Am I overreacting?
February 23, 2011 3:16 PM   Subscribe

Am I overreacting to my boyfriend's behaviour? Very confused about recent events and trying to work out what to do. Details and back story under the cut. Anonymous due to private details.

This might be long, sorry.

Long and arduous backstory:
My boyfriend and I have been seeing each other for about two years; official for about 18 months. We don't live together but spend 3 or 4 nights a week together including the whole weekends. Reasonably serious, basically an established item. Lots of stuff in common and we get along well day to day. Lovely, smart, interesting, funny guy. I have one long term (10 years) ex and this is my second serious relationship. He has had many past relationships, the longest of which have lasted around a year. Both early 30s, het couple.

Over the last six months we've been having some problems. I have been having increasing trouble dealing with what I see as self centredness on his part:
-- He'll make firm plans with other people but tends to leave me hanging so he's available if a better offer comes along. This is a sticking point as one of the problems has with our relationship is that he prefers having set activities to do together rather than just hang out. So I am trying to accomodate him on this, but then he's really resistant to making actual plans in advance. He complains to me when his friends flake out on him which I find a bit infuriating.
-- He seeks out friendships with my friends but excludes me from plans with his friends except for a handful of them. He has many friends close enough to catch up with one-on-one that I have never even met in passing.
-- Most of the inconveniences involved with staying over at each others places fall to me. He rarely stays at mine because he has a pet, but heading home in the morning to feed it would be no more time spent than I spend traveling to his place. We only live 5km or so apart. This is exacerbated by the not agreeing to plans in advance issue. I end up spending a lot of time on public transport and a lot of money because we split cabs back to his place after events, when we could have just walked back to mine.
-- The sex is good, when it happens, but he's pretty selfish in bed; I do most of the initiation and *cough* work. He's happy to let me go down on him, but I could count the amount of times he's reciprocated in the last year on one hand. He never compliments me. I love him but I don't know if he loves me.
-- Generally he can be quite self-absorbed - he talks about himself a lot but rarely asks after what I'm doing, and says things that are unintentionally hurtful because he just didn't think.

So, basically we've been talking about this stuff and it's kind of been driving me crazy. I can't tell anymore if I'm being some crazy harpy when I feel like I'm just asking for the kind of respect that anyone should get as a matter of course. He generally seems to not quite get that there should be give and take in relationships. He doesn't seem to understand that most people consider other peoples feelings in between determing what they *want* to do and what they *actually* do. I do see the same pattern in how he relates to other people, somewhat. Or maybe I am just not getting it?


The actual question:
About a week and a half ago a close friend of my boyfriend committed suicide. I had met and spent time with this person a number of times through the bf and liked them, but it was obviously much more on the "friendly aquaintance" level. I am however quite upset about the news. It was obviously a horrible shock for bf and I have tried to be as supportive as possible - lots of hugs, being company, listening to him talk about it, replying to his email rants on the topic and so on.

The funeral details were recently released and he was talking (via email) about whether he wanted me to come or if he wanted to go alone. The funeral is interstate, where the friend lived and the bf grew up but not very far in the scheme of things. He was talking about needing some head space and time alone to think. I replied that I did want to come to the funeral but was hesitant about crowding him. He did not reply to to that email, but wrote some others on entirely unrelated topics and then in another later email wrote something referencing how he wasn't going to be able to see me until he got back. I was very upset by that but didn't say anything as obviously he's upset and so on and it's not really my place to complain. He's also been sending me lots of cryptic email the last week or so about his headspace and "is he overreacting?" and generally using me as a bit of an emotional dumping ground. Which would be fine, except now he's ignoring me and I feel like we're on a quasi-break that has been entirely determined by him.

So long story short: he's gone, I'm here, the funeral is today and I'm sad and upset about missing it, he's been ignoring me and (based on past experience) will probably expect everything to be business as usual when he gets back. I haven't told him I'm upset and am not sure if I should, or if I am even entitled to be upset given the circumstances. He tends to pull away when he is upset about things (including relationship things) and I have trouble dealing with that.

So the question:
Am I insane and unreasonable and a horrible person to be upset about this? I kind of feel like it's something that I should just be able to let slide, but its weighing on me a lot. I can't figure out if I'm reacting to the situation or the history.

Bonus question: should I just DTMFA due to exisiting problems? I don't know what to think about anything anymore.

Thanks for reading and any advice you can give.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (50 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
You absolutely need to tell him how you feel. It's not about blaming him or demanding something from him; it's about being honest about your feelings with someone you care about. If he (or the two of you together) can't have a conversation about your feelings, you have a problem. None of us can tell you whether the good parts of your relationship outweigh the bad (especially because you've only really told us about the bad), but if you can't talk about how you feel, that's a pretty significant bad part.
posted by decathecting at 3:24 PM on February 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would suggest that if you do decide to DTMFA, don't do it immediately after he's lost a close friend, if you care about him at all. That just seems cruel.
posted by axiom at 3:27 PM on February 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Am I insane and unreasonable and a horrible person to be upset about this?

