Need some relationship advice in regards to giving space
May 1, 2014 1:21 PM   Subscribe

Have been dating this women for a year and we recently started having arguments due to her work and other related issues. She keeps wanting space from me.

So I have been dating this girl for a year now. We really had good first few months. But recently we have had lot of problems and causing issues with our relationship.

Background: She is a independent women who has her own place and works full time. While Im graduating in few weeks and looking for a full time job. I also live with my parents. Were both 24.

Issues: It all started few months ago when I really got clingy and wanted to spend more time with her. So when she was out with her friends at a bar, I went there to see her because I though she would be ok with that (Some of my friends were there also). But again let me specify I went there to see her because I wanted to do everything together when things started getting serious between us. In the beginning I was cool when she went out and she also included me when she went out with her friends and I called her when I went out with mine. Anyways, that night she accused me following her and broke up with me. She started crying on a street and wanted me to leave. Anyways, she broke up with me for a month over that. I was really miserable in that months time.

But after a month or so of no contact, she contacted me and told me that Im still the guy for her and wants to see me again. So we started dating again and I felt that everything would be normal again and we would spend more time. But every time she went out with her friends, I got jealous that she didn't call me but then I asked her whenever I went out with my friends. Anyways we went out for another months and she started getting depressed about her work because it was miserable. She also felt that our relationship wasn't going anywhere even tho I promised that I will support her when I get a full time job. The whole year I was dating, I was always at her apartment. She worked all day and got back at night and I would be there. I tried to offer her help by doing things for her around the house to make things better for her. I even offered her to quit her weekend job (yes she worked 7 days a week) and I can help her pay for some of the stuff. But she said that's not what she wants and asked for space again for few days but never got back to me until I contacted her.

She said she was feeling happier since I was gone and she spent time with her friends. This really bothered me because I felt like she wasn't happy when she was with me in a relationship. I also felt like all the stuff that I did for her was part of it. Gave her what she wanted. Anyways she told me that she loved me and that we should work on ourselves. So I asked if she wanted to break up and she said no but she wanted to be left alone for couple more weeks. So I said ok. But she contacts me again within a week saying that her birthday is coming up and she wants to spend time with me. So we hung out on her birthday and spent that weekend together even though she wanted to be left alone. Anyways, few days after her birthday, I asked her if she wants to spend the weekend and go somewhere. She said she is going out with her friends on those two days. We had a lil argument the same day and she said she wants to be alone for few weeks but still loves me. I asked her that I want break for a week not more then that and she said we'll see.

We are at different points in our lives right now and she said that she is depressed because she realized that she is not where she wants to be in life. She wants to settle down and be a house wife. I promised her that and she can come with me wherever I get a job. But right now she just hates where she works and she doesn't think that things will get better at all. That is part of why she is depressed. I also feel sad that she keeps wanting space from me like this.

I really have no clue what to do and feel lost.
posted by json12 to Human Relations (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I really have no clue what to do and feel lost.

You haven't given any reason why you continue to pursue a relationship with this person. You don't have a steady relationship with her despite being with her a year. She openly admits she's not comfortable pursuing a committed relationship with you at the moment.

Consider what you are getting out of this "relationship". I have to admit that it doesn't sound like it's worth it for you.
posted by saeculorum at 1:30 PM on May 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sounds like she's not that into you but doesn't want to break it off because she likes what you bring to her life in terms of support/possible financial support/marriage...but not your company.

I'm sorry. It sucks to be back and forth like this.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:31 PM on May 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

Sorry that you feel lost. Your needs and her needs are pretty clearly not matched. There are a whole spectrum of wants/desires in terms of how much time people spend together in a relationship. Some people live and work together and some live and work in separate states or countries.

She needs a lot more space than you can give her. This won't work long-term. You both would be happier and better off finding someone who wants to spend the same amount of time together. Sorry, and good luck.
posted by cnc at 1:32 PM on May 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

She's playing games with you. Come here, go away, save me, I love you. Relationships have their ups and downs, but if you're this confused, it's not a relationship, it's the vestiges of a relationship.

