relationship rollercoaster
February 25, 2016 3:25 AM   Subscribe

Looking for insight on current relationship. Am I overreacting, justified, a bit of both, or just crazy?

This may be long and could seem childish in retrospect, but it has been weighing on my mind for some time now and like many others, I have know idea what I'm doing when I comes to relationships. So I've been dating a woman I met were I currently work for about 6 months. I'm 28, she is 20. So right of the bat I knew some issues may come up due to the age and maturity difference. Even though I may not always act the most mature. But I didn't think they would be anything we couldn't overcome together. When we first started dating, it was all fire works, the infamous honeymoon stage. We spent a lot of time together, both in and out of work, and I that may have been one of the things that contributed to our current issues, that we didn't exactly set a proper foundation for the relationship. Things were amazing but I also knew that it was only the infatuation stage, and for it to last we had to keep working on it when things settled down.

Here's were the problem kind of started I suppose. We work with minimum security inmates, and I have no problem with most of them, and i understand thing in prison are different. So it's not an issue that they are inmates at all. But they are suppose to be somewhat limited in where they can go and the amount of contact with others at work. Specifically one guy is where the issue lies. He was in for quite sometime and just recently got out. And for a guy to be locked up that long, they have only a few things on their mind. Most guys would agree. He's the type of guy who everyone likes, but I feel he is fake and just looking to weezle his way to my girlfriend. I guess I've always thought i was fairly good at seeing a person for who they really are, and tell when they have ulterior motives. I tend to see the world as it is more than view it all covered in sugar. Wether they're genuinly a good person or use people to get what they want. And I know this is my opinion, but I feel he has been trying to drive a wedge between me and my girlfriend while he gets closer to her as a "friend" and waiting till i make a mistake or things go south. Any way, before he got out of prison he started to talk to my girlfriend more at work which I noticed and actually took it as a compliment, but also began to message her on Facebook or something. Which they're are not suppose to be able to do while in prison. She actually told me first which I appreciated and told her how much it meant to me how she was honest about it and gently told her how I didn't appreciate his advances. She apologized and said it wouldn't happen again. I thought that was the end of it. Then a few weeks later after he got out, he decided to move back up to town here and work in the same place, in fact he ended up working directly with me. That was fine, I really had no problem with him at this point. Then one day a little before christmas, he said he had to go meet his parole officer and my girlfriend was off of work but stopped in with her friend to say hi. Later I find out from my girlfriend they went christmas shopping and went out to lunch. Again, I definitly appreciated that she told me about it first but now I began to feel uncomfortable about things between them and expressed that to her. And again she apologized and said it would never happen again. On a side note, around the same time, she was showing me a Snapchat from someone she use to work with at her old job, and all I'll say is it was inappropriate and not appreciated. But i made sure not to blame her for that or the past events. Unfortinately she began to think i didn't trust her. I wouldn't say she broke that trust, but I felt she wasn't helping nurture it. I made it clear that i wasn't upset specifically at her or blamed her for any of it, I just felt I wasn't clear on my opinion about the situation. I never thought I would ever be the jealous, insecure boyfriend or have trust issues and related emotions like I have experienced recently, but maybe they were always there and maybe those events sparked something in me and I just needed something I was afraid of losing for it to come to light. And I know those emotions are natural and it's about how we respond to them that dictates wether or not we are in control. That's when I realized I had some things within myself I had to work on and deal with so I could be a better man and boyfriend which i expressed to her. She seemed very responsive and happy about it. And maybe I could have handled the situation a little better, but I knew I had to improve myself, not only for her but because I wanted to for myself. So I decided we should share what we feel are proper boundaries in a relationship, which we should have done early on. Also, I want to express, at no point did I ever try or want to control her or her actions. Maybe I freaked out though because I couldn't control the situation and I was so use to being on my own and only worrying about me. I suppose I just assumed she would realize how uncomfortable I was with the situation and make the decision to keep things between the two professional and not let things go past that. And i also know that along with boundaries our partner has for us, we need to set our own boundaries for ourself. And maybe i expected hers to be the same as mine and avoid situations alltogether that would make one feel their boundaries were being pushed. If that makes sense. After a couple months in, I came to understand how important communication is for a relationship and always tried having casual but serious talks about us. I also encouraged her to open up to me and share how she's feeling and I thay I would never judge her. And things seemed great after each time. In the back of my mind though, I felt like I was giving more to it than her and she wasn't being completely open, but told myself it was because of the age difference and relationship experience.