Yeah, kinda. He's in shock, mourning, possibly feeling guilty for letting the friend down and a hosts of other overwhelming feelings. Now's not the time to fight your battles.

But battles there are, from what you wrote in the first half of your question. Though tbh there doesn't seem to be enough information ("basically we've been talking about this stuff" - how much?) to really give advice on whether to set some clear boundaries and give the relationship another go, or just DTMFA. Though I'm sure others will have an opinion on that.

But if you just want validation of your feelings: yeah, that stuff he's doing is pretty shitty and selfish.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 3:30 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd disregard all your suicide stuff, who knows how that is affecting him at the moment. The rest of your relationship is more problematic. You seem to fit into his life as an accessory at this point. If he proposed marriage tomorrow would you accept? If the thought fills you with dread then it's time to DTMFA.
posted by benzenedream at 3:31 PM on February 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


Sounds to me like you have serious communication issues. Apparently, you can't tell him everything you said here, or if you have, he hasn't really heard you. Not sure which it is, but to me, that is the fundamental flaw in the relationship.

Fix it or leave it.
posted by hamandcheese at 3:35 PM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


: "I could count the amount of times he's reciprocated in the last year on one hand. He never compliments me. I love him but I don't know if he loves me. ..he talks about himself a lot but rarely asks after what I'm doing, and says things that are unintentionally hurtful because he just didn't think."

Honey, this is not a good relationship. It is working out way better for him than for you, and he really doesn't seem like he's motivated to change that. Do you not want and deserve something better than this? Would you not prefer to date a giving, respectful adult instead of a self-indulgent child?

The funeral issue on its own can't be that big a deal because it hardly seems out of character for him to treat you this way, but it may be the thing that brings this relationship to a head. FWIW I'd bet money he's about to break up with you but if he doesn't, I strongly suggest you do the honors.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:35 PM on February 23, 2011 [46 favorites]


My first thought was, adding it all up (certain friends he meets one on one with who you haven't met) and in spite of his grieving of the loss of his friend, it sounds like he generally is keeping something or someone from you finding out about. And maybe he fear(ed) that it would all come crashing together at the funeral. Is it possible he is not being faithful? With the erratic emails and the "it's all my fault" and worries of overreacting on his part...maybe some guilt is getting to him. Unless I'm reading it wrong.

But, to answer your question, your expectation to go to the funeral is a very reasonable one. Ask yourself: if one of your friends were to die, would you rather he not go with you? What is confusing is why he wouldn't want his girlfriend there for emotional support.

and also: He'll make firm plans with other people but tends to leave me hanging so he's available if a better offer comes along.

that could be enough or all you need to decide if you should stick around or not.

take care
posted by foxhat10 at 3:36 PM on February 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


We've heard everything you don't like about this guy but you haven't listed any redeeming qualities. Why do you stay with him? Just one or two complaints from your list isn't much to raise an eyebrow at, but reading everything altogether didn't paint a favorable picture of him as a person. From what I've read, I personally wouldn't deal with that kind of crap.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:38 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


He seeks out friendships with my friends but excludes me from plans with his friends except for a handful of them. He has many friends close enough to catch up with one-on-one that I have never even met in passing.


That's weird. It's been 18 months. He should be inviting you to stuff with friends. He doesn't seem committed.

He tends to pull away when he is upset about things (including relationship things) and I have trouble dealing with that.

He's not really committed to you and you sense it and you're not happy.

I know his friend killed himself, but it's pretty much time to dump him. I guess you can withhold the official dumping of him until he's better, but he's ignoring you and you should feel free to ignore him back.

If you decide not to dump him, at the very least, stop giving him blowjobs if you don't feel like it.

Also, you're not overreacting. I know you don't want to feel like a needy clingy psycho girlfriend, but you're not needy or clingy. You just want a healthy and fulfilling relationship, not scraps of hope from a guy who is self-absorbed.
posted by anniecat at 3:39 PM on February 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


The bereavement thing I would cut some slack on, because people aren't always their best selves when dealing with bereavement, so. Some people find it more comforting to have significant others with them, other people find it adds to the stress levels to have to make introductions, etc., so I think there's really no "normal" there. (That said, the passive-aggressive business of not actually saying 'I want to go to this funeral alone' would piss me off, too.)

