and study genetics. Stop trying to change that person and fit her into your mold - accept her, encourage her and love her, as she is.
posted by bunnycup at 7:00 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Note: OP describes the result of his girlfriend quitting her job as "lower income," not "no income," so it sounds like there is another source of money -- maybe a job of his that he didn't mention, family support, whatever. In any case I don't read the situation as "the money to pay the credit card and travel is coming from the girlfriend's minimum wage job."
posted by escabeche at 7:03 AM on November 15, 2009

You need to read more about Buddhism, friend. Seriously. No disrespect, but I think you have missed the point of Buddhism if you think someone else isn't living right and you need to change them. You seem really attached to her doing certain things and being a certain way. Obviously by writing this question you understand that your attachment is the root of your suffering, but you're unwilling to let go of it. Really, yelling at her? Really? Right action, right speech, dude. Take a look at loving-kindness meditation. Talk to your roshi or guru or other spiritual advisor. Talk to someone else on your path. I can't recommend a specific book for this exact situation, but almost anything will be more effective than what you're doing now. Pema Chodron is my go-to author for the practical application of Buddhism to daily life. Brad Warner is also good.
posted by desjardins at 7:20 AM on November 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

I know students who went to Korea for example to teach and they didn't have their bachelors.

Illegally. Not a good idea.
posted by smorange at 7:33 AM on November 15, 2009

My year off will consist of me trying to become a writer. I'm looking into IRA's as well, and have applied for a credit card which I will use responsibly. I'm going to go deeper into Buddhism, and as money permits, I will travel. I spend time reading self-help, personal development, books about finances, independence, philosophy. My only other question on Ask MeFi was about a business I wanted to try. It failed. I've tried other things since and I tried other things before. My point is that I try my hardest to seize the day and live in the moment and accept whatever happens, no attachments, et cetera.

This isn't self-improvement. It's look-at-me intellectual masturbation, coming soon to a douchey undergrad-staffed coffee shop near you. Your girlfriend is busting her ass in some shit job to get herself to a point where she feels comfortable pursuing her interests and you ride in like some latter-day Confucius to babble nonsense and quote Trainspotting at her. I have no doubt you can and will "improve" yourself. I have no doubt she will as well, either by her benchmarks or yours. You're not going to be able to do it together, because you're more of a hemorrhoid than a help at this point. If I were in your shoes, and realized that I'd spent the last X months being a total dick to my partner, I'd apologize profusely, break up with her, and get to work on some real self-improvement.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:54 AM on November 15, 2009 [14 favorites]

It sounds like your girlfriend is interested in animals, art, and genetics. These are perfectly legitimate hobbies, and are also interests that could be made into a future.

The lack of ambition and desire that you are describing does suggest that she could be depressed. It is very possible that the "aha!" decision to leave college is one she now regrets.
posted by alligatorman at 7:56 AM on November 15, 2009

You dropped out of school, where intellectual curiosity, learning, discussion are the point, and now you miss those things, and are looking to the gf to provide them. You seem to believe that you can provide a better learning environment for yourself. Maybe so, maybe not. The environment and traditional structure of college can be very effective, but maybe not for everyone.

You sound kind of manic, going in a lot of directions. Not a bad thing to do while you're young, but your gf doesn't have to feel the same way. My advice?

. Figure out how to live pretty cheaply, so gf doesn't have to have a horrible job. A combination of frugality and part-time work is one possibility.

. Praise and support gf in her goals, recognize that the office job is deadening, and listen to her a whole lot more.

. Make plans to do fun, free stuff, and ask her to come along. If she doesn't, go anyway. Live your life, and you 2 will either get closer or farther apart.