Now things start to get messy but I'll try to keep it short. I knew I had some issues, insecurity, fear, doubt. All those lovely emotions that can really stop a relationship dead in it's tracks. I really was more afraid of her becoming emotionally closer to someone else and me put pf fear, inevitably pushing her away right to them. Self fulfilling proficy and all. And as the weeks went on, she seemed to grow distant. More so emotionally. Maybe she was just getting comfortable with the relationship. I blamed it on myself for letting things get predictable and thought I was smothering her which she said I wasn't. And there were ups and downs up until one night we planned on having dinner with my family. She was acting out of character and distant towards me for the past week and when i expressed my concern to her the night before, she said she might be depressed and shared some problems she was having at home. We talked it out and she seemed to be in much better spirits. But the night we were supposed to go out to eat, she ended up not going and really didn't give much of a reason. Apparently she was upset and emotional about the things at home but I took it as her pushing me away. Needless to say I was upset and my mind was not in the right place and reacted poorly. A few days later I told her if the issues I was dealing with were too much, she could walk away. She definitly doesn't deserve that burden. They are my problems and my mistake and I have to own up to them. She decided to stay in the relationship. But since then things haven't quite seemed the same. At work he goes up and talks to her more than before and sometimes i feel they have a closer relationship than what she tells me and she feels she needs to hide it now. That's most likely me overeacting and making things up in my mind though. And I don't have a huge problem with her talking to him at work or him in general. Really my fear is that she seems be getting closer to another guy while pulling away from me and she is going to eventually rely on him for the emotional support for some reason. I also feel at work she tends to be very affecionate one minute and the next distant, physically and emotionally. But then be her happy self around him. But when we're outside of work things are great. Valentines day? Amazing. And she has had a lot of thing she's had to deal with lately and i want to be there for her as her support. But she may not even realize that some of her actions seem to mirror the hot and cold games people play in relationships. I don't deal with that behavior. And I don't let myself get used or takes granted for. But I want this relationship to work. She means the world to me and I know I am to her. I definitly see a future with this woman and she makes me want to be a better person. Above all else though, I want her to be happy. Wether or not I'm her SO.

So here's my question. Do these seem like problems due to the age, emotional maturity and relationship experience difference? Should I wait to see how thing progress? Am I justified for being concerned? She I let her go so she can gain more maturity? Thoughts and advice? If you need more detail, let me know.
posted by MillerTime27 to Human Relations (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You don't seem happy with her.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:10 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

One thing to note: you don't want to control her, but you want her to decide on her own to set the exact same boundaries for herself as you would like her to. Maybe instead you could talk with her about how she decides to set boundaries, what she gets out of closer relationships with other people, etc. to see whether that's something you can understand and appreciate about her (rather than something you try to force yourself to tolerate)?
posted by metasarah at 4:11 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Maybe she's distant physically and emotionally at work sometimes because she realizes that your relationship has no role in the workplace. The question is why is she ever physically affectionate at work in the first place? It's definitely not appropriate.
posted by Andrhia at 5:27 AM on February 25, 2016 [12 favorites]

You need to listen to your girlfriend and believe her. And to work on your trust issues.
This stood out to me: you "gently told her how I didn't appreciate his advances. She apologized and said it wouldn't happen again." How are his advances something she should apologize for? Women get hit on all the time. This is something you will have to trust her enough to deal with.

I've been that girl. You're blaming her for not assuaging your fears, but honestly, I doubt there is anything she could say or do to make you feel secure.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:33 AM on February 25, 2016 [38 favorites]

she told you that she was having problems at home that were causing her to feel depressed and distant...and you reacted by making it all about you.

So scary how because it's just an aside in the OP's post, I cast this bit aside too. Yeh this is a big deal OP.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 5:59 AM on February 25, 2016 [7 favorites]

Sounds like both. You're jealous/possessive, she's not that into you, that makes you more keyed up, which pushes her away, etc.
posted by headnsouth at 6:24 AM on February 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Relationships, when they are going well, are nowhere near this much hard work and confusion.