But if this is a regular thing:

He'll make firm plans with other people but tends to leave me hanging so he's available if a better offer comes along.

then you are not being unreasonable to think that's Not Good Enough. So yeah, talking about that is key. If that doesn't change, it might well be a deal-breaker for you, and there's nothing wrong with that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:40 PM on February 23, 2011


He'll make firm plans with other people but tends to leave me hanging so he's available if a better offer comes along.
He's happy to let me go down on him, but I could count the amount of times he's reciprocated in the last year on one hand.

Unless he's discussed the lack of oral love interest with you due to some weird childhood mouth problem or other convincing reason, I say you should take a long hard look at what you're getting out of this.
I don't see what good will come from telling him that you want him to make plans with you and take you as seriously as he does everyone else. No, I guess you shouldn't dump him after his pal's funeral, but to be brutally honest, are you sure he'll miss you?
posted by Ideefixe at 3:41 PM on February 23, 2011


He's happy to let me go down on him, but I could count the amount of times he's reciprocated in the last year on one hand.

What happens when you ask?

I mean, yeah, it's nice to have people offer stuff, but if you want something asking is the best way to get it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:42 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The funeral thing sounds like the straw that broke the camel's back -- maybe he's just upset, maybe he's hiding something, maybe something else.

But seriously, he sounds like he likes being with you enough for now, in that he'll see you if nothing better comes up or it doesn't inconvenience him. Which sounds like it is not at all what you want.

Frankly, he sounds like an asshole. Talk to him and stop playing his games. After you go out, walk back to your place, and/or tell him you cannot afford a cab. Don't agree to last minute plans with him, even if you are free. But I think you deserve better overall, and if he's unwilling to be unselfish, you should consider if you really want to be selfless forever.
posted by jeather at 3:43 PM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Damn, ask.meta never misses a moment to jump to dtmfa from a biased source.
Anyways, he probably just needs some space. Sometimes we don't react how we think we would in random, sad,or stressful situation.
I will note its pretty shitty to just drop off the face of the earth when shit hits the fan.
Give him some time, and when (not the next moment you see him) its appropriate bring up your needs/desires/behavioral expectations to the table.
Communication is key to any relationship, and when people care about one another they tend to weight in on what others say.
That is if you want this to work.
posted by handbanana at 3:44 PM on February 23, 2011


Damn, ask.meta never misses a moment to jump to dtmfa from a biased source.

You don't need an "unbiased" source to hear that this relationship, as it is currently happening, isn't working for this person.

There's no objective truth of relationships. If one party in the relationship is unhappy about things that aren't changing, that's enough data to suggest that the relationship isn't likely to succeed. Relationships need buy-in from both parties to work.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:49 PM on February 23, 2011 [42 favorites]


I had some similar things going on in a relationship, like the not making hard plans, or me doing all the commuting, and it didn't bode well. I would probably talk to him about it again and if he doesn't accommodate you more, end it.
posted by elpea at 3:55 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. If all that you have written here is not just due to your feeling lonely and upset, I am having a hard time understanding why you have stayed with your boyfriend this long! Sounds more like a mutual booty call than any kind of "relationship."

So, look over what you have written. Is it fair? Have you neglected to include his good points? Because, if not, this is hopelessly one-sided and you need to DTMFA.

Yes, I know his friend just died, and I share your sadness that all of this is coming to a head right now. But the fact that he didn't want you at the funeral is really the least of your problems (and I think he may already be letting go anyway). It's understandable he would want some space after a tragedy like that.

But it seems like the two of you have never really had any intimacy to speak of, anyway.
posted by misha at 3:55 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're being used. I've never understood why people tolerate this crap. Dump his ass.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:55 PM on February 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


I completely agree a relationsip is a give and take from both sides.
I am just wondering if she has been forthright and outcoming with her expectations in a relationship.
Relationships are a living creature that needs to be nurtured and occassionally fall ill. Doesn't mean you throw the baby out with the bath water.
posted by handbanana at 3:55 PM on February 23, 2011


Huh, some of your points about your boyfriend are my relationship to a tee. We only spend time at his house not mine, which after two years I have begrudgingly accepted (were planning on moving in together in one more year). Also the fact that he takes plans with friends more seriously than with you. This has been a major issue for me with my boyfriend. He will regularly cancel plans with me (while I'm sitting next to him no less) if a friend calls, and then act oblivious. However, the sex issue alone would be reason to DTMFA. Also it is weird and upsetting that he won't involve you with his friends. With regards to the funeral I do think you're being unreasonable. It is 50/50 whether he would take you or not and I don't think you should be upset if he just wants to experience it alone. That said DTMFA.
posted by boobjob at 3:58 PM on February 23, 2011


Some people - and your BF may be one of these - have a dismissive-avoidant attachment style - they distance themselves from their partners, take more than they receive, and avoid commitment. If this is the case, you can only walk away - you and your love won't fix him; only therapy, self-insight and his own willingness to change will.

