Stick it out or move on from this unequal relationship?
February 12, 2013 7:05 AM   Subscribe

I'm in a relationship with wonderful woman (4 months) who I am falling for but should I break it off now because it's unequal?

I've been in a relationship for 4 months with a great, smart, gorgeous woman who has recently undergone some major life changes including breaking up with her ex and starting a new job (all in the last year).

Pros: She's smart, sexy, witty, and we're on the same page about most all life goals, ambitions and values.

The cons: I initiate almost all of our activities including sex and she has yet to really bring me into her life/friends or return overtures of affection (like' I miss you, etc)

Question: I realize she needs support, time, understanding etc as she navigates this new part of her life, but can't help but think she keeping me around more because I'm convenient than she's really into me. Should I trust my gut on this one and end it or stick it out because she'll be worth the effort more long term?

I'm sort of at the place in life where I want a serious relationship soon. How much waiting time is too much in this scenario? Is this a red flag?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would at least try to talk to her before you break it off. Have you told her you're looking for a serious relationship and asked if she is on board with that? It's certainly worth having a conversation about before you just quit the whole thing.
posted by something something at 7:09 AM on February 12, 2013 [5 favorites]

I initiate almost all of our activities including sex and she has yet to really bring me into her life/friends or return overtures of affection

Have you directly brought up either of these things? As in "hey, I'd like you to initiate sex more often" or "hey, I'd like you to be more verbally affectionate." Obviously don't be that blunt about it (unless that's how you two communicate, in which case you can definitely be that blunt about it) but if you feel the relationship is lacking something to its detriment, it's your responsibility to make your feelings known. Whether or not this will produce any results is certainly up in the air, but you're not going to get what you want unless you tell your partner that you want it.
posted by griphus at 7:10 AM on February 12, 2013 [15 favorites]

You're in the relationship you are in now. My experience and common wisdom suggests that you not wait for some unknown better future with her - you should assume it will always be this way. Would you be happy like this for the rest of your life?

If not, talk to her.
posted by sockermom at 7:12 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

It may well be that she likes you quite a lot but is just being cautious and taking it slow to guard her own emotions. Talk to her and if what she needs is just time to feel comfortable and get over her ex, etc., then give her the time she needs.

If she acknowledges that you are just a rebound, then end it.
posted by mai at 7:13 AM on February 12, 2013

Sounds like you are just not feeling it, but she seems great on paper so you are trying to rationalize being with her. If your gut has been trustworthy in the past, trust it again.
posted by Katine at 7:28 AM on February 12, 2013

You should trust your gut that it's time to have a conversation about what you want from a serious relationship, and that after four months you're sure that you're looking for the type of person who also initiates sex, invites you into her friend groups and and is casually and more verbally affectionate.

The only red flag is that she is not all that you want her to be, and may not decide to become that person. If you need those boxes ticked, you may need to find someone who is willing to do that on top of everything she already is.

She may not need support, time or understanding from you because she's somehow damaged from this break up and dealing with a new job - she may need the space and time to figure out who she is outside of her former relationship, and before she extends herself toward a new one, because she is a wonderful, great, smart, sexy, witty woman with a job to focus on more importantly than a relationship, and no real desire right now to perform for anyone but herself.

Equality in relationships doesn't always mean bringing someone up to what you want them to be - it might mean adjusting your expectations a little lower. It might mean you need to look for how she shows affection, rather than requiring her to state it. It might mean that for a while longer, she gets to keep her privacy and her time with the rest of her friends to herself, because they're hers and that allows her to have energy for you and enjoyment of your time together.

Four months is nothing over a lifetime, and being a great, smart, gorgeous, sexy, witty, independent, complete person with her own goals, ambitions and values is probably enough work on its own. Stick it out? I'd say you're lucky to be enjoying this period of dating a wonderful person, as you describe her. Dating is nice! Some people date more casually for a much longer time before deciding to get more serious. But if you're in a different place in life and have a different end goal, and four months feels like a significant investment for you, you should have the talk with her -- so that if this isn't right for her too, you can go and find the person who ticks more of your boxes.
posted by peagood at 7:35 AM on February 12, 2013 [6 favorites]

Are you sure you like her for her rather than getting wrapped up in her possible emotional unavailability? Emotional unavailability can really cause a person to fall hard and chase.
posted by discopolo at 7:47 AM on February 12, 2013

She might be really into you but have some unrealistic ideas about what you want. There are a lot of awful dating books (and old fashioned relatives) that say women should carefully avoid initiating anything or being seen as emotionally invested in dating relationships because men want to aggressively pursue women.