Be sweet to her; you love and value her.
posted by theora55 at 8:06 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and my prior answer should not be construed as "you must stay in this relationship to be a Real Buddhist" or anything of that sort. Sometimes the most compassionate thing you can do for a partner is to leave them. Especially if you're treating them badly.
posted by desjardins at 8:06 AM on November 15, 2009

How are your respective relationships with your parents? If she gets along with hers, she may be better off spending this transitional time with them rather than with you. Twenty (or however old you are) feels very grown-up, but I look back and wish I had asked for more help during that time of my life - not necessarily financial, but emotional. There's nothing wrong with asking for a bit more parenting, which when done right can be a beautiful combination of nurturing and kicks in the butt.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:52 AM on November 15, 2009

Sometimes, all that a person needs in life is to settle.

We usually treat it like a bad thing, to settle for what you have instead of striving for more. But it really isn't always so bad. Settling means that you don't have to worry about getting more when you're happy with what you have. Settling means that you can enjoy those simple things that give you pleasure, instead of worrying constantly about what could give you even more pleasure. Settling, sometimes, can be extremely satisfying.

So look at your girlfriend's life. Sure, she has a job she hates, but it pays the bills, right? Sure, she's not reading much about Buddhism or planning grand adventures, but she gets to spend a lot of time doing things that she enjoys, like drawing horses and playing games. Sure, she doesn't have too great a plan for her future, but, right now, she's getting to have a lot of fun and live with a guy she loves -- how is that not time well-spent?

My point is, your girlfriend may be settling for the life she's living now because, all told, it really is a pretty good life. From what you have said, it seems quite reasonable for us to assume that she is quite happy the way she is. If she's not willing to make huge plans for life-altering plans for the future or anything, maybe you should ask yourself: from her perspective, with her likes and dislikes, why should she?

That's an earnest question. What reason does she have to change, if any? Try to become more aware of what she values and desires, and that may help you see both what she is looking for in life, whether she is perfectly fine the way she is now, and how well you can mesh your goals for the future with hers.
posted by Ms. Saint at 9:01 AM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

No, your behavior toward her is not justified and I think rather than an apology, which you say you do all the time to the point of it being meaningless, you should think about improving your approach.

Your girlfriend probably doesn't want to quit her job because she gets some security out of the money she's bringing in, even if it isn't much. Jobs aren't all that easy to come by right now and being unemployed can be more stressful than making the effort to maintain a job you don't like. You don't say if you're employed or if the two of you have any sort of money coming in outside of her job. If she's overwhelmed with the thought of bills versus income, she may have a hard time discussing finances if she feels that you're not making enough effort to help.

She might be depressed, but it's impossible to tell from what you've said. If she feels she's depressed and wants to seek help, then you should be supportive. If you're not insured, there are certainly local clinics where she can go to and discuss her options for feeling better. But I don't think you should make the mistake of viewing her dislike of her job, and her lack of "passion" for anything as depression. Not everyone develops great passions. Some people just have a variety of interests and go through life happily tinkering with different things. It looks like you're holding her to your own standards and that's not fair to her.

You seem committed to the relationship, so I'd recommend that you include some relationship books in your self-help reading list. Continuing to badger her over her motivation levels is only going to make both of you miserable.
posted by contrariwise at 9:04 AM on November 15, 2009

Response by poster: I confess I am not quite done reading the answers, but I didn't want to miss replying to certain things. I stopped at fourcheesemac's answer.

I have a job. Writing. I didn't make that clear, but that was a very large part of my point. I make more than she does, and her having her job at all is redundant, but I wouldn't mind if she had a job that she felt fulfilled from. THAT'S why I want her to quit.

I also don't have a problem with her hobbies but that she ignored and downplays them. I would love for her to do something with art of genetics, but she says she has to do her job instead. I disagree.

I know what an IRA is, that was a list of separate dreams. Travel, fund an IRA, have a credit card.

The credit card will be paid in full every single month. If it's not, my girlfriend has agreed to kick me in the balls and cut it up.

Communication is an issue but not quite so fundamentally. This is really the main issue there. We are both in therapy individually and as a couple.

She is reading this thread with me. She helped me pick best answers. I appreciate all the ones marked and very much appreciate the bluntness that our therapists sometimes lack.