Break up with her and go no contact. Concentrate on school and graduating and getting a place to live and all the good things that happen during this transition.

I would run far away from someone who sees marrying and becoming a "housewife" as a cure for her problems. I could see it as a wistful joke, or being a stay at home parent as a specific goal, but someone who just wants to be taken care of, is a problem.

You seem pretty naive to be honest. When you graduate, you'll have your own life to set up and get on with, yet you have promised to support this woman, which begs the question, why?

She is not serious about you, she likes you around when it's convenient for her. She may even be seeing other people when she's on one of your 'breaks', but comes running back to you when it doesn't pan out.

Just tell her, "I love you, but we're not good together. I want to break up for good, and I want to go no contact. Don't call me, don't email me, don't Facebook me."

Then block her number and her e-mail and after you unfriend her on Facebook, stay the hell off for awhile.

Hang in there, in your heart of hearts you know that she doesn't love you the way you deserve to be loved. Get some perspective, refocus your attention and in time, you'll see that it's true.

Good luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:35 PM on May 1, 2014 [11 favorites]

The whole year I was dating, I was always at her apartment. She worked all day and got back at night and I would be there. I tried to offer her help by doing things for her around the house to make things better for her.

as an "independent woman" who works full-time and has her own place and her own group of friends, this sounds TERRIBLE and like the opposite of what I would want in a partner. irrespective of compatible desires regarding how much time to spend together, this sounds unhealthy and like you need to find something that you care about outside of this woman. no one wants to feel like they're all you have going on in life. to me it sounds like you're emotionally exhausting this poor woman by being in her face ALL THE TIME and she can't pinpoint why she feels so drained and so she's breaking up with you, not that she's intentionally jerking you around.

even leaving aside this particular woman, this is probably something you should work on for future relationships. have your own friends, hobbies, interests. don't be the furniture in a busy person's apartment.
posted by dynamiiiite at 1:39 PM on May 1, 2014 [75 favorites]

It sounds like you are smothering her. She works 7 days a week, and then spends all her free time with you? And you complain when she goes out with her friends and you aren't included?

When is her alone time? Everyone needs some, and you have more than ample, but she doesn't.

When is she supposed to vent about you? Everyone needs to vent about their SO once in awhile, this is what nights out with friends are for. She can't do that with you there.

I think you need to respect her wishes and back off. Why do you feel the need to be included in every moment of her free time?
posted by I am the Walrus at 1:40 PM on May 1, 2014 [34 favorites]

Yeah this girl is using you to just fill in the holes in her life. Meaning, she only wants you around when she doesn't have something better to do or is feeling needy or needs money or whatever. And you are also smothering her by trying to be where she doesn't want you to be or so what she doesn't want you to do. Break up.
posted by greta simone at 1:41 PM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree that this relationship may not be a good relationship for you. Though this part of your question jumped out at me:

But every time she went out with her friends, I got jealous that she didn't call me but then I asked her whenever I went out with my friends.

This would be a dealbreaker for me if I was the other person in a relationship with you. I would absolutely need to be able to hang out with my friends sometimes without inviting you along. Doesn't matter if you don't feel like you can/want to go out with your friends without inviting me -- dating you doesn't mean I want or need to give up my independent group of friends or necessarily make you a part of it. That doesn't mean I can/would exclude you from all social situations, but you can't expect to be included in all of them.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:41 PM on May 1, 2014 [7 favorites]

Dude, I totally think you were smothering her.

Move on. You guys are in different places emotionally. Nobody is a "bad guy" but this IS an example of basic incompatibility.

She's not using you, fwiw.
posted by jbenben at 2:10 PM on May 1, 2014 [23 favorites]

You describe this as "getting serious" and talk about doing a lot of things that one should only ever do in a serious relationship, like showing up at someone's house without contacting them first, but I see absolutely nothing here that indicates that she wants this to be serious. I see a lot of instances of her communicating with you that she does not want this to be serious. You cannot make it serious by behaving as though she should already think of you that way. She doesn't. If you want something more serious, you need to find someone else. But when you start dating someone else, be careful that you're not repeating patterns of trying to force things to be serious before the other person actually feels that way about you.