She might not be thinking "He's convenient" as much as "Wow, super, these are exactly the things a Real Man should do to prove his love. He's really into me! Now I just need to restrain myself from doing anything he might think is pushy or clingy because that could mess it all up!"
posted by steinwald at 7:58 AM on February 12, 2013 [14 favorites]

I am a great, smart, gorgeous woman too and have just recently been seeing a GSG man who appears to be totally into me for about two months now. He has been much more demonstrative of his affection than I and sometimes indicates that he isn't sure if I am into him because I rarely call him and don't say lovey things like he does. While I don't reciprocate on his enthusiasm, I am totally and utterly into him on a certain level, which I believe is appropriate for the length we have been seeing each other, he has no reservations about verbalizing and demonstrating his desire to be with me. I really need more time to think about this and process what is going on, but I am definitely interested and want to see him! I think on the surface, we appear to be in different zones but I really don't think we are, it's just a timing and tempo thing. It might just take her longer to catch up mentally and emotionally with what is going on. I would definitely not end it until you have talked with her about your feelings. She may just say she needs more time to process but doesn't want to stop seeing you. I would believe her unless your gut feeling tells you otherwise.
posted by waving at 8:43 AM on February 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

Don't ask us, ask her.
posted by Miko at 9:23 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Should I trust my gut on this one and end it or stick it out because she'll be worth the effort more long term?

Neither, until you talk to her and listen to her. As a general rule, anytime you say to yourself "I can't help but think..." it's time to stop thinking and start talking/listening. Never decide for someone else what motivates them to do or not do a thing. Always talk to them about it.
posted by headnsouth at 9:51 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, at four months it's time to tactfully start negotiating.

Ask for *specific* things in a positive way. Saying something like "I think you're super hot and i've been thinking about how hot it would be if you initiated sex this way" is going to net you a lot more gains than "i wish you wanted me more."

"I think you're super keen, and I can't wait to know more about you. Let's invite some of your friends out to dinner sometime- how about this saterday at the shake shack?"

But really, four months is also the time where really nice people realize that they either ARE or AREN'T compatible long-term. If you have already talked about goals and life plans, talking about it again in a little more you-two specific terms. Don't feel bad if at the heart of the matter- it's just not going to work. Lots and lots of nice, fun, smart, sexy people with similar basic life goals would do pretty poorly matched up.
posted by Blisterlips at 10:01 AM on February 12, 2013

My advice would be to break it off, but my comment would be that you're a pretty together person. Typically, when nice people end up in unequal relationships like this, we either rationalize our way into soldiering on unsatisfied or we embarrass ourselves trying to force the issue.

If you're clear-thinking enough to spot that this isn't working the way it is, you can try and talk this out with her just to make sure. But don't lose hold of the clear head and legitimate self-regard that let you see the problem in the first place. Be prepared to cut bait if you have to do so.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:34 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

If after 4 months, she doesn't return overtures of affection from you, she is not the one.

Reciprocating gestures and comments of affection are the way 2 people cross the bridge from friendship and convenience to something more. And, often women are better at this vs. Men. Her not responding is her mistake - she should either cut bait or explain her absence. She's picked up the fact you haven't raised the issue and continue to move forward with her.

About the lack of initiation to sex...

I do not recommend asking/requesting her to do this. You're feeling unhappy because you want this to happen from her naturally - not due to some carefully worded sit-down talk. Affection and kindness should happen organically. If you ask her to, you may wonder how genuine it really is. Think of her behavior as a gift to you - you've learned something incompatible about her now rather than later.
posted by Kruger5 at 10:58 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry to say this sounds like a bit of a rebound relationship for her. She's at a place of transition in her life and you are part of the making that journey more pleasant, but you aren't the destination. I would end it unless your ok being along for the ride and then dumped once she gets her life together.
posted by whoaali at 11:03 AM on February 12, 2013

It sounds like she's just not that into you.

For whatever reason, she's not putting much effort into dating you. Do you really want to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't really seem to care about you that much?

It might be that she really digs you and doesn't know how to show it. Even if you stay in the relationship, based on that, you're going to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't really show they care. that doesn't sound like a very fun relationship to me.

If this is how it's been for the entire 4 months, then I think it's time to face facts. Don't wait around for someone. Life is too short to be doing that. Get back on the scene, meet some people, and hopefully you'll find someone who cares about you enough to initiate activities and sex, who will return your affections and who will carve a space for you in their lives. People can change, but they very rarely do.

Also: always trust your gut.
posted by Solomon at 11:16 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

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