(Also, my rambling thing only applies to very emotional questions that kind of mean a lot to me. It's hard to take something like that a trim it when, as this proves, every detail is kind of important)
posted by DerangedGoblin at 9:16 AM on November 15, 2009

Response by poster: I also want to say that our relationship is almost perfect. Our fights are few and far between, and there's not a lot of this. This isn't a summary of our relationship, this isn't how we interact with each other, it's just one thing. This happens to be a fairly big thing, yes, but after our yelling, we're back to being us because we know it's the problem we're upset by not each other.

I am aware of what Buddhism is and got over the "Oh, meditation doesn't make me fly?" hump. I wasn't looking for advice on that. Buddhism doesn't rule my life unfortunately. As much as I'd like to run around telling everyone in the state that they're hardly being Christian, I'm well aware that it's something you work on, not something that happens because you will it immediately. I realize Buddha wouldn't approve. That's why I'm here, that's why we're in therapy, and that's why she's helping me.
posted by DerangedGoblin at 9:33 AM on November 15, 2009

If these fights only happen occasionally, what triggers them? That is important to know, if you want to prevent them.
posted by kathrineg at 9:37 AM on November 15, 2009

I ask because when someone says "how do I stop yelling at my girlfriend" I think of it like this: "how do I stop sticking needles in my girlfriend".

Wait, that doesn't make sense. Why would I stick needles in my girlfriend? I never have the urge to do that.

Well, then why do you get the urge to yell at her? Does it become so strong that you can't control it? If so, what makes you feel as though you are out of control?

Does part of you think you should yell at her? Well, you shouldn't, and you need to go through your thought processes and weed out the ones that make excuses for that behavior.

You don't have to be perfect, but refraining from yelling at people is a good place to start trying to be perfect.
posted by kathrineg at 9:40 AM on November 15, 2009 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I also ask because if there is a feeling you feel before you yell, or a situation that makes you want to yell, you can teach yourself to leave the situation before you lose control.

Again, please think of the way that you feel towards the harsher responses here. They make you feel misunderstood and shamed. Are they helpful? Are they adding to your ability to learn and progress, or are they driving you to resist and oppose?
posted by kathrineg at 9:45 AM on November 15, 2009

-- My SO has no passion and this turns me into an asshole.

-- She is reading this thread with me. She helped me pick best answers.

I call bullshit on the "she is reading this thread with me." As derisive and petty as you come across in your question, for you to show her your question and this thread suggests you have no respect for her at all.

It's really insulting to say she "has no passion" and therefore "turns [you] into an asshole" isn't it? Or is there some spin you can put on that that is not very demeaning to her?
posted by jayder at 10:28 AM on November 15, 2009 [5 favorites]

Our fights are few and far between, and there's not a lot of this. This isn't a summary of our relationship, this isn't how we interact with each other, it's just one thing.

The problem is that we don't know you at all -- we're reacting to your description out of the blue. When a large chunk of your description of your relationship is about you getting mad at her, people visualize the relationship as mainly consisting of those interactions.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:33 AM on November 15, 2009

Best answer: I also want to say that our relationship is almost perfect.

Really? Because it sounds to me like you twist everything so that it's "her fault." Why are you an asshole? Because she "turns you into an asshole." What's wrong with her? A "lack of enthusiasm." Sounds like she has all the enthusiasm she needs to make her happy--you just want her to have more.

Let her live her life the way she wants to live it. Let her have the job she thinks is right for her now, do her hobbies the way SHE wants to do them, etc. You do your life the way you want to do it, have the job you think is right for you now, you do your hobbies the way you want to do them, etc.

This is what having relationships in your twenties is all about. You make a life that works for you, she makes a life that works for her, and you guys see if those lives can mesh together.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:32 AM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I wrote the original question in the heat of the moment while she wrote an e-mail to her mother. I apologized for the wording of the question, but we agreed that it might be helpful to get outside opinions. It wasn't me showing her the thread saying, "see, I told you I was right," it was me saying, "These people point out that I'm being a controlling dick, but at the same time maybe you have depression/worry about income/etc." The return is that we are going to talk to our therapists about it.