You wrote one of the longest paragraphs I have ever seen on MetaFilter about a problem you have with another guy that she has told you isn't anything to worry about, and this indicates the level of complication which you are bringing into this that just needn't be there if you guys were a good fit for each other.

It's not necessarily a problem with you or her, you're just not a good fit. It's a good lesson to learn as early as possible (I wish I had learned it at your age), that you can waste an awful lot of time trying to make a person or a relationship what you want it to be but isn't.
posted by greenish at 6:31 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you don't have a problem with working with this dude, why do you have a problem with him being friends with your girlfriend? I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with a guy who assumed I was involved with all my male friends and resented crude jokes I made with my other friends. I certainly wouldn't want to be in a relationship with a guy who reacts "poorly" when I need to back out of a social obligation for personal reasons.

I told her if the issues I was dealing with were too much, she could walk away. She definitly doesn't deserve that burden. They are my problems and my mistake and I have to own up to them.

You're right, but the way you deal with that is breaking up with her yourself if you can't handle it, not giving her weird dares about how she can walk away if she can't deal. She's only twenty and you work together; it's going to be really hard for her to break up with you when you're giving all these frankly kind of scary signals. Tell her it's just not working out, but you wish her all the best (and mean it).

Also good lord, don't date a coworker next time.
posted by hollyholly at 6:37 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I appreciate all the thoughts so far. Firstly I apologize for making it seem like I was the victim or that she did anything wrong. I trust her and don't believe there is anything between the two that is beyond a friendship. I more so developed my issues when I felt she was emotionally pulling away from me while developing a closer relationship with him. But that is selfish thinking and me over thinking things. I want to be the best for her and be her rock in the relationship, but I haven't always done that effectively. A lot the things I mentioned stem from my inner issues and I know that. I realize and accept that. I just wanted to give thorough details but also know this is only my side of the story. I definitly didn't give her the option to walk away because of me feeling she was becoming emotionally distant. It was because my issues are mine alone and I didn't want her to feel I was putting them one her.
posted by MillerTime27 at 6:41 AM on February 25, 2016

It's good that you're being self-aware about this stuff.

I'm willing to assume that your gut is right on some stuff - your girlfriend is awfully young for you and has younger-person relationship priorities (which isn't the same as being immature, though); Dude 1 in your letter really has been hitting on her and this whole "let's go Christmas shopping and out to lunch" thing is extended hitting on; your girlfriend is in fact building up the kind of closeness to another guy that can turn into an emotional affair.

I believe all this stuff because, frankly, I was once twenty and managing emotions and relationships and guys hitting on you and all that stuff is complicated, especially when you don't have a ton of adult relationship experience. Did I do the "lunch and Christmas shopping where there's maybe a frisson of attraction that I don't intend to act on but feel sort of conflicted and yet flattered about" thing? Reader, I did. Not because I was a terrible person, but because social life and feelings are complex.

Some thoughts:

1. Think about what you want a relationship for. The relationship you describe seems like a power struggle to me rather than something that is easily, mutually fulfilling. I feel like when you're dating, you should both be glad to see each other almost all the time, you should spend your time doing things you both enjoy, etc. It shouldn't be a tussle over their Facebook and who they go to lunch with and how you feel about it. It shouldn't be something where you have to have a contract negotiation; there should be a certain amount of natural fit. I'm not saying that talking about boundaries is a bad thing, but to my mind, in a dating relationship you want to be dating someone whose boundaries are mostly naturally similar to yours.

Basically, this sounds like a bad relationship to me, because it sounds like you don't have too many values in common. I look back on guys I dated in my late teens/early twenties, and I realize that I often dated [perfectly nice! would recommend!] guys where we just....weren't on the same page about a lot of stuff. And I spent a lot of time trying to get on the same page, and it was frustrating and boring. It's a sea change to date someone where you already share most of the same values and can spend all your time on the actual being together part.