Honestly, the "he won't make firm plans with me, though he will with others" statement is the biggest red flag you've noted here. Some basically decent people have sexual hangups, many people behave badly or heedlessly in grief - but his willingness to make plans with others but not you shows a basic disrespect for you, your time, and your plans. He's not treating you like you matter to him; he's treating you more like furniture.

Only you can decide to DTMFA or not but I'll say the "refuses to make firm plans" is NOT normal or respectful relationship behavior. Most people over 25, unless they are really childish and spoiled, OR so terrorized by the thought of maybe having to break a plan, suck it up and make firm plans. Plans aren't irrevocable commitments; you plan to see a movie with your SO, you get a cold, you call, cancel and make another plan. It's part of being a grown-up. "Not making firm plans with your SO" smacks of selfishness, entitlement, lack of commitment - or else some deep-seated fears that you shouldn't be expected to heal.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:01 PM on February 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


"I love him but I don't know if he loves me"

This is not a loving relationship, which it sounds like you're hoping/wishing/pretending it could be.

You hang out, you sleep together, you have sex, you wonder about your sex life, you have trouble communicating, it sometimes feels like he's a renter instead of a husband (no, wait, that was my personal issue.... but you get the idea) -- these are all things that happen in a relationship.

But a loving relationship is when both people want the other person to know that he/she is loved; that love is shared and nutured and rejoiced in. If you don't know if he loves you, you need to stop fretting about all the small shit and look at the heart of the situation. From what you describe it certainly doesn't sound like he loves you, but not one of us here has any way to know. Only you two know the truth. Only you can figure it out, and the first thing to do is stop putting labels on yourself and him. What you each need, what you each can give, do not fit in labelled boxes.

You care enough to think about this and not just lay blanket blame on him. You're trying hard, and you deserve to be loved.
posted by kestralwing at 4:02 PM on February 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


Independent of the relationship question, I think he's within his rights to want to go to his friend's funeral by himself (or, to be alone with the friends from his town who'll be there). The suicide of a close friend is pretty much a "whatever gets you through the day" situation; allow wide latitude in terms of how different people might respond. He should be more considerate of you in general, but in this case I think it's best to try to let it go.

But as far as the relationship question: maybe this is oversimplifying, but it's interesting to me that you have had one very long-term relationship, and he has had a string of shortish relationships. It sounds like your expectations are more "partners make each other a priority in all plans, and rely on each other/work together in tough times", and his are more "my relationship is just one good thing in my life, I don't think of my partner as my priority or my go-to person in tough times".

If I were you I would be unsatisfied with that disparity. If you're unsatisfied, do you foresee things changing? If things won't change, then you're setting yourself up for long term dissatisfaction.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:03 PM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think you're being a little unreasonable about the funeral. Going to the funeral is probably going to be really weird and stressful for him. Speaking as someone who pulls inward for that kind of thing (as you've implied that he does), having someone else along would be even more stressful if I was still trying to process things and work through my emotions. I would need the drive to think, I would need the service to say goodbye, I would probably go to some of the places in my hometown that reminded me of the person, I'd probably spend some time with old friends talking about the person etc. etc. Not to say your bf would be the same, only to say that for me and many other people, death of a friend is an intensely personal and private experience. I think you should cut him some slack for being withdrawn and using you as an emotional dum[ing ground right now.

The other list of stuff cannot be excused by a funeral, and that's a lot more worrisome. I'm not gonna say dtmfa, but think about whether this is what you want and whether it's something that communication could help or whether it's a lost cause. And in the meantime, try to stop being so accommodating.
posted by geegollygosh at 4:13 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the surface, this seems to fail the test: "Is this relationship mutually satisfying and growth producing?" The keyword for you is "mutually".

It seems very one sided, and it does not look like that has escaped you. What would you advise your (imaginary) daughter to do if she had a BF like this? What would you want her to do?

Don't you get to attend the funeral of anyone you want to? I mean, perhaps this wasn't the closest friend, but man, a suicide is a big deal and funerals are there to support the people affected. You are one. BF doesn't get to decide this sort of thing on his own.

I suspect BF is soon headed out the door on his own, and if that's the case, act sad, but be relieved. If he wants to hang around (and why wouldn't he?), I'd raise the rent a bit.

Lots of men and women are selfish. You don't sound like you are. Personally, I love that in other people. I hope you can find someone to match, and/or boy recognizes what he has. Good luck.
posted by FauxScot at 4:14 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have been in almost the exact same relationship, a long time ago (minus the suicide of a friend. My condolences). The dude dumped me on Friday the 13th, and looking back I realize it was one of the luckiest things that ever happened to me.

DTMFA.
posted by mostly vowels at 4:24 PM on February 23, 2011


I love him but I don't know if he loves me.