"Love", the word, by itself, does not make for a relationship that is bound for lifelong connection or marriage or any of that. She might want to settle down at some point, but the fact that somebody wants to eventually be a stay-at-home mom, say, does not mean because they've told you this that they're ready to do so at this very moment with you. It's important to respect that sort of boundary. Usually it helps to get to a point where you are more content with your own life on its own terms, and not hanging everything on that other person.

Which is to say, you might want to spend a bit of time sorting yourself out, getting a job, moving, figuring out how to live alone, before you start trying to add another person to that.
posted by Sequence at 2:13 PM on May 1, 2014

This is a hard one. I totally understand why you feel she's pushing you away, but while I don't think you're around her too much, I think you're probably in a much different place than her when you're around and that could be causing the issues.

Let me tell a non-relationship story to help illustrate where I'm coming from.

I used to be a horrible tv-snob, I still I'm, but I used to be unrepentant and merciless about it. I thought people who really enjoyed the standard sit-com such as Friends were nearly brain dead. Only shows like "The Wire" for me thank you very much. But I thought this while going to school, working part time, and basically not being totally worn out all the time.

Once I started working and putting in ten hour days on a regular basis at a highly mentally taxing job I suddenly discovered the attraction of shows like Friends. What had seemed like trite and insulting plots and dialogue suddenly didn't seem good, but enjoyable. Like mashed potatoes. Something unthreatening and easily digestible. Almost a guided meditation in decompression.

I think you might be, unintentionally, coming off like that to her. You're well rested (and yes, believe me, you'll discover that school is basically a cake walk compared to work in terms of simple endurance) and fresh when she gets home. You're looking for engagement and stimulation of an intense sort while it's possible your girl friend just needs decompression.

Once you're both working full time, you might find your needs matching up better again.

It's possible you won't too, but sometimes issues are situational and will disappear when the situation shifts.

If you, and her, think that there's something important between you, I'd would back off for now. She's under more stress than you are right now, that's just the way it is. You can make changes she can't at the moment.

If your needs don't match up better when you're both in more of an "post-school adult" place, then I think you'll probably be better off leaving her.
posted by bswinburn at 2:13 PM on May 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

People have different levels of desired intimacy, affection, and time together. There isn't a 'right' amount, per se. But you two have different levels. That's not either of your fault, but you do need to deal with it.

Honestly, you two really aren't in a healthy relationship. And it doesn't sound like anything will change to bring you to one.

Lastly, women really like men who don't consider the women their prime passion. What I mean by this is that you will be more likely to be viewed as a high-powered and awesome partner if you make something *else* (career/education/fitness etc) your prime goal, and get really good at it. The value we bring to relationships isn't just how much we carreeee, it's also our value as a person and what we are good at and strive at. Just caring and loving really isn't enough, particularly for a man.
posted by jjmoney at 2:15 PM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

She keeps wanting space from me.
I really got clingy and wanted to spend more time with her.
when she was out with her friends at a bar, I went there to see her
I wanted to do everything together
every time she went out with her friends, I got jealous
I was always at her apartment. She worked all day and got back at night and I would be there.

She's not playing games with you, you're smothering her. She cares about you but you get clingy & won't leave her alone. You think she should call you when she's with her friends...why? She just wants to spend time with her friends. You are at her house 24/7 when she's working, when she's home, when she goes out... not cool.
posted by headnsouth at 2:28 PM on May 1, 2014 [12 favorites]

But after a month or so of no contact, she contacted me and told me that Im still the guy for her and wants to see me again.

You are the backup boyfriend of someone who cannot handle being single. She has proven that she is never going to like Being With You as much as she likes Being With Someone, and you deserve better than that.

Break up with her and work on not being so needy yourself.
posted by Etrigan at 2:40 PM on May 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

Oh sweet zombie Reagan, please dude, please back off.

I'm a busy chick. I like it when dudes pursue me. Is that sort of annoying and contradictory for them? Maybe. But there is suuuuccch an obvious, obvious bright red line between "pursuing a girl I like" and "ignoring her boundaries."