2. It's good that you now recognize that you didn't respond too well when your girlfriend was upset. I actually think that's pretty normal - for guys (and for AFAB people like me who grew up in weird situations) it can be really easy to assume that you've talked something through, the person is cheered up, it's all good. They appear to be feeling better, right? But if it's a serious problem, they may be cheered up in the moment but still have a lot of stress and bad feelings long term, and may need you to support them in other ways. Also, they may feel pressure to act cheered up because you're trying to make them feel better - I think men do this because it's seen as weak to be upset, and women do this because women are encouraged to hide bad feelings so as not to seem whiny.

Honestly, it took me into my thirties to be at all good about the following up/longer-term support thing. But now you can make a mental check-list and do better.

3. It sounds like you could use women friends. It sounds like you're not super familiar with how relationship stuff feels to women, and it sounds like you don't have a good baseline for what friendships between men and women look like.

Based on your post it's difficult to say - maybe your girlfriend's friendship with Dude 1 is mostly friendship with a little frisson of "aren't you cute; we're a little mutual admiration society", which is totally normal and healthy; maybe your girlfriend is feeling conflicted about your relationship and is getting emotionally entangled with Dude 1 because she's having trouble sorting stuff out. This is where having more understanding of women's experiences (they are varied! different ones for different women!) would be helpful on a practical level.

4. If the relationship isn't working out or if your girlfriend meets someone she likes better, it's better for her to figure that out and break up. Your partner isn't your dragon-hoard, something you keep locked away so that other people can't steal it. It sucks when you get into that headspace of worrying about your partner's facebook or texts or whatever. It's awful, and it sucks the joy out of the relationship, and then what's even the point? If your girlfriend ends up falling for Dude 1, or for someone else, that's not because she's terrible or because you failed to keep her from interacting with other guys sufficiently, or because better boundaries would have kept you together; that's just the breaks. What if you met another girl and really, really hit it off? Wouldn't you feel like it was better to break up rather than drag along?

I think it's important to accept our fears and anxieties about relationships ending. Relationships end, that's what they do. At best, someone is going to die eventually, but probably even a really good relationship is going to run its course, especially when one partner is twenty and the other is still pretty young. You've got to relax about that fear, because otherwise you're just going to have a miserable shell of a relationship.
posted by Frowner at 6:41 AM on February 25, 2016 [19 favorites]

About point 2: I meant to say "because guys are socialized to not do emotional labor, and to have emotional labor done for them without comment, it's easy not to be good at supporting others." Not that it's something "natural" that guys just...can't do, or whatever.
posted by Frowner at 6:43 AM on February 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

I definitly didn't give her the option to walk away because of me feeling she was becoming emotionally distant. It was because my issues are mine alone and I didn't want her to feel I was putting them one her.

You don't "give" her the option to walk away. She always already has that option without your granting it to her.

Similarly, you have that option too. You can just walk away. A relationship that's worth your time will not ever bring this level of anxiety.
posted by witchen at 7:39 AM on February 25, 2016 [4 favorites]

6 months in should still be the honeymoon period. you are injecting all manner of drama into this. you need to get a handle on your own anxiety. this isn't about her. she can't fix this about you by suddenly and independently adopting your exact same boundaries and priorities. this relationship will likely not last, but that's not a huge tragedy. work on yourself, on your own reactions, on your own deal breakers so you'll be a better partner next time (which in turn will help you find a more appropriate partner - maybe someone closer to your age who you don't work with).
posted by nadawi at 7:47 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

I mean, if I was a 20-something woman and my partner was getting more and more controlling about things I have no control over (like other dudes hitting on her) AND I had enough personal shit going on that I was describing myself as depressed, I would also withdraw from said partner. You don't describe any actual support that you give to her in your post, you just describe how you try to get her to do exactly what you want (with the overall message of "I want you to trust and rely on me and only me"... but you're not doing any work to BE a source of trust and reliability). Frankly, your insecurities are making you into a controlling jerk. You're trying to turn this person into someone who doesn't set off your insecurities instead of realizing that your behaviour is directly leading to your fears coming true.