After 18 months, you should know. I personally would DTMFA.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:25 PM on February 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


From your description, you're unhappy enough you should probably jump ship. But a lot of your complaints are current features in my relationship, so I feel the need to play devil's advocate.

Pet > Longer Commute. Unless there is something that demands I spend the night somewhere else, I am spending the night at my place. It makes my pets less stressed, and it minimizes my stress. Plus, I have pets because I *like* them.

It is more difficult to make room for friends than a significant other. So when my friends are available, I tend to move around my schedule. Sometimes the boyfriend will be involved, but if it's been quite a while, or we're doing something he's not interested in, I'll totally ditch him. The same goes for him. We know our friends will flake next weekend, so we'll be romantic homebodies then.

And of course this sort of planning makes date night much more casual than perhaps it should be. I usually want to be doing something, even if we didn't write it down in our calendar. We keep The List. Things to do when we don't know what to do. Restaurants we want to try, venues that regularly have shows we enjoy. Before the list, I would loudly kvetch that we were the most boring people in the world. Now, even if we stay at home watching the same stupid re-runs, just knowing the List is there calms that anxious voice that screams I should be doing SOMETHING.

Also, since my hometown is much farther than his, I'm constantly poaching his friends. While he has met a handful of my friends, I still have tons that I'll catch up with through the internet that he only knows as "that guy who was in that funny drunken story I told you about that one time". This isn't going to change.

Of course, both of us are happy with the setup. And we have a healthy enough line of communication that we can demand a Planned Date Night. Or say we don't want to pay half of the cab ride or fancy restaurant. Or just vent about the general state of the matters. If you're not, you should absolutely feel free to demand more. Or look for it elsewhere.
posted by politikitty at 4:26 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your boyfriend's behavior definitely suggests that he's not fully into this relationship. While he might be going through a tough time right now dealing with his friend's suicide, you've been together 18 months. Yes...he should want you at the funeral. Yes...he shouldn't be giving you any regular form of the silent treatment. And yes...he should want you to come and hang out with him and his friends on a regular basis. Of course, a healthy couple should spend select times away from each other hanging out with friends and family, but this sounds like it's more then select times. You need to tell him how you feel. And if things don't change quickly, I would dump him. Life is short. Don't waste it on someone who's not going to give you the respect you deserve. Hope this helps.
posted by ljs30 at 4:33 PM on February 23, 2011


What you're describing does not sound to me like the kind of relationship I would expect after 18 mos. of dating. I've had several long-term relationships and by that point, things were pretty much settled - by which I mean, the course of the relationship did not change after 18 mos. The girlfriend who prioritized her other commitments over me continued to do so, even after lengthy heart-wrenching discussion. My now-ex-husband and I were married, but with no firm commitments on important things like "would we have children?" "Where will we live?" and "Can we buy a real couch?" Those things were never resolved and we ended up divorced a year and a half later. And my current husband? After 18 mos, we were living together and discussing future arrangements such as when (not if, but WHEN) would be an ideal time to have kids and would we necessarily get married first.

Not saying that there's no chance for change, but after that much time has gone by, relationships are pretty much established. They're going to go how they're going to go and it sounds like yours would need a MASSIVE overhaul for it to change direction at this point. If there's something that you're not mentioning in this post that makes this guy worth the amount of effort it would take to resolve your issues, sure, go for it. But if there isn't something you didn't mention about how amazing he makes you feel or what a great connection you have... it may indeed be time to recognize that you two have tried and it just isn't the right match.

And seriously, if nothing else, you need to address the sexual discrepancy. That's the kind of thing that not only is seriously uncool, but leads to the kind of resentment that corrodes even a *good* relationship from the inside out.
posted by sonika at 4:36 PM on February 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


PareidoliaticBoy has said it, succinctly and exactly. Sure, wait until a couple of weeks after the funeral--but this is an awful relationship to be in after 18 months.
posted by uans at 4:38 PM on February 23, 2011


He didn't do a good job of handling the discussion with you about the suicide and funeral - yes, he gets some clack because he's probably upset. That slack does not to me go as far as excusing the way he handled this (and the idea that you can't break up with him because his friend committed suicide is just not right to me - you break up when you need to, it's not like this guy is really doing a great job of respecting your feelings), especially because it's consistent with a pattern of behavior he has exhibited and this does not appear a one-off, grief motivated episode.

I don't think you're overreacting - and the situation is tied up with the history. You have to look at it all together, I think.

He will treat you this way for as long as you let him. I think you should not be his fall back - he can't just tell you to come over to his place because he doesn't have better plans and can't be bothered to come stay at your place. There is nothing wrong with you saying no, I don't really want to do anything tonight, I made other plans because you and I didn't have anything set - maybe your "other plans" are watching Bravo or washing your hair, whatever. And nothing wrong with saying you'd prefer to stay at your place, and if he says no then say you'll see him later and head home.

