Confused about relationship and need advice...please.
March 16, 2010 1:02 PM   Subscribe

My heart says stay, my head says go - should I break up with him, yes or no? Please help...

I am having a major battle of my head telling me to leave my BF, while my heart feels that I should stay because I love him so much. Any advice would be greatly appreciated because I am feeling so utterly confused and it's killing me.

I've been dating my BF for 5 years and we have been living together for 3. I love him with all of my heart. However, I feel like things moved so quickly in the beginning that our relationship never really had time to develop that intense passion that I just totally crave...and I know it can exist for me because I've had past relationships where it was present (and those were 3 and 5 years long respectively). Instead, things with the BF have become comfortable, worn in, familiar, inert. That's ok - I definitely have never thought of love being all puppies and kittens and know that in real life people fight, no one is perfect and relationships are certainly not roses all the time. I don't get flowers, I'm not told that I'm pretty or anything like that...but I get a stable home life I suppose, so maybe that's ok?

With that being said, I think the BF is a narcissist but has never been diagnosed with NPD or anything like that. I read a description of what a Narcissist is the other day, and it sounds a lot like him. He always uses the words "blame" and "accuse" whenever we're talking about something heated, and is always very concerned that I'm "blaming him" or "accusing him" of something (even when I'm not, which is 95% of the time). He does have ADHD and is not doing anything to treat it, but does attribute a lot of his behavior to it. He can be quite loose at the mouth and knows that one of his faults is sputtering things off without thinking. Therefore, there have been times in our relationship where I feel like I have been physically slapped by the impact of what he says sometimes. On our third date he told me that I need to dress better. I think his intentions were good there, so I let it slide. He blurts things out in public a lot and raises his voice at me all the time while a crowded grocery store or shopping area if I say or do something silly or if he's wondering why-the-heck-am-I-buying-XYZ. It's embarassing and I feel embarassed at times and it hurts. He's done this in front of our friends too. He was diagnosed with sleep apnea and had to go on a CPAP, and I was chatting about it with one of my friends who's SO is also on a CPAP and when he heard me comparing the machines that they are on with her he loudly and abruptly said "WILL YOU NOT DISCUSS OUR PROBLEMS WITH OTHER PEOPLE!?" and the two of us looked at each other and stopped talking. I definitely was blushing there.

Then, it started feeling like he was losing interest in me. We quickly fell into this routine where he'd just come home and crash on the couch and not want to talk. All the nice little emails I'd get during the work hours that made me smile went away. Some nights he'd be happy, others cranky after work and it was frustrating for me to feel like I had to tiptoe around him sometimes when all I wanted to do was just hug him and spend time with him. I've always been a very strong, independent lady. I have my graduate degree, have a very solid career, have lived and traveled abroad and have been financially independent since I was 18 (I'm almost 30 now). I started feeling depressed and started drinking a lot more. I'd get home from work and we'd fall into our usual evening routine and I'd drink a bit to try and escape. About a year and a half ago I realized that the drinking was not helping so I sought some therapy and worked with my doctor was able to resolve that. The drinking did put a strain on our relationship even more, and I think in retrospect, I was acting out of discouragement and frustration? I don't know. What I do know is that I've resolved that and have been managing it well for well over a year now.

But things with the BF haven't changed one bit. I ran my third marathon and in the car on the way home he asked me why I think I'm not super skinny like some of those crazy marathon runners. This made me feel horrible! Here I was with my medal still around my neck and felt bad about myself. Then we started having less and less sex and I know he was looking at pr0n all the time in the mornings before heading to work after I had left the house. The only times we would have sex was after a fight or if I dressed up and made some huge thing out of it. Whenever I tried telling him that I was upset or needed something from him in the emotional department that I felt was hurting for me and was a legitimate request (e.g. "I need to feel loved and I'm feeling ignored") he'd listen and then twist everything around and I'd be crying and apologizing after every conversation. SO FRUSTRATING. I'd end up not only feeling bad, but like my needs that I was raising to him didn't matter still and they'd still sit unaddressed. Even though the drinking has been addressed, he still brings it up all the time as the reason why things are the way that they are and why we haven't progressed together. It's been 5 years, I'm sober and when I do drink it's not destructive/in moderation and yet it's a reason why he doesn't want to marry me? I've tried talking about it with him and why I think I got to the point that I was drinking like that and he blows up on me and says that I shouldn't be blaming him for my problems (I'm not, but I think I may have been lashing out through my actions).