It sounds like you wish your girlfriend was a different person with different wants/needs and different behaviour. It also sounds like you expect her to mature into this different person. That's not how growing up works.

tl;dr: This has nothing to do with your gf or your relationship and seems to be an internal issue. Stop trying to fix her or fix "the relationship" and focus on your own issues.
posted by buteo at 7:51 AM on February 25, 2016 [11 favorites]

Let's look at this from her perspective. She's 20 years old. She has a bad family life. She met an older guy at work who seems really into her and offers her stability. She starting spending all of her waking hours with him. She is also being pursed by another guy at work who just got out of prison. You think this guy has ulterior motives in that he is "only thinking about one thing" and that your girlfriend is probably too naïve or too female to understand this. (On the contrary, I think she understands this perfectly. Trust me dude, girls/women are not actually delicate flowers and generally learn that lesson reallllll real early.) From what I can tell, their entire interaction consists of him "talking to her at work", then messaging her on Facebook, and then she stopped in to say hi when he was meeting his parole officer and they went Christmas shopping and out to lunch. Your girlfriend told you about this openly. She apologized to you twice for having a friendship with this guy. She also showed you a Snapchat from some guy she used to work with and it was inappropriate. You "made sure not to blame her for this or past events." But you told her you "weren't clear on your opinion on the situation" and "you were uncomfortable that the situation wasn't keeping things between two professionals." She got upset. You told her you realized you were being kind of in the wrong and would work on yourself. She was happy to hear this.

Eventually she starts growing distant and you think it's because you're smothering her and letting things get boring.

You make plans to go out to eat with your family. She cancels that same night. You're pissed. (You don't admit this in your narrative, but dude, it's OBVIOUS reading between the lines and you really need to admit it. You're pissed she canceled day of for no good reason. Straight up pissed.) You reacted poorly and passive-aggressively told her "if your emotional reactions to her pushing you away were too much of a problem, she could walk away." (Dude, what this means? Is actually, "Don't cancel on me and be withdrawn or I'll get super pissy and hint that we should break up." But for some reason you chose to frame it as "if you can't handle me, walk away." Which, okay, whatever dude.)

She decides not to break up with you. She talks to the other dude at work more. She seems hot and cold with you.

Here's what you're missing here: She's freaking 20 years old and has a shitty family life. She wants to have fun. She doesn't want to pour out her heart to you and become emotionally dependent on you. You're not her husband. She doesn't want to stop being friends with other guys who are willing to give her support and friendship (even if for the misguided and unlikely hope of future sex- that's on him. She's okay to use him if he's okay with letting himself be used, IMO.) She doesn't want to be judged by you as "slutty" or "immature" for having "inappropriate friendships" with guys at her prior workplace when dude, THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT SHE IS DOING WITH YOU. You chose to date the hot, vulnerable 20 year old at work. Why are you SO SHOCKED other men also want to date the hot, vulnerable 20 year old at work? Of course they do! Everyone does!
posted by quincunx at 8:04 AM on February 25, 2016 [28 favorites]

But she may not even realize that some of her actions seem to mirror the hot and cold games people play in relationships. I don't deal with that behavior.

You're exhibiting that behavior yourself.

Needless to say I was upset and my mind was not in the right place and reacted poorly. A few days later I told her if the issues I was dealing with were too much, she could walk away.

Do the walking yourself. If you don't want to deal with someone running hot and cold-- whether that's her or you or both-- then end it with her now.
posted by RainyJay at 8:15 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

At work he goes up and talks to her more than before and sometimes i feel they have a closer relationship than what she tells me and she feels she needs to hide it now. That's most likely me overeacting and making things up in my mind though. And I don't have a huge problem with her talking to him at work or him in general. Really my fear is that she seems be getting closer to another guy while pulling away from me and she is going to eventually rely on him for the emotional support for some reason.

You're not making things up in your mind. She's getting closer to him and more distant from you. The reason she's getting the emotional support she needs from him and not you is that he's offering her emotional support and you're not (see many comments from above). You're asking her for all the emotional support (opening up, establishing boundaries that make you comfortable, coming to your parents' house when she's going through her own shit) and offering her very little in return.

Break up or wait for her to break up with you, but either way this isn't going anywhere.
posted by Capri at 9:19 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Don't ever ever date people at work. You are working in a drama filled, toxic environment. You and your girlfriend made a mistake by being BF/GF at work, all the rest was kinda going to go sideways one way or another. It's a recipe for trouble, and here you are.