In short, I am all for being an accommodating and supportive partner, but that has to be part of a relationship where there's reciprocation, or at the very least where you are happy with the relationship as a whole.

Maybe he's a little selfish and has gotten lazy - and maybe laying it on the line with him sometimes will result in a break up instead of a positive change in your relationship.

And if he's this way with everyone, he still doesn't get a pass for it - and you've explained to him what you need and he still won't see it or try to work with you on it. That is big to me - there are some things that my bf may find important that I just don't get because it's not important to me, but if it's important to him and it's something I can do that's not harmful to me then I will make the effort. If he says hey, I don't feel respected because you aren't good about texting me back when you're at work, I tend to think well, duh, I am at work and busy - but instead I make an effort and I tell him you know what, I can be bad at certain things but I don't do it intgentionally, so work with me and maybe I need you to remind me, but I hear you and I'm trying. That is how I have treated a bf that I love. I have treated a bf that I did not love very much almost exactly like your bf is treating you, and I am sorry to say that and I don't mean to imply he does not love you, but I am saying that you have doubts and you have problems with the relationship dynamic, and he does not get to decide how everything goes - you start seeing him on your terms if you want and see how that goes.

Take care, and I hope that this works out well for you. I know it sucks.
posted by mrs. taters at 4:46 PM on February 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I hate telling people to DTMFA, but there it is: this isn't a loving relationship, it sounds more like a relationship based on his having his needs fulfilled. After 18 months, if he loves you, you'd be a priority in his life, rather than the back up plan. It also sounds like this attitude has been carried into the bedroom which also does not bode well for future happiness on your part.

All this provides you with good reason to be concerned about the funeral thing, but by itself, this isn't a good indicator. In a stronger relationship, a guy could easily have reservations about a situation in which he is expected to simultaneously: grieve for his friend, support his friend's family and loved ones, and deal with the stress of introducing his girlfriend to his family and old friends. If you choose to communicate rather than immediately separate, it would be a mistake to bring this up at all.
posted by Hylas at 4:47 PM on February 23, 2011


It seems like the commenters above have done a pretty good job of answering your questions, but I figured I'd chime in with my personal experience in a similar relationship.

We weren't together as long as you and your boyfriend, but the behaviour you describe is pretty much spot on with what my ex was doing.

What eventually happened was he became increasingly distant and then broke it off. Indeed, the breakup was not long after I discussed with him the signals I was getting from him - at the time he said he wanted to stay in the relationship, that I was misreading him, etc.; when he broke it off, he "apologized" for not having been honest in that conversation and acknowledged that my suspicions about his level of interest had been correct.

What I think should have happened, looking back, is that I should have broken it off with him back when I was in the place where you find yourself now. However, I lacked perspective and thought I just needed to be more accommodating, less clingy, less needy - things that I now realize I actually wasn't.

I've taken away two things from that experience: one, to allow myself to expect respect, communication, and equal effort from a partner (and to extricate myself when they're not willing to provide that); and two, to believe what people tell you through their actions, not their words.

It can be scary leaving a relationship, but if it gives you hope, I am now in a relationship with a wonderful person who makes me question why I ever put up with my ex's ambivalence. It is definitely possible to move on to much better things.

I wish you the best with the sincerity of someone who's been there.
posted by AV at 4:59 PM on February 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


I would suggest that if you do decide to DTMFA, don't do it immediately after he's lost a close friend, if you care about him at all. That just seems cruel.

I don't agree. I mean, not immediately of course (tonight!), but I don't think you need to walk on too many eggshells and I would recommend waiting only until he wants to hang out next time and do it then. The BF has shown his character when it counts. Heck, you could do him a favor and turn him into the single person he prefers to portray himself as just in time for the funereal reunion. He's plenty socialized and social, he's not going to curl up in a ball. Heck, few of his friends have even met you anyway, what difference does it make if some mystery girl just dumped him?

I dunno, you could also fire a warning shot across his bow to the effect of telling him your feelings are extremely (HINT HINT) hurt, but I wouldn't put too much energy into it. He's not invested.

...on preview, anniecat.
posted by rhizome at 5:04 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Doesn't mean you throw the baby out with the bath water.

Sometimes it's all bathwater and no baby, though.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:16 PM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the OP:
Thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses.