I mean, I get TIRED. So freaking TIRED of working for the man (woman) and being a good daughter and a hawt lady and a cheerful charming date and paying rent and sometimes cooking and dude, a boyfriend had better be adding to my life. He had better not be like a child on top of all of that. You know? I'm not your mom, I'm not your therapist, I just want to be taken care of sometimes, and sometimes "taken care of" means left the eff alone so I can see my girlfriends and sob my eyes out during Thelma and Louise or something. You know?

If you want a girlfriend because you desperately need a center, a meaning, a friend, motivation, company, or whatever- no dude. It's never going to work, with this chick or any chick.

You need to scrupulously examine how much your actions are actually motivated by selfishness, and seriously zen out, if you want to succeed in relationships.
posted by quincunx at 3:38 PM on May 1, 2014 [20 favorites]

hello json12, I'm sorry you're going through such a stressful situation. What you wrote sounds identical to what my partner would have said about me a few years ago. Some posters have suggested she is playing games or taking advantage of you, and that is possible. Another possibility is that she really does want to be with you and love you but is feeling smothered (as others have suggested) or that you are not serious about building a life (from a financial perspective) together, which leads to her hot-and-cold behaviour.

In my experience I was in love but feeling smothered, and I felt my partner wanted to "play house" but didn't understand the work that went into it. My job was mentally exhausting - afterwards I sometimes just wanted to relax with my friends who did not mind if I was tired and cranky. I could show up to the bar dressed like a slob with my hair in a mess and no make-up, and we could whine about shared experiences in the work force together. At these times I did not want to see my partner as, even though the relationship was not brand new, I felt I had to be "on" all the time... To look presentable, listen to him tell me about his hobbies, hear about how he got to sleep in or work on something fun he enjoyed, and be in the mood for cuddles instead of dead tired and in the mood for booze and bed. Not that it felt like "work" to be with him, but because I wanted to be in a fresh and cheerful frame of mind so I could actually pay attention to his needs... And also so he wouldn't think less of me for my temporary negative outlook. Also, he would not have understood the "shop talk" I shared with my friends, and I would worry he would feel like an outsider and complain about not liking them or feeling intimidated by them.

Any ways, I wanted to post to explain how she might feel from her perspective. Instead of imagining the scenario as one where she is avoiding you, think of it as a relationship where she only wants to give the best of herself to you. Or, she wants to have the energy to be fully mentally present with you (especially if you are the sort that likes to ask for her perspective a lot or talk about feelings). If you see it in that light, it will be easier to give her space.

Another thing you may not have thought about is that she might not be able to afford to quit her part time job, as much as she would like to. My partner still has a difficult time understanding how expensive living on one's own can be as he has the safety net of family. Perhaps she does not feel comfortable sharing her financial situation with you just yet. Or perhaps she wants to settle down and does not feel you are at the stage yet of being able to make this a realistic goal. If my partner had asked me to ease off on working based on a promise that one day he would find a full time job, I would worry his head is in the clouds and he was being unrealistic about finances. So perhaps you can show her how serious you are about the relationship by making changes in your career / financial life as well. I have noticed that once my partner was working regularly he did not have the free time to smother me in affection as much as he wanted to... So this could be another way to feel more comfortable in giving her space. But also it was easier for me to want to spend time with him because I did not have to worry I had to pay for all the entertainment (even if it was just buying pizza to eat together at home).