I also strongly apologize for the phrasing "turns me into." I didn't mean that literally, I mean "I react as an asshole." The question in short was, "Do we both have a problem, or is it just me?" As in, am I just being an asshole, or am I reacting badly to a legitimate concern.

I can't really prove she's reading this. I'm not going to take a picture of us holding the newspaper with a very specific reference to the thread. I have no reason to lie though. You don't know me, so it's not like I have to guard a reputation. Lying in an effort to make myself look better would defeat every purpose in asking the question here.

I also don't mean to sound quite so standoffish. I greatly appreciate these answers and don't mean to argue with everyone.
posted by DerangedGoblin at 12:20 PM on November 15, 2009

So, currently you are providing the bulk of the income, and you think the money she brings in is so inconsequential that she might as well quit. Did you read this thread recently? Maybe she doesn't want to depend entirely on you. Maybe she is aware that it's easier to find a job if you already have one. Maybe she's like me and if she didn't have a job to go to would just not do anything most days. I have had jobs I whined about and I still knew I was better off having the job and going to it. Perhaps you need to start treating her complaints about the job as a standalone method of working off the stress (Men Are From Mars style), rather than a desire for change.
posted by jacalata at 1:14 PM on November 15, 2009

Oh, a random idea: if the money she makes is inconsequential to your living style, why doesn't she start putting it all in a savings account, as a test? (She should certainly not be expected to contribute more in any other way, housework etc. You should pretty much not be allowed to refer to the change - this is something for her to figure out).
Outcomes to measure
-how do you feel about her not contributing financially?
-how does SHE feel about not contributing financially?
-how does the slightly decreased standard of living affect both of you?
-does having savings change anything about what she wants to plan for the future?
-does she feel like the job is still worth going to for the non-financial gains?
posted by jacalata at 1:20 PM on November 15, 2009

Um- you're the one who dropped out of school and wants to write, study Buddism, and travel, and not get a paying job. From what you wrote, she's the mature and enthusiastic one, not you. So she hates her job? At least she has one! And maybe she will go back to school and get a better job that she likes, but you can't force her to do that- it has to be something she decides for herself. Maybe you're a "fixer" but she doen't want to be fixed right now.
And you say she has no hobbies but they proceed to list in detail her hobbies. So her reading about genetics is lame, but you studying Buddism is indicative of your passion? Total double standard. I bet she could write a very similar askme about your own lack of direction.

My adivce is to
A. back off on the criticisms. like, immediately.
B. focus on your own goals and make them happen, on your own. So you want to write, or travel? Figure out a way to make it happen, without a credit card, and on your own dime. Even if it means temping in an office for a couple of months to save up a few hundred bucks. You can take a trip for a month or two by yourself, you don't have to break up. And it sounds like it would be good for your relationship- you seem like you're blaming her for all of the problems and maybe doing something for yourself would make the relationship healthier.
posted by emd3737 at 1:43 PM on November 15, 2009

Best answer: I also strongly apologize for the phrasing "turns me into." I didn't mean that literally, I mean "I react as an asshole." The question in short was, "Do we both have a problem, or is it just me?" As in, am I just being an asshole, or am I reacting badly to a legitimate concern.

The thing is that that's how you framed the discussion. And it wasn't a typo--it was more of a Freudian slip, yes?

I don't know if you're reacting to a "legitimate concern." You actually haven't laid out many of your concerns, other than that you think your girlfriend should BE different.

You wrote:

She won't travel, she won't move, she won't look into doing anything artistic, she won't try writing, she won't look for a job with special needs. She does all these things for 10 minutes after I guilt trip her about it, and then she never speaks of it again.

Those mostly aren't couples issues--those are mostly just the way she does her life. Except for the traveling and moving, which are definitely things that couples need to negotiate, the other stuff is her own business.

So if you want to travel, and you want her to join you in the travel, you guys need to have a good discussion and negotiation about it. If you want to move, and you want her to move with you, you guys need to have a good discussion and negotiation about it. This does not involve you berating at her, and nor does it involve her going along with you passive-aggressively.