Just wanted to address a few points that have come up:
-- I'm certain he's not cheating on me.
-- I'm going to back off about the funeral stuff. Thanks for the perspective there.
-- For the person who suggested not not dumping him right now while he's upset, don't worry, I'm not that cruel :)
-- He has lots of awesome qualities, which is why we're together - he's funny, smart, interested in everything, we never run out of things to talk about and we always have a good time hanging out together.
-- I have some of his friends (and family at christmas etc) but there are many people that I have never met and he seems to purposefully exclude me from meeting them despite them being supposedly quite good friends. I have brought this up with him and he has agreed to include me more, but it almost feels like too little too late. He likes his independence but I just feel so rejected. I can't imagine not wanting to introduce my SO to my friends.
-- About the communication issues, we have talked at length about all the problems I listed - at least the ones that can be addressed by definite behaviour changes. I have also mentioned the self-centred approach to everything but it kind of feels like bagging on him excessively if I bring it up without a specific problem behaviour to point to. There has been some improvement - he has been better about inviting me along to things for example, but in general not a lot has changed.
-- I also wanted to clarify about making plans. He will sometimes make plans with me, but usually it is for events he wanted to attend anyway and would go to without me if I wasn't interested. We have loose weekend plans even without specific plans. Generally our joint plans involve things he wants to do rather than things I want to do, which is ok mostly but I would like to see some reciprocation. The things he wants to do are often not what would be my first choice but it's nice to spend time together so I do them anyway. I have mentioned several times now that I would like us to do things I suggest sometimes too and this is where he gets flaky about agreeing to plans. The last time we discussed this was at the start of the year and we haven't managed to actually do any of "my" suggestions yet but have continued to do a number of his. For example, most recently I asked him to something several times over a few weeks and he didn't ever reply until I followed up the day before, at which point he said no, citing plans made a couple of weeks ago with a friend (one of the ones I haven't met).
-- Generally, in these discussions he has been good about agreeing there is a problem but doesn't seem willing to follow through on making any changes when there is any inconvenience to himself. Also, if he does make try changes it comes across a bit tone-deaf, like he's doing these things because I want him to but doesn't really get why I want that. And then, little inconsiderate things that I haven't specifically asked him not to do just keep happening because none of this is addressing the root problem. I guess I'm at the point of forcing the issue but am wondering if there's really any point. It's unbelievably frustrating having to beg and plead and nag someone to behave considerately. Sorry, didn't mean to decend to rant again!

But anyway, hope that clears a couple of things up.

I really appreciate all your responses. It's giving me a lot to think about.
--
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:26 PM on February 23, 2011


…he's pretty selfish in bed; I do most of the initiation and *cough* work. He's happy to let me go down on him, but I could count the amount of times he's reciprocated in the last year on one hand. He never compliments me.

He will sometimes make plans with me, but usually it is for events he wanted to attend anyway and would go to without me if I wasn't interested.…Generally our joint plans involve things he wants to do rather than things I want to do…The things he wants to do are often not what would be my first choice but it's nice to spend time together so I do them anyway. I have mentioned several times now that I would like us to do things I suggest sometimes too and this is where he gets flaky about agreeing to plans.

omg, this dude is SELFISH. DMTFA! seriously! in two years it hasn't gotten better and down the line, it's not going to get better. why? because this relationship is all about what's good for him, what's convenient for him, what he wants—and you enable that behaviour by sticking around and putting up with it. you've talked about it a million times and he's barely made an effort to change things. why? because he's selfish and couldn't be bothered to, at the very least, be considerate of his girlfriend—and you should expect more from your boyfriend than the very least.


I love him but I don't know if he loves me.

and if the above weren't enough, the fact that you have been together for two years and you still don't know whether he loves you? leave. this is a waste of your time, effort, and love, because you should know by now. actually you do: his inconsiderate and selfish behavior says it all.
posted by violetk at 5:46 PM on February 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


he's funny, smart, interested in everything, we never run out of things to talk about and we always have a good time hanging out together.

That doesn't mean he's good for you.

I think you're seeing this guy as the sort of SO you would like him to be (and the sort of SO you are trying to be to him), but the reality of his actions says he's not going to be that.

Took me a long time to realize that in relationships, trying to set a good example and being super considerate and expecting that there are just a few minor things keeping that person from stepping up, which will get sorted soon ... this is the tasty carrot being dangled just out of reach. And not by my partner - by myself. Truth is, he's just not the considerate person I'd like him to be, and it's time to move on and find someone who is.

Character doesn't lie, and your boyfriend's character is pretty clear in your description of his actions.
posted by griselda at 5:50 PM on February 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


he's funny, smart, interested in everything, we never run out of things to talk about and we always have a good time hanging out together.