Neither one of you is particularly mature or wise. I'm not picking on her in this comment thread. She's 20 and she's got the understanding of a 20 year old and she'd do better to dump the job and both you and her new "friend," but she's not asking this question and I can't tell her she's headed for trouble and to RUN.

First, you and your girlfriend should not never no no no have been affectionate at work, which you were. You invited all of this drama into your own lives by being unprofessional at work, in front of people who have their freedom curtailed - how did you think that would turn out?? Further, your 20 year old girlfriend broke work rules by fb'ing with an inmate. Now he knows she's vulnerable if he's a bad guy (he likely is) but she doesn't realize yet she's put herself in a bad spot. I'm really worried for her. Trust has little to do with it at this point, she accidentally accepted a lot of trouble into her life when she started fb'ing with this guy, and now you and he are both making it worse for her. She's 20. She probably doesn't have the maturity or boundaries to deal this kind of work, the personality types of the inmates, and definitely there is no oversight or training for employees. You have little expertise or training or oversight, either. Like I said, it's a toxic drama-filled environment, what you are experiencing is how these things turn out in places like this.

This can't be the job you want to spend the rest of your life in. Surely you have goals and dreams? Now is the time to focus on yourself. This other stuff is all distraction.

Right now you need to focus on yourself, find a new job, go to school in a new town to gain training or education - you gotta get out of this mess!!

How soon can you find a new job and quit this one? Do that.

You are 29 years old dating a 20 year old, on a stage in a pressure cooker. I can't tell you how the relationship will work out, but being on stage together in a pressure cooker is no good! RUN.

It's messy and it will take time to untangle. I suggest you start by getting away from this job ASAP. Be gentle with yourself and your girlfriend.

PS - she doesn't have to quit with you, you know that, right??
posted by jbenben at 9:33 AM on February 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

And she has some serious issues of her own if she's Facebooking those who are incarcerated while she an employee. That should have been immediately reported, and it was both her responsibility and yours, as soon as you learned about it.
posted by stormyteal at 3:15 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So just a quick update. I spoke with a co-worker at work today who talks to my girlfriend a lot. And from what she told me, my girlfriend was still texting and snapchatting this guy. This co-worker never mentioned what my girlfriend texted back to him, bit I was told he sends her some questionable messages. I was told this was going on for quite some time. She also asked my girlfriend wether or not she saw a future with us and my girlfriend said no. I honestly want to give my girlfriend the benefit of the doubt and believe she isn't that type of person. But this co-worker also has no reason to make up stories or lie to me.
posted by MillerTime27 at 8:55 PM on February 25, 2016

OP, you've received some great advice in this thread. Advice that you asked for. Now it's time to act on it, rather than resorting to the same dramatic, insecure, self-centered, misogynistic control freak thoughts.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 1:05 AM on February 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

Add my voice to the "please break up with her" crowd. From your update and what you've described of past interactions with your girlfriend, it sounds like you're either going to believe this coworker no matter what, or you're going to make your girlfriend apologize to you for what this coworker claims and have her promise it won't happen again, and then continue to not trust her and scrutinize her actions and triangulate with other people ... that's no way to treat another human being, especially one that you say you love, and it's certainly not healthy for you, either (as an aside, gossiping about your girlfriend - let alone with people who are coworkers to both of you - is incredibly crappy and immature, and yet another great reason not to date at work).

I mean, what is your ideal state for this relationship? What would it take to make you feel comfortable with this person? If you're in a place where even this woman's family troubles and struggles with depression somehow become a thing about you, I really don't see how you're going to be happy even if she, say, quits her job and tells you she's cutting off all ties with this guy (at what point would you even believe her?).