I feel so horrible about myself. We finally had a big fight and I told him that I can't do this to myself anymore - I'm so emotionally distraught and stressed out over this relationship that I feel it's time to move on. I'm going to be 30 and I want life to move and breathe/be happy like I've felt in the past and buy a house and get a dog. We have plans to do those things together when we get married, but I feel like we're never going to (and I'm now almost 30 and he's 34). I told him I'm going to move out and move on with my life. Then suddenly last night he tells me that he does "love me the way I want to be loved but he needs to work on showing me". He was all nice and loving and appreciative last night of me and told me that he needs me in his life and doesn't want to lose me. He wants to try couple's therapy and maybe start seeing a therapist on his own (when he was not a supporter of this in the past). My heart aches. My heart is telling me that by leaving, I'm making a mistake because I could lose him forever. However, my head is telling me that things are not going to change, I should move on even though it's going to hurt like hell, but I might be better off, even if I'm alone with that future dog forever. I'm so confused as to what to do.

As part of this recent development of me feeling it's time to move on, I've gotten pre-approved for a mortgage and have been checking out condos with a realtor...I haven't told him about this becuase I know he'd be upset. I figure if we're not going to get married, then why not get that house and that dog on my own? I can certainly afford it, again, I'm going to be 30 soon, and I'm not getting any younger.

Am I making a mistake by listening to my head? Is this situation really not all that bad and I'm just overreacting about nothing? I feel like I deserve to be treated better, but am I wrong - maybe I'm overreacting and every couple goes through this sort of stuff? Maybe he's the best I can find? Maybe I really am a bad person for the drinking even though I feel like I worked really hard to do something about it and fix it? My heart loves him so much, but I feel so crushed whenever I just want to spend time with him and he's cranky, or is blowing me off, or yells at me in public, in front of our friends, etc. etc. I feel like we're never going to progress and I feel like it's my fault. I'm so damn confused. :(

Help. Please. :(
posted by floweredfish to Human Relations (59 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Often, I think people ask relationship questions where they subconsciously know the answer but aren't quite ready yet to admit it. Yes, I think you should break up with him.
posted by 6550 at 1:06 PM on March 16, 2010 [7 favorites]

I feel so horrible about myself. We finally had a big fight and I told him that I can't do this to myself anymore - I'm so emotionally distraught and stressed out over this relationship that I feel it's time to move on.

You seem to have answered your own question.
posted by dortmunder at 1:11 PM on March 16, 2010 [6 favorites]

What do your friends say? Do you still even have any friends- or has he found reasons for you to cut off contact with all of them? Things sound really, really bad between you two. Living in a condo with a dog sounds like heaven in comparison.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:12 PM on March 16, 2010

Subconsciously or not, you know the answer.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:12 PM on March 16, 2010

What 6650 said - sounds like a time to go. He might not like being broken up with (I don't know any female narcissists) so you might want to be aware of that; he might prefer it to be him "having" to go because it shows him in the better light because you are a "drunkard" or "crazy" or other thing "wrong".
posted by tilde at 1:13 PM on March 16, 2010

Break up with him. For the pron. He's obviously not into it anymore. Save yourself some time.
posted by lakerk at 1:13 PM on March 16, 2010

If his suggestions of couples and single therapy are truly new, I suggest asking him to research potential therapists. You can say that you both will and compare notes in a week, say.