Those sound like good qualities for a friend. If those are his only good qualities in a relationship then you seriously need to rethink your status with him. Griselda is spot on.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:53 PM on February 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


You said: "I can't tell anymore if I'm being some crazy harpy when I feel like I'm just asking for the kind of respect that anyone should get as a matter of course." Wanting to be treated with a very basic level of respect does not make you any kind of a harpy. This relationship is giving you a corrosive level of self-doubt. This guy sounds selfish and just plain rude.
posted by Corvid at 6:09 PM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know you're certain he's not cheating on you but...oy, that's what it sounds like. Are you sure he doesn't have a habit of random hookups? An ex that comes around? Anything? At least that would be a reason for the disrespectful behavior and lack of generosity.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:13 PM on February 23, 2011


Data point: Some of the qualities you indicate your boyfriend possesses, remind me of my ex-wife. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't have. The good news? There were other fish in the sea, it just took time to find the right one.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:37 PM on February 23, 2011


Even if he's fun to hang out with, there are men out there who are fun to hang out with who will make you their priority. There is nothing wrong with wanting or needing that.
posted by freshwater at 7:16 PM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


DTMFA. The friend's suicide sucks, but is beside the point, I think, and therefore his reaction to it (however reasonable or unreasonable) is irrelevant. Your list of items over the previous six months makes clear that this relationship is not a good one for you.

On reading your update, I kind of wonder if part of your problem is just that you're not assertive enough. Are you actually trying to make definite plans to do "your" things and forcing the issue? Or are you just suggesting it and hoping that he'll take the hint?
posted by J. Wilson at 7:26 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


"It's unbelievably frustrating having to beg and plead and nag someone to behave considerately."

Yeah, that kind of means he doesn't define "consideration" the way you do. You're holding him to your standards, but he clearly isn't adopting those standards. By those same standards, you're obliged to stick around through this time of trouble, but you should start planning your exit strategy, because you're at an impasse. It doesn't matter that he's great and you're great - this isn't working out.
posted by gingerest at 9:23 PM on February 23, 2011


Ugh, I've been here. The feeling of constant compromise, that you're giving more and caring more than he is. And the crazy thing? It didn't even feel that bad. Most days were fine. We hung out, got along, laughed, hugged, talked, joked, chilled... the day-to-day was largely ok. But a lot of the same issues that you wrote about were also present. I just didn't see it as clearly as you have until months after we'd broken up.

From what you've written, he doesn't seem like a MF that you need to ditch. But he does sound like a pretty-ok-dude that you might want to really reconsider staying with. Whether it's a selfish streak, true inconsideration, or just that he has a different idea of what a long-term relationship looks like, it seems clear that this relationship isn't giving you what you need.

(The suicide/funeral thing is really unfortunate, and I can only imagine how tricky of a situation it is to deal with. But, based on your post, it really does seem tangential to some deeper problems at hand.)

When I was in this situation, I too felt clingy and unreasonable and controling and crazy. Like I was somehow deficient as a Strong!Modern!FEMALE!!! by wanting my guy to put in the same amount of attention and devotion to the relationship as I did. It took 3 subsequent relationships for me to realize that, no, I wasn't crazy or weak or clingy or needy. What I was was someone who wanted my partner to match me in terms of the level of affection/sharing/closeness that I liked. To some people, that level is insanely suffocating. To others, it's too casual/lackadaisical.

But when you find someone who does match you in that regard.... phew! It's just so. much. easier. You're secure that they like/adore/love you as much as you do them. You don't have to ask for intimacy (emotional/social/physical, whatever) that often, because it just happens. You don't stress about why they didn't call you today, or why they haven't made plans for the weekend. You don't constantly doubt yourself when you want to call them, or ask them to do something this weekend. You're even more relaxed when they take longer than normal to respond to you, because a) they've established a pattern of good behaviour so it's easy to give them the benefit of the doubt, and b) you're secure and happy about how they feel about you, so what do a few hours or even a few days of lag-time really matter?

You seem like you've put a lot of love and effort and heart into this relationship. And it's clear you really care about your boyfriend. But I think you need to ask yourself whether this relationship is worth all your trouble, especially given the very-likely chance that someone else out there would be absolutely euphoric and appreciative to have a girlfriend like you.

And this isn't a case of AskMe responses skewing DTMFA just 'cuz. That guy I mention? I was with him for years. I moved in with him, even after these doubtful feelings plagued me. I don't regret anything; and the guy in question isn't a bad person at all. But we weren't right together, and no amount of arguing or compromise on either of our parts would've made it right.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 9:28 PM on February 23, 2011 [15 favorites]


It's not the funeral, it's everything that came before it.

I suspect he's hiding something tangible from you even if not cheating. But it's bad enough without that.

He's avoiding you, let him continue to do that and it will be easier to break up with him when he reappears.
posted by tel3path at 1:36 AM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the OP:
Thanks everyone for taking so much trouble with your responses.
Getting all your perspectives has been very helpful. It's much
appreciated and gives me plenty to think about before bf is due back.
Thanks again.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:07 AM on February 24, 2011


In the future, you will regret every day you delayed this breakup. If you want respect and your needs met, this is a total waste of time.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 2:52 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


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