As for the other stuff, it's her stuff to do. She might not want to do anything else with her art other than what she's doing. She might not want to write at all. She might enjoy volunteering with special needs populations, but not want to do that for a living. There's nothing to be "concerned" about with any of that.

On the other hand, it's reasonable for you not to want to hear lots of complaints about a job she doesn't like when you're encouraging her and supporting her in finding another job. So that's a place where you can (and should, in my opinion), draw a boundary: "I know you hate your job, and I am willing to give you whatever help you need to find a job you like better, but I'm really tired of listening to the same complaints about this job over and over." That's a reasonable response to a legitimate concern.

If you made boundaries about the things that ARE your business, you might be less tempted to micromanage the stuff that isn't your business, yes?
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:45 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yelling at her that I'm awesome and that she's not is not very effective.

I wish we knew how old the two of you are. I'm assuming very early twenties?

I really think you need to go back to the drawing board in terms of how you are approaching life. You sound, to put it bluntly, like a flake. You sound like you could sorely use some intellectual discipline, the benefits that result from submitting yourself to an intellectual and work routine that you would gain if you were in college.

Some of the things in your question just don't sound quite right. You say you are working on being a writer, but you say, "She writes awesome" and "she draws awesome"? You do realize you're writing ungrammatically, don't you?

I think you need to become more humble --- go back to school, get a job, and give up this idea of being a roaming intellectual nomad working on your writing and dabbling in Buddhism. That ambition is so off-the-shelf and cliched it is laughable. Be humble, submit yourself to a discipline that isn't comfortable, don't strive for the cool lifestyle, but strive to improve yourself and not impose your hackneyed vision of the good life on a woman who, frankly, sounds like she has it a lot more together than you do.
posted by jayder at 2:47 PM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

I realize this is a very simplistic, easy answer, but I've always felt that if you can't accept the idea of being with someone The Way They Are Right Now, then you simply cannot accept them. Once, a long time ago, I had a boyfriend who was always telling me how much he loved me for my "potential." It made me feel like he didn't really love me, just an Ideal Me who only existed in his head and who I would never live up to. His well-meaning attempts to push me forward only depressed me.
posted by weesha at 4:14 PM on November 15, 2009 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm aware I resist criticism a lot and it's not till later that I can tell the difference between a reasonable defense and me just refusing to be wrong. That said I apologize for the argumentativeness here and won't dispute any further answers. Instead I'll just mark the ones that are right. I'll still answer any questions for more details though.

Ages is 19 and 20 in December. We've been together about 4 years except for a year in which my family moved. That's why I'm confident this is one issue in our relationship and not just me not accepting who she is.
posted by DerangedGoblin at 5:22 PM on November 15, 2009

Best answer: Did one/both of you guys grow up without mentors or, more generally, people who took an interest in your goals or encouraged you to have them and develop them?

Because it's like.. some people seem to have things figured out, definite goals and plans from college-age or younger.. But not everyone comes from a background where you are even taught to ask the questions, or taught that you can pursue goals and interest of your own, or, above all, taught how to go about it. (And often times, families from upper middle classes are better at this.. mine sure wasn't, either from that class, or any use at teaching their kids how to achieve much of anything.)

And I tend to think, re: ambition... through subtle and unsubtle ways, you can be conditioned to have no idea what it even means, and find that the prospect of putting yourself out there, saying what your goals are, pursuing them.. all this is pretty awful and scary, and doesn't match up at all with your concept of yourself. There can be this insidious feeling like "I'm not smart/capable enough to actually do this thing, so why even try, I'll just mess it up." So I wondered if this might make any sense to your girlfriend.. I also wonder if you have some of this feeling: what does it mean to try to become a writer? I mean, do you feel like you need the self-help and personal development books as prerequisites? A writer writes. It takes practice and work & worrying in a conceptual or romantic way about Becoming A Writer can cause a lot of unnecessary headaches IMHO. If you write for a job now, you are one already, aren't you? Or do you just think you don't have enough life experiences to write about, and/or need to read and study and travel more to enrich your life and thus, your writing? That seems fair, actually. Why not, especially while you're young.
posted by citron at 5:23 PM on November 15, 2009 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Ages are*
I was going to say our ages separately and missed that on review. My apologies, jayder. :D
posted by DerangedGoblin at 5:24 PM on November 15, 2009