If he actually did some research and appears to be engaged in the process, you might want to give it a chance. If not, DTMFA.
posted by rocketpup at 1:14 PM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

You're not confused. You know what you need to do. You're miserable, he treats you poorly, you don't have the same goals. Move out and move on. Don't have any contact with him after you leave, so that you can heal. He'll likely turn on the charm full blast to reel you back in. Please don't let that happen. You'll be lonely for a while, but you'll do much better on your own than with this clown.
posted by December at 1:14 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

You have a whole life to live. Why in the world, would you want to waste time hanging out with a guy who is obviously not making you happy? From your description, I really don't think the situation is going to get better - he is not going to change, people rarely do. And if he isn't going to change, there is absolutely no chance things will get better - but they will get worse. Cut your losses now. It'll hurt in the beginning, but you'll be ever so grateful down the line that you did this.
posted by VikingSword at 1:14 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Relationships are not defined in crisis moments, but by how the people in the relationship treat each other day in and day out.

Only you can decide if that day in and day out treatment is worth tolerating, but it sounds like you already know the answer.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:15 PM on March 16, 2010 [6 favorites]

It doesn't sound like the lack of intense passion is the problem. It sounds like the presence of a lot of bullshit you shouldn't be dealing with is the problem. And if you've got to the stage where you've switched those priorities round, where you're saying "Well, things are a bit less passionate than I'd like - and incidentally he yells at me in public, twists my requests for emotional support round into attacks on him, chooses porn over me, and blames all problems in our relationship on my drinking even though I gave up drinking over a year ago," that in itself is a big, big problem.

I feel like I deserve to be treated better, but am I wrong

No, you're not wrong. Better is out there, and it won't ask why you're not skinnier after you've run a damn marathon. Go and find it.
posted by Catseye at 1:16 PM on March 16, 2010 [12 favorites]

You may find that if you attend couples therapy, as he suggests, it may make it easier to break up.

I know more than one couple who have attended with the hope of saving their relationship, and were then told by the therapist that they have no business being together. It can be quite freeing because it feels then like you're following doctor's orders and not just selfishly sending your partner packing.

Nothing you've mentioned in your description of the relationship sounds endurable, let alone worth saving. You've been strong to put up with it this do yourself a favour and make the next 5 years so much better.
posted by Pomo at 1:17 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

You're a self-described strong, independent lady. You know what to do.

It's often said that in behavioral situations, one must hit rock bottom before change can really be made. That may be the way things have to be in alcohol and drug addictions, or even with some psychological or physical health issues, but I think in relationships, it's far too late. He's claiming he'll try therapy or other measures as a last-ditch effort, but the truth is that these aren't last minute things, they're steps to help a failing situation. This sounds like it's already failed.
posted by mikeh at 1:17 PM on March 16, 2010

i think you've obviously decided to leave this relationship.

i do wonder if you're pushing the end because you're barreling down on 30 and it's making you freak out about the future. the other part missing from this question is how you react to his outlandish behavior (yelling at you in public). how often do you work to "not upset him"?

i've said it before and i'm sure i'll say it again - no one ever needs an excuse to break up with someone. however, if you want to stay - go to couples counseling and both of you enter counseling alone. in conjunction with that, make up a wish list - if your relationship/life looked exactly like you wanted it to - what would that look like? decide how long you can work on things for real before you're just spinning your wheels. share all of this with him. maybe something like "i need to see real progress in these areas by this date, or i need to move on with my life". then it is up to you if real progress is being had or if he's just going through the motions to save this relationship. even if real progress is made, you can still decide it's not enough, or it's not right, or you still want to leave.

i don't think this is a doomed situation, but if you do, do both of you a favor and leave.
posted by nadawi at 1:18 PM on March 16, 2010

You sound really angry with him and you're giving him armchair diagnoses and objectifying his behavior because it's making you feel bad. Bottom line: You aren't feeling great and you think it's his fault. None of us know what's really going on so we can't be objective. All we know is that it sounds like you don't like him and you're telling us you want to leave him because you don't like him. Based on that, you should leave him.

Though it's nice that he wants to try therapy. If your heart wants to try therapy, then try it.

While a lot of comments indicate that they know what is going to happen in your relationship, none of us do, and the people we were in relationships with are different than your boyfriend. So if it's easier to stay with him and work on it than leave him, stay with him and see if the therapy helps. If it's easier to plan a life without him, then do that. Don't stress yourself out or let him judge you. You judge you. You need to not rely on what he says to make or break you.
posted by anniecat at 1:21 PM on March 16, 2010 [5 favorites]

dortmunder simplified the whole quandary for you. good luck.
posted by zenpop at 1:24 PM on March 16, 2010

It sounds more like your heart says go and your (overthinking, fearful) brain says stay. I would listen to your heart.
posted by orsonet at 1:26 PM on March 16, 2010

Time to move on. I'm married to someone who (possibly) is a narcissit (based on similar traits). Am I happy? No, no I'm not. It's a relationship of blame, victim, no accountability, and even as far as "you do that on purpose to start things" (like I have time for that).

Time to move on. I'm sorry you're going through it and yes it will be painful because narcassits are fun, exciting, spur of the moment.

But they're also emotionally draining. Eight years into it, I have no effort to work on it anymore and need to make a decision (married with kid complicates things more than a simple BF breakup).

Good luck.
posted by stormpooper at 1:30 PM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Do you want to have kids some day? Do you want to have kids with someone who acts like this?
posted by OmieWise at 1:31 PM on March 16, 2010 [5 favorites]

This does NOT sound like a stable home life.

All couples go through stuff, but healthy ones work through their issues with respect, which is a quality your BF seems to be lacking. Raising his voice to you, blowing you off because he's "cranky", belittling you in front of your friends -- none of this is acceptable behavior from someone who is supposed to love you. And it sounds like the only reason he recently agreed to therapy, etc. is because you threatened to leave him.

The fact that you stopped drinking on your own and have stayed sober is very encouraging. It means that at some level, you KNOW you deserve more than to let this relationship drag you down. I left a deeply unhappy marriage last year, so I know exactly the fear and heartache and downright nausea that you're feeling...but since I separated from my husband, I've experienced more joy, freedom, and love in one year than I ever expected to have in a lifetime with him.

Do it. Do it do it do it. And if you can, talk to the people in your life about it. The people who care about you will most likely be relieved to see you taking care of yourself, and they'll help shore up your resolve when you wonder if you made the right choice.
posted by spinto at 1:32 PM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Break up with him, but not because the relationship lacks intense passion. Do it because he doesn't treat you with respect.
posted by wryly at 1:36 PM on March 16, 2010 [16 favorites]

Come on, you didn't write this whole essay consisting entirely of negative, negative, negative about him, with nothing redeeming about him, and actually expect any of us (who only know about your relationship based on reading your description) to say you should stay with him, did you?
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:36 PM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Classic narcissist behavior; he treats you poorly and somehow makes you believe it's your fault. And only when he senses that you're leaving him will he even make the slightest effort to change. If you then said "ok, I'll give us another shot," I'd bet tons of money that he'd just gradually go back to his previous behavior. People simply don't change that much, and as much as you love parts of him, the rest of it is killing you. Leave him.
posted by Melismata at 1:37 PM on March 16, 2010 [4 favorites]

You love him, but it no longer sounds like you're in love with him. Moreover, you're no longer happy in this relationship overall, which means you should leave- and you've already made up your mind to do so. You just aren't quite ready to admit it yet . "Listening to your head" and therapy in this situation will only allow you to delay the inevitable- namely because you're not on the fence as much as you think you are, and I would venture by the tone of your post that you're ready to move on. Go for it.
posted by questionsandanchors at 1:37 PM on March 16, 2010

I was in almost your exact situation a few years ago. I hated my life and my boyfriend was so (looking back) verbally abusive that I was having panic attacks in my sleep.

Please, don't listen to him now. Just because he's willing to try counseling because you've dropped the leaving bomb, does not mean he will follow through or even learn anything.

For your own sake and for your sanity, leave him, cut off all ties and find your inner happy. Trust me. My ex pulled all the same shit your boyfriend is doing and drug out the break up for 6 months and in the end he was the same selfish asshole he was in the beginning. He still blamed me for everything that was wrong and still does. The only difference is that I stopped listening and I've never felt better in my life.

Relationships do not have to be this way, and if you are hurting this much, you need to leave.
posted by teleri025 at 1:40 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

You're projecting a lot onto this guy. If you want to be happy and make a reasoned decision you should be more introspective. If you want validation from strangers who can only hear your side... looks like you found it in this thread.
posted by muscat at 1:40 PM on March 16, 2010

I'm just guessing here but I have a feeling in MY heart that you might look back on your question and these nearly unanimous answers and reconsider, thinking "well, you know, I do love him and I really only told them the bad things. I should listen to my heart."


Because you're only listening to part of your heart when you do this. The rest of it feels bad about the way he is and that you don't feel like you're getting what you want out of a relationship. It seems to me that most of your feelings tend towards you thinking you need something different and because you love this person, you try to logically come up with reasons why he acts a certain way and justifications for this, that, and the other.

In other words, your head AND your heart are both working together arguing for either side of your decision. And thank God for that because I think you need to value both when figuring out what to do. Trust your instincts on this one. And remember you deserve to be happy. You can be very "settled" and "comfortable" and "fits like a boring old shoe" with someone and still be totally whacked out in love with somebody. If you feel like something's missing for you, it probably is.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:42 PM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Maybe he's the best I can find?

Are you kidding me? Even if that were true-- which it isn't--you'd be MUCH happier alone.

What kind of insensitive douche tries to make a person feel bad right after they finish a marathon, for God's sake!? He sounds like a miserable, manipulative loser hell-bent on dragging you down with him. Belittling you in front of people...ignoring you... Does the "frog in the pot of hot water" parable mean anything to you? How hot are you going to let it get before you jump?

Go get that condo and live life on your own terms! DTMFA.
posted by aquafortis at 1:47 PM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

It sounds like you're both miserable. It also sounds like he's the sort who will NEVER voluntarily try to improve your relationship. He will either continue the same patterns until you leave him, or some day he'll find his courage and cheat on you or dump you on a Saturday morning.

You two have no kids. Unless you are terribly attached to him, and have a lot of faith that you can come together, I'd say skip therapy and end it. He may be pleasantly shocked by your strong decision.

You sound like a great catch, yourself. Don't worry.

posted by General Tonic at 1:49 PM on March 16, 2010

If I'm doing the math right, you're under 30 and have spent at least 11 years in long-term, serious relationships. Unless you're counting middle school boyfriends, that means that you've never really been single as an adult.

I think it's pretty clear that you're unhappy here. I also think that the fact that you have dated for five years a man who insulted you on your third date (!) might be a signal that you don't really know how to decide for yourself what you want out of life, ask for it, and ditch people who aren't helping you get it.

Break up with this guy, and commit to spending some serious time (I'd recommend a year or more) not dating, not looking for a man to fulfill your craving for passion. Find passion in your own life. Figure out what's important to you. Become emotionally self-sufficient. Then, when you're ready to date again, you'll be able to pick someone who is a good match for you instead of settling for some jackass who seems to think he's benevolent for deigning to date you.
posted by decathecting at 1:50 PM on March 16, 2010 [4 favorites]

You don't love him; you love the idealized version of him in your head. The reality is different.

He is abusive. He is a textbook abuser, actually.

You are not happy in this relationship. Why would you hang on to a relationship that makes you unhappy?

I don't see that any of his issues stem from ADHD. I speak of this as someone who has ADHD and has many family members and friends with ADHD.

If a friend came to you with this relationship, what would you tell them?

posted by MexicanYenta at 1:56 PM on March 16, 2010 [6 favorites]

You ran a marathon, and all he could think to say to you was to criticize your figure?!?

posted by Citrus at 1:56 PM on March 16, 2010

What your "heart" wants rarely has anything to do with what is good for you or a good idea in general - it might be good for you and also be what you want, but just because you want it doesn't mean it's good for you.

The relationship you describe sounds tedious and controlling and unspectacular, I can't see why you'd stay in it except for lack of traction. It sounds like you're on the verge of finding some and getting on with the life you want, and it sounds like you're pretty eager for the change.

Guts, if you're going to take your advice from body parts, are pretty good at knowing good from bad. What's yours say?
posted by Lyn Never at 2:01 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Weird. I know people who end up in your situation, but in their cases the relationships were very passionate in the beginning, and the person who wanted out could go "Well, we had that once. That is what we are capable of. I want to stick around so we can get back to that."

But you say that you never really got passion from dude, so it seems (to a stranger across the internet) that you are sticking around because you value the idea of love, even if loving someone does not make you feel all that great.

Break up with your guy.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:17 PM on March 16, 2010

yet it's a reason why he doesn't want to marry me?

For god's sake don't marry him, and be very sure you don't get pregnant. He sounds like he's very skilled at manipulating and using you. He will use every trick he knows once you really decide to leave. I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to use one of those.

You've already shown him that you can say you'll leave, and then when he turns up the charm a bit, you won't leave. If you say it again, he'll do the same, but more. You are going to have to be strong.

You need to stop saying it and just do it.
posted by fritley at 2:18 PM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Dump him. I was married to an emotionally abusive, narcissistic person lie this -- in fact, you're pretty much describing my ex to a T. It's not going to get better. He won't follow through with his promises to go to therapy and to treat you better. Walk away now, don't waste any more time on him. And if you need to talk, you can mefi-mail me any time.
posted by sarcasticah at 2:25 PM on March 16, 2010

I don't get flowers, I'm not told that I'm pretty or anything like that...but I get a stable home life I suppose, so maybe that's ok?

Nope. That's not ok. You deserve better. Love isn't all puppies and flowers and rainbows, but it is about appreciation and kindness and support. It's about loving and cherishing and it doesn't sound like you are feeling that. It's okay to break up with him. You're turning 30 - nothing wrong with assessing the state of things. If you want to have a house and a dog and your current path isn't leading to that, better to change it now than five years down the road.

And hey - congrats on the medal.
posted by valoius at 2:30 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe he's the best I can find?

Lets say only 1 in 1000 guys was compatible with you.
You still have 3 million guys to go before you run out of options.
And in your sample size of only 3 LT relationships you note Superior qualities in the other two.

Breaking up is hard to do, But everything worth doing in life is.
posted by French Fry at 2:46 PM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

I ran my third marathon and in the car on the way home he asked me why I think I'm not super skinny like some of those crazy marathon runners.

In the relationship business this is what we call a fireable offense.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:29 PM on March 16, 2010 [5 favorites]

It's not your head telling you to go, it's your gut. Listen to it.
posted by doost at 3:31 PM on March 16, 2010

I had the unacceptable-commentary, won't-have-sex-unless-I-dress-up, kinda-too-into-the-porn, it-was-easier-to-drink-than-talk SO. He even went to therapy-- for six! whole! weeks!-- after which he announced that the doctors had found "nothing wrong" with him and he didn't have to go any more.

And then one day he casually blurted out a physicalthreat to my person, and I walked out, and it's been pretty good without him ever since, the end.

Seriously, OP, don't stick around.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 3:36 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Relationships aren't always roses, but under no circumstances should the person who claims to love you make you feel horrible about yourself on a regular basis.

MexicanYenta absolutely hit the nail on the head. The behavior you've described is classic emotional abuse. Reread your post:

- he publicly berates and humiliates you
- he withholds affection as a form of punishment
- he reframes your legitimate needs and emotions as flaws in your character that need "fixing"
- he cuts down your accomplishments (you ran a marathon, for God's sake!)
- he makes you feel unworthy and undeserving of even the least amount of caring and respect
- and lastly, just when you can't take it anymore, just when you've gathered up the courage and resolve to leave, he reels you back in with sweetness and promises of change...


Of course you're questioning whether you deserve any better than this - that's the direct result of his abusive behavior.

You know you should leave. You know you can. In fact, you already are - you didn't get the mortgage pre-approval and realtor for nothing. Tell your family and friends that you're outta there and then go to them for support when you start to second-guess yourself. The people who know and love you will remind you of who you are without him, and my guess is that you're pretty darn incredible.

Best of luck to you, and a brighter, happier future.
posted by keep it under cover at 3:39 PM on March 16, 2010 [13 favorites]

Sometimes love is not enough. "But I love him!" is about the worst reason/excuse in the world for staying in an unhappy (and abusive) relationship. Look after yourself as your absolute first priority -- it looks like you're heading in that direction anyway.
posted by prettypretty at 3:58 PM on March 16, 2010

He sounds mean. If you were my sister or one of my girlfriends, I'd be heartbroken over you being treated like this. I don't even know you and I'm sad for you. Please go. Please.
posted by Kangaroo at 4:03 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

No matter how hard it may seem to do, you need to break up with him. A better life awaits.
posted by 2oh1 at 4:11 PM on March 16, 2010

I feel like I deserve to be treated better

Oh honey, you do, you do. I've never given this answer in AskMe before, but there's a first time for everything: DTMFA.

and totally get a puppy. puppies always help.
posted by spinturtle at 4:31 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you have to break up with him for him to give you what you need, then its probably not going to work well. He will change, until things settle down again and he'll go back to the old ways and you'll tear your hair out, then you'll threaten to leave again and the cycle will carry on.

My rule is: If I've clearly communicated what I want multiple times while still in the relationship, I can honestly say to myself that I gave clear and direct messages about what I wanted, tried to engage in every method of resoliving issues etc... then if after I communicate that I'm leaving they promise everything, its too late.

I hope that helps.
posted by Admira at 5:12 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I feel like I deserve to be treated better, but am I wrong - maybe I'm overreacting and every couple goes through this sort of stuff?

Every couple goes through some un-glamourous stuff--disagreements, stress, miscommunication, etc.--but what you're talking about is not typical stuff. Being yelled at in public, being insulted and minimized, being manipulated into thinking the relationship's struggles are your fault are not normal for "every couple." The situation you describe sounds miserable. If my friend described something like that to me, I'd beg her to leave. You love him--there are lovable things about him--but he has shown you that he chooses to treat you poorly. It is not unreasonable to expect to be treated decently by your partner, and he can't even manage that. What you have described is verbal abuse, and you deserve better.

Also, abusive partners don't generally belong in couples' counseling: the problem is that he treats you like garbage, and that's entirely his fault. This is not something that could be fixed through better communication and more compromise. (What, you're going to be 50% more tolerant of his bad behavior and he'll be 50% less abusive?)
posted by Meg_Murry at 5:16 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Time to go. To hear you tell it, you're both good people worth loving, but you're not particularly compatible; you annoy each other, and you have no passion. If you had kids tying you together I'd say seek therapy first, but since you don't, I'd say move on and get yourself settled as an individual before you seek another boyfriend.
posted by davejay at 5:21 PM on March 16, 2010

Okay, two more things:

1. I was attempting to tell you my opinion in terms that would be less likely to make you defend him irrationally, by saying you're both good people worth loving. I realized shortly afterward that it might sound like the blame is 50/50, and I don't believe that. I believe all people are worth loving, but you don't carry the weight of blame that he does in this scenario.

2. Don't buy a condo yet. Rent first. This will be easier and less stressful than buying another home, it will happen much, much faster, and after a year away from him you may feel like a completely different person (and want to move to another state or country, even.) Best to leave your options open at a time like this.
posted by davejay at 5:28 PM on March 16, 2010

Leave him and don't look back. You don't want to look back on your life and realize you spent it with someone who doesn't respect you, doesn't respect your basic emotional needs, makes you feel shitty when you accomplish something, and manipulates you when you try to stand up to him, right? Then don't.

I think you'll do great, personally; I know right now you worry that you'll be alone forever but just from this post I know a ton of attractive things about you: you're independent, you have a grad degree, you run marathons, you're patient and understanding, etc. Plus you're not even 30 yet; you have so much time ahead of you and life can be so much more than it is for you right now. You're wasted on this guy.
posted by Nattie at 5:41 PM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Here I was with my medal still around my neck and felt bad about myself.

I think that says it all.

If the person you are closest to doesn't fill you with sunshine and light and flowers, but with butterflies of dread instead, it is a no-go. Such 'partners' are not in the dark - they are perfectly aware of what they are doing. You are the prey for someone with a sick, predatory approach to life, but if they can't exercise this everywhere, they're mr.nice guy to all except their one chosen target (usually the one closest to them, conveniently at home).

Remember and vividly recall that feeling you had in the car with the medal and visualise your bf sitting across from you and realise that this face which you have kissed and that person who you share so much with is NOT WHO YOU THINK! He's using you to feel big by making you feel small!.

reading material: you're his target

Whether he does this in all relationships or just with you is irrelevant - the point is, he's feeding off you to make himself feel more special than he really is, in a really sick way, and I can guarantee you are NOT as special to him as you might think - just a timepass because it's more convenient to him that way. Plan and begin executing your exit now.

p.s. yes, he may have promised to change his ways, but in my experience, if someone is mistreating their partner consistently at length despite pleas from you, then the good behaviour will only last as long as it takes for things to settle back down, after which they'll resume their old behaviour (but by that time you may be more 'stuck' and less able to make a graceful exit because of housing, financial or other issues)

good luck ! and remember, you're worth it, so stop enabling this joker
posted by ravingOak at 7:41 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

The tried and true question: are you better off with him or without him? I think you know the answer.

DTMFA. Get that condo and that puppy and don't look back.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:50 PM on March 16, 2010

It's really not that hard to tell someone that they're pretty or let them be happy with their accomplishments.

Heck, I'm proud of you. Three marathons? You can afford to buy a condo? I am proud of you and think you're awesome.

I can just guess that you're pretty but I don't have a picture, I don't know, I think everyone is pretty to the people who love them. Have you seen the funniest looking people with happy marriages and good sex lives, holding hands and getting married and having kids? Those men think their wives are pretty. Because that's what love does, it makes you want to heap praise and support and kisses on your loved ones. It makes you give them the benefit of the doubt when they argue with you. It makes you want to be their safe haven. It's not all that much work when you're really into it. I don't know that he is.

A lot of the embarrassing behavior might be attributable to the ADHD, but who cares. Sucks that he has it, but he will have it whether or not you're there to be the recipient of his impulsive jerkiness.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:09 PM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

LEAVE HIM. He has been treating you like crap and making you feel terrible about yourself. You don't deserve that. Let's see, you're accomplished, in shape, well educated, self-aware, worked hard on that issue you did have (the drinking), have a good job, saved money to buy your own place.. why does this dude have you worrying that you're STILL not good enough for him? He's not good enough for you. I mean what the hell, you're awesome and he doesn't appreciate you. But even if you didn't have the self-awareness, the education, material things, etc., at the end of the day.. if a person just isn't there for you emotionally, they're not there. If they don't listen to you, they don't listen. It's a problem. If you tell him how you want to be loved, is he really going to listen and change? or is he going to have you apologizing all over again for not putting your own needs aside and behaving in a way that makes him feel like he's doing just fine and doesn't have to change at all? ugh, leave him. Unless you want a stable home life that is stable insofar as it is consistently, predictably unhappy?
posted by citron at 12:26 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

If he can treat a person this badly, how's he going to treat a dog?

You definitely deserve better, but he's lowered your self esteem to the point where you don't believe that anymore. I guarantee that if you leave, a year from now you'll look back and wonder why on earth you stayed with this guy for so long.
posted by hazyjane at 5:47 AM on March 17, 2010

My heart is telling me that by leaving, I'm making a mistake because I could lose him forever.

Read this letter you wrote above as if it were your best friend writing it instead of yourself. What would you tell her? Give yourself the same consideration you would give your best friend.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:59 AM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Maybe he's the best I can find?

If this is the best you can find, you are still better off alone. He is cruel to you. I wouldn't be surprised if your friends rejoice at your decision to leave him. The ones that don't are not good friends.
posted by Gor-ella at 11:27 AM on March 17, 2010

I agree with everyone who says you already know the answer. Get out now, before you're even more entangled. You'll find almost certainly that you are happier alone. And you probably won't stay alone any longer than it takes to get over him.

If you really need help figuring this out, just take a second and picture it. Imagine living your whole life with him; imagine him as a father and treating children the way he treats you. If it were me, I'd be running for the door.
posted by lemniskate at 12:52 PM on March 17, 2010

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