I felt very suffocated and smothered by my partner wanting to be with me all the time and what saved our relationship was him taking a step back. Of course, I had to do my part in other ways to show he was important to me, by making what time we did share together extra special.
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 3:44 PM on May 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I suggest you start by focusing on getting that job you keep saying you're going to get. Once you're working full-time, you will be spending time at work and by default, giving her more space. And you'll have something else to occupy your thoughts and activities, too. That may be enough to balance things out between you two.
posted by summerstorm at 5:21 PM on May 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

In my opinion, rather than constantly vacillating from on (together 100% of the time) to off (never together), suggest that you set up a schedule where you take her out on a date one evening a week (say, Saturday), and you spend a quiet night home together one night a week (say, Tuesday), and all the other nights are hers for either quiet time or time with friends. It's no wonder she breaks up with you if it is true that that is the only way she gets time alone. Instead of going from 0% to 100% to 0% to 100%, try to stay steady at a nice even 40%.
posted by salvia at 6:21 PM on May 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

Uhm, okay, aside from you smothering her--

So she's working several jobs, 7 days a week, while you are in school and constantly hanging out at her apartment to escape your parents' house, you are unemployed, and yet you're somehow thinking about this as her taking financial advantage of you and being bitter about everything you "gave her"??? Are you serious here?
posted by moonlight on vermont at 6:40 PM on May 1, 2014 [18 favorites]

Gee whiz, plenty going on here. Allow me to share some observations, as someone who's walked a few long miles, in similarly ill-fitting shoes:

- For a lot of people, the mid-twenties is a weird time; you're not a kid anymore -- hey, you've seen some things! -- but you're still somewhat innocent. This can create a situation were things carry much more emotional weight than they ultimately deserve. For you, this may mean struggling to preserve a not-very-balanced, not-very-healthy relationship (including doubling down on needy behavior, or making wild promises about supporting people with jobs that are only rhetorical). For your girlfriend, this may mean simultaneously feeling trapped in a dead-end work situation and a dead-end relationship. Both of you may be convinced/worried that this is it. Trust me, this is so not it. The big it stuff almost always comes later... And then again, even later.

- You say, I really have no clue what to do and feel lost. Oh man, been there. First of all, you're getting this awful, push/pull dynamic from your girlfriend (sorta-girlfriend?), so that's obviously not helping. However, more importantly, you'll feel less "lost" if you do more to build up your own independent existence. Imagine how galling it must be for her to come home and find you just kind of derping around. In her literal space, no less! As others have pointed out, the stress of school is different than the stress of employment. It's one thing to worry about failing a test, but it's another thing altogether to worry about failing actual life. You two are at different points in [your] lives right now, if not on separate planets. Although the circumstances were a bit different (I was working longer, harder hours than my partner), I've been the guy just kind of "hanging out," with nothing going on other than the relationship. Whatever her other faults, it's amazing that your girlfriend hasn't totally gone nuclear about this yet.

- My take is that a typical relationship can only survive one, maybe two, "breaks" of any kind. Don't suffer through another one. Make sure -- as much as it pains you to do so -- that she understands there are no backsies on the next one. You are allowed to stand up for yourself and set your own healthy limits.

- So is she. Never, ever, ever just "show up" uninvited to anything that isn't like, a gallery opening. Not a friend's thing. Not a coworker's thing. Not a girlfriend's thing. NEVER. You are entitled to observe an imbalance in terms of who-invites-who-where, but you are not at all entitled to solve that problem unilaterally.

- Kudos for being self-aware enough to notice some instances where you're being too possessive. Now, apply that to all the other times that you're being clingy, and you'll be making real progress. Probably too late for the relationship in question, but working on this will only help in future ones.

- Something that I learned the hard way (most spectacularly in my relationship that most mirrored yours, but in others, as well) is that jealousy exists for a reason. It can be hard to untangle a legit jealous feeling from an unhealthy pattern of irrational jealousy, and you should always try. That said, 90% of the times that I've felt suspicious of a partner's actions, it's turned out that I had every right to be. Especially considering all the "breaks" in question, I'd urge you to trust your gut on this. The only thing worse than being cheated on is to convince yourself -- so rationally! -- that you're worrying about nothing... And being wrong.
posted by credible hulk at 8:42 PM on May 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Get a job.

Really. This might help with your relationship problems. Plus, even if it doesn't, this is something you need to do anyway.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:22 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

You're about to graduate. You're looking for a job. Focus on yourself, the aspects of your life not necessarily revolving around her.
posted by RainyJay at 7:56 AM on May 2, 2014

« Older Is it better to gobble or nibble?   |   Help me find more books I would like! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.