In all honesty, I wouldn't be hugely surprised if your coworker's account was at least somewhat accurate, although that could also just be me projecting the lack of future I see based on this question. Even if your coworker is at all correct, however, I hope you'd recognize that your girlfriend not seeing a future with you has infinitely more to do with your actions than the presence of another guy. The fact that you're asking us if the problem here is related to (I'm assuming her) age and emotional maturity suggests some important blind spots towards your own behavior, and I would nth the folks suggesting that you spend some serious time working on yourself, your confidence, and the ways you view/act towards women.
posted by DingoMutt at 5:01 AM on February 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

if your girlfriend were asking us this question instead we would be sharing resources with her about what to do when you find yourself dating an emotionally abusive guy. please step back and spend more time considering your own actions, not hers.

also, it is extremely inappropriate to bring this drama to her coworkers and get them to tell on her or whatever. you are behaving in a controlling manner and it is not ok.
posted by nadawi at 5:07 AM on February 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

This is really not how you should be running a relationship.

Basically, if you're at the point where you're getting someone to "report" on your girlfriend's activities, the relationship is already tanked. It doesn't matter whether your girlfriend is a lovely person who is suffering from your misogynist imaginings or whether your girlfriend is in fact playing off several guys against each other and not telling people things she should be. (Or whether she's just...twenty, and dealing with guys in the sometimes-less-great ways that one does when one doesn't have a lot of life experience.)

A good relationship does not look like this. A good relationship is not about arguing over texts and snapchats - that's high school bullshit, and not even all high schoolers, either. With a good relationship, you trust each other and enjoy each other's company, and if one person feels that the relationship has no future, that person breaks things off. This is true regardless of whether someone is snapchatting with some random dude or not.

If you want to do the mature thing, here, you break it off - and in a mature manner. Don't get all yell-y. Just tell her that you feel like the relationship has run its course and you are breaking up with her. Break-ups are bad enough without the yelling and drama, and if you break up with someone in a polite manner, you won't look back later and be embarrassed.

I want to emphasize - a good relationship should not involve this kind of suspicion, reporting, rules-lawyering, etc. If you are dating someone and you feel that you can't trust them, break up. If everyone you date turns out to be "untrustworthy", the problem is you and you should find a therapist.
posted by Frowner at 5:09 AM on February 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I thank you for the responses. I know I have a lot to work on myself. Many of the problems I know I caused by my own immaturity in the relationship. I think I was trying so hard to have the perfect relationship and make sure I felt secure, that I put her needs second to mine at times. But my intentions were always for her happiness, as hard as it is to see from what I've said. I wasn't asking this co-worker about my girlfriend's actions but was told. But i also took what she said with a grain of salt.
posted by MillerTime27 at 6:43 AM on February 26, 2016

One other thing: I feel like you're coming from a "how can I prove this is her fault" standpoint. Which is understandable if you're feeling hurt and rejected.


1. It's difficult for the reader to assess, because we don't know you or her, and there's some ambiguity in the situation. It sounds like she made some meh choices (facebooking with the guy when he was an inmate, for instance) and it sounds like you made some meh choices. But to my mind, this is precisely the type of situation where a bad dynamic can develop subtley and it can be very hard to assign causes, particularly from the outside.

2. The only thing you control is you. To my mind, an honorable person does not spy or snoop or ask others to report on someone*, and an honorable person does not try to keep someone in a relationship when they want to leave. Your goal should be honesty, generosity, magnanimity - no matter how the other party is behaving. No behavior on your girlfriend's part "justifies" being controlling or snooping (again, unless there's an emergency, and "talking to other guys" is not an emergency).

You're going to look back on this relationship in a few years - do you want to look back and try to convince yourself that the controlling behavior and snooping was totally, totally justified, and you were totally justified in trying to keep her in a relationship when she wanted to break up, or do you want to look back and say "I felt bad at the time, but when I realized that she wanted to break up, I knew the that the decent thing to do was to break things off"?

You say elsewhere that you want to improve yourself in general, and this is an opportunity to do that - you have a chance to learn from some of the ways you could have handled things better (supporting your girlfriend when she is struggling, not getting into the weeds over texts, etc) and you have a chance to break things off politely and kindly now that the relationship seems to have run its course.

*Unless there's an emergency - you're afraid someone will hurt themselves or others, you're trying to get out of an abusive relationship, etc. Basically, no snooping if it's just "my girlfriend of less than a year might be talking to some other dudes" or "I am feeling anxious about this relationship for no clear reason".
posted by Frowner at 6:53 AM on February 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

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