Tell me how to not feel directly offended when she ignores my pleas to find and follow her passions

Why do you feel offended when she ignores your pleas to find and follow her passions?
posted by EmilyClimbs at 5:59 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Neither me, nor the other anachronism are ambitious. We've got few goals. We've got a lot of hobbies. We dislike it intensely when we are berated by the more ambitious, the more outgoing to try and make something of ourselves. We are happy working our jobs, making enough money to be comfortable and living the way we live.

We once went on a cruise with my family. The other anachronism and I tend to think holiday = doing sweet fuck all. My sister and her boyfriend tend to think holidays = do all sorts of new things and activities. We were sharing a cabin and by the end I was ready to commit some violence on her boyfriend (calling a pregnant woman fat and lazy is a bad thing!) because we were constantly berated and pleaded with about our lack of desire to leave the ship, or to go on hikes, or to go on adventures. We were quite happy to sit back, have a bit of a look at markets then chill out. They wanted to go horseriding, coral diving, adventuring with strange taxi drivers who don't speak English and were so annoyed that we didn't. They got so pissed off at us! All we wanted was to relax with each other and savour some moments of peace and beauty. All they wanted was to experience all sorts of shit. Yet we were under a barrage of advice and 'concern' about our desires.

I too have a tendency to rant about my job - I don't like people in general and I usually get ranty about the people at work after a while. Changing careers won't fix it, mostly changing employers won't fix it either. I just need to learn to deal with the ranty stuff without driving my husband batty with constant negativity.

It is perfectly okay to have a hobby you don't want to do anything with other than use as a hobby! It's perfectly okay not to want to travel! It's perfectly okay not to want to move! These are not moral failings. Hell, they aren't even evidence of depression! They are perfectly valid personality traits. Stop thinking of these things as needing to be fixed and concentrate on the real issues - the incompatible things, the money stuff and the job hate.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:17 PM on November 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

You're not going to like my answer, but here goes...

If I was your girlfriend's friend, alarm bells would be going off in my head because of all of the warning signs of an abusive relationship you have described in this thread. Maybe not physically abusive, but definitely on the course to emotional abuse. Here are somethings that stood out to me:

Verbal abuse (yelling)

Blaming your anger on her. (ie I only do X awful thing because she made me)

Being awful in the heat of the moment, and then sweet as pie later (and maybe when other people are around, so she feels like no one would believe what a jerk you can be sometimes)

She is withdrawn and depressed

You are encouraging her to quit her job and depend on you entirely. This is a huge warning sign for me. You are taking away her escape route - without a job she can not break up on her own terms or with you with her dignity intact. This traps her in the same way women get trapped in abusive relationships.
posted by fermezporte at 8:28 PM on November 15, 2009 [9 favorites]

I think you should think carefully about what fermezporte wrote above. I'm sure you don't feel like you're being abusive. I can tell from your post that you love your girlfriend, and there are a lot of things you like about her, but your actions do give cause for concern, especially since you mention that you're terrified she'll leave you. A terror that she'll leave you, combined with the behavior you mention, can turn into a vicious cycle where because you're so afraid, you act like a controlling jerk, then when you cool off you realize you acted terribly, feel guilty and get more afraid, leading to more jerky behavior, etc.

Your girlfriend is an autonomous human being. While you may love her, you cannot control what she does or doesn't do with her life without you turning into an abusive person. We can sit here and debate whether or not she is right or wrong to make those choices, but ultimately you have to accept the choices that she makes and not yell at her or emotionally blackmail her when she doesn't do what you want her to do. If you can't accept it you need to move on. Leaving someone doesn't always mean you don't love them. Sometimes you have to move on because you love them.
posted by weesha at 5:46 